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Permaculture Game/ Simulator

 
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Hello Folks, greetings from New Zealand,

The title says most of it: I was thinking of creating a Permaculture game/ simulator used not only for serious scientific, and educational purposes but for fun as well. My friends and I are currently in a more-or-less informal part time startup group at the moment, and we thought that this would be a great idea to pursue.

There is at least one other person attempting this that I know of:

https://permies.com/t/53977/rid-grass

And I would be keen to know who else would be interested in helping produce it. If it already exists, awesome. Please show me where to download it.



We were considering doing a free version of maybe a small garden simulator, which could give you advice on planting, and crop rotation, given one's latitude, location, rainfall, soil conditions etc.
Perhaps, then having several versions, with the more expensive* versions having more interesting features, such as full blown, 3d terrain, modelling water flows, pest species, and plant guilds, taking into account topology, mineral content and soil structure to make a training product for die-hard permaculture enthusiasts/ teachers.

Perhaps something like these:

http://theselfsufficientliving.com/10-free-garden-landscape-design-software-tool/

But, dynamic in the time dimension. watch your plants grow, (or not) depending on environmental factors. Change the contours of the land to see how water run-off occurs, and nourish your land with compost, for improved yields. (sort of thing)


*unfortunately, while I like to do this, simply because I am a permaculture nut and I find it fascinating, my friends (who are mostly students, and need to pay the rent) would like to get some form of lucre for their efforts. (Hence a price tag.) Also, making polished software does take a lot of time and effort, so I don't think that the final version could be open source.
However, I was also considering crowd funding this, as it might be a better way to cover our overheads. Also, then we could make it open source, and everyone could use it free of charge! (more aligned with the culture of permaculture, I would say...)
Whatever the case, I would love to release a simple, initial tool which would suit most beginner gardeners for free.

From the Permies community, I would be very appreciative if you could give me your opinion:

a) would you use this?
b) how much would you be willing to pay/donate?
c) what would you like to see in it?
d) could you help us? (even if you aren't a computery person, we could do with data on what plants like what other plants, yeilds in certain soils, what water concentrations will kill them. etc.)


Any thoughts and/or (constructive) criticism is most welcome

All the Best,

Henry


 
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Henry Coulson wrote:
a) would you use this?
b) how much would you be willing to pay/donate?
c) what would you like to see in it?
d) could you help us? (even if you aren't a computery person, we could do with data on what plants like what other plants, yeilds in certain soils, what water concentrations will kill them.



A.) Yes

B.) $5-20 depending on sample and preview. Possibly $60 if it was amazing

C.) I would like to see updates on Permies.  I could see similarities between Civilization, Sim City, and garden planning software.  I'll think some more on it.  School systems might purchase the software.

D.) I'll keep you in mind.  A wiki page could help maintain reliable updates for plant/habit info and real time updates for various activities.  If Permies wanted to document their experiences into a useful data pack, that could be inputed into the program?  I don't know, just thinking.

Good luck, I would like to play it in winter time.
 
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Here's a thread I started a while back. A permaculture game please


Maybe it'll be of some use to you.  I thought there were a lot of good ideas there.  too bad nobody ran with it.  Anyway... it's there.  I'd really like to see something come of the idea.  

Best wishes

 
Henry Coulson
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Yes, but the devil is in the detail.

I would hesitate to call it a "game" as such. I would like it to be more of an educational tool, (which isn't to say that it can't be fun), so a simulation would be better title.

But that is a potato/potah-toe situation.

Steve Taylor wrote:
A.) Yes

B.) $5-20 depending on sample and preview. Possibly $60 if it was amazing

C.) I would like to see updates on Permies.  I could see similarities between Civilization, Sim City, and garden planning software.  I'll think some more on it.  School systems might purchase the software.

D.) I'll keep you in mind.  A wiki page could help maintain reliable updates for plant/habit info and real time updates for various activities.  If Permies wanted to document their experiences into a useful data pack, that could be inputed into the program?  I don't know, just thinking.




