Before I get into another lengthy thread, I figured it might be wise to summarize why (And how) I think cities could be added to Vanilla Minecraft. And this is going to be a pretty lengthy thread, I can assure you. I usually try to keep my threads more as general discussion topics, but this is one topic I have some pretty concise ideas regarding. Take that as you will.
- Exploration is currently lacking in Minecraft, and cities offer new incentives to Explore.
- Cities fit, to some extent, with the existing quasi-lore of Minecraft, if they are implemented in a Vanillaesque way.
-Cities could offer unique new challenges and scenarios for players to deal with as they see fit.
-This Wouldn't necessitate any considerable changes to the game, in regards to new blocks, entities, etc.
Also, just to be clear from the offset, this is just my Idea for how this could be implemented. It's by no means the only way- and whether or not such a thing is necessary is also up for debate, along with whether or not such a change would even be plausible to the main game. I would appreciate feedback on this idea! Does this seem brilliant? Does it totally not fit with Vanilla Minecraft, and just generally sound ridiculous? Criticism is important for any idea to develop properly. Or for particularly bad ideas to kick the bucket if they're really that silly, I suppose.
As I've certainly said before, exploration is lacking in Minecraft. There aren't any particularly biome specific resources to necessitate exploration, which is a real shame considering how scenic the game can be. (I in particular think shaders, and a simple resource pack like Stay True enhance the game's atmosphere.) Ironically, this doesn't stop players from exploring- there should just be a better reason to do so then to see what's over the next hill, while already knowing that it's probably going to be more pretty terrain with nothing particularly new or useful to it.
The main problem is that many parts of the game still feel outdated and predictable, even as interesting new content and overhauls are added to the game. Strongholds aren't particularly challenging, there isn't any particular reason to explore an Ocean Monument, you get better loot in a Desert Pyramid than a Woodland Mansion- which is both rarer and harder... I don't mean to simply be negative, but the general vibe is that once you've seen one of these structures, there's no point in finding more of them. (I ramble more on the topic in this post.)
However, Mojang has shown us that this doesn't have to be the case. The addition of biome specific villages not only adds to the game's atmosphere, but makes exploration far more interesting. While I can appreciate the iconic nature of the previous village buildings, these places feel more alive- albeit in their own unique, minecrafty way.
One way to encourage exploration is, simply put, to have structures or biomes rare enough that they necessitate a lengthy journey. This exists in the game as far as finding the Stronghold, searching for a Woodland Mansion, or hunting down the Elusive Mushroom Isle. However, these sort of things seem to be a let down. Both the woodland mansion and the mushroom isle are incredibly difficult to find... and neither one is particularily useful. The Woodland Mansion has some decent loot, but it's ridiculously challenging, and odds are you're going to use up more resources getting through it than you'll actually obtain. As for the Mushroom Isle... well, it isn't as if there's much there worth making the journey. The Mooshrooms are cute, I suppose, but they're not even a sustainable source of Mushrooms.
If cities were implemented, they could do multiple things: Firstly, (And most importantly, at least to me), they would offer a new reason to explore. Secondly, they would do this by providing new challenges, new risk-reward scenarios, and new means of obtaining rare resources- or even unique ones.
How Would Cities be Implemented?
To begin this bit, a disclaimer: I'm not a programmer, nor am I privy to Mojang's plans. That being said, if such a thing were to be added to Minecraft, this is how I imagine it would be added. Or at least, how I wish such a feature would be added- honestly, if I could add one thing to Vanilla Minecraft, it would be something like this.
Cities would be, like other parts of the game, procedural generated, but not exactly like villages. The goal wouldn't be to simply be to add larger villages.
One of the problems with villages is their tendency towards weird generation. It's actually uncommon, (At least for me), to find a village that hasn't generated on top of a cave, or too close to a ravine, or partly buried, or merged with another structure... you get the idea. One way sandbox games like Starbound seem to avoid this problem is to have their larger NPC structures generate an area of flat terrain nearby, with a gradient of terrain transition between the normal, random terrain, and the flatter terrain around the structure itself. Usually, this is pretty seamless, and prevents weird generation on the part of the structure. (Something that Minecraft seems to have a bit of trouble with.)
