Mayor May Not Survive: Towns

By Adam Smith on November 16th, 2011 at 1:49 pm.

The dungeons are full of gowns

I’ve been meaning to write about Towns for a while and since it fits neatly with my thoughts about ‘living’ game worlds, this seems as good a time as any. In its isometric countryside, the player takes the role of a town mayor, building up from a patch of wilderness and attracting newcomers with housing and entertainment. However, your settlement sits atop an ‘orrible dungeon so among the folks you’ll need to attract are heroes, who will need incentives to quest into the depths and fancy equipment if they are to delve deep. Majesty meets Dwarf Fortress? Play now or journey downtown for more details.

Yes, it’s another game at an early stage of development but I find this one particularly intriguing. Let me namecheck something else it reminds me of: Din’s Curse. Perhaps because there’s the potential for all manner of towns that are only linked by their preposterous positioning on top of a hole in the ground that happens to be filled with evil. Development seems fairly rapid and I’ve seen plenty of progress since I started following it a few weeks ago.

You can download the latest public build now and see if it seems like something worth devoting an eye to. This version, 0.35, will be the last trial version. As I understand, from here on in only those who preorder will receive new versions.

Hopefully the game won’t fall foul of feature creep. The basics are sound and if future updates concentrate on passing heroes, and the systems for crafting and selling them equipment, there will be a perfectly functional simulation to tinker around with. It’s already possible to craft (and possibly find) magic items of a Diabloesque nature. It’s crucial to remember though, you’ll be handing all your fancy bits and pieces to braver men. You’re the major, not an adventurer. You’re probably rotund and further weighed down by symbols of office.

In a lovely touch, the developers have even answered the question as to why the town has been built just where it is.

Why is there a dungeon right where they decide to build their settlement, isn’t it kind of counter-intuitive of them to do so?

Well, there was this king… oh, shut up, it’s fun!

And it is already fun with the potential to become much more involving. Two long tutorial videos follow that will be a great aid to anyone wanting to play. The UI isn’t terrible by any means but it can take a while to learn. The audio recording isn’t the best so you might need to PUMP UP THE VOLUME. You might also want to boost your bass for the heavy duty explosions.

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61 Comments »

  1. pakoito says:

    Spanish soft ahoy!

  2. fauxC says:

    This looks right up my street.

    Kinda sorta Recettear without the tiresome dungeoneering (also without charming amusing narrative, but we can’t have everything, eh?)

    Capitalism, ho!

  3. Hoaxfish says:

    Should’ve been an FPS

  4. Gnoupi says:

    You got me at “Majesty meets Dwarf Fortress?”.

  5. ReV_VAdAUL says:

    This seems quite similar to Hinterland, a fun if limited game. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hinterland_%28video_game%29

    Will probably check Towns out in the near future.

    • BurningPet says:

      Yes and no. In towns the player will never have direct control over anyone, citizens nor adventurers.

      While most adventurers will be vital to your Town, some of them may also be… unwelcome. imagine being the mayor of balmora having to deal with you, me, and almost any other player who broke in to houses, stole everything they saw and got out.
      or even just dealing with an adventurer who has a good personality trait that could barter down the dim witted blacksmith and get away with top quality weapons for low prices.

      It has been ages since i played Hinterland so my comparison may be really wrong, but if i recall correctly, we are aiming for a much complex economic system and city simulation.

      Thank you very much for the vote of confidence Adam!

    • ReV_VAdAUL says:

      Yeah on reflection quite similar is putting it too strongly. There are overlaps though, very best of luck with your project, it is a very interesting one.

  6. hemmingjay says:

    It’s coming along as a great game. To be fair it will never have the depth of Dwarf Fortress(what could?) but the controls are a joy to use and the simplicity allows more gameplay without the dozen hours of learning curve.

    The dev team is very welcoming and responsive as well. I hope the progress continues at this pace!

  7. Sardokaur says:

    The game seems interesting, but i really hate video tutorials.

  8. caddyB says:

    Dwarf Fortress? With proper graphics? Where do I sign up?

    • utharda says:

      I dunno, why i play dwarf fortress I can see my little dorfy men running around screaming when they get covered in mag…

      time to take my pills.

      bye.

    • steviesteveo says:

      @ utharda

      You get used to it. I…I don’t even see the code. All I see is blonde, brunette, red-head

  9. Vexing Vision says:

    It does sound very intriguing, and I will be absolutely willing to spend some real, hard cash on it once it’s out of alpha/beta/whatever.

  10. MistyMike says:

    But why is it called Towns when you are building just one town a time?

