City Size Discussion

Public discussion of the Province: Cyrodiil project.
sasquatch
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City Size Discussion

Postby sasquatch » 27 Oct 2014, 22:19

All TES iii mods are, IMO, in crisis. There are not enough active modders. Combining SHOTN and P:C under one umbrella even if in name only will raise interest and increase accessibility. I would merge assets, download page, youtube account ect. More content under one name is a good thing even if SHOTN and P:C are managed independently.
Now is a good time to set common goals and standards that are shared across projects. Both mods are in early stage of dev. My suggestion is to reduce total workload by 50%. Change needed might be considered brutal but it would yield easy progress and far more reasonable goals.

Divide Anvil and Karthwasten by half or thirds and reuse interiors in other cities. Drastically reduce city size. The last three Elderscrolls games have reasonable cities sizes. Bethesda made smart exterior design choices to make cities feel huge, but they have on average around 20 interiors. A city this size can be full of content with 10 faction quests and 5-8 misc quests. At 100 interiors, two or three times that are needed. There is also a sweet spot for size and design. We could maximize the impressiveness of city exteriors without the excessive number of interiors with better planning. In addition to inter-province standards on city size, questing and content per city need to be decided and strictly adhered to in order to prevent runaway development. Content per city and city size restrictions will reduce workload and force smarter design choices yielding more interesting cities that feel larger but are more condensed and richer in content.

Couple standards I recommend:
City Size:
Large
50 int capital
30 int city
15 int town
10 int village (max)

Conservative
30-40 int capital
20 int city
10 int town
5-8 int village

Content Per City (CPC):
Capital (30-50)
10 faction quests
5 misc quest
3 main quest
3 undistributed

City (20-30)
5 faction quests
2 main quests
5 misc quests

Town (10-15)
3 misc quest
1 undistributed

Village (5-10)
1-2 misc quest

Settlements should not be planned by themselves but as vessels for content. If a city is too large, interior and questing will be overwhelming. If city is too large relative to amount of content the player will be underwhelmed. Above figures (#-#) represent large vs conservative standards for city size NOT a min max. IMO a conservative approach is best. Once city size is determined a rough standard for NPC should also be determined. Working within these restrictions will improve design choices, reduce workload, and result in fuller more rewarding mod.

Under "conservative" plan Karthwasten interiors would be divided into 2.5 or three complete cities and exterior work would be transferred as much as possible into new areas. Anvil would be cut in half or thirds and is a fat simple change since interiors have not yet been made. This is the most brutal part of the above plan, but a necessary step to ensuring the survival and success of both SHOTN and P:C.
Last edited by sasquatch on 27 Oct 2014, 22:48, edited 1 time in total.

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Yeti
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Re: Skyrim and Cyrodiil

Postby Yeti » 27 Oct 2014, 22:34

Honestly, I agree with a lot of what you say Sasquatch (though I would probably skew a bit higher with the number of interiors for truly large city). Making cities large to the point of being unmanageable can have negative consequences for a project when there isn't enough manpower to achieve the exterior modder's original vision. If a professional game company like Bethesda has to scale its city sizes down, then we probably are biting off more than we can chew as hobby projects.

With that said, discussing settlement scale should receive its own thread at both project forums. The the authoritative tone you are taking here also isn't helping to keep the discussion healthy. Its generally not a good idea to broach topics in a confrontational manner. Often, it will turn people off ideas that are otherwise reasonable.

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Re: Skyrim and Cyrodiil

Postby Worsas » 28 Oct 2014, 12:38

Sasquatsch, your numbers would mean heavy cutdowns on basically finished cities like Karthwasten and Stirk. And I'm not sure if our next releases with accordingly decreased cities would really blow anyones socks off, after all that waittime. In case of SHOTN all further settlements up to Haafingar will be much smaller so things will go more fluent anyway from the next release on (interiors 98% done, only caves and a mostly finished manor left).

You say that someone visiting a large city with thin distribution of story and quests will be underwhelmed. I think people will be rather impressed, no matter how many quests they get to play, as you don't get this scale and this amount of content, that only exists for immersion, anywhere else. But I'm probably only bringing up a point of the same discussion that was led over Almalexia. A town with 30 interiors can probably still show a lot of surplus detail and stuff, if done right.

But keep in mind that the amount of content that exists merely for immersion is one of the major things that made Morrowind special at its time. It was really so fascinating getting lost in Balmora when I visited it the first time many years ago and stepping into houses that had no immediate purpose for me, only inhabitants that lived there for themselves. Nowadays it is harder to reach that effect, but towns of the size of Karthwasten or Stirk still achieve it.

