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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


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.

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.

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.

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.

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:

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?

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?


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.

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?

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.

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.

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.

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.

Mar 1, 2014

Tytan posted:

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!)

I'm already planning on a park zone. They will then be generated procedurally.

Marking buildings as historic would be a great way to keep procedural buildings that you like.

nielsm posted:

True. While SimCity 4 (and 3000) do have big, ploppable, monumental buildings, all they do is sit there and suck money while providing a bit of YIMBY effect. They don't actually provide anything to the city, be it homes or jobs.
It'd be cool to have that kind of "projects" that required cooperation from public (i.e. player) and private investors to get off the ground. It could perhaps be initiated from either side, the player could indicate they wanted a monumental building and get bids from investors, or an investor could approach the player with a business plan. Ideally, these projects could also fail for reasons, maybe general recession, competition from other sides, private investor failing, or whatever.

I'll think about I how I could incroporate such a mechanic.

Iunnrais posted:

I'm still very wary of agent based traffic. It seems that some of the problems with SC2013 were entirely inherent to agents.

For instance: How will an agent reroute to avoid heavy traffic? If the road segment doesn't know how much traffic it's getting, you can't really recalculate an A* or Dijkstra array with higher weights to avoid it.

You are going to give your agents full knowledge of where they PERMANENTLY live and work, right? And agents won't simply be spawned as tabula rasa from buildings each morning and evening?

The road segments already know how many cars there are on them.
I'm currently doing a kind of cached, distributed A* where routes are kept for other cars and are invalidated after a while.
So the system might not instantly react to changed traffic and update weights, but after a while it will (which is also realistic).

Citizens have permanent and unique homes and workplaces, their agents will travel between those.
SC13's traffic simulation is actually more of a liquid simulation where homes are sources and workplaces are drains, in the evening the other way around.
I will do none of that.

Ofaloaf posted:

Where does that music from the Road to Alpha video come from? It's incredibly relaxing.

It's "River Meditation" by

Mar 1, 2014

Onion Knight posted:

Anyway, in terms of density management have you considered letting demand determine density then allowing the player to paint height limitations?

This is exactly how density will work. Based on demand and a tool to paint max. height.

Mar 1, 2014

Yes, if you donate via PayPal, because then I have your email address and can send you the alpha when it's ready.

I also don't like preorders, that's why I only offer this indirect way and don't market it as a preorder.

Mar 1, 2014

New update, kind of:

The Road to Alpha, Week 6 - Intermezzo & Community Activity

(Sri.Theo: Yes!)

Mar 1, 2014

Awesome thanks, I will use it for reference and if it is still active maybe ask something myself.

Mar 1, 2014

drunkill posted:

Just wondering how you'll set the game up, being from Germany you'll probably call trams Trams or Light Rail and (hopefully) not streetcars, but will there be an option to have left hand drive cities or roundabouts or even bikelanes as a road/vehicle type?

You might like this website then, allows you to customise a cross-section of a street, add lanes, bike paths, tram tracks and dividers and street furniture.

There will be all three: there's an option to switch to left hand driving, you will be able to build roundabouts and there will be bike lanes.

Streetmix has a nice interface, but I will do it differently. You'll see when I get around to it.

Mar 1, 2014

New Update!

The Road to Alpha, Week 7 - First Signs of Gameplay Detected

Mar 1, 2014

IceLicker posted:

This looks so promising and again, it's nice to see a developer so involved with the community. Made a small donation to show my support.

Much appreciated!

Thanks for the kind words, everyone!

Mar 1, 2014

Jamfrost posted:

I'm really liking what you've shown so far. And the size. I like the size.

That's what she said.

Iunnrais posted:

I'm still skeptical of agent based simulation for large scale simulations like a city, but... I'll give it the benefit of the doubt for the moment.

Right now, you have things being provided by "neighboring cities". Are you going to offer region based play like SC4, or will all neighbors be implied, as in SC2k? I'd prefer a hybrid of the two... a "SimNation/SimWorld" outside your region, and then a region that is all your own.

I'm assuming that you are intending to require neighboring connections, and that neighbors won't be able to just magically supply you with food/resources/etc?

Right now, neighboring cities are abstract and invisible, but they will require connections.
Additionally there will be regional demand that is unlocked by train stations/highways and global demand that is unlocked by air or seaports.

Later on there might be the ability to connect multiple player-cities together.

Mar 1, 2014

Additionally to the global demand, there will be something that models very local demand (could just be "heatmaps" or something similar).
So even if there is a global demand for food sales, vendors won't move in if there is no place that is easily/quickly reachable by customers.

