City of Gangsters Crime Beat: Issue No. 1 – Creating the City

by matt v, October 6th, 2020

Welcome to the first issue of the City of Gangsters Crime Beat. In these posts, we’ll be talking about some of the systems and elements of the game that you’ll be interacting with on your path from naive newcomer to underworld kingpin. In today’s inaugural post, we’re going to look at the city itself – specifically how it’s generated each time and how that generation impacts each resulting game.

Each time you start a new game in City of Gangsters, a new, unique city is generated. We keep the basic physical geography of the city, so lakes, rivers, hills, etc are where you’d expect them. And we force in a few iconic streets to keep things a bit familiar. But after that, we let our city generation system take over and create brand new versions of each city every time you press “New Game”.

So, for a new game set in Chicago, that process looks like this:

Click on any image for a larger view

That is Chicago and (as we’ll see) Chicagoans growing from the aftermath of the Great Chicago Fire in 1871 through the dawn of Prohibition in 1920. As promised, Lake Michigan and the branches of the Chicago River are where they should be and there are a few of the city’s significant diagonal streets in the right places. But after that, we let the game’s procedural generation rules take over to create street networks, layout railroads, place buildings, move in people, grow families, establish relationships and create a long history of social connections in those 50 years from fire to Prohibition. That last sentence was a pretty dense one, so let’s take those items separately to see how we go from barren ground to large, populated city.

Transportation Networks

Other than a few diagonal streets that we wanted to keep to maintain some similarity in layout to actual Chicago, we let the generator decide where to put the streets. In the configs for creating procedural Chicago (or any other city), we give it a few base grids, each starting in a different place on the map. They then grow out until they meet up with another grid and then the figure out how to join up. Within each grid, sometimes streets get skipped so that blocks vary in size. We get angles and other unique shapes as the grids meet up with one another.

When streets run into a river or other body of water that is traversable by a bridge, they may or may not spawn a bridge to cross it. So sometimes you can go quite a distance without bridges over rivers.  Control of important crossings can be key to keeping some of your illegal operations supplied or important customers happily stocked with illicit booze.

Railroads also complicate the street layout. Like the streets, the rail network is also generated differently for each new game. In some instances, we might give the rails a few set termini for their start/end in the city and then let them find their own path out of town. Or we can just let the generator randomly place the end stations anywhere on the map and let the rails fall where they will. 

Combined, these things generate the foundations of the game’s urban geography. Street layouts determine if you have a bunch of entry points to your criminal territory to keep an eye on or if you can just focus on a few key pinch points and junctions. The streets of the city are the arteries of your outfit’s lifeblood. They’re where your illegal booze flows from secret still to swinging speakeasy. Control the streets, and you’ll control the neighborhood.

Buildings

Now that we’ve got the streets and railroads in place, the game can start putting in commercial, industrial and residential buildings. We start with a few pins or centers for each type. Industrial buildings like to be near railroads, rail stations and rivers and they’re especially keen on spots where these things might be in close proximity. Residential areas are somewhat opposite – they like to be away from railroads and rivers. (Rivers in the late 19th/early 20th century weren’t particularly pleasant). Commercial buildings like to be near higher densities of both industry and residences. 

So as the game places down buildings and as these zones spread, some will become more dense as lots are combined to allow for larger buildings. Residential areas that are more desirable will get fancier apartment buildings and houses while those that are next to factories will be dominated by workers’ cottages and tenement buildings. 

You’ll be running your illegal operations mostly out of the backs of commercial and industrial buildings. Those same types of buildings will also be where your customers and suppliers are. Residential buildings are places to meet people and learn about lucrative (and illegal) opportunities. But all of that is done by talking with the people who actually live and work in the city, so let’s next talk about how we get a city full of people with relatives and friends.

People and businesses

Once we’ve got buildings, our city is ready for people to move in. Cities of that era grew very quickly, and our city will reflect the multitudes of new arrivals immigrating and settling in. But in order to not be overwhelming, only a few hundred families that arrive in 1871 are tracked in precise detail. Each of them has its own ethnicity, based on the historical distribution, and settles in ethnic neighborhoods close to people like them. But those families will grow over time. In our config file for the city, we tell the generator what percentage of those people will get married and the age ranges when they’ll marry. We set ratios for the number kids that they’ll have. We decide how many lifelong friends they’ll make. And finally, we decide on an age range for how long each of these simulated citizens will live. 

And then we let it go for 50 years until 1920. We get 50 years of simulated marriages, kids, aunts, uncles, cousins and friends. Some of these people will own businesses and/or work in businesses that you’ll meet. Some will become cops. Some will become local troublemakers you’ll have to deal with. And some will even rise to become your criminal rivals in the struggle to control the city’s underworld. But everyone you meet in City of Gangsters has friends and family. They look out for one another. And they talk. So a good deed to a cousin might be an “in”. An ill-advised brawl with a beloved niece or nephew might not be looked on kindly by a an aunt or uncle. 

We’ll have a lot more to say about the social side of the game in a future edition of Crime Beat, but that’s how the city is populated – from those families emerges the socially connected city that you enter in 1920 to start your rise to underworld dominance. 