Another argument that I once brought up myself but that would be worth checking again, is that stuff about rectangular and flat layouts opposed to more organic cities with several heightlevels. I think that what people consider inventive and interesting becomes standard and boring, if it ends up to be the only thing that is ever done. Rectangular and flat designs have an own very different charm to them, that I think, is sometimes just falsely denied. I think that organic layouts are desirable, though, but I'd hate some kind of dictature on organic layouts and several heightlevels in a town. A town should be allowed to be laid out in a flat or rectangular way, if we have a reason to do so.

What I would rather do than using your above list, would be generally taking close orientation on town dimensions at TR for both projects, which wouldn't mean such a heavy cutdown at all. Let it be 80 instead of 100 interiors for karthwasten (as it is still the biggest city of a hold almost the size of vvardenfell), that could get moved to Dragonstar right away and 40-50 interiors on Stirk with the surplus ones moved to Anvil. I have seen a triangular quarter within Anvil that could get removed without destroying the layout and you would have cut off a lot of the workload aswell. I would rather go that way than putting them all to Beth-dimensions. I don't know how Praedator or Scamp would feel about it, though.

I think it would be great to sit on a round table with TR and having as much exchange between all projects as possible with useful input in both directions, if only to shift us more into visibility.

Edit: Maybe this post should be moved to a separate thread together with Sasquatschs proposition.

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Infragris
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Re: Skyrim and Cyrodiil

Postby Infragris » 28 Oct 2014, 12:45

Keep in mind that Vvardenfell is one of the most provincial backwaters in all of Tamriel, while Cyrodiil is one of the most urbanized and heavely populated areas, meaning that our cities will naturally be a lot larger than those of the vanillagame. Also keep in mind that we have had this exact same conversation a million times and that it has no direct relevance in this thread.

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Yeti
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Re: City Size Discussion

Postby Yeti » 28 Oct 2014, 17:43

Vvardenfell was also designed to stand as a complete gameworld. In lore, it was designated as a backwater location but that wasn't how Bethesda built it in the Construction Set -at least in the more heavily populated areas. Vivec is absolutely massive and Balmora, Ald'Ruhn and Sadrith Mora are each major towns in their own right.

@Worsas: I have a plan for lowering Karthwasten's interior count to your proposed level that doesn't change the layout much. I will post it at the SHotN forums later.

If Praedator reads this thread, I want him to know I love his work and admire his drive for making large, impressive cities. I wish we could realistically make cities with 100 interiors, but from my experience it simply isn't practical for projects like ours. After all, I want players to appreciate his work in game, and that means makings sure we can interiorize and populate them within a reasonable amount of time.

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Re: City Size Discussion

Postby Worsas » 28 Oct 2014, 19:22

I had another idea today that might help:

How about we say that an exterior modder has to deliver a plugin with a complete shell+northmarker for each house he/she places in the gameworld? Caves, Castles and dungeons would be excluded from this rule, obviously.

That way we'd remove the step of having to look for the exterior file and create a shell accordingly for the interior modder, which usually takes a fair amount of time in itself. I imagine cluttering several interiors one after another happening in a much better flux, if the interior doesn't need to take the step of creating and matching shell in between. Even, if the interior modder wants to do his own touches to the shell, he can do so more quickly with the tiles already being in place.

On top of that the exterior modder would get a much better sense for the impact his work has on the interior section while he adds houses to his claim. I hope that doesn't sound like a punishing measure. But I could really see this as a fair trade, where the exterior modder has to commit himself very much, if he/she wants to put large cities in place. I have no doubt that Praedator would be able to do such a thing anyway, assuming that he will feel able to return to modding someday and agree to do it.

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Re: City Size Discussion

Postby James007 » 28 Oct 2014, 19:36

Why reduce cities? In Oblivion and Skyrim cyties are tiny because xbox and playstation. Imperial City from tesIV is an example.
We (big fans of morrowind and old lore) can wait PC at least until 2040.
Just do not reset the quality.

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Re: City Size Discussion

Postby sasquatch » 28 Oct 2014, 20:01

Much of this city size argument just seems like pissing contest. TR has huge cities so ours must be larger! or something. But depending on your goals, this isn't reasonable if you do some basic math. Comparing city sizes to Morrowind alone is missing the point. Look at Skyrim and Oblivion as well. The city sizes are, with the exception of the Imperial City, as I described and very small compared to what you are going for. What stands out about their work is the depth and quality. What makes this happen is the uniqueness, variety and adequate ratio between city size and CPC (quality content). The Imperial city in Oblivion is large, yes, but notice that is what they prioritized. Bethesda could have carved up all the other cities into multiple districts to make larger cities possible. Yet, the other cities are around 20 interior limit. This IMO does not detract from the quality of the games and is a sign of good planning. The time that would have been spent enlarging cities was put into adding more depth and the ratio between city size and amount of interactive content is correctly balanced as a result.

