One of my favorite video games as a child was Populous: The Beginning. It was a mystical RTS set in a solar system of village combat where each map was a spherical planet. The terrain was dynamic, the combat was hectic, there was an element of discovery and wonder to the whole thing. Unfortunately the camera controls are archaic as it was created before these things became commonplace. The Shaman was overpowered and reduced even large armies to dust in seconds, as someone who always liked the unit combat, this bothered me.
One of the best mechanics I liked was that you needed a unit to train another type of unit. You couldn't just throw 100 wood at a barracks and get an archer. Also, besides a few specific maps, building resources came relatively easy. I set out to create a village builder that uses this major mechanic:
"Units are your main resource"
It's important in video game design that the main focus guides all major design decisions. In order to hammer this in, I cut the idea of resource stockpiles because I believe stockpiles unintentionally make a city-building game into a stockpile-managing game.
The second mechanic I wanted was to have your architecture and building style change based on your environmental conditions. So that every play-through would be new and interesting. I didn't think having ridged "cultures" with their own appearance was the right way to go. I wanted something more dynamic, something that changed based on your needs.
I have always been fascinated with ancient architecture variety and I knew I wanted to make it a part of this game. This is an early sketch and the building system works differently now but the idea of variety based on resources remains the same.
This picture has different combinations of three resources: mud (circles), wood (lines) and stone (squares) and all the possible combinations. Currently stone is cut from the game to simplify the process.
So now the backbone of the game is: people are your main resource, and your environment affects your technology. Every decision has to be put through those lenses.
A few other design decisions have been made early on. First, there will be no game saving and loading. I find this rogue-like influence will have a positive effect to gameplay making each session feel a bit more intense as you know you may lose it all. Second, the world will be procedurally generated to increase replay-ability and add some spice into each play-through. That's it really!
I'll try to keep these posts short and specific, so that's basically where I started!
I create, design and develop video games I'm interested in playing.
The Fire System
Melee and Ranged Units
Weather and "Seasons"
Ladders and Elevation
Animating 2D units in a 3D world
Setting the Theme
Setting the Focus