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DJNed

Early settlement design

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I found a post here a while back (at least I think it was here) that related to the design of city layouts, but talked also about the functioning of early settlements and settlers' exploitation of their natural surroundings. Basically, my question is whether anyone knows of any further material relating to the beginnings of settlements, particularly Medieval settlements/villages, that they could direct me to? I know that this seems more of a question to ask in a history forum, but it does relate to game design in the sense that this subject is something I may look into designing a game around in the future. I have of course tried to search already, both on these forums, several pages found on Google, and Wikipedia, but have turned up little to help me. I'll quote the post here (I can't find the post at all anymore either on these forums or on Google) so you have some idea of what I'm talking about. I know the post is referring to early settlers of North America, but it still has great relevance to what I'm looking for:
Quote:
Original post by DarkHorizon In terms of world map, I suggest taking a look and playing around with this. In terms of city layout, consider recent "real life", or how much of North America was settled hundreds of years ago. When settlers reach a new area, they immediately look for reliable sources of natural resource (water, forest, mineral deposits, gold, arable land, game hunting, etc). A pioneer will settle nearby this resource. Following this initial settlement, the pioneer will establish his base of sustenance so he can survive. Given the natural resources mentioned above, water means fishing, mills, and water-borne traders. Forest means construction lumber, furniture, firewood, and maple syrup. Mineral deposits mean rock quarries, and salt/coal mines. Gold means gold rush. :) Arable land means livestock and farming. Game hunting means hides, fur and meat. Traders who travel from settlement to settlement collecting these odds and ends eventually form roads, making travel to the settlements easier. This brings in other pioneers who bring with them various trades or skills which might be desired or complimentary to the initial settler's trade or skill. Rinse and repeat, and you eventually have a small town.
Edit: I feel terribly stupid - I've managed to find the post I quoted, just 3 or 4 topics below this one. [Edited by - DJNed on January 5, 2009 2:26:09 PM]

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As a child I remember seeing a series of maps showing the growth of my home town throughout history. I haven't been able to find them but a few minutes on google turned up this series of maps of Edinburgh:

http://www.edinphoto.org.uk/1_MAP/1_map_edinburgh_1460.htm#map

It starts as a castle and a couple of fields and develops into a city with half a million inhabitants - pretty fascinating. With a little imagination you can begin to think about the motivation for the way the settlement grows.

Just found http://www.old-maps.co.uk, which seems to have a variety of maps through time with a postcode search.

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Your best bet would be architectural/urban design books really. Ultimately if you are designing a city like that, you must look at it from a designers perspective and use the tools they use rather than copy-paste parts of their designs.
Can't name you any titles as my library is mostly in dutch. Might have the best chance of getting good ones if you are affliated with a university of some sort, or know a specialist bookstore.

Look for books that try to lay bare the principles behind urban and architectural design throughout history, think that'll be most helpful to you.

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I've given this some thought myself and the best I could come up with is that the new settlement is best developed as a satalite of some unseen environment, nation, or other "mother settlement" where settlers or other resources can be imported from or attracted to your settlement.

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WavyVirus - that certainly is fascinating. I'm unfortunate to live in a small town in the countryside and so although it does have quite a history, there is little known pre-14th Century or so, and even less available material such as old maps that you would find of cities such as Edinburgh. For what I'm asking, I'd like something a bit more "general" and not necessarily like towns that would later grow into cities in particular. It's a tricky question to word... But what you've said and those links will definitely be helpful when I think about the actual layout of this settlement, thank you.

StJoris - that sounds like a good idea, particularly the idea of looking at books on urban design. Like what I said to WavyVirus, it'd be more applicable in the later stages of settlement development (after the initial gathering of people into a community working together and with their surrounding environment to survive). Unfortunately, it's those early stages of "settlements" that I'm concentrating on right now, like the reasons behind peoples' decisions to settle in a certain spot, the organisation and setting of tasks/jobs, and basic needs/resources, eg. grain, meat, water, wood, iron, etc. But like I said before, your idea will prove useful later, thank you.

kseh - I'd hoped to avoid the idea of having an external, unseen, "mother" settlement of which trade, resources and people flow to and from. My original hope was to have a completely isolated settlement/village, one without the need for a larger settlement nearby. A little like the village described here: http://www.gamedev.net/community/forums/topic.asp?topic_id=285940. The difference between my settlement/village and the one in that link would be that my settlement is starting from scratch.

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A village growing out of no bigger entity is an historical oddity. Most of the time, colonization is the process of a bigger state or nation. Here are some such oddities :

The story of the mutineers from the Bounty and their subsequent settlement can provide some insights :
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mutiny_on_the_Bounty#Mutineers_on_Pitcairn_Island

Vikings Greenland settlements might interest you despite the few we know about these.

This history of modern Israel can be interesting as well but it was not really cut off from the rest of the world.

The Mormons did something similar in Utah.

Maybe not what you are looking for, but establishing a base and a living environment for thousands of people in a moderately hospitable place is something that armies do regularly when they install campaign HQs, bases and camps. There is a lot of literature around that.

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From what I've worked out, a motherland of some sort is a relatively simple device that can be used to assist in a village's growth. At the very least it provides a very simple mechinism for trading between villages. Such trading could be an essential survival tool if a particular resource is suddenly unavailable or in the event of some other imbalance occurs. It wouldn't replace the resource based development of your village just supliment it. It can also be a source of competition or events that force the village to change in some way and thus grow. Even if it wasn't a larger, near by settlement it could represent other similar sized settlements without the need to fully impliment them. If the settlers are to just blink into existance on a random planet and try to survive I have no doubt that'd be quite fun and interesting. But I imagine it'd be tougher to balance the system to keep the village from self destructing due to minor changes or mistakes.

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It won't help you directly, but for inspiration you might want to look at Christopher Alexander's classics on architecture. He's famous of writing about how patterns of human life should be reflected in the environment, and how neighborhoods grow organically.

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Excellent suggestions, guys, thank you very much. I'm heading up to London on Saturday so I'll definitely spend some time looking at various books on architecture, town planning, medieval history, colonisation, etc.

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