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anselm_eickhoff
Mar 1, 2014




Hi everyone!

A few months ago, I started working on my own WebGL-based city simulator, Citybound.

A few weeks ago, I created a DevBlog for it, where I announced and described the project.
I then submitted the post to the /r/Simcity subreddit - the reaction was mindblowing.

Since then, I started writing weekly posts on the development process, here are the first ones:

The Road to Alpha, Week 1 - A Slow Start
The Road to Alpha, Week 2 - Camera, Action!
The Road to Alpha, Week 3 - A Fresh Canvas
The Road to Alpha, Week 4 - REBRANDING (April Fools)
The Road to Alpha, Week 5 - Every Town Starts Small (First update with video!)
The Road to Alpha, Week 6 - Intermezzo & Community Activity
The Road to Alpha, Week 7 - First Signs of Gameplay Detected

A few articles about the project have already been written, most notably:

"Citybound: One man's attempt to build a better SimCity" (Gamasutra)
"Interview With Citybound Developer Anselm Eickhoff" (Thirteen-1)

Most of the discussion so far happens in the /r/Citybound subreddit.
But since some of you started talking about it in the SimCity thread here, I wanted to have a place for it here as well.

I'm looking forward to your comments and questions!
(But please read the FAQ first)

anselm_eickhoff fucked around with this message at Apr 23, 2014 around 00:26

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boner confessor
Apr 25, 2013

Is a lamaphobe -->



Good luck! This game looks great so far.

How detailed do you plan to make the economic aspects? If there are agents, how granular are they? How will mass transit be handled - as a 'road' type?

Dark_Swordmaster
Oct 31, 2011


Now what reason will I have for going into the SimCity thread?

anselm_eickhoff
Mar 1, 2014


Popular Thug Drink posted:

Good luck! This game looks great so far.

How detailed do you plan to make the economic aspects?

Simple, but interesting. The basic economic resources will be food, services, goods and workforce.
I will hopefully already have implemented some of that in next week's update.

Popular Thug Drink posted:

If there are agents, how granular are they?

Very. My goal is to simulate and display individual citizens.
My very unoptimized traffic simulation prototype could already handle ca. 50,000 cars on a complex road network.
So I'm confident that I can scale that to realistic city sizes.
If need be, there could be 1 agent for every 5 citizens or something like that.

Popular Thug Drink posted:

How will mass transit be handled - as a 'road' type?

Well, buses will just be cars, railways and subways will be different "road types" like you say, ports and airports will be areas that you zone.

pistolshit
May 15, 2004



I notice you say in the FAQ that roads will be customizable. Can you go into any more detail on what you mean? It would be really cool if you could essentially build a road out of a kit of parts either in plan view or as a cross section. Something like the below image. Where you could maybe drag and drop things like drive lanes, bike lanes, medians, Right-of-way(to allow for future expansion), planting strips, side walks, etc. And then make them wider or narrower based on your preference. Certain aspects of the road could then inform what kind of buildings pop up. Wide lanes and no side walk creates out-lot style commercial, narrower lanes with a bike lane and a wide sidewalk would create something akin to new urbanism or traditional development, etc.

Then again, only city-planning nerds might really be interested in that level of granularity.

boner confessor
Apr 25, 2013

Is a lamaphobe -->



anselm_eickhoff posted:

Simple, but interesting. The basic economic resources will be food, services, goods and workforce.
I will hopefully already have implemented some of that in next week's update.

Will there be currency? Does the player represent an abstract government or rather the disembodied will of the community?

anselm_eickhoff posted:

Well, buses will just be cars, railways and subways will be different "road types" like you say, ports and airports will be areas that you zone.

What control do you have over bus lines - do they exist entirely outside of player control, can you place stops/stations, can you devote variable resources to a general bus system? What is the function of sea/air ports?


pistolshit posted:

Then again, only city-planning nerds might really be interested in that level of granularity.



Not to speak for the OP but I don't get the sense this game is the Urban Planning Nerd Holy Grail. When the FAQ says that new zoning types are moddable internally I groaned and asked when there will be a game with a control panel to establish zoning types with setbacks, permissible FAR, parking min/maximums, land use types...