At the moment, we’re hoping to ship City of Gangsters with procedurally generated versions of Chicago, Pittsburgh and Detroit. In addition, we’re looking into purely random cities where the rivers, coasts and hills are also generated and we let the streets run wild. Also, like almost all of game’s systems, this city generation is all done via editable text files that will be open to modders. So if you want to see your hometown reflected or create entirely new cities, you’ll be able to adjust many of these levers with some pretty simple scripting.

With that, we’ll leave you with a snapshot of a different city. So here’s Pittsburgh, City of Gangsters-style.


City of Gangster’s Trailer

by matt v, August 29th, 2020

The trailer for City of Gangsters premiered during IGN’s Awesome Indies Showcase at Gamescom. Check it out here!


Announcing City of Gangsters

by matt v, August 27th, 2020

Get ready for City of Gangsters!


We’ve hinted and teased a bit about the new game that we’ve been working on. But today we’re really excited to just come out and say it – we’ve been working on City of Gangsters.

It’s a mafia management tycoon game set during Prohibition in Chicago and other US cities.

It’s currently in late alpha and we expect to release it for PCs in 2021. To add it to your Steam wishlist, head over to the City of Gangsters store page.

So, what can I do in the City of Gangsters?

  • Start a crime syndicate from nothing, and grow it into a well-oiled money machine.
  • Build speakeasies and illegal distilleries.
  • Manage production chains and resource distribution.
  • Smuggle goods from out of town and bribe the police to look the other way.
  • Grow a powerful crew and keep your rivals under your thumb.
  • Eliminate competition and rule the city.
  • But most importantly, keep the money flowing.

Prohibition Dawns

The year is 1920, the start of Prohibition in the USA. With congressional action, a huge segment of the national economy becomes illegal overnight: bars and saloons are ordered to close, distilleries and breweries go quiet, distributors shut down. But a new era is dawning: a gilded age for smugglers, black markets, illegal manufacture, and organized crime.

This is where you come in.  You’re a new arrival in the city at the dawn of Prohibition, with ambitions of striking it big. Behind many of the city’s facades, people are building makeshift distilleries, secret loading docks, nighttime speakeasies. Work your way into this network, and the world will be yours.

But think beyond making a quick buck or two. You gotta be thinking ahead. You gotta be thinking bigger. Much bigger.

Well-organized crime

Get started in the booze biz by hocking some homemade hooch. Start your own stills, and find raw materials to supply them. Learn new techniques to make expensive drinks, or smuggle imported booze to fuel your growing operation. Soon you’ll be supplying entire neighborhoods, and opening your own swinging speakeasies.


You gotta know a guy

On the black market, social currency matters as much as the greenback. With cops and feds sniffing around, trust is everything and personal introductions are worth their weight in gold. So work your connections to find profitable new friends, and get people who owe you favors to put in a good word.

You can’t do it alone

You will need plenty of hands to open new fronts, do delivery runs, and protect your product from envious rivals. Your outfit’s ambitions are only limited by the number of people working for you. Keep them paid, armed, and organized, and who knows how far and how fast you’ll rise.

Getting territorial

As your outfit grows, convince locals that your goods and theirs will be looked after. Territory under your control will provide a safety net, an income base, and a wealth of opportunities for further growth and expansion.

This era belongs to you

You’ve grabbed the opportunity by the horns, and the city is yours for the taking. But you only have a few years to make your mark on history, to build the largest, most profitable crime syndicate, take over your competition, and rule the entire city.

Because after 1933, it will be all over, alcohol will be legal again. And doing business fair and square, well, everybody knows that’s not where the real money is.

City of Gangsters is coming to your PC in 2021.

For updates, make sure that you’re signed up to our newsletter and that you follow SomaSim and Kasedo Games on Twitter. You can also join the conversation on the City of Gangsters on our Discord server.


Project Highrise: Architect’s Edition Now Available on Xbox One, PlayStation 4 and Nintendo Switch

by matt v, November 13th, 2018

Get ready to take control(lers) of your skyscraper empire on Xbox One, PlayStation 4 and Nintendo Switch – Project Highrise: Architect’s Edition is now available on all three consoles.

The Architect’s Edition contains all of the extra content from the PC game. Your console towers start out right away with Las Vegas hotels, Miami malls, Tokyo apartments, London financial offices and Berlin HQ suites. The Architect’s Edition also features a redesigned scenario campaign including all 29 scenarios in a new progressive sequence.

Project Highrse: Architect’s Edition is now available in Europe and the Americas. Our friends in East Asia will have to wait a bit – we’ll have it available for you soon!

Here’s where you can get the digital version now:

PlayStation 4
Xbox One
Nintendo Switch

You can also get Project Highrise: Architect’s Edition in a shiny plastic box! It’s available at all of the places where you usually buy your console games.

If you have bought a boxed copy of the game, tweet a photo to us @somasim_games or email us a photo and we’ll share it with our friends on twitter!


Pre-order Project Highrise: Architect’s Edition on Xbox One, PlayStation 4 and Nintendo Switch!

by matt v, October 2nd, 2018

Break out the big scissors. It’s time to cut the ribbon for Project Highrise: Architect’s Edition on Xbox One, PlayStation 4 and Nintendo Switch!


