King's Landing Remaster Discussion Thread

Hey everyone,

Sorry about the delay in putting this out there. I know some people have been eagerly waiting since it was mentioned in the last Rookery issue. I ask that you please read the following in full before replying, though.

Why a KL remaster?

The motivation for such an effort was given recently in the last issue of the Rookery (link), so I won't belabour it here. However, the word "redo" always tends to pop up in contexts like this, so I want to stress a few points on that: KL is not going to be redone. Not now, not 2 years from now, not 5 years from now. It's simply not realistic. Old KL was redone for obvious reasons - it was a product of the old map, before any of the new blocks added by the custom launcher, it was mostly done without any focus on realism and consequently had really bizarre material uses and joke professions, really bad plotting, etc. By contrast, pretty much the only thing holding current KL back is an enumerable set of outdated aesthetic practices (logs in houses, messy gradients, etc.). Secondly, multiple years' worth of the crystallized efforts of hundreds of people on such an impressive project cannot simply be thanos-snapped away, and in my honest opinion, it's a bit disrespectful to throw around the idea of redoing stuff so lightly, as people on the server are sometimes prone to do.

At the same time, it is true that the KL style in many areas has dated. Some of the aesthetic practices used heavily in the beginning of the city (such as logs in houses) were recognized as bad even by the time we started with KL sprawl (which tends to be much more up-to-date for the most part). However, by the time KL was finished, I don't think anyone had the energy to go back and fix those issues.

Now that it's been a while, and we're in a bit of a limbo in terms of open city builds, I think it's as good a time as any to remedy these issues. As any new builders could probably attest to, we've had occasional shortages of building locations recently despite an influx of approved applications, and building small farm houses can tend to get boring after a while. It's a good practice to always have a reliable town/city build open for both newer builders, and anybody who's just in the mood to build a house. Since our style has become very solidified in the last few years (with only the occasional 'trend' shaking things up), I think whatever we can bring up-to-date should continue to be up-to-date well into the future. Since KL is our most impressive project and the spotlight of our server, I think any such effort would be well worth it.


A different kind of update...

Understandably, there have been some concerns that, given a fixed pool of active builders at any time, an effort like this would distract from working on genuinely new projects, such as Sunspear, Oldtown, etc. I want to try to assuage those concerns here.

The KL remaster is planned to use a method completely different to any updates that we've done in the past. Specifically, we're going to copy segments of the city over to Test, where the updates will be done, before copying it back over to the production world. Crucially, the actual version of KL on the production server is not affected at all during this process, so there's no "rush" to work on any particular section - guests exploring KL will see a completed city at any given time. In principle, the remaster can stretch as long as we like, with the KL on the production map only becoming better over time.

Therefore, the remaster becomes like a "background process" rather than a "foreground process", to borrow from computer terminology. As soon as there's a "more pressing" project such as Sunspear, we can divert people away from the remaster and towards that new project. Once that new project is complete, we can then fall back on the remaster and not have to worry about a sudden shortage of plots. It's not intended to distract us from expanding our efforts into new directions, but rather just to provide builders with a reliable effort to work on in the interims between such server projects, while still having an important and rewarding impact on the main map. The only active effort that would be required is on the part of the person who oversees a given segment of the remaster.

The closest precedent to this is probably the work that has been done in Cape Kraken (which was started by carcinogenius last year during a similar time of new builders outstripping open building areas). A number of mods and builders contributed to rolling out hamlet plans, and people were able to contribute towards making that whole region more immersive. However, it hasn't interfered with more active server projects, like Highgarden.


Still, isn't this just putting a band-aid on it, rather than fixing the underlying issues?

In theory, the only things that can't be changed with the proposed method are the macroscopic elements of the city, namely roads, sewers, locations of the major hills, walls, etc. Things that are interconnected across multiple regions. Any "local" issues (such as bad plotting) can in principle be completely fixed as long as one is careful to copy sufficiently large regions. The extent to which we address underlying plotting, versus just updating facades/interiors, is probably something we want to play by ear. I do want to address a couple specific things that I've heard related to this point, though:

"KL needs more diagonal plots to be up-to-date!"

While it's true that diagonal plots have become more popular in our style since KL proper, I also think this argument is a bit overblown. It would be nice to add a few more diagonals here and there (particularly along diagonal roads), but I don't think it's necessary to go anywhere near the extent of the diagonal plotting of recent projects like Weeping Town. Diagonals could also start to look overwhelming if used too much in a dense city like KL, whereas row-aligned houses give a bit more regularity. Basically, I don't think lack of diagonals is a significant factor contributing to the datedness of KL much at all - just a minor thing that would be nice to address in some areas.

