The last two weeks have been hectic. Cookiemonger and the Owen Monster caught a nasty, nasty bug and were down for the count. I’m still not necessarily in the clear, but I’ve avoided anything awful to this point.

Apart from that, there have been adventures in programming!

I was like, way behind when I began the semester, but I feel like I’m making real progress now. I almost feel like I’m learning how to do the types of things I thought I’d be learning when I started the classes. Yay?

For example.

When I sat down to do my game design thing in my notebook yesterday at lunch, I was trying to bash out an idea for representing markets. Our group’s still in a holding pattern–too many of us couldn’t make it last week–and that’s given me time to think around speculative trading in Traveller.

I have some problems with how worlds are generated. It’s too complicated.

Likewise, it takes too damned long to figure out what goods are available and at what price, et cetera, et cetera. So in addition to trying to redesign the system, I’m working on some code so I don’t have to do all the things by hand.

Will I have something before Wednesday night? Almost certainly not. But!

In learning how to read UML and translate it to say, Java, I’m figuring out how to “think” in classes. And that helps. It helped me realize among other things, that the “markets” I was trying to represent were lists of buyers, vendors, and goods.

Do the markets themselves have attributes? Good question!

First however, I need to figure out how buyers are generated. Then how vendors are generated. And how goods are generated. And to figure out the latter (goods), I need a definitive list of goods available for purchase.

Which has me rereading my Business 101 textbook and making copious notes.

I have some ideas, but at the same time I’m thinking about “inventories” in general. I’ve also been researching the game Victoria 2, which was brought to my attention … somehow. I don’t remember exactly. But I’ve been peering into some of its systems and mechanics from afar, trying to understand its “POPs.”

From afar (I don’t have the game), it looks like POPs are an evolution of citizens from Civilization. POPs can promote (and demote) based on politics, religion, education, economic conditions, and so forth, but they can also migrate.

And it’s that migrating thing that has me most interested. Because what if inventories were things that could move around, say be spread from character to character–if an inventory was more like a field than say, a collection of objects, then you could derive some interesting values from them.

It’s all pretty nebulous right now, but I hope to make something.

Right now I’m working on some basic value-boosting attributes that an object might have. Basic item attributes are ORIGIN and ARTISAN, which are shorthand for “where did it come from?” and “who put it together?”

Consider a gold mine. Gold that comes out of that mine is going to share certain properties. Those properties are represented by the attribute ORIGIN. When the gold is minted, it acquires an ARTISAN attribute for a group or person.

If some of those coins are melted down and reformed into a bust or some gold leaf for elaborate outfits, then the ARTISAN attribute will definitely change — and if its allowed with something, the ORIGIN might change as well.

The point though, is that if a chest of those coins is lost on the bottom of the sea (or stolen by goblins and secreted away), only to be recovered centuries later, those attributes can be called upon for determining the “value” of an object.

But the attribute that had me scratching my head was FORGERY.

Let’s say a character wants to create a forgery of an artwork (or create some counterfeit currency, or cut some drugs, you know whatever). Objects with the FORGERY attribute have to be counted among similar objects unless the nature of the FORGERY is detected.

Then, you have to roll randomly to see how many FORGERY items wind up in your possession after a transaction. Crazy, huh?

I mean, some of this is thinking out loud, but it’s also in my notebook with little UML diagrams describing Markets and Vendors and Fields and Methods.

Some things are clearer than they’ve been before. Whole new vistas open.

Other things have gotten more … complicated.