Spline based map generation for strategy games

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Rajacsics Tamás
Department of Automation and Applied Informatics

If we explore the city simulation strategy games currently available at the market more thoroughly we can find our building potential rather restricted. In most cases we can put our buildings just in an originally given place or in some kind of map based on grid lines. In the course of the construction we can turn around the buildings just by 90 degrees, we can take up only specific sites given in advance and we can place only parallel and perpendicular roads with rectangular „curves” and intersections.

However if we have a look at a real map or link with an online map provider’s home page we can immediately perceive that the situation is totally different in the reality. Typically (except the newly built, eg. American cities) avenues, boulevards, roundabouts, larger and smaller hairpin bends and detours appear and the diversity of the constructions is restricted only by the human imagination. In the reality the road networks are continuously extended together with the development and expansion of the cities in compliance with the current demands and geographical surroundings, but they by far do not follow the mathematical grid structures.

Why are we so restrained even in a strategy game? Where exactly the creativity should have the principal role. I also play with city-building strategy games quite a lot and that question repeatedly came up. I decided to explore that subject more thoroughly and my thesis written at the Budapest University of Technology and Economics, Department of Automation and Applied Informatics provided a complete framework for that purpose. My aim was to create such a map engine which does not restrict the player’s possibilities with the above mentioned limitations. Let’s have unlimited possibilities, let’s construct just as we want to! Why not avoid locating the buildings along parallel straight lines and why not make roads with even curved tracing?

The completed map engine however cannot be used only for games but it can also do a good service in case of running simulations because the construction of a real city can be reproduced in it as well (with roads, buildings, producers’ and consumers’ units etc.). Traffic and production streams can be scrutinized with the help of the adequately elaborated rules correctly modelling the reality and we can also observe the impacts of certain alterations on the infrastructure.

In the course of my work I formulate the requirements expected of that freely constructed map, collect the components of the maps, select the appropriate algorithms, and I work out a map engine possessing a general interface (with a view to reusability).


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