  11. kimadactyl says:

    This had me till here in the FAQ:

    “Entice hero units to form groups and take down larger bosses together, have hot food and a bard playing for them in the tavern, stock up on large bussomed ladies in the brothel for them to come back to, and pray that they are entertained enough to stick around and defend your little village when a stray dire-wolf comes up from the depths…”

    Always amazed when games do so many things innovatively and well but stumble when it comes to basic things like misogyny. Fine, have sex workers. But without some kind of basic equality (the FAQ only mentions male heroes and female sex workers) this isn’t for me, sorry.

    • RogB says:

      reply removed.

    • theblazeuk says:

      I suppose if you’re talking about entirely fantastical D&D settings you can insist on the entirely fantastical retrospective projection of sexual equality to feudal situations.

    • NathanH says:

      theblazeuk, I guess the key point is that in a setting like this you can have the equality if you want to, or have the inequality in the “standard” fashion if you want to, or evenhave the inequality in the “opposite” fashion if you want to. It oughtn’t be something to get worked up about one way or the other, really.

    • hemmingjay says:

      funny how you have an opinion without playing it. If you did play it, or even watch one of the “let’s play” videos you would know that you can have female heroes. People are so quick to hate or complain these days that it is making gaming a lot less fun.

    • Apples says:

      Can you have male prostitutes, then? Otherwise what’s going to entertain the lady adventurers, eh? (Although I hope the male ones wouldn’t be ‘full bussomed’)

    • pakoito says:

      Prostitution is demeaning so women do not seek male prostitutes. Instead, they pick up men wherever because they can whenever they feel like. Hence no male whoring.

      True Story.

    • Rich says:

      pakoito lives in a simple, black and white, world. I envy him.

    • BurningPet says:

      @kimadactyl – The game already sees no difference between females and males regarding their skills or job preferences.

      the line you were offended by was taken out of the FAQ after consideration if such feature really worth its consequences.

      but, we have to agree that this is a popular “feature” that is seen in many RPG’s and therefor very thematically fitting, however, it is one we are happy to do without.

    • Nidokoenig says:

      So, to be clear, are you saying it is possible to have male prostitutes?
      Also, will some heroes prefer or require same sex prostitutes? Obviously this can become hugely overcomplicated if you let it run away with you, but simply having an other/same/both/none gender preference assigned randomly to each character, maybe with percentages defined in a config file that people can adjust to suit them, would work well enough.

    • Torgen says:

      No, he’s saying that they’re taking the brothels out of the game completely, to avoid reactions such as this.

    • kimadactyl says:

      @everyone:

      That’s great. My objections were:

      a) All adventurers are implicitly male
      b) Soley female sex workers with big tits are essentially portrayed as a tradeable commodity.

      If (a) is inaccurate and just based on unfortunate wording, and (b) is under review, great :) I have no problem with anything if it’s done even handedly (it’s a cliche, but some of my best friends are sex workers). Think it was just unfortunate pronoun use which made me jump to conclusions about the kind of game it was!

      I thank you good sir and will most likely play/buy your game in full knowledge of the facts :)

  12. Blackcompany says:

    Mayor may not survive…took me a while, this time.
    .
    But its a really city pun all the same.

  13. KieranFurie says:

    Lost me at JRE sadly

    • BurningPet says:

      May i ask why?

      would it help to say that we tested the game with hundreds of citizens and haven’t lost a single Frame per second?

    • li says:

      For me almost too, because it looked like i had to download and install jre 6uSomething.. but well, i have jre 6uSomething-1, not good? After some thinking and looking at the page carefully, i understood it’s just a warning, which will display even if your computer is apt; this download page would profit some redesigning if i might.

  14. Mozai says:

    Could this be “Baby’s first Dwarf Fortress” ?
    Oh, hey, written in Java, so it will work on Macintosh and Linux. I’m on board.

  15. Nallen says:

    “Mayor May Not Survive”

    YOU WERE THE CHOSEN ONE! YOU WERE TO BRING BALANCE TO THE PUNS!

  16. sokkur says:

    Looking forward to this.

  17. li says:

    Just launched the game and looked at the landscape quickly, looks like a DF clone with the 7-staff team (following guitar intro) that’s all on purpose, isn’t it?
    DF might be the best game ever (that’s my opinion after 50 hours play probably), but is sadly much too difficult to play if your brain is not in top condition; I’m also following GC for a while, which looks promising but development’s stuck.

    So I do have a question: is Towns worth investing time to learn if you’re crazy about having your tiny guys running around in a complex environment with game rules that allow emergent behaviors ? (I’ll try anyway, just counting on you to help me allocate my time wisely.)

