8Bit Boating For Conversation Trading

Ok so this is going to be more related to You’re Invited than it might seem.

However I have run into a bit of a snag with conceptualizing the game. See in the game you watch people talk. During the conversations you can click on different bits of it to record it to use for later. This means that in order to complete the game the player will need to pay close attention to the things people say. Along with what people say there is what is ACTUALLY going on. This is what you want to know. You have to figure out what is going on by watching what others say and using that to get at the real bit of information.

I can imagine it like a map, each character having dominion over a certain bit of area. You want to get at their area but they may not want you to go near certain things. They want to control the access you get. So in order to get information you have to use information. This is essentially trading, trading is just path navigation.

So I understand conceptually what all of these things are but I’ve never built anything around trade. Let alone trading esoteric concepts. I can’t seem to envision how the player will use the information step by step to win the game. I have a lot of ideas but I think developing an isolated trading game may give me something to study and understand.

When I was younger I used to go to as summer camp. One of the leaders invented a game he called “pirates”. Around the camp leaders set up trading posts. Your cabin was to go between various trading posts trading goods. Finding which goods sold for what where. Along the way other cabins were pirates. they got money by robbing others and dealing in black market goods. However they were in turn hassled by a third type of cabin/ship the navy. The navy confiscated goods and gold from pirates. As well though they could confiscate black market goods from merchants. The point of the game was to find which cabin at the end of the game time had the most money.

This is a fine little example of trade. All sorts of multi layered concepts. A few different types of exchange and a nice understandable theme. I’m hoping by making a little game around this concept I can make a sort of ant farm type thing to view trade.

First off I needed a map. I get caught up on things like this and a static map wasn’t going to do. I wanted something that would create interesting trade routes that were constantly different each time. In order to do this I started with a concept based on the game of life

Here is a gif of the process in action

Each bit of water and land are switching between water and land based on a set of rules. The water has simple rules. Only if it has 0 neighbors does it switch to land.


On the other hand the land is a bit more complex. It will dissolve if it has less than 3 neighbors. More than 3 it stays. However at 3 there is a 1:300 chance that the tile will flip to water. This little difference makes a massive difference when it comes to the variety of islands. Once I added in the little bit of code on #3 the maps become very interesting.


Once that is done there is a process of placing merchants. This has a more complex series of rules that require a number of merchants be also on the same body of water. No merchant can be a minimum distance. In order for an island to have more than one merchant it must meet a number of resources.

The resources are basic staple resources. Here they are ripped from the sprite sheet

In order as they appear. Ore, Wood, Food, Wool, Stone, Spice, Wine.

The rarity order however is Food 13/146, Wood 8/146, Stone 5/146, Wool 3/146, Ore 2/146, Spice 1/146, Wine 1/146.

Using Fibonacci’s sequence in order to get a good covering of the rating. There are also Villages, Blacksmiths and Castles. Villages consume things in order with rarity. Castles consume more luxury goods and blacksmiths consume more wood, and ore. Each settlement gives money back as well to the port. The total collection of resources and settlements defines what goods a port has. If a port runs negative it simply indicates high demand. If they run positive it means a surplus. In this way there will be some ports with no settlements that will have a lot of goods for sale, and in the opposite way some will need to accept a lot more goods because they have settlements.

From this start I hope to build up a version of the camp version of pirates. Replacing some of the game functions that exist for a group of campers. Combat will be simple. Pirate and navy ships will have canons but they will only disrupt movement. When 2 ships catch each other combat is done based on rock paper scissors. Giving caught ships a chance to get away again to represent a victory. As well the ports goods are going to be based off of created demand. A bit of tweaking should allow a functioning economy to develop. I’m hoping to give the ships some learning / ant AI so that they can show how they go about establishing trade routes.

The end intention being to create a bit simpler but more abstract version of trade to represent secrets and conversation analysis. Allowing people to feel like they are navigating unseen trade routes through conversation.

The next step is pathing, like conversation is a path through ideas a trade route has a more literal path to navigate. The boat has a pretty nifty movement. Indeed I have actually spent a lot of time just enjoying navigating the little boat. I make it so that it constantly diverts any momentum into forward momentum. If the boat tries to move against its axis then it will resist more than if it moves forward. This gives the boat a pretty unique water feel, although it moves like a motor boat but meh.

Here is where I would put a HTML5 unity build but I’m broke as shit and can’t afford the licence. Instead here is a video of me being bad at boating. (yes that is the slightest plea for attention to my lonely donate button, I DON’T KNOW HOW TO ASK FOR MONEY!).

I will likely post the full code at some point for others education and enjoyment.

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