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A SimCity inspired city builder where you design an MMO RPG (tigsource.com)
388 points by doener on Mar 11, 2016 | hide | past | web | favorite | 80 comments

Hey everyone, dev here. Just got wind of this thread on twitter. Happy to answer any questions. If you're interested you can find out more here:





Have you considered to crowd-fund the development?

It looks really promising, and it feels like one of those ideas that could become popular.

(I like how you placed Notch's Minecraft character in the doorframe of the image as part of the 'If you're names not on the list you're not coming in'-update :))

I think it's an option, but i'd like to get it playable (and fun!) first.

Roleplaying and creativity is pretty high on my list. For example I'm working on a Quest Design system where you can hook together anything in the world to create a quest.

A simple example:

You create a Wizard NPC with an input of (4) (Boars tusks) (which you link to the Boar's monster area). Once completed it unlocks the (Gate) next to him, allowing the player to access the tower full of loot. The inputs and outputs would be completely flexible and could lead to some pretty funny situations. Careful balancing would be needed so players aren't walking halfway across the map just for a shoddy Wooden sword reward.

If you want a couple old-school examples of this for inspiration, take a look at Adventure Construction Set and the scripting language from ZZT. As a kid I made all kind of stories with both of those.

Do it like, Patreon. You're "making games" and people fund you basically spending time to dev.

Probably much more sustainable than say Indiegogo or Kickstarter.

I would be very happy to mark this project as my first foray into the crowd funding world. I have some experience running campaigns, but have yet to contribute to one. This game looks like what I dreamt of creating back in the heydays of Game Maker 4.

I showed this game to my partners, all Tycoon fans. They were salivating over this. Even in early stages, this is something we all want to play really bad.

It isn't every day you get on HN. Hurry up and release something. Provide the usual warnings (this is beta, this sucks right now, things break, etc), but release something. One of the reasons Minecraft was successful was the "release early, release often" philosophy they took. You'll get users, and user input, quickly, should you follow the same path.

I feel ya bro. The pre-alpha build will be released early, just need something complete enough to get meaningful feedback on.

When I was in high school, I wanted to be a graphic artist. I completely understand thinking it's not good enough yet. Part of you is in this product, and it's always coming from a vulnerable place, no matter how good you are at taking criticism.

You've been working on this since at least september of 2015. it's good enough right now. Even if you up and change huge chunks of code later, it's good enough right now. I feel like a douche saying this, but How many more times do you think you'll be on HN?

Please, getting on HN is not the 'be-all and end-all'

You make it sound so easy. When was the last time either of us had a project featured on HN?

I, for one, hope that when this is released I'll find out about it here!

On the other hand I've seen things get released -too- early, everyone decides, "Boy this sucks." and they never come back.

Sometimes things really aren't done enough yet.

No questions. Just wanted to say I'm glad you made this. A few years ago, I was playing Roller Coaster Tycoon and World of Warcraft a little too often. Had the idea to merge the two, since WoW is basically an amusement park. I mapped the project out but never put anything together.

Anyways, I'm thrilled you made it happen.

WoW is basically an amusement park

It's part amusement park and part resort casino. A lot of what they do is put up pretty visuals while they massage your brain with variable schedule of reward.

Share your thought-maps for that merger? I cant picture "wow is basically an amusement park" in my head...


If you've played WoW, or an MMO like it, just think of it this way. All the experiences are mostly the same no matter how many times you do it. With slight variances based on your class, of course. You go and kill the monsters and finish the quests, and it's all completely predictable. You change nothing. You build nothing. It's all a pre-planned ride. With stuff like dungeons and raids, it's a pre-planned ride you can go on multiple times. With NPCs basically playing the same role as those people in parks wearing character suits.

And it's not just the rides. There's all sorts of prizes, souvenirs, and events designed to make you come back over and over again. There's a casino aspect to it too. Take the ride and you might get a fabulous prize at the end. Or more likely not, but you can always try again tomorrow.

So you can see how the MMO -> Theme Park Tycoon would work. Instead of rides, you designate zones, quests, & dungeons. Instead of hiring costumed people to dance around, you create NPCs. Instead of drink & toy vendors, you sell buff food, pets and mounts and gear. Instead of hiring janitors and security guards, you'd hire game masters (GMs) who would do the same clean-up & refereeing work.