In order to avoid this problem, a simple solution would be more or less as follows: Cities have a very rare chance of generating in the same biomes that villages generate. When they do so, they first randomly select a tier, ranging from two to four- which would determine the size of the city. (Tier four being the rarest.) Once the size of the city is determined, it generates an area of flat terrain around the city that then merges with surrounding terrain, and prevents other structures from generating nearby. (It would be kind of problematic if, say, a pillager outpost generated in the same area as a city full of villagers.) I'm fairly certain, (Don't quote me on this), that most NPC structures are generated after the actual terrain, which means this would probably be sort of hard to implement, unless cities were somehow made to generate before or during terrain generation itself. (This wouldn't be perfectly flat- it would just be mostly flat and without caves in order to prevent weird generation.
The cities themselves would all be more or less circular- consisting of multiple 'Tiers' separated by protective walls intended to keep out mobs. In a two tier city, there would be a short outer wall surrounding the bulk of the city, with a smaller inner wall protecting the middle part. Whereas a Four-Tier city would have three tiers of city, with four significantly more imposing walls. The width of each tier would be subject to vary within reasonable parameters- meaning that you could have a large city consisting mostly of simple housing with a low surrounding wall... or a smaller city with multiple tiers and more imposing walls. (Though rarer, tier four cities are invariably larger.)
Cities would have a considerably higher chance of generating ruined than villages- with something like a 2 in 3 chance of being ruined. (That may seem a bit high, but I intend to go into it further a bit later.) They would, however, be very rare- slightly more common than Woodland Mansions, but not by much.
On a side note, some other generation bits that might be useful-
-Villages would be much, much more likely to generate in close proximity to a city.
-Some sort of system would have to be implemented to try and make sure all of the city was properly lit. Considering how difficult this would be, it might be simpler just to prevent mobs from spawning within city walls.
-Cities shouldn't be able to generate near each other- there ought to be at least a couple thousand blocks around a city where other cities cannot generate. They should, again, be a fairly rare thing to find.
-Each of the city's 'Lots' would have plenty of different buildings that could generate on top of it- housing complexes, gardens, shops or workplaces- in order to prevent a city from consisting entirely of, say, carpenters; it would be important to prioritize a certain amount of houses, a certain amount of utilities, etc.
-Finally, for reasons I at least think are obvious, cities shouldn't generate near spawn.
Aesthetic & Variation
An important part of cities would be making sure that they fit the existing vibe of vanilla Minecraft- otherwise, they would just feel out of place. (That kind of goes without saying.) One of my favorite world-gen mods is Mcjty's 'Lost Cities,' (You can check it out here), which adds configurable, ruined cities to the game. Key word being ruined. If it added fully functional, modern cities, that would be neat... but it wouldn't fit at all with the game's aesthetic, and wouldn't be particularly playable besides. (Furthermore, the attention to detail in terms of how explosions and ruined buildings generate realisticly is fantastic.) More notably, this mod doesn't add any new blocks or entities to the game- and players tempted to mine the ruins for materials will have to deal with a great deal of mob spawners found in the ruins.
Firstly, the cities should share a similar aesthetic to villages- that is, the sort of medieval, steampunkish, somewhat whimsical vibe that the game's structures tend to share. I know I said earlier that they shouldn't just be bigger villages... but that doesn't mean they should look completly different from villages. The general idea regarding lore, (Which, in a game like Minecraft, is really up to interpretation), is that an ancient race of builders is responsible for the various monoliths found in the game- as well as the villages. As such, (if this is the case), it sort of makes sense that this ancient race ought to have left behind some sort of cities.
Cities, like villages, could have multiple aesthetic variations depending on which biome they generated in. (In the same way as villages, and with similar architectural styles.) The buildings themselves could essentially be larger versions of the village buildings. Each 'Tier' of the city would increase in development- the outermost tier being slums of a sort, each consecutive tier becoming more developed, with the innermost tier being some sort of temple or monolith. Different buildings would generate depending on the size and space available. There are several different ways that this could work- I'm half inclined to think this might be easier than normal villages, simply because in this case, you would know in advance that you were working with flat terrain and areas of predetermined sizes. The fact that the cities were roughly circular wouldn't be too much of an issue. (I included some concept art for generation.)