Esablishing right-of-way would be a killer feature in a city builder. Games with variable street widths (CitiesXL) drive me up the wall when you have to tediously knock down every structure on a block just so you can widen the roads by a couple lanes.

boner confessor fucked around with this message at Apr 10, 2014 around 18:07

Wheany
Mar 17, 2006



Dark_Swordmaster posted:

Now what reason will I have for going into the SimCity thread?

Somebody will inevitably give EA some irony dollars and will announce it there. You can mock those dudes.

Iunnrais
Jul 25, 2007

It's gaelic.

When it comes to traffic simulation, how many "trip types" do you have?

To my knowledge, in SC4, there were three types of traffic. "Morning Commute to Work", "Evening Commute Home", and "Industrial Goods Heading Off The Map (and then vanishing)"

Now, I understand fully why there's a seperate morning and evening commute-- that's interesting. I also think there's room for traffic to stores to buy things-- walmarts, and big malls are MAJOR traffic generators in real life, and its not because they employ a lot of people. But this traffic likely should be segregated from commuting traffic. Midday or weekend traffic mode maybe? It'd have to handle round trips.

You could also throw in recreational traffic that heads to parks. And if you're doing that, tourist traffic that starts off map, goes to a hotel, then goes to parks/stores/etc, then back off the map again. This would build up airport traffic and hotel districts.

Midday traffic could probably stand to have higher road capacity to simulate people going shopping/tourism over the course of the entire day, not just during a single rush hour.

SC4's "traffic bonus" to retail stores really annoyed me because they didn't generate traffic themselves. Doing this might help a lot. A midday traffic bonus to retail would work a lot better than commuting traffic granting that bonus.

anselm_eickhoff
Mar 1, 2014


pistolshit posted:

I notice you say in the FAQ that roads will be customizable. Can you go into any more detail on what you mean? It would be really cool if you could essentially build a road out of a kit of parts either in plan view or as a cross section. Something like the below image. Where you could maybe drag and drop things like drive lanes, bike lanes, medians, Right-of-way(to allow for future expansion), planting strips, side walks, etc. And then make them wider or narrower based on your preference. Certain aspects of the road could then inform what kind of buildings pop up. Wide lanes and no side walk creates out-lot style commercial, narrower lanes with a bike lane and a wide sidewalk would create something akin to new urbanism or traditional development, etc.

Then again, only city-planning nerds might really be interested in that level of granularity.



I want to add essentially what you are describing, but make it more intuitive by embedding it directly inside the game world.
Image selecting a "lane tool" and just clicking on a road and dragging away to fork off a new lane, etc.
This should allow for complex interchanges and all kinds of shenanigans without being complicated to use.

Popular Thug Drink posted:

Will there be currency? Does the player represent an abstract government or rather the disembodied will of the community?

Yes, you will have a budget. You are a mixture of dictator for life and all city departments at once.

Popular Thug Drink posted:

What control do you have over bus lines - do they exist entirely outside of player control, can you place stops/stations, can you devote variable resources to a general bus system? What is the function of sea/air ports?

You can place stops, rotes will be created automatically.
Mods could allow for more granular control here.
sea & air ports offer access to international trading of goods and services and allow tourists to come.

Popular Thug Drink posted:

Not to speak for the OP but I don't get the sense this game is the Urban Planning Nerd Holy Grail. When the FAQ says that new zoning types are moddable internally I groaned and asked when there will be a game with a control panel to establish zoning types with setbacks, permissible FAR, parking min/maximums, land use types...

But mods could allow for all of that.
The procedural building system will contain most of this as variables anyways, but they will be determined automatically.
Making that player controlled via a new UI would be pretty trivial.

Popular Thug Drink posted:

Esablishing right-of-way would be a killer feature in a city builder. Games with variable street widths (CitiesXL) drive me up the wall when you have to tediously knock down every structure on a block just so you can widen the roads by a couple lanes.

