Browsed by
Category: MegaCity

Concrete Jungle – From MegaCity to Concrete Jungle

Concrete Jungle – From MegaCity to Concrete Jungle

cj_devblog3_440p

Hello there! The Kickstarter and Greenlight have had an *amazing* week! So much so infact, that the target has been met and doubled and we’ve been greenlit!  I am incredibly grateful to everybody who has pledged and voted, you are the best!

I thought I’d share with you the development of Concrete Jungle up until now- it has been through a whole lot of re-working, re-starting, re-imagining, re-everything really.

December 2011- August 2012
The first ideas for a follow-up to my original game MegaCity came in the form of just making everything bigger and better. Mid way through 2012 I took the original game and completely re-coded everything from the ground up. I had learned a lot since first making the game, and I wanted to make it faster, sleeker and just generally improve the quality of the code, UI, sound and graphics. The original idea being I would simply build upon this new code and produce a sequel. What I ended up with by the end of the summer was a much slicker and improved version of the original.

03112014-1
The original MegaCity release compared with the re-worked 2012 version.

All this ended up as a free update for the original game in the form of MegaCity 1.60. It felt like a good idea to reward people for buying MegaCity in the first place, which was a bit rough around the edges.

September 2012 – March 2013
The release of MegaCity 1.60 improved sales and along with the android release kept me ticking over. Months later, I returned to development, but with a whole bunch of new ideas.

You can read about the new approach in my March 2013 post. I had a whole lot of mechanics to re-work. This wasn’t going to be able to just be built ontop of the existing game code like I had originally planned, and instead needed a whole new foundation. Looking back at my proposed concept, I’ve kept a couple of key mechanics that now exist in Concrete Jungle which we’ll get to later…

03112014-2
One of the first sequel prototypes. Look at that silly amount of debug info everywhere!

However, early prototypes were disappointing. Through changing the core mechanics I inadvertently ended up removing a lot of the difficulty and challenge. In this prototype you built a city out from the centre of the screen, and while it looked cool, it really softened one of the core mechanics that made the original fun- space management.

03112014-3
The early prototypes had you build outwards from the centre of the map.

The removal of columns made the building scores next to meaningless- the more buildings you placed the harder and more complicated the game got. It quickly got to a point in the game where there was just too much to analyse to find the best play, and when that happens, the game stops being fun. Although the original MegaCity obviously featured numbers in-game, it was very basic stuff and more about logic and decision making combined with a little luck.

03112014-4

The build list mechanic also needed some TLC. One of the criticisms of the original is that it can be too random at times. Late in the game you are pretty much completely at mercy of RNG. On the other hand having more control over buildings also makes the game too easy. Again, it removes a core component of the challenge- being dumped with a building you don’t necessarily want to place but having to find a place for it anyway, without ruining your intended plans. S’all part of the job!

March 2013 – Late 2013

At this point I decided to explore a bolder new direction by making the project more of a traditional city builder/management game- perhaps ditching the MegaCity name.

03112014-5

I made a brand new engine (again) and a brand new prototype (again) which was about 50% MegaCity, and 50% traditional city builder. It sounds great doesn’t it? It wasn’t. I think some part of me thought by just mashing two good but separate ideas together would create something special. Even though I had worked out all the mechanics in my head, when they actually came together it just never felt much like a game.

03112014-6
For some reason I started making a nice UI for this prototype. It’s not completely wasted, I liked the clean white look so I used it in Concrete Jungle.

This prototype was based around a traffic mechanic whereby you could run traffic past commercial buildings to increase their point value, but running it by residential buildings decreased their point value. In my head it would be simcity meets tower defense. It was neither. The game didn’t have enough of the management aspect of games like SimCity to make it fun- the numerical mechanics I wanted to keep from MegaCity constrained that too much. While the traffic/point mechanic was again too complicated, requiring the player to make too many calculations before arriving at a considered move.

This prototype tried to straddle the gap between management game and puzzle game like it wasn’t there- the two core ideas I wanted to mix together just weren’t compatible. It’s why management games like SimCity hide their inner workings a bit from the user: Buildings can be placed in a more ‘correct’ or ‘wrong’ place, but feedback is never so specific that you find you need to solve complex math equations to play the game (unless you’re this guy). You don’t need to be the best city builder in order to have fun in SimCity, half the pleasure if just playing around in your own sandbox. MegaCity is about the challenge (and I didn’t want to loose that because it’s kinda what makes it a bit unique). So it simplifies city planning down to the basics to make it easy to play in order to make that possible. That’s where I was going wrong with these prototypes. This really was a case of ‘keep it simple stupid’.

Perhaps there is a solution to this problem, and perhaps I’ll return to this concept since I would love a simcity/TD mashup game that works- but it’s not this project. It was the hardest concept to ditch, even once I’d seen the flaws.

Current
So yet again I went back to the drawing board. Feeling like I had been too ambitious with the last concept, I went back to the original game and tried to preserve exactly what was good about it. The limitations of the building system, and the simple scoring system. These elements had to stay.

03112014-7
This is finally the prototype that worked- and was developed to what you see now!

Now we’ve arrived at the current build which has progressed in recent months to become ‘Concrete Jungle’.

03112014-8

These are the main new mechanics/differences/additions in Concrete Jungle, compared to MegaCity:

-Decks & deck building! Deck building, I’ve decided, is the solution to the random-but-not-too-random problem. The building list is generated from the cards in your deck which are shuffled and cycled through. You don’t know which order the buildings are coming, but you do know what’s coming. You’ll start with 12 basic cards, and as your city progresses you’ll earn ‘buys’ which you spend on new cards to add to your deck. When you enter the buy screen you’ll be presented with a choice of 4 different random cards to add, and you pick the card of your preference. This makes it a kind of mashup of Dominion’s deck building, and Hearthstone’s Arena mode. I’m pleased with this- the element of choosing new cards to add to your deck as your actually playing the game is really cool. You are building your deck throughout the game as well as the city. As the game progresses you’ll get cards which allow you to ditch and reform existing other cards in your deck, so you slowly get more and more control over your buildings- yet it takes time- and over time the difficulty increases (classic MegaCity)!

