A fortnight has passed since the last update, marking the first time in quite a while that I didn’t update every week. I’m pleased to say all this travelling is now over and we’ll be sticking with the weekly updates from here until the end of time (or the end of the game, whichever comes first). I haven’t had time to code much this past fortnight but today I’ll be showing off a little more about city districts, talking a bit about special buildings, showing off how markets are currently looking (though there is a long way to go), shop signs (another example of trying to convey as much as possible visually, not verbally), and lastly the Powerpoint slides from my talk at the Canadian Game Studies Association conference I’ve just returned from. So, without further ado:
Housing Districts: I’ve worked on the standard building distribution for middle-class housing districts. Much like lower-class housing districts (and every other) these will be populated with special buildings as well, which I’ll talk a bit about below, but these are the standard looks for this kind of district. Compared to their lower-class brethren, I wanted to make some pretty obvious changes to the algorithm here – more roads and a clearer road system, larger buildings, fewer connected buildings, some more open spaces (especially near main roads), and more trees. I’m now working on deciding what rare buildings should spawn in these areas, and I’m hoping to finish the districts I’m working on currently before moving onto any others, though I confess working on docks generation – especially given its future link to sea travel – is rather exciting too.
I’ve also begun integrating rivers into city districts, which is proving to be an interesting challenge. In some cases it needs to account for where a river is coming through in order to move the doorways between districts; the gates between each sector can be placed in the middle of a wall or on the left/right side (or the top/bottom if a vertical side) and if there’s a river, the river has to take priority. Here are two examples of rivers; as you can see, the in the top picture it needs to figure out how to place bridges intelligently, which I’ll get on to dealing with soon, though the bottom picture works quite nicely. More on this once I’ve got rivers sorted.
Special Buildings: Housing districts will contain a range of other buildings. Lower-class housing districts, for example, may contain prisons, asylums, sewage works, arenas (if the civilization supports gladiatorial combat), slave quarters (if the civilization keeps slaves), etc. I’m not sure yet what middle-class districts will have, but I’m working on it. Maybe things like theaters, opera houses etc, might be fun if I can think of some clear gameplay value for them and integration with the rest of the game. Rarely a district will have one massive special building – the world’s largest prison, or asylum, for example – which will have significant representation in the world’s history and other information. Next week I should be able to show off both the normal-sized special buildings, and some of the larger, unique ones too (which will not spawn every game).
Markets (early version): One of the next districts I want to work on is the market district. Each city will only have one of these (and will be tied to the strategy layer in a way I’ll talk about some other time), and consists of a range of different things. It firstly places various shops along the main paths through the district – these may be any one of currently thirty-two different types of shop, ranging from a helmet shop to a cartographer, from a gunpowder shop to a botanist, and from an antiques shop to a general store. Some of these shops will also be closed or abandoned, and as time passes in the game other shops may open and some may close. I am still working out (in my head) the exact mechanics that I want to use in terms of shop stocks, restocking (or not), etc, but I think I have a good idea of how this is going to look. It then places some market squares where there will be several shops in the centre, in this case heavily biased towards general stores and certain other kinds of common, useful shop (but again, some may be closed). I’ve had a few very interesting ideas from people about what else I could include in market districts (since you can only have so many shops!) and these will include warehouses with large stockpiles locked away, currency exchange buildings, auction houses (still working on how exactly these function), and possibly guilds in the future if I decide to add them as another form of “faction” one can align to, along with religions and cults. So, in the picture below you can see the shops spread out along the main path through the area and the start of a market square in the bottom-right; next I’ll be adding the shops to the square and then adding the other buildings listed above, and should have a finished market district to show next time.
Shop Signs: Shops have signs next to their doors to show you what kind of shop they are. These are all depicted with shapes and symbols instead of words (though I confess, the antiques shop is depicted by an ‘A’ symbol). I haven’t yet finished varying the metal part of the sign, but here’s a decent impression of how the signs are looking. The shape of a shop sign is dependent on the civilization and the wood types are connected to what forms of wood grow in that area (so you won’t get taiga-only trees being used for shop signs in a desert, etc). There are currently thirty-two different shop signs, and I may have another seven or eight planned depending on how exactly I decide to distribute information and items between the different shop types.
CGSA Talk: One of the reasons I managed very little coding this last fortnight was due to travelling to Toronto for the Canadian Game Studies Association conference. This was fantastic – and some people even knew me as the URR person, which blew my mind – and I gave a talk I mentioned in a previous post about the semiotics of roguelikes. I still intend to write this up into a full paper, possibly with a shorter-than-full-paper-but-longer-than-abstract version in the middle, but here’s the presentation slides I used for it. I’m afraid I never write notes for my presentations, but I think you can broadly guess what I was talking about from the context on the slides. Enjoy, and feel free to drop any questions in the comments! The last set of feedback was really useful and helped me correct a few mistakes and focus the talk a bit more. Disclaimer: a small number of colours for a small number of monsters were changed just for ease of viewing on a projector screen. FORGIVE ME, INTERNET. Download it:
Next week I will either be talking about city districts some more – probably with a focus on way more special buildings, and maybe finishing off market districts – or hunter-gatherer settlements, since I’ve done the initial stages of generating those but have yet to actually implement it fully, so we’ll see how that goes. Until next time you can keep up to date on my devblog, Facebook page, or Twitter feed. The devblog is updated weekly on Saturdays (or sometimes Sundays), Facebook a few times a week, and the Twitter roughly daily. Any thoughts, please leave them in the comments! Stay tuned...