Regarding the feedback, thanks Steve, that is very helpful. I agree that regular updates would be good, to make sure that it doesn't die a lonely death. I will try to post updates on here, and then migrate to a better place when possible. Cogs will not be turning on this project for at least another couple of weeks while we do some market research.



 
pollinator
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I think this is a great idea!

As a computer programmer with two decades of experience (C#, .Net, SQL Server, JavaScript, etc.) and a card game designer, I do have a few suggestions:

1. If you are looking to make money, you may want to eventually appeal a broad audience.  What can you offer the average (non-permie) gardener that would insidiously turn them into a Permaculture Jedi?  
2. To start with, a toolkit that leads people through the Permaculture Design process would be very helpful for all of us Permaculture planners, and maybe not that graphically complex. Ex: a Random Assembly generator, a Sector Analysis tool, a Highest Use tool, a Needs-and-Resource Analysis tool, etc, etc, etc.  A Permaculture Zone planner might be a little more complex - especially if you start to overlay sectors and stored data. I think this is kind of what you have in mind.  You could, however, start with these simpler (non-graphic, user input) tools.  These could be built with the idea that you would eventually overlay them into a more gamified version of the product.  Offer the prototype for 99 cents, build a following, create some buzz, run a Kickstarter (that's why you build the easier prototype - to create the buzz and gather a ton of FB friends and followers) and then start working on the cooler, gamified stuff.
3. If you are looking for an alternate, fairly simple project to help get things rolling, people have been asking me for an app or online version that would simulate the Food Forest card games.  I don't honestly know how much demand there is for this, but it's a comparatively easy build since most of the graphics already exist on the deck of cards.  It could be as simple as moving virtual cards around on a screen.  I can't pay for but would be happy to offer a partnership deal to the right team.
4. I have a ton of other ideas for you, but don't have any time to post it all right now.  Maybe I'll return later with more.

Please feel free to ping me for advice on any of the above.  Advice is free with no strings.  I love to help people, and it might save you a ton of time/money.  

 
Henry Coulson
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Karl Treen wrote:I think this is a great idea!

As a computer programmer with two decades of experience (C#, .Net, SQL Server, JavaScript, etc.) and a card game designer, I do have a few suggestions:

1. If you are looking to make money, you may want to eventually appeal a broad audience.  What can you offer the average (non-permie) gardener that would insidiously turn them into a Permaculture Jedi?  
2. To start with, a toolkit that leads people through the Permaculture Design process would be very helpful for all of us Permaculture planners, and maybe not that graphically complex. Ex: a Random Assembly generator, a Sector Analysis tool, a Highest Use tool, a Needs-and-Resource Analysis tool, etc, etc, etc.  A Permaculture Zone planner might be a little more complex - especially if you start to overlay sectors and stored data. I think this is kind of what you have in mind.  You could, however, start with these simpler (non-graphic, user input) tools.  These could be built with the idea that you would eventually overlay them into a more gamified version of the product.  Offer the prototype for 99 cents, build a following, create some buzz, run a Kickstarter (that's why you build the easier prototype - to create the buzz and gather a ton of FB friends and followers) and then start working on the cooler, gamified stuff.
3. If you are looking for an alternate, fairly simple project to help get things rolling, people have been asking me for an app or online version that would simulate the Food Forest card games.  I don't honestly know how much demand there is for this, but it's a comparatively easy build since most of the graphics already exist on the deck of cards.  It could be as simple as moving virtual cards around on a screen.  I can't pay for but would be happy to offer a partnership deal to the right team.
4. I have a ton of other ideas for you, but don't have any time to post it all right now.  Maybe I'll return later with more.



Hi Karl, thanks for that. I agree that the best way to keep the momentum going is via regular updates. however, stuff isn't going to get started on this for at least a couple of weeks.  We still need to do a bit more market research.
 
gardener
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I always thought that a "permaculture game" based off the farmville style game play would go over well.  It's hard for me to say what I would pay, there's just way too many variable for what it could be.  A simple game I would probably want for free with ads or for less than a couple $ without ads, a really detailed simulation/design program (I'm talking Vectorworks level) I'd be willing to pay a couple thousand for.

You could beta with one simple small homestead and if things worked/got enough attention you could expand to having the choice of starting your homestead in various climates.  