Mar 1, 2014

Communist Zombie posted:

When your doing videos in the future can you record the game while in a small resolution? Or atleast when your pointing fine UI details. Because in your latest video I had to switch it to HD resolution and the fullscreen for me to be able to easily read the RCI graphs.

Ok, I might create a zoom-in effect in post-production.

Shibawanko posted:

Please include some kind of pedestrian infrastructure too! Most cities in the world have large pedestrian downtowns, the typical Simcity model where everything is next to a big road only exists in a few American cities.

Yes I will! But first I will focus on only cars, just to make development simpler.

Iunnrais posted:

Local demand, yes, that makes sense... but what about local supply? Again, the situation where there's plenty of global supply, but maybe there's only a single tiny road leading into one part of town and it's flooded with traffic 24/7.

Well, if a resident can't realistically get to any supply he needs he wont move there in the first place.
This might sound like there will be a deadlock, but residents will be ok with having to travel long distances in the beginning.
If their situation worsens because of traffic jams etc. they might move out, however.

Mar 1, 2014

Lots of questions, lots of answers:

CADPAT posted:

Regarding one of the previous comments about re-playability/challenge: In previous versions of Sim City, one of the driving factors of the game, (and arguably what made it fun) was the challenge of coaxing your city into developping the way you want it to by using the tools at your disposal.†

An example is, say you want a bustling skyrise metropolis, you needed to invest in a lot of infrastructure while balancing against available income and build up in your city in order to get to the point where you get the high tech and high commercial buildings that make that metropolis as you imagined it.

Earlier on you somewhat spoke to this, but what is your plan for making things fun to play and still challenging after a few hours of city growth?

One major source of challenge will be the need to constantly generate more interest in the city, I talked a little about that in the video.
First you will be able to use the first neighboring city as a source of growth.
Then you will have to shift your city to become more self-sustained.
Then you can afford or will be offered the opportunity to build new transport connectivity opetions like highways or railway.
This opens you up to a wider market that you can use for further growth.
Then you would have to really start managing the needs and problems of your by now quite large city.
If you succeed you will be able to build seaports or airports, opening your city up for global trade, immigration and tourism.
This constitutes the end-game and is also the hardest part, you now have to manage a whole metropolis.

This whole path is of course full of smaller budget, city style, and other interesting decisions.

Baronjutter posted:

Is the current building/lot system more or less a very rough placeholder? I thought we were going to get more flexible procedural buildings that conformed to the roads/lots better. Right now I see the exact same problem Cities XL and Simcity 2013 had: ugly wasted strips of land due to rectangles trying to fill non-rectangular spaces. How can we make a dense european city if we can't have street-walls of buildings gracefully following the curves and angles of roads?

Also the way you have houses generating is a bit odd. Houses generally have bigger back yards than front lawns. Generally there is a minimum front setback and then the rest is maximized back yard.

Obviously these are serious nit-picks at this stage, but I need to be comforted and soothed that you have plans or intentions to improve all this in the future.

nielsm posted:

Yeah I hope there will be non-rectangular lots sooner rather than later. In the perfect world also have special rules to generate corner buildings at corners. Maybe even wedge-shaped buildings at sharp corners.
And whenever a lot is generated, consider how much free road frontage is left, and if there would be too little then the lot is forced to grow to fill the remaining frontage.

Yes the procedural building and lot generation will get a lot smarter and interesting.
The current implementation is really the simplest example that I had time for.
Non-rectangular spaces and special rules for corner-buildings are something that I already have planned.
Achieving beautiful eruopean building-walls and street blocks (like we also have here in Munich) is one of my personal goals.

I hope that comforts you.

Suspect Bucket posted:

Well, which is it that you want? Yards or eurotowns? As this is procedurally generated, maybe stuff like that could be manipulated by a slider. Your building codes and stuff, allowing areas of such and such population density to develop tightly packed, space maximising buildings. Less dense residential will have more yard and garden space, and lots will be more square to preserve green space.

That's one thing I wanted to ask about, green space and parks. I love pocket parks and urban art. Will we be just plopping in park squares, or will we be able to designate green space and have it generate an appropriate park? Like a tiny park would just have a swing set and monkey bars, a big city park would have soccer pitches and trees, maybe nature trails, even a pond. Maybe base it off the region demands when it's built, allowing the attitudes of the day shape the park.

Or, as someone said, have both in one city.

