This week I’ve made a lot of headway on generating graveyards and have started to generate the graves as well. Graveyards generally have one main entrance (this can sometimes be two, with the other on a different side of the graveyard) then a selection of interconnected areas. As with everything in the game, this is a completely new form of generation that isn’t used again in any other kind of settlement or area – I wanted to give it a feeling that the graveyard had been built up over the time, and that different areas placed graves in different patterns in various eras (note the various patterns for grave placement), whilst farms/towns and everything else have their own algorithms behind them. In a way, I suppose I want to almost “hide” the fact the game is procedurally generated – I want each area to look sufficiently unique that one can be fooled into thinking a region was hand-made. I also have begun to fully implement the generation of architectural styles (brick styles, colours, etc) for each civilization, so the colour of bricks seen here will be unique to this civilization. The road does not yet connect properly with the graveyard, but that is being worked on, whilst the tiny closed-off section of grave in the top-left corner will be removed during generation once I’m finished. Anyway, graveyard:


As for the graves, there are twelve different headstone styles, twenty different “base” styles, thirty different patterns (the little flourishes on the grave, like spirals or diamonds or whatever), and each headstone style may be undamaged, slightly damaged, or heavily damaged. A zoomed-out picture of all the headstone variations is shown before, but once you include the number of possible patterns and bases, there are over 20000 possible graves, more than enough to service any playthrough. I’ll soon be adding a little bit of moss and general overgrowth at the base for the older graves.


The graves note three things – the years the person lived to and from (the date of birth may not be known, and older graves are more likely to be damaged), their name, and – if appropriate – what they died of (so naturally with these three aspects, the permutations are almost infinite). Obviously things like “He died of a horrifying wasting illness” would never be mentioned, but things that most would think merit commemoration, like falling in battle, or a duel, or whatever, might be mentioned, along with graves relating to important historical events like disasters. Thus, importantly – and rather nicely I think – these now link up to the histories! If you see a civilization fought in a particular war, you can check out the graveyard by their capital (and likely the minor graveyards in towns) and, indeed, find people to died in that war within the years that war was fought. Ditto for diseases, civil wars, whatever. I’m still working on thinking about tombs, catacombs, ossuaries and the like for wealthier people, rulers, etc. There is a good chance that graveyards which have catacombs below (which may not be all of them) might connect to the subterranean regions of the game (in the future), but these are still early plans right now.

Equally, as with all the history stuff, this will later have gameplay repercussions – maybe you hear somewhere of something buried in a particular grave, or in a particular tomb or ossuary? Or possibly that a particular set of graves are in a particular pattern that has some deeper meaning? As with other things like this relating to the in-game histories, you’ll always be making a choice: do I have the time to explore this little side-aspect whilst you’re passing through a city, or do you need to continue? The overall global clock (which I know I haven’t said anything about yet in detail) will give you time for some side exploration as these explorations of the world will be key to building up your character, but it’ll be up to you to decide which you can/cannot risk.Graveyards as a whole will also serve other functions. Maybe particular cults, religions, smugglers or other individuals might meet there? Perhaps there is treasure to be grabbed from any remaining tombs?

So there you have it. Next week’s blog entry could be at pretty much any time since between the 8th and 12th I’m in Berlin for the International Roguelike Developers Conference! Thus, the next update will either be whilst I’m in Berlin, some time a bit before, some time a bit after, or SOMETHING ELSE. It will likely be on slums and the early graphical generation of keys, and possibly something about the system of keys/doors/civilians I’ve been thinking about for a little while now. See you all next week (at some point)!

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18 thoughts on “Graveyards

  1. Looks really good! Fantastic job.

    Will gravestones always be made of stone? I know they’re called graveSTONES but you can imagine them made of concrete, granite, limestone, marble, metal, sandstone, wood or zinc as well as plain stone.

    • Very good thought. I’ve just gone and changed it so that there’s a variety of colours for standard headstones, whilst headstones for wealthy/influential families/people have different materials (added things like marble) and might have etchings in gold or silver or similar.

  2. Have you considered making graves for people related to major families and perhaps put an engraving of their respective coat of arms on the tombstone?

    • There will be graves for major individuals, but I hadn’t thought of the coat of arms idea. It will be tricky with the ANSI limitations – and I couldn’t fit on the entire symbol anyway – but it’s a very nice idea, and I will give it a look!

      • Maybe you could have areas set aside and marked for specific families. Maybe each family has their own tomb or crypt, perhaps dependent on their culture, with their coat of arms above the door or something.

        • Coats of arms now generate on graves for noble families (probably an image in this week’s blog update) and I’m still debating how to handle tombs, crypts, catacombs, etc. I’ve got some interesting ideas, but need to ponder it a bit further…

  3. I’d advise not to write on a grave when the person died in a plague on other disaster.
    Seeing a lot of graves with the same date might make the player try to find what happened then, which helps immersion.
    I know it works in real life, in army memorials or cemeteries, where you see many who died in the same day, and it immediately grabs your attention.