I would suggest going even further than my above post to reduce workload by determining essential and nonessential city interiors. Most nonessential interiors should not be created until later releases. This is especially important if P:C begins work on Imperial city where 150-200 buildings may be needed. Houses along pathways would be empty and doors nonfunctioning. Some area might be lawless and hostile to add interest. Doing would reduce workload on cities by half again. After the entire mod is done work could begin on filling out nonessential interiors. Workload could be reduced even further, but not without sacrificing the seamless exterior everyone here is set on having. Reflect on what has been completed so far and how long it has taken and consider whether even coming close to a completed province is a reasonable possibility. Not without major changes.

Stirk would be left as an anomaly, but Anvil must be reduced in size. If that is done in addition to prioritizing essential interiors P:C has a chance at finishing the Cyrodiil gameworld and beginning questing within the next couple decades.
Last edited by sasquatch on 28 Oct 2014, 20:07, edited 1 time in total.

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Yeti
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Re: City Size Discussion

Postby Yeti » 28 Oct 2014, 20:01

With all due respect, your post makes very little sense, James007. Alongside their PC releases, Oblivion and Skyrim were released on the Xbox 360 and the PS3 -systems that could easily handle massive cities, as the Assassins Creed games clearly demonstrate. Furthermore, Morrowind was released on the original Xbox, meaning it was also designed with a console port in mind. Bethesda likely made its cities smaller to save time and concentrate manpower elsewhere -not because of system limitations.

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Re: City Size Discussion

Postby Worsas » 28 Oct 2014, 20:28

Much of this city size argument just seems like pissing contest. TR has huge cities so ours must be larger! or something.

For me it is no contest at all, only world design.

Stirk would be left as an anomaly, but Anvil must be reduced in size.

Meh. If we already mess around with our town scales, why not do it right and have them all in proper relation to each other?

This quantity vs quality argument you bring up certainly has a point about it. But in case of a large town, the quantity is part of the quality.

I think my previous suggestion is really worth a consideration on your part. For one it would actually offer a better "production-flow" a bit similar to how splitting work into smaller equal parts makes work in a manufactory so much more efficient. Making a big row of interior shells, having the exterior of the city right availible would only take a fraction of the time all the interior modders need take to put their shells together. Likewise cluttering several interior shells could go much more fluidly without the interruption of having to figure out and construct the shell always in between. Add the template system on top of it, as i proposed it in our internal section and we could maybe populate cities significantly faster than we used to.

With these two things in place, I don't think Anvil still needs to be significantly reduced in size. An operational removal of the triangular quarter I have mentioned without touching the rest, would be a possibility, though.

I'd honestly like to hear Scamp or Praedator or both on this, as they are the people who make our exteriors at the moment.

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Infragris
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Re: City Size Discussion

Postby Infragris » 28 Oct 2014, 21:06

While I can't speak for him, I think Scamp at least will be very much opposed to such a plan. Building a city is in itself already a monumental task: add to that making a full interior shell for every building and it becomes unmanageable. The common interior set can be an absolute mess to work with. Not to mention that most interior workers will prefer to build their own shells anyway.

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Re: City Size Discussion

Postby Worsas » 28 Oct 2014, 21:34

But I think we've got to agree that we need to do something, be it reducing the size of the city or having us a part of the interiorizing work saved. Something needs to be done. And I would rather have latter.

Apart from that I believe that shell creation will mostly be a copypaste-act for 60% of the houses. And I personally don't enjoy the part of the shell creation myself. So I'd grateful for a finished shell. Those people that prefer their own shells can still change the precreated one to their liking and they would run much less into danger of mismatching their shell or misplacing north markers.

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Re: City Size Discussion

Postby Saint_Jiub » 28 Oct 2014, 21:43

To be perfectly honest, we really don't need more than 10-20 unique interiors anyhow for the general houses/shops, as far as tileset and furniture is concerned. As I believe has been proposed before, we could easily build a handful of template interiors and then just have our interior modders focus on cluttering. As long as you don't have two houses with, say, the same copy of Remanada on the same shelf in the same corner, I see no problem.

Regarding quests/NPCs- it's not realistic that everyone is going to have a unique story to tell the player or a quest to give- the citizens of the Empire have their own lives to lead and not everyone is going to be your best friend or tell you their life's story. The bulk of NPC development should be as simple as choosing a name, class, and appearance for them and plopping them down into their given cell- even stats can be determined by choosing one of a handful of templates. We can certainly match Oblivion in terms of unique content, but the additional filler that simply adds to the breadth and scale of the world really shouldn't add that much to our workload if we play it smart.

