David Lester on Pathing

The bustling denizens of your town do at times move in mysterious ways. Below is an exchange between JackyO and Allienne Goddard regarding pathing. Although this is always a difficult issue in any RTS game, David Lester, designer extraordinaire, meets the combatants head on with some very valid and informative points.

First Argument

“You need to lay out your city so that it [pathing] isn’t an issue. You need to accept the constraints of the system, and learn how to use the system for the benefit of your city. What would the game be without this sort of constraint? Easier, less frustrating, and for me, a good deal less interesting. I’m not, by the way, saying I’m any good at the game. I do okay, but there are a number of problems for which I have not developed effective solutions, and many more where my solutions are less efficient than they could be. Plus, even when I have a fairly efficient solution, the next map may not allow me to apply it as it is, though the principles may be used to devise a variant which will work. No doubt you’re much better at the game, if for no other reason than that you’ve finished it.”

Second Argument

“I disagree. Schools ESPECIALLY don’t work right. The damn kids will NEVER turn down the streets – they ALWAYS go the EXACT same way every time. I always have so many schools in my city that the advisor always gives me like a ‘perfect’ rating or some such for my schools. Libraries work much better. I shouldn’t need 4 schools for every 4 x 12 area of housing, but you do to ensure complete coverage. VERY annoying. Figuring these villas hold like 80 people a piece, and I can get 4 of them in, I have 4 schools for 320 TOTAL population – maybe 20% or so are kids – so 4 schools for 60 kids?”

The Retort by David Lester

“I’ve posted more on this elsewhere, Jacky, but school children don’t try to work the same way that other “patrollers” do. Instead, the 4 kids each try to go in one of the four main directions (N, W, S, E); that is why they will go the same way each time.

Having said that, I agree that you should not need 4 schools for one block of housing; and you really don’t. It really is possible to site your schools to better effect (of course that depends on the rest of the city layout, too).

Most people I’ve seen playing the game have a different issue– they have all the schools their housing needs for access, but not enough to get good coverage for the whole city (which is a function of classroom size: too many kids per classroom reduces the educational benefit of the schools).

Hope you can solve this now; I’m sorry I didn’t clarify this point about school children’s paths sooner.”

David Lester