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Supraluminal
Feb 16, 2012


Just wanted to stop by and say good luck!

I have many fond memories of the SimCity series, and while SC4 is still theoretically usable I find I don't have the patience to baby it along these days. I've enjoyed some other vaguely similar sim games in the meantime, like Cities in Motion and Anno 2070, but it doesn't seem like anyone's come out with a really good integrated, full-scale city simulator yet.

So, looking forward to seeing how this turns out! I like a lot of your ideas and it seems like there's a lot of potential here.

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Supraluminal
Feb 16, 2012


Yeah, that looks like a great start, but I think it needs to be fleshed out. Watching you use it, it appeared to be really fiddly, requiring a lot of very precise mousing, deleting pieces and starting over, breaking up your road into segments ahead of time based on your planned construction, etc.

I'm sure you're aware of all that, just thought I'd share my impressions.

e: Some specific feedback - instead of drawing all the lanes manually, I can imagine cases where it would be much easier and more convenient to be able to select a length of road, and then just click an "add lane" button a couple times.

Supraluminal fucked around with this message at May 14, 2014 around 14:38

Supraluminal
Feb 16, 2012


Baronjutter posted:

That's a good start for a tool to get really fiddly with roads, but that's something the average user is going to find a little too fiddly. If I want a 4 lane road with wide sidewalks and a treed boulevard I don't want to have to manually lay down those elements every time. I want to just click on a road tool, click on the "4 lane boulevard" tool and lay down some roads. At the same time I'm not a traffic engineer but I know there's a lot of "correct" styles of highway junctions. I just want to click a button, junctions, and plop down a cloverleaf.

Now it's rad to be able to then fiddle with these pre-set items. Maybe the terrain means one "lobe" of my cloverleaf needs to be a bit funny shaped, that's where the tool comes in. Or if I want to design something very custom my self of course. But for "day to day" road building I really hope you give us a good simcity style of presets. Fiddling with each and every road from scratch and having to eye-ball all the geometry would really turn me off.

This is the crux of what I was trying to say above. It looks like fun to be able to do super-detailed stuff with individual lanes every once in a while, but probably 95% of the time I just want to plop stuff down and get on with the game.

Supraluminal
Feb 16, 2012


HardDisk posted:

Can you explain this one, please?

I was thinking the same thing. Bikes are cool, but abstracting them out as faster pedestrians (or maybe slower cars that don't collide with other cars?) seems like a reasonable compromise between model complexity and video game simplicity. So what are the special considerations that make bikes interesting enough to handle explicitly in the game?

Supraluminal
Feb 16, 2012


Baronjutter posted:

Worse, with agents you get "emergent behavior". This isn't a good thing, this is weird unintended behavior that is hard to plan for and often only shows itself once the city gets massive.

For what it's worth, within a certain range this seems realistic. Of course the more important question is whether it's fun.

Supraluminal
Feb 16, 2012


SolidSnakesBandana posted:

Parking is a pretty big part of cities. I've heard of people buying parking spots in New York City for like hundreds of thousands of dollars.

It maybe a part of them, but is it sufficiently interesting to simulate in a game? If so, at what level of granularity?

Personally I'd be happy to see it incorporated as essentially an aesthetic component, with surface parking integrated into lots in sparse areas or parking garages spawning as commercial structures in dense areas, but I don't know that I'd want to fiddle with it much directly as a player.

Supraluminal
Feb 16, 2012


ExtraNoise posted:

I would love to see this modeled! Recreational travel! Maybe Anselm's new developer Michael might be able to incorporate something like this?

It's not like it should be that hard to do, especially with an agent-based system. I know "should" and "hard" are extremely elastic concepts in software development, but still, you already have all this infrastructure to get agents from point A to point B. Just assign them destinations other than work, shops, and home on occasion. Make other residences, civic buildings, parks, etc. viable destinations, and at its simplest, just randomly dole out one recreational destination to each agent every tenth trip they make, or something.

If you want to be fancy, you could give agents basic personalities, with preferences for certain recreational options, and/or add a "pull" factor where destinations attract agents to varying degrees in some way. It might be interesting to make a sports stadium super-attractive for recreational travel whenever a game is on, for instance.

Supraluminal
Feb 16, 2012


Good to hear from you Anselm! Looking forward to seeing some new stuff when you get to it. I know refactoring is important too, though.

Supraluminal
Feb 16, 2012


My concern, as someone with slim qualifications for giving advice to a professional application developer so please feel free to ignore this, is that too much time is going into polishing the road and traffic system while the other systems are still extremely skeletal. It's the one of the motivations behind the agile development philosophy I guess - features can influence each other as they take shape, so it's best to do lots of iterations and keep pushing everything along to some extent instead of focusing on Feature A until it's "done." Because then when you dig into Feature B, you discover that it requires making some fundamental change in Feature A that invalidates a bunch of work you've already done.

