World Building for Game Devs and Writers 101 – Lesson 16 – Let’s Talk City Building part 2!

Good morning writers, game devs and creatives!

My name is Mark, and welcome to Amazing Gaming Productions. I am the creator of Tales from Trinity City and the writer of Webtastic Stories, both linked on my website.

Today’s blog is the final blog on city building.


Building your cities is vital. You need to draw out maps, look at professions, location, history, landmarks, and demographics to create a vibrant city that people believe.

In the last blog, we looked at maps, professions and locations. Today’s blog will look at history, landmarks and demographics.

Every city has a history that shapes its present. Many cities will create landmarks to celebrate or admonish those events because sapients will always seek the meaning of their lives and history.

How different races and age groups see that history makes that meaning even more dynamic. People of different cultures, races and ages will see things differently than other groups. You need to pay attention to these details to create a believable world that feels “Real”!


History and Landmarks

Once you create your city map, define its location (on a kingdom map) and decide its dominant industries, the next step writing about its history. There is bound to be conflict within the city if there are significant differences between the races and age groups. And there can be rivalries between different cities, which also elevates conflict. While there will be fewer problems in ethnostate, that doesn’t necessarily mean there is no conflict. The French Revolution, the American Revolution and the Soviet Revolution happened in ethnostate. Wherever the demographics, including age demographics, have irreconcilable differences, there will be conflict.

Cities will erect landmarks to commemorate these events. Whether they build tributes to fallen soldiers or statues of great leaders, cities love honouring those who change the world. And dictators love puffing up their egos, erecting statues because they feel like their life has meaning.

Trinity City is a volatile place, but one that tries to respect it’s past.

In Trinity City, there are dozens of statues for the Unknown Gifted, a person that protected the city from the alien invasion. They created a storm front that protected the city from the Serpents, destroying dozens of warships, 1000s of mech and hundreds of 1000s of soldiers. The Unknown Gifted saved the people, so they honour them.

Not only did the city erect dozens of statues to inspire people to be just like them, but they also made the day they saved the city a holiday. Everyone gets the day off work, some beef to celebrate, and they greet each other by thanking each other for saving everyone since nobody has taken responsibility for the act.

Because the Gifted caused two riots in the city, they tarnished their reputation. Many people refuse to observe the traditional holiday greeting. Some suburbs have made the greeting illegal, though it is hard to prove anyone broke the law.

What kinds of historical events affected your city? Do the citizens celebrate different historical events like holidays or observe them in civic duty? Have they created any landmarks for those events? Are there historical events that have different meanings to different demographics? Are some landmarks controversial?

The Council didn’t back done, the Krogan saved the Galaxy, even after many races wanted to landmark removed.

In Mass Effect, many races demanded the council remove the Krogan Statue in the Presidium because of the Krogan Rebellions. The Citadel council decided that Krogan’s contribution to the galactic community deserved the statue. They didn’t want to remove that significance.

Maybe Canadians and other western nations need to remember this before removing statues of Sir John A. Macdonald or confederate landmarks.


Age groups

My fiancée comes from a town where more than 50% of the permanent residents are 60+. It’s also very conservative. I also live in a city that is also fairly conservative, but because it has a mixture of different age groups – which switch between liberal and conservative every election.

Age groups and demographics can change everything in your city. Younger people want more freedom to figure out where they belong. Once you understand where you belong, you typically become more conservative because you don’t want people/governments to rock the boat so much. You’ve worked the mines/steel mills/lumber yards all your life, so don’t do anything to jeopardize my job.

The epitome of the differences between different generations and points of view!

A more youthful demographic means something entirely different. There is great strength in youthful enthusiasm and an eye for adventure!

Name a story involving a person of older age groups, like 40+, going on their first adventure. Most likely, it’s someone in the late teens, early 20s. The more youth there is in the city, the more they want to do something substantial to change things.

Again, Trinity City has over 20 million people who are 10-30, which is 40+% of the population. Many want to see the city do something beyond the walls. Gossip on the CentraNET shows overwhelming support of exploratory force that will liberate another community from the Serpents. But the Trinity City council, who are all over 40+, are afraid of what would happen if they send troops out and take a new city. Will the Serpents come in and destroy them. Again, demographics create conflict in the story.

What is the demographics of your city? Are there more young people than older people or vice versa? What are the general attitudes of these groups? Is there generational conflict in your city because the different generations want different things?


Races

If you think different age groups together can change the makeup of a city, bringing in diverse racial groups can change so much!

I love the example of Bright, one of my all-time favourite urban fantasy movies. Orcs, Humans and Elves live in Los Angeles. The whole story shows the tension between the groups because the Orcs made mistakes in the past. The Orcs struggle, the humans act as a mediator, and the Elves live in pristine sky rises without many people going out.

Practically vacant, the Elves live in luxury!

In Trinity City, the Gifted and Europeans are the most persecuted racial groups. The Gifted created two world wars and caused two riots that almost destroyed Trinity City twice. Many groups hate them and want to see them destroyed. Most of the Gifted is European, so the hatred gets shifted to that group as well. Because of this, some Europeans hate the Gifted as well.

The Gifted, and the Europeans, hate the Merasians. Before the war, the Merasians would force abortions on Gifted women who had one Gifted child. They would also kill any other living child she gave birth to ensure the Gifted never exceeded 7,500 people.

Asians and the Europeans and Gifted get along because the Asians care about the content of their character, not what they could do.

Africans are trying to make amends to the Europeans and Gifted, but it may be too late to mend the relationship. They purged the Gifted from their populations numerous times before the invasion. They believe African words and actions are just lip service – Africans were the worst hit of all cultures because they purged the Gifted, which harmed them in the end.

What races live in each town? Do they get along? Are they hostile towards each other? What history do different cultures share? Have there been changing attitudes? Are they friendly to each other?


History, landmarks, age and racial groups change the makeup of a city. Take your time to create a fleshed-out world that looks at these influences. The more you do it, the more believable the stories will become.

An older population will have more wealth and be more conservative, while a younger population will have more enthusiasm and seek adventure. Racial groups can bring all new tensions to this mix.

Cities are powerful engines for storytelling. From Waterdeep to Minas Trinity, to Gotham, to the Citadel, to Babylon 5 – these places create stories because they exist.

Thanks for reading.

If you have any comments or questions – feel free to use the comment section below.

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Have a great day, guys!

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