"There should be more agricultural areas in KL/larger yard space"

I've seen this a couple times, I think based on our plans for Oldtown (where there are some rural areas that have been incorporated into the city walls) and to a lesser extent White Harbor. However, it's worth pointing out that KL is a very different city from both of these. All of the canon that I can recall off the top of my head seems to point to a very dense, overpopulated city - e.g., the hovels stacked up against the inner city walls, the historical fires, etc. I picture KL as a whole being a bit more dependent on surrounding farms (like Rosby) compared to a city like Oldtown. Some more variance in house density and larger yards in some areas might still be warranted - and can be addressed locally in particular regions that we updates - but I don't think it makes much sense to base this on what's been done at other towns or cities with different contexts.


Who will be able to lead a segment?

Initially, I think it makes sense for mods to plan segments, so we can get a flow down and figure out possible challenges that might come up. Then we might create a process for any builders who might want to get involved. However, the number of segments open at any time should be strictly limited (probably to 1 at first), with each section needing to be finalized, post-approved, and copied back over before a new one enters the works.

We will need help coming up with example houses in the updated style, and will call on builders to help with this as soon as this is kicked off.

Also, though some of this still needs to be ironed out, we aim to keep the process of determining what parts of a segment need to be wiped/redone, updated, or kept mostly the same fairly transparent, and to give people the chance to give their input first.


Will the old segments be backed up?

I think this is up for discussion. There should be room in Test to store all of KL if we wanted to, though I'm not sure if it's necessary. While I built a large number of houses in KL, I only remember a small number of them which I spent particular effort on, and wouldn't mind if most of my others are wiped. For anyone else who feels the same way, a mod or editor can backup those particular houses upon request before a segment is done (assuming the house in question isn't marked as minor update only).

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That's all I have to say for now (though chances are I forgot something I wanted to say writing all that up).

Now, I've made what I think is a strong case for kicking off a remaster, but I understand that some builders have had some reservations about it since the announcement was made in the Rookery. The mod response (including on my part) in terms of preparing the first segment has also been a bit non-committal, but partially this is just a result of business. I wouldn't say that the remaster is 100% set in stone at this point - I'm fine calling it off for now if most of the community finds it unnecessary or misguided - but I know that some people were also looking forward to learning more about it. Hopefully this post helps give a better idea of what exactly is being proposed. Feel free to discuss amongst yourselves!
 
What a well-written and thought out plan Emote, this sounds great.
I'm most interested in how you plan to delegate leadership of each "chunk." What I think you might be hinting at is that each chunk could be treated as a mini-build with the mod team (or selects mods) acting as project leaders who decide on what the different options for chunks are, set the style, appraise mini-apps, and approve and post approve them. If that is the case, the update would fit nicely in within our projects "ladder". How exactly these chunks are being divided should be the first step.

A note on agriculture, if we are still happy to say Tudor London is the exemplar city upon which King's Landing as based (all signs from the books seems to indicate that it is) take a look at Braun and Hogenburg's map of 1572 and the various fragments of the famous copperplate map.

There are a few things to point out which might help in the update:
- The city becomes older and more dense as it approaches the river.
- Many blocks are arranged around a central yard, which are not green, but are used for the disposal of refuse, locations of workshops, loading and unloading of carts, and as a distribution point for fresh water which would be delivered in barrels for neighbourhood use. The blocks nearest to the river are so dense that they have no yards at all.
- Some blocks to the north of the city have larger green spaces which are either for private leisure or common grazing.

As Emote points out, the city at this point has almost entirely moved its food sources to outside the city walls, and there is simply no space for people to grow their own. The appeal of a city is to live within a socio-economic system in which you can trade your skill for food, shelter, and protection instead of being self-sustaining.
 
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My take on the KL reworks:

I am more keen than anyone for a rework because I'd like to see it live to it's full potential.

That being said I have to be realistic and admit that this isn't the time for it. There are a lot of projects going on and that will start soon (SS, Gulltown, OT,Maidenpool, Arbor) that will further dilute manpower. It's wiser IMO to allow people to do those projects in the next months and years instead of stopping them to divert manpower to KL (A project still fresh in people's memories where they might not have as big of a will to build).

KL reworks should be our last large project before roughly finalizing the map
 
Dutch:

I think in the beginning mods will lead chunks, but after we have a sense of how this goes we'll probably open up an application process for any builders who want to oversee a chunk. We already have a candidate for the first chunk to do, namely the section right near the mud gate (which is the oldest part of KL). For choosing subsequent chunks, I think it makes the most sense to expand outwards, i.e. always choosing a section adjacent to one that's been completed. When copying to/from test, we'll need to make sure to maintain an unchanged buffer to facilitate this.

Thanks for the historical context!

Ric:

If a new canon issue is "local" (e.g. the square in front of the RK), it can be addressed. If it's "non-local", i.e. would require more macroscopic changes to the layout of KL, then it can't. Personally (and I understand that this take might be controversial), I don't think that new canon is critical to address in cases where it requires redoing a large-scale or up-to-standards project. If hypothetically Winds of Winter comes out next year and adds canon saying that houses in White Harbor are primarily daub & wattle, I think we just need to draw a line and say that our project is an interpretation of the canon as it existed at the time (kinda like the show, but not as shit).