Notably, in addition to the normal generation, cities have a decent chance of being generated ruined. A ruined city would be a dangerous place. The loot would be yours for the taking, if you were willing to deal with a variety of monster spawners and other hazards within. It's near how ruined nether portals generate as if they're collapsed- and the same could be done with ruined cities. Fallen buildings could block streets, trees could grow up from the ruins, past explosions would leave debris scattered... this would be a great opportunity both to show off some neat structure generation... and to make a really atmospheric environment.
Uses & Intricacies
The cities themselves would be a great means of introducing new game mechanics, while improving upon existing ones. Villagers could still trade things, to be sure, but offering better trades could unlock even bigger trades over time throughout the city. Most of this section, at this point, falls under the 'vague concepts' category, and more ideas as to what cities could be used for would be interesting.
--- A status effect that warns players they are within city limits- in order to make them aware that breaking or attacking things will be frowned upon.
---In addition to Iron Golems, new types of robotic entities could be added to protect the city- seeing as villagers seem to be more pacificts. I mean, goodness knows if they even have arms. 'Sentinels' could be a smaller sort of golem that patrols the city, and could become angered if the player broke things or stole things in the city. This system would be important to prevent players from just immediately razing the city and taking all the valuable stuff. A sort of counter system would keep track of how angry the sentinels are at the player. Their anger could be decreased by giving them emeralds, in order to get away with smaller crimes. However, bigger crimes- like attacking villagers or golems- would result in all the sentinels in an area becoming very unhappy, in the same way as village iron golems turn hostile when provoked. If a player is really intent on bringing a city to its knees, they may have to worry about even more powerful sentinel variants. (...Though calling them 'sentinels' might be a bit too much like No Mans Sky.) This would also be important for the next bit.
---Catacombs could exist beneath cities! Infested with monsters, or perhaps malfunctioning golems and sentinels, Exploring them would be considerably more difficult- because breaking things angers the sentinels, players would be forced to navigate the catacombs without resorting to just mining away traps or circumnavigating tricky bits.
---Thought Pillager raids were bad enough in villages? Well, cities would provide an opportunity to make them even worse! Regarding the walls, a new unit of Pillager could be added- 'Griefers,' whose attacks involve explosions of some sort. (Of course, this would also require some means of repairing the city. Possibly another unit of robot, since I can't really imagine villagers building things?) Considering what a disaster an attack on a city ought to be, they shouldn't happen randomly. Perhaps the player does some sort of ritual in the city's center in order to summon a massive Pillager attack? The city, of course, wouldn't be defenseless. In addition to walls and golems, other protective measures could be added. (See here for a long winded idea regarding 'Shulker Turrets.') Maybe griefers also light things on fire?
---Some sort of bulletin board system that allows players to complete missions in exchange for emeralds with which to buy neat stuff?
---A way to make things even more complicated would be to add a sort of dynamic economy to cities based on what sort of utilities are present, that the player could influence in some way.
Even Crazier Concepts
To finish this spiel off, some other random ideas.
---Special, super rare variants of cities- such as a floating city that generates in the middle of an ocean, or a flying city that generates in the sky. (I mean, there already is one reference to Laputa, isn't there?)
---Partly ruined minecart networks connecting cities. It would be so cool to be exploring, find a dilapidated minecart rail bridging a fair distance above the land, and follow it to a city. Stretching between cities, over terrain, and tunneling through higher terrain, repairing these crumbled rail networks would allow players quick access between cities. (Pre-Elytra, that is.)
---Cities taken over by pillagers! It would be pretty irritating to finally spy a city on the horizon- only to notice giant pillager banners hanging from the main keep and off the walls. In addition to housing the usual axe-wielding maniacs, malfunctioning golems could roam the streets. This would be a partly ruined city that houses pillagers, with dark rituals taking place in its center...
---Cities would also be a great way of hiding Easter eggs- just make a certain type of room or building rare enough, and who knows what players might find in it. This one is pretty random, but it would be a good way of mixing things up and preventing players from getting bored. Imagine finding a secret jukebox room beneath a villager's house! It would certainly raise questions.
Support. I'd imagined naturally-generated cities to basically be larger villages; your post goes all in on the mechanics. One thing I'd suggest would be to make cities out of similar materials as villagers, but (in plains, for example) with more bricks, stone bricks, concrete, and possibly a new tar block for roads. I'd also suggest certain conditions on where they'd generate; it'd make sense for them to be situated on rivers (with generation taking them into account, building bridges over them), and possibly modifying city structure slightlyh for coastal cities.