Done properly, this would be an incredible experience. There's the tycoon part of it which would let you see how well you built your Skinner box and how much the Sims are getting addicted. And then there's the part which resembles many of the various gamemaking kits out there. RPGMaker comes to mind. The player can build an entire fantasy world. With multiplayer and the ability to import creations, the world can be built by a team. And then the player could open up the world using the built-in server and actually play in their creation with their friends.

From a layout perspective I can kind of see it working.

  Rides <--> quest areas.
  Class trainers <--> Bathrooms.

Really cool. What kinds of things are you using to make something like this? A particular game engine, language, etc?

Unity + a couple of Asset store plugins - SSAO, ColorfulFX.

It's written in C#.

The engine handles all the voxels internally, but some of the models like the characters and Jellos are created in Blender and Magicavoxel.

Photoshop for textures.

Visual Studio Code for the IDE.

Out of curiosity, what is the current state of Unity games running on OSX/Linux environments? I recall that you could compile with Mono for cross-platform support, but I'm curious if the recent cross-platform support of much of the .NET CLR has made it easier (or more stable, etc.).

How did you get wind of this thread on twitter? (i.e. how does that work - I dont use twitter)

I pray this actually happens. Dwarf Fortress would be amazing hooked up to this engine.

I've only seen DF on YouTube, could someone explain how another game would hook into it? Any examples of other games doing this?

Dwarf Fortress, as an example, has Armok Vision [0] that uses DFHack [1] which reads the data structures directly from the Dwarf Fortress process to provide an API layer to other tools and scripts. Armok Vision provides a 3D visualization to the 2D of Dwarf Fortress (in a separate process, by reading memory through Dfhack). It's pretty rad.

There's also the 2.5D "Text will be Text" plugin that actually alters how Dwarf Fortress renders tiles, stacking 2D planes so you can see more than 1 Z layer at a time [2].

[0] http://www.bay12forums.com/smf/index.php?topic=146473.660

[1] https://github.com/DFHack/dfhack

[2] https://github.com/mifki/df-twbt

I was a huge fan of Ultima Online as a kid and the emulation communities are what got me into programming. This has a lot of ideas I always wanted to implement, awesome stuff!

I'm actually working on a multiplayer map builder in a ww2 fps: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3XdLbRzsCDg (I hope this is ok to share I don't think they are in competing markets)

Curious to get your guys response to it!

Great work and good luck!

I think this is a really good idea. Best of luck with it.

Thanks buddy!

are considering open source? I know 3 talented game devs looking for a project open or closed. this is right down their alley.

Reminds me of Dungeon Keeper, a old PC game where you have to build your own dungeon, with rooms for your monsters, treasure room, magic room to research spells, etc. Heroes try to invade your dungeon, and you also have to fight neighbouring dungeons. One of the cool feature was that while monsters were controlled by an AI, you could take manual control of one, going to a first person view and playing like a FPS game.

So yeah, seeing this feels like Dungeon Keeper meets Minecraft. Which could be very interesting if executed properly, but it's not going to be easy.

Not abandonware it seems http://www.gog.com/game/dungeon_keeper (5$)

Dungeon Keeper is still one of the best PC games ever. I still play it to this day. I wish they would come out with an updated version, like DK1.. not DK2.

You might give KeeperFX a try. It's a mod that reuses the existing exe file but builds around it. IIRC it allows higher resolutions, adds more maps/campaigns and makes it possible to run Dungeon Keeper on newer Windows versions without problems.

Try KeeperRL: http://keeperrl.com/

Started getting some attention in the roguelike world but it's really not a traditional roguelike... just an awesome Dungeon Keeper-esque game.

Have you submitted this to /r/roguelikes?

Check out War for the Overworld, the unofficial successor to Dungeon Keeper. They even brought in the original narrator!

Ah this game had so much potential, but in the end they didn't really manage to capture DK's spirit, and the game play ended up being uninteresting and frustrating. The constant stream of game breaking bugs didn't help either.

That was a fun game!

Ever play Knights and Merchants? that game was wonderful, albeit buggy when you got too big a city.