  18. Torgen says:

    You’ve won my heart with the intro music and the little man in 1830s dress fishing, but I’m hopelessly stuck right out of the gate. Tutorial says to build a carpentry, but there is no build option on the side menu. I can tell the little folks to harvest fruit and chop trees, but have no way to build anything.

    • BurningPet says:

      Thanks for the kind words!
      Before you can build anything, you will need to place log walls (Items & place -> Utils -> Walls -> Log walls -> designate an area) that are created from chopped wood. after this you will need to designate the carpentry zone by clicking zones -> carpentry, note that you will need at least 4 corners of walls enclosing the zone. after you have designated a zone, click Items and Place -> Utils -> Carpenter Bench and place it somewhere in the carpenter zone. with this method you build everything. you can see the requirements of each item via the hover pop up text.

      The option called Items is for creating items without designating specific location. it is primary used as a method to create weapons and various food items while doing other things (like monitoring your soldiers in the 6th level)

    • Torgen says:

      The Open World option has the ability to make buildings, etc. but all I could do is chop trees, harvest fruit and slaughter animals. I couldn’t make a mine, using “dig” on stone or coal did nothing but make a hole. I made a carpentry bench, but it had a red X over it, and I couldn’t designate zones.

      I strongly suggest that you include “make a wooden palisade to establish a safe area before you can make anything” be inserted in the “F1″ instructions. I fear you’re losing a lot of people who can’t make anything work, have no way to find out how, and write the game off. It’s almost impossible to get those people back.

      EDIT: I selected Build Wooden Wall, but it gave me one vertical log with a red X on it. I’ll try again.

    • BurningPet says:

      You are using the Items command, instead of the Items and utils.

      i have created a first steps tutorial here:
      http://www.townsgame.com/forums/viewtopic.php?f=8&t=59

      yes. you are correct, we were too costumed to our own workings that we somehow missed the fact that newcomers doesn’t see the game as we do.

      We are already working on a new graphical UI in the next release which will be much more simple to use, plus in game tips and tutorials.

      This is what the Ui will look like for the next release (well, this a small interactive example of it)
      http://dl.dropbox.com/u/21309241/TownsInteractive.swf

    • phanatic62 says:

      @BurningPet

      I didn’t get it when I was trying to figure everything out on my own, but after watching your videos I got it perfectly fine. It is confusing that some building are “pre-built” while others need to be constructed, but I thought it was clear that you are in the middle of switching over to having to fully construct all of the buildings. So it’s not that confusing for everyone :-)

      I put my thoughts on the game in a separate post.

    • Torgen says:

      @BurningPet, thank you! I figured out how to make the carpenter’s shop and the mason’s shop, but how do I make stone? My poor villagers stop due to starving while I figure out how to get stone. I had no idea we’d be burrowing like dwarfs, so I suppose like DF stone is a byproduct of mining? The “ctrl to make walls transparent” is a very welcome hint.

    • phanatic62 says:

      @ Torgen

      Click on fruit bearing trees (apples and pears) and tell them to harvest as frequently as you can. I had problems with starvation too until i realized that they are an unlimited source of food (presumably to be changed in a future version, I would think). As for stone, dig a hole into stone, build a ladder, and then drop down a level (I used the mouse scroll) and then tell your peeps to mine the new area. The hole + ladder is also how you get down to the dungeons that just *happen* to be right below your city ;-)

    • Torgen says:

      Darn it, 4th time in a row my people have starved. If you don’t find coal AND Iron right off, it’s a race to get the forge to produce an oven in time to get the kitchen functional. Stupid people won’t eat the apples and pears, they demand that they be cooked. This last time, I finally found iron, but right as I was about to make the kitchen table to make pies, everyone starved.

      EDIT: I just figured out that kitchen != bakery
      /facepalm

    • BurningPet says:

      Hmm, this is strange, unless you tempered with the data files, apples and pears should be edible at any stage. however, you will have to manually harvest them at the moment. (will be changed once a proper and more in depth nutrition system is implemented.)

    • Torgen says:

      I think perhaps they won’t eat them if they aren’t in a stockpile? That seems to be what was happening.

    • pertusaria says:

      I think I’m stuck at a similar stage – I keep starting the tutorial but I don’t seem to get the Orders button on the right hand side of the screen. I can tell them to milk cows and chop a tree down to make wood, but if I try to do anything with the chopped wood the only option I get (right click on the wood) is “destroy wood”, which does what it says.