If you don't mind me, can I include some of your concepts in my yet hypothetical modpack?
I actually think your "crazier idea" of an Illager city works better than the base suggestion, which I think has too many mechanics going on and would work better as a mod. It'd create a kind of epic raid locale similar to Sea Temples, Mansions, and Strongholds, but on an even grander scale. I do like the idea of catacombs, too. You could obviously associate loot with the cities, even possibly including rare Villager variants like a Cultist (sells Nether and End materials) or even a Zoologist (sells Mob spawn eggs at high prices) that can be "rescued" from cities. It's also a good opportunity to implement more Totems, which I do feel need to be expanded upon.
Strongholds aren't particularly challenging, there isn't any particular reason to explore an Ocean Monument, you get better loot in a Desert Pyramid than a Woodland Mansion
However, these sort of things seem to be a let down. Both the woodland mansion and the mushroom isle are incredibly difficult to find... and neither one is particularily useful. The Woodland Mansion has some decent loot, but it's ridiculously challenging, and odds are you're going to use up more resources getting through it than you'll actually obtain. As for the Mushroom Isle... well, it isn't as if there's much there worth making the journey. The Mooshrooms are cute, I suppose, but they're not even a sustainable source of Mushrooms.
I have nothing against your suggestion in general, but I do believe that the quoted claims are inaccurate. Woodland mansions are known for being HUGE and full of all sorts of loot. It is one of the only sources of the Totem of Undying, which is priceless in Hardcore mode and can save you from losing a lot of items in other modes. Other loot can include TNT, diamond blocks, enchanted golden apples, ender pearls, obsidian, and books - both enchanted and regular (through library rooms). If you compare The loot of the mansion to The loot of the pyramid, you can see that the mansion essentially offers the same items as the temple plus some extras like diamond chestplates and music discs. The rooms can contain materials like string (from cobwebs and spiders) and saplings, plus you can even get a decent amount of TNT, just like in the temple.
Ocean monuments are almost entirely made out of unique items, both aesthetic (prismarine) and utility (sponges). You can also get gold and complete advancements by going here. There is plenty of reason to venture into an ocean monument.
Mushroom islands have GIANT mushrooms, which can be broken like trees to get many individual mushroom items. Plus, the mycelium allows you to grow the mushrooms back, making a farm. Not like you'll really need it because Mooshrooms can be milked using a bowl to generate unlimited mushroom stew, as well as acting exactly like a regular cow. Brown mooshrooms can generate suspicious stew, giving you interesting effects, and essentially acting as a potion. When you're done farming, you can shear for a guaranteed 5 mushrooms, which can create multiple stews. Read this for yourself.
You completely underestimate the value of these structures.
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Remember those versions that minecraft pranked us with? Specifically:
Those are still downloadable! Watch this video for 2.0:
To download the other ones you need to make a folder in the versions folder for minecraft and put the client and JSON file for the versions in there. They all need to be named the same aside from file extensions. Once you do that, you will be able to choose that version when making a new profile with the minecraft launcher.
What could go wrong:
1. Becoming too hardline medieval. Mind that while mineshafts with cheap supports, underground brick bunkers ("strongholds"), simple villages, watchtowers or mansions can be attributed to almost any era from times of bronze swords to age of tanks and nukes, cities typically represent very specific time period and are usually creations of peak technology of its time, with architecture being the defining factor.
2. Loss of post-apoc/pre-colonial feeling Minecraft has, the player is dominant factor changing the environment and is to an extent the most advanced technologically among all entities.
3. Loss of importance of villages, if balance went in favor of cities with more work stations and less vulnerability to run of the mill raids. Additionally, loss of uniqueness of villages.
4. Incentive for recreating Generalplan Ost. Why would you mercilessly slaughter entire population of unarmed civilians that drop no loot and no experience, down to the last child?
Their robotic defenders harass the player trying to reshape the city. No population, no city as structure. No city as structure, no defenders. No defenders, area free to be razed and built over. New citizens can be brought from villages of course.
Especially if the city as structure made raids turn into sieges that griefed the structure and everything around it.