You will be able to customize intersections as well and either place traffic lights or set right of way.
Buildings will only be demolished by widened roads if the wider road actually goes through solid building structure.
If just cut away their front garden, nothing will happen.

anselm_eickhoff
Mar 1, 2014


Iunnrais posted:

When it comes to traffic simulation, how many "trip types" do you have?

To my knowledge, in SC4, there were three types of traffic. "Morning Commute to Work", "Evening Commute Home", and "Industrial Goods Heading Off The Map (and then vanishing)"

Now, I understand fully why there's a seperate morning and evening commute-- that's interesting. I also think there's room for traffic to stores to buy things-- walmarts, and big malls are MAJOR traffic generators in real life, and its not because they employ a lot of people. But this traffic likely should be segregated from commuting traffic. Midday or weekend traffic mode maybe? It'd have to handle round trips.

You could also throw in recreational traffic that heads to parks. And if you're doing that, tourist traffic that starts off map, goes to a hotel, then goes to parks/stores/etc, then back off the map again. This would build up airport traffic and hotel districts.

Midday traffic could probably stand to have higher road capacity to simulate people going shopping/tourism over the course of the entire day, not just during a single rush hour.

SC4's "traffic bonus" to retail stores really annoyed me because they didn't generate traffic themselves. Doing this might help a lot. A midday traffic bonus to retail would work a lot better than commuting traffic granting that bonus.

I basically want to do all of this.
For every need that a citizen or tourist or business or whatever have, they will actually need to go there and get it.

ExtraNoise
Apr 11, 2007



anselm_eickhoff posted:

Most of the discussion so far happens in the /r/Citybound subreddit.
But since some of you started talking about it in the SimCity thread here, I wanted to have a place for it here as well.

Thanks for including a shoutout to the subreddit in the OP.

I think a thread here will do great, and I'm glad to see the dev getting involved directly on SA. Too often you'll see devs shy away from these forums or, if they do get involved, do it behind an anonymous puppet they are masquerading as a fan. Being able to interact directly with the lead developer is great because it offers us a chance to ask questions and have them answered instead of the thread devolving into wild speculation.

Question: How many polygons/faces does it take before you start seeing a performance hit at this point in time? We've seen some screenshots with thousands of buildings but who knows how fast the game is running at that point.

anselm_eickhoff
Mar 1, 2014


ExtraNoise posted:

Thanks for including a shoutout to the subreddit in the OP.

I think a thread here will do great, and I'm glad to see the dev getting involved directly on SA. Too often you'll see devs shy away from these forums or, if they do get involved, do it behind an anonymous puppet they are masquerading as a fan. Being able to interact directly with the lead developer is great because it offers us a chance to ask questions and have them answered instead of the thread devolving into wild speculation.

Question: How many polygons/faces does it take before you start seeing a performance hit at this point in time? We've seen some screenshots with thousands of buildings but who knows how fast the game is running at that point.

Hah, didn't know you were here too!
When I first saw SA pop up in Google Analytics and I went there I thought "what, you need to pay to register?"
But I think it's more than worth it, people here seem very interested and civilized.

I wouldn't worry about poly count. I've seen WebGL handle about 2 million polygons, which should be enough even for huge cities, even more so, if I implement a level-of-detail system for the buildings.
The difficult thing is actually having the simulation run smoothly and that is currently CPU bound.

nielsm
Jun 1, 2009




Fallen Rib

How are you planning on handling player construction in the long run?
In SimCity, things have traditionally just poofed into existence as soon as you release the mouse, which is obviously a "game" thing, but also means you can't experiment with different layouts of a neighborhood before putting out the money and potentially having to bulldoze everything and start over.
Would it be feasible, and do you expect to, have a planning mode, and once a city expansion/improvement has been approved it starts gradually building and draining cash? Or just stick to the old insta-build model?

anselm_eickhoff
Mar 1, 2014


nielsm posted:

How are you planning on handling player construction in the long run?
In SimCity, things have traditionally just poofed into existence as soon as you release the mouse, which is obviously a "game" thing, but also means you can't experiment with different layouts of a neighborhood before putting out the money and potentially having to bulldoze everything and start over.
Would it be feasible, and do you expect to, have a planning mode, and once a city expansion/improvement has been approved it starts gradually building and draining cash? Or just stick to the old insta-build model?

