Up until this point we’ve been talking about where you can place houses and other buildings and why’d you’d want to. Now, let’s talk about how.
Chronicles of Elyria uses a hybrid housing system that grants maximum freedom and creativity to those who have an interest in architecture, while simplifying the construction and placement process for those that just want to get their houses built. Similar to the way contracts work, we’ve created a division of responsibility between those who design houses, and those who create them.
To make this possible, Chronicles of Elyria implements a blueprint mechanism in which architects create blueprints, and then builders use the blueprints in order to construct the building.
Housing in Chronicles of Elyria is fully customizable, but it’s the architect that creates the blueprint for a building. As a result, virtually any shape and size of building can be built, within the skill of the architect.
The process of creating a blueprint is done using the Architecture Tool. This tool, much like the map tool allows you to draw content directly onto a blue-print. However, as blueprints are inherently more “3D” than maps, we’ve created a special 3D environment for architects in which you are quite literally transported into the blueprint to help you visualize it.
We’ll actually be providing a stand-alone version of the architecture tool next Spring so people can get their hands on it early and see what it feels like to design buildings in Chronicles of Elyria. As player-created content is paramount to the success of Chronicles of Elyria and isn’t part of our business model, the tool will be made freely available to everyone.
When working within the architecture tool, the skill of the architect will determine several things, such as how many floors can be in a building, how complex the shape (4 walls, 5, 10, more?), and what materials can be used.
In construction the material you use is important, as a material’s weight and strength are used in combination to determine when/where you need support structures and how strong your structure will be. For example, if you’re using wooden flooring on a second floor there will be a maximum area before a first-floor support structure will be necessary. Switching to reinforced materials can change the requirements.
As you’re working in the architecture tool, the UI will make you aware whenever the creation of a structure would be inherently unstable. Of course, the architecture tool can only calculate the physics based on what’s known at design-time. Things in the environment can add further complexity.
Builders & Construction
Constructing a house is an active process in which crafters of all walks of life work together to create the individual components of the house, and then combine them during the appropriate point in construction, in order to slowly build up the final product.
Because construction is modular, components within the blueprint can generally be replaced with higher or lower quality components. For example, if you’ve got a wall piece, the pattern may call for a wooden frame. In this case, the frame can be made out of virtually any wood. However, the pattern may also call for a wood of a specific hardness or strength. In this case, it’ll be necessary to find a wood of the correct hardness in order to complete the design.
If you do choose to use a different type of wood, the type of material you select may effect things such as how well the house keeps out heat, how well it holds out moisture, and how it responds to strong winds.
In addition to the framing materials called for, many other aspects of the pattern used in construction can be specified at build-time. For example, the floor may just call for any type of “flooring”. In this case, virtually any flooring can be used, be it wood, tile, or even marble.
As there are many different components that go into the construction of a building, there are many different skills that come into play. These can include carpentry, masonry, glass-blowing, metal working, etc. Because there are so many skills involved in the construction of a house, it’s impractical (though still possible) for a house to be built by a single person. When you take into account how large houses or other structures can become, combined with the time it takes to build each component, it becomes clear that such construction is really designed for a group of people to do in parallel.
While we want players to be able to control the look and feel of their houses – to a degree, we also want the housing to make sense in the part of the region the player is building in. As a result, the look and feel of a home in Chronicles of Elyria is largely driven by the types of materials you use. Wooden siding comes with a different look and style than other siding. Plaster, tar, metal, etc. roofing also brings with it a different feeling.
Furthermore, the environment and biome has the biggest impact on the type of resources and the style of architecture most suitable. Some materials will handle heat transfer better, some are better suited for arid environments, or high humidity. Some soils will allow for tall, heavier structures, some will not. Some materials are suitable for fast, strong winds, while others are meant for calmer weather.
Upkeep & Updates
If you’re building in an area and use the correct materials, you’ll find there’s little-to-no upkeep involved in maintaining your house. But if you use the wrong material, you may find your home deteriorates over time via rust, mold, cracking, and other negative effects. If this does occur, your best bet is to replace components in your house with more suitable materials.
That’s right, even after construction is complete it’s possible to select some components in your house, destroy them (salvaging some materials), and then replace them with higher quality components. It’s also possible to add onto existing houses after construction is complete.
As we talked about earlier, your family size is tied to the number of rooms in your house. It’s only natural then to build onto the side of your house as your family grows.
In this week’s design journal, we took a first-look at how housing, architecture, and construction works in Chronicles of Elyria. Next week we’re going to dig deeper by taking a look at how zoning, ownership, and transference works, and what you can do to protect the valuables you store in your house. Oh, and we’re going to talk about other structures that can be built, such as subterranean structures and dungeons! We’ll close out next week’s discussion on sieging and building destruction. Don’t miss next week’s design journal!