The Living Town: Intro

in Tutorials


This article series is going to be a little different.

Its going to be sort of a tutorial series, but not really.

Its going to be sort of a dev diary, but not really.

Its going to be sort of a showcase for what can be done in RPG Maker, but not really.

Its basically going to be a bit of everything, and this is how it is going to work. I’m going to take a feature as a high concept, and week after week, work on that concept and walk you step through step in how I accomplish it. You’ll get to learn, as I walk through the steps, not just parts of the editor and eventing, but at least one persons ways of planning, note taking, and methodology.

The Inspiration

So, during the last Steam sale, I picked up a copy of Skyrim: Legendary Edition. I know, I know, I’m late to the party.

I put this up on my personal Facebook about half a week after getting it.

I put this up on my personal Facebook about half a week after getting it.

And between sleeping, eating, working, and New Years celebrations, I’ve been playing a good bit of it. And usually, with each game, I latch on to one or two things about the game and really geek out about it. For instance, back when I was replaying Chrono Trigger last April, I geeked out over the absolutely stellar pacing.

The Elder Scrolls series in general, which I had first played back when Daggerfall came out, was a series that I really enjoyed for its ambition, even when its actual technical ability was woefully under-powered for that ambition (this is really, a description of Daggerfall in general: a superbly ambitious game that was supremely flawed in almost every way). And I loved that amazing ambition.

Each dot was a location you could visit. This was just ONE REGION of the area you could explore in Daggerfall.

Each dot was a location you could visit. This was just ONE REGION of the area you could explore in Daggerfall.

With Skyrim, as much as I loved it, I looked at what I loved most about it: The Immersion Factor, and it is ambitious. And for the most part, it succeeds wildly. But it gave me an idea: What if I took one small part of it, the whole idea of a city having NPCs with routines, shrunk it down to a single town, and amped up the immersion. Don’t just give them routines, give them needs. Give them variable routines based on their current needs, and allow semi-random events to mess with them. Disease, weather, bad crops. And then have those needs and events affect how they interact with the player.

Its ambitious. Its stupid ambitious. If someone asked me on a scale of Final Fantasy I Remake to Daggerfall how Stupid Ambitious is this idea, I would probably be forced to say it is probably closer to the Daggerfall level of Stupid Ambitious, especially as a lone developer on the project. But it sounds really fun, and really neat. So why not.

If you reach this part of the scale, you may need to rethink your life choices.

If you reach this part of the scale, you may need to rethink your life choices.

The Plan

So, as my first step, I need to outline my endgame. What am I really working towards? I may end up scrapping some things by the end, but what is my ideal idea of this system manifested. You should always have an end goal. Without an end goal, a game or project can become aimless and lack cohesion.

So here is the plan:

The Living Town will have ~24 inhabitants. Each inhabitant will have:

  • Needs and Supplies: Food, Materials, Water, Gold
  • The ability to barter their supplies for other supplies
  • Routines that are based on time of day, day of week, season, weather, current needs, supplies, and wellness
  • Relationships with other NPCs, who they will interact with dynamically.
  • The ability to get sick, based on current needs, sickness prevalence in town/household.
  • The ability to dynamically provide quests to the Player based on current situation

The Town itself will be a rural village, featuring farming, hunting, fishing, a blacksmith, a small tavern with a few rooms available for travallers, and a trader who makes weekly trips to the nearby city.

The Play area will encompass the town itself, and the surrounding areas. Allowing the PCs to hunt, gather, and other odd jobs for the NPCs as needed.

So now that I have a plan. Its time to get started. Next time: Proof of concept.

Notes and Materials

Each article, I will provide every bit of notes and materials that I used in that stage of the process. Some will be insightful. Some will be cluttered messes that I used to jog my memories. The main idea is just to provide you with all the random things I generate while creating the system, and let you get an idea of the process. This week, the only materials I have are my notes on the plan, which you can find here.

Any extra ideas on the plan? What do you see the challenges being? What do you think would be the most fun thing about this system? Join us in the comment section below.

Comments on this entry are closed.

  • I must say that this sounds like a fun project.

    Will be looking forward to the next implementation.

    • It will definitely be a journey. I enjoy the fact that I honestly don’t know how this will progress. I’ll get to be just as surprised as everyone else.

  • Traveling Bard

    Thanks for the interesting article/series!

  • Brandon Geisen

    I like where you’re going with this project as I can relate to the ambitious nature of its concept. I have been working on my own title for some time now and I have received many comments regarding it as too ambitious. I will definitely be tracking your progress in hopes that I will not only be able to learn something, but possibly share if the need arises. RPG Maker is capable of making some very ambitious games as long as the developer is willing to put forth the effort.

  • Patryk

    I absolutely love dynamic mechanics like Radiant AI from Bethesda games, and I’m really looking forward to see how will your plan work out, because I always wanted to have system like that in my game, but I’m just too green, with no nearly enough time to make it, so I pretty much thought I would never have a similar system in my game. But with your pointers I would be able to make it! I’m waiting with eagerness for the next article! 🙂

    • Its going to be a beast to work with, definitely not beginner’s work. I’ll try to explain everything I do, but I may fail, so there is that. I will say that I’m hoping people just learn in general from the process, whether I succeed or fail.

  • Zerphoon

    Is there a place where we can easily follow your progress or is it just this page?

    • Just keep an eye on the blog. Should be about every two weeks I’ll post up a new blog post talking about what I’ve accomplished so far and what I’ve tried/etc.