Cities: Skylines - Green Cities - Dev Diary #2: The art of Green Cities

Cities: Skylines - Green Cities - Dev Diary #2: The art of Green Cities

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co_emmi

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It must have been well over a year ago when the idea of a greener city expansion was thrown out for the first time. I remember briefly checking out some possible assets back then and although I had to turn my attention pretty quickly towards other stuff, I really liked the idea of green cities and what we could do with it art wise.

screenshot_01.png

Plenty of rooftop gardens for your green thumb citizens

When it was time to actually start working on the expansion, it was pretty clear from the start that the amount of new assets would be huge. Adding a whole new style for only residential zoning would mean around 90 new buildings even without variations and we of course needed commercial and office specializations too. On top of that Paradox and our dev team agreed that the player should be able to go all-green with the city which meant that we would also need lots of new service buildings for the expansion. With new props and trees, electric vehicles, few parks & plazas and six new unique buildings plus monument added to the asset list, it was pretty clear that our art-team of seven would have a really busy few months ahead of us.

screenshot_02.png

New assets as far as the eye can see

The amount of assets meant that some of those had to be outsourced. Decision was made that Anatoliy and his team of talented artists at our trusted partner Ulysses-Graphics would do the residential buildings and our own artists would take care of all the rest. We’ve been working with Ulysses many times before, but this time everything was little bit different, because we were after a very specific look and feel. Communicating all these “rules” between our artists and Ulysses was a challenge and required that we have crystal clear idea of what we are doing.

screenshot_03.png

Get your dose of healthy weeds

Architecture in Cities Skylines has always been a mix of different styles from around the world, but in Green Cities we needed to be a lot stricter. We needed something that is clearly different from everything we’ve earlier created, but similar with each other so you would instantly recognise new specialization no matter if you are looking individual buildings up-close or the whole district from afar.

screenshot_04.png

Green people should be pretty easy to spot

When you are googling the pictures of eco/self-sufficient buildings, there are few things that you notice almost straight away.

Their design is often very plain and modern. Lot of the smaller houses look like fancy boxes and when the bigger ones start to have larger slanted roofs, they still look very efficient and minimalistic. You could even say that in many cases the buildings have kind of nordic design feeling in them. To separate self-sufficient buildings from the earlier buildings in the game, we wanted their design to be more angular and cleaner, but still without being too futuristic. There’s lots of straight lines and you can kind of see the economical and ecological approach in everything.

Wood seems to play almost always some kind of role in the design of Eco buildings. In small detached houses and even in some of the smaller apartment buildings, wood is often the one main material. Even in tall high-rises that are mainly made out of concrete, there are usually some kind of wood panelling used to soften the look.

screenshot_05.png

New flower trees are the rare colour spots of self-sufficient residential districts

It is very fitting that buildings that are designed to be good for the environment, have very natural color palette. Largest surfaces are occupied by different shades of wood, white or light grey concrete and natural green from plants and rooftop gardens. It’s safe to say that there’s nothing really adventurous when it comes to color, but to be honest, I really like it that way and along the overall shape of the buildings, it was something that really helped us to separate self-sufficient houses from the regular ones.

There’s also those little visual flavours that come from the environment friendly technology. There’s air-source heat pumps, ventilation and watering pipes and solar panel roof tiles that play small but very important role on how the building is functioning and thus how the building looks. For me it has always been very important to take into consideration what the building needs to actually work. It makes it so much easier to come up with small details and those small details are the ones that makes the building interesting to look at.

screenshot_06.png

Green technology is icing on top of the building cake

Oh, and then there’s terraces. Lot’s of those. Being in touch with the nature seems to mean that people are expanding their livingrooms outside. And I truly root for terraces. After all, I just built one next to our house during summer vacation.

Residential buildings were the ones most influenced by these guidelines, but we didn’t want to forget all those visual clues when we started to build commercial and office zones. There’s lots of elements that you can see repeating throughout all the zones and while the it-cluster offices are really different from Eco residential and commercial buildings, there’s still rooftop gardens here and there for game devs to relax on after the launch of their new dlc.

screenshot_07.png

IT-Cluster never sleeps

It was really interesting task to create the style for zonable buildings and I’m relatively happy how everything looks, but the most interesting part of this expansion for me was to find out what kind of new technology there is in development to create clean energy for the future needs. And which one of these new ways would make nice looking buildings.