HNGHHGUHG - the sound of a serf dying due to the AI not able to properly manage routing of all the serfs when you had a big city with >100 serfs.

So many hours spent on that game in 1997-98

I used to fly round as the fly with my 3D shutter glasses on for ages just watching.

This is one of these fairly simple, yet brilliant ideas that make you go "Why didn't I think of this?" Granted, tycoon-style game ideas are a dime a dozen, but few are this novel or meta.

Superhot is another recent game that also meets the criteria; time advances only with player movement. Dead simple core concept. I suppose Minecraft probably stands as the most famous example though (which is ironic considering this game's art style and game mechanics appear to have been heavily influenced by it).

True, though really you could say this of any game. Ideas are cheap. It's the execution of the idea that draws the crowd.

- Superhot actually took the stop time mechanic from Time4Cat [1], a free flash game. With guns added, and a unique art style, players were drawn in. It also helped that the game was originally created for the 7DFPS challenge where it received initial interest.

- Minecraft gained popularity originally because it added enemies that came out at night, something the world building genre hadn't really seen before (and so the reviewers jumped on it). Voxel engines weren't new, but it was unprecedented to use them to give creative ability to the user like so ('user customization' being a common theme in many successful games, see: TF2 hats!)

- Same again with Portal, the mechanic was neat, but the story is what people always talk about.

- Monument Valley strikes me as another, great idea with the isomorphics, but also great art style and animation regardless. The progression of puzzle difficulty is what keeps the player interested though, as the learning curve is subtle enough to work in the casual games mobile market.

- Here is an example [2] of a good idea on the scale of Portal, but so far poor execution, resulting in lackluster gameplay. It is Pillow Castle's First Person Puzzler where picked up object's are re-scaled depending on your perspective.

[1] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-gO5hjxRsfo

[2] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HOfll06X16c

The Museum of Simulation Technology may actually turn out pretty good [1]. There's a sort of paradox with game development that revolves around a gameplay mechanic. The mechanics really have to be rock solid, so that gets polished out first; polishing takes a long, long time. But it also has to be engaging or else it isn't worth playing. The direction taken for SuperHot is so unexpected (to me at least) that I was hooked.

The jury is still out on tMoST, but it's still rather early in, and you can already see a lot of improvement and style between the early tech demo and the small trailers. Notably, I think there is a bit of a genre trap, where this kind of mind-warp game is stuck playing out in certain stories. I'm utterly a sucker for this sort of game, so I'm getting it no matter what. But it'd be nice if it knocks it out of the park.

[1] https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=rN1jmsnq-iM

>Notably, I think there is a bit of a genre trap, where this kind of mind-warp game is stuck playing out in certain stories.

My thoughts as well. The trap you mention is typically a linear environment with a solid-yet-comical (or whimsical) narrative, ala Portal. That allows the featured game mechanic to be introduced at an optimal pace, effectively realizing more milage out of it. It's also the safer and more conservative route.

As a little thought experiment, I wondered how the perspective mechanic in tMoST would work in a completely different genre, and I figured it'd be pretty entertaining in say—an agent-based MMO simulator. I mean, just imagine watching a bunch of simulation agents wander about the map, trying feverishly hard to properly size objects to their liking. That seems as if it would at least be amusing. Bonus points for proper physics so they can accidentally crush each other with giant, oversized objects.

Plonking that idea into a brawler-style melee game would be great. Especially if you could change the game dymanics: big players have more health, but small players can't be hit; two players fighting over one object tug-of-war style; guns shoot bullets with odd distance mechanics.

I could see that being a fun one-off game.

At first with that Pillow Case game, I wasn't too impressed, it seemed to have one gimmick.

But holy hell, as it went further on with the person resizing/fourth wall escaping I was interested.

> Superhot

Isn't that game meh? Not a great example.

> Minecraft gained popularity originally because it added enemies that came out at night

I've never heard that point of view before. Rather that it was a cubic world were everything could be destroyed and created.

> Portal, the mechanic was neat, but the story is what people always talk about

What? Besides "the cake is the lie" there is no real story, people talk about the game mechanism not the story.

Conclusion: I disagree with 3/4 of your post.

> Isn't that game meh? Not a great example.