Yes, there will be a park-zone that works exactly like you describe.
You will designate it and lay foot or bike-paths through it, then it will be filled procedurally.

DrSunshine posted:

Man, I'd love a city building game where you could get into building codes, zoning laws and housing ordinances and such. Imagine being a mayor and having to deal with managing the various citizen complaints and improving the local economy in time to make the next election! You try to get higher density and try to increase the height restrictions, but local citizens protest because it would destroy their property values. You want to expand your highway to improve commerce into the city and increase industry, but there's a stubborn homeowner that you have to try to use eminent domain on in order to get him out of the way! You're trying to switch to renewable energy by building windmills, but citizens concerned about noise and endangered birds try to block your attempts!

That'd be amazing.

While I don't aim for that complexity of politics for the main game, mods would certainly allow for it!

PureRok posted:

That sounds absolutely horrible.

See, this is why it's important that the game is as adaptive as possible, while still having a focused, designed core experience.

anselm_eickhoff fucked around with this message at Apr 25, 2014 around 21:23

Mar 1, 2014

Poil posted:

What about tunnels and bridges, will those be buildable anywhere?

Yes, you'll be able to change road height everywhere, tunnels and bridges will be created as needed.

Mar 1, 2014

Shibawanko posted:

I'd love it if, like Simcity 4, it had a lot of options for building rural areas, including forests and whatnot. Maybe just look at how they did plop placement in that game and copy it, being able to paint the landscape with importable 2D sprites would do the trick.

I think I can do better than 2D sprites for trees.

Nition posted:

Constructor modelled a city with individual classes of people who complained about their surroundings etc etc. The whole game was a huge balancing act, and it worked pretty well, but it was a full-time job sometimes just trying to keep everyone happy.

Thanks for the tip. The UI-Sounds alone are amazing

Baronjutter posted:

Some of the tile based decoration systems developed for 4 were absolute works of art but I'm not sure a system like that could really translate over to a 3d environment like this. But I would love a variety of texture brushes and trees and such to really go nuts painting the landscape. Either for free at creation or for a cost later. But we're talking about a game that might not even get textures for its buildings, a detailed landscape decorating system might not be in the cards.

But speaking of buildings, Anselm have you ever played around wit "City Engine" ? It proves you can do fairly nice looking procedural buildings that really conform to the landscape and roads. And their system for the user to add new sets and rules is actually fairly accessible too. Something like this down the line would be rad, along with how easy it would be for modders to add their own buildings or building/texture rule sets.

Obviously this is an extremely expensive professional tool created by a large team, but it shows what is absolutely possible with procedural systems.
The euro-blocks and building editing in this video make me pee a little.

City Engine is one of my main inspirations, most of my ideas for the procedural building generation stem from their research papers.
It is now the main goal of Citybound to make you pee a little.

VostokProgram posted:

This is looking really cool so far. I'm wondering, do you have ideas about reasonable upper bounds on city scale? Not just in terms of residents, but also spatially. How much area will you expect the largest player cities to cover? How far out will we be able to zoom? And how long do you think it might take a player to grow a city that runs up against the limits of feasibility?

I understand if you can't answer any of that because it's too early to tell, of course. But if Citybound can handle a city like Hong Kong or Los Angeles, and make such a city still be fun to play with, it'll probably be my favorite game of all time.

It is indeed hard to say this early on, but I can say that space alone won't be a limit, just how much you put on it in total.
Based off my prototype, which could handle 50.000 simultaneous cars in realtime, I hope to at least double that.
From my data oracle (which is actually a person) I get the fact that peak number of cars at a time in a city is about 10% of the population.
So I hope that cities with 1 million inhabitants would be feasible.

If you would be ok with using one simulation agent for several citizens that could be more.
Also if you are more optimistic in my ability to optimize my algorithms.

Avocados posted:

This is awesome news. After Simcity I didn't think I'd see another decent city builder for the next few years, let alone an indie one. Sent a few bucks your way too

Much appreciated!

Mar 1, 2014

First, new update!

The Road to Alpha, Week 8 - Intermezzo & Big Announcement

I will answer all you comments and questions in just a sec, when I'm done spamming all the social networks with the update

Mar 1, 2014

Alright, time for mega-answer-post

Deputy Dangerous posted:

Anselm, I was wondering if you could saturate and contrast the colors of everything a little more. My eyes just do not like the bleached look of the game. If it was a visual setting that'd be great too

Yes, colors will get more saturated again.
I'm experimenting with colors and lighting all the time, so it looks different in the different update videos.