As you build, different items would have modifier attributes like corn, squash, and beans having an attribute that if they get planted close enough together you've made a 'three-sisters' guild that increases productivity of all three by 5%; Have attributes that quantify amount of shade cast and amount of sun needed by the items and modify plant productivity specs accordingly. There's lot's of other examples floating around in my head, but these give you an idea of what lines I'm thinking along.

I've noticed that my kids really liked the Doodle God type games where the whole purpose of the game was to figure out what things you could combine to make different things (can't say I really understand the appeal, but hey, it was a best selling game series) so that could be a major component of the game, finding different permaculture combinations as a set of achievements.  Get enough achievements in a certain area and you get some kind of badge or skill: 'Water Harvester' if you get a bunch of water collection achievements, 'Guild Master' if you find all the plant guilds in the game, etc.  

The great thing about this system is that it will get people thinking about how to combine functions or how to put elements together to increase productivity.  Throughout the game there could be little hints given about permaculture principles and each time an achievement is earned there is a quick teaching moment about why the principle behind the achievement is important/useful.

Good luck with the game, I'd really like to see something like this out there, wish I had the time to tackle it fully myself.

 
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Henry Coulson wrote:Hello Folks, greetings from New Zealand,

The title says most of it: I was thinking of creating a Permaculture game/ simulator used not only for serious scientific, and educational purposes but for fun as well. My friends and I are currently in a more-or-less informal part time startup group at the moment, and we thought that this would be a great idea to pursue.

There is at least one other person attempting this that I know of:

https://permies.com/t/53977/rid-grass

And I would be keen to know who else would be interested in helping produce it. If it already exists, awesome. Please show me where to download it.



We were considering doing a free version of maybe a small garden simulator, which could give you advice on planting, and crop rotation, given one's latitude, location, rainfall, soil conditions etc.
Perhaps, then having several versions, with the more expensive* versions having more interesting features, such as full blown, 3d terrain, modelling water flows, pest species, and plant guilds, taking into account topology, mineral content and soil structure to make a training product for die-hard permaculture enthusiasts/ teachers.

Perhaps something like these:

http://theselfsufficientliving.com/10-free-garden-landscape-design-software-tool/

But, dynamic in the time dimension. watch your plants grow, (or not) depending on environmental factors. Change the contours of the land to see how water run-off occurs, and nourish your land with compost, for improved yields. (sort of thing)


*unfortunately, while I like to do this, simply because I am a permaculture nut and I find it fascinating, my friends (who are mostly students, and need to pay the rent) would like to get some form of lucre for their efforts. (Hence a price tag.) Also, making polished software does take a lot of time and effort, so I don't think that the final version could be open source.
However, I was also considering crowd funding this, as it might be a better way to cover our overheads. Also, then we could make it open source, and everyone could use it free of charge! (more aligned with the culture of permaculture, I would say...)
Whatever the case, I would love to release a simple, initial tool which would suit most beginner gardeners for free.

From the Permies community, I would be very appreciative if you could give me your opinion:

a) would you use this?
b) how much would you be willing to pay/donate?
c) what would you like to see in it?
d) could you help us? (even if you aren't a computery person, we could do with data on what plants like what other plants, yeilds in certain soils, what water concentrations will kill them. etc.)


Any thoughts and/or (constructive) criticism is most welcome

All the Best,

Henry




Personally I’d make it a freemium and add as ad system that makes people have to do surveys to earn “coins” to speed up crop production or the time is a long wait but it should be able to balanced with survey and not keep rising up to the point that people have to pay. A lot of people don’t like freemium but there are some very well balanced ones out there that you can earn the stuff you need if your willing to put a bit of survey effort.

And advertisements is big money.
 
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Dani Cohen wrote:
Personally I’d make it a freemium and add as ad system that makes people have to do surveys to earn “coins” to speed up crop production or the time is a long wait but it should be able to balanced with survey and not keep rising up to the point that people have to pay. A lot of people don’t like freemium but there are some very well balanced ones out there that you can earn the stuff you need if your willing to put a bit of survey effort.

And advertisements is big money.



