One of the questions that continually comes up is what tool to use. Particularly for model-driven games, where the interactions are driven from an underlying simulation instead of from fixed branches (where the relationships are implicit in the links, not explicit in a model), everyone wants a tool to make it easier. And I’m pretty sure that can’t happen. Sure, you can use a tool for modeling a specific domain, e.g. Excel for business sims, but there can’t be anything more general than a programming language (e.g. Flash) for building any game you might need. From a response I sent to a correspondent:
Basically, there’re so many different types of relationships you’d want to model that any tool would have to be focused on a subset, otherwise it’s so general that there’s no advantage. Not sure what Stottler-Henke’s claim on SimVentive is, but the overhead looks pretty heavy to me. Other than that, Stella might be general enough, but for instance Excel will work as an engine for business models and other numerics, but could have trouble with softskills, etc. So I still think a high-level programming language is the best tool. Even game engines (e.g. Unreal) are optimized for certain things, and shoe-horning other types of games into them may compromise the learning goals or add unnecessary overhead (read: cost).
There are tools for branching sims (Captivate has added that capability since 2 and advanced it in 3 as I understand, and SimWriter is potentially the best ‘industrial-strength’ tool focused on that capability), but for model-driven interactions I haven’t seen it and am pretty convinced for principled reasons that you can’t have it. Hey, I’d like to have such tools available, for everybody, so I’m not pushing a negativity barrow here.
And I don’t want this to put you off going the extra level to get a model/simulation-driven interaction. When lots of practice is necessary, it’s the best way (branching scenarios have limited replay, and at some point it gets cheaper to do a model-driven interaction that multiple branching scenarios). Further, if you focus tightly on the decisions that will have the biggest impact, and focus on design rather than production, it’s not that hard and not that expensive.
Of course, match your needs to the solutions available, work with knowledgeable partners, but consider deeply immersive practice when it really matters.