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Subject: Modeling and Simulation software recommendations... rss

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O B
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When I was in High School (back in the day) I was introduced to a modeling and simulation program for the (then cutting edge) Mac Plus (I believe it might have been STELLA, but I'm not sure).

It allowed you to create a flow diagram of a complex system - for example the population of deer in a natural reserve, by setting up a network of sources, sinks, and formulas that would modify various variables. In the case of the the simple deer simulation we ran it included annual birth rates, natural predators, food supply's annual cyclic cycles, etc. This allowed us to model how in that circumstance unchecked deer population growth would lead to cycles of population booms followed by famine.

As I was pondering the various sub-systems in a game I was playing and thinking about how it compared against a game I was designing, I had the thought that perhaps similar software could be used to help model the dynamics of game systems. This could help designers both be aware of how their various systems explicitly interacted, and also allow tuning of the game over various random variables.

I know much of this can be achieved with much effort and spreadsheet expertise, but I fondly recall how easy it was to set up the simulation with a simple GUI.

Is anyone familiar with any modern simulation software that they could recommend (preferably for the Mac)?

Has anyone used (or heard of other game designers using) such software in the process of their design?

Thanks in advance!
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Nate K
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adorablerocket wrote:

Has anyone used (or heard of other game designers using) such software in the process of their design?



Wow, your high school was clearly superior to mine.

Anyway, I know that Thomas Lehmann used a series of computer simulations when designing Race for the Galaxy, so it's definitely something that game designers do. Can't say I have any experience with it, myself.
 
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Joshua Lougheed
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I never bothered learning it, but I think Simulink does that kind of thing. I don't know if it works with Mac and I suspect it would be expensive.
 
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Joe Mucchiello
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Most people cannot understand how to use Solver in Excel. What you are asking involves higher levels of math comprehension that is highly uncommon. People with an engineering background would probably start with Excel and perhaps move to MathLab. Full on simulation software though is rare except among people studying high level math or high level statistics.

I suspect this is even the case among video games you will find little use of simulation systems within the games (barring Sim City/The Sims family of games which actually are simulation systems - but that is only because Will Wright started those games as simulations systems he wrote from scratch in C).

Personally, this falls into a category of game design I think is often neglected: Research. Few designers research real world results (whether through encyclopedias or simulations) when creating the game engine. And this is generally because there too many variables in the real world such that stuffing them into a board game would create a very tedious game. Good enough rules game design. Research is usually restricted to theme.
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O B
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jmucchiello wrote:
Most people cannot understand how to use Solver in Excel. What you are asking involves higher levels of math comprehension that is highly uncommon. People with an engineering background would probably start with Excel and perhaps move to MathLab. Full on simulation software though is rare except among people studying high level math or high level statistics.


That may be true, but if Stella was easy enough for me to use in middle school, I'm fairly certain it'd be easier for me to use today than to try and figure out Excel. :-)
 
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Chun Ping
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In my course in university, we use matlab-simulink for research of all kinds. If you have programming and possibly engineering backgrounds, that's definitely one of the best and easiest to use software out there.

but for making games, it seems like a bit of an over kill.
 
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Matt Riddle
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cpf86 wrote:
In my course in university, we use matlab-simulink for research of all kinds. If you have programming and possibly engineering backgrounds, that's definitely one of the best and easiest to use software out there.

but for making games, it seems like a bit of an over kill.


we use matlab/simulink at work (engineer) and I could see the game design advantages, but I gotta think getting a home copy is cost prohibitive
 
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O B
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Thanks, I'm going to look at Simulink (and Stella) and I seem to be finding some other open source alternatives as well. I'll update this post after a little research.
 
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