A. Getting so rare structures interconnected by railways precisely would require a ton of rework on generation system.
B. Getting villagers coded to work right with their already extremely complex system was a lot of work. Getting even more complex city system may not be deemed worthy.
C. Certain resource packs are modern or futuristic/post-apoc themed, notably Last Days. Heavily medieval towns would cause significant problems with these packs and their lore cohesion.
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Totalitarian architecture. Angular, defensible masonry over sleek, sloped carpentry.
Taking it slow. Provoking into attack typically does better rushing.
Underground engineering. Well-lit tunnels are much safer and often cheaper than any surface construct.
Farmability. One of primary concerns relating to any feature.
Practical mobs. No annoyances taking up space and processor power.
Generalism and simplicity. Overly complicated and specialized concepts hardly ever come into fruition.
One additional suggestion relating to railways: Make them grow out from cities, but end abruptly after a hundred or so blocks. This gives the impression that they are there, but doesn't give free transportation from one to another.
This seems like an interesting idea, however I don't think Mojang will code such a large structure in. They already added the woodland mansion. If the game chose a large flat area for the city, flat areas being rare enough on its own the generation of the city would take up the space leaving little area for large projects the player may want to take up.
...I personally think larger structures are possible... though, yes, it doesn't seem particularly likely that Mojang would try something like this. That being said, Bastion Remnants can get pretty large. As for Woodland Mansions- I for one haven't found many, but they seem to invariably generate at least partly broken, and are pretty liable to light on fire during a thunder storm. And yes, I may have been pretty harsh on the existing structure generation. The goal with any new structure should be to enhance the existing content, not do away with it.
In response to additional feedback:
-Yes, rails connecting cities would be really difficult to implement- necessitating a significant overhaul of world generation, and being sort of overpowered if repaired. A feature very similar to this exists in the 'Lost Cities' Mod, (Which serves at least in part as inspiration for this idea, though it deals mostly with ruins. You can check it out here.) It works... but because the railways and highways in the lost cities mod so rarely generate damaged with the default settings, they are very overpowered. A simpler method of achieving the same effect without completely overhauling terrain generation would be to have, (as suggested by Erictom333), rails that extend some distance from the city before becoming ruined; as well as a new random structure that can generate near cities, consisting of segments of ruined railways. The rails themselves could be sort of like aqueducts- arches of fancy masonry over the landscape, crumbled into ruin. (In keeping with the aesthetic.)
-Just to clarify, Cities would, necessarily, have to be very rare, both to keep Villages from becoming obsolete, and to keep players from having it easy. Cities would never generate near spawn, and could, (Perhaps), be hunted down with maps, similar to treasure, ocean monuments, mansions, etc. Even when cities did generate, there would be a considerable chance they would be overgrown and ruined, overrun with hostiles, etc.
-Aesthetics and Lore wise, (As much as Minecraft can be said to have Lore), cities should fit with the general medieval/fantasy/quasistempunkish/indescribably minecraft vibe of minecraft. ...And yes, this is about as subjective as it gets. One of the points of Minecraft's aesthetic, it seems, is to be vague enough that it's easy to interpert in any way possible. Hence the general idea that cities ought to look like more advanced versions of villages, without being excessively medieval, or excessively futuristic/steampunk.
-While I don't think it would be too complicated to design a new Villager AI for cities... goodness knows I'm not a programmer. And frankly, the Villager AI seems to have enough trouble in villages as it is. ...Unlike normal villagers, perhaps City villagers drop rare loot, emeralds, etc; at the expense of angering Sentinels. And on that note...
-I think the sentinel-esque system of robot guardians is necessary- if not necessarily in the form I suggested. This is also partly from experience with the Lost Cities mod- if you don't have a great deal of mob spawners or other hostiles in the city, it becomes far too easy to either move in to what amounts to a pre-made base, or take apart the entire place for loot and building materials. Hence, in ruined cities, there should be Illagers, mob spawners, something along those lines; whereas rare intact cities should have some form of robotic defenders- both to deal with hostiles, and to keep the cities from becoming an unbalanced game mechanic. There would, obviously, be ways around this- stealing things behind the sentinel's back, using emeralds to bribe them, or bringing along emerald blocks in order to establish your own base within a city. Or just trying to obliterate everything in your path- though this would be considerably difficult- if perhaps worthwhile for a great deal of loot and building materials.