My two cents: I wouldn't play a game no matter how fun it is if it had time-gated content with an optional pay-to-win-faster sort of scenario. I imagine more like Stardew Valley with more realistic and permaculture-related concepts. (It is awfully difficult to make plant guilds when there's not a lot of perennials to pick from in the first place). There are a lot of gardening games out there with very "cutesy" content but I wouldn't call most of them very educational in that respect. If it were a good indie game with depth of content, I might pay $20-30 for it on Steam.

I'm currently looking for a good landscape design program since I don't want to draw everything by hand, so that aspect is more interesting to me currently
 
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One example of a game that has been very successful without costing a penny to play but includes purchases for "frill/cosmetics only", is Path of Exile. I enjoy it a lot, and perhaps it provides an example of a way to make money on a game without making the game "pay to win".

For a permaculture-focused farming game/simulation, you provide all the base features for free, but then have art packs that can be purchased for a few dollars each. I'm thinking packs like deciduous trees, evergreen trees, deciduous shrubs, evergreen shrubs, flowers, expanded perennials, expanded ground covers, etc. You could/should include a way for users to import their own models into the game, for example Cities: Skylines (another game I enjoy) allows you to create your own building models and share them with others, but also offers packs of models that all work well together as downloads for $3-5 each.

I've never tried Farming Simulator, but it seems to focus mostly on driving the big combines around, so not a good comparison. There's also Wurm Unlimited, which is a medieval based survival game that include a huuuuge range of skills that you improve with practice. When I played that I had large orchards lined with berries and other crops like flax and cotton that grew over time and were harvested and turned into foods and fabrics which were then cooked or turned into poultices and clothing etc.

I think something that starts with a 3D survival/simulator like Wurm Unlimited, minus the trolls and dragons but adding bugs and birds and diseases on the smaller scale of the homestead, would be rather fun for learning (including text excerpts explaining the interactions if a person opens the expanded info option).
 
Henry Coulson
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Hi All,

So over a year later, and I have had to quit my job to actually start work on this. (It seems to be a pretty enormous task, actually).
Progress is slow, as at the moment, I am the only one working on this. However, there seems to be quite the variety of threads started regarding a Permaculture game, and it seems that all of them have perished in their quest. However, I suspect the people who started those threads are still interested in completing the task, so I might reach out to them and see if they are interested in banding together.

The first problem immediately apparent is the lack of usable data out there on what crops work well under what conditions. This means that to begin with, any game/simulation will tend more towards the game side of things, so I wouldn't get all excited just yet.

The best I could find with regards to modelling crops yields under various conditions comes from here:

https://dssat.net/

They have a bunch of experiments which one can run experiments against, and will probably have the best simulations out there. However, it is exceedingly dry, and seems more a tool for academics and corporate types, than the lay-person who wishes to learn more.

List of related threads:
https://permies.com/t/9160/permaculture-simulation-game
https://permies.com/t/34741/game#824598
https://permies.com/t/22514/Permaculture-Game
https://permies.com/t/18836/request-comments-permaculture-simulator

if anyone finds any other threads mentioning a permaculture game/simulation, please let me know.



Cheers,

Henry
 
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Hi Henry,

So I recently started working on a similar project to what you describe. I also have some ideas on how to make this pay for itself that I'd love to get your take on. When I started, I also took a crack at the back end but was quickly daunted by the complexity of the simulation necessary to do permaculture justice -- props to you for trying to tackle this! Instead, I've started putting together a smart-phone and web application 2D map user interface as I knew I would need such an interface once I figured out how to crack the simulation nut. I have an engineering background and enough experience with front end and back end software development to be dangerous. I'd love to chat about where you are going with your work, based on what you are describing I think we have a complimentary overlap in agendas. I'd love to chat and see if we can work together!

If you are interested in talking, I would love to take this to a private channel. You can reach me at gmail. My address is simply my firstname.lastname@gmail.com. I look forward to hearing from you!

Cheers,
Andrew Lyjak
 
Henry Coulson
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Hi Andrew,

Yeah, so I sent off an email to you. You are right, the complexity is immense here, and I have some plans as to how to go about tackling it. But I think that it will be necessary to get a band of programmers together to tackle this.

