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How many ways can you make a town different?

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If you want to feel like the towns you''re traveling to in an RPG are different, what are some ways that they can be varied? I''m looking for meaningful, not simply graphical ways-- things that impact your game. Here''s a couple: Crime level - How dangerous it is to walk down the streets at night (or in the day). This could cover how many incidents of various types of theft, robbery and murder you''re subject to. Towns could be known for covert theft, such as pickpocketing, or overt theft, such as thugs who mug you Items available - What you can and can''t buy gives a town alot of flavor, especially if it''s a matter of illegal goods Services available - Whether or not a town has a hospital or weapons outfitter can really impact your game. If services have a quality level, then this adds texture and flavor (such as a hospital that can resurrect a dead character versus one that can only heal minor wounds; or a spaceport that can do a complete overhaul versus one that can only spot repair a few hit points) Any other ways to meaningfully make towns different? -------------------- Just waiting for the mothership...

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Different Political Affiliations that affect or play into the story line of the RPG.


Memorable characters that stand out when thinking about the town. For instance a particuarly quirky leader or a shop keeper that always seems to have a useful bit of info.

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This kinda goes w/ crime level, but one thing could be how honest or corrupt the rule is.

For instance, how honest are the police? Is there even a police system or it more of an anarchy.

Another could be ethnicity and then you could get into how tolerant/hateful that city is toward one race/culture.

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Use a system of increasing novelty. So you look at where your town is, climate, number of monsters around, distance to resources (and what is available), who''s in charge. From those (and possibly a few other base factors). you can then identify more detailed differences. Climate and resources tell you what the town is made from, stone / wood / thatch, add political considerations and you can figure out your architecture. Politics bring benefits and problems. Identify the quality of the towns leaders and you will know weather the streets and people should be clean and rich or dirty and poor. Or a mixture. From that you can figure out what the people are doing with their time. Peasents spend most of their time building piles of mud and drinking rubbish mead. Alcohol? Then the town has a brewery, or trade links with one.. what impact do the trade links have on the town?

It all links, and you can work the detail (novelty) right down to macro social issues like locking doors and local customs. Once these are figured out, you cant go wrong making quests!

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Specalty Items, a good way to seperate towns is by giving each town a unique specalty item that is only available there. You could expend on this and include access to racial items. Each race could have a set of items that only they make, and these are diffiuclty to find and expensive to purchase from shops that belong to other races.

Festivals and cultural events.

Treatment of outsiders, some town welcome visitors with open arms and try to sell you things, in others towns people lock their doors when they see a stranger arrive.

Disrubution of wealth, is their a small rich population and the rest lives in poverty, or is the population predomintly middle income.



-----------------------------------------------------
"Fate and Destiny only give you the opportunity the rest you have to do on your own."
Current Design project: Ambitions Slave

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A town that is free and open, with a wide diversity of people coming and going at all hours of the day. Stores and services that are constantly open. Alot of noise and bustle, and of course some crime.

...vs...


A town that is locked down and militarized. Strict curfews are enforced, and people follow a tight schedule that only places them on the streets between work shifts or other "acceptable" times. All citizens are nearly uniform, and outsiders are considered with a cold, unwelcome uncertainty. Law enforcement is of the highest priority, with virtually no obvious crime.

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quote:
Original post by Veovis
A town that is free and open, with a wide diversity of people coming and going at all hours of the day. Stores and services that are constantly open. Alot of noise and bustle, and of course some crime.

...vs...


A town that is locked down and militarized. Strict curfews are enforced, and people follow a tight schedule that only places them on the streets between work shifts or other "acceptable" times. All citizens are nearly uniform, and outsiders are considered with a cold, unwelcome uncertainty. Law enforcement is of the highest priority, with virtually no obvious crime.


Kind of sounds like NWN to a degree.

-UltimaX-
|Designing A Screen Shot System|

"You wished for a white christmas... Now go shovel your wishes!"

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I think besides the obvious graphical way of achieving this, this is mostly achieved by the people who live and breath there IMO.

Even here where I live its so apparant if I only travel 10 kilometers to the next town, the people there are so warm, they just start talking to you even if they never saw you, if you ask them something they will help you in the kindest of ways. The streets are alwasy full of people on the market plying there trade, always people performing like living statues, acrobats, shopkeepers standing outside there stores.

But when you go on the streets here, the atmosphere is tense, people know you and they look at you with a frown, not a single smile or sign of hospitality is seen, they are cold people here, not really willing to help. And at night it aint very friendly as well always people harrassing you here and there.

Its a big diffrence and I think this MAKES up what a town can differ from another..

?

Greetings and cya when I cya !

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How is the town/city/village/hamlet/country/provide etc governed.

IE

Theocracy
Democracy
Republic
Plutocracy (Mercantile government)
Matriachal/Patriachal (deviation of Monarchy)
Dictatorship (Benelevent or Autocratic)
Monarchy
Commune
Meritocracy

All would result in very different scenarios.

Jay

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Ambient NPC Activity.
A town full of busy people, walking around but looking as if they know where they are going (unlike all other RPGs I have played, random wandering is about as good as it gets).

