Scenarios: Any new information?

I noticed in the development roadmap that it is written in the GM section:

:black_medium_small_square:Scenario API (in progress!), DONE!
:black_medium_small_square:Seed the world with scenarios, DONE!
:black_medium_small_square:Scenario randomization, DONE!

Did we get any official news on this? To be honest this, to me, is the most important part of my game, to be confronted to different scenarios that my town has to live through.

Thanks for any links or answers!


I don’t think we’re speaking about the same sort of “scenario”. Scenarios, as of now, are mostly static things along the lines of “Spawn something”. This happens either at map generation (static) or during exploration of a certain tile (revealed). If you’re hoping that scenarios are something that happens during the gameplay (i.e. an attack or something like that), I’m afraid that’s not the case… yet. It’s certainly easy-ish to add such a type, however. Just not by mods, because they’re localising stuff again. Although that’s not too big of an issue as long as we still have our trusty debug library…

So, the only scenarios currently available are rather boring and related to map generation. They are “fox nest”, “rabbit nest”, “squirrel nest”, “racoon nest” (which spawns a bunch of said animals), “small boulder cluster”, “medium boulder cluster” and “large boulder cluster” (which I assume spawns a some boulders that can be harvested).

The index file also hints at categories, such as “terrain”, “wildlife”, “ruins”, “encounter” and “boss”, but as far as I can tell only the first two are used so far.

Unless a few rabbits is a “confrontation” for you, I don’t think there’s too much exciting stuff in there for players yet.


We haven’t had an official word on this yet, but I think it might be more that the groundwork has been completed that will now enable the team to slot in future scenarios etc.

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I don’t want to say too much about this, because right now there’s so much still to finalize (cheers on @not_owen_wilson) but one question we’re asking a lot of is: “How does the game know you’re ready for X?” How should it gate and constrain events?

Maybe you guys can pitch in! :wink: What games have you played with really smooth, satisfying challenge curves? Were the games challenging throughout, or just at some points? What games had really broken challenge curves (got too hard too fast, or never delivered on the challenge)?

Related, what makes you feel like you’re encountering something that’s easy/just right/too hard? Do you prefer in-game tells (a rustling in the bushes, a weird sound) or meta-tells (music changes, UI color changes)?


Without talking too much about the game master I’ve been working on (there’s ‘done’, and then there’s ‘Done’ :)), I’ve basically been cribbing a lot of notes from this (the goodies start on page 77). We definitely have some different constraints than Left 4 Dead, but the idea (an ‘intensity curve’) is the same. We’re also exposing a lot of knobs and buttons for scenario authors to play with (is the scenario unique? Random? Difficulty range? Only spawn during the summer?)

What?? WHAT???!!!

Five minutes ago, I pulled latest from git to fix a UI bug. Little did I know that since having last pulled,
@not_owen_wilson had taken @Albert’s goblin fighter and put him in the build.

Resulting in this. Which is, I guess, a scenario.

Edit: Here’s a closeup:

Edit: The goblin perspective


I was proposing L4D as one game that “adapts” to your game style. However, I feel like L4D (or L4D2 in that case) isn’t really… mastering it. One part of the AI director was, if I’m not mistaken, to have adaptive gameplay that would discourage players from rushing through campaigns while still allowing less skilled ones to finish the game. However, this wasn’t really done well in some cases: You could go on four quite a big chunk of the map without any real encounter and be greeted by a small wave of zombies at the end. The next level, the game would throw at you every bad thing it could possibly think of. Overall, the experience was… not really smooth. There were times of complete nothing and times where the game just tried to destroy you, and it seemed somewhat independent of your performance. I would even say that it was sometimes so… far away, that it was hard to tell what one did to deserve this kind of treatment (in either way).

I think the biggest issue from the common approach would be how you handle to measure the… let’s call it stress level of a player. In FPS, this is clearly measurable: If there’s lots of (mouse-)movement, he’s possibly stressed. If there’s lots of jumping he’s probably not. If he’s jumping on top of a teammate, he certainly isn’t at all. How would you translate something like that to a city builder, where a (stressing) challenge can be something banal as to “am I going to have two doors on this building or just one?” - something that happens not intuitively (i.e. not with muscle memory) but rather with thinking and therefore could lead to seemingly “bored” player activity.

The last thing that should be done in such a case is to just try to entertain the player. “Hey, you haven’t done anything in the last 30 seconds! Have a goblin platoon to play around. But wait, there’s more! If you don’t get wiped out now, we’ll send in three crusades after you for free!” is just wrong. If I’m thinking of the city layout (while still wishing to gather resources, for example - so pause is out of question), the last thing I want to do is interrupt that just to deal with the (either ridiculously overpowered or pathetic) challenge the game gave me.

