Encourage Innovation

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GueulEclator
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Encourage Innovation

Postby GueulEclator » Thu Dec 27, 2012 8:34 pm

It may look pretty dull to ask, but if I could point out a flaw about previous city builder games is that :
Once you had understood how to make a working housing block, you were done with it. There wasn't particularly a lot of viable solution other than this geometrical quadrilateral and your city would end up being filled with spaced rectangular block, like a boring suburb. Now don't get me wrong, It did fitted a bit with the antiquity, mainly Greek, Roman, Egyptian, setting, as it did correspond to their philosophy of urban planning (even if it's disputable). But it ended up being a bit dull at the end, to repeat very similar pattern.

Now we are lucky, medieval cities were much more convoluted, twisted, anarchic in their street, house pattern due to their equally convoluted history.

What about reflecting this, and at the same time giving the game much more re playability and making it much more stimulating?

I'm not sure how that would work, and what to change compared to the previous game, so it's really a vague suggestion I'm doing here.
But is it possible that Tilted Mill Entertainment is well aware of this and is reserving us a nice surprise when It comes to the matter?

EDIT : One of the points I was trying to make was that a city composed of housing block does not feel and look like a medieval city.
They must revamp the whole housing concept so that it ends up giving an authentic feeling of a medieval city maze with serpentine streets, trails of houses stuck together, anarchic housing patterns...
Last edited by GueulEclator on Sun Dec 30, 2012 5:31 pm, edited 2 times in total.

PantherX
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Postby PantherX » Fri Dec 28, 2012 1:04 am

"GueulEclator" wrote:
But is it possible that Tilted Mill Entertainment is well aware of this and is reserving us a nice surprise when It comes to the matter?



I certainly hope so!

One of the things mentioned in the interview was the evolution of your city. Bring on the Peons picks with shovels to dig those new pathways!

Sorry sir the new road requires 1/2 your hut so move along now...
:cool:

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Jeff Fiske
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Avoiding repetition

Postby Jeff Fiske » Fri Dec 28, 2012 5:27 pm

To a certain extent this has to do with mastery of a games systems. As a designer you need the player to make decisions and plan with expected outcomes and therefore deal with systems that will repeat themselves. On a grand scale, it then becomes a question of balance.

We want the player to be able to figure out and build 'the best neighborhood' possible, but not necessarily be able to repeat this over an over.

What we want to ultimately achieve might be a map where you can have some but not all perfect neighborhoods because of terrain or events. As you know, having instability in one area of a city can lead to instability in others, so in this manner you can prevent a 100% functioning- cookie cutter city that does not require monitoring and intervention.

When using more Old School systems like Pharaoh, we will need to introduce issues on the map, or events that keep changing your city such as shortages of one good, new trade partners, sicknesses, desires of population..etc.

Hope that helps.

GueulEclator
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Postby GueulEclator » Fri Dec 28, 2012 6:37 pm

"Jeff Fiske" wrote:To a certain extent this has to do with mastery of a games systems. As a designer you need the player to make decisions and plan with expected outcomes and therefore deal with systems that will repeat themselves. On a grand scale, it then becomes a question of balance.

We want the player to be able to figure out and build 'the best neighborhood' possible, but not necessarily be able to repeat this over an over.

What we want to ultimately achieve might be a map where you can have some but not all perfect neighborhoods because of terrain or events. As you know, having instability in one area of a city can lead to instability in others, so in this manner you can prevent a 100% functioning- cookie cutter city that does not require monitoring and intervention.

When using more Old School systems like Pharaoh, we will need to introduce issues on the map, or events that keep changing your city such as shortages of one good, new trade partners, sicknesses, desires of population..etc.

Hope that helps.


To some extend that helps. But my main concern is housing blocks. In the previous games, your city ended up always looking the same : A bunch of spaced rectangular housing blocks, with some small isolated dots for storage buildings and such.
This kind of ruin a bit the feeling of authenticity and your city isn't as ''immersive'' as you would have wanted it to be.
Now Medieval city were really convoluted, their design s were much more ''messy'' (in a good way) and free. I'm not sure if spaced blocks would translate that well.