See this reddit post and my reply: http://www.reddit.com/r/Citybound/c...planning_tools/

bobby2times
Jan 9, 2010


Would you compare your project to Banished? I enjoyed Banished but in the end it was just too simple to have replay-ability.

anselm_eickhoff
Mar 1, 2014


Although the gameplay focus is a different one, Banished has been a great inspiration for me.
Just to name one thing, it showed me that a single dude could actually make and finish such a game.
In what ways did you find it too simple?

boner confessor
Apr 25, 2013

Is a lamaphobe -->



Thanks for being so responsive!

anselm_eickhoff posted:

Yes, you will have a budget. You are a mixture of dictator for life and all city departments at once.

How is taxation modeled? Can you pass ordinances? Restrict building permits? How much do you plan on simulating the details of local government, or are you going to leave that abstracted?

anselm_eickhoff posted:

You can place stops, rotes will be created automatically.

Will there be actual routes, or will commuters just rabbit hole between different bus stops with some kind of system displaying bus usage via vehicles on the road?

Furthermore, do you plan on simulating parking?

anselm_eickhoff posted:

sea & air ports offer access to international trading of goods and services and allow tourists to come.

Will there be an export economy, as in goods produced beyond local demand must be shipped off-map to be converted into tax revenue or whatever?

anselm_eickhoff posted:

But mods could allow for all of that.
The procedural building system will contain most of this as variables anyways, but they will be determined automatically.
Making that player controlled via a new UI would be pretty trivial.

Oh it's not necessary. In my perfect ideal game it would be there, but I've often thought such a thing would alienate more casual users.

boner confessor fucked around with this message at Apr 10, 2014 around 18:48

anselm_eickhoff
Mar 1, 2014


Popular Thug Drink posted:

How is taxation modeled? Can you pass ordinances? Restrict building permits? How much do you plan on simulating the details of local government, or are you going to leave that abstracted?

I think I will just copy SimCities taxation model.
I want to have ordinances, but I don't know which yet.
Details of government will be abstracted.

Popular Thug Drink posted:

Will there be actual routes, or will commuters just rabbit hole between different bus stops with some kind of system displaying bus usage via vehicles on the road?

I'm not sure, but I'd prefer actual routes.

Popular Thug Drink posted:

Furthermore, do you plan on simulating parking?

Not soon.

Popular Thug Drink posted:

Will there be an export economy, as in goods produced beyond local demand must be shipped off-map to be converted into tax revenue or whatever?

Yes.

Iunnrais
Jul 25, 2007

It's gaelic.

anselm_eickhoff posted:

I basically want to do all of this.
For every need that a citizen or tourist or business or whatever have, they will actually need to go there and get it.

So, followup: SC4 only did commuting and freight for what are clearly CPU reasons. Heck, on big cities, SC4 -still- chugs just pathfinding what it has. How will you handle this? How often will you update?

anselm_eickhoff
Mar 1, 2014


Iunnrais posted:

So, followup: SC4 only did commuting and freight for what are clearly CPU reasons. Heck, on big cities, SC4 -still- chugs just pathfinding what it has. How will you handle this? How often will you update?

I have an agent based simulation that is updated all the time.
As I said above, I am confident that I can scale it from just medium sized cities as it is now to large cities.
I don't know why SC4 pathfinding takes so much CPU when it doesn't even simulate individual cars.

boner confessor
Apr 25, 2013

Is a lamaphobe -->



Iunnrais posted:

So, followup: SC4 only did commuting and freight for what are clearly CPU reasons. Heck, on big cities, SC4 -still- chugs just pathfinding what it has. How will you handle this? How often will you update?

Yeah, you say there are time cycles in this game. How long in simtime does each cycle represent, and how often does the trip engine update per simtime cycle? From my experience with O/D trip generation research, cycles of a week or month are the typical time unit.

anselm_eickhoff posted:

In what ways did you find it too simple?

