Medieval city plan generator


#1

Originally published at: https://boingboing.net/2017/11/20/medieval-city-plan-generator.html


#2

Pretty cool! I didn’t see a way to make the visualizer visualize the city you created in the generator, though; just seems to create visualizations for random cities when you hit Enter.


#3

Yeah, it seems to be a random, small city. Which is too bad, but I suppose they felt that anything bigger would risk frame-rate issues, and I suppose there’s no easy way to get the random seed that generated a particular city.


#4

Nifty!

While we’re on the topic, I also know of a couple map generators for fictional lands or cities.


#5

There’s also the Minecraft problem. It’s possible, in theory, to build a Manhattan-scale city; but why? There’s a reason Manhattan is huge - millions of people. Why would one person build millions of houses?

So we make do with the fact you can’t see beyond the render distance. Since that’s usually 128 blocks, a city that big feels enormous - but that’s less than a tenth of a mile. A real big city on Earth can span what, ten miles? That would be ten thousand times as much work.

And those villages of six people, who all live in ten-foot huts? Try building that out into a bronze-age Jericho.


#6

Now I’m wondering if people in the middle ages did any sort of city planning or if cities just evolved organically?


#7

Well, the city map generator creates “small,” “medium” and “large” towns, but the 3D visualization only uses the “small” ones. The larger ones would be impressive to see in 3D aerial views (and since its procedural, there’s no more work involved, but there are potentially frame-rate issues for slower computers).


#8

Look at any European city map, the answer is obvious. I seem to recall Paris and DC were the first planned cities.


#9

Is “hovels constrained by fortifications” a plan?


#10

A while ago I started making a game for Android. I built a seamlessly scrolling random map generator (based on 4D Simplex noise) where you could scroll left/right and up/down and arrive where you started from.

The idea was to have cities which grew, depending on how your caravan helped them. On how you helped the factions in the cities. And in other cities the factions would react to that, too (so if you helped the tech faction in one, the tech faction in the other would be more favourable to you, ditto for the merchants etc) and all that would affect the cities’ growth.

So I have the whole randomly generated world, the city placement, the tilebased seamlessly scrolling/wrapping map … but I still want to zoom into the cities when you reach them.

So why would one person want to build Manhattan? To play with :slight_smile:

Of course, then I got a job and development dwindled, but check http://spiralcode.wordpress.com for some old updates. And I recently picked it up again …


#11


#12

The answer seems to be that there was a lot of planning.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_urban_planning

is a reasonable starting point.


#13

A simple city generator makes sense when all you have is a d20, a set of tables, and pencils and paper,

But it seems like there’s a wasted opportunity here. Why not generate maps that are based on archeological evidence?

The visualizer is cool, but it would be better if it was based on realistic data.


#14

Urban history was never one of my jams, so I really should delve in more.

I’m not sure I agree here. If Paris and DC are the break point of modern urban planning, that doesn’t mean that some sort of planning happened prior to this, it would have been just of a different nature perhaps, and we don’t recognize it as urban planning in the same way.

Or what about other parts of the world, too? I seem to remember something of a plan going into building Tenochtitlan, for example.

Maybe I’m answering my own questions?


#15

Good answers! Most old cities are a random maze of alleys, in fact I recall reading it wasn’t too long ago some of them adopted building numbers. Imagine no street signs, no numbers!


#16

This is the guy that made Pixel Dungeon- one of my favourite Android games with no ads or in-app purchases, or…you know, a price tag. This guy’s pretty awesome.


#17

Though the very planned look of modern Paris is the result of an awful lot of demolition of previously standing buildings to get all those grand converging streets and giant roundabouts.


#18

I imagine that it’s either a scope problem or a genre problem(or a bit of both):

Depending on what you mean by “maps that are based on archeological evidence”, generating them would either involve bringing in a markedly more complex ruleset based on a fair amount of research grovelling; or actually be a machine vision exercise(the former if you mean “generate fictional maps; but based on the logic of actual historical sites”, the latter if you mean “generate maps of actual historical sites”). Either task is quite a bit different from putting together a comparatively simple set of generator rules that you can tweak to get visually satisfying results; and either task is quite a bit more ambitious.


#19

In the streets of Paris, the last time barricades were used in a major way was during the Paris Commune of 1871, when the socialist government of the city declared itself independent of Versailles. Although barricades continued to be used in other cities in Europe, including Barcelona and Berlin, and reappeared in Paris in 1945 and 1968, barricading as a technique had ceased to be decisive in urban insurgency.
Between 1795 and 1871, when barricading was a common revolutionary tactic, France alternated between revolutionary governments and periods of centralized imperial rule. George-Eugène Haussmann’s famous urban restructuring of Paris, which occured during one of the latter periods - the Second Empire of Louis Napoleon (1852-1871) - was, in part, an explicit response to the threat of barricades. Haussmann cut wide new boulevards through the fabric of old Paris, buying and demolishing whatever was in the way, setting up axes and monu- ments, and clearing space around buildings like Notre Dame and the Palais du Louvre. By cutting into the body of the city with his boulevards and promoting unimpeded circulation, Haussmann hoped not only to alleviate the social pressures which produced unrest, but also to make the construction and defense of barricades impossible.

Barricades and Boulevards: Material transformations of Paris, 1795-1871


#20

Not in my experience.

They may look random now but that doesn’t really tell you anything about how they started out and medieval cities certainly had the equivalent of quite strict zoning laws. Hence places like the Shambles in York and many other cities where noxious trades were banished to specific areas outside the city.

It’s also a mistake to assume that medieval towns were less bureaucratic than city councils today or less interested in ensuring their city worked.

Take a look at this map of York for example:

http://users.trytel.com/~tristan/towns/yorkmap1.html

Like most medieval cities in the West, it starts with a road, usually Roman. There are bridges on sensible (for bridges) areas of the rivers. There’s a castle protecting/controlling the bridge and the road.

There are clearly defined neighbourhoods which link up to the main road.

There are different markets for different goods. The markets don’t just occur wherever people happen to set up shop. There are specific sites allocated to them by the authorities.

Various organisations put up grand buildings - for which they need the authorities’ permission.

That’s all city planning.