So, if we continue with L4D as example…

The latter is a dead giveaway in L4D up to the point where it’s game breaking. Disabling the music is really something that can impact your performance badly. The knowledge that there is a certain infected around, or a wave is about to start, is extremely valuable. It does of course increase the adrenaline and potentially shift the attention of a player - something that SH won’t have to do - and this might be a good thing - but I always considered this to be “cheap knowledge”. Those who didn’t want to use it (because they found the music to be annoying, for example) had a handicap: They didn’t know what to look for or rather, when to hide.

I think all these “omens” don’t really fit into SH’s mostly non-mystical world (so far). On one hand they are really easy to miss, on the other they are just in the plain wrong genre - the only thing a rustling bush would do would potentially scare the hell out of me (to be fair, there’s a certain appeal to investigate a rustling bush to see either a bunny or Cthulhu emerge out of it…). There’s also an educational aspect about this that wouldn’t fit well with SH’s core design: Avoid micromanaging. If you have to pay attention to your city, the resources, current tasks of the settlers and the current rustling state of nearby vegetation, the recent change in amphibian population and the number of cases where underwear has disappeared without a trace, it might become too much. Punishing a player by throwing a random event at it when they don’t pay attention to these signs seems unfair. Educational because they might learn wrong lessons: Stay away from bushes. This might not be a message you want to send; shrubberies are a very valuable trading good and usually harmless.

Terraria could be another example for such foreshadowing, although much clearer. When something is about to happen in Terraria, it’s simply put in the chat. In plain sight, yet a bit “mystified” (unless you have made yourself some sort of dictionary “what the game tells me” ↔ “what the game is going to do” already). It’s presenting information clearly and usually not with too much time to prepare for whatever comes (although it’s usually enough time to run away).

I’m not sure how I would translate this to SH myself. The first thing that pops in my mind would be a trigger-based system (inspired by DF to a certain extent), where events (which are either once-per-game or recurring) could have a list of conditions (a logic table with ANDs and ORs). For example, the first goblin attack could happen after EITHER a certain, huge amount of time passed (which is slightly variable) OR there are a certain amount of settlers, a little militia and after that some random time passed. There are certainly things to watch out for with this system: Every challenge should be tied to multiple triggers (as described above, maybe even more). If a scenario has only a few events, they could be circumvented by (clever) players. In the example above, avoid goblin attacks altogether by just having two militia guys (assuming the event fires after 3 were recruited). This is enough for early game soldering stuff. As soon as you’re almost at the earliest deadline for the timer-based triggering, you simply start recruiting like mad - because you didn’t invest in a military before, you had plenty of resources to get your economy going.

This is smart thinking but again, renders a part of the game useless and gives players the wrong idea. It should not be a viable strategy to simply ignore military because you know there won’t be any threats until you recruit the third guy (or two hours pass). These scenarios could then even build on top of each other (i.e. “Final Boss Of Doom” requires the “Goblin Invasion: Round 11” scenario to be completed) and to simplify things, events could be triggered together into groups (for example, “starter village” could be “10 settlers, 3 militia, 1 building”) to simplify writing scenario conditions.

You already have a system in place for this, although admittedly it’s not exactly thought for this kind of situation. The current AI, with its dependencies on actions, and observers and what not would be pretty much fit into all this. Of course it would be less think-based and more event-based so there wouldn’t be a need for the whole thinking loop (which would waste a lot of time too), but the general concept would be available.

Last but not least, the pathetic challenge curve award certainly goes to Psychonauts in my book. At the end, it’s really just “Let’s make mincemeat of the player.”


What’s wrong? Are you AFRAID OF THE WATER, BOY??? :wink:

Wow. That is not the game I was expecting to see there, but yeah, we had to retry that rising water part of the stage, like 20+ times. In the end, we had to save and quit and come back to it the next day, which is not something that usually happens in the last level of a game. :wink:

On the flip side: Aieee!!! GOGGLOR!! and: Beware the MILKMAN!!! are two of the most amusing levels I’ve seen in a video game, maybe ever.

Ahem! Back on topic, lots and lots of good thoughts there, about difficulty and signaling. Thank you! I guess one takeaway is that we should probably look at doing both in-game signalling that culminates in some sort of overt message that’s harder to accidentally ignore. Regarding the event triggers, I look forward to making them robust, and then discovering, iteratively, with you all, how very, very unrobust they actually turn out to be :wink:


@repeatPan has said more than I could hope to. I can only add the following; there should be a limited ability to influence/bring about events.

Using DF as an example, the merchant caravans are useful… unless you want to challenge yourself on self-sufficiency. Being able to tell them to buzz off or come less often would be wonderful, either as an in-game or world-settings option.

