The upcoming Los Angeles-based builder/management game City Block Builder is on the horizon, and we couldn’t be more excited. In preparation for this title we reached out to the developers to try and find out more about the game, and maybe find out some new information along the way. We had a really interesting and extensive conversation about the origins game, the future and everything in between.
What are the main inspirations and ideas around City Block Builder?
Answer: When it comes to City Block Builder (CBB) it was always about the experience and revisiting that feeling I had as a kid playing all those classic, early 2000’s tycoon games. Off the top of my head RCT2, Zoo Tycoon and The Sims really come to mind. We wanted to have the micro challenges of The Sims along with the macro problems seen in RCT2 and have both these gameplay loops work seamlessly with one another.
City Block Builder is built in Unity, what were some challenges that using that engine posed and how have you overcome them?
Answer: Unity has always a great engine to work with. We always said it was like an engine with training wheels. Having said that, it of course comes with challenges and limitations. I think like any game developer we wanted to really bring that sense of scale and make the world the players experienced feel like a real world rather than a manufactured one. So there was a lot of emphasis placed on the AI to make it feel as natural and organic as possible. The AI reacts to the player in a totally natural way where a player would solve problems similar to how he would tackle them in the real world. Optimisation was another huge challenge for us as we are rendering massive amounts of models and NPCs all in real time while keeping track of the data in the background. So we really had to come up with a lot of tricks to have the player get the full experience on an average PC while having everything run smoothly in the background. We had to do a few magic tricks to resolve these issues. In order to ensure that optimisation, we really had to redo a lot of our models with the help of our art director and devs, we trimmed the Tri’s on all our assets. For example, all our lighting of the assets are baked into the textures. We have some smooth operators working for us at tentworks haha.
What makes City Block Builder different from other city building simulators on the market?
Answer: The unique thing about CBB is that it is multiple tycoon games built into one. It has the depth as other games for each zone type, along with a deep research tree in order for the player to always be innovating. It is also a game based in the 50s, which hasn’t been done before. You get the classic feel with all the nostalgia of a booming post-WW2 America.
City Block Builder is set in Los Angeles during the 1950s era. What’s the reason behind it?
Answer: We at Tentworks Interactive have always loved exciting eras with great storylines, and what better era for a tycoon game than the Golden Age of business and inventions: 1950s America. ‘Twas an exciting melting pot of eccentric personalities and societal transformations that shaped the way we eat food, watched movies, and did business. This was when the world saw its first multiplex, its first fast food chain, and other innovations that changed our very culture. All that combined with the exciting world events happening around a post WW2 world (1957 Roswell, the greaser movement, and more) provided us a rich foundation to tell stories through.
Each NPC in City Block Builder has their own likes and dislikes – could we get some more detail about how that game system affects player choice when setting up new businesses and climbing the research tree in game?
Answer: As we talked before, we wanted to make CBB feel like real life. Every NPC has their own character and the player must make sure that they are tailoring their efforts to make it seem organic. It’s very important for players to be aware of everything. Events that happened at the time, also changes the interests of NPC’s. So the player must be aware of the change in times to make sure that they are marketing the right things for NPC’s to enter their businesses. So for example, players must always
City Block Builder hit Kickstarter last year – how have you managed to balance player feedback with your original vision and goals for the game?
Answer: Since our Kickstarter we have received a lot of really good feedback. We also spent our time at PAX West where we got incredible input as well. There were many things that we were set in with the beginning but have decided to scrap, like having animals as employees. We love to hear from our fans about how they would like to see CBB, which is why we always keep feedback forms to hear everyone out. Obviously, we aren’t going to make all the changes requested as we do have our own vision, but since PAX West and our Kickstarter, we have made significant improvements/changes to make CBB better for our audience. But overall, it’s always good to hear feedback from individuals especially during early access but sometimes listening to every single person is not the best idea, so we have always made sure to balance it out to ensure we give the best user experience.
You’ve had to delay CBB’s early access launch a couple of times since last September – what motivated you to make that choice?
Answer: I think we have all seen what happens to a game that was released earlier than it should have been. Although we had a previous date in mind we really had to look at CBB and ensure we have a great game with polish that brings out that entertainment aspect (even though we are releasing it as early access, we didn’t want it to be a shabby job). Also, the COVID-19 pandemic really slowed things down for us as well, but being in the industry we are in, we have had to adjust to a hybrid model and we are back to pre-pandemic levels of productivity.
Is early access still a goal for you? And if so, what features and game mechanics have you changed/added to CBB that players can look forward to playing in the extra time you’ve had since pushing back the EA release date?
Answer: Yes, early access is absolutely still on the cards! We believe the game will be ready for EA by the end of May and will include a fully functioning restaurant build along with part of the Story and Scenario Mode. There will be thousands of new props and the players will be able to see our brand new AI. Players will be able to see a significant improvement with all the bugs that were previously there and will get a vastly seamless experience while playing CBB. Players will also have access to our new NFT’s on our website and will be available to buy them from PAX East onwards.
What’s next for City Block Builder and what’s next for you?
Answer: Our main focus is to get more features out for CBB and continue its hilarious story mode. One of the core principals at Tentworks is stellar post launch support and that’s what we will do while also supporting our new City Block Builder NFT trading cards. So… watch this space!
There you have it! We’re more excited than ever to try out the game, and with some interesting and new developments being revealed from these questions, we’re curious to know what you think about City Block Builder, be sure to tell us and the folks over at Tentworks what you think on social media. You can Wishlist the game on Steam now, or keep up with the development on Twitter and find out more on Tentworks website!