Or a quiet town, old folks sat at a bar, sitting on the porch, a few vehicles passing up now and again, the town/villiage centered around a specific construction, a petrol station, a church of a public building.

*shrug*

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How about general generosity/attitude? In a small town that is struggling to get by, a person believed to bring danger and destruction would be entirely unwelcome, but they might help the person with open arms if the townspeople aren''t doing too bad and are somewhat nieve about life outside their town. People in a larger city may be just as likely to ignore you as to help/hinder. It could also effect price levels - a small town might have an entirely different economy where high-tech parts are practically worthless since they only have one piece of high tech machinery(maybe a tractor for the community farm or a weather regulator, etc) in the whole town.

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The size of towns and their layout can really set them apart from eachother. If you have a huge city in the shape of a doughnut that''s stuck in a perpetual night, you''re defintitely gonna remember it when your traveling across a desert, and you run into a small town of five buildings thats just a little square.

-NeoMage

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quote:
Original post by NeoMage
The size of towns and their layout can really set them apart from eachother. If you have a huge city in the shape of a doughnut that''s stuck in a perpetual night, you''re defintitely gonna remember it when your traveling across a desert, and you run into a small town of five buildings thats just a little square.

-NeoMage


Following on from that think geography; what about a subterranean town set in caves or below ground (Thorbardin/Prolgu like), or a town in the sky on top of a pinnacle or floating island (oops, more Dragonlance).
A town beneath the sea (sorry Jules) or in some other sort of unusual terrain - Surrounded by volcanoes or even inside a live volcano (Dragonlance again, other continent). Maybe a town inside a giant clam shell (Morrowind) or in some wield oasis (Mummy).

Plenty to think about, none of it original

Jay

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I''ll second the motion for the disposition of townsfolk toward visitors/each other, and mention "skeletons in the closet," secret clubs/societies, etc. Also, the uniqueness of the town personalities. Towns in Diablo, for example, were all pretty much the same. One blacksmith, one magician-type, one healer, etc., and no one else really mattered. A lot of towns have the same format, which really kills individuality. Play Earthbound several times through. Those guys did it right.




Tolerance is a drug. Sycophancy is a disease.

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This post that I wrote isn''t really about making towns different, but about how to implement making them different. It''s obviously not that hard to come up with ideas for differentiating towns, else you''d have no posts

Towns and cities should be explorable in a way that lets you get detail without tedium - if you can search every corner of every house and discover nothing most of the time, then being able to search only hurts the gameplay, since you obligate most of your players to take the time to search for the gameplay benefits. Similarly, districts of big cities shouldn''t be empty shells, but distinct, well-developed regions. If there''s not going to be anything interesting in a part of town, don''t let the player go there(or strongly discourage it by giving him the option of E-Z autotravel instead of blundering around).

One game that I think did this sort of variation-through-exploration very well was Betrayal at Krondor. Small towns were made up of their individual houses, and you could try knocking on the door of them all. Some were empty, but most contained a brief passage of dialogue or a shop or tavern. Big cities were hotspot stills that essentially contained as much as the small towns, only with city-type locations. The exploration was perhaps a bit limited, since there wasn''t really anything to hide, but this worked in favor of the game, I think, because it shifted the focus away from "town/city" to "adventure." Every location was relevant to your adventure in some way.

Simple, simple design - all the detail basically written into the script. But very effective for its needs. Doing a simulation to provide a sort of "emergent detail" as is implied by some of the suggestions here is a royal pain in the ass with only dubious benefits, and yet modern computer RPGs still try to achieve this(Morrowind for example), the result almost always being some sort of stupid exploit that lets you loot every house in town Most of those ideas would be compatible with this sort of design though. Cheers.

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Just a quick post.

Race: Move past the usual elf/dwarf/human/halfling mix. A town populated by Orcs mixed with Humans but friendly and civilized, perhaps by necessity introverted towards strangers on the road but welcoming in their own town. Also the human minority could be supportive of the ''monsters''. Just imagine that ranger with *5 damage vs. Goblin kind, being castigated by some matronly housewife for threatening her adopted young son (one with green ears).

Also professions (similar to DogCity''s modeling of real life): Is the town a mining time, on a well travelled caravan trail or near to a source of hardwoods and a river (for ship building). Maybe a renown smelting industry is based in the town and a significant portion of the population work in related industries or support roles.

Jay

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Cleanliness level of the city and its people. This can differ not only town-to-town, but within a large city as well. Slums will have trash in the streets, broken down buildings and equipment, narrower streets and alleys than the wealthy side of town.

Ambient sound will differ the same. Dock areas will have birds and water noises. A marketplace will be filled with constant background voices and the shouts of hucksters. Living areas could have the sounds of children playing.

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Every town has a history that impacts everything from layout of buildings to social dynamic. Regarding layout specifically: A town that sprung up around a new mine 100 years ago might have a lot of low quality buildings sprawled haphazardly around the mine site; a town on a river is likely to be spread most thickly along the river banks, and if there''s no bridge, one side is likely to be much more clustered than the other. There are many more examples but I''m out of time.

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Brian Lacy
ForeverDream Studios

Comments? Questions? Curious?


"I create. Therefore I am."

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