So in the end my question is more, will it be all about spaced out rectangular housing blocks, like in the previous titles? Or something that's closer to medieval cities?

GueulEclator
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Postby GueulEclator » Fri Dec 28, 2012 10:06 pm

A better way to put it, is that you would expect your city in Medieval Mayor to be full of serpentine streets, with multi storage houses sticked together, without any space between them. A big maze of streets, with sporadic plaza, crowed market place, festivals crowd...

That wasn't really the feeling previous game gave you. So did you made some change so that it will feel more like an authentic medieval city, as I described?

alincarpetman
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Postby alincarpetman » Sat Dec 29, 2012 8:31 am

Maybe williamHerm24 is a spammer? :rolleyes: Either way I echo what others have said about repeating the same block design over and over again. I've been re-playing Caesar 3 through Emperor recently and noticed this can happen often on bigger maps. It would be interesting to see and experience more variety in terms of terrain, I've noticed that sometimes the funnest maps are the small or limiting ones, sometimes limitations can be a good thing. So building irregular housing areas on stair-step hills can be a fun challenge.

Sometimes in the Emperor campaign maps for instance if I had extra workers I would on purpose build temples and shrines surrounded by statues and gardens on tall hills, far away in forests or inside old ruins because it looked nice but also made it feel more realistic. Sometimes if the hills were near urban areas I arranged roadblocks/gates for the religious devotees so they could walk down from the hill temples into the city and back and actually be functional and not just solitary up on the hills.

So it would be interesting to see more diversity in the campaign and/or playable maps where the player would have to adapt city layout according to the geography of historical, famous or maybe also mythical places.

An example could be a small monastery centered town up on a twisted rocky hill instead of a wide field with plenty of building space. One visual example I can think of which isn't totally historical but immersing nonetheless is the film The Name of the Rose which was based on a book set in a medieval monastery circa 1327. While the book is more complex, the film and soundtrack captures that feeling of an old, dark, damp and mysterious monastery setting very well and I recommend it for any interested. A main feature of the film is monks working in a scriptorium producing books, which now when I think about it makes me imagine monk characters for the game. :)

I guess the good thing also is that players will be able to create their own creative custom scenarios and campaigns after the game comes out so that's another way for diversity.
Last edited by alincarpetman on Sat Dec 29, 2012 9:20 am, edited 4 times in total.

GueulEclator
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Postby GueulEclator » Sat Dec 29, 2012 11:50 am

Well my question is more about the core mechanism of this game, not how you are going to adapt to the terrain.
What I tried to mean is that a city composed of housing block does not feel and look like a medieval city.
They must revamp the whole housing concept so that it ends up giving an authentic feeling of a medieval city maze with serpentine streets...

alincarpetman
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Postby alincarpetman » Sat Dec 29, 2012 7:55 pm

"GueulEclator" wrote:Well my question is more about the core mechanism of this game, not how you are going to adapt to the terrain.
What I tried to mean is that a city composed of housing block does not feel and look like a medieval city.
They must revamp the whole housing concept so that it ends up giving an authentic feeling of a medieval city maze with serpentine streets...


Hi GueulEclator, yeah I forgot to specify, but what I meant by my example was that it is possible to build serpentine streets with housing in the old city builder games, and I tried this fun challenge in Emperor in particular and it worked when I built serpentine housing with temples on stair-step hills. Sometimes things can go wrong though because the walkers have further to go or loop around a lot. :) I also recall seeing screenshots of similar attempts and found one again here.

This is from a scenario by Gweilo who has made some great campaigns for Emperor. So instead of a conventional rectangular block seen here and here, the screenshot above shows a bit more natural and serpentine layout.

So it's possible already to a limited degree, and I don't know too much about game programming but maybe the ai of the units would have to be programmed to recognize the winding streets and still fulfill their function, or the immigrants would come in and make an addition in such a way that looked serpentine and more natural.
Last edited by alincarpetman on Sun Dec 30, 2012 8:01 pm, edited 5 times in total.