    • Hmm. That is an interesting thought. Maybe in some cases then I won’t have it list cause of death, even for important historical events, and try to have related graves grouped in a certain area. Although I have the graves connected to historical events I’m still working on having them group in a reasonably logical manner, so we’ll see how that goes.

  4. This is looking good, however one minor thing. The graveyard shown seems to be entirely dirt/soil, with no grass. Every graveyard/cemetary/human landfill I’ve ever seen has had grass, with only dirt showing on fresh graves.

    If you can only have dirt on fresh graves, tying to the history and slowly getting greener. Maybe things we’re different back then though, I honestly know nothing of the history of humans using grass to cover ground.

    • This is true, and a good thought. I don’t know about more historical graveyards and to what extent an effort to preserve grass and a more “pleasant” air to the place would be the case. I’ll look into it. Otherwise, I agree, maybe some paths and some grass and similar would be good? I’ll also think about how that would display for graveyards in deserts, polar/tundra regions, etc…

  5. One creepy thing I noticed driving by a graveyard recently was that this one was huge and mostly unused, with a large section covered with tombstones, the rest bare grass — except for a cluster in the far, far corner.

    Who were they? What did they DO to be buried so far apart from the community? Maybe the answer is who they were…

    • That’s actually really interesting, and has given me some intriguing ideas. Maybe plague victims should be buried apart from everyone else? Maybe there should be an entire region of unmarked graves? Maybe a few graves specifically outside the walls of the actual graveyard, who don’t have headstones at all?

  6. Hmm, i’m not very fond of games that impose an ultimatum on me. I hope there will be a gamemode that allows disabling time restrictions – or at least set them so high, that they wouldn’t matter.

    • Afraid not; like other roguelikes there is an objective, and a clock. Most roguelikes have a food clock, FTL has the rebel fleet, Isaac/Spelunky etc have the inability to go back levels, ADOM has corruption; I have… something else. In most RLs the existence of the “clock” is obviously a key part of the game’s balance to prevent you from farming, keep you moving onwards, keep some control over the player/enemy power curve, etc, and it’ll the same here. Rest assured, though, you’ll be doing a lot of exploration, but each playthrough there will be a lot you didn’t get to see which you might have the time/inclination to investigate next time! I want the world to seem massive, and it will be, but also put the player to tricky decisions about their exploration priorities.

      • Hmm, that approach works for me in ultra-short games – like strange adventures in infinite space. But for longer games with a larger and interesting world, i prefer to explore at my own pace and look around – instead of racing through the world focussed on an objective. I understand the design decision with regards to grinding and farming, but to me it collides with “adventuring” and a feeling of freedom.

        In a way, i tend to play “open-world”-games less as a challenge, but instead get most of my satisfaction from just looking and messing around, trying different things, roleplaying (which takes time one otherwise wouldn’t have to spend), and so on.

        But well, it’s your game, and the popularity of roguelikes suggests that there are a lot of people who approach such games differently than me.

        • Gotta say, I completely agree with you there. I tend to highly despise games that impose a time limit on me, but oh well. As you said, it’s his game.

          • Despise is a strong word. Am I therefore right to assume you don’t like any roguelikes? As every single major roguelike either has some form of clock (which need not be a *time* restraint of course, it could be moves, food, corruption in ADOM, whatever) or something that encourages the player to move onwards, or some kind of resource scarcity or similar that achieves the same objective. As I’ve said before, this isn’t an “open world” game (and I totally understand playing open world games for less of a challenge, lyx) – it is set within a large detailed world, but a plot-driven one. Something akin to a (Dark/Demon’s) Souls game. I’m not trying to be rude, but how can you despise games for having an integral part of what makes the formula work? Hating roguelikes for having a “clock” system (in the loosest sense) seems akin to hating FPS games for having guns. Roguelikes (in general) require something to push you onwards to prevent farming, easily exploitable tactics, grinding, etc. It should never be optimal to grind, it should be optimal to push onwards and continue taking risks. I am obviously not saying food clock systems are perfect, which is why I’m going with a very unusual kind of “push” force on the player that has nothing to do with food, but you should always have to push on without having been able to farm your way above the power curve. Also, I think saying a game forces you to “rush” on is an unduly negative interpretation. One wouldn’t speak of games where the game is split into levels (like most FPS) as “pushing you on”, would you, and yet you must still move forward to progress and “leave behind” the previous segment? I agree something that encourages you onwards has no place in an open-world game, but it has an essential place in a game with clear objectives and plot. Equally, by having such a detailed world which the player will only see parts of on any playthrough, this – like all roguelikes – encourages replayability, the discoveries of secrets, etc, which I find to be a very desirable aspect in a game. Lastly, as I discussed in this entry, one aspect of the game is the “planning” aspect – choosing which paths to pursue, which sideroutes to go down, which bosses to face, etc. There will be a multitude of paths through the game, and there’s not much decision-making if you can go through them all in one playthrough!

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