Nuggs:

I respect your skepticism, as someone who was involved in KL from the beginning to end and knows how intensive it was. However, I want to reiterate what I said in the "A different kind of update..." section of the post. There's no reason why this would entail "stopping other projects to divert manpower to KL".

There's two sorts of manpower involved here: planning manpower and building manpower. Regarding the former, only a subset of mods (or builders, if/when we open that process) need to be responsible for planning sections of the remaster, and since we're doing it on a chunk basis, it can be fairly fluid as well. People like myself, who are not involved with any server projects on the radar at the moment, can contribute to planning this without taking resources away from the other people (Elduwin, Dragons, Kulmen, Iwan, etc.) who are planning the server projects you mentioned.

In terms of building power, this is where the "background" vs "foreground" distinction that I mentioned becomes relevant. When the planning work is done for Sunspear and it's ready for building, we can slow down the work on the remaster and divert builders towards helping with Sunspear (which is probably what would happen anyways, due to hype and all that). However, it's going to be a while until Sunspear is ready for building, since Dragons & Kul are still just working on getting a document ready. The entire Arbor still needs to be terraformed. I don't think Gulltown is really even on the radar until Oldtown is finished, or at least significantly underway. I'm not sure what the deal with Maidenpool is, but that strikes me as something at least in the same boat as the KL remaster, i.e. diverting resources towards redoing a decent but dated build with some new canon. In comparison to all of these, sections of a KL remaster are pretty easy to roll out, requiring basically no terraforming or macroscopic planning.
 
Hello, I was wondering if this update will be restricted to the city proper or whether some of the landmarks might also be included. Some of the city gates could also be included. It strikes me that these things would not interfere with the actual layout of the city very much. Just saying.
 
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I encourage a slower pace at the mentioned projects (including Oldtown). I think we can all agree we want to avoid situations in which houses are being build faster than they are plotted, leading to pressure on the project leads to open up new plots ASAP, which in turn leads to lower quality plotting.

IMO city and town projects should have regular quality checks without pressure to move forward. If you wait too long with a quality check it will be too late to make any meaningful corrections.
 
Random thought, what if city updates worked like real-life city construction:

There is a council that lays out the vision for a city, zoning laws, and ultimately opens calls for development. Architecture firms then apply for the calls with their plans which have to be approved by the council. The firms then employ contractors who realize their vision on site.

So the first step here would be for the mods or planners ("the city council") to layout a city-wide plan (considering historic accuracy, canon, and terrain). Then break that plan down into individual calls to which any builder ("architect") can apply. These calls could be individual blocks or larger districts. The difference to a regular project here would be that it's still a (mini) server build so while a single person or team (the architect) writes the application/ makes the plan for a given call, they have to open the building up to the community ("contractors") to a larger extent than they would otherwise have to with a private project.

The actual process of updating happens by c/p from test, but this way there is a) a cohesive plan overarching to the project and b) it can run at its own pace using the quality control infrastructure and mechanisms we already have in place, c) the release of calls is up to the mods discretion and d) the entire community could act in aiding to compile the resources to define the zoning laws and a city-wide plan. Possibly e) this adds a bit of additional randomness to the process which I believe is part of the reason that real cities feel real.

The "zoning laws", similar to how we've done districts in KL, could govern the palette, style of housing (residential vs economic, height and density), style of plotting (organic vs deeply structured) of specific areas.

Hell, this might even be a good model for building cities in the first place?
 
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Yo, let's try this. I've started this google doc with suggestion rights to everyone with the link: https://docs.google.com/document/d/...orb4vj7K_gAspLj2M/edit#heading=h.8u7lyzot1mnr

The point is to compile all knowledge into one place establishing what I refer to above as the city-wide plan. We can then use that as a basis to decide how far off KL really is from canon/ historical accuracy, and perhaps even determine which parts need and update more than others.

PM me if you want full editor access. With the link you can only leave comments and you can make suggestions in the text, but you cannot accepts edits or moderate other people's comments.

I'm not planning on moderating all the content until the end, but I'm happy to provide us with a solid foundation to move forward.
 
I like the idea of there being squares between houses in which stuff gets dumped and/or where workshops are. It would be particularly good for the street of smiths and some of the residences close to the walls. Also, these would likely have piles of ash from stoves, shit and other refuse pile up so what could also be interesting is to design some kind of nightsoil disposal system and dumping ground. Unless of course they just yeet it all into the sewers
 
I made a test for Cobbler's Square using the new timber frame blocks. It resulted in this:

I took a little liberty in changing the stone blocks as well, the red house has a wooden shop facade and the house on the right uses brick. I tried to remain true to the original shape of the buildings, but I made the roofs a little pointier.

Pic below for reference.


Edit | Aaand there's more:
 
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