Cheers,
Henry
 
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Hi Henry,

Odd that I should see this at this time - I'm also from/in Aotearoa and a Permie (unfortunately not a designer/programmer) and was looking to see whether there was a permaculture game around. There might be people in the permaculture community in NZ that would be keen to help. I can reach out if you'd like, not sure who you've been in touch with so far.

Cheers,
Mikesh
 
Henry Coulson
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Hi Mikesh,

Hey another Kiwi! I am sorry to say that in all of my scouting, there is not a Permaculture game around yet (that I know of, at least) and there might not be one for a while. (Unless someone makes one before I do, and I hope that happens so I can buy it, and go on living my life.)
I have been in touch with a few programmers from overseas who are making earnest footsteps in that direction as well. But none from New Zealand.
If you know of any programmers who might be interested in helping or giving advice, then I would certainly be interested.

Cheers,

Henry

P.S. Interesting fact, the guy who made the New Zealand Permaculture page on Facebook lives down the road from me. His lawns are all gardens.
 
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Yes, I am interested in being involved - this is something I have planned to do also and (after posting the idea of Simbi) have an impressive list of people who are willing to help from the field of IT!  Email me:  c.laurikainen@live.com.au

P.S.  I am an environmental scientist who currently teaches the PDC (Permaculture Design Certificate) course.  
 
pollinator
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I, too, had come up with this idea about 12 years ago. Had a programmer who had not a clue about permaculture, relying solely on me for guidance. Quickly realized how daunting a task this was for all the variables to consider and have inputs for, working off of the PD Manual. Thought it was too ahead of its time - not enough aware of PD, too few willing to pay for it/invest in it/be willing to do the work for the love of it, without compensation or delayed compensation, too few interested in, or knowledgeable enough, to work on the project, sooo much time involved in the development. Dozens and dozens of hours of notes on a laptop that no longer will boot (Win XP). Might be able to retrieve the information, didn't have it backed up. I am interested in contributing in some capacity. Winter is a better time for me to jump back in.
 
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a) definitely!
b) really depends on contents/quality. Maybe $40?
c) I teach life skills to high school students and would use it with them. They enjoy humor but also relavent subject material. I would also use it with our own children. I think kids should be learning about permaculture as soon as possible.
d) Of course!
 
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Hey all,

Great initiatives on permaculture simulation / game! Been thinking about such just for fun and looking if anyone has made anything resembling this.

Wanted to share also that a friend of mine is working on a similar project. It's called "self-sufficiency community simulator". He's written a description of the idea in Finnish to github:

https://github.com/viznut/ovys/blob/master/doc/ovys-desc-fi.txt

[EDIT: Also a brief English description from the end of this article:
http://viznut.fi/texts-en/reaching_for_the_blocks.html

"Its work title is "Ovys", from the Finnish for "self-sufficient community simulator". It will be more like a game, a learning toy or an imagination assistant than a serious design/modelling tool, but I hope it will eventually end up being useful for some real-world planning as well. I also dream about coupling it with a machine learning system that could discover low-tech ideas from the blind spots of human visionaries.

I will write more about Ovys once it is closer to the first prototype stage. Anyway, it currently simulates solar radiation, airflow and heat transfer in various materials in a 3D grid world. After the first prototype (and perhaps some crowdfunding), I plan to implement the likes of the water cycle, plant growth, nutrient cycles and human agents at least in some kind of a "minecrafty" way that can be improved in later versions by other people.

As a game, one might describe it as a realism-oriented reimagination of Dwarf Fortress. Some day, one might perhaps even describe it as a realism-oriented reimagination of Civilization."]

So briefly the idea to simulate different ways of living to find the most sustainable options and find possibly unpredictable and creative solutions with the help of for example a neural network computer program playing the simulator.

Here's a somewhat related article from him in English which explains his minimalist philosophy for not wasting resources in the (both digital & real) world:

http://viznut.fi/texts-en/resource_leak_bug_of_our_civilization.html

I hinted him about this thread and hope that maybe you can find ways to either collaborate or at least learn and get inspired by each other's projects.

