I stumbled across a lovely, relaxing game called 'Townscaper' on the online game platform 'Steam'. It probably doesn't really deserve to be called a game – it is more of a tool. A tool with which you can create fantasy cities.
When you start a new town or city, you are faced with an empty stretch of water. You then start building your creation block by block. Each new block will change the blocks next to it so that, for example, roofs join up nicely, or stairs appear where needed. Sometime when placing new blocks you will even disturb roosting birds which will then fly away.
You can also select the colour of the building blocks that form the buildings in your city. I tend to select natural stone colours, but you can also have your towers and cottages painted in bright and vibrant colours.
You can rotate, zoom and basically view your town from any angle or distance you like. You can also change where the sun is coming from and what time of day it is. After a few seconds of night in your town, lights will start coming on in the windows. This gives you lots of flexibility when taking screenshots, for which there is a built in screenshot function.
There are so many uses for a freely rotatable town model of which you can take screenshots. Images of locations to give to players characters in roleplaying games? Or maybe a visual guide for tracing the movement of characters when writing a story set in a fantasy city?
I have been using the terms town or city. But as you can see from this image (left), single buildings are also no problem… as long as you dont mind them being islands in a vast lake.
And that leads us to the limitations of the app. There is only one 'skin'. You can't change the look of the buildings other than their colour, and you can only build things on the water. If you cover all the water with a layer of solid foundations, then you can imitate a non-water based town or city. But that is a LOT of clicking as every block currently need to be placed individually. With a bit of trickery, you can also create villages and green spaces. This involved enclosing an area with a solid ring of buildings. The enclosed space will automatically become pastures/gardens. To create a reasonable village, however, you will have to create a large base plate (click, click, click…). It is quite tedious.
There is so much potential here – with a couple more skins, the ability to laydown blocks more than one at a time, and maybe a bit more topography (currently 'hills' in cities are just building levels) this would be an amazing tool.