GueulEclator
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Postby GueulEclator » Sun Dec 30, 2012 1:35 pm

Again, what I'm asking is really about the core mechanism, what will the core layout encourage you to do?
You can always scratch your head and try to make your city look like what it should look like : a medieval city.
But it's better if it's just come naturally and if your city will always end up looking like a medieval one because that's how the game wants you to build it.

Previous games were made so that housing block was the most intuitive, viable solution. I'm simply hoping that this game will be different, that the whole walker/distribution system was revamped so that housing will work in a completely different way, a more medieval one.

EmperorJay
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Postby EmperorJay » Sun Dec 30, 2012 2:17 pm

I think the problem you state is hard to solve. I'm usually actively searching for information and participating in fora about the games I play and quite literally always someone comes up with the perfect setup. Whether it's for a role playing game, a city builder or a sports simulation game doesn't matter.

The majority of the players, I guess, isn't as active and just casually plays games like MM. They won't know this perfect setup and for them, the game will probably end up filled with medieval like cities. For persons like you and me, we will number crunch (or read the number crunching of others) until we know how the game works and what works best. And once we know what works best, we're "stuck" with a certain setup.

The only core mechanic that game solve this, as far as I can see, is some randomization. If honey consumption is always beteen 0.5 and 1.5 per month and production different for different climates, then we must innovate. Continueing along this line of thought, if beer consumption is always between 0.5 and 1 in northern provinces but between 0.75 and 1.5 in warmer climates, we can add somewhat realistic variation that will ensure no map is the same and no housing block will always work.

PhilL
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Postby PhilL » Sun Dec 30, 2012 3:44 pm

I agree with the OP that housing blocks become boring. The current method of preventing the use of blocks is terrain, events scripted into the map does achieve some level of variety but ultimately fails as slightly modifying the “perfect block” to fit the area provided does little to change the appearance of the overall city.
This discussion closely ties into the walker discussion. A more random walker could allow for different blocks to be used but at the sacrifice of stability. Giving the walkers more intelligent pathing instructions creates a problem that the player may never be able to predict where they will go thus creating the illusion of a random behavior which we all know can be quite frustrating.

Still the cookie cutter blocks remain because we cannot have totally random walker nor can we have super smart walkers. How can we prevent the use of blocks or reward the player for not using them?

As stated by Jeff events or terrain can reduce the use of blocks. Doesn’t work very well and probably the main reason terrain modifying tools are kept out of TM games.
Changing resource production or consumption values doesn’t change the housing blocks which become the majority of the city, this only changes the industrial areas needed to support the housing.
Other possibilities I think of are
Having the game look at the map and use a way to analyze the map to determine if things are starting to look all the same. Thus preventing a house from upgrading because” this city doesn’t have enough variety” Or the roads are all too long or straight

Another possibility is requiring more support for later developed housing areas. As people might want access to more entertainment, health, food, beauty Etc. to develop into the next level than the initial housing required. This would create different levels of worker housing blocks. As a city grows people naturally expect more services anyway.

More visual variaty in the housing and support buildings would give the appearance of a less cookie cutter city. Or perhaps support buildings change their foot print as more of them are built. the first few can be built using a 2X2 area then as more are added it develops to needing a 3X3 or more. This would require a change to the "block" to add visual variaty.

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Postby tobing » Sun Dec 30, 2012 6:13 pm

Well, I have been thinking a lot about this issue when I try to find ways to get along with this in my Villages and Cities game. :eek:

My solution is to have super smart walkers, which always try to go where they are most needed, thus avoiding any need for road blocks. Then, workers must live nearby, and they are counted: this forces a good mix of both housing and production/service/distribution buildings. So you can't have blocks with only housing, and other with only production or so. Then add the attractivity, people must not live far away, but if they get too close, attractivity goes down. So here the player must always find a good balance, and because of the smart walkers there's no single good solution to this, but many, as long as you can keep the housing and production/service/stuff close enough together.