That's just what I see as a web developer and casual observer of Citybound, though. Maybe from Anselm's perspective this is a non-issue.

Supraluminal
Feb 16, 2012


nielsm posted:

Nah, making the roads work is fundamental. Since the simulation is intended to be based around things being able to move between locations through the roads, if the roads don't work the foundation of everything else is missing.

Yeah, it's a balancing act. There needs to be something in place for other parts of the game to work, but arguably it only has to be good enough at each stage of development relative to the other features. That might provide more opportunity for the other features to inform the development and refinement of the road system. Of course, defining "good enough" may be difficult.

I'm not trying to second-guess Anselm too much here, it's his project after all. Just talking about what comes to mind looking in from the outside.

e: I guess my point is that, if Citybound is to be more than a pure traffic simulator, whether or not the roads "work" is ultimately defined by the other pieces of the game and how they all work together. Anselm could end up with a perfect self-contained traffic system that ends up being completely unsuitable for other features as they evolve if it's developed in a vacuum.

Supraluminal fucked around with this message at Jan 12, 2015 around 15:51

Supraluminal
Feb 16, 2012


I think if you make a good game, you'll get all the interest you could want when the time comes. I guess the CiM guys have their thing, but I feel like SC5 built up so much hype and then left such a vacuum in the city-sim genre that there's a lot of fertile ground for multiple strong entries.

Supraluminal
Feb 16, 2012


nimper posted:

Totally agree that a city is more than a traffic sim, but if the traffic sim doesn't work then how does the rest even work? Maybe I'm just super jaded by SC2013 here.

SC4 abstracts traffic pretty heavily and manages to be a great game. I would go as far as saying you could build a pretty cool city sim with almost no traffic simulation per se. It really depends on what aspects of a city you're interested in. Personally I don't care much about traffic; I think SC4 provided about as much detail as I want in that department. Maybe having parking be more of a factor would be interesting, I dunno.

But mostly what I want from a city sim is decisions about the high-level stuff Baronjutter mentioned - tax policy, social programs, zoning decisions, utility management, budget balancing, etc. etc. I would be OK with traffic principally as window dressing in a sim that delivered on the other parts.

Supraluminal
Feb 16, 2012


StealthArcher posted:

You can balance workloads you know, the game is not named Spergbound.

Did you read the link...?

Anselm, I'm sure you've been at least watching Cities: Skyline's successful launch. Maybe playing it too? I'd be curious to hear your impressions in general, and particularly if there are things you see Citybound doing differently, lessons to take away, etc.

Supraluminal
Feb 16, 2012


smr posted:

Yeah, given how much they got right it's small beer to whine about the euro buildings, particularly since the whine is "They're adding this? And for FREE? And I don't understand HOW????".

I mean, sheesh.

I think you're mistaking "making conversation" for "whining." It is a legitimately interesting question as to how they'll make it work since the existing grid/zone system doesn't look too accommodating.

Every game on the size and scope of a properly ambitious city simulator is going to have rough spots, shortcomings, and outright bugs. Nothing wrong with talking about how certain things could be better even in a generally awesome title. In fact people complaining about stuff (in moderation) is usually a good sign for a game; truly bad games just get ignored and forgotten. Unless they're bad enough to be interesting in their own right, I guess.

Anyway, forthcoming wall-to-wall aside, I find myself wishing zoning in C:S worked as we've seen in the Citybound videos, with a freeform brush instead of the grid. Even with the gaps from rectangular lots it would be nice if running roads together at anything other than a perfectly perpendicular angle could still spawn large buildings. The grid in C:S gets chopped up into a patchwork extremely easily.

Supraluminal
Feb 16, 2012


Baronjutter posted:

Those are some very detailed road tools. I guess I've got more than enough road-centric stuff out of Skylines, I'm excited about the actual city part of the game. The buildings, the economics, the people. Hell I'd be fine with a simcity4 style tile and grid system as long as we got a deeper simulation. But I know most people come to these games to road/traffic-sperg rather than city sperg.

I think there's room for both. I've enjoyed Skylines as mainly a fun city-painting toy with roads and transit as the main challenge, but I would also like to see a game that focuses more on the other stuff.

That being said, I would advise caution about adding depth and complexity for its own sake. The road tools in this video look very powerful, but is that power going to be useful and fun to more than a handful of dedicated traffic nerds, or will it just be intimidating? Are you sacrificing usability for the majority of potential players and use cases to make it possible for a few people to fiddle in endless detail with a handful of the roads and intersections in their cities?

Supraluminal
Feb 16, 2012


nimper posted:

Looks like you can sperg all over the roads if you want to but the casuals can just leave them alone and they'll still work fine.

I mean sure, hopefully they'll work fine, but that depends to a great extent on the traffic simulation, as Skylines has shown us. As Baron points out, Skylines doesn't have very fancy road controls, but the traffic/pathfinding AI is such that it greatly benefits from a couple of mods that provide that control. (They're not required but they can save you some real headaches.)

