About Trollskog

Trollskog is a desktop city-builder strategy game for Windows due to be released in 2017, and draws inspiration from the real-time-strategy classics, while combining the best aspects of city-builders with the clever design of modern boardgames.

Will you spread peace and prosperity throughout the lands, help those in need, and protect defenseless villages with your armies? Or will you send those armies to conquer the wilderness and colonize the far reaches of the forest?

Each city is both a puzzle and a piece of your sprawling empire. Plan your buildings with care to suit your needs, manage your foreign policy and establish trade routes with your allies, or plunder those of your enemies.

Visit the website to find out more and follow the development of Trollskog.

  • View media
  • View media
  • View media
  • View media
  • View media
  • View media
Post article RSS Articles

Villages or megalopolis?

News

An issue that has come up repeatedly during Trollskog’s playtests is the question of settling multiple smaller cities versus growing one massive city (a megalopolis).

I should explain what I mean when I say city, first - In Trollskog, most buildings can only be placed inside a city’s borders, and built using the resources available in the town hall structure. Each city can support a population of inhabitants depending on its food supply and housing infrastructure.

As players explore the world they’ll find resource nodes to claim and defend, and a lot of the mid- and endgame content revolves around managing multiple specialist cities, and the choices the player makes to balance each city’s strength and weaknesses.

When testers discovered a new resource node in the world, however, they would oftentimes begin harvesting this resource in the simplest way: sending workers from their capital city to trek all the way to some distant corner of the world where they might have discovered a new silver mine or rock deposit, have the worker harvest as much as it could carry, then walk all the way back home.


Gold- and silver mines are an example of a resource node that players can find while exploring the world.

Initially, I didn’t think much of this: surely players wouldn’t continue “long-distance mining”[1] resource nodes in this way once they became more comfortable with settling new cities?
After playing around with it myself, though, I was vexed by how this simple move allowed the player to grow their capital city to an enormous size while not having to make any of the interesting choices[2] involved in managing multiple cities, essentially skipping a lot of gameplay content.
Worse, many new players fell into this behavior by default, finding it simpler to just wait for their harvesters to complete their distant journeys rather than settling a new city.

I tried a few different mechanics to mitigate this. Initially, I experimented with giving each city a limited inventory. If each city could store at most 4 different resource types, progressing past a certain point in the tech tree becomes impossible without founding new towns.


The town hall command card in the lower right shows the city’s 4 inventory slots (2 occupied by wheat and wood, the other 2 empty)

This gave me some variables to tweak: the number of slots and how many resources each slot could hold. However, setting these variables in such a way that prevented a megalopolis made this mechanic extremely punishing for new players, who often take a very exploratory approach to resources and tech, while being trivially avoidable by players more familiar with the tech tree. Since I did like the decisions that came from having to manage a city’s limited inventory size, a nicer variant of this remains in the game, but a limited inventory was not a powerful enough tool to prohibit megalopolis formation.

So I looked to other strategy games for inspiration, trying to remember what’s worked well and what hasn’t. Now, most RTS games don’t actually have cities - In games like StarCraft, Age of Empires and Command & Conquer there’s really just different types of buildings - a player can consider a collection of buildings of cities if they want, but the game itself has no such concept. Certain buildings function as resource drop-off points, and this drives the player to expand out into the map.

Of the games I could remember having a well-established city concept, Anno 1404 impressed me the most with its solution. The game allows the player to settle new islands, which function similarly to cities in Trollskog, each having its own collection of resources. Each island having limited fertilities forces the player to settle colonies in order to advance their capital. The game holds the player’s hand through this process the first time around, encouraging the player to settle an oriental island to secure spice production, required to progress to the next tier.

In the end, I decided to utilize both these mechanics to a varying degrees. Resource nodes that are too far away from a drop-off point simply cannot be harvested. The player can decide whether to build a full city near the resource node, or to build a resource outpost and transfer the raw materials to a nearby city for further processing.


The inner border represents the city limits, the outer (dotted) border represents the city's harvesting range. Full cities have both these borders, while resource outposts only emit a harvesting range.
The inner border can be expanded by purchasing more tiles with gold, the outer border remains more or less static. The tradeoff: Resources will not replenish inside the inner border - harvesting a tree there means it stays harvested.

With these mechanics in place, I hope the issue is resolved. Players should still be able to build large cities, but doing so shouldn’t be something players blindly stumble into, it should be an interesting challenge that requires tradeoffs and support infrastructure in the form of smaller villages surrounding the capital.

I’m testing these changes internally first, and unleashing it on my alpha testers sometime next week.

[1] “Long-distance mining” being the Starcraft (and perhaps general RTS) term for harvesting resources far away from your cities.
[2] Thank you Sid Meier for not patenting this phrase

News from the forest

News from the forest

News

Dev update: I've been tying together loose ends, collecting yarn, leaving a trail of breadcrumbs, and avoiding minotaurs.

Comments
AndreilGame
AndreilGame

It's fun that your game has a lot in common with one of my old game (town management + empire management + exploration based)
While it's a completely different kind of game (mine was an RPG)
it's pioneerz : Andreilgame.itch.io

I'd love to see how your game evolve, you've gain a new follower ^^

Reply Good karma Bad karma+1 vote
Post a comment
Sign in or join with:

Only registered members can share their thoughts. So come on! Join the community today (totally free - or sign in with your social account on the right) and join in the conversation.

Follow Report Profile
Icon
Trollskog
Platforms
Windows
Creator
OftenABird
Engine
Custom
Contact
Send Message
Homepage
Trollskog.net
Release date
Game watch
Follow
Share
Style
Theme
Fantasy
Project
Indie
Boxart
Boxart
Twitter

Latest tweets from @oftenabird

RT @bombsfall: Deceitful antifa have discovered they can hit me with arrows from outside the fog gate while I am stuck in an idle animation.

Nov 4 2017

Did another GUI pass, that means rounded edges! Oh, and some new features and functionality and stuff… T.co

Oct 14 2017

I just found out these exist En.wikipedia.org now auditioning supervillains for the heist. Bring your own outfit, gadgets optional

Oct 12 2017

This week in trollskog: An AI obstacle avoidance bug had appalling consequences. #screenshotsaturday #indiedev T.co

Oct 7 2017

Oh! Do you have a question for us, raven? 🕊️ #gamedev #indiegamedev #indiegame #indiedev #screenshotsaturdayT.co

Sep 30 2017

Modelling hair is pretty fun. maybe I should become a barber? #lowpoly #gamedev T.co

Sep 14 2017

I have learnt from my villagers to live my life one harvest cycle at a time 🤠 #screenshotsaturday #gamedevT.co

Sep 9 2017

Robust. Rock-solid. Upgrade your city to tier 3 - today! #screenshotsaturday #gamedev #realtimestrategy #indiedevT.co

Sep 2 2017

Embed Buttons
Link to Trollskog by selecting a button and using the embed code provided more...
Trollskog
Statistics
Visits
981 (2 today)
Last Update
Watchers
7 members
Articles
2
You may also like
God World
God World Real Time Strategy
Dead Army - Radio Frequency
Dead Army - Radio Frequency Real Time Strategy
Gnoblins
Gnoblins Real Time Strategy
DwarfCorp
DwarfCorp Real Time Strategy
Stratus: Battle for the sky
Stratus: Battle for the sky Real Time Strategy