So I’m making a game. Let’s call it Ripple.
It’s kind of crazy that I’ve only been working on the game for two months because a lot has happened in that time. 240 commits. I’ve written code for the game every single day for 47 days straight. A port from full HTML to actual graphics using the Phaser game engine.
So what is it?
In short it’s a fantasy town simulator. It’ll be part Dwarf Fortress, part Banished or Simcity, and part Majesty.
The emphasis will be on building a town while still making individuals in the town be important and unique. That is to say I want to support at least two main play styles.
- The player who wants to build a thriving town in a vibrant, breathing, fantasy environment. More interested in braving the wilds and ensuring the success of the town’s economy than the doting on the minutiae of every individual citizen’s life-happenings.
- The player who wants to build a town so they can sit back and watch all the absurd, amusing, and tragic things that happen in their citizen’s lives.
As with any good simulation the emphasis will be on providing compelling, emergent gameplay. Meaning the world will foster interesting and unique stories every time you play it. The game will feature mechanics complex enough to require mastery but not so complex as to be esoteric or impossible to understand.
What sets it apart?
So, what will make up the game? What defines it? What sets it apart from Dwarf Fortress and its inspired relatives: Spacebase DF9, Stonehearth, Clockwork Empires, or Rimworld?
The environment and context for one. I’m heavily inspired by Dungeons and Dragons. Specifically I’ve been reading a whole lot of R.A. Salvatore, and playing Forgotten Realms games like Baldur’s Gate and Icewind Dale. It would be very apt to say that I see this as a game about settling a town in a random corner of Faerûn or some other fantasy landscape. Places where conflict and danger exist around every corner. I see this as a game about hardship and difficulty, about simulating the excitement of what it would be like to be on the edge of civilization in a foreign and magical land.
So take the town building of Banished, zoom in the focus a bit so that every citizen has an interesting and varied life of their own like the Sims or Dwarf Fortress, and then add the odd orc raid. Or maybe you chose a location that happens to be in bear breeding territory. Maul Fest 2014. Or maybe a goblin decides to move into your town because he’s not like the rest of his brutish kind. But your town is kind of full of dicks so they treat him like crap and it causes a big divide between villagers who are goblin-friends and those who are goblin haters. These are stories I want to see fostered by the game’s mechanics.
A whole wide world
Another way I plan to set the game apart is how I’m planning on tackling scope. A lot of these types of games limit your interaction to a smaller area. The reasons for this are varied I’m sure, but the one that comes to mind most is the difficulty of managing complexity of simulation on a large scale. That is to say, if I try to simulate the entire world, A) your computer will crash and/or B) I’ll never finish making the game. Now while I certainly will be limiting the actual playable area to a discrete size, I plan on making up for this by simulating the world around you continuously. Even if you can’t see it or explore it directly. Right now I’m calling this the macro vs. micro divide.
Inside your playable area, I simulate everything: citizens getting hungry, working in the fields, sleeping in their beds, fighting in the tavern. Outside the playable area will not be irrelevant however. It will provide the context for your town. The game will simulate things in the outside world that will have an effect on your town. There will be traveling merchants, as well as denizens of the world interacting and conflicting with one another. Of these things, some you’ll only hear about from visitors to your town, merchants and people who stay at your taverns, and some of it will affect you directly. Maybe a caravan of goods you were expecting from a neighboring town gets raided by bandits mid route, or a nearby tribe of goblins is attracted to your town by the prospect of claiming some of its newfound wealth.
Apart of this “outside world” component, a key feature of the game will be populating the world with interesting characters that travel throughout it. I see this as a key thematic element in D&D games and stories, that of the traveling adventurer or merchant. While you’re tasked with tending your town in your chosen corner of the world, you’ll continuously be interacting with people who have their own goals and prerogatives and their own adventures. They’ll have tales to tell in the tavern and news to pass on to you of the goings on in the world. Not only that but they’ll be an important aspect of the economy. You need merchants to buy and sell goods to and you’ll need adventurers to sell weapons to and buy powerful artifacts from. Perhaps they’ll even decide to settle in your town. A veteran adventurer makes a useful head of the town guard, and even a failed adventurer, who does nothing but complain and drink, makes for an amusing town drunk.
There’s more I can add here that I desire to implement in the game, but these are the core features that I’m setting out to create.
Right now I’m 2 months of development in. I have a very basic simulation: citizens eat and sleep, they manage tasks for jobs and have basic prioritization skills. And that’s about it. But for 2 months of work (part time as I work full time as a software engineer) it’s definitely progress.
That and it’s been 2 months of consistent progress. I work on the game every day, have commited code 47 days straight, and see no sign of stopping or breaking the streak.
This is my dream game and now that I’ve started I won’t stop until it’s completed.
“So what do you want?”
Nothing. I’m not planning on doing a Kickstarter any time soon and am clearly no where near Steam early access.
Maybe further down the line when I have something playable I’ll consider doing a Kickstarter. But that would only be to allow myself to work on the game full time without starving to death. As it stands, my plans are to self fund and self produce for the extended future.
I’ve started this blog for a couple reasons.
- I think being transparent as a game developer is hugely valuable to prospective fans and a really cool thing to do.
- I really like developers who go into the technical details and the theory crafting that goes into game development. I find it to be really inspiring stuff, and the trend of this becoming popular of recent has helped me finally get around to starting this project.
- It allows people to throw ideas at me, offer criticism or pointers, and all sorts of other interactions that I totally welcome.
- It’s a fantastic way to keep track of the progress of development. Where this project started and where it will go will be a joy to compare down the road.
- It solidifies that I am taking this project seriously and I have no intention of stepping away from it.
Now that the game is all “announced” and stuff I’ll be trying to get these posts out more frequently. Perhaps biweekly or weekly if I’m feeling especially uppity/inspired/time-having.
Next week I’ll either do a blog post on how I’ve come along technically as far as development or I’ll write a post on a game that really inspires me.
If you’re interested in hearing more about the game and where it’s going and other stuff games and game development related, sign up for the mailing list and I’ll make sure you’re kept up to speed.