Monday, 29 September 2014

Bay City CA

The real world inspiration for Bay City, I doubt I will be building the pier any time soon. Now that I mention it though... mhmm.

A number of my somewhat over-numerous projects require an American city for their setting. As with other grand designs I have, I decided to formalise this as a sub-topic on here, so I can show its progress as it develops. Rather than re-creating a specific city I have gone for a more generic format and created my own, albeit that it uses Santa Monica in California as its inspiration, with a touch of Los Angeles and Venice Beach thrown in for good measure. 

I am not a native of North America, so my rendition of the city will be based on photos, TV & movies and if it becomes a pastiche or parody of the real thing, sorry about that... blame American TV and movies. It will complement my other Americana project, Hope Springs and some of the buildings will be suitable for both, but individual features will go in the appropriate section; 'urban' style features will be under this heading, 'rural' and 'suburban' features under Hope Springs.

As the uses to which the buildings and features will be put varies from the late '30s to the present, some buildings will be usable across the entirety of the period, while others will be specific to certain eras. Towns and cities develop obviously and new build replaces, or supplements the old. Due to the nature of the games themselves, the majority of buildings will need to be 'playable' and will require interior detail to match that. 

Given the time involved in construction and that I have ten thumbs, I will probably make these as close to real scale as possible. The idea is to create a real city area, rather than to cram as many building as possible on the table. 'Less is more' in this situation and generally in any given area, one building tends to dominate, other than areas where residential tenements are the majority building type at least.

While it may seem somewhat odd to some of you, I find that console game 'maps' (Battlefield, Call of Duty etc) can provide great plans to work with, particularly as their design is influenced by the same factors as those required for tabletop wargames. Real maps often do not indicate building use and most urban landscapes are far too cluttered for gaming. You want room to move your figures around, have decent fields of fire, while at the same time having places to take cover in and space to use our over-sized hands and arms to actually move the figures around.    

I have tried wandering around these maps in-game to get a feel for the areas, but people keep shooting at me.

In terms of actual buildings the explosion of laser cut mdf buildings has really made a difference in an area previously dominated by 'paper and card' printed buildings. Sarissa has its City Block range which are nicely detailed, but there are others out there and there are detailing sets out there to make buildings look a lot less like laser-cut mdf and more real buildings. Old Glory 25s have Gangster Era resin buildings if you do not like mdf. More modern buildings are few and far between, but modern construction methods tend to be somewhat plainer than of old and foam card will work tolerably well. Mantic Games will be producing modern scenery (both whole and damaged) items from its Mars Attacks Kickstarter, which also include a variety of street furniture which will be great for detailing the city streets.

There are plenty of blogs and websites out there, done by people who have scratch-built their own stuff. My particular favourite is Zombie Town, but there are a lot out there and I think I am safe in saying that if you want to build it, somebody out there has already done it, or something like it. From our perspective, that means we can learn by their mistakes and of course go ahead to make our own new ones.

This stately home began as the Dust Tactics 'Tenement' modular building sets and can be seen in all its glory here