You can get Voxel Farm now. For more information click here.

Friday, August 5, 2011

Back Indoors

I got the city lots so I'm back to working in the architecture. I still have a long way to go, especially now that I need to write building grammars that also produce believable interiors. Writing staircases can give you a headache like nothing else in this world.

Before going too far, I wanted to test how the buildings blended with the environment.

Some of the buildings I'm planning rest on top of large pillars. This is so their base is level with the terrain. The player will be able to get under those pillars. I wanted to see how they would feel. Here is a render:

Here is another scene I did to test how the outside world be seen from inside:

As cities start emerging, I hope to have soon a lot more of this.


  1. That is an architectural technique I would like to see in real life, regardless of practicality, just because it looks so damn SEXY. I can see a lot of back-alley shady transactions and the like occurring in the places like these.

    Amazing work as always. It's a great solution to an otherwise annoying and ugly problem, and I'm glad you didn't decide to just flatten the terrain; I hate it when games do that.

  2. Hi Miguel, first time poster but I've read every post (in reverse chronological order even). I have to say that I LOVE the work you have already accomplished, it's truly splendorous!

    The blue radiosity on the floor (left side of the second screenshot) is "sweet"! The level of polish this adds to the "look" of things, is excellent. I think the "indoor looking out" effect is pretty spot on... Post effects like bloom etc could later add minor finishing touches.

    The algorithm results for city-states and city-lots both look GREAT to me; and I'm so pleased to see you diving back into procedural architecture.

    I'd throw out one counterpoint to the poster before me.

    Though I'm excited to see this type of pillar "building" being worked on (looks great from what we can see)! In real life, it is almost always easier (read less effort/less expertise needed) to build on flat locations or to flatten the terrain as the poster lamented.

    I'd expect to see this type of pillar construction in more evolved times, wealthy locales, or tightly packed hilly cities where all other "accessible" land is used already.

    Having said that, this component being included in your building placement/style procedures will GREATLY improve realism and make it SUCH a more interesting place! I can't wait to visit.

  3. I assume you're already familiar with Alexander's Pattern Language?

  4. @megazver: I'm familiar, but theory aside so far I have not found anything concrete that may help me. If you know of any useful grammar and vocabulary links, please let me know.

  5. @Jonathan: Thanks for the words of encouragement.

    The pillars will appear only on some buildings. Some can level the terrain, some can raise the terrain a bit using bricks. And there is another option I did not program yet, which is to fill the space with even crappier buildings forming some sort of slum.

    As you said, occurrence of these pillars largely depends on the ratio between crappy and expensive buildings. This in turns depends on the type of game.

    I'm toying with one game idea right now that would result in very few crappy buildings. Most of the settlement would be large buildings and their ruins.

    But all this may change, it will take some time before I lock onto a specific game design.

  6. Ooh, since it's city building time, now is a good point to ask: have you seen Shamus Young's Pixel City series? I'm very aware that the goals and techniques used are quite different, but I found Shamus' little series on his Pixel City program to be very good for sparking ideas.

  7. @tentus: Yes I saw Shamus' city a while ago. The work that had the most influence on me was the research done by the City Engine guys. They have published a lot about it. I think I posted a link to their articles a while ago.

    Still everyone so far is focusing mostly on facades. This is understandable since their cities are experienced from the outside. I did not find any work on a system that would produce organic interiors and exteriors.

    There is the guys who did Introversion, I think they had something for building interiors but it was mostly office buildings if I remember correctly.

  8. Amazing work, like always.
    Keep going.

  9. Pillars are a very classic way of extending the level of a city over uneven terrain. This method is still very much in use today in modern cities. Of course whole underground communities can spring into existence in such places; people who cannot afford to live on the surface or other rejects from society such as criminals and other outcasts.

    I have always been fascinated by cities spread across multiple levels or terraces. Those I have visited have always been rather interesting to travel about; especially the older ones that grew more organically over time rather than in a planned fashion.

  10. On the whole digging flat terrain versus building things up to flat floors, there are tons of reasons to do one or the other, and I'd think it boils down to least effort for the group.

    In Dwarf Fortress for example, new forts are started by digging into a suitable place, that's (a) easy to farm underground (b) easily defensible. If a fort does not do this, they generally die. The effort and time required to dig out a fort is a lot less than is required to build a fort from clear-mining. However, once a fort has it's basic needs down, building architecture is the most efficient way to expand.

    If there are farms and an abundance of easily-accessible wood, but more realistic and slow mining, a civilization would probably rely on wooden architecture close to (presumably flat) farms. You don't see giant stone pillars until you get truly rich and secure civilizations that like to build castles, and then only when they are expanding already existing architecture.