Townscaper: Build a beautiful town
July 15, 2020 6:15 PM   Subscribe

"All you do is place coloured blocks, then Townscaper translates them into apartments, steps, terraces, gardens, towers, and so on based on the shapes they form with other nearby blocks, then fill the whole place with lovely little decorative details." (Rock Paper Shotgun review) (Youtube Trailer)(Steam early access)
posted by rebent (27 comments total) 40 users marked this as a favorite
 
I started playing with this the other day. Fun, relaxing little toy.
posted by Wretch729 at 6:19 PM on July 15


I will endorse this. Trying to figure out how the algorithm decides what gets built is half the fun.

The only thing it needs is tiny, cute lil' people with banners and spears and fishing poles and floppy hats. But hey, early access.
posted by selfnoise at 6:20 PM on July 15 [2 favorites]


Ha! selfnoise, is this a coincidence or are you ironically describing Stålberg's previous game, Bad North?

Great little RTS game, lovely design but it gets so frantic my carpal tunnel started acting up :-(
posted by Tom-B at 6:32 PM on July 15 [1 favorite]


My wife loves sim games and is nearly done with playing the mess out of Project Highrise (if anyone has suggestions for similar games, I'm all ears, she doesn't play a lot of games but she really likes the stuff like sim tower, sim city etc).

A friend posted a video of this game, and i figured she might like it, and she realized our 5 year old would LOVE it, and sure enough, he sat there enamored clicking and making his city (including houses for mommie, and daddie, and brother)

Definitely a neat experience and hopefully something that will keep getting fun new stuff added to it.
posted by Twain Device at 6:34 PM on July 15 [1 favorite]


Huh, the first thing I thought when I saw the buildings over water was "That looks like the old town of Stockholm", and then it turns out the creator is Swedish.

It's pretty and neat, I'm sure I'll check back when there's some more actual gameplay or when he figures out where to take it. I bet anyone who makes city maps for tabletop RPGs could use this, though.
posted by Joakim Ziegler at 6:44 PM on July 15 [1 favorite]


Joakim, it looks like some RPG folks thought the same thing! The City of Seegrad
posted by rebent at 6:46 PM on July 15 [3 favorites]


I bought it the day it was available. Hopefully they add more terrain options, like, uh, terrain. Honestly I don't care if it never has any actual "game", it's wonderful as just an art toy.
posted by Mr.Encyclopedia at 7:07 PM on July 15


I want to live there; I bet it's nice. Quiet, nice breezes, ocean noises, funky apartments and sensible politicians with serious demeanors.
posted by aramaic at 7:31 PM on July 15 [1 favorite]


I have been watching Oskar Stålberg work on this (through twitter) for what feels like forever, it's been a joy to watch it grow and develop. I haven't tried it yet but I'm glad it exists.
posted by Two unicycles and some duct tape at 7:49 PM on July 15 [1 favorite]


I love this, it's Tsar Peter the Great Simulator 2020
posted by Fiasco da Gama at 7:52 PM on July 15 [2 favorites]


I will endorse this. Trying to figure out how the algorithm decides what gets built is half the fun.

I agree. You make something appear by random placing, like stairs, then spend time trying to recreate stairs and finally end up with a building full of stairs just because you can.

There are some nice details that appear. I placed a block at the base of a taller building, with the irregular grid turning into a small patio mostly surrounded by walls. The algorithm added a door, a window, a chair to look at the sea view, and a pair of boots sitting on the windowsill. It all looked very cosy.
posted by antiwiggle at 1:13 AM on July 16 [1 favorite]


Highly recommend this. First off it's a tiny download and runs like a dream even on this 10 year old PC. Second, it's absolutely worth the price of admission. I could play with it for hours.

Something that got me was the irregular grid it generates. I'm a bit obsessed with symmetry and grids and in most city games I play I inevitably wind up making regular patterns. I'll admit at first Townscaper was a bit triggering on that front but it also freed me to experiment with different designs. Though I still try to spot patterns and symmetry when I can. Anyway, if you like games that let you get creative this is a fine choice.
posted by Acey at 2:53 AM on July 16


This looks super nifty. I'm going to keep an eye on it for sure.

