Virtual Cities

By Konstantinos Dimopoulos

A beautifully illustrated atlas exploring and mapping the spectacular imaginary cities of video games.

Gaming | Illustrated
187% funded
1763 supporters
Final designs

Publication date: September 2020

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Collection of Game Design Articles

One copy of the first edition hardback, the ebook, plus a digital copy of Konstantinos’s collected articles and essays on game design and urban planning, as published on Gamasutra, Medium, and many more. The articles would be newly edited and include brand new, never before published content.
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NAME A CITY

Suggest a game city to be included in the book, and chat with Konstantinos over Skype or Google Hangout to discuss your chosen city. Along with this, you get one copy of the first edition hardback, the SIGNED bookplate, the ebook, the collected articles, and the set of postcards. *Limited to 4

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Video games allow us to construct and visit believable imaginary cities, provide us with glimpses of ancient urbanism, and let us immerse ourselves in the wildest utopias and darkest dystopias of our possible futures. They are an unprecedented canvas for experimenting with the urban environment, and an utterly unique medium for experiencing cities both imagined and real in truly immersive ways.

Game urbanist, designer, and writer Konstantinos Dimopoulos, and visual artist Maria Kallikaki have embarked on a virtual journey to explore, catalogue, and map the most spectacular, intriguing, and defining places of this new digital geography.

 

 

Virtual Cities: An Atlas & Exploration of Video Game Cities is an ambitious and richly illustrated atlas that is the first detailed attempt to document the deep and exciting history of game cities via a combination of original maps, ink drawings, and insightful commentary and analysis. 

Virtual Cities will be a beautiful book meant for lovers of cartography and imaginary worlds, artists, game designers, world builders, and, above all, everyone who plays and cares for video games.

 

 

Virtual Cities covers over 40 game cities across literary and gaming genres. Cities spanning almost 40 years of digital history, including detailed entries on Half-Life 2’s City 17, Yakuza’s Kamurocho, Fallout’s New Vegas, Silent Hill, and less well-known cities such as Antescher and Lizard Breath, plus cyberpunk Hong Kong, and voodoo New Orleans among many, many more.

Every city featured in the atlas will be mapped through a combination of traditional and unorthodox cartographic methods including partial reconstruction, and the filling in of essential details, which allow us to visualize the often fragmented, incomplete, and out of scale cities of gaming in a cohesive way. It will also be accompanied by beautiful, subtly coloured ink drawings, and in-depth texts covering its history, design lessons, atmosphere, landmarks, and geography. 

 

STRETCH GOALS!

  • At 150% five additional cities added to the book, which means more artwork, more content, more chances your favourite games will be included.
  • At 175% we'll announce a Limited Edition Slipcase edition. You'll be able to upgrade your hardback to include this slipcase.
  • At 200%, to say thank you for your incredible support, every backer will receive a digital book of sketches, early artwork, initial ideas and notes.
  • Above 200% - Keep an eye out for more amazing stretch goals.

 

 

About the Book

  • A full colour, high quality hardback with printed endpapers.
  • Approximately 200 pages.
  • 210 by 286mm format with head and tail bands.
  • Over 40 original maps, and more than 100 drawings.
  • Contains over 50,000 words and amazing pledge levels!

From metropolitan sci-fi open worlds and medieval fantasy towns, to contemporary cities and glimpses of gothic horror urbanism author and artist will research, map, visualize, and document some of the most iconic, complex and intriguing cities in gaming. 

 

*Book designs and cover are for illustrative purpose and may differ to final design.

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  • Konstantinos Dimopoulos avatar

    Konstantinos Dimopoulos

    Following a PhD and over 10 years of research in urban planning and city geography, Konstantinos Dimopoulos moved on to combine his knowledge of cities with his love for games and game design into the field of game urbanism. Since then he has worked on the cities, settlements, mechanics, maps, and geographies of several games including MMO Seed, The Sinking City, Cyberganked, and Cyberpunk Cities. He never really stopped lecturing, writing words, giving talks, designing his own games, and fiddling with virtual worlds, though the cartography of imaginary worlds is a relatively recent obsession of his.


    Maria Kallikaki is a visual artist specializing in landscape oil-paintings, engravings, and ink illustrations. She has been educating children in the arts for over 10 years. Oil painting aside, she has been applying her skills to books, posters, and even video games, while also experimenting with three dimensional art objects. She studied Painting and Engraving at the Academy of Fine Arts (Accademia di Belle Arti) in Florence, Italy.

  • City 17

    Half-Life 2

    There aren't any children in City 17. The dilapidated playgrounds are devoid of life, and will remain so for as long as the all-encompassing Suppression Field keeps on preventing human procreation. And it's not just the playgrounds that stand abandoned either. Many of the city's buildings are crumbling, and even more have been empty husks for years. Despite the soft daylight and long, almost romantic shadows, City 17 is neither a happy nor a vibrant place.

    Even pinpointing its exact location is tricky. The direction of the sunlight, and the widespread use of the Cyrillic alphabet suggest Eastern Europe, most probably Bulgaria, yet one can also find a few signs and graffiti in Greek or even Scandinavian. With its exact location remaining a mystery, not much can be known of the place's early history, beside the fact it wasn't always called City 17. The architecture that still stands, itself a monument of better days, allows a simple reconstruction of the city's evolution from the neoclassicism of the 19th Century, to early modernism, to the Soviet functionalism that followed World War 2, to postmodern styles, to a truly alien, cold, and monolithic version of Brutalism.

    Following the Seven Hour War, along with the rest of Earth, City 17 is no longer under humanity's control. The unconditional surrender of the unified human government has turned the devastatingly powerful extraterrestrial forces of the Combine into the planet's new absolute rulers. It is they who constructed imposing Citadels in major cities. It is they who chose to erect the greatest of the Citadels in City 17 turning it into their de facto global capital, where Wallace Breen, former head of Black Mesa and Earth's current appointed Administrator, has his headquarters.

    Read more...
  • 17th September 2019 An Update for September

    With the summer safely behind us, the time for another short update has come. The book, you see, has been written and edited since quite a while, and the excellent Unbound team is currently working hard on the final design of Virtual Cities -- obviously both I and Maria were asked for our input, and the first drafts are looking great. 

    Parallel to that the two of us are working to finalize the…

    19th July 2019 News, dates, and an exhibition

    Hello everyone,

    I am happy to let you all know that Virtual Cities has entered its pre-press phase, meaning that all the thoroughly edited, touched-up, and polished texts, illustrations, and maps are now ready to be assembled into the final version of the atlas. There are of course things still left to be done by the excellent Unbound team (mainly design work, type-setting, proofreading, and the…

    5th June 2019 Second Stretch Goal Hit

    Due to your continuing (and touching) support of the Virtual Cities campaign, we just hit 175% funded, and unlocked our second stretch goal! As promised a new reward level has thus been made available: the exclusive Slipcase Edition. It features the (expensive to produce in limited numbers) slipcase, the hardcover book itself, the signed bookplate, and the map print. 

    Oh, and editing the book has…

    16th May 2019 Manuscript, maps and artwork submitted!

    Hello! It's taken longer than expected, but now the last of the city maps, as well as the book's introduction have finally been submitted, and, with this, the first (and greatest) step towards the completion of the actual atlas has been achieved! Virtual Cities is actually, truly happening, and I honestly have to thank you all for the incredible support, and