Personally, there wasn't enough to do. Banished has a very linear progression of game stages. At first you set up a village and secure food production. You slowly expand, adding trade facilities and trade good production. Once you can trade, you inflate your village over decades, keeping a stable rate of population increase while adding more food production and storage in such a way that you don't run afoul of citizen pathfinding. At some point during this process the player will make a mistake or some kind of disaster happens which throws your equilibrium out of whack and mass death ensues. Then you rebuild or start a new game. That's the typical game of Banished.

This combination of lack of gameplay features and the way the game will 'punish' you by straying from the optimal growth path inhibits replayability. I appreciate that the developer chose to make a simple, stable, polished game than an ambitious, unfinished, unbalanced mess. Me complaining about the lack of replayability is in no way a criticism of Banished, which I thoroughly enjoyed.

anselm_eickhoff
Mar 1, 2014


Popular Thug Drink posted:

Yeah, you say there are time cycles in this game. How long in simtime does each cycle represent, and how often does the trip engine update per simtime cycle? From my experience with O/D trip generation research, cycles of a week or month are the typical time unit.

Was this question directed at me?
What exactly do you mean with cycles?

boner confessor
Apr 25, 2013

Is a lamaphobe -->



anselm_eickhoff posted:

What exactly do you mean with cycles?

You say in the FAQ there are both day/night and seasonal cycles. Will the trip generation conform to this, as in during each daily cycle you will see an approximate daily level of trip generation? Or are these cycles decoupled from the simulation and purely aesthetic, as they were in SC4?

anselm_eickhoff
Mar 1, 2014


Popular Thug Drink posted:

You say in the FAQ there are both day/night and seasonal cycles. Will the trip generation conform to this, as in during each daily cycle you will see an approximate daily level of trip generation? Or are these cycles decoupled from the simulation and purely aesthetic, as they were in SC4?

Oh, yes it will. People will drive to work in the mornings get back home in the afternoon, go shopping and relaxing inbetween or on holidays.
The trips are not decoupled, they pretty much are the simulation.

boner confessor
Apr 25, 2013

Is a lamaphobe -->



anselm_eickhoff posted:

Oh, yes it will. People will drive to work in the mornings get back home in the afternoon, go shopping and relaxing inbetween or on holidays.

Do you mean actual special days, or just that some proportion of agents will have variant schedules on any given day to reflect non-work trips?

I don't think I've ever seen a city sim that does actual holidays/weekends.

Mice Everywhere
Sep 7, 2007

I love animal porn! So F* you if you don't accept that!

I hope there are real holidays and I can plan my town for maximum trick or treating efficiency for Halloweens.

anselm_eickhoff
Mar 1, 2014


Popular Thug Drink posted:

Do you mean actual special days, or just that some proportion of agents will have variant schedules on any given day to reflect non-work trips?

I don't think I've ever seen a city sim that does actual holidays/weekends.

Hmm why not actual free days... Might give interesting variety in how the city behaves.

less than three
Aug 9, 2007

Fire Sights and LED Lights

ESC 2010 Never Forget

Fallen Rib

Looking forward to how this goes.

Away all Goats
Jul 5, 2005


Really looking forward to this, good luck anselm!

Robzilla
Jul 28, 2003

READ IT AND WEEP JEWBOY!


Fun Shoe

After the turd that is SimCity (2013 edition) I have been jonesing for a good city building sim.

I look forward to how this goes. Good luck.

nielsm
Jun 1, 2009




Fallen Rib

Popular Thug Drink posted:

Do you mean actual special days, or just that some proportion of agents will have variant schedules on any given day to reflect non-work trips?

I don't think I've ever seen a city sim that does actual holidays/weekends.

Cities in Motion 2 sort-of has weekends, only they barely register with the default game rules. (It also lacks good generation of distinct city districts and mass-attractor buildings, making times of day and week even less distinct.)