Inversely, nothing ruins a good military fortress with deathtraps aplently like a total lack of invasions. Being able to tempt fate would let players steer the game the way they want it to go. For example, harassing goblin settlements to goad them into attacking.

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I mean, should you really opt in for some sort of omen thing, the journal would be a pretty nice place to start. It’s decently hidden, it’s browsable (as in, one can read it again and again, although not very comfortable at the moment) and it’s usually filled with lots of nonsense. Adding a message here or there that might mean something, but usually doesn’t could add to that.

Plus, if one really wants to dig into that spiritual thing, I suppose there could always be a fortune teller of some sort which either amplifies those events, or has a crystal ball which… sort of… collects them? And once it has enough, it gets a clear vision of the next event likely to happen. Certainly stuff that could be spun into some sort of mod.

As for Psychonauts, absolutely no disrespect for that game. I love it and its humour, including its characters (oh yes, Linda). However, the ending really just disappoints (gameplay-wise, maybe a tiny bit story-wise too) as it was incredibly more difficult than whatever you had encountered before. It really distorted any kind of curve.

Didn’t Spore have something like that? A “declare war” diplomacy option that was often disguised as something like “I’ve heard you rob the graves of orphan kittens!” or similar?


I was about to say the very same thing, attaching these events to things that your villagers notice and then subsequently talk about could be a great way to do it. It has the elements of “Mur noticed a strange rustling in the brush north of camp”, without requiring the user to micro in order to notice. (and maybe actually have the bushes rustle as well, just for the fun of it)

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If we now don’t see hundreds of berry sized Cthulus swarming from the nearest bush I for one will be disappointed.

@RepeatPan has offered a pretty thorough response to your questions @sdee and I’m not too sure if I can offer anything further.

I’m a fan of both, but to me it seems that if you were to have in-game tells they would have to be unambiguous and clear. Like @RepeatPan said:


When I was thinking about constructing scenario mods I considered this exact question: When should the mods be implemented? Should it be player-defined, ie. a player builds a certain building, creates a certain class or travels to a certain area knowing it will cause an event? Or maybe it should be internally managed through game mechanics, with scenarios starting with 0% occurrence rate until certain parameters are met, after which they will increase at defined rates. Parameters could be number of days passed, number of soldier units currently maintained, number of buildings, etc.

@RepeatPan Mentioned Terraria, which is a good example of the former: in Terraria you could often summon bosses by choice by using player-made items that explicitly told you what it would do (Summon [Boss Name]). However some events worked under the latter and could occur randomly after the player has fulfilled certain criteria, such as achieved maximum health for the goblin army to appear. In Terraria it wasn’t such a problem if you overstepped your limits, as with the bosses if you died they generally disappeared and if not they definitely disappeared after sunrise, and with the goblin army you could die and come back and just keep killing them until they were all defeated.

In Terraria dying wasn’t really all that bad- but in SH it depends what penalties and risks there are associated with any given mod as to how they ought to occur. If, for example, goblins raiding your entire town and killed everyone, forcing you to start again, they will need very strict regulation to make the game not broken. If, however, goblins will leave after achieving some objective such as stealing x# of your resources or food or what have you, then perhaps it doesn’t need to be as tightly regulated.


so, we’re discussing scenarios outside the tried-and-true formula of “when night falls, random evil elements will roam the landscape”… yes? the general element of suspense this generates (as the sun begins to fade) is just so very enjoyable… :smile:

given the awesomeness this represents, i felt it needed to be quoted… :+1:

i would love to see scenarios like this… where the objective isnt necessarily to wipe out every unit in sight (and somehow, magically hone in on each of their locations, regardless of how widespread or well hidden they may be)…

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The first thing I thought about was the dream messages that play now. What if some of them were linked to the possibility of a future event?

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so, decided to sleep on some ideas, and now: a long post.

my thought is that you would want 2 kinds of events: Player Triggers, and Environment Triggers.
Player triggers are the sorts of things we’ve talked about here: the player builds something (like a marketplace) and something happens (trade caravans start appearing).
but I think in a game with such a detailed, expansive, and unlimited map generation, that there should be triggers that the map itself determines.

