I'm starting to make a bubble shooter game for a mobile OS. Assume this is just the basic "three or more same-color bubbles that touch pop" and all bubbles that are separated from their group fall/pop. What data structures are common for storing the bubbles?
I've considered using an undirected, connected graph where each node is a bubble. This seems like it could help answer the question "which bubbles (if any) should fall now?" after some arbitrary bubbles are popped and corresponding nodes are removed from the graph. I think the answer is all bubbles that were just disconnected from the graph should fall. However the graph approach might be overkill so I'm not sure.
Another consideration for the data structure is collision detection. Perhaps being able to grab a list of neighboring bubbles in constant time for a particular "bubble slot" is useful. So the collision detection would be something like "moving bubble is closest to slot ij, neighbors of slot ij are bubbles a,b,c, moving bubble is sufficiently close to bubble b hence moving bubble should come to rest in slot ij".
A game like this could be probably be made with a relatively crude grid structure as the primary data structure. However it seems like answering "which bubbles (if any) should fall now?" would be trickier with this data structure.