Dark_Swordmaster
Oct 31, 2011


How do you combat a sped up day/night cycle with agents? As is from leaving a house and driving in real-time and obeying the flow of traffic, a commute would be hours long potentially. Would you either speed up the traffic animations (you monster!) or just allow them to take their time, have a four-hour work day, and leave at 5 get home at 9?

anselm_eickhoff
Mar 1, 2014


Dark_Swordmaster posted:

How do you combat a sped up day/night cycle with agents? As is from leaving a house and driving in real-time and obeying the flow of traffic, a commute would be hours long potentially. Would you either speed up the traffic animations (you monster!) or just allow them to take their time, have a four-hour work day, and leave at 5 get home at 9?

A combination of both. Speeding it up isn't as bad as it sounds, the cars already have 3x the acceleration than would be realistic, but because they are so tiny, it looks ok.

Frijolero
Jan 24, 2009

buen post


TRUE BLUE HILLARY CREW
ALWAYS WITH HER
#resist

I love that you 'paint' the zones. And I don't mind that it is not 100% precise. That is ok. It looks pretty and it looks natural.

Iunnrais
Jul 25, 2007

It's gaelic.

Okay, now that you're saying the traffic will happen based on time of day, aligned exactly to the simulation's time of day...

My favorite tool in SC4 is the traffic analysis query, where I click a road segment and it shows me the full route of every vehicle that passes through that tile, and I have to click a button to designate whether I want to see morning or evening traffic. Will this tool be available in your game? Will only the time of day we're currently in be available to query?

I personally think the method of "just calculate routes, then spawn widjets on the road based on density" is a fine method to use. This design choice seems weird, and prone to SimCity2013 problems...

I don't put much faith in agents as a simulation method. SC4's NAM is pretty good, just needs more traffic types.

Sorry to keep harping on this, but in my opinion, the traffic simulation is the absolute most important aspect of the simulation. It practically IS the city-- the living part, anyway. The part you simulate.

anselm_eickhoff
Mar 1, 2014


Hmm I don't think it would be feasible to collect all that information for each street section all the time, but you could start a query and get the exact result with maybe even more info after 1 ingame day.

I agree that traffic simulation is the most important part and that is why I actually want to use agent based simulation, to make it as realistic and transparent as possible for the player.
I actually think that the abstract pathing and density calculation of SC4 and earlier don't do a great job at representing something as chaotic and emergently complex as traffic.
I will try my best to struggle through the challenges that agent based simulation brings, but I wouldn't give up something that awesome and immersive just because it didn't work well in SC13.

Tytan
Sep 17, 2011

Som Muay Dtiet


Just wanted to say it's great to see a developer who seems to really "get" what people want from a city builder, and I love that you're taking people's suggestions on board.

Just a simple thing and it's probably something you've already thought about, but it'd be great to be able to paint/zone parks instead of having set ones to use. One thing that annoyed me in SC2013 (among many things) was that you could never get the parks to fit nicely next to the roads, they always looked odd. Would be nice to be able to fill the awkward little gaps.

Also, will there be a way to make buildings 'historic' like in SC4, assuming that buildings will be demolished/rebuilt over time? Or will there be an option for ploppable permanent buildings? (Obviously the simulation stuff would take priority over this, but I like my pretty cities!)

AriTheDog
Jul 29, 2003
Famously tasty.

Chalk me up as another person very excited about your game since I first heard about it. I love the low poly graphics, and I hope you keep them. The more sim-nerd this game gets, for me, the better. I'm particularly curious if your game will have rival neighboring cities competing for commercial economy (think big box stores the next city over) or model any of the economics of that sort. In any case, I'm looking forward to seeing your progress.

Jamfrost
Jul 20, 2013

Oh baby, baby, how was I supposed to know that something wasn't right here.

Dinosaur Gum

I'm very, very curious about this game. I'll be watching your progress. Banished was a fine game, but doesn't really have the variety of SimCity 4 which hurts its longevity. So now I watch this game (especially since SimCity 5 was... not what I was looking for).

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Ofaloaf
Feb 15, 2013



I'm happy to see this get its own thread! Traffic analytics and bus routing would be cool, but just even having the basics of a city builder without an atrocious interface or minuscule city limits and always-online requirements would be enough to make me go for the game.

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