EDIT: Worsas beat me to it.

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Re: City Size Discussion

Postby sasquatch » 28 Oct 2014, 22:22

It sounds like we are in relative agreement that workload needs to be reduced in some manner. A complete shell would save some time, but not much. Adding northmarkers in advance is a not a good solution. Rotating and cluttered takes most time. If nonessential interiors were one of three cookie cutters, clutter and all, that would save a lot of time. If some of the remaining clutter was simply dragged in from a pallet of precluttered shelves and tables that would also make a huge difference. Again, these cookie cutters would be several nonessential interiors designed from tileset once and reused. All important interiors would still be unique. This is, IMO, still skirting the main issue though. Cities are still too large and have too many interiors. A combination of reducing overall city size, total # of interiors and streamlining workflow is needed. My preference would be an absolute minimum of nonessential interiors or simply having filler buildings be inaccessible to create explorable non-interactive urban environments within larger cities.

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Re: City Size Discussion

Postby Saint_Jiub » 28 Oct 2014, 23:18

As others have explained (over and over), not every city is going to be an Anvil or even a Stirk (which as the only city on a fairly sizable island and westernmost outpost of Imperial civilization, is understandably on the larger side of things. The vast majority of towns and villages will be more on the scale of Brina Cross which I believe will only have something like 15-20 interiors altogether, or even smaller. But I agree with Praedator and others that the county seats should be huge urban centers, reflecting the civilization of the Imperials- we have no deadlines, we aren't making or losing any money, so why not go whole hog and do it right? As I've said before, the biggest thing is attracting fresh blood to the team. We could have cities composed of five buildings each and if we only have two people doing interiors, the project will fail anyhow.

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Infragris
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Re: City Size Discussion

Postby Infragris » 28 Oct 2014, 23:19

Is this really the great bottleneck, though? Interior modders have always been in relative abundance compared to modelers, quest and NPC design, etc. If we factor in templates and cookie cutter designs, this part of the workload is already much reduced. We do not need interior modders sitting on their hands waiting for the rest to catch up, we have enough of that already.

I strongly oppose any notion of filler buildings without interiors: this reduces our environments to pure decor, and goes against the grain of the kind of freeform exploration that is the hallmark of TES games.

Looking at the Anvil overview, there are a couple of places where we can cut or simplify interior work: some of the worker houses/locations that are there from a practical point of view can be cut in the name of conservation of detail, some of the warehouses and poor houses could be joined together in larger, connected buildings (warehouses especially are a bit too numerous), and a couple of things like shrines and shops could be exteriorized as open-air shrines (Kynareth) and market stalls. However, and I can't stress this enough, we cannot make any decisions about this until Praedator shows up. We're not going to start messing with people's claims behind their back.

Other than that, I think the projected scale of future settlements actually looks pretty good. roerichs concept for Sutch here strikes me as a decent indicator of scale, comparable to cities like Gnisis or Suran. Kvatch, our next big city, was always going to be smaller than Anvil due to its geographical restrictions.

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Re: City Size Discussion

Postby sasquatch » 29 Oct 2014, 00:07

Settlements are three times too large and story needs to be more central to planning. My opinion on that is here in full, but the final decision is up to those who remain active on P:C and SHoTN.

Amount of exterior work should be reduced see here: viewtopic.php?f=265&t=1021.

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Infragris
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Re: City Size Discussion

Postby Infragris » 29 Oct 2014, 00:41

That's where we disagree. A believable, breathing world that the player is free to explore should be central. Quests and main story should contribute to the environment, not the other way around.

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Re: City Size Discussion

Postby DMKW » 29 Oct 2014, 01:41

The province of Morrowind is not to scale with that of the official games. TR is to scale with Vvardenfell and it makes sense that SHotN and PC are to scale with TR. As said above, these projects dont have time constraints or budgets. They are labours of love. These mods will probably be refined and built over decades. Whats the rush? Just keep doing what you are doing. You are doing great.

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Yeti
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Re: City Size Discussion

Postby Yeti » 29 Oct 2014, 05:54

Because it's frustrating to work on a project that takes forever to put out a release. I don't want to still be working on The Reach at Skyrim: Home of the Nords in ten years. I want to have something I can point to and say "we built this and a lot people have enjoyed playing it." No project, whether professional or a hobbyist, is better off when just barely inching forward towards achieving short-term goals.

I'm not saying we should do what Sasquatch suggests. I merely think an upper limit of 80 interiors should be set for the major cities at both Province Cyrodiil and SHotN. We need to balance impressive scale with trimming excess material.

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