A topic also written on my blog. Please check out my site http://dev.oceansdream.net/
for more tutorials and topics as well!
So last Saturday I went to NYC to go see the Pompeii exhibit. I thought it was pretty interesting and I liked it. I saw a model and a video of an example house in Pompeii. You can look here: http://www.ancientvine.com/houseofthevine.html
to see that video. Or for a similar house if you want to actually walk around it yourself (using the arrow keys), you can go here http://www.medievalist.net/unityworlds/romanhouse.htm
More to the point, I was thinking about some of the games I played and how the houses would be just one big room (Not a problem if it fits the culture or building), or that the interior of the house was inconsistent with the exterior. So I figured I’d use this to talk a bit about historical houses and how you can get inspiration from them for your game. I previously made a post on NPC house design too if you’d like to take a look.
There are plenty of books which go over plenty of the details for how ancient civilization houses were constructed, showing various examples and how they lived, and all that info. Childrens books can be surprisingly good reference material as well. Since RPGs tend to have the hero going through a variety of areas with various cultures, it’d be good to get an idea of how different cultures had their own styles and habitats.
Houses may vary because of space restrictions, due to availability of resources, for climate, due to wealth and so on. If the population is big enough, they may build vertically. If wood is scarce, they may use stone or another material which is more plentiful. Some areas may be dangerous because of animals or invaders and it may be fenced or walled off. Some places may have lots of windows or outdoor areas because of a temperate climate. While your game may not need to mimic the real world cultures exactly, it’s still good to see why they built the way they do so you can take inspiration and ideas for your own in game cultures.
Catal Huyuk was a very early settlement in Central Turkey. History lesson aside, it was very tightly packed together, so going in the houses was done by rooftop instead of streets. The warm, dry weather permitted flat roofs, where many activities likely also took place.
Certainly could be used as inspiration for a middle eastern style village. Also, the height and amounts of layers of houses can be visually interesting as well, as well as the rather unique way of entering the houses.
The Roman “Domus” style was actually a mix of Etruscan and Greek styles. Greece and Rome, as they conquered a very vast area, spread a lot of influence which still continues to this day.
The Roman Domus style house
As you saw with the videos posted before, this has an atrium and a garden in the house. The stores shown are spaces in the front of the house that would be rented out so people can sell merchandise on the street. The holes in the roof would allow for rainfall to pour in the pools for use in washing/drinking, as well as for light and air. There were rarely any windows, making the open roofs more necessary. The Roman Insula was the apartment house, where instead of having one big wealthy family living in it, had multiple families and multiple floors so it was tall rather than long.
This brings a few good things to think about when making your house designs for a city in your game. Climate and Wealth have already been mentioned. But how important is the family for that culture? Where do they get their water? Do they revere the elders and ancestors? How does religion play into their lives? How safe/unsafe are the streets? Contrary to general RPG design, towns don’t always need to be completely safe places where you never get attacked. There may be burglars (Hey, in most RPGs it’s honestly YOU who is the burglar. I know you’re eyeing that treasure chest in the house you waltzed in on). Take some care to make it ultimately practical for the player though. While a huge town with huge houses might sound nice, something like walking from one end to another end of the town and getting lost just trying to get to the shops might be frustrating rather than fun.
Medieval houses would vary depending on the owner of it. Peasants would rarely have the money to hire someone to make a big building so usually they were self built with wood and straw. They may have to sleep with the animals inside, on straw beds and little furniture.
Merchants in the bigger cities usually had to have a storage room, a shop and living areas in their houses. The lower floor would be the shop while the people would live upstairs usually. In areas of heavy snowfall, you would have buildings with very steep sloped roofs. (Medieval interior shown is the Medieval Merchants house museum).
The economical factor should be taken in as well as the wealth of the area in general. Are most people peasants? Is there a huge difference in the classes? Is it a farming village? A port town? An industrial or Mining town? Is it constantly under attack? Pretty peaceful?
There’s plenty of other housing styles which I’d have liked to cover but it feels like it’s getting long already. You can look up Japanese, Venetian, African, Medieval Middle Eastern, and housing styles of all those cultures as well for ideas. Perhaps you can see how they work together (Some places in Spain have Islamic influences so you see a combination there, for example) and it might help you get ideas for your own house and city designs.
It’d be nice to see some creativity such as elevation, working with terrain (such as cliffs) and variation in cities rather than a flat grass land with copy pasted houses all over. A beautiful drawn example map would be this http://gamefan84.deviantart.com/art/Dark-a...Jebra-208669006
by gamefan84. Cliffside, fortified, a very close source of water, not to mention multiple uses for it, and based on Middle Eastern towns/house designs.
Hope this helps, and let me know if I have any errors or inaccuracies in my post!
This post has been edited by Oceans Dream: Jun 23 2011, 05:32 PM