Sign in to follow this  
hpdvs2

What makes a City Builder fun?

Recommended Posts

What makes a city builder fun?

 

I'm working on a City Builder concept, and I'd love to get why people find them fun.  What are the features of a City Builder that really make or break the game?  I've got my own list already, but I wanted to get outside opinions, and not pre-influence this with my perspectives.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I'll add some of my thoughts, and if anyone has feed back on that, please feel free to comment, or provide your perspective on the same.  smile.png

 

* Creation.  Creation is part of its own reward, I.e. Minecraft.  smile.png  Creating new buildings.  

* Fast Direct Rewards:  Player picks what is to be done, and they know what value will come from it.  

* What's next: Player wants to see whats next.  Similar reason why cheat codes work.  What building or feature or appearance comes next?

* Lasting Rewards:  Something the player did earlier, is proactively earning rewards.  

* Influence: Focusing on certain areas influences the game to expand in that direction.  

* Leave your Mark on the World: Since there is (in most city builders) flexibility on where you place things, it makes the design yours.  You get to try things and keep a lasting impression on the appearance of your game.

 

(These are unrefined thoughts.  As I design them further, I'll shape them into 2 or 3 key things, and all the features will be required to support those in some way)

 

 - Thanks!

Edited by Dan Violet Sagmiller

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Out of all the SimCitys I've played, the SNES I thought was the best. It was simple, engaging, and you got instant feedback. The rules were easy to learn, but not as easy to master. And who doesn't like watching a creation grow successfully, but at the same time, being able to (somewhat) micromanaging a situation.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Visible errors or dangers, such as blackouts, water shortages, tornados,etc.

 

Character - There shouldn't be one generic well-functioning city, but several archetypes of successful city.

 

Humorous visuals - billboards, car accidents, wildlife, faux newspaper or letters from citizens or cartoons of NPCs giving missions

 

I personally love when the starting board is full of junk to clean up (and get resources from) and crazy terrain to tame.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I love city builders, from sim city on my friends fathers 286. (we used to print out the map and do planning "offline" on my living room floor)

Also played a lot of the Caesar series.

There has been a severe lack of good ones since sim city 2000 though.

The Tropico series have done a good job though, and the traffic simulation in Cities: Skylines is awesome.

 

For me, there are two key parts. Building and Simulation.

 

It is important you have freedom to design. Preferably also the environment. 

I want hills and water and forests, and organically grow my city around them in some places, and bulldoze it down to a flat area in other places. Depends on the city I want to build.

I want to be able to build my roads and bridges any way I want.

 

BUT. 

 

Simulation is very important. I shouldn't just be able to build the city in any way, there must be rules for what makes a well functioning city.

Simulation must be believable, and detailed

 

The whole challenge and fun for me is to build a city that is both beautiful and well functioning.

 

If the rules force me to build boring square cities its not fun.

If the rules are too lax, so I can build any stupid design with no risk of problems... also boring.

 

I want traffic simulated, I want economy and services to be simulated, and it must be challenging to meet all demands.

I like how in Tropico it is impossible to meet all demands, you have to chose which groups to please.

 

Random events like tornadoes and godzillas I've never been a fan of, but please give me gridlocks and blackouts because I designed my infrastructure poorly.

Or let me get wrecked by outlanders because I didn't build protection for my post apocalyptic city.

Things that makes sense, and can be planned to counter.

I can't counter a Godzilla... just clean up the mess sad.png

Edited by Olof Hedman

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Don't get distracted by tons of secondary features in the new games. Check the first SimCity, that's where it all started, it has all the core features in place.

 

It's basicly about building a city, that comes first :) Which means buildings & roads. As an extra there could be some additional infrastructure (power lines & water pipes).

And of course seeing your city flooded/burned/tornadoed/Godzilloed is always fun too :)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

But isn't the part of city planning and building? Unforeseen disasters and planning to repair it.

 

I guess... 

I just think I would enjoy it more if I could build my city godzilla-proof, or train a godzilla distraction crew that leads it astray, instead of it just showing up, walking across my town destroying everything, and then having me re-build it, pretty much the same as it was before.

Edited by Olof Hedman

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I think, the point was to encourage redundancy and decentralization.

The natural tendency of the lazy player of sim city is to put all of the same building on one place.

After experiencing a disaster taking out all your atomic power plants placed near each other, or on a much smaller scale the single power line connecting your city to them getting cut off, you will know that wont work out.wink.png

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

For me LACK OF MICRO MANAGEMENT makes a city builder fun.

 

There was nothing fun in simcity 3000 when you had to spend 5 minutes of every half hour fixing broken water pipes and replacing power stations... 

 

If I was designing this game I would simply have had a way to allocate maintenance budget to the pipes that stopped them from falling apart much like the roads budget in simcity 2000...

Edited by braindigitalis

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Dan, I almost quoted your second comment to say "listen to this guy, he knows what's up" before I realized you were the OP. :)

 

Olof's got a great point about the balance between freedom and constraint.  It can't be so unconstrained that it's just a paint program with building-themed brushes, nor can it be so tightly constrained that everyone basically builds the same city with minor variations.  A lot of the fun to me is that it's a creative enterprise, but various constraints make it difficult to pull off your creative vision.  So at the end, you've made something that's your own despite adversity.

