The first Natural Disasters Dev Diary has been released!

This week’s topic is Meteors and Helicopters.

As we have already shared with you guys we are working on the next expansion for Cities: Skylines and it’s time to get up close and personal with the new features. Natural Disasters is a very interesting expansion to work on and we hope it will be even more interesting to play! We have already announced there’s going to be disasters, scenarios and new and improved city services, but we’ll start with the ones implemented at this time: Meteor strikes and helicopters. The meteor strike looks awesome, but not only that, it also has many effects on the city. Helicopters tie into that, but are also usable in other ways.

One of the first disasters we came up with was the meteor strike. A flaming rock from space falls down and strikes your city! What could be cooler? Only that it has a complex effect, not just cool visuals! So when the meteor is approaching the city, there’s things you need to know. How big is it? A meteor strike has severity of 1-10, where one is a small quite harmless space rock that will just take out a couple of buildings when it hits. A meteor strike with a full ten points of severity makes a huge crater, wiping out any buildings, roads, water pipes and such in the impact zone, and sets buildings on fire around the crater. The crater actually modifies the terrain, which means after dealing with the most urgent aftermath, your city might have a big crater in the middle of it. The crater can be utilized, you can build a bridge over it or soften the terrain with landscaping tools and zone the area again.

The more immediate consequences are the fires and destroyed buildings. The fire mechanic has been adjusted, so fire spreads pretty easily from one building to the next. This means that if left unchecked, a large portion of the city could burn down as an after effect of the meteor strike, if you are not careful.

But worry not! As roads can be destroyed by the impact, so fire engines can’t make it to the affected area, helicopters come to play. Fire fighting helicopters reside in a depot separate from the fire stations. This allows you to place the depots close to bodies of water, as the helicopters need to fill up their water buckets before heading out to help with a fire. They calculate the shortest route possible so they can first reach a body of water, then go to a fire, and then refill bucket or return to depot, if no more fires are present.

There are also helicopters for healthcare service, police and Disaster Response Unit. The helicopters have different functions. The ambulance helicopter basically picks up patients from hard to reach locations and takes them to a hospital. Disaster Unit Helicopters take search parties and rescue dogs to destroyed buildings to make sure no one is left behind in the rubble. Police helicopters patrol the city, reducing crime rate, but do not pick up criminals like police vehicles. The different helicopters will also be used when the traffic doesn’t allow ground vehicles to get to the destination fast enough.

We are currently working on the system that will decide if a service will use a helicopter or a ground vehicle. It seems that looking into traffic congestion data would be the best way to go, but this feature still needs some iteration, so the logic might change. The ground vehicles calculate their route while taking into account the traffic, but the system cannot predict how the situation will change when they are on their way. The main point of helicopters is still to help get services to the places in need fast and efficiently. Having less emergency vehicles on the roads will also lessen traffic congestion, which will then shorten the time it takes to get to an emergency. Careful balancing is needed so this doesn’t become a “pendulum motion” so that traffic is slow then helicopters are taken into use, which then helps traffic, and services switch back to ground vehicles, which then clog the traffic, so they switch to helicopters and so on. So, while your city can be pelted with asteroids, you can help your citizens out by having helicopters at the city services’ disposal. And they even work when the only disaster happening is clogged roads 🙂

Disasters, disaster related services and helicopters all play in together, and also have an impact on other game play. We’re expecting that helicopters will help out a lot in cities with traffic problems, and with disasters they are very much needed as the roads can get damaged.

We are looking forward to your feedback and can’t wait to share more about Natural Disaster in the upcoming weeks! There will be a new dev diary coming your way every other week until the release and don’t forget to tune in for the usual CO word of the week between the dev diaries!

All the best,

Karoliina

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