Night Of The Living Economy: Limit Theory Dev Diary

Economics in action

“I would not be exaggerating if I were to say I think this is the most influential month of development so far,” says Josh Parnell. I’ve been used to letting the Limit Theory dev diaries just play, letting gaming’s equivalent of Bob Ross talk and relax me. Perhaps that’s why I’m so happy the game is being made? He’s pulling some sort of high-level vocal massage trick. Well it didn’t work in this update, because he’s very excited about this month’s work on his Elite-like space game. It was the month where he decided to focus on simulating the economy: creating a swarm of NPCs ships in a single sector and examining how they react to supply and demand. He’s breathing life into his gorgeous universe.

You can see the economy flow in terrifying graphs that make no sense to me, but you’re seeing a very early implementation of the economic view, anyway. They’re really just showing raw data and probably need a lot more context. You can see the flow and spikes as the hundreds of ships mine and deliver the ore from the belt and start their economic journey. I’ll leave the little surprise about what’s driving this supply and demand for you to discover.

I keep forgetting to link to this, but Josh also keeps dev log that’s full of background detail. You can even read it in his voice.


  1. Rich says:

    …and on the seventh day…

    • vlonk says:

      He finished his work and rested.

      Then he looked at his work and consulted a power even greater than him, the almighty and omniscient metacritic which shall judge him and his work for all eternity.

  2. WrenBoy says:

    I regularly read his dev logs. I’m almost worried for him he’s so productive.

    I hope for his sake that he’s going to take a week off here and there.

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      kfix says:

      When, and only when, he finishes this marvelous creation, I will buy him a big feather bed and he can sleep. Until then, he must work to the exclusion of all else.

      I am interested in Star Citizen. I am excited about Elite: Dangerous. Limit Theory makes me weep with indescribable joy.

  3. Geebs says:

    The last couple of months have been incredibly impressive – the actual gameplay systems really seem to be coming together. That speaks really well for how it should play (although as a massive fan of shader porn and procedural generation I enjoy the graphics posts even more)

  4. Swanny says:

    I like that you called him the Bob Ross of game design. He makes it look so beautiful and easy, and now and then, he seems to amaze himself. I am more excited for this game than for Star Citizen.

  5. Tiberius says:

    There is a noticable frame drop (coming from a guy used to only 30fps) after the addition of all these NPCs. This scale seems impressive, but the final product seems like it’s promising this, thousands-fold. Once he scales this game to full I’ll bet he spends a loooong time trying to optimize that sucker. Full simulations are very taxing on CPUs, and this game does all of that with fancy graphics on top of that.

    • SuicideKing says:

      You know it’s interesting, a few days ago i was reading a thread on the Hard Light Production forums (they’re the main folks in charge of the FreeSpace 2 Source Code Project) regarding collision detection and optimisation of algorithms.

      So naturally, I was wondering how Josh was handling that here, and mentally went “aha!” when he said in the video that he had disabled collisions for performance reasons.

      Hope he manages to crack that. I think the really difficult bits of the game will come up now; i wish him all the best!

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      geoffreyk says:

      Perhaps he can take a page from EA/Maxis, and offload all of those super complex simulations to “the cloud!”. Or, you know, just fudge all the numbers to imitate scale…

      Personally, I loved the bit where he perks up, *recurses through the market interface a few times* “Recursion!” *chuckles* “Just for fun… No real purpose to what I just did.” Sounds like a man who hasn’t slept in a day or two.

    • crinkles esq. says:

      I’m curious if some of the simulation work could be offloaded to the GPU — crunch unit updates in massive parallel, then resolve any conflicts back on the CPU.

      As for collision performance, perhaps something like LOD could be done for that, so that there’s a very simple collision model in the universe, except for a sphere around the player. I don’t remember what Josh promised, but it doesn’t seem like full physics sim for every object in the universe is quite necessary.

      BTW, it’s nice (and alleviates some concern) to see Josh working on the actual gameplay. And I think the trading UI is pretty slick.

  6. captain nemo says:

    When I’ve had a crap day at the office, and am thoroughly jaded with computers, I can watch Josh’s videos and get all excited about them again

  7. biggergun says:

    Josh is, like, THE game developer.

  8. Crayfish says:

    Josh does have a very pleasing and soothing voice. I can see him being a very popular guest on podcasts in the future.

  9. Sjatplat says:

    Limit theory makes me wanna pee in the shower. I can´t wait for this to happen.

    • Stevostin says:

      Wait, what ?

      • Sjatplat says:

        It was the most self-indulgent activity I could think of at the time. It was meant as a positive thing. But I understand now that mixing my pee with the gleeful anticipation of this great looking and sounding game was wrong. I guess I become 20 years younger following the progress of this GREATEST GAME OF ALL TIME.

        Hope that this will silence the doubt (cap-locks included).

  10. DarkFarmer says:

    “letting gaming’s equivalent of Bob Ross talk and relax me” YES!!!!

  11. Chris says:

    The worst name for a planet would be Paedo XVII.