 

I made a city builder hybrid sort of game, and so thought a lot about the different kinds and what ingredients I wanted in mine.  I'll try to dig up my thoughts about it.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I want a city builder that naturally leads to player-generated stories about cities.  Each city has a history, and that history has led to the city having something of a personality; a city has character.  And just as with people, that character evolves over time.  Neighborhoods within the city likewise have character and histories.  There are rich story-telling opportunities with cities, but most city builders I've played unfortunately produce rather shallow histories, most cities end up feeling sort of same-ish, and neighborhoods usually fail to really stand out in any distinct way.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites


I want a city builder that naturally leads to player-generated stories about cities.  Each city has a history, and that history has led to the city having something of a personality; a city has character.  And just as with people, that character evolves over time.  Neighborhoods within the city likewise have character and histories.

 

That is a really interesting idea.  I'd wonder how to get this kind of character out of a game.  

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

There was a golden period after failure of Simcity 2013 , which Citybound and Cities XXL failed to take advantage imo, and now there is Unity based Cities Skylines from Colossal Order.

 

When I briefly looked at all three games (SC,XXL,CS) , I don't like this trend of games being less simulation and more DLC/microtransaction oriented.

 

For example, I didn't like agent based approach of Glassbox, because it doesn't let even basic tunings like using different piping and water sources for industrial, agricultural and residential zones (considering industrial and agricultural zones pollute water).

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

It really depends on the player.

 

Some players focus primarily on visual appearance of the city, others just care about functionality, and yet others just go for whatever pops up in their mind and end up with some ugly design that doesnt even work - but at least it has that district where only dirt roads are allowed.

 

If you think about city builders, theres a bit of everything. Theyre sandboxes, the player can play just like they want to.

 

Create a complex simulation, but keep the rules lax enough that the player can decide what aspect they want to focus on. But make sure that it stays challenging IF that is what the player wants - for example let the player choose where to build their city (varying terrain, tourism, weather, trade opportunities, natural resources...)

 

You want a lot of variables like that. You dont want every city to be able to be everything at the same time. Thats boring. Theres little replay value in that. Give every city limited choices, and even more limited paths they can actually follow at once. Some more, some less (again, depends on player how much challenging restrictions they want).

 

Really, just throw in all the things and youve got a city builder.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I love the Pharaoh game way more than sim city. I like running a personal economy. By personal I mean seeing people actually harvest raw materials, bring them to a building to process, have them moved to market/storage yard and see people consume them. When I can see and control this entire chain and design paths and where to build things (I prefer more rigid building and paths vs looser) I get a lot of satisfaction.

 

One of my dream games is where this is 100% community driven in a massive online game. I'd also like players to vote on leaders (other players) who have a little more control over certain mechanics of the game (taxes, what/where to build public things, etc).

Edited by rpiller

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I just had a randomly spawned idea by reading this thread. Since I don't have time to make it, maybe sharing it will inspire someone.

 

I read the post about godzilla attacking the city. This would be an awesome concept to build a city-building game around.

 

The whole theme would be you are building a city in a world where giant monster attacks are a naturally occurring thing. It would be basic SimCity except you can build defensive structures and some basic military outposts or units. The military outposts/defensive points would be fairly expensive, so you'd have to have a smoothly running city to be able to afford enough to defend the city.

 

You could go off on a tangent with various monster-attack related structures. Shelters would prevent deaths when the monster is rampaging. Sirens to sound alerts of incoming attacks, which will let shelters fill faster. Refuge centers for when homes inevitably get smashed to pieces.

 

Your growing city would have a built-in conflict. Your recent expansions need to be defended. The larger your city, the larger the rampaging monsters or more frequent. You could even link pollution to the type or number of monsters - as it seems to be a common theme with giant monsters.

 

And following the similar SimCity theme - you wouldn't directly control anything. You just designate the build area. If you've got an fighter base, they just attack the closest monster. If you've got a tank base, they'll pathfind to the closest monster via the roads you built.

 

If someone made this game, I'd kickstart it. Even if (or maybe especially if) the graphics were original Sim-City quality.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I just had a randomly spawned idea by reading this thread. Since I don't have time to make it, maybe sharing it will inspire someone.

 

I read the post about godzilla attacking the city. This would be an awesome concept to build a city-building game around.

 

The whole theme would be you are building a city in a world where giant monster attacks are a naturally occurring thing. It would be basic SimCity except you can build defensive structures and some basic military outposts or units. The military outposts/defensive points would be fairly expensive, so you'd have to have a smoothly running city to be able to afford enough to defend the city.

 

You could go off on a tangent with various monster-attack related structures. Shelters would prevent deaths when the monster is rampaging. Sirens to sound alerts of incoming attacks, which will let shelters fill faster. Refuge centers for when homes inevitably get smashed to pieces.

 

Your growing city would have a built-in conflict. Your recent expansions need to be defended. The larger your city, the larger the rampaging monsters or more frequent. You could even link pollution to the type or number of monsters - as it seems to be a common theme with giant monsters.

 

And following the similar SimCity theme - you wouldn't directly control anything. You just designate the build area. If you've got an fighter base, they just attack the closest monster. If you've got a tank base, they'll pathfind to the closest monster via the roads you built.

 

If someone made this game, I'd kickstart it. Even if (or maybe especially if) the graphics were original Sim-City quality.

 

This does actually sound awesome. It's like some kind of Tower defense meets simcity... 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites


The whole theme would be you are building a city in a world where giant monster attacks are a naturally occurring thing. It would be basic SimCity except you can build defensive structures and some basic military outposts or units. The military outposts/defensive points would be fairly expensive, so you'd have to have a smoothly running city to be able to afford enough to defend the city.

 

Wow, yeah, I like this idea.  :)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now

Sign in to follow this