My wife loves sim games and is nearly done with playing the mess out of Project Highrise (if anyone has suggestions for similar games, I'm all ears, she doesn't play a lot of games but she really likes the stuff like sim tower, sim city etc).

Have you guys tried Islanders?
posted by Fleebnork at 5:54 AM on July 16


Alas, it seems to be pc only.
posted by signal at 6:41 AM on July 16


oh, the grid. Playing this game makes me feel like I'm staring at an inside-out magic eye. It makes me feel like I'm playing the game through a terrible cell phone camera. It took me a while to figure out why my eyes were straining so much, and I came to the conclusion that house corners don't work like that. Seriously. My eyes have been trained for SO long to see 90* angles and cubes. And house ends in particular are perpendicular.

My husband, who struggles with spacial reasoning and imaging shapes in his head, has no problem whatsoever playing this game, but for me it's close to a serious inconvenience!

Also - has anyone figured out any advanced controls for placing blocks quickly? Or a code for a map that has been entirely paved over?
posted by rebent at 6:59 AM on July 16


Like Fleebnork, I was going to recommend Islanders, especially for Mac users. (Though it's not supported for Catalina, ironically!)
posted by BrashTech at 7:27 AM on July 16


Also - has anyone figured out any advanced controls for placing blocks quickly? Or a code for a map that has been entirely paved over?

Check today's update in the Steam page for the game, the developer is working on a solution for that.
posted by sukeban at 9:28 AM on July 16


I just realized what this game/toy needs to really take it over the top -- Sarah & Duck tie-ins.

Think about it. Put Moon in there somewhere, doing a bit of painting. Scarf Lady doing something in a garden. The Ribbon Sisters. Maybe a bus driving slowly down a ramp into the sea.

It would be FUCKING PERFECT OMG! Ahhhhhh!!
posted by aramaic at 9:29 AM on July 16 [5 favorites]


Whoops! Got excited and bought this, only to discover that it's only for Windows so far!
posted by redsparkler at 12:11 PM on July 16


Sarah & Duck tie-ins.

Yes! That is absolutely the case!
There should be some frolicking sea cows!

I am enjoying the non grid grid. I like that it seems to be in place to force you away from building uh... boring things?
That's not quite what I mean.
I wanted to build a long bridge with a gatehouse on it as the entrance to my town, but the grid system had other ideas. It meant that I couldn't have a long straight bit. It went curvy. That constraint, though artificial, made it feel realer than if I could just build what I had planned.
posted by Just this guy, y'know at 4:01 PM on July 16


bought this, only to discover that it's only for Windows so far!

Remember that Steam has a generous refund policy, if you want.
posted by aramaic at 4:08 PM on July 16


This is just what I need right now. So soothing...
posted by ninazer0 at 5:48 PM on July 16


It's interesting how easy it is to develop a narrative with such straightforward tools. A mishmash of tightly winding streets of different colours become the poor quarters near the docks.

The midsize buildings, all one colour with lot's of walkways and courtyards. The middle classes.
They're spacious and nice, but... samey.

Then beyond that bigger buildings again with spires, and flourishes. The very rich.
posted by Just this guy, y'know at 6:43 PM on July 16 [1 favorite]


It only officially runs on a Windows. However, it works perfectly¹ on Linux if your enable SteamPlay/Proton.



¹I had to tweak one setting² to make it work on my ancient Thinkpad X220, but after that it works flawlessly.

²The setting was to force Proton to use Wine Direct3D because there is no Vulkan support for the i915 chipset

posted by thedward at 12:46 AM on July 17


Ooh! I figured out how to get little loading hooks on my buildings. now all my docks can get little loading hooks!
posted by Just this guy, y'know at 11:13 AM on July 17


It looks like that town needs a teenage witch running a delivery service...
posted by Harald74 at 1:40 PM on July 18 [1 favorite]


I'm loving this. I'm not a gamer, but this one tickles my fancy.
posted by kathrynm at 2:45 PM on July 19


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