Development Diary & Insights

11/13/2018 - Development Diary #2: So. Much. Progress.


Hello and welcome to Metropolisim Development Diary #2. It's been over a month since I posted the first development diary for the game. A lot has happened in the past six weeks. I have been working at a feverish pace developing new functionality for the game, testing and fixing bugs, and interacting with the awesome community that has started to form around the game.

First and foremost I want to address that our Steam community has grown exponentially and I want to say "welcome" and "thank you" to everyone who wishlisted and is following the game in our community. It really is amazing to get to interact with you all and I've answered several really great questions so far. I'm happy to answer more so keep them coming.

Before I get into a recap of what I've been working on for the past month I want to talk a bit about some of the fundamentals of Metropolisim. I haven't been shy about discussing the fact that I am a huge fan of city building games. I want Metropolisim to be, in as many good ways as possible, a spiritual successor to all of the great city games that have come before, most notably Sim City 4. For those of you who have played and are fans of that game I'm sure this is great to hear, but I know there are a lot of people who haven't played it, so I want to be transparent about what you can expect from Metropolisim.

The number one thing you can expect is to go deeper than ever before in terms of city simulation and management. I would argue that Sim City 4 has taken us, the city building gamer community, about as deep as any game has. But even that wasn't nearly enough for me. What it did do was encourage me to make the game I and others desperately want to play. To put it in perspective, that game did about 30% of what I want to do and plan to do. I want to give the player so many "levers to pull" to manage their city and be an active decision-making participant that it is almost overwhelming. Almost. This game is going to take time to learn, it's going to be challenging, but most importantly it's going to be fun and rewarding.

I want to re-capture the feeling we all got when we played our first city builder and started to see our city make the transition from small town to metropolis. I want you to feel like what you're doing matters, and you're not just a bystander who painted a couple zone colors on a map and then watched buildings appear. That is my goal.

Before we can get to all that I need to expand on some of the basic concepts of the game. I need to outline some of the core gameplay elements in Metropolisim. I plan to do this over the course of the next several development diaries, and today I will focus on Road Placement and Zone Types. Please keep in mind, as Metropolisim is in pre-alpha stage, the below is subject to change and will most likely improve/grow in the coming months. But this is what I've got working or planned so far.



Road Placement
In a city building game, my opinion is roads are the backbone of the gameplay in that many different systems within the game are dependent on them. Things like knowing which way buildings should face when they grow or are built, pathfinding, and so on. From a development perspective I believe it is important to tackle the core of the road system as the first thing or one the very first things that gets done. I'm happy to report that is the case with Metropolisim. The roads and pathfinding are 90% programmed. I will still be adding new road types (think two lane avenues vs. three lane avenues) but the mechanics of the roads are done.



Here are the road types that are existing or planned:

Street
One-Way Street
Road
One-Way Road
Avenue (2 Lane)
Avenue (3 Lane)
Split Avenue (One-Way)
Highway (4 Lane)
Highway (6 Lane)
Multiple overpass and interchange types
More to be revealed at a later date


As you can see there will be lots of different options from not only a gameplay perspective, but also in how you lay out your city from a design regard, and to make it have a nice appearance.I am really excited about this!

Zone Types
Zoning in a city builder is another critical element that is fundamental and essential to good gameplay. I am deeply focused on incorporating a lot of variety in the zone types to keep things fun and challenging for you, the player. I believe in giving the player as many options as possible and letting you decide how they want to use it all. In other city builders there are only 1-4 zone types to choose from, but in Metropolisim there will be over 15.

Here is a list of currently planned zone types:

Residential - Low Density
Residential - Medium Density
Residential - High Density
Commercial Office - Low Density
Commercial Office - High Density
Commercial Service
Mixed Use - Residential/Commercial
Industrial - Factory
Industrial - Manufacturing
Industrial - Technology
Special & Reward - I will be dedicating an entire future development diary to this, as it is something really unique, special and exciting that I want to make sure I give a lot of information on

As you can see there will be countless options in terms of how you zone the land in your city and how you balance the needs of your citizens against the fundamental financial well-being of your city. Metropolisim, of course, will feature things like a demand level and an approval level. You'll need to be very careful about how and where you zone certain zone types to ensure they meet the needs of your city.

Things like not placing high-polluters next to residential is a given, but also you'll need to make sure that jobs are not too far away from citizen's homes or public transportation stops if you want to make sure your citizens are employed and stay employed. Lots more to talk about related to this. Stay tuned.

In the next development diary I'll talk about more of the core city-builder elements featured in Metropolisim. But for now I'd like to move on to some of the other things I've been working on in the past month.

User Interface




The UI is coming along nicely. Up until about two weeks ago I was working with a "development only" UI that was definitely not easy on the eyes. I have started transitioning to moving a lot of the UI functionality that is already programmed over to a pre-alpha version which gets it laid out on the screen where I want and is starting to use some nicer looking placeholder graphical elements. The main focus for me with UI design is to make it as easy as possible for the player to navigate and get to the information they need as easily as possible so they can make decisions about their city and execute on them quickly.

Map
I spent a lot of time in the past 10 days working on ensuring the maps are large enough to hold cities that have millions of citizens. My initial test maps were 400x400 tiles which is 160,000 in-game tiles to build on. This is larger than an entire Sim City 4 region, but still not large enough for me. I reprogrammed some of the map tools and I am currently experimenting with maps 1600x1600 which comes out to 2,560,000 in-game tiles. This is HUGE in comparison to other games. So far it has not had a negative impact on game performance, but I will continue to monitor and adjust as needed. The player will be able to choose the map size they play on, but it's too early to lock-down the maximum final size. Bottom line, the game is going to be huge, the cities are going to be huge. Even the smallest map I've been working with is larger than an entire Sim City 4 region!

Mod Support
I've had lot of questions about Mod support in Metropolisim so I want to take an opportunity to address them all now. As I discussed in the last development diary there absolutely are plans to support Mods through the Steam Workshop. Among the modding possibilities planned as of today are the ability to bring new buildings into the game, as well as new maps. The addition of new buildings will be supported by a separate stand-alone application that will ship with the game giving modders the ability to define certain things about the building prior to uploading to the Steam Workshop, or for players to do if they create their own buildings. An example of some of the building characteristics that need to be set include type of building (residential, commercial, etc.), maximum occupancy (residential), job capacity (commercial), etc. I envision the Steam Workshop thriving with new buildings that can be brought into the game similar to Cities Skylines workshop.

More to come on this. I am working towards the goal of having mod tools ready for Early Access release, but unfortunately I can't guarantee everything will be ready in time. I am fully committed to adding a significant amount of new functionality, mod support, and gameplay elements as we move through Early Access and beyond.

That's all I've got for this month's update. Thank you again to everyone who has wishlisted the game and is participating in our Steam community. If you haven't done either of those things I encourage you to. I look forward to sharing lots more about Metropolisim with you in the coming months.

Cheers,
-Roy