Works very good, if you ask me... :cool:

edit:

@Jeff and or Chris: Please drop me a line, if you prefer that I don't talk here about my game programming efforts and Villages and Cities. I have been thinking about many of the issues discussed here so much, and also tried to implement things to see what works out in which way, that I just cannot refrain from adding comments based on that experience. On the other hand, I feel that my game will be quite different from yours - and there's a long way to go for me until V&C is anything close to a complete final game. As of now, it's more like playable prototypes or tech demos...
Last edited by tobing on Sun Dec 30, 2012 6:34 pm, edited 1 time in total.

MoLAoS
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Postby MoLAoS » Sun Dec 30, 2012 8:21 pm

The real problem is that city builder cities tend to model more modern planned cities because you as the player are literally the planner of all things. The variety in real cities tends to be caused by the human beings in those cities and their own individuality as well as financial restrictions. Cities in TM games tend to have that suburb like interchangeable quality in their neighborhoods because you are planning housing blocks the same way that suburbs are planned in real life.

Real cities look the way they do because there are dozens of architects involved who do not talk to each other, companies and individuals are not a hivemind, they all do their own things.

TM games don't even have the superficial variation of varied building models. All the builds of the same type are basically identical. They also don't transition through time like real cities with varied beliefs about architecture, changing cultural ideals, slowly growing understandings of efficiency and so forth.

I guess what I'm saying is that when you have the gamey element of having to optimize production and have no gamey incentive for creating variety or beauty then you simply can't create interesting cities.

Also of note is that when you mess up you restart with a blank slate where in the real world control would simply pass to another person with different ideas who would have a limited budget and have to work with what the previous failure had left.

In the game I am currently working on I wanted to combine Emperor with Majesty but also have some standard RTS gameplay because Majesty doesn't really have land control, resources aren't part of the environment so you just build one massive base, and heroes travel all over the place.

I took some very experimental steps and one of them was to have the Orders(Militant, Magic, or Holy) have their own individual treasuries. Each one has a Motherhouse which is very expensive because about half the cost is the player giving them a starting treasury.

Each of the economic guilds has its own treasury as well, as does the market. You want to spend that money in a way that will kick start an economically viable enterprise, but also to allow the production of the items and other things you built that building for in the first place. An alchemist wants to sell goods to the townsfolk for money but as the player you want it to make specialized potions for your heroes.

Similarly each Order can make various special items which make your heroes better, but you need to maintain a supply of money through taxes on your heroes and through an Order's unique economical products because you can't spend your money as the king to buy things for the other entities in the kingdom.

Eventually as I move the engine itself towards completion this will make an attempt at solving the optimal housing block issue because you will have separate functional settlements in the game, for instance an iron mining town, because its unsafe and inefficient to put all your housing in the main base and have workers traverse the map to reach various production areas.

Resource towns would not need high quality housing or education because their citizens are just laborers. Where as when you built the Motherhouse of one of the Magic orders next to a volcano, say pyromancers get bonuses their, that guild wants citizens of specific training and background and you will need structures to accommodate that.

The Pyromancers for instance would be drawn from the educated classes, which may require you to create housing blocks with houses of the highest tiers nearby, as opposed to laborer housing for the settlement at the iron mine. Near the volcano might be hotsprings so you don't create the standard public baths. You might also build geologist academy because the pyromancers need geologists and specially trained chemists to make their special products or what not.

Variety comes from complexity, of myriad kinds. Its not a matter of avoiding optimal configurations, its a matter of making specific scenarios have different optimizations.

More general changes that could be useful for Tilted Mill would be distance limitations. In Emperor you could build saltmines far from any settlement and they would still operate 24/7. Same for other stuff.

Also having top tier housing provide a larger number of workers is backwards, slums with people packed in like sardines make for more workers, but poorly educated, while single family homes and other formats make for fewer but more educated people.

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Postby PantherX » Sun Dec 30, 2012 11:49 pm

wow, that's a lot of hours of thought in the last few messages. And probably only just touches the major problems. :D

I like most everyone end up doing the same old thing of finding a housing block that fits the most housing in a defined area. This does lend it's self to cookie cutter cities and as others have stated, it's the user that has to make a choice.

I often try to vary my blocks, one of my methods was to never cut a tree. Sometimes it's fun to just put some decoration in as a placeholder that I have to build the block around.

