Adventures in City Building

As many of you know I’ve been heads down working on “Map Invoker”, a map auto generator, for awhile. In its first (hopefully of many) incarnation it generates random towns/cities.

One of the first hurdles was to somehow create an algorithm to create a realistic shape for a city and its walls. Well, the resulting algorithm created three circles. One fixed in the center of the map and two that had their centers randomly placed within the first circle.

Fine, I check marked that as done and went on to the next challenge.

Well, now I’m in parameterizing mode where I am pulling out all the hard coded numbers and placing them at the disposal of the user, and that lead me back to the Wall algorithm. Why just limit it to two circles? Why not five, or eight? Why not start with a square or turn the additional circles into squares – or a random mix of both?

With the right settings, all these parameters can create so cities that look amazingly natural. With the wrong settings you can create a city that … just looks weird. But, that is the purpose of allowing the users to tweak these parameters, is it not? Nobody wants a cookie-cutter city generator. If anyone is going to want to use a city generator, they want to be able to create a one-of-a-kind city that is all their own.

Then it’s just a matter of trying to name these parameters so that the user has an inkling of what they control. For the circle/square/mixed parameter – a slider, one side all circles, the other all squares and in the middle a mixture. What to call it? Wall Squareness? Wall Sharpness? Wall Roundness? Hmmm…

Hopefully no matter what the parameters are named, users will be able to deduce its effect.

Well, it looks like I’ve gotten most of the Wall generation parameterized. Here is an image of a large city (2000′ x 1600′ Template) with some of the “interesting” settings.

A large city generated by 'Map Invoker'

3 Responses to “Adventures in City Building”

  1. Lee, I’m glad you’ve persevered. This is going to be a great tool when it’s done. I can’t wait to get my hands on it.

  2. This design looks very promising. I take it that the blue is a river and the thick black the ‘main’ road out of the city?

    Looking forward to see the next invocation – it has the hallmark of being something rather special!

    Bill H

  3. dude, I cannot wait…just got CC3 and City designer. Can’t wait for tutorials. Can’t figure out how to really use it. But, it’s cool nonetheless.