In Green Cities there will be three new ways to create electricity and they all are based on real life examples that might or might not be solutions for the future energy needs.

Solar updraft tower is based on the fact that hot air tries to rise above the cold air. To put it simple, there’s large greenhouse-like surface surrounding the huge chimney and when the air under the surface is heated by sunlight, it will naturally try to get up thus creating constant updraft through the tower which is the only escape route. This updraft then rotates the turbines on the root of or inside the chimney creating electricity.

screenshot_08.png

Game version of solar updraft tower might be small, but it’s very pretty and powerful

In Cities Skylines we had only one major issue with this building and that might be the very reason why there’s not more of these in real-life. The diameter of the greenhouse - structure can be 8 kilometers and there are plans in place where the height of the tower is over 700 meters. It’s probably needless to say, that we had to scale down our versions a lot, but it was something that was just too cool to be left out.

Second new clean energy source in Green Cities is called Ocean Thermal Energy Conversion Plant. In real-life these plants produce electricity by using the temperature difference of ocean waters, but in Cities Skylines it’s luckily much simpler. You just have to place them on your shoreline and connect them to your power grid.

screenshot_09.png

Differences in water temperatures harnessed to produce electricity

Sub-building part of the OTECP was the first one that used our new floating building shader and it will be nice to see what modders can do with it.

Geothermal heat is something people have been using since Paleolithic times and what Cities Skylines players have been using since the Snowfall DLC. Before Green Cities player has been able to use geothermal energy for heating but with this expansion, you can now go one step further and use it to provide power to your city. It’s probably the most common one of the three new energy solutions and not that futuristic, but still pretty nice way to get your city up and running.

screenshot_10.png

Geothermal power plant looks steaming hot

There’s lots of new stuff in Green Cities and I really hope you find them very useful when you finally get your hands on the expansion. All in all, with it’s 350+ assets Green Cities was huge effort from the team and I would like to thank everybody who worked on the expansion for making it possible! I hope you guys like Green Cities as much as I do. We at Colossal are keen to see what kind of environment friendly cities you are going to create.

screenshot_11.png

My kind of green city

Cheers,
Janne, Lead-game artist at Colossal Order
 

TheWelshGamer

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There is so much information in that, i'm going to have to play the game with the DLC to find out what exactly is new. Can't wait :D
 

Fox_NS_CAN

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I think I like the commercial buildings best. IT ones next. It's hard to get a good look at all the residential.
 

chiel23

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I'm waiting for the default Parking Lot Building., I hope that thing is in a addition into this DLC. Can't wait to Have this.
 

Delroy1989

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I cant wait for this dlc, lots of cool and interesting buildings to explore keep up the good work Colossal Order
 

slornie

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Geothermal heat is something people have been using since Paleolithic times and what Cities Skylines players have been using since the Snowfall DLC. Before Green Cities player has been able to use geothermal energy for heating but with this expansion, you can now go one step further and use it to provide power to your city.
Speaking of heating, I assume green residences will follow the Passivhaus standard and require absolutely no district heating and generally minimal power consumption? :D
 

Orinsul

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Looks brilliant, would be nice to see more forest city concept commercial buildings.
Also for the gardens to be more practical looking, rooftop farms/urban agriculture not just plaza decorative.
But looks fantastic! can't wait.
 

co_emmi

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I assume that you are using a vanilla game for this. However I just noticed under the highway there is another road.. does this belong to any new road type or even the "road tool"? I would really like to hear more about that.

Janne said he has build everything by using vanilla roads. I guess he is just a skilled road builder ;)
 

Beer Fiend

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I assume that you are using a vanilla game for this. However I just noticed under the highway there is another road.. does this belong to any new road type or even the "road tool"? I would really like to hear more about that.

It's probably a slip road or something.
 

Steve B.

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I've got to say that this is looking like the best dlc since After Dark. It's changing the mechanics of the game; giving us new things to do with our cities. I'm very much looking forward to it.
 

Beer Fiend

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I've got to say that this is looking like the best dlc since After Dark. It's changing the mechanics of the game; giving us new things to do with our cities. I'm very much looking forward to it.

Eh, not quite. It still seems a bit aesthetic driven, but it does look interesting because of the potential for the future (class driven gameplay, gentrification etc).
 

Steve B.