I really got a lot of practice when playing Caesar IV Online and held the population records for almost all the cities. Cramming in housing everywhere on a map without the entire city collapsing due to unemployment. /fun

I have often played SC:S and used the various society buildings, houses, venues and workplaces together. building different looking neighborhoods all in the same city. I often wished that a particular area would reflect the values in a mixed city, but that is asking for a lot. ;)

I would like the ability to have curved roads and perhaps building's that skew into an available space. I can only imagine how hard these things would be to program.
:cool:

MoLAoS
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Postby MoLAoS » Mon Dec 31, 2012 1:43 am

I think the shortest way to say it is, if you want the game to force you to build more thematically correct cities, as opposed to doing as Panther said and CHOOSING to do it for personal reasons, you need to find out why the cities of that period were made the way they were and replicate those conditions.

Sadly many of those reasons have nothing to do with efficiency and games are all about efficiency. Doesn't mix too well.

GueulEclator
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Postby GueulEclator » Mon Dec 31, 2012 6:20 am

"MoLAoS" wrote:I think the shortest way to say it is, if you want the game to force you to build more thematically correct cities, as opposed to doing as Panther said and CHOOSING to do it for personal reasons, you need to find out why the cities of that period were made the way they were and replicate those conditions.

Sadly many of those reasons have nothing to do with efficiency and games are all about efficiency. Doesn't mix too well.


I believe it is possible to a good extend, especially now, after more than 20 years of messing with these formulas. It's not easy, but I've seen much impossible looking stuff being accomplished recently.

I also like what @tobing proposed.


Overall, I believe they should completely reconsider the whole housing block concept, because as it is it's going to be an obstacle for a good medieval feeling.

EmperorJay
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Postby EmperorJay » Mon Dec 31, 2012 8:19 am

"GueulEclator" wrote:Overall, I believe they should completely reconsider the whole housing block concept, because as it is it's going to be an obstacle for a good medieval feeling.


I think no city building game was ever designed for housing blocks. Rather housing blocks are the inevitable result of understanding game mechanics. For this it doesn't matter if housing and shops are seperate or the same building: once we understand the mechanics and once the all the maths are done, we'll end up with a certain layout that works best.

I too, do like Tobing's suggestion but again my gut feeling says that model too can be predicted and thus there will be an optimal layout.

tobing
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Postby tobing » Mon Dec 31, 2012 9:50 am

"EmperorJay" wrote:do like Tobing's suggestion but again my gut feeling says that model too can be predicted and thus there will be an optimal layout.

Try it... ;)

I found that even if it's completely deterministic, it's also very complex in its observable behavior. So there is an optimal arrangement of buildings (of course, there always is!), but as you can't separate areas by road blocks or missing road tiles (you need to connect by roads, because everything needs a road for walkers and transportation), the "blocks" you can come up with will not work the same when another such "block" is close by. And, because of the immanent complexity, every house you add has a good chance to completely change how the walkers run around.

MoLAoS
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Postby MoLAoS » Mon Dec 31, 2012 9:57 am

While any system can ultimately be solved adding certain kinds of complexity can at least make the push longer. If we follow a mastery model of gaming then extending the window is good for fun.

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Postby PhilL » Mon Dec 31, 2012 12:04 pm

So I see there are solutions to this concern already being hashed out in private games being developed by some of the forum members. Very cool BTW.
As stated by Tobing There always is a optimal block and in his model (correct me if i am not understanding this correctly) it is so complex that adding just one building varies the pathing of existing areas that were previously stable and could disrupt them. This behaviour would lead one to see the pathing as a more random system.
For the most part the people here discussing this are more hardcore players and might welocme this as an advancement in city building but the average player this would be a giant turn off. Getting midway through a map and then attempting to develop the city for additional housing to meet the goals and doing so disrupts the initial build out so much the city crumbles. This issue becomes increasingly more difficult to predict in even larger cities. Nothing would be more frustrating to most players than to have a scenario fail very close to the end because they added just a few more houses or something to meet a specific end goal because the walker are so "smart" than the player doesnt truely understand how they make decisions.


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