Computer: Game: Simulation
Global Warming Videogame   (+11, -3)  [vote for, against]
SimEarth II - Global Warming Edition

This is a suggestion for a video game based on global warming.

If possible it should use a real climate model, although an approximation would do if a proper sim is too CPU-intensive.

We'll need to render a high-quality earth image and remove the Arctic, and generate a plausible landmass for Antarctic without ice. Re-render ice at poles using fractal landscape generator with input parameter being ice coverage area from climate model. Similarly we would modify the land and sea colours slightly to reflect temperatures and vegetation coverage. We could also superimpose animated cloud coverage and ocean currents. The NASA 'blue marble' image at high res would be the ideal starting point for the graphics.

We then give the player a set of parameters that they can tweak - industrial output, oil production numbers, jet aircraft flight hours, energy conservation measures in homes on a national scale, coal/oil vs nuclear vs wind power generation etc etc etc

Once set up, they run the sim which shows all the effects on the globe - the ice pack retreating, desertification, rising sea levels etc.

Almost every scenario should lead to disaster... saving the world has to be difficult, not just a case of a few hippies switching to CFL lights or hybrid cars.

The game is meant to be simple but addictive. There's no complex UI, just a few parameters to tweak (iconically); the only feedback being the beautifully rendered image of the Earth. Any educational benefit should be incidental.

An obvious hook for this would be the "Sims" series - maybe call it "SimEarth II - Global Warming Edition", or if they're not interested, "Kyoto". (There actually was a 'SimEarth' in the 80's but with somewhat different goals)

Once you've saved the world from a climate disaster, the sequel could take place on a longer time scale, covering ice ages, meteor strikes, global pandemics etc - using real probabilities and time scales. In this one, humanity could even be allowed to die out and be replaced in the very long term. This version would be called "SimEarth - Gaia", and would end when the sun explodes. (Actualy that's a little closer to the original SimEarth; I had forgotten all about that game until checking for 'prior art' as I was about to post this. Also I checked HalfBakery for similar ideas and the nearest I can find is 'AfterHistory'.)

This should be a relatively easy project for two people - one being a climate modeller and the other being a videogame hacker.

A potential deveopment of this could be a physical game, using an actual globe, which you manipulate by warming it up (eg standing it in front of the fire, or shining a bright light at it; you could even put it in the fridge to see what happens - mothers would hate it, which means that kids would love it :-) ). With such a simplified interface there would have to be fewer tweakabe parameters. The globe could be translucent, and the feedback generated by lights inside it. In fact you could use the old 'persistence of vision' trick by having a spinning semicircle inside the globe which scans a row of LEDs around the inside, to allow lighting up any part of the globe, and then using red or blue LEDs to indicate temperature. Might even be able to simulate clouds that way too. Cheap and fun.

-- gtoal, Nov 27 2007

Sold separately Keyboard_20heater
[phundug, Nov 27 2007]

Related thoughts http://space.newsci...ertainty-rules.html
"Simplistic notions of cause and effect are never going to show us how we can save our planet", says Andrew Baker [gtoal, Dec 03 2007]

Computers are the problem
According to a British report, it is the computers we use every day that are as much to blame as planes for leaving carbon footprints. [mylodon, Dec 09 2007]

climate modelling code http://www2-pcmdi.l...oftware-portal/cdat
open source code [gtoal, Feb 12 2008]

Educational GCM
A simple climate model made for educational purposes with many aspects similar to this (though less user-friendly) [qt75rx1, Mar 09 2008]

Fate of the World
Climate change computer game related to parallel simulation. [gtoal, Dec 21 2010]

Combine it with this (see link) for a more realistic experience. Keyboard heats up as you fail to stop the global warming.
-- phundug, Nov 27 2007

There could be a sequel: Sim Mars - Global Warming

except in this version there's no way you can naturally reverse the warming effect. All human efforts lead towards overcooling and eventually kill off habitation, plus the one bacteria that lives on the south pole.
-- mylodon, Nov 28 2007

Everyone forgets the hot air from bandwagon politicians and corporation espousing their green credentials.
-- giligamesh, Nov 30 2007

Ah! I am going to bone this, for this reason:

'This should be a relatively easy project for two people - one being a climate modeller and the other being a videogame hacker.'

Maybe if you make it in flash with if(cars) { smog = 1;livespan-=10; } statements, but then you don't really need a climate modeller.

Nothing done on computers is easy. It's all a long, drawn-out, physically draining, wasteful, death-hastening process.
-- mylodon, Nov 30 2007

Any good simulation should also have natural variations, leading to false conclusions on the part of the player.
-- Ling, Nov 30 2007

// It's all a long, drawn-out, physically draining, wasteful, death-hastening process. //

Sorry, that's called "life" , isn't it ?
-- 8th of 7, Dec 03 2007

[8th] - if that equals "life," then by extension "life" = "computers."

I will never turn off my computer again. I shudder to think - how many civilizations have I destroyed in my selfish quest for energy savings. I'm so ashamed!
-- elhigh, Dec 04 2007

You know, a lot of modelling is done on distributed systems; ie folding@home. Why not use the game engine as a way of making thousands (perhaps millions) of runs of the simulations, and returning the results to a central server for analysis?

I'm not by any means suggesting that this is directly comparable to a proper supercomputer modelling effort, but perhaps the mass and the creative human interaction could yield some useful results - like for example, what is the most useful human intervention at this stage of the real "game"?
-- BunsenHoneydew, Dec 09 2007

unplug your computer and go outside

(see link)
-- mylodon, Dec 09 2007

>If possible it should use a real climate model

Yep I wish it were possible too.
-- Cuit_au_Four, Dec 10 2007

you wouldn't use a real climate model, in the same way that you in game physics don't run finite element analysis code. The overhead would be high. unless you want to take days to process one decision with 0 real-timeyness.

You would use a simple simulation of the model, using more basic expressions that would approximate the outcome, but with less realism (like video game physics).

It could be run like a sim-city sort, where you put in policies like kyoto protocol and energy star compliance and you see how that impacts environmentals. But so much of oceanography and climatology is not understood that no model has yet to predict with striking accuracy what has or what will happen. For instance increased temperature increases cloud cover, clouds reject most of the suns energy (they're white).

I would do the game but only have it simulate pollution and climate that is effected by humans like acid rain, soot, atmospheric haze etc.
-- metarinka, Dec 24 2010

random, halfbakery