Commodity: Limit Theory Dev Diary Shows Dynamic Markets

We are all tired back here.

Someone needs to tenderly stroke the asteroids and wing tips of the latest Limit Theory development diary. If Craig was here, he’d probably be bouncing up and down with excitement about the game’s procedural ambition, its electric-coloured interface, and developer Josh Parnell’s relaxing voice. Craig isn’t here though. Instead you’ve got me, and I’m trapped in a post-bank holiday mental fug. I’m going to stumble through this introduction like I’ve never written a paragraph before and quickly point you to the new video down below, which shows the newly implemented simulation of the game’s commodity market.

The first three-and-a-half minutes of the video are apologies, but after that it gets into depth about the economic make-up of a solar system. There are lots of confusing graphs which show the rise and fall of material prices over time. Parnell spots the rising price of one commodity, buys it before it reaches its peak, and then tries to sell it to turn a profit. It goes wrong – the game isn’t finished yet remember, and things like storage menus don’t work – but I like the idea that I can make a living in Limit Theory without ever firing a laser, as long as I can get enough starting capital to become a space-city trader. A singleplayer EVE Online is strangely compelling.

Parnell also makes clear that looking at these graphs is optional, but it’s important that these systems exist to underpin everything else that’s happening in the game. If you’d rather impact the markets the old-fashioned way, the video also shows plenty of spaceships flying about to either mine asteroids or to carry out a little piracy by attacking those mining ships.

My favourite part is near the end though, when the camera lingers for a moment over a space station as dozens of little dots – each one a spaceship – docks or undocks with it. I want to just sit and watch the AI do its thing in this game. Can I have it as a screensaver?


  1. mf says:

    Im pretty hyped for this one. X Rebirth was a spetacular failure so this has to feed my space empire-kill-or-dominate-everybody hunger. Also, lazers pew pew.

    • slerbal says:

      Limit Theory looks to be on the other end of the continuum from X: Rebirth in every way (as in: it looks really, really good!).

      I love hearing how he has been thinking through the different elements ant experimenting and iterating on ideas – that is how games development should be done.

      More on this game please!

  2. trooperwally says:

    Yeah, limit theory is looking really good. I really hope he can pull it off. My current biggest concern is that the simulated economy takes too much CPU time simulating things meaning the game doesn’t perform so well.

    Anyway, even if it’s a disaster we can always start a kickstarter for a series of audio books read by Josh Parnell. That guy has the best voice ever.

    • Stardreamer says:

      I don’t know that I’ve seen any evidence of that. Josh did mention for his latest video he had 100 NPCs at work, with no collision detection implemented, and he was starting to see some slow-down in the framerate, but after a couple of days optimisation work he’s got that number up to 500 NPCs at a smooth frame. I’d expect to see that figure improve over time too, although maybe not as dramatically.

      He’s also said that the Out-of-Sector calculations are a pittance compared to the in-system rendering overheads, so that’s not going to be an issue.

      So I’m not sure we have much to worry about. Every challenge he’s faced so far he’s beaten. :)

  3. staberas says:

    Limit Theory: Advanced Spreadsheet Simulator Edition

  4. SuicideKing says:

    In light of this thread on collision detection in the FreeSpace Open engine, I’m curious as to how Josh will go about it.

    Probably multithreading will be the answer.

    • Shadow says:

      Yeah, let’s hope he started development with 64bit and multicore-support in mind, features which are shockingly uncommon in games these days.

      • Geebs says:

        You don’t need 64 bit addressing to keep track of a few thousand vectors. Optimisation for that sort of setting is just to rule out things which couldn’t possibly collide as quickly as possible.

        Note that he does actually have collision detection for weapons turned on already in the video

        • SuicideKing says:

          Yeah it seems it’s more to do with the loops involved.

  5. captain nemo says:

    “I’m using my native linux client … previously I used Windows but it’s just annoying”

    Regardless, a seriously awesome piece of work

    • jrod says:

      Arf? So you prefer windows as your development platform of choice?