Baronjutter posted:

drat, sucks that it never got finished. Checking out the websites about it leads to a lot of dead links. I never liked most of the post a-train 1 games. I could never get my region to grow or develop. I tired the new 3d ones and holy poo poo could you possibly design a worse interface and feedback system? I just want to shuffle around building materials and passengers and watch little houses pop up and then invest in some buildings.

A-train was a cool game and actually a really good business sim for japanese railways. In japan, to keep ticket prices down or something, railways can only earn so much profit from ticket sales, but there aren't restrictions on other sources of income. So, they channel a ton of their railway income into realestate development as the capital expense of that is a write off rather than their railway income being taxed to poo poo. So just like in a-train, you'll have the railway owning a mall or apartment complex or office building near the station.

I loved a-train because you could directly build most of the buildings in the game. Want to jump start a new suburb? Plop a bunch of apartments near your station and now you've got riders for your new train line, and the area has been stimulated for more development. Know you plan on making a certain area into a downtown? Buy up that land now for cheap and make sure you have first dibs on developing the areas first major retail and office projects.

It's not just private railways that do this though, some cities actually get involved in construction as well. I've always wanted a city builder where as god-mayor you could invest in buildings directly your self. Plop down some city-owned apartments to stimulate an area or create some affordable housing. That sort of thing. Of course then you'd need a whole a-train style profit/loss system for individual buildings.

Did not know that about japanese railways.
Now A-Train and this mechanic make much more sense, but I always enjoyed using or even exploiting it anyways.

Shibawanko posted:

Yeah, in most stations in Tokyo they have a big JR skyscraper sitting on top of the actual tracks. I never knew why until know though, I did hear once that because revenue in Tokyo and other big cities is potentially so high, the government forces JR to also develop rural lines and take the loss for less profitable ones in exchange for allowing it to run the Yamanote line and such.

Will Citybound have trains? Maybe it would be cool if there was sort of an a-trainlike system to it as well.

It will have trains, I don't know yet how detailed it will be, if it will includes schedules etc.

drunkill posted:

Or Open TTD but for metro/suburban networks instead of intercity.

Will citybound be set in a particular time period or just be a generic modern setting? I suppose modders could make alternate building styles and modes of transportation for earlier (or future) eras.

Generic modern setting.
Time will not pass in a historical way.
But mods can add that.

HermsgervÝrden posted:

First of all Anselm, I'm been quite excitedly following your devblog since the first post, it's exciting because it's super ambitious. But ambition can lead to fiasco so I am trying to temper my optimism.

I may have easily missed the discussion of your plans for traditional city sim mechanics because I never go on reddit never go on reddit but I haven't seen anything about water, power and garbage infrastructure. I personally see these as growth-rate limiters on the budgetary side of gameplay, and it's never seemed to be implemented in a way that also added fun. It always seems to come down to having insufficient capacity, then paying to upgrade, while dedicating more real-estate. I was fortunate enough not to play Maxis most recent title, but I understand that they made it even worse: insufficient capacity, pay to upgrade, simulated power water and garbage agents get stuck in traffic and fail to work properly! If anything, I'd say that the better solution would be abstracting those elements out of the game and giving the players micro-management time to other, more fun tasks (road lane configurations, zoned height and bulk tools, mixed use designation, mass transit route planning). I doubt most people would be happy with straight removing those mechanics entirely, but if they could be boiled down to a minimum, I sure wouldn't miss it.

I'd also like to make an off the wall aesthetic suggestion: wood grain textures for everything. Little peg shaped people, silhouette extrusion cars, few but brightly-painted surfaces to add color. Different wood grain types could denote uses. Here is an example by way of lazy google image search:

I don't know if I'm all alone on this, but I think it would be a really neat visual approach to a fully 3D city sim, that would reward interesting yet simple building form, and de-emphasize visual realism. I personally think that realistic building designs in city sims get trapped with unrealistic scale problems, for example road lane widths compared to windows. Wood grain style also provides an opportunity for amazing fire disaster visualization.

I agree that those mechanics are not really fun.
I will probably heavily simplify them (similar to SC13, roads will be used for water, sewage and electrictiy) and I will try to make them more fun.

I won't go for a straight wooden look, but that inspired me for the look I have in mind.
It will be model-like, but very detailed.

