I just started working on a game to simulate the challenges of permaculture and also a bit about sustainability and self-sufficiency.
The game will also be usable as a serious tool for designing, experimenting and educating, and be useful for cooks and dietists.
It is platform-independent, free and open source.
It will simulate: - growth and individual components of plants, with detailed environmental interactions - beauty of nature in 3d, animation based on wind etc. (later on also sound) - insects/animals/fish in a bit less detail (at least for now) - human needs and desires on the psychological and physical level (especially nutrition) - chemicals and physics/geography (water density/flow, soil composition, erosion, wind, sunlight, etc.)
There will be different game modes, based on elements taken from The Sims, SimCity, Age of Empires, FarmVille, Spore and Second Life.
I know the information that will have to be put into it is overwhelming. My solution for this is "crowd-sourcing" and an adapted version of a knowledge database that I developed a couple of years ago as my BSc project.
It means that any user can easily add information within the game without being a computer expert, and this knowledge will then be automatically available to (and reviewable by) all other users of the game/tool.
The graphics and sound will be generated by algorithms like L-systems, which further reduces development time and increases realism.
It will also incorporate a bit of randomness, to simulate the challenge of dealing with unknown species and unknown inter-species interactions.
In the beginning the game will be too simple for permaculture design, but still inspirational and fun to play. If enough people with permaculture experience join and add their experiences, the game will become more realistic over time. This also means that the game will never really work the same; this is quite a new element in gaming that I hope will further promote the use by people (especially children!) who never heard of permaculture and take supermarkets for granted.
Virtualization of permaculture creates some interesting abilities: - rapid design, experimentation, sharing and education - no costs, no limits - ability to go back in time and do something different, then go back to current time and see the results - re-simulate an earlier design, with the system now having updated, more realistic knowledge - create beautiful graphics and movies - let the computer help you with getting the nutritional value you want out of the garden, and with seasonal/daily planning - export specific information from the database to put in graphs for research and presentations - more competitiveness (in a good way): multiple people could for instance start with the exact same seeded garden and conditions, and then see later who used the most effective and efficient methods - ability to bend the rules of nature a bit, just for fun and artistic creativity
Please feel free to share your opinion and ideas here.
Obviously everyone is welcome to test the game and add information once the first alpha version comes out, which I expect in 6-8 weeks or so (I work full-time on this). The project is managed at:
this is a fantastic idea and a lot of work haha! any updates on the game? are you still working on it? i sure hope so can contribute to it already? or can i apply to be a beta tester? i'd only hope i don't get glued on the screen again if i touch the game xD being a recovered game addict myself *ahem*. but seriously yes, the step from "farming" in a game to actual farming isn't that big. real farming is just as time consuming and addictive and there is no game as much fun as the real thing. if i could have a wish for next year (the time after the end of time ) it would be that people realize this on a large scale. maybe a complete blackout would be needed to move the people away from their screens. but maybe a game like this could move them just as well (in case "that end date" doesn't bring any real surprises *sad face*)
I'm a developer too! This project looks daunting, but that never stopped me from creating something. Nobody has a clearer vision of what it could be than you do so I'm anxious to see what you put together. I made a philogenic tree to organize species once on an aquarium website that is no longer published. It would be cool to resurrect the code if I found the environment for it. My current full-time project is hydroharbor.com