In construction and management simulation games in which you essentially construct buildings and structures, you often have to build rooms within those structures. People (or creatures) in the game will then enter and interact with these rooms and stuff placed in these rooms; however, the implementations of rooms in games have seen an impressive amount of variety. How are rooms placed? Can you put items in the rooms? How are the walls handled?

I’m going to talk about some of the various room designs I’ve observed in games I’ve played in a six-part series, starting right now.

Dungeon Keeper (1997, Bullfrog Productions)

In Dungeon Keeper (and its successor, Dungeon Keeper II), you’re a malicious god-dictator creating a dungeon to attract and train an army of evil creatures (and…regular vermin like giant spiders and flies).

To attract and keep these creatures, one of the main things you had to do was build rooms – “Lairs”, for creatures to sleep in, “Hatcheries”, which produced chickens, “Training Rooms”, for batting training dummies around (and leveling up), and so on – 14 rooms total.

Usually most of the level is diggable soil that you can dig out – sort of like a horizontal ant farm. At a minimum, you might dig out a 3×3 area with a little doorway attached, and then place a room within. Let’s take the Training Room, for example. If you place a 3×3 training room, the game will automatically add a training dummy in the middle of it. A 3×4 room produces 2 training dummies. 4×4 yields 4 training dummies. Essentially, every tile not near an edge would automatically get a training dummy, and that determined how many minions could use the room at once. So if you create a 2×3 room, no dummies will appear, and you might as well not even build the thing. Hatcheries are the same way, as are Unholy Temples in Dungeon Keeper 2, but they require 5×5 (!) to be fully functional.

Many of the rooms don’t have any size requirements like this because they don’t auto-place any special furniture. Lairs, Treasure Rooms, and Guard Posts all can function as 1×1 or oddly shaped rooms.

Most notably, there’s absolutely no customization. You can place traps, but not inside rooms, and each trap is large, taking the entire tile. You just choose the room to place, drag out the zone in which you want to place it, and the room appears. Simple.

Continue to Pt.2: Theme Hospital