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.