Salston Heights

The most sought after residential area in town!

Here’s an overdue post about a recent purchase that was a little different to my usual tastes. You know what they say- college is the best time for experimentation! Not that I’ve been to college in nearly ten years. But I’m still hip with the kids. I swear. I never got old before my time. Cities: Skylines is an interesting (and incredibly enjoyable) adventure in city building. It’s also one of the first of its ilk that I’ve embarked upon, but it’s a lot of fun and I appreciate the simpler approach to many of the mechanics found therein. That’s not to say it’s basic and simplistic- as it’s quite complex- especially in the later stages with a much larger city. I just get the feeling it’s not as complex as other city builders.

The very first city I built was a sleepy snowy mountain town. I feel sorry for anyone living there, though. I built a two lane bridge over water to connect the islands, which probably wasn’t the correct thing to build for that particular purpose. It had a cycling lane, too. Now you see why I don’t work in city planning (or anything of the sort).

But no-one drowned! At least no-one I knew of.

I’m particularly fond of how the city grows organically over time. Instead of building various locations for people to live or work in you allocate zones, which, as people need them, will start to grow across the city. So day by day you see new housing, new offices, new shops, and everything in between popping up all over the place. Likewise, everything is tied to the current population size so there’s always something new to unlock. I tend to find that I expand far too aggressively in the earlier stages, though.

So much to do, so much to see.
So much to do, so much to see.

With this particular city I tried to work within a highly stringent boundary, trying to maximise on the returns (and space) of one area before moving onto the next and repeating that as I expanded outwards. I’m finding that a few of the upgrades come a little earlier than needed, too. Especially those for purchasing more land. Or, at least, that’s how it feels to me. I usually don’t have an area fully developed before they’re offering to sell me another. Not that I mind- I would much prefer to have them earlier than I need than later than I want. I also really enjoy the range of locations to build in, with each offering a different climate and ratio of land to water.

It would be interesting to see the thousands of cities people have built in those locations. I’m not too fond of the locations which feature several smaller islands, but it would be really awesome to see how people have connected them together with various forms of transportation. Be it regular bridges or airports.

Just don’t let me build any of the bridges and we’ll be fine.

I’ll admit, Cities: Skylines is an odd one for me. But this year has been all kinds of odd. What with the return of World of Warcraft, the completion of the Final Fantasy XIII trilogy, the weird and wonderful purchases I’ve made, and the rapid release of creative content (be it digital paintings or traditional everything). I’m having a really great time with this title, though. More than I expected I would. So I thought I’d share some of my thoughts regarding it with all of you.

Have a nice week, all!


First Impressions of… Hearthlands

I’m pretty sure that mine near the southern river is haunted.

Hearthlands is a rather quirky city builder with elements of empire management. You start with a rather unassuming plot of land and you’re tasked with creating a sustainable flow of resources, housing your settlers, developing infrastructure, developing an army, and expanding outwards in a world filled with as many as twelve rivals. The creation options are pretty flexible, though. You can toggle various difficulty modifiers on and off to the lengths of creating a low risk sandbox mode.

Most of the difficulty modifiers relate to natural resources, enemy encounters, natural disasters (such as plague outbreaks), and whether special locations are added to the map.

You can also decide how many rivals you want to play with, and, if you do have rivals, you can make them friendly so they won’t ever engage in war with you. Also, quite oddly, though I could just be inexperienced with these types of games, you are given an amount of starting gold. The default amount seems to be 40,000 but can be adjusted to whatever you wish (higher or lower).

While the above sounds somewhat complicated Hearthlands presents most of these concepts in a rather easy to digest format. I’m not entirely sure if many of the features will remain the same as this is Early Access, but, there are few options for each of the settlers you can play as, which allows you to focus on the meat of the game rather than trying to remember everything they’re good at. You can play as Northerners, Southerners, Easterners, or Westerners and they all have different benefits/requirements. Again, at the moment, these are the only options available when playing as one of the settlers. The only exception to this is warfare where all of the units are available to develop.

Not very viable but helps to understand the way(s) to build a settlement.
Not very viable but helps to understand the way(s) to build a settlement.

To be more concise with the above, let’s say one of the settlers can only breed chickens and roosters- these will be the only farming options available when playing as them. However, if they prefer axemen as military units- the other units will still be available to develop if you wish. Likely because some enemies will be less or more effective against certain unit types.

While building your settlement and making it sustainable is the key focus there are other things you’ll be involved with. There are various enemy settlements added to the map(s) by default which will provide a range of encounters. From the simple theft of items from storerooms to engaging you in combat and/or attacking your fortifications. There are also locations you can visit (like mines or graveyards) where enemies will nest and encounters will occur. It doesn’t really look this complicated at first glance but it does have several layers of complexity.

As an Early Access title there’s a lot of content already in the game as well as regular updates coming through.

The later updates (from November 2015 onwards) seem to be focusing on fleshing out the magic system. So I’d expect there to be more options for units and perhaps even units that don’t necessarily favour any of the settlers. As anyone could build the structures with enough time, resources, and money.

I’m having a lot of fun with it at the moment despite spending most of my time in building phases (see the above screenshot). While not an actual feature of the game I like to generate maps and build settlements to see how I can most effectively access resources, generate appeal, and retain the settlers that come to my city. Hopefully this will help when I actually start a game with the intention of playing and winning (if that’s possible).

Have a nice week, all!