      From having a peek at the tutorial videos and the step-by-step, I can tell this isn’t how to do it, but I can’t find commands that let me do it right. In case this is a genuine bug and not stupidity, this is on a Windows 7 machine.

      I will have another go soon, think I may just not be giving it enough concentration. Definitely not giving up easily – this looks like fun.

    • Torgen says:

      @pertusaria, ignore the tutorial and just start a new open world game. Use the “baby steps guide” the dev posted. Also, remember that you have to build the bakery like you do the carpenter and mason. It’s isn’t a pre-fab like the forge and kitchen. You can till a 3×3 plot of land, then make it a wheat farm, and make a mill to turn the wheat into flour. Then you can feed your settlers bread and fruit pies (by harvesting fruit.)

      You can also make pig farms, tell your villagers to kill the pigs, and make pork pies.

  19. Chiller says:

    So you’re basically the mayor of Tristram?

  20. phanatic62 says:

    I thought this was quite fun, although it’s obvious enough that it’s still a work in progress.

    1) Are mine shafts supposed to do anything? I know they seem to be a hold-over from the “pre-constructed” building idea, but they don’t seem to do anything.

    2) It seems like soldiers need to return for health more frequently. I had one guy return when he only had a couple of HP left (3, i think) and spiders followed him back up and killed him while he was in the medical area (which I think was functioning, just not fast enough). Maybe he had started back with more health, but was getting beat up along the way? I do know that since he entered the hospital area he stopped defending himself and that’s why he got killed. Perhaps a bit of code telling soldiers to stop an activity and defend themselves if they get attacked?

    3) Is there a way to rebuild a square of land that you accidentally dug up? This would also be useful to block off sections of dungeon, or *if* you flooded your mine with water. Not that I would do that of course…

    4) How do you pick up the various “-ites”? I killed a ton of spiders but I couldn’t figure out how to pick up what they were dropping.

    5) Is having an opening to a dungeon (as it in right now, a ladder in a hole) always going to let spiders and other baddies climb up a level? I don’t think you should make this game TOO much like Dwarf Fortress, but it would be nice to be able to block off a lower level so that you can safely let your citizens down to mine dungeon areas after you have cleared them.

    Towns reminds me of the parts of the Anno series (1602 A.D., Dawn of Discovery for North Americans) that I really like mixed with a dash of DF. I think it looks like a ton of fun! Looking at your site I didn’t see the details on what you get for pre-ordering, however. Do you yet know how that will work?

    • BurningPet says:

      Hey, glad you like it so far.

      1) Mine shaft are a method to retrieve materials without mining. they must be built on either coal, iron and copper.

      2) yes, this is an issue which will be solved once we put in doors and gates (actually, they are already in). hospitals would have health potion that herbalists would craft from certain herbs, so healing could be quicker.

      3) This can be achieved by walls, also, in the next release there will be an option for a quickly built dirt wall that will address this issue exactly.

      4) you will need to make a stockpile that accepts them. beware though, most of the times i had my towns demolished was due to trying to get ite’s from goblins and other deep level monsters.

      5) not only that, but once in a while, and in the future with relations to some player actions, sieges take place, an event that sees hordes of monsters coming from the depths to take over your town.
      however, when the doors would be in, you will see that the entire dynamics are changed. right now you simply dont have the option to wall your self in, which cause all of those problems.

      Pre ordering grant you early access to all future builds as well as a 50% discount.

      Thank you for your kind words!

  21. kikito says:

    I don’t play anything with farms or villes.

  22. Ysellian says:

    Funny I’m the only person who got a “settlers 2″ vibe from this. Only with much more depth, given that I absolutely adore settlers 2 I’ll be keeping an eye on this.

  23. Avenger says:

    Interesting, I think the choice of minecraft reminding desktop wallpaper was not by chance?
    I like isometric games of this genre mix. I think I will look into it.

    It really needs to look a bit prettier though…

  24. Belsameth says:

    This looks far too interesting.
    Going to give this a spin and hope I can look past the graphics (Yes, I’m shallow like that) and going to order it either way, if even to support this amazing idea :)

  25. Zarunil says:

    Added this to my list of indie games to watch!

  26. Torgen says:

    Just reporting back to say that I drowned every monster in (under) the world. I was trying to tunnel under the river to get to the only source of iron on the other side (not having sussed how to build a bridge yet) and hit a hidden pocket of water. My villager drowned, and filled the spider caverns with water, snuffing all the bugs.

    Later, as I tunneled deeper, I found every level of the dungeon flooded to the ceilings. Apparently there was access from the top floor of caves down to the lower levels, and every nasty in the world suffered a watery death.

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