I’ve gotten a lot more questions about the game through email, posted on forums, in comments, etc. Here’s some answers to the most common questions.
Q: What date is the game going to be released?
A: I don’t know! When it’s done. I’m not a big company that sets release and milestones dates. However I’d like the game to be complete by the end of summer 2013. If I need more time to make a quality game, I’ll take more time.
Q: Can I help build the game?
A: I’m amazed at how many people are willing to help build the game. The excitement over it is fantastic! But I started this game to challenge myself and learn new things, and I want to finish it myself. However, thanks for the offers!
Q: How long does it take to build a large town? How large is the map area?
A: In eight hours of play, if no major disasters occur, I generally fill about 1/8 of a map. I haven’t yet built a town large enough to not have room to expand. I believe it would take me more than a couple days of play on a single town to fill a map to the point where I couldn’t grow anymore. I am experimenting with even larger maps – the performance and memory usage of the maps will determine the largest size.
Q: Can you make multiple towns and trade in between them?
A: Each town is isolated. AI Merchants will occasionally visit your town to trade but otherwise each town must survive on it’s own.
Q: Will there be different area types to play in?
A: I plan on having more mountainous play areas where there is less land to settle on. Different climates will also be available for changes in difficulty. I may do a few other landscape types with lakes or oceans but I haven’t fully decided on these yet.
Q: Did Cultures, Stronghold, and Settlers influence the game design?
A: Believe it or not, I haven’t played any of those. I have played the various versions of Black & White, Anno, Sim City, and Dwarf Fortress. While I wasn’t really thinking about those games while designing nor was I trying to emulate them, they probably had an influence on me.
Q: What sort of disasters can occur? Is there more to it than just city building?
A: You can lose people from starvation, overpopulation, disease, hypothermia, harsh winters and dry summers, and deaths from working dangerous jobs. Your fields and orchards can suffer pest infestation, and livestock can develop diseases. I plan on adding fires and a few other disasters as well.
Q: Can I build a castle?
A: Not yet. The largest building is the town hall. If and when combat is added, buildings such as keeps, castles, and barracks are definitely a possibility.
Q: Do people get better at their jobs over time?
A: The people don’t get directly better at their jobs because they work them for a long time. I tried this, and while it’s neat simulation for small populations, once the population reaches several hundred it’s not very fun or useful. Micro-managing what job each person is doing, and making sure they are using their skill-set is just tedious. This is especially true when you have to shuffle people among multiple jobs to deal with losses from disasters. There’s enough complexity in the game as it is.
However there is education in the game. After a citizen has undergone a few years of education, any job that they work at will produce more resources. For jobs that don’t produce anything, such as teachers and doctors, their work will be completed faster. By keeping a large majority of the population educated you can increase production and have more people on less land. While people aren’t happy about switching jobs, they’ll still do a good job when they do so.
Q: What are the hardware requirements for the game?
A: I don’t have exact requirements yet. I’d like the requirements to be as low as possible, so that a lot of people can play. The game will run on a machine that has a DX9/Shader Model 2.0 level video card, and it only uses a single CPU core. It takes about 250-350M RAM. My development system is a i7 920 @ 2.67GHz with a NVIDIA GeForce GTX 280. This setup runs the game at 60 FPS. There are graphics options to dial back the quality for speed.
Q: Will there be goals to reach while building a town or is the game just an open playground?
A: Both. For those that like trying to meet goals and reach achievements the game will have them. For those that just like free form play you can disable any goals and play as you wish.
Q: Will society upgrade technologically and culturally?
A: No. The era of the game is fixed. There are simple upgrades you can make in the game, but you can’t get to the industrial revolution. Wood houses can be replaced by stone, you can eventually make better tools, have better education, and make better clothes, but you won’t be discovering machine guns and microchips.
Q: Can roads only be in straight lines? Is everything placed on a grid? I want to build curved roads!
A: Everything is on a grid. When I started building this game a grid seemed fine for the prototype, and it stayed. I’d love to have free form layout, curved roads, and placement of buildings at any angle. To change this now would require massive effort. If I ever make a sequel it will have free form layout, larger landscapes, and building on hills. (Talk about getting ahead of myself…)
Q: Will there be mod support?
A: I’m surprised by the number of people that have asked about this. I didn’t intend to make the game moddable. If there’s enough demand for it, I’d think about releasing a tool set, but it isn’t a focus of the development at the moment.
Q: Will there be multiplayer? Can I trade with other players?
A: The game is old school – single player only.