Pre-order now to get the Modern Design pack with these chic chairs and other exclusive decos!

Construction on all three consoles commences October 26 in Europe and November 13 in North America. Project Highrise: Architect’s Edition will include all previously released expansion and content packs, including Las Vegas, Miami Malls, Tokyo Towers, London Life along with the recently released Brilliant Berlin content pack.

If you’re in Europe, you can pre-order on all three platforms right now and get the Modern Design deco pack featuring some chic seating, decorations and marble wallpaper.

PlayStation 4
Xbox One
Nintendo Switch

For our players in North America awaiting November 13, you can pre-order now on Switch and Xbox One with those links and on PlayStation 4 soon.


Brilliant Berlin now available with Japanese and Traditional Chinese translations

by matt v, July 19th, 2018

Willkommen in Berlin!

The latest content pack for Project Highrise – Brilliant Berlin – is now available! You’ll be challenged to adapt and keep up with the diverse needs of this thriving global city. To succeed in Berlin, you will need to build towers brimming with art, amenities, and elegance to lure in discerning tenants.

Some features of Brilliant Berlin:

  • New offices and apartments you’ll create office space to accommodate a wide spectrum of Berlin’s diverse and expanding economy and apartments specially designed for families and children.
  • New consultant offices that expand the impact of your influence and consultants with new art museums, political offices, union halls and tourist centers.
  • New restaurants and lobbies New German restaurants coupled with sleek art-deco lobbies and artworks will firmly establish your building’s Berlin bona fides.
  • In addition, we’ve added new rooftop decorations that are available to everyone!
  • … and lots more new features to bolster your newly Brilliant Berlin skyscrapers.

 

こんにちは!/ 你好!
We’ve added full Japanese and Traditional Chinese language support for the desktop version of Project Highrise. We can’t wait to see what our new  players will create as they build skyward!

Full release notes for version 1.6.0 including the new content pack can be viewed here:
https://highrise-static.storage.googleapis.com/release-notes.txt


Project Highrise is coming to PlayStation, XBox and Switch

by matt v, June 25th, 2018

We’ve been working with our friends at Kalypso Media to bring the game to console players. We’re thrilled that we can finally announce that Project Highrise Architect’s Edition will release this fall 2018 for PlayStation 4, Xbox One and Nintendo Switch!

The Architect’s Edition will contain all the content from the original Project Highrise. In addition, the Architect’s Edition packs in everything since launch including the Las Vegas expansion as well as the content packs Miami Malls, Tokyo Towers, London Life and the brand new Brilliant Berlin. (We’ll have more to say about Berlin shortly. Stay tuned.)

Our friends Kalypso Media made an awesome new trailer to celebrate the console edition. Make sure you watch to the end.

We’ll have an exact release date for Project Highrise Architect’s Edition on consoles later this summer.

Until then, here are a few screenshots from the console version of the game.


Project Highrise – Tablet Edition

by matt v, April 10th, 2018

We’re putting skyscraper construction at your fingertips – Project Highrise is now available for iPad and Android tablets!

We’ve spent a lot of time rethinking the game for a touch-enabled, tablet experience rather than the (very heavily) mouse-based PC interface that we originally developed for the game. Though this version shares the artwork and core gameplay of the PC game, it is in many ways a brand-new game featuring an all-new campaign with scenarios that were created especially for tablets.

The tablet game is designed to be a faster game with shorter, more intense play sessions, but we have left the core simulation just as it was in the original PC release. We’re really pleased with the results and hope you will be, too!

The base game is available for $3.99/£3,99/€4,49. With offices and apartments available, you’ll be able to play a open sandbox game or engage in any of the eight challenging scenarios included. It’s hours of challenging skyscraper simulation that you can bring along anywhere that your iPad or Android tablet can go.

Then, once you master the initial scenarios and sandbox, new expansion packs will allow you to expand your skyscraper empire with elite office buildings, posh apartment towers or swanky hotel highrises. Each of these expansions will add extra scenarios along with new tenants, tools and building options to your construction palette.

Happy (mobile) construction!


London Life Content Pack

by matt v, February 28th, 2018

Welcome to England – the new London Life content pack launched on February 28!

You are arriving in London, the focus of the world’s high finance and reigning monarch of modern mass communication. Skyscrapers are springing up everywhere as the world clamors for office space here among the history and pageantry of England’s capital. In London Life, you will be challenged to create gleaming office towers for titans of trade, elite global stock exchanges and moguls of media. Your towers will be crowned with soaring antennae and space-facing satellite dishes to access the global information network.

Visit the Steam store page for more info about the new features available in the London Life content pack!


Tech notes: unity game modding via C# scripts

by robert, December 27th, 2017

In this post we’ll be talking about some experiments we’ve been working with, to add mod scripting support for our future games. This is still in experimental stages, and we’re concentrating specifically on Unity, but we’re curious to see how it pans out. We’re also curious to hear if this kind of approach has been useful for others.

Fair warning: lots of geeky C# coding talk ahead. 🙂

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