Games That Have Inspired!

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Games That Have Inspired!

Postby Administrator » Sun Mar 19, 2017 12:44 am

I was having a great conversation with Minkaron with another thread, and I was asked about inspiration for Outer Colony. I thought the question warranted a thread of its own, as I want to ask you guys about games and software that have inspired you, too!

The original question posed was as follows:
It's such a huge project, where did you find the inspiration to undertake the challenge?

The answer to this question is multifaceted, and I wouldn't be able to provide a comprehensive answer without at least mentioning previous work I've done as a software engineer. I was very fortunate to have some great opportunities early in my career to work peripherally with some awesome, high-fidelity, distributed simulation software. I was working under the tutelage of forum member CzarQwerty at the time, and the experience I gained then contributed more to Outer Colony's technical design than anything.

I want to focus the bulk of this thread, however, on games! My earliest experience with software of any kind was watching my dad play games on our old 386, and games have been inspiring my professional journey as a software engineer ever since.

I'm going to list, in chronological order, the games I can remember that really inspired me, and I'll try to note how these games have contributed to the design of Outer Colony.

1. The Classic Maxis Games
I'm going to lump these all together into one, just for the sake of brevity. I could probably write an entire thread about each one of these, but I'll just enumerate them briefly here, in order of approximate importance.

-SimEarth : In a nutshell, I hope Outer Colony's world model is a bit like a latter day SimEarth.

-SimCity / SC2K: I played SC2K like a madman as a kid, and from a gameplay standpoint, its fundamentals helped inspire a great deal of Outer Colony. SC2K is less about accomplishing things yourself, and it's more about creating circumstances that encourage simulated people to accomplish the things you want. In many ways, Outer Colony is like this!

-SimTower: This was the first game I could remember that gave a compelling view of individual humans and their activities within a simulated environment. This blew my mind at the time, and you can see a great deal of its influence in Outer Colony. The capacity to inspect individual humans and see all that information is originally inspired by SimTower.

-Miscellanes Sim* Games: SimFarm – yes! The weather system in this one was awesome, and some of that has bled into Outer Colony. SimAnt – there was a certain hilarity and novelty associated with simulating individual ants. This game was a veritable ant farm, and you might see a bit of its style of humor in Outer Colony, if you look hard enough.

2. Classic Age of Empires / Rise of Rome, Command & Conquer / Red Alert 2 / Yuri's Revenge

I used to LOVE RTS games as a kid!! RTS games were a ton of fun for me. There's always been some appeal in building things, moving units around, and conquering your enemies, and a lot of these fundamentals come through in Outer Colony.

My family got dial up Internet probably in ~1996, and by the time I'd made it to the 6th grade, I was constantly hogging the phone line, playing Age of Empires on the MSN Zone! This was a real turning point for me. After I got my hands on Age of Empires, I really didn't play that many single player games anymore. Before you turn 16, you can't drive anywhere, and none of my friends lived in my neighborhood, so multiplayer games were a way to hang out on a Wednesday night.

This tendency toward multiplayer games comes through in Outer Colony. For the last ~10 years, the only games I've really played, aside from classics on DOSBox, have been multiplayer games with Torvus and Imperator. My fundamental approach to designing Outer Colony has been to build the game I really want to play, so you can see why multiplayer functionality is an integral aspect of Outer Colony's design.


I'm going to add more games to this list! For example, did you know that Outer Colony began development as an MMORPG with gameplay inspired by one of the classics in the genre?

I want to ask you guys, though! What are the games that have really inspired you, and are there any aspects of them you think might have a place in Outer Colony?

Feel free to describe games that might not necessarily have applicability in the continued design of Outer Colony, too. I'm very interested in titles that made you pause and think, or games that made you really feel something. These sorts of games can have a value that exceeds the sum total of simple entertainment hours they provide, and they can leave a lasting impression, like a tremendous novel or film.

In some ways, this is the yardstick by which I'll eventually measure Outer Colony's success. If in the year 2042, in some distant corner of the future internet, someone talks about the impact Outer Colony left on them back in 2018, I'll know without any doubt that Outer Colony was a complete success.
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Re: Games That Have Inspired!

Postby minkaron » Sun Mar 19, 2017 11:45 pm

I would have to say, from SC2K, the exposure to "arcologies" alone was enough to inspire me to focus on that what-could-be's of the future. I even bought Paolo Soleri's, "Arcology: City in the Image of Man", and have been enamored with the concept ever since. I could go on for days imagining what daily life would be like, how transportation would work, and what the architecture would look like. So much so that I always joke with on of my friends that I'll one day code an arcology simulator! On a more deeper level though, the SimCity franchise has arguably taught me how to isolate and alleviate problems as well as think ahead in your design -- integral parts for critical thinking. I even wanted to pursue a bachelor's in urban planning for the longest time because of it.

Creatures 3: Exodus was another inspirational game. The whole Creatures franchise was built off of artificial intelligence and the studio went so far as to code organs and a primitive brain into each creature. It even went so far as to simulate levels of ADP and ATP in the three major creatures (which were Norns, Ettins, and Grendels). Each cute little Norn you saw had its own personality and appearance govern by the genes it inherited from its parents, as well as random mutations that gradually changed behavior as time went on. They released various toolkits that let you probe and alter the genes of your creatures as well. As a kid playing the game, it furthered my own interest in both A.I. as well as the biological sciences.

Legend of Zelda: Majora's Mask story alone left an impression on me. Everyone had a story to tell! They weren't just some NPC that sat around and gave a single quest, they were each their own quest line that sometimes took up the three allotted days you had. If I were to ever get into storytelling, I'd use LoZ: MM's as inspiration.

Starbou nd is also a game I can't deny being an inspiration for me too. A poorly coded, poorly optimized mess with even worse support for multiplayer. That didn't stop online communities from springing up, and I ended up rising from moderator to administrator in one of them. I learned plenty about Linux within those two years and a great deal about community management. It's also the reason why I decided to pursue systems administration at my local community college, haha.

Overall though, it's difficult to say what aspects from my list might have a place in Outer Colony due to the subjective nature of it all. The potential for emergent behavior alone could open up discussion in artificial intelligence -- or at the very least, interesting stories to come out. I think it's heading in the right direction!
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Re: Games That Have Inspired!

Postby Torvus » Mon Mar 20, 2017 3:32 am

minkaron wrote:Legend of Zelda: Majora's Mask story alone left an impression on me. Everyone had a story to tell! They weren't just some NPC that sat around and gave a single quest, they were each their own quest line that sometimes took up the three allotted days you had. If I were to ever get into storytelling, I'd use LoZ: MM's as inspiration.

QFT. MM was pretty great in that regard (and in others as well, of course). It seems like it gets overshadowed by OoT a lot though, which is a shame as MM does bring a lot to the table.
I am Torvus. My titles at voyager games are thus: Lore Weaver, Creature Consultant, Chief Science Officer, Company Chaplain, and Star Magus among others.

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