Smart walkers

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Smart walkers

Postby Munchkinguy » Fri Sep 27, 2013 2:32 am

I just read Chris Beatrice's blog postabout walkers. I had an idea about how to make walkers 'smarter': user-defined paths. Users could define the routes that walkers go. Let's say you have a maximum distance that a walker can go. The player can click along a street route, defining a path until all of the distance units are used up. Then the walker will always follow that route until the player redefines it at a later stage.

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Postby Keith » Fri Sep 27, 2013 4:41 am

While that would improve the coverage, it doesn't actually make them "smarter".

Controlling the walker paths has been a discussion in these games ever since Caesar III came out back in the 90's.

Actually, if you understand how the walkers in the game function, it gives the player a means to control where the walkers travel.

Example, in all the old games, Caesar III, Pharaoh and Zeus, etc. The walkers would always appear a the NE or the "1 o'clock" corner of the building that generated that walker first, provided there was a road adjacent to that point.

If there was no road at that point, the game would check the E or "3 o'clock" for an adjacent road. If the condition was true the walker would appear there.

If the condition was false, 'no road', the game would then check SE, S, SW, W, NW and finally N for an adjacent road until it found the first location that had a road section adjacent to the building.

So knowing that the player could easily plot out some housing designs to use.

To keep walkers confined to an area in Caesar III, one could remove a tile of the road to keep the "random walkers" from crossing it and forcing the walker to reverse course. City gates also had the same effect. The "destination walkers", as they were called, those that were pushing carts from point A to B with specific starting and destination points could ignore the missing tiles and gate houses and pass through.

in Pharaoh, the "roadblock" was introduced. It allowed one to place a block in the road. It worked very much like the missing road tile in Caesar III. Roadblocks were also available in Zeus. Residential gates were added to the last of the old series, Emperor Rise of the Middle Kingdom. These could actually be set by the player to control three types of walkers by either blocking them or letting them pass, thus controlling the types of services in a given area and controlling traffic flow.

The walkers still had that "random" ability but they could be controlled to a degree.

If you start controlling everything, you take a lot of the 'gameplay' out it and turn the thing into a strategy-simulator.

I'd prefer the more random system of old over a strict pathing system. I want them to preserve a more "gamey" feel.

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Postby tobing » Sat Sep 28, 2013 10:08 am

I would be curious about what you think about the walkers in Villages & Cities (see, because I think I have made them pretty good. They go where they are most needed, and they serve all buildings they pass when they go there. Works pretty well, and it doesn't need any road blocks or other artificial measures.

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Postby Zelentron » Sat Sep 28, 2013 2:19 pm

while this is a very good idea, Keith has a good point. perhaps the walker should place some sort of priority on where they should go, rather than going to the warehouse district, they lookout for houses in need of supplies and once they return to the market they go another route to the other houses that also need food

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Postby Herodotus » Sat Sep 28, 2013 7:29 pm

There were random walkers and destination walkers in C3/Pharaoh etc. The random walker could be tamed either by using closed loops where the loop size was chosen so the walkers would complete the loop. The start direction became irrelevant. At this point they became predicable and not random.

Or they (many, but not all) could be controlled (more or less) by long or "forced" walkers where the walker starts on one side of the building more or less as described by Keith and will walk a long continuous circuit to a second road connected to the other side of the building.
It means a lot of people can be serviced by a just a few of certain buildings (maybe just one).
I'm not sure if this was forseen by the game designers. As far as I know no-one has ever asked them.

Both of these add an extra dimension to the game which C4 with its smart houses don't have.

Keith wrote:I'd prefer the more random system of old over a strict pathing system. I want them to preserve a more "gamey" feel.

I agree. I want a CB game to be a fun logic and logistics puzzle. Whether it is realistic or not is secondary to me

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Postby Munchkinguy » Sat Sep 28, 2013 8:09 pm

"Herodotus" wrote:I agree. I want a CB game to be a fun logic and logistics puzzle. Whether it is realistic or not is secondary to me

If players had the option of defining paths, it would not reduce the 'logistics puzzle' quality of the game; it would only make it a different kind of logistics puzzle.

The Cities in Motion transport sim is a good example of how defining paths for services can make an interesting game.

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Postby romanherd » Thu Apr 17, 2014 1:32 pm

I always found it kind of odd when one of my walkers (esp. in the Caesar games) would wander off into an industrial area looking for someone to buy his wares. Didn't he WANT to make money? Why does he even go over there in the first place? There are a hundred houses right next to him, and he's wandering off to God-knows-where. I found that I liked (and played more often) games that had the house people come to the markets. The road-blocks and neighborhood walls/gates of Emperor worked great also.

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