Monday, July 9, 2012

Toward a test game: Proof of concept platform

For me, I find that ideas evolve best when I can experiment with their implications immediately.  I am starting the production of a map against which I can experiment with low-level AI agents to which basic military operations can be delegated.

The map at right shows the key portion of the French frontier in 1870.  I will start by working up data from the red square and use it to test initial ideas; then work up to the green before extending the concept (if all works well) to include enough of France, Germany and their neighbors to make a political as well as a military game possible.

There are plenty of good data online,.  Google Earth and Google Maps (and others) are well known.  For raw GIS data, there are truly computer-readable alternatives.  Note also that while rail, canal, and metaled roads impact transportation routes, the backbone of the low-level grid should be constant enough to make most of the data re-usable from the 18th century to now.

The map will not be directly (at least initially) a cartographic product.  Instead, it will of course be a graph.  Graph theory is good fun (and one of the few bits of math I learned at school for fun and have never forgotten), and there are lots of algorithms and analysis tools available to work with them.

For initial visualization I will probably use a tool like GraphViz, which draws graphs based on textual descriptions.

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