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Thread: Cities in Motion - Developer Diary #3 - Making Maps

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    Post Cities in Motion - Developer Diary #3 - Making Maps

    This time, I want to tell you about designing maps for Cities in Motion. Even good game mechanics would go to waste without good level design and well-constructed maps, so the maps were one of the parts that we really put a lot of time and effort into.

    Cities in Motion is, as the name implies, set in cities. The team chose four large European cities to be in the game, and all of the buildings and props were designed to work well with these different cities. Since it wouldn't be much fun to completely replicate cities in the game world, some streamlining needed to be done. What are the most important parts of a city? How do you make the cities recognizable? What are the most important elements in a map to make playing fun?

    First, we searched for maps, travel guides, and photos of the cities. Just running simple picture searches on the net provides a pretty good idea of what the most important buildings and sites are. After studying the cities carefully, level design moved on to choosing map sizes and molding the terrain. Even with the terrain, decisions had to be made on what to keep and what to drop, since all areas, such as small islands, just wouldn't have had enough space for everything. It was still important to fit the most important areas on the map, even if in reality they were further from the center of the city; there is only so much space on the game map.

    After the terrain has been modified to suit the city, the next step is to add roads and eventually housing. The road system requires much thought, because small roads easily become crowded with cars but large roads take away space from buildings and don't always fit well in the center of a city. Also, there are many different road types, ranging from foot paths to multi-lane highways, so the design also needs to keep in mind the era and size of the city. In smaller spaces, like the center of Helsinki or Amsterdam, it was sometimes really hard to squeeze the roads and buildings to fit on tiny islands and other narrow strips of land.

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    Buildings are essential, since they dictate how many people live in an area and what social group they represent, and also affect the workplaces and leisure options. All in all, the buildings dictate where to put the lines when playing. For example, it wouldn't bring much to the game if factory areas were situated right next to the homes of the people living there, because it would be really hard for the player to offer cheap transportation from home to work. It is much more interesting to put industrial areas on the outskirts of the city, or even outside it, as in many instances that is where they are actually located, with the workers living near the center of the city. The player will have many possibilities in building lines to take the workers from their homes to the workplace.

    Attachment 30473

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    When all the buildings and roads are in place, the last things to do are place props and name all the streets and areas. It's a huge task! Maps are used as a reference when naming the streets, so every road you find in the game exists (or has existed) in real life. To top it all, the levels have a timeline, so after building the whole city in the first possible year (1920) there's still a hundred years of changes, upgrades, and expansions to each city!

    Regards,

    Karoliina Korppoo
    Cities in Motion’s lead designer
    Colossal Order Ltd
    Last edited by co_martsu; 20-12-2010 at 15:17.

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    Lt.-Colonel of Guerillas Singleton Mosby's Avatar
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    That's just wonderful. I am wondering however, will this all be poossible in the map editor as well? Would be great if I can replicate my own city in CiM

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    First Lieutenant AleksanderVI's Avatar
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    hey Karoliina

    it looks great I cann't wait for full game

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    Quote Originally Posted by co_martsu View Post
    To top it all, the levels have a timeline, so after building the whole city in the first possible year (1920) there's still a hundred years of changes, upgrades, and expansions to each city!
    If I get this right, this means that while building the city, we have to select the year of each element we add ?
    Like I choose 1920, I build a city center and a factory area. Then I choose the year 1925 and I add a block somewhere ?

    Is it possible to delete things by a year ? Like what happened in some city in 1800 where they destroyed building to make bigger roads ?
    Without going to full destruction : change a 2 lanes road build in 1920 with "useless" space to a 4 lanes road in 1950 ? Transform a block of houses into a museum ?

    Also, this means that the city size/roads/buildings will only depend of the years... which is a bit sad. Being able to put condition on block creation would be great. Like if an area transport system is great, a block might spawn up to 5 years before the set year. On the opposite, if there is a very bad transportation system in the area, the block might spawn up to 5 years later (ofc set by condition on the map, not something hard coded... well hard coded would be nicer than fixed time).

    Anyway, all this seems very nice.

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    Duke of Abrantes vanadio's Avatar
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    Very very good

    As someone asked before, it will be possible to add custom content to the game?

  6. #6
    The map editor comes with the game, you can build maps from scratch and create any city you like! The map editor does not have the timeline option, that's currently only available for the dev team's level designers, but you can create pretty awesome maps even without it. Everything else you see is available in the map editor.

    Vanadio, we don't have any system of adding custom content at the moment, but it's of course possible to tweak your game by replacing pictures and things like that.

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    Lt.-Colonel of Guerillas Singleton Mosby's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Co_Karoliina View Post
    The map editor comes with the game, you can build maps from scratch and create any city you like! The map editor does not have the timeline option, that's currently only available for the dev team's level designers, but you can create pretty awesome maps even without it. Everything else you see is available in the map editor.

    Vanadio, we don't have any system of adding custom content at the moment, but it's of course possible to tweak your game by replacing pictures and things like that.
    Good news! With a custom made map, is it possible to start the game in any time period even though the city wouldn't develop over time?

    And what kind of files are the building 'pictures'?

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    Field Marshal Zarine's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Co_Karoliina View Post
    The map editor does not have the timeline option, that's currently only available for the dev team's level designers, but you can create pretty awesome maps even without it.
    That's a bit sad but yeah, I guess we can do pretty nice city with it but this would mean "modders" can't make long time scenario.

    Fact that we can tweak elements is good too but without an add option won't that mess up with vanilla map or things like that ? (if we modify size of elements).

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    First Lieutenant rsdworker's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Co_Karoliina View Post
    The map editor comes with the game, you can build maps from scratch and create any city you like! The map editor does not have the timeline option, that's currently only available for the dev team's level designers, but you can create pretty awesome maps even without it. Everything else you see is available in the map editor.

    Vanadio, we don't have any system of adding custom content at the moment, but it's of course possible to tweak your game by replacing pictures and things like that.
    sounds good but we prefer have timeline option present cause the city can't grow on own so for example if i build small city in 20's then i add few buildings and roads to expand its more ideal cause if without timeline its would be boring seeing same thing

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    Quote Originally Posted by Co_Karoliina View Post
    The map editor comes with the game, you can build maps from scratch and create any city you like! The map editor does not have the timeline option, that's currently only available for the dev team's level designers, but you can create pretty awesome maps even without it. Everything else you see is available in the map editor.
    Hey!

    Thanks for this great news. But could you explain why it isn't possible to integrate the timeline tool? That's IMHO essential for interesting cities. Do you think that it would be too complicated for common users, or what's the reason?
    Would be great if you could explain further (and even greater if it would be possible to give us timeline option)

    Best
    Oliver

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    Can't you just copy/paste the map a few times and then add/remove a few elements to simulate the timeline for yourself? I mean, I'd like to have an integrated timeline editor but it doesn't seem like a huge omission.

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    Meteorsexual Teurlinx's Avatar
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    I wonder why exactly the timeline editor would be omitted for modders. Technical difficulty with it, or will there be many new maps as DLC / expansions down the road?

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    First Lieutenant Synthtronic's Avatar
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    At last, a sequel to Traffic Giant is in sight. I've been waiting longingly again to create new maps.
    Last edited by Synthtronic; 26-12-2010 at 14:40.

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    Emperor of Outremer TheCheeseMaster's Avatar
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    will we be able to share maps and cities online?

    this game is sounding better and better
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  15. #15
    That map editor looks interresting =)
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