HermsgervÝrden posted:

Totally agreed about scale issues being solved by consistent application and modeling, but then the dev has to commit way more time to artwork to get it right, and also be a pretty good artist (not saying Anselm isn't, but the stereotype attributed to developer art is not generally flattering!) Perhaps wood-town is better done as a mod anyway, because people would undoubtably decide the game is a simple toy instead of a deep and serious simulation if the style isn't realism.

I contend that there could be an amazing result with the right art-direction.

Another topic I'd like to hear the dev discuss is how he plans to deal with the way buildings and roads engage with sloping terrain. This is another thing I haven't seen a city sim handle cleanly, especially with regard to driveways.

I will try to keep scales as consistent as possible.
I use meters as the ingame unit for everything and compare all objects to their real life measures.
The proportions will certainly be more realistic than toy-like.

Regarding slopes, it's hard to say before I implement it, but I will give it my best and I'm ready to try out new approaches that might not have these problems.

Baronjutter posted:

gently caress yes your parents are sponsoring the game! This is rad, good work.

What are you taking at uni by the way and how old are you if you don't mind me asking? I always thought you were older than university age but then again I have a ton of friends in their 30's just finishing up their degrees and things.

I'm studying Computer Science, this is my 6th bachelor semester (it will probably take me 2 more). I'm 21.

Mayor Defacto posted:

Digging the music in the video, SC3000 had an excellent jazzy track and I can't wait to see what else your composers come up with. Threw in a few bucks your way as well. Good luck dude!

Much appreciated! I'm also so excited for the music!

Mar 1, 2014

Tatrakrad posted:

Anselm pulls off mask, revealed to be Ocean Quigley, smothering our hopes and dreams in the crib

I keep hearing these conspirancy theories oO

Shibawanko posted:

Personally I wouldn't care for the idea of time periods and stuff, it would make it a bit too much like Age of Empires or something and less like a landscaper. I'd generally avoid the Simcity Societies/Impressions route where puzzle and strategy game mechanics are wedged into a city builder, since it tends to take away from the core. The gameplay should probably just focus on infrastructure and aesthetics.

Here's a screenshot from Edushi for inspiration:

That is a nice style!

Communist Zombie posted:

This is more for later once you get mechanics and everything down, but could you also make a 'utility connector' type road? To represent areas that share utilities but are much more loosely connected transportation wise. It always seemed kinda ugly and sometimes nonsensical when I had to do things like that. E.g. In a mountainous rural area its easy to string up power lines through the heights, actual useable roads not so much.

And on the gameplay side, are there any examples of utilities being implemented in a fun way? Because I think they're fine as unobtrusive growth limiters, since until you reach higher level public services power and water should be one of the main expenses for a city. So long as the player can clearly and easily see the demand and plan for it or around it like other background concerns such as taxes, it should be fine.

Yes, there will be non-road connectors.
I will think some more on how to make it fun, I think if it captures that "I took care of everything, the whole city is neat and covered"-feeling, it's good.

Baronjutter posted:

These are my thoughts on utilities:
It's never been done right or in an interesting let alone realistic way. It's rare for cities them selves to have their own power plants, it usually comes off a huge regional grid. Oddly enough cities XL modeled this fairly well, you never had to build your own power plants but by doing so you lowered the cost of electricity. When you start a new city I think it would be fine for your power to just automatically come from "the region", at a cost. You'd build your own power plant once that became a good investment due to the cost or availability of power from off the map became an issue. Power plants are huge investments, not some minor little building you plop down then plop down a few more as you need them. Generally the bigger the plant the more efficient it is, but obviously the more expensive upfront it is.

That is a nice way to model powerplants, I will steal it.

Baronjutter posted:

Some power plants are a lot more scalable than others as well. I'd love a realistic selection of power generating options as well as realistic sizes/costs for the buildings them selves. Also a big thing with coal power is you NEED infrastructure to ship the coal. Coal plants generally have their own dedicated rail lines that constantly work to feed the plants as they eat ridiculous amounts of coal, you can't have a coal plant without a railway, the building should simply not function until there are tracks leading from a certain point on the building to the edge of the map for the coal trains to come, or be built on the water with a special coal dock. Oil and gas need pipelines and or huge storage and shipping facilities. Hydro needs the right terrain and river conditions, rare but extremely good when available. Wind and solar need certain weather conditions and fluctuate widely, wasting most of their output at certain times and not producing any or enough at others (so good for an energy "top up" but useless for base load)

Yes, this also makes the choice much more interesting than "balance price and pollution"

Baronjutter posted:

Nuclear needs an absence of german politicians and "environmentalists" near it.

