Triskell Interactive » Random walkers?

Random walkers?

25 Jun 2018
by Sinsem

Time and time again we hear from players about the stupid AI who just keep making the same wrong turns instead of going where the houses are. And usually the city collapses on itself. That’s not a new problem, it’s the same since Caesar III, 20 years ago!

Also, it’s not really a problem, the system works exactly as intended. Because these walkers with the stupid AI, well, they don’t really have an AI. At every crossroad, they pick a random direction, and that’s pretty much it. In the beautiful universe of randomness, the walkers can make the wrong turn 100 times in row. The only way to prevent that is to make sure they cannot make any wrong turn.

When the system is well explained and the player understand it, it’s ok. But when you take new players in and your tutorial is… lacking, a lot of people get lost. Also a lot of people just don’t play tutorials which is another issue we could discuss forever.

So we could explain it better, but rather than only do that, we’re going to improve the system a bit.

Don’t get me wrong it’s great and I love it, it makes setting up your neighborhood a really cool puzzle to resolve and if you get imaginative in your design it’s a great problem to resolve also (and that’s what the game is about: problem solving). But with the years and the (not so many) games, we’ve pretty much seen it all already, so it’s time for some flexibility.

The basics are not going to change: it’s a walker, it’s pretty stupid and if you design your city disregarding crossroads, things are not going to go well. But we’re going to reduce the luck part.

Let’s say we have a water supplier going out of a well at the end of the road. After a few tiles, there is a crossroad. The walker is going to check the number of possible directions, and pick one. So far nothing new.

Except this time it’s going to add a marker of its type on the next tile.

After its round it goes back to its well using the shortest road it can find.

When the next walker get out of the well, it will follow its path to the crossroad, and then check the possible directions. Then it’s going to disregard the ones with a marker matching its type. Pick a direction, add a marker, and on and on again.

Okay now here is the trick, markers are not forever: we’re going to time them. The exact value will depend on the walkers’ speed, their range, the service they’re distributing and a few others things I’m forgetting right now.

Each type of walker will have its own type of marker, we don’t want our cook going the other way because the inhabitants just got visited by the paperboy/girl. And I’m going to state the obvious but of course, if all directions already have a marker on them, it will pick a random one anyway.

We think this system will improve a few things:

–          It’s not going to punish you as much for one crossroad

–          It’s still going to punish you if you build your neighborhoods like an American city

–          It will give you flexibility if you want to create more complex neighborhoods

Of course we’re not sure it’s going to work once everything is said and done, there are many other features to add to the game before that, and we might try something else, but we feel like it was time to make a few changes. This was the simplest idea we had, and usually it’s the ones that work the best 😉

See you in around 10 days for the next post or on our discord ( in the meantime!




  • Peter on June 4, 2020 at 7:46 pm Reply

    I’m very excited about this idea (as is GamerZakh) because I have to push back on the statement “it makes setting up your neighborhood a really cool puzzle to resolve and if you get imaginative in your design it’s a great problem to resolve also.” In my experience, a feature where you must limit the functionality of a certain element, it reduces the options for my creativity, not expands them. The random walkers have simply resulted in everyone building the same circular neighborhoods. No opportunity for creativity or different designs, because none of those deal with the “feature” as well as the cookie cutter one. I hope this kind of idea will allow us to create less efficient, but more interesting, designs that will still work and not just blow up in our faces.

  • Simon on July 3, 2018 at 8:16 pm Reply

    If all paths of a crossroad have markers, instead of picking a random direction, you could check when the markers were created and pick the directions with the oldest one, that would reduce randomness even more!

    • Sinsem on July 5, 2018 at 7:37 pm Reply

      That’s one of the things we’re going to test yes.

  • Kirill Volodkin on June 30, 2018 at 8:41 pm Reply

    Any problems with random walkers are usually solved by good old roadblocks. On the other hand it really pushed you to create standard efficient blocks. Thus the new system might allow for more flexibility. Though I hope that the roadblocks will still be available in the game (for more control).

    • Sinsem on July 1, 2018 at 5:47 pm Reply

      Yeah we’re going to keep roadblocks in the game. We might even try to improve them a bit for even more flexibility.

      • QuidamAzerty on July 16, 2018 at 3:30 pm Reply

        Does that flexibility will be roadblocks that apply to only some walkers…?
        And something that can be useful for “debugging” or optimizing walker roads: display their “charges” left when their specific filter is used.
        Or simply why not let the player choose the walker’s path ? Well, my guess is that it’ll be too complicated for new players…

        • ChimaereJade on August 12, 2018 at 12:18 pm Reply

          Let the player choose the path of walkers sounds like an good idea and could easily be manage via the building the walker is comming from. Optional when there isn’t choosed a path, the random decisions get in action.

          Another idea for the roadblocks would be to let the walkable directions be configurateable. Be it that I want my walkers to use just 2 directions of an crossconection or north and east. I could even be possible to make “bridge-ways” which allow 2 different routes on the same roadblock.

          I like this genre a lot (ceasar 3 ftw!) and hope to see more devblogs of you two guys! 🙂

  • Rui Deyllot on June 28, 2018 at 7:42 pm Reply

    Seems like a good system. It will allow the player to deviate from the “optimal” well known housing block designs.

    Regarding the service buildings, will an upgraded service building output more than one walker, or a walker that has more range (walks through more squares before “returning home”)?

    That would allow upgraded service buildings to have an impact on strategy by making them capable of “supporting bigger neighbourhoods”.

    • Sinsem on July 1, 2018 at 5:46 pm Reply

      We’re not sure of the exact effect of upgraded buildings yet. We’re going to test a few things during development 😉

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