I suspect it depends on your taste in games.

> Rather that it was a cubic world were everything could be destroyed and created.

'Survival mode' is what was reviewed initially though [1], and gave the voxel world idea a way to flourish.

> Besides "the cake is the lie" there is no real story

The story drives the single player experience, ending with a fight with the main antagonist GLaDOS. This is then expanded on in the second game. The story contains well known characters such as GlaDOS, Atlas and P-Body. Particularly GLaDOS's deadpan humour is a big part of the story and is referenced frequently.

[1] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4wgQvij3rVE

I'm actually convinced that you didn't pay any attention in portal. The story is thin, it's the story of a tester that is constantly being thrown curveballs. Finally the testing is done and the AI decides to kill you, you then escape behind the scenes and plot to kill the AI. I think when people praise the game for it's non-mechanics what they are actually praising int he characterization and writing of GladOS (and then later in Portal2 Whetley).

It really was the coolest thing when you escaped the final test chamber and found yourself alone in the abandoned facility; the music just stops. Up until that point you knew something was wrong but not quite what. The lack of scientists in the observation windows, the creepy graffiti in the alcoves stating "THE CAKE IS A LIE" next to a mountain of broken security cameras and the disturbing fits the robot would get into on occasion. The game was a great example of the "show don't tell" style of story telling.

Also lets be honest, the whole cake thing in Portal was pretty funny. It was just the people burning the joke into the ground and snorting the ashes that ruined it.

I felt that backstory in Portal was thereby a metaphor for the whole games industry machine.

I play mostly for the gameplay. I feel like Portal's story was the same as Half Life story, the background.

The concept reminds me a bit of Majesty: The Fantasy Kingdom Sim, in that you're loosely overseeing a bunch of AI adventurers running around and getting into trouble. Of course it's coming at the idea from a very different direction. Mostly it's just that Majesty holds up astoundingly well for a 15-year-old sim game, and I've been thinking about it lately. :)

What about being able to play as a Hero-class unit, as well as overseeing? The player could be Gandalf, who can exercise bad-assery and turn the tide in an individual battle, but also direct the overall battle. Like an RTS where you have to ride to line of sight give commands?

That sounds like the 1998 Battlezone, an FPS/RTS hybrid with hovertanks. It was really cool; there hasn't been much else like it.

The plot was loads of fun--it's the 1960s, and the Space Race is just a cover for the fact that the US and the Soviets have both been waging war on the Moon, with hovertanks, for years.

That was my exact same first thought as well.

I always dream about an RTS where one gets to be the DM (God, Gaia... whatever you call it) where computer players fight against each other. I love scripting maps to make current games (especially AoEII and C&C Generals) work like that. I'm hoping this is, in a way, something like that. I know an RPG is played in the map (city) you design, but still. I'll give it a try.

> I always dream about an RTS where one gets to be the DM ... where computer players fight against each other

There were quite a few of these around when I was learning to program: I and a couple of friends competed in one where you provided a robot that had to kill survive longer than the rest. Each action (movement, shooting at an enemy, using your shield, scanning to see anything) took energy and sources of that were unevenly distributed around the simple landscape (so a robot could camp on a large source for a while as an example tactic). My robots didn't tend to do very well unfortunately.

There must be modern equivalents around, though it sounds like you want to go the other way: providing the challenge to the AIs rather than an AI itself, so perhaps you could create your own.

I've considered it - it is one of the many projects on my "when I win the lottery or otherwise have a lot of spare time all of a sudden" project list. There are two main options: run the AIs on your platform in which case one of the constraints is processing resource (which you somehow need to hand out fairly) or just provide an API through which the AIs can submit moves (in which case you can't govern how much processing resource each AI can throw at the problem, but the game service would be very resource efficient to run. Of course with the latter option if there are limits to what the AI can see (fog of war or similar) then you have to play the whole game out before letting spectators see it otherwise an AI could abuse the spectator interface to gain advantage, if the AIs are hosted on your resources you can constrain such visibility much more readily.

I actually do like programming AIs as well. For some reason I am just fascinated to watch different AIs take on each other while I play the god - that being throwing random resources, challenges, units, disasters and etc. in the game and observing how they react. I used to do this with the very, very limited AI scripting and map trigger placement availability in AoEII and now I switched to C&C Generals but it is more unit modding oriented than general scripting so I'm looking for an alternative.

