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A Flash minigame simulating container shipping ports. Status: developed some useful libraries but this game is on hold while I work on gamedev tutorials.

branch: master
README
Some background:

I've had an interest in transportation games for a long time. I've
been working on small projects to explore some game ideas. In this
directory you'll find the beginnings of a container port simulator.

For a little more background on what led me to work on this, see this post:
http://simblob.blogspot.com/2009/05/transport-tycoon-modular-airports.html

Rough sketch:

There are roads + trucks, railroads + trains, docks + ships, holding
areas + cranes. In addition, there are containers that move among
these four.  The basic operation of the port is that ships and trains
come in and have destinations, and containers on those ships and
trains have destinations, and you have to use trucks and cranes to
move the containers around, and make sure the containers get on
ships/trains with the same destination.

Cranes move containers between stopped vehicles and a holding
area. They cannot directly move containers between vehicles (for
simplicity). The holding areas act as "buffers".

There are an unlimited supply of local trucks. They only move around
within the port area. The purpose of trucks (and roads) is to move
containers between holding areas.  Note that in a real port, trucks
are both used within the port and also to transport goods outside the
port.  In this simulation, at least for now, I will only have local
trucks and roads.  Non-local trucks and roads follow the same rules as
trains, except they are shorter and have different graphics.

I'm going to use a square grid. Each road, railroad, dock, or crane
path is 1 grid space wide. Containers are 1x4 (or maybe 1x2).

There are lots of unknowns: how do we decide when and how ships and
trains come in? Can roads have more than one lane? Where do trucks
come from and where do they go when we are done with them? How do
containers get sorted? Do we even need a grid, or is it only used to
make sure the static objects don't intersect? Do stations/docks
automatically include the crane, holding area, another crane, and a
road segment?

Rough implementation:

Static objects are those objects placed on the map: docks, train
stations, truck loading areas, crane paths, holding areas.  These will
have some description of themselves, plus a common export of (a) paths
and (b) spaces.  The paths (list of splines) will describe how
vehicles move and the spaces (set of grid locations) will describe
what space is occupied.

From the static objects we generate two reverse maps. The path_map
maps grid edges to paths. Vehicles exiting one path will use the edge
where it just exited to look up the next path it must follow. The
grid_map maps grid spaces to objects. When objects are being placed,
we can look at the grid_map to see if any other objects already occupy
that space.  Another structure could replace grids for representing
grid edges (where paths meet up) and grid spaces (where objects occupy
space); that is something to ponder. These two reverse maps are
entirely for performance, so we may not use them initially, we can
rebuild them from the primary data structure, and for debugging we can
run tests to make sure they match up.

Paths have a beginning point/angle, end point/angle, and line segments
approximating the spline. Each line segment has a length. The sum of
these lengths is the length of the path. We use the length to
represent positions (on a path of length L, a vehicle can have 0 <=
position < L).  We need to map position to world location and
orientation. If a vehicle follows a fixed speed, its position
variable can be incremented by V*dt, and it will properly follow the
path from 0 to L. (Consider using piecewise circular curves to avoid
needing an approximation with line segments.)

Vehicles are trucks, trains, cranes, and ships. Vehicles may be linked
together in a chain. Each car has a begin/end position on a path, as
well as a length. Note that the beginning and ending of the car may be
on separate paths. We have an invariant: begin + length = end, in path
space. Undetermined: how do we represent chains of cars, including the
gap between them? Undetermined: how do we represent speed and
acceleration?

Vehicles move from the end of the path to the beginning. This
orientation is counterintuitive but the invariants seem easier to
express this way. Position always decreases; when it becomes negative,
we switch to the next path.

Initial implementation:

To start with, I'm implementing roads and trucks only. A loop of roads
defines the (1 dimensional) coordinate system, and the trucks have a
begin/end position on that coordinate system.  Along each line
segment, coordinates and distances work properly (e.g., position b is
|b-a| distance from position a), but if the beginning and ending of
the truck are on separate lines, then the distance |b-a| will be >=
the distance between position b and position a. This discrepancy is
minimized if the line segments are nearly collinear (e.g., no sharp
turns), but it may be an issue at some point. An alternative may be to
only move point a if it's too far from point b, but computing how much
it needs to move might involve a little bit of geometry. I'm hoping it
won't matter.

References:

Some of the papers at <http://www.d.umn.edu/~willemsn/> describe
models for roads, vehicles, and intersections. In particular, see
<http://www.d.umn.edu/~willemsn/pubs/vr2003_willemsen.pdf>. 

One of the open issues is that we need to follow a constant speed
along a curved path. The above paper does this by mapping x,y,z back
onto the road coordinate system.  An alternate approach is in
<http://www.cs.uiowa.edu/~kearney/pubs/CurvesAndSurfacesArcLength.pdf>. Given
that Flash doesn't support cubic splines, it's likely I'll have to
convert the road into a series of short line segments anyway, and in
that case, I'll use those line segments for the coordinate system
instead of the far more complicated mathematics for arc length along
curves.

There are some Flash animations of intersections (mostly roundabouts)
here: <http://www.alaskaroundabouts.com/Dowling/>

It'd be nice if we could offset the quadratic spline to make a
quadratic spline for each lane of the road. However,
[Wikipedia](http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/B%C3%A9zier_curve) says no:

    The curve at a fixed offset from a given Bézier curve, often
    called an offset curve (lying "parallel" to the original curve,
    like the offset between rails in a railroad track), cannot be
    exactly formed by a Bézier curve (except in some trivial
    cases). However, there are heuristic methods that usually give an
    adequate approximation for practical purposes.

Finding intersections of the curves is also hard.

There are also approximations of cubics using quadratics:
<http://timotheegroleau.com/Flash/articles/cubic_bezier_in_flash.htm>

Bezier “easing” happens to be what we need for moving along a curve at
a constant rate. <http://www.algorithmist.net/beziereasing.html>

I later found that circular arcs were a cleaner way to represent curves
if I want to avoid dealing with approximations with short line segments.
I wrote up notes here: <http://www.redblobgames.com/articles/curved-paths/>
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