For example, when thinking about armies, I don’t think “building big army” should equate with “getting attacked a lot” because that’s not really realistic. in fact, the bigger your army, the less likely it is for you to be attacked.
instead, what if where you built your city is more important. We’re going to be having caves and such where enemies spawn, and it might be cool to have things like goblin camps and the like spawn. Well, what if the closer you are to these features, the more likely you’ll get attacked. Like the vegitation and animal markers when you’re picking your starting point, you could have a “danger” setting as well, that let you know how much military you’d probably be needing if you build there.
then, the other scenario thing I’d like to see is some of these non-standard attack types, if you will. What if, instead of attacking your town, the goblins, who are no where near you, are attacking the caravans travaling from your town to another. you’d build a fort or keep along the path to be able to respond.
what if tells are instead scout/watchtower base, or map based. For bosses, there can be ground shakes that grow in intensity as they appraoch, stomping the ground. If you build watchtowers and the like, you’d expand your field of view into the fog of war, and know what things are coming (and, if enemies/armies spawned from certain areas, like other towns, the mob caves, goblin camps, etc, you could specifically set up towers/scouts near those and have prewarning).
and, I think something that could be awesome is the interactions with other towns. In multiplayer, this will be done with other players, so you’re dealing with them, and they can attack/not of their own volition.
but what if in single player there were a few other towns that the AI controls, that are starting from nothing (or even fully built) and you have to interact with them. They are where your trade caravans go/come from, if they don’t like you or become a rival, they might attack you, etc. This I think would be an awesome and unique addition to a city-builder.

my other thought was about opting. when you create a world, instead of having simply 2 modes “unlimited building” and “adventure” or whatever we’re calling it, what if instead, each element can be turned on or off for each game, or even better, given custom levels:
Boss Appearances: None | Low | Normal | High
Mob Caves/Camps: None | Low | Normal | High
Resources: Unlimited | High | Normal | Low | None (will cover this further down)
Natural Disasters: None | Low | Normal | High
Trade opportunities, other towns, etc
So, for each game, if I want to play a certain way, I can adjust the settings so that it fits the way I want to play. If I don’t really want to worry to much about a military, but don’t want to turn it off completely, then I can set those on low, and if I want plenty of materials, but not an unlimited amount, I can set it on high.

Speaking of resources. I remember hearing at somepoint that we were going to get a mode where it would be a simple unlimited build, but my thought is, what if I want to have to gather resources, just not a lot of them. What if each tree/rock/trapped creature/bush/etc gave double the resources? or what if they gave half?
and then my thought went to some of the pictures we have of adventure parties in swamps and such. What if it was impossible to gather resources, instead, each of your starting characters have weapons to start with, and is more of an adventure-type game. you go around to different mobholes and the like, killing and looting as much as you can. could be an interesting spin. if the other AI towns are around like above, you could end up doing stuff for them.
and it is really cool for multiplayer. what if someone doesn’t want to have to build a town on this multiplayer map, since they just started, and there are all these cool, huge cities already. well, they could instead choose to pick up some weapons and go monster-hunting, and then sell the loot they get for better weapons and whatnot in the other players towns, and maybe a certain player put a bounty on that goblin camp, because they were causing his caravans all kinds of trouble…
anyway, that would be cool
and…I think I should stop with the ramblings. what do you all think about some of these ideas?


excellent braindump @Lomico! :smiley:

i particularly like this suggestion, as the more ways the player can customize their experience, the better… usually:smile:

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The player should be able to do something and get punished or rewarded, so for example, attacking a few goblin camps will eventually get word to the goblins that you are an “enemy” and they should send invasion forces. (only after youve made it clear that you want a fight) (in this case raiding their various outposts, or just one, depending on the outpost), ignoring the goblins will amke them think of you as a non-threat, and they wont send invasion forces unless they just want to do some looting, in which case they will send a small forve (because they dont think of you as a threat)…

Killing numerous forset creatures should get the rabbit people after you .

^ Things like this would be good, I believe that was the point of the gm, that it should respond to your playstyle accordingly… If the player is aggressive, the world will be aggressive back at the player. If the player is a pacifist the world will not think of them as a threat.

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agreed! and quoting from one of the original pages on the public website, this is indeed what the team has in mind… :smiley:

Each initial game world is randomly generated, but an AI “dungeon master” observes your behavior and tweaks the content based on your actions. This is always done in a way that is natural and makes sense from a story perspective. For instance, a player who is more aggressive when dealing with local, small-time goblin raiders may find his actions have triggered a long-term war against the goblin nation. Violence begets violence.

So two players with different play-styles, beginning with the exact same starting world, will have very different experiences as the game progresses. We like this for a couple of reasons.

  • Actions have consequences! Are you sure you want to rob that friendly caravan that just visited your town? There may be repercussions down the road.
  • Play the game how you like! The game adapts to feed you the kind of content that you like. There are limits here, of course. Don’t expect to neglect basic defenses just because combat isn’t your favorite thing in the world, nor should blood-hungry players neglect a basic economy and shelter for their citizens.

We need to aggro the rabbit people if you kill too many forest creatures… this is a must. They would be the protectors of nature.

I believe that it was also in the plan that it is possible to mess with forces beyond your comprehension. (using a geomancer too much could unleash hell on the world (or a giant rock monster)) and things like that?

This is another neat way to respond to the players actions in a sort of RPG manner.

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