-Neighborhoods! Another idea I’ve had for ages that I just didn’t get to gel until the most recent prototype. The idea that several buildings can clump together and form a neighborhood and get some kind of bonus. In Concrete Jungle, buildings of the same class (residential, commercial etc) can be joined together in groups of up to 4. You’ll also get buildings that can buff the whole neighborhood, and buildings that can expand the neighborhood. This allows a new dimension of positive/negative buffs other than the limited 8 surrounding squares of the original. It also gives a neat little visual way to handle roads- they are built around neighborhoods.

-Competitive Mode! While for now I am focusing on expanding the play-against-your-own-past decisions mode (got to come up with a better name for that!) This alternate mode is something I definitely want to explore with the game. I’ve got an early version of a competitive mode where 2 teams of 1 or 2 players compete together to clear the columns. I’ve taken the core concept and made it multiplayer, and it works barring some balancing issues I’ll have to tackle. The competitive mode gives it a whole new dimension, and it feels a bit like playing chess. I can’t wait to reveal more on it.

-Isometric! It looks cool and is reminiscent of those awesome 90s PC titles.

-A much, much bigger pool of buildings! Now that the mechanics have been expanded, there’s room to feature buildings that have a greater variety of effects!

It took a lot of ambitious failings to get to this version, but I’m glad they happened, I feel it’s made me a better game designer.

I’m just so excited that I get to complete it to the standard I envisioned. The kickstarter and greenlight campaign could not have gone better! See you next time, I have a game to work on!

Concrete Jungle Reveal!

Concrete Jungle Reveal!

Logo_transparent24102014

Here it is! This is the infamous sequel to MegaCity that I’ve been working on (on and off) for the best part of 3 years now. Its been a long journey to get to here- and I’ll write about that in the coming weeks, but now let me present ‘Concrete Jungle’!

cj_01 cj_02 cj_03 cj_04

Those of you familiar with MegaCity will instantly see the connection to that game, with vastly improved graphics and interface. That’s true ofcourse, but there are a whole load of new mechanics going on too, which I’ll sum up:

Deck-Building. Concrete Jungle is a deck-building game, which means the never-ending random list of buildings has been replaced by a player-built deck that constantly cycles through. You build your deck as the game progresses. This eliminates a lot of the bad luck players encountered in MegaCity, especially in the late game, and also introduces a whole new layer of strategy and depth!

New ways buildings can buff and improve your city! Clusters of buildings can now form neighborhoods. This combined with the deck-building mechanics make for a whole lot more variety in what individual buildings can do. So of course there are…

Load of buildings! Loads! I’m planning over 150 for the final game.

Scrolling and Zooming engine with isometric graphics! Obvious from the screenshots I hope- but I’ve been working on the visuals a tonne as of late.

That said, although I have a lot of this done and working, there’s a whole lot more content I want to put in. That’s why I’m running a modest kickstarter for the game which will be launched on Monday. Stay tuned for more *very* soon- Monday!

MegaCity 10% more Mega

MegaCity 10% more Mega

21042013

It’s been quite a busy week. I’ve been racing to get the latest updates out for the original MegaCity. I’ve gone back and added some more content- this time 2 extra levels/unlockable buildings, a secret unlockable building and 10 more achievements! There are also some other nifty minor changes. The update is in review for iOS, and will be coming to android at roughly the same time (hopefully next week). The xbox version has also had a much, much needed update. Windows phone & flash updates will follow.

I’ve had one or two cool new ideas for the sequel too. At the moment I want a system based on the roads to dictate the influence of certain buildings. I may of worded that badly– it’s hard to describe, but I think it might be cool if this works well in conjunction with the building cluster system I mentioned a few posts back. We’ll see how this turns out because a lot of ideas at this stage remain untested.

I also want to get started on the graphics soon, as this will be a significant amount of work in addition to the engine. It would also be nice to have something to show instead of just posting about ideas here every week!

13042013

What’s new this week?

Firstly, there’s a new minor update out for Android MegaCity, which I hope will fix a problem some have been having with their sexy Samsung devices not running the game properly. If the problem still persists, email me and I’ll carry on searching for whatever’s causing that. The MegaCity XBLIG update is on it’s way too, currently in the traffic jam of review processes that is XBLIG.

Now to the dev blog stuff.

I haven’t posted a snippet of what MegaCity 2 currently looks like this week, because frankly it looks like a mess. It’s looks like a clown puked tetris blocks everywhere. But it’s coming along pretty well. I’m getting my head around the scoring system and deck system right now, and I’ve finalised the prototype design for both. Meaning I’ve settled on a concept I think will work, but is subject to change once I have built a working prototype and have had time to test it.

I’ve come up with a turn-based system where there are 4 decks of building type to choose from, plus a 5th ‘special’ deck which is unique to each player (and customisable). In my head this seems like a good balance between balance and customisability. We’ll see what happens in practise. I’ve also implemented a  system where you enlarge each card or ‘blueprint’ to have a look at it in detail like in the Magic the gathering videogame.

As far as the art is concerned, I’ve had some thoughts on that too. I do want to take it in more of a pixel art direction, but I don’t want to loose the fidelity and intricate detail of the original, so I’ve got something fairly unique in mind which you’re going to have to wait to see.