After reading the dev diaries, I wanted to chime in on my thoughts of what the game industry needs from city builders today. The market is flooded with turn based games that are fun for some, but just not my style. Thankfully, gog.com has all our old favorites (including my all time faves Dungeon Keeper 2 and Zeus!) and has been keeping me busy. I now have copies on gog.com as well as all my original disks for many of these older games I love lol
I like the idea of making walkers smarter. Combining the walker with AI to find the houses that need a theater that he can reasonably reach in one day is the challenge. It could be a combination of radius if the walker is able to sense where the houses are that need his attention within his 'distance radius', the distance he is capable of walking in one day, and targets those houses first. Less pointless wandering just because there is a 'path' placed by a player.
Dungeon Keeper 2 for example, had some serious AI in the jobs various creatures performed. You could pick them up and drop them where they needed to be, or they would find the way to it eventually. Playing it last night I thought about the AI involved in the imps that claim land, destroy dungeon walls/dirt walls for additional building, mine gold and carry it to the treasure room with enough space to hold it. That's some pretty intensive AI for one creature, multiplied by the 30 creatures I was using is even more impressive.
Some of those maps are huge, and you can have as many imps as you can summon and maintain, and they all work simultaneously. Yet, it is smooth as all get out. No lag, they never get stuck, and the jobs all get done. The level I was building last night I was mining out dungeon walls on two opposite sides of the map, the imps all did the first side I had 'marked' for work first, then went to the next spot. That kind of AI would be amazing in a walker of any kind, but it could also be overkill when applied to a classic city building game and the sheer size of the cities you could build.
If a treasure room is full, the imps automatically go to another one to place the gold without ever going to the first one that was full. The same could be said for a cart pusher taking goods to a warehouse. One of my pet peeves in the older games is they would try to take it to the full once first, then turn around and try the next one, adding to the travel time for the goods to make it to a warehouse. It may take the goods longer to get there, but it shouldn't just leave people with carts standing around, and they shouldn't try to go to building A at all if building A is full. I don't think you should be able to pick up the cart pushers and drop them on the warehouse like you can the imps with the treasure for a quick boost though.
Roller Coaster Tycoon used janitors, security guards and such with an assignable radius. You assigned them a square to work in, and the square is displayed on screen so you could see exactly where they would cover. This would be useful for things like the prefects from Caesar 3, the market lady, the engineers, etc. Those delivering goods or services to houses. They would only work at the places that day that needed their service or goods. Not every house will need food every day for example. I shop once a week for my food, not daily.
Replayability is key for me in city building games. Revisit any of the old titles and you can easily replay them and its a different game each time because you may lay the city out in a different way. I've never been a bean counter or laid my city out in a particular way because it was the most efficient. There should definitely be sandbox levels with various random goals or whatever to fulfill aside from the main campaigns/scenarios.
Part of what makes the older city building games stand the test of time is the fun of playing them again and again. Zeus had some features that made it far more fun to play than Pharaoh or Caesar. (And I even enjoy Egyptian games more, but prefer Zeus for the way it worked.)
I think allowing all excess goods to be traded would eliminate the need for warehouse blocks. For example, I would get overrun with pottery, and not be able to sell it. Tons of the stuff in multiple warehouses, no one outside the city to sell it to.
I loved playing one map for a little while, going to another one, then coming back to the main city map like in Zeus. That was really fun! I also liked sending gifts to other cities to gain their trust until they swore fealty to me. There were games where I played a more military style and just invaded and took them over, but it was awesome to be able to fully interact with other cities and have a reputation with them - and dump my excess goods as a gift . This could be combined with needed resources on separate maps where you could make smaller villages to help support your main city.
In a medieval setting, there could be new people types such as the blacksmith. Blacksmiths didn't just make weapons and armor, they also made things like wagon wheels and utensils the towns would need. Candle makers to help provide light. Could have them run bee farms or have a separate food/farm resource for bee farmers that produces both honey and wax for use for candles. Some candle makers use produce like bayberries for wax as well. (When those are boiled they make a wax on the top of the water you can skim off to make a candle with.) Oil for lamps the blacksmith would make as well. Could get the oil from eastern lands, or from Whalers.
The richer people of the times would have other needs like seamstresses/tailors, servants, advanced shoe makers (more than just leather boots or sandals), silver/gold good production, and imports from exotic eastern lands for spices, silks, jade, and more.
One final thought...its really not about eye catching graphics. Too many games get lost in looking pretty, and lose the main purpose of the game. I'm content with 2D worlds that I can easily navigate and zoom out for city planning. I liked being able to follow people in COTN, but its not a requirement. I adored clicking people in Zeus/Pharaoh/Caesar and seeing their funny names or quotes, that is a must to include in any game you guys make. Its like your 'signature'. But I don't need great graphics to enjoy a game. It doesn't need to max out the cpu on my graphics card to be enjoyable.
All in all, I'm very very excited you guys are finally making a medieval game! Woohoo! Can't wait to play it!
Discuss anticipated or desired features here
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