If you or someone else ships something like you just described, I'd probably waste a lot of weekends. So let me know if you win the lottery!

I wrote a web-based MMO with the goal that players would augment their experience by enhancing their client (potentially allowing a single player to control 10s of units RTS-style) as well as writing AI/bots to help them. The game can be played entirely by bots (this is how I tested it during development). Interestingly, the game balance and mechanics are such that a skilled solo hero can take on large numbers of bots and win (see this gameplay GIF: https://github.com/srpeck/kchess/blob/gh-pages/docs/kchess.g...).

The major enabling feature is that I do not differentiate between players and AI - both are networked clients (see here for the API docs: https://github.com/srpeck/kchess/blob/gh-pages/docs/kchessdo...). I wrote up some of my other design decisions here: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=10924316

And sorry, the live demo is currently down...but should be pretty quick/easy to run your own locally.

> I always dream about an RTS where one gets to be the DM (God, Gaia... whatever you call it) where computer players fight against each other.

Reminds me of "Sandkings" by George R. R. Martin. It's in the Dreamsongs volume I collection. The connection is the protagonist buys some insect-like pets for which he is like a god and there are multiple colonies which do things on their own in a terrarium.

That is an interesting idea to make a game like that.

This is a random question, slightly off topic, but I was looking at the No Man's Sky videos and wondered how video game programming worked with regard to a server and interfacing with multiple users at once. Does the team design the game to run on the console and also a version to run on the server or is it two separate applications each with its own set of business rules?

Depends on the architecture. If the game has dedicated servers, then they will built 2 separate pieces: 1. The game they ship to the client and 2. The server software which receives messages from the client and propagates world changes to all clients in the same game session.

If the game is PvP (like most xbox games), the there is only the single game, and a 'host' is chosen to act like the server above. This can lead to problems though like host advantage [1], so the networking logic has to be carefully designed in order to mitigate this effect.

[1] http://gamedev.stackexchange.com/questions/73302/is-host-adv...

It will vary based on the game but generally servers would simply store data and verify inputs to make sure the clients are in sync and haven't been hacked for example. The clients get sent data like all of the players positions and update their internal state based on it.

No Man's sky probably does a lot more server side, as the world is persistent for everyone.

There's a subreddit now: https://www.reddit.com/r/mymmo

reminds me somewhat of Towns: http://www.townsgame.com/

I think this shows a lot more promise though

Edit: As pointed out below, don't buy Towns unless you know your buying an abandoned beta-stage game. Good idea for a game, but, IIRC, the dev got kickstarted, took the money, and left

Warning to people who are considering buying Towns: Don't.

Its abandoned and an unfinished mess.

This is awesome. Its very similar to one of my favorite games Majesty The Fantasy Kindom Sim


I've been craving a new game in this genre for a while. I love the 'idle' game play where the world evolves. Point me to the crowdfunding page!

Can someone please build new SimCity. I'm missing it badly and I'll pay anything. This was the game that had a meaningful educational value (real estate development, microeconomics) coupled with entertainment. I didn't like people part (Sims) as much as city planning.

I think this is what you're looking for: http://www.citiesskylines.com/

This is really cool! What engine are you building in?

Have you considered approaching Sony's indie-developer program?

As far as I can tell, on this generation they are being incredibly supportive of indie developers ... and I would 100% pay for an indie game like this on PS4.

This idea really seem to touch a nerve: https://www.reddit.com/r/IndieGaming/comments/4a149n/mymmo_a...

Looking forward to seeing the progress. Was an active SC4er and really enjoyed Skylines and not really an MMO guy at all. I just love sandbox simulations and this seems like a super unique idea and love your approach. Keep up the great work!

A MMO tycoon/simulator, what a cool idea! I couldn't run the online version but it looks impressive (guess my setup is missing Unity Plugin).

This looks really nice, like a game i will waste hours after hours with. Will it support Linux?

Does anyone remember idleRPG on IRC?

Ugh, I really hope this is released publicly!

Interesting idea!

Never seen anything like this before.

I'll have to give this a shot later!

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