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Up Topic Development / Scenario & Object Development / Settlement scenario principles
- - By Nachtschatten Date 2009-05-09 13:46 Edited 2009-05-09 16:34


Ok, so I've finally found the time to slightly rework and then translate these thoughts. If something is unclear or doesn't make sense, feel free to ask. I can also provide excerpts from the original German text if all else fails. I have also posted the original German text in the Clonk forum.

There aren't many good settlement scenarios - a quick look at the CCAN shows me lots of ones with a ratio equal or less than 1.0. We're not talking about complex packages, though, such as Rise Of Clonk and the like, but rather about "simple" scenarios which mostly use objects from the original object packs. Now, the question is: What makes a scenario a good settlement scenario?

Well, I believe, on the one hand the player wants to build something big and meaningful. But, on the other hand, he or she wants to be challenged in many different ways - because this way, after all work is done, the hard-earned victory is something to be proud of. A scenario thus has to offer: A challenge, difficulties, a course of the game, complexity, and a couple of tasks.

Furthermore, in my opinion, it's boring to play yet another temperate-climate earth-rock-gold scenario. We want to have an atmospherical ambience.

The terms' meanings

This is the (main) goal of the scenario. Whether it's to build one of every kind of buildings, or if it's to earn a defined amount of settlement points, doesn't matter that much. The main point is that it mustn't be trivially achievable. The challenge roughly equals the traditional goals known from Clonk Rage.

These are, for example, obstacles in the landscape or disasters. That is to say: Everything that potentially foils the player's attempt to reach the goal. They can either be static or dynamic - examples are the abyss of "Funnel Valley" (Trichtertalingen) or the falling rocks of "Thunder Rock Mountain" (Bei den Donnerbergen) - and players like finding little, nifty tricks to combat those difficulties.

Course of the game
What could be more boring than working for hours for reaching a single goal on a vast, empty landscape? What a scenario needs is something "going on", a course of action. As a basis for this course, there has to be a story. It's very important that this story may not just be written in the scenario's description, but is told in the game.

Well, how does such a course of action look like?

  • Either: From time to time, something happens. An event occurs, a disaster happens, etc. Note that we're not talking about the standard disasters from Clonk Rage that activate repeatedly, like volcanos and earthquakes, but rather about unique, script-controlled events. As an example, imagine settling at the rim of an old volcano. Instead of launching the well-known smaller volcano branches again and again, the script would make the volcano break out once and in a big burst.

  • Or: Reaching the "great goal" is divided up into shorter chapters, which are to be played one after another. See "tasks" for more on this topic.


  • There can already be a course of the game if only scripted sequences are activated, which tell a story without any tasks for the player.

  • More complex, but also more rewarding for the player: Tasks which relate to the story.

Again, the golden rule is: Tell an in-game story!

Stands for production chains, "interesting routes", or special researches to be done. It's just boring to earn your settlement points by collecting materials laying around freely and assembling them to structures until you're done. The same goes for ore and coal located right next to each other, waiting to be mined and carried to the foundry five steps away.

The tasks
Tasks and story naturally fit together. Whether it's a deity asking for sacrifice or if the friendly, always busy townsmith has run out of iron - short tasks provide for a varied gameplay. Additionally, it's very important that solved tasks are rewarded - the townsmith sells for half the price, the deity makes your grain grow quicker, etc. Also conceivable: Punishments for failing to fulfil the tasks. Those little difficulties make the game more interesting.

Tasks may, but don't have to, be connected with the course of the game. This is to say that the term "task" both stands for "main quests", which drive the story, and independent "side quests".

Atmospherical ambience
This may dictate the choice or design of the landscape, objects, and "effects". A matching ambience both makes the scenario stand out from the crowd and also greatly supports the theme of the scenario, making the player feel a lot more immersed.

Why not settle down on the top of a glacier? On a volcano? Why not restrict the player's choice to jungle camp objects?
On a glacier, there probably is icy, stormy weather, whirling up snow and toning the view and fog of war slightly blue. A volcano will bubble (brodeln) and smoke. It will cause little earthquakes from time to time, and also might make it rain ashes and lava (and chunks of it), etc. The view could be toned yellow/orange/red in this case. "Knight settlers in the jungle", on the other hand, wouldn't be a too credible combination.

