A shorter post today. I didn’t implement any big features this week. (Okay, I implemented one big feature.) I did some bug fixing, including an issue that prevented players with older machines from launching the game. I added some information explaining the heatmaps better, including showing the effect of coasts and hills on land value from the start of the game. I also fixed the game balance, which was broken by the recent heatmaps change.

Land near water or on hills is more valuable.
Land near water or on hills is more valuable.

There are three key aspects of New Cities gameplay balance: money, economics, and heatmaps. Money includes loans, taxes, and costs; economics includes the conditions that cause citizens and businesses to enter or leave the city; and heatmaps—well, they’re a bit tricky to balance. I wanted Mitch to be able to play with the balance and give me feedback, so I moved the heatmap tuning constants into a Lua file.

Up until now, the game has been 100% C++ (and GLSL). Setting numerical constants in C++ code is inflexible. I was thinking of putting the constants in JSON or YAML, but someone on Discord mentioned modding, so I decided to check out Lua. It wasn’t hard to integrate the language, and by the time I had a system to load constants from Lua, I was already thinking about systems that would enable modding. Though we can assign no definitive dates, modding is now a planned feature.

A sample of the Lua code
A sample of the Lua code

There are many features that would benefit from being configured in Lua. Amenities (parks, schools, stadiums, hospitals) are unlocked with achievements, but there is no way currently to add a custom achievement or unlock a custom amenity. I’d like to move the achievements to Lua, and configuring amenities could live there too. A few game-balance related functions could possibly be exported to Lua, including computing the taxable value of a building, determining when a person should move out of the city (or move in), and determining when a business should close. I’m not sure if I want to move these things to Lua due to possible performance issues, but we’ll see.

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