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Procedural building toy Townscaper will let you construct lovely seaside villages

This whimsical little seaside town builder is another project by Oskar Stålberg whose tiny planet and city builder projects RPS have marveled at in the past. Unlike his prior browser-based experiments, Townscaper is being treated to some extra polish and plans for a paid release. It’s been on my mental wishlist since before it had a name, but now there’s a handy page on the Steam store to help me not forget. Check out the trailer below for some extremely satisfying pips and pops as the rainbow cities spring from the sea.

Townscaper is more of a toy than a game, perhaps, but it’s lovely to look at. You’ll click to add or subtract cube-ish chunks from your creation, which the procedural building system will turn into coherent structures. Carve a hole through the center of a building, voila arches. Build two giant towers beside one another, zam there’s some cute wash lines connecting them. Make an enclosed ring of buildings with nothing at the center and boy howdy that’s now a lovely public garden.

Importantly though, Stålberg says Townscaper has “no goal. No real gameplay. Just plenty of building and plenty of beauty. That’s it.”

Stålberg has been sharing work-in-progress gifs of Townscaper for months now, routinely adding new procedural bits like stairs and wash lines and beaches to give extra flair to each creation. There’s more work yet, it seems, as Townscaper has been listed as a Steam Early Access project. Stålberg has said that a photo mode is one possible addition. Over on the Steam page, he says “I want to see how people interact with Townscaper to help me figure out what direction to take it and what features to add.”

As a person who only plays The Sims 4 by building houses, Townscaper is right up my alley. The tightly-packed and convoluted mazes of stairs, towers, and plazas remind me of Windfall Island from The Legend Of Zelda: The Wind Waker. I’ve always loved the style, primarily because it doesn’t exist where I’m from. I’ll be quite jazzed to play around, pushing the little system’s rules to make neater and odder creations.

Townscaper lists June as a launch month for its Early Access version on Steam. Stålberg estimated pricing it around €5/$6.

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Lauren Morton

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