I feel passionate about the characters of cities and how authors choose to present their key traits to the player as well. From a very technical point of view, there's types of city layouts our game engine does worse than others. I've been wrestling with the incongruity of backyards and open-air public places among high wall, multi-storey housing which, unfortunately, seem to be a requisite if one wants to make a well performing city FM. Then there are, of course, row houses and the long sightlines of roads, but I think that is less of a concern because TDM and its authors never have (nor should) concern themselves with portraying accurate city layout. It is more the romanticised, twisting back-street and courtyard maze one could get lost in that I think we all aspire to.
For me, I'm still trying to figure it out. I adore the high stone wall and inner courtyard architectural styles of Edinburgh and Naples, Dishonored 1 and 2's clear influences, respectively. Do I want to emulate that in one of my missions? Not so sure. I think verisimilitude is a very important thing, obviously, for a simulation genre game like TDM. I don't believe, however, that you can achieve it simply by copying a certain architectural style and its trappings, nor somebody else's impressions of it. I think, personally, that the most important thing for suspension of disbelief is that the streets and courtyards, arcades and back alleys of your city all feel lived in and inhabited - even if no living soul is to be seen commuting through them.
Environmental storytelling is all well and good -- say you encounter a skull in a dungeon with an axe lodged into it. It is clear a man was murdered and the weapon that fell them is enough proof to show for it. But it is a statement of a man's death, not a question of how they lived. Is a story really being told here, or just a fact relayed to the player? Remove that skull from a dungeon -- where it is a rote trope -- and place it in a strange place, like an abandoned dwelling, or an eccentric collector's trophy room. Suddenly, there arises a wealth of context, how greatly nebulous and exciting for the player to ponder and imagine. What is this object's significance, how did it come to be here? The skull doesn't tell of a single event now, but a series of them, a narrative! One that you do not even have to explain yourself, for the players will be all too happy to place their own spin on the mystery.
So it is the same, then, that in our city we should aim not for the statement of how its stones were built, but by whom, how and what they were used for. There should be an accumulation of history in (our ideal) medieval cities -- windows get bricked up, walls get demolished and new materials get used to construct an extension, old thoroughfares are left abandoned as the flow of traffic changes. It is the lasting marks that humanity leaves on the inanimate that sell the line that this is a lived-in place, the defining characteristic of any city, I would think.
On the topic of my mission, if anyone is interested I could always upload the early version of King of Diamonds before I pushed it into beta-testing, which I still have. It is definitely a different looking place, though I'd never prefer it over how the final version turned out, as Bikerdude's additions provided for a lot more gameplay content I ended up putting than you'd think. The dark ritual wasn't even a thing in the old version, to name one example.
Edited by Spooks, 25 April 2017 - 02:13 PM.