Massive Flashcity update

Since I released the first version of Flashcity three weeks ago, I've been working hard to add more features and improve the game. Well, “working hard” is not quite the right description, as for the most part, the development is extremely fun and I'm having a great time working on the game. At one point though, I've run into a problem with the game data - the Actionscript code seemed to have trouble with the massive arrays that I use to store the map data. Saving the map data in external files and loading them into the game provided a solution to this, but this part was hard to figure out and required huge changes to the game code structure. Apart from this one incident though, development was surprisingly smooth and easy.

One issue that gives me headaches though is the massive amount of calculations that need to be done for various functions like checking if zones are connected to the road grid, as well as when loading the maps and preparing the data before entering the game. I managed to move the major calculations to places where they don't affect gameplay too much (like right before the yearly budget window pops up) and deploy pop up windows to inform you that something is going on, but some calculations in bigger cities and when loading huge maps and saved games can take quite a long time (as in: several seconds). In some cases the browser might even display a message suspecting that Flash player has locked up. If this happens, don't stop the player. It's not dead, it just needs some more time to finish the calculations. :-) It seems like I will need to find a better way to handle the map data so that calculations can be done quicker.

Anyway, enough tech talk. Here's a list of the major new features:

  • New industrial zones provide jobs for your residential population
  • Zones (residential, industrial and the tv tower in particular) must now be connected to the road grid in order to work properly
  • Zones without access to electricity, road and a job (for residentials) will not pay taxes, so make sure you provide all of these things
  • Roads will now display properly with bends and intersections
  • Some new residential building graphics
  • A new little plaza to fill those gaps in your city. It can be found in the (also new) drop-down menu for “parks and recreation”
  • New icon graphics for the tool menu on the right side of the screen
  • Reworked the user interface and added a set of tabs at the bottom left of the screen with various game functions: “File” tab (new game, load, save, help - these replace the buttons that were found in the tool menu before), “Statistics” tab (shows information about your city), “Options tab” (game speed and auto-budget) and “Disasters” tab (see below)
  • Getting bored of your nice city? Unleash disasters and watch it burn down in flames! Currently, an earthquake is at your disposal. A wider away of destructive natural forces may be added later.
  • Build your city in one of five premade maps and one special scenario (see below) or let the game generate a random map - an endless amount of worlds to play in!
  • New scenario “White River City” provides a new kind of challenge: Save the declining city by fighting high unemployment with limited funds.

And now, if you can't wait to see the new stuff in action, head on over and check out the new features yourself. And as always, have fun with Flashcity and if you like it, spread the word.


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