Fundamentally, there's a bit of dynamic tension in the design of a citybuilder here. If the traffic sim is forgiving enough that you don't need complex road controls, then what's the point of adding them? On the other hand, if the sim is demanding enough to call for complex controls, then you're raising the bar on what's required of the player to do well.

It's not impossible to strike a balance that gently incentivizes fine-tuning without requiring it, but it might make sense to supplement that with difficulty settings for people who want a real reason to do this stuff (or the option to ignore it). Or just say "gently caress it" and present it as a purely creative/aesthetic tool; another thing Skylines has amply proven is that plenty of people will be happy to draw elaborate dickbutts with their roads even if it doesn't help their city.

Baronjutter posted:

Different people like different levels of detail. I'm a huge transit nerd but I really don't give a poo poo about timing or schedules. I'm fine just laying out a metro or a bus and setting some generic "frequency" or "number of vehicles" option and off they go. Actually having night/day rushhour type situations don't work in time-compressed games, it makes no sense to have a rush hour or schedules when a single loop of your metro system can take an in-game day or longer, it makes the schedule absolutely meaningless (hello CiM2). That's a bad level of detail that was added because people all shouted "give us schedules! Give us control!" without understanding the context of the game.

I don't actually know how CiM 2 handled it. What didn't you like about it?

I don't see time compression as being contradictory to a rush-hour type system at all, if you decouple it from the day/night cycle. How exactly to implement it would depend on the underlying simulation (Entirely agent-based? Abstract sim? Hybrid?), but one way or another it seems like it would be easy to vary the volume of traffic in a cyclical fashion.

Maybe a bigger obstacle is spatial scale. If agent trips can take on the order of 10+ minutes real-time to execute - as is the case in the largest Skylines cities - your rush hour would have to be on a very long cycle. That could be hard for players to cope with because of the long delay between acting and getting feedback (change a road right after one rush hour, wait 20-30 minutes or more to see results in the next rush hour). This is a benefit of Skyline's more or less steady-state model; you make a change and you start seeing changes fairly quickly.

quote:

Yeah it's always a balancing act, mostly an interface balancing act. You can add all the detail in the world so long as it adds to the gameplay and is intuitive to use/interface.

[...]

That's always the question to ask: will this extra detail actually provide more outcomes, more options? Adding detail to a system where there is generally a single correct solution is boring, it's just adding a puzzle with a single solution for the player to be distracted with. But adding detail that presents the player with a choice, with multiple equally valid outcomes, that's at the heart of a city builder.

It is a balancing act, but I think you're risking oversimplification and potentially laying out a trap that developers can fall into. There's a point of diminishing returns on adding complexity, even if it's "good" complexity - and more than that, a point where it can become actively harmful if it distracts from the core gameplay or overwhelms the player, which it eventually will do even with the best UI in the world.

There's no hard-and-fast rules about it, though. Like you said, different people like different amounts of complexity, and nothing is going to please everyone.

Supraluminal
Feb 16, 2012


I missed the last update, so let me just say . Not gonna lie, I got a huge loving UI boner watching that. I literally snorted incredulously watching the zones adapt on the fly while you were dragging roads around, and all of the zone painting/config stuff looks phenomenal. poo poo, however Citybound itself works out, I'm just glad you're doing this work and that other people/companies are smart enough to steal it from you for future generations of citybuilders.

Obviously I hope Citybound works out fantastically and you earn piles of money, but seriously, at least at first glance this looks like the kind of genre-defining advancement that citybuilders have been in need of for decades. Skylines has made some important advances, especially with roads and agents, but they're still stuck in a zoning paradigm that's straight out of SimCity 2000.

Supraluminal
Feb 16, 2012


Anyone who thinks they want to make games because it would be so cool and fun and easy should be forced to watch these dev diary videos.

Supraluminal
Feb 16, 2012


Thanks for the update, Anselm! Good luck with this new initiative. I hope it helps you develop the game faster/better.

Supraluminal
Feb 16, 2012


Hi Anselm! Sounds like you have some good plans to keep things moving forward. Good luck with everything, I'm still excited to see how it all turns out.

Even though it may seem early, I think you have the right idea to start work on more gameplay systems, and to start releasing builds. I'm just a web developer, not a desktop software guy, but I always find that if I spend too much time on architecture, tools, infrastructure, etc. I just end up with a great big edifice that doesn't end up doing what I actually need once I start filling in the functionality.

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Supraluminal
Feb 16, 2012


anselm_eickhoff posted:

Hi everyone! Just a short update!

How I'm getting along

Thanks. I think these short kinds of updates are a good idea, especially if it means you can post them frequently. Helps keep the game in the periphery of people's minds, plus I imagine it could help you to maintain your own development pace more effectively than big milestone-based updates.

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