P. S. Another idea I've got related to this and maybe deserving a new topic is a permaculture focused area in an existing virtual world like Second Life, Sansar or even Roblox. Does someone know if there already are some? Dan Fisker apparently has some Minecraft implementation: https://permies.com/t/40/22514/Permaculture-Game

These kinds of permaculture gardens inside popular games and platforms could spread the permaculture ideas inside these platforms also and maybe help visioning the more dedicated simulators or games.
 
Henry Coulson
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Hey Matias

I had a quick look at the links that you attached, and he seems like an interesting fellow. Would be keen to have a chat with him. I actually knew a Finnish guy from Turku. He was a crazy cat, but that is another story for another day.

I did try and get a good way into the back end of a Permaculture simulator, and it got messy real fast. There is almost no data on useful information regarding which plants prefer which soil types, water diffusion rates in soil etc.
I did consider making a small game, but it would be a bit of a lie to call anything I can make at this point a "simulation". The project for me is currently sitting around number 5 on the list of priorities for me in life. So unless there is someone (possibly your friend) who wanted to work on it with me, it is likely to remain a low priority

But, yeah, by all means I would be keen to get in touch. PM me if you want to.
 
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It warms my heart to finally stumble across this thread, after so many years of boring my friends by talking about how awesome a Sim Permaculture game would be. But these days, with so much fear around the hot topic of climate change, I think a Sim Save-Civilization would be most appropriate. Not singularly food growing, but the entire re-stabilization of the world's ecosystems at large being the goal - of which Permaculture Sports would be part of it. What would you do, if you had the resources, to save the world? THE WORLD IS IN YOUR HANDS DEAR PLAYER. You can appeal to a wider audience by having a super easy level - where success in saving the world is likely and the point is more of sandbox pleasurebuilding - and you have more challenging levels, that require ever keener conceptions of the scientific specifics from the player, so students of this game are continually challenged into it more.

Just some thoughts!

May those who are still keeping this idea alive be blessed with excessive success from the agents of the universe that so granteth!


Kyle
 
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I have been working on a permaculture/regenerative agriculture game concept for a little time now. I would love to share ideas and collaborate if possible. My biggest contribution is on the ideas and conceptual front. I'm still very new at coding and art.
 
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Hi all,

I'm working on a simulator game that includes aspects of permaculture.

It's based on the Stanford Torus (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stanford_torus), a design done by NASA in the 70s for a self-sustaining rotating space habitat for 10,000 people. It includes agriculture, raising animals, using fish to recycle nutrients -- all with a very small atmosphere (compared to Earth). The basic iteration will have generic "plant" "animal" and "person" categories, but v2 will be broken down into Dairies, Beef, etc.

I'll be posting videos from time to time on my Youtube channel (http://youtube.com/granthawkins88), and if you ping me on Twitter (@granawkins) I'll send you a link to the current project!

I'm doing this because (1) I'm a huge fan of space exploration AND sustainable agriculture, and (2) to teach myself to code. It's going well so far. I'm only marginally familiar with this stuff, and am looking for feedback on my approach.

Cheers,
Grant
 
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Grant Hawkins wrote:Hi all,

I'm working on a simulator game that includes aspects of permaculture.

It's based on the Stanford Torus (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stanford_torus), a design done by NASA in the 70s for a self-sustaining rotating space habitat for 10,000 people. It includes agriculture, raising animals, using fish to recycle nutrients -- all with a very small atmosphere (compared to Earth). The basic iteration will have generic "plant" "animal" and "person" categories, but v2 will be broken down into Dairies, Beef, etc.

I'll be posting videos from time to time on my Youtube channel (http://youtube.com/granthawkins88), and if you ping me on Twitter (@granawkins) I'll send you a link to the current project!

I'm doing this because (1) I'm a huge fan of space exploration AND sustainable agriculture, and (2) to teach myself to code. It's going well so far. I'm only marginally familiar with this stuff, and am looking for feedback on my approach.

Cheers,
Grant



Hi Grant - this is cool! I’m not on Twitter or FB and was wondering if there’s another way to get a link from you. I used to work in corporate UX & I study game design as a hobby & work on tabletop RPG materials with my BF, so I’m interested as hell in seeing what you’re able to do with this!
 
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