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Eh, not quite. It still seems a bit aesthetic driven, but it does look interesting because of the potential for the future (class driven gameplay, gentrification etc).

Let's face it, there will never be a class driven game play in this game. It's not, IMO, the devs style nor their vision for the game. There are no poor in the game; there are no rich. I agree that this would be nice; but it is not and never has been and probably never will be what the devs want to do with their game. As much as we may wish for the game to be something other than what it is, it will only be what the devs want it to be. They have a vision and plan for their game; they may listen to our wishes, but it is their game. This is how it should be. They and Paradox put their money where their mouth is, took a risk, and it paid off. And there is nothing wrong with aesthetics. Indeed, many players play this game for the aesthetics alone that are possible with the game.

I understand that you may wish for the game to be something other than what it is; but neither you nor I are in control. We may offer our opinions and suggestions; but at the end of the day, it is the devs who will decide the direction their game will go, not us. You may buy what you wish or not buy it. You may wish for something else, but you will only be able to buy or not buy what they offer us.

I will repeat myself; I think this looks like the best dlc since After Dark. It looks like it will enable us to do more with our cities than destroy them (ND) or winterize them (Snowfall) or use blimps?? for public transportation. It will enable us to do new things in our cities and build them differently.
 
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Radltruhe

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It's changing the mechanics of the game

I can't see which game relevant mechanics get changed.
There is no indication it was sarcastic, but that's the only which would make sense, as far I saw about this DLC.

- new shader for buildings on water - pure aesthetic change
- new district specializations - mostly aesthetic, minimal changes, because it's optional and a city doesn't require them to grow further
- no air pollution is coming
- no zoneable parks
- noise pollution "overhaul" - it's vehicle based and not road based - it get's more dynamic, but they did'nt show, if trees, terraforming or anything other effects it, so minor
change, because it's still "untouchable" - means you can't do anything against it
- new electricity buildings - plop it down and finished - so no change

I really hope I am wrong, but nothing further has been shown to us.
I am afraid nothing substantial - in terms of gameplay - will be changed with this DLC so I think I skip this DLC at release this time, and maybe get it in a sale,
but atm I am not hyped about it.

It's nice, but looks like a building pack for me to extend diversity not game mechanics - I vote with my money by not buying at release - which is a way that possible influences decisions, but if many casual players buy it, then my voice won't be heard and there is no need for a publisher to change anything when the pockets are full of money.
Who cares about a minority - which I think is not that litlle, but it's just the hardcore players posting in the forum. This doesn't mean, that there are not much people looking for additions in game mechanices, or extending existing mechanics to enhance complexity.

Sometimes there is this feeling, that years ago the gaming industry mixed up the terms "game mechanices" and "depth" with "difficulty" and since then you don't have to think about consequences, or plan strategical with intelligence and it feels a bit blunt, and some games are not that demanding as it was.
Or maybe it seems I am getting old...
 

muttonnoir

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Some folks get a bit carried away regarding expectations from the game or have a particular hobbyhorse they obsess upon. Some perspective required- keep in mind who CO are pitching this game at- the demographic. The core group are just not that interested in the deep serious specialist "grown up" intellectual issues- they just wanna play god, build a city (and wreak havoc)
 

pengoyo

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Does the solar updraft building provide some agricultural bonus? I imagine one could use the space under the glass for growing crops or a botanical garden.
 

Orinsul

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Eh, not quite. It still seems a bit aesthetic driven, but it does look interesting because of the potential for the future (class driven gameplay, gentrification etc).

imagine a wrong side of the tracks dlc tho
100s of new assets being run down buildings, slums and as dystopian a vision as this one is utopian?
the new mechanic being district laws that allow level 1 low res under bridges? or serviceless districts or some efficient but terrible, polluting, loud and uncomfortable mass transit option?
smog and smoke and toiling workers aesthetic
it'd be so pretty
 

Orinsul

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Has anything been said about how Green Cities on Snowfall maps will look?
still green terraces? or lovely white snow covered ones?
 

Typical Wookie

Typical Wookie
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I was hoping for wave and/or tidal power plants as well.
Probably wouldn't be too different from the ocean thermal plant from a gameplay perspective but it is always nice to have options.

Biomass power plants are also missing, not as green as the other plants but is still a renewable energy source. These are fairly widespread and would have some unique gameplay associated with it, they can use agricultural goods to produce electricity just like in game how oil power plants use oil resources.