Further notes

It is also imaginable to provide a trivial goal, which is made hard to achieve by adding lots of difficulties. Example: Build a windmill on a mountain, but beware, it's raining lots of fire and meteorites. Such a combination, in my opinion, rather causes frustration than fun, but may still be interesting to a minority of experienced players. Examples for this are the missions "Deep Down" and "Seven Keys".

Challenge vs difficulty
How to differenciate those two terms can be demonstrated nicely with the missions "Thunder Rock Mountain" and "Regeneration" (Heilung der Welt).

  • Thunder Rock Mountain: The challenge is to mine and sell all ore. Difficulties are the dangerous rockfall and one occurence of ore being hard to reach.

  • Regeneration: The challenge only is to earn settlement points, unfortunately. On the other hand, there are a lot of possibilities how to protect yourself from the acid rain. Building your base underground, guard towers, pumps, or metal roofs are some of the most popular ones.

Admittedly, these scenarios provide few to no course, tasks, or complexity.

You don't have to provide tasks of both kinds. A mission may very well live only with tasks that reward you with bonuses, but without driving the story directly. This is equal to a course of game without chapters. On the other hand, you may as well create a scenario that requires the player to complete all tasks to win the game.

Difficulty vs complexity
Even though both terms are closely related, I gave each its separate section. For making the differences clear, here's a quick comparison:

  • Belongs to "game mechanics"

  • Always there

  • Divides a complex task ("build machine") up into smaller ones ("build parts, assemble")

  • There usually is one way to go, which often also is already known in advance


  • Tends to concern the landscape, events, disasters, ...

  • Describes unique obstacles: solved once, gone forever (or, at least, for a longer period of time)

  • Important: No solution is given. You have to be creative, find one yourself

  • No single right way. You may solve the problem in any way you wish

The Divine Prophecy
These thoughts also reasonably explain why The Divine Prophecy is commonly regarded as one of the best settlement scenarios ever made. Okay, it's more a complete package than just a scenario, but: It does fulfil all of the above points (some more, some less, obviously).
Parent - - By Dragonclonk [de] Date 2009-05-11 17:08
I thing all things in this text are clear. But some newbies on CCAN dont know, what a good settlement round is.
The good scenario designer know all the things you wrote.
Parent - - By Shadow [de] Date 2009-05-12 20:27
But it's not easy to fulfill everything these points all the time.
Parent - - By Dragonclonk [de] Date 2009-05-12 21:08
For me is it easy.
I think the developers thinks the same.
But the text is good for newbies.
Parent - - By Zapper [de] Date 2009-05-12 21:15

>For me is it easy.

Well, feel free to make real good settlement scenarios once the basic stuff has been coded. :)
Parent - - By Dragonclonk [de] Date 2009-05-12 21:22
Oh, I would like to do that! :)
I want to implement the CR-Missions for example for OC. So I would like to try it.
Parent - - By Shadow [de] Date 2009-05-12 21:31
Import "Sunshine" in a new OC-style into the officially OC missions!!!11 :)!
Parent - By Dragonclonk [de] Date 2009-05-13 09:45
Is "Sunshine" made by PeterW?
When Yes, than I think it have to be "clonkiger", to be suitable for OC.
But we haven't a finished concept right now. It means: Waiting. :)
Parent - - By Enrique [de] Date 2009-05-13 19:55
Ok lets share the work ;)
Parent - By Dragonclonk [de] Date 2009-05-13 20:13
I'd would like. ;)
But from Carlis open version I can't find any Editor.
It's better to wait some time, until all materials are integrated, and lot of buildings and other stuff are ready.
Parent - By Nachtschatten Date 2009-05-13 17:21
I agree that this is the way it should be. However, the majority of settlement scenarios being mediocre at best indicates otherwise. Hopefully this will change soon, because after all, OpenClonk will probably have interesting production lines and more well thought-out content, people can get an idea or two from this thread, etc.
Up Topic Development / Scenario & Object Development / Settlement scenario principles

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