Baronjutter posted:

Energy infrastructure is also closely related to industry. Maybe your "green" city is pleasant to live in and the citizens deal with the expensive electricity prices by using less due to all your great energy-efficiency programs, but industry needs cheap power and a lot of it. Maybe that massive coal plant you built is providing dirt cheap power for your massive industrial area, but now everyone's dying young from respiratory problems and your town is seen as a dirty nasty industrial hellhole no one chooses to live in. So once again, choices.

Speaks for itself.

Baronjutter posted:

Water is also interesting and has never been handled well. Cities don't just build fields of magic pumps and continue to add more as demand increases. Much like power, water projects are generally huge projects. It can really vary depending on the terrain, but most cities have huge reservoirs somewhere clean and safe. Sometimes these are very very far away from the city and would be well off the map. Early on a city could get away without public water. People just have to pay the expense of building their own pumps and wells and dealing with the upkeep and nasty taste of well water, but ground water runs out and too many people living like this can be very unsustainable and a health risk. So you want to add proper public water to your city? Don't make it "place a pump". We could create a small reservoir in a "watershed" area that would naturally refill at a certain rate each season. We could pump from a river into a reservoir, or just use a lake as a natural reservoir? But that water needs to be cleaned and treated, so we'd need a plant next to it as well. Any pollution anywhere near a watershed or source of water would drastically reduce the quality of that water. Now we actually have choices to make, not just "build a new pump every time the game says so". Do we set aside a huge area of land in those hills around that lake to act as a clean protected watershed or do we pump and treat water from the river? Do we plan far ahead and build massive capacity now more efficiently, or do we slowly expand our system at less cost now but greater in the future?

I have an actual watertable/surface water simulation in mind that should support your ideas.

Baronjutter posted:

Garbage is once again a potentially interesting problem and I found it at least presented some choices, unlike water and power in previous simcitys. Unlike water it isn't just a matter of "build more pumps as needed". A garbage dump was a nasty thing no one wanted to live near, and it was something that once created would take a very long time to go away so you had to plan ahead. So here at least there was choice as the player, something to think about. Garbage is a nasty problem every city struggles to deal with, just give us realistic options of dealing with the trash, reducing generated trash, and the ability to ship it all off, at a price.


Baronjutter posted:

Off-map Projects
Simcity 2013 sort of had a good idea with "regional projects" or projects that exist outside of the main city map. One such project could be a huge aqueduct to tap into far away water resources, not unlike New York's massive new water system they've beeen building for the last 50 years or what ever. There could be all sorts of "off map projects" that could include all sorts of things that a city needs but are too large, too far away, or just too uninteresting to include in the main map (like a mega garbage dump).

This is a system a lot of resources and industries could also be handled with. Maybe you've developed a massive logging operation "just off the map" and need to build a road to it and now it's full of logging trucks feeding the mill in your town. Maybe there's a big coal mine. Maybe there's a ski resort. Each map could have on-map resources, but also a selection of "nodes" or "slots" for off-map developments. Each node could have a few potential projects on it. Maybe there's a "field" node that you could build either farming on or a regional mega-airport or a super-dump. Maybe there's a mountain node where you could build a ski resort or a logging operation or some sort of mine. Maybe there's a "lake" node where you could build a vacation cottage village for your people, or convert it into a massive new reservoir. Each developed node would require a transport connection and would generate traffic as people drove out to their weekend cottages, or tourists went from your train station to the ski resort. Nodes could be upgradable too. Maybe your city has a very large coal mine in a node and it wants a direct railway link to your city and its coal plants. Maybe the new gas-fields need a pipeline. Maybe the expanded ski resort wants a tourist train. Could allow for a lot of cool stuff and allow the player some control over its "neighbours". Once again, we have choices, we have pros and cons. Do you use that huge lake as a reservoir or a resort? Do you log that forest or turn it into a campground and nature reserve? Do you build a dump on the map or pay more to build one in one of your off-map nodes? You have a potential coal node off the map, do you develop it to bring the region employment and then use the local coal supply for cheap coal power, or do you simply export the coal and use a cleaner more expensive source?

Good idea, and the good thing is that these off-map projects could initially just be abstract (i.e. not represented visually) to see how they influence gameplay.
This is actually just an extension of the progression of neighbor-resources and demands that allows for more player interaction, which is of course always good.

Baronjutter posted:

tl;dr I am mad about cities

Thanks for your input! I really enjoy thinking about it!

nielsm posted:

One thing you didn't touch on is the electric infrastructure related to connecting the grid itself to the consumers, i.e. the transformer substations etc. Those are definitely located inside city bounds and reasonably sized. Although I'm not sure if it would actually be fun to have to manage this.

Perhaps it can be simplified to some extent:
You connect high-voltage lines to the national grid (edge of map) and route those to local substations. Local substations provide consumer-level power distribution, one substation can manage a particular maximum local load, but their efficiency also diminishes over distance. The result is that you will need an appropriate distribution of electrical substations across the city; of course these also provide jobs. Larger buildings/skyscrapers and heavy industry may provide their own power services and not actually need substation coverage. Buildings with insufficient substation coverage or very distant to one would receive lower power quality, risk brownouts, and have higher risk of electrical fires.

City-scale power production could still be in (mainly wind power) and would be required to connect directly to the national grid and effectively just lower your cost of electricity and placate environmentally-conscious citizens.

I don't think it's fun to actually have to manage voltage conversion and the like.
As everything, though, a mod could be made for it.

Mar 1, 2014

Baronjutter posted:

...awesome commentary...

You've got a gorgeous rugged coast thanks to anselm's wonderful map system that a single 21 year old dude made that looks 100x better than the hand-made maps in simcity 2013.

...awesome commentary...

Good to see that we have the same expectations of myself

Thanks for your in-depth, detailed, colorful description of how you envision gameplay.
There's lots of good stuff in it.

I prefer the "neighboring cities develop and react to your decisions"-idea, I think it can completely replace the off-site-projects idea.
You have enough decisions to make on your city plot and if they become even more meaningful due to the interaction with the region that's even better.

I wasn't sure if I wanted to model flexible regional/global prices before your post, but again, the kinds of decisions it forces you to take are very very interesting.

Thanks for your collective brainstorming, everyone!

Mar 1, 2014

After reading all of this wonderful discussion, let me jump in:

A city will definitely start with an existing road and there will be existing traffic on it that will even be more than eye candy:
It will transport people and goods from one neighboring city to another, based on the respective demands.

(Simulating this is not a big problem, it works almost like inner-city traffic.
The only difference will be that regional cars won't be uniquely persisted, there will only ever be the ones currently in your town)

Now you come along and build a new city that now also starts to offer some things.
The cars that had to go all the way to the other city in the past can now get what they need in your city and return.

This much I know for sure.

What happens then, and how that influences demand, prices and automatic development of neighboring cities, I'm not sure yet.
I really want all player interaction to happen on your own city plot.
The neighboring cities can react to how well you satisfy your demands, sure, but I don't want stuff like player-controlled regional projects.
It's not SimRegion. I'd rather have such things be procedural environmental factors that vary from map to map.

Mar 1, 2014

Baronjutter posted:

That's fair enough. But if the region does start out semi-populated with neighbours and they grow and change, could the initial population/development of the region be a map creation option? As well perhaps how quickly the region grows or reacts to what you're doing?

Sure, that could be configurable.

Baronjutter posted:

I'd love to see both street parking and off-street parking modeled, I know it's tricky and never been done in a city builder but it's really that important. Parking takes up so much land if it's surface parking, which reduces density, which spreads things out, which then requires more roads (vicious cycle). Parking in an urban environment (multi-level, underground) is extremely expensive and adds hugely to the cost of the buildings.

I also really want to have that but on the [game breaking if not existing ... nice to have]-scale, it's more to the right.

Crotch Fruit posted:

I like SC4s unrealistic style of plopping a city in the middle of nowhere with no connections necessary.


Crotch Fruit posted:

Will you have SC4-ish regions? If so I would fully support developing a city, leaving a blank map, develop a city on another side and then have a road through the previously empty map.

Eventually, I think so. For now I will concentrate on one big city tile.

Mar 1, 2014

New Update!

The Road to Alpha, Week 9 - A Day In the Life of a Citizen

(I will respond to the discussion soon!)

anselm_eickhoff fucked around with this message at May 7, 2014 around 01:54

Mar 1, 2014

Banemaster posted:

Good compromise would be that when city is starting, player has to make a major road from edge of map to another. This way there is something to build the city around, but player can still decide where the road goes.

I think this is a good result of the discussion.

Baronjutter posted:

So what you're saying is that time is a 4-season cube?

Exactly. I guess.

VostokProgram posted:

That is an interesting solution for time, to be sure. What will you do when things cost money? Have cash flow determined seasonally?

I think it will be immediate, i.e. citizen goes to work, gets money, later goes shopping, shop gets money.

Iunnrais posted:

Eesh, right turns only? I hope that's temporary. Only divided boulevards should prevent cars from turning left into a home or business.

Yes, I know, I know. It's only temporary. I didn't have time to add crossing the road from a plot and it would have been a waste since I will redo the road system now anyways.

Mar 1, 2014

heap posted:

Anselm, you're doing great work and it's really cool to see your progress.

I have no idea how you can handle all the backseat driving that goes on around your project though. There's some good discussion (like this thread has shown) but I really hope you don't get bogged down with

Dear Mr Anselm, you need a pause button.
Dear Mr Anselm, I think the buildings shouldn't just pop up instantly.
Dear Mr Anselm, will there be police chases through the city?

I'm not trying to be mean, just want to give you kudos on how you're handling a very enthusiastic community

Interesting point, let me elaborate on that.

This backseat driving is actually what surprised me most about the community (it's not like I have any experience with this).

These "stupid" questions can be pretty annoying, but I think I'm beginning to understand where they come from.
I think it has to do with people not being used to seeing something as complicated as a game at a very early stage.
Maybe most people aren't even familiar with the process of creation at all (we live in a mostly-consumer society after all).

So these questions are their idea of contribution.
It just means that they care so much about what they saw, that they want to be a part of it, even if it just means giving their opinion.

Framing it like this helps me to stay patient and even to appreciate these kinds of comments.

Mar 1, 2014

New update, everyone!

Mar 1, 2014

HardDisk posted:

This maybe is what you were referring to when you mentioned dozen of tools that only intersection nerds would like, but do you have plans to let the player manage traffic stuff like the placement of traffic lights on certain intersections, set the speed of streets, and things like that?

Yes, all of this will be handled automatic-by-default, manual-when-desired.

Eiba posted:

Rather than a circle tool, I think a nice grid overlay (one you could rotate and move around) would give you what you need. As long as all your ramps start in the same places, your interchange will be nice and symmetrically rounded.

There will be geometrical helpers. Guidelines, maybe grids.

Phrosphor posted:

I wonder if anyone has approached you with job offers yet.

In what way do you mean?

Supeerme posted:

I am excited for this game. However I want to recreate my town right down to this:

Is it possible to do this?

Yes, it will be.

Shibawanko posted:

That looks really cool. Will you make it so that you can actually enter a first person perspective too and walk around your city?

Maybe in the very far future.

nielsm posted:

Just make sure you can build an SPUI. Supposedly traffic engineers love those.
Meanwhile, please don't build any more cloverleafs, they have giant weaving problems!

Haha, I looked forward to traffic engineer snobism

Iunnrais posted:

But how would you do multi-level overpasses, like the Baltimore junction?

You will be able to freely adjust the height of end-points, ramps, bridges, trenches and tunnels will be created as needed.

zxqv8 posted:

Any chance that the road tool will have a way to start with 2/4/6/etc lanes when initially laid down? I like that you can add or subtract lanes at a whim, but I just know the ability to start at 4 or 6 or whatever is going to be a quality of life thing that I'll continually be hoping for.

Yep, I'll add something like that.

nielsm posted:

That, and probably also having some fixed spacing between lanes in different direction (maybe as "dead" lanes that contain nothing but grass). And let players make lanes that run in the "wrong" direction if they really want. Hopefully there will be a way for mods to have intersection templates or generators, for making quick standardized roundabouts, highway interchanges, road/highway onramp systems etc.

Yes, there will be median lanes and intersection generators that you can mod.

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.

With the planned road templates and intersection generators that should all be possible.

Baronjutter posted:

Another cool idea would be to select an area of roads and save it as a pre-set. So maybe you designed a really weird interchange but want to exactly reproduce it 10 more times and don't want to spend 10 min trying to draw it exactly the same every time. Or you see a bunch of nerds online made a bunch of realistic intersections and saved them as presets to share.

That could be a simple mod.

Baronjutter posted:

Also how are you going to differentiate between different speeds? A 4 lane avenue is very different from a 4 lane highway. Heck a highway shouldn't even be able to have buildings along it. Once again I think we'll need some hard-coded presets for things like "freeways" and "city road" and "lane". What about things like dirt country roads? Or super low-speed shared roads where cars can't go faster than bikes?

I think you will be able to just toggle the road/lane type and it will propagate its type to new connected roads/lanes.


Mar 1, 2014

Just a heads up for you as well: this week's update will be a couple days late.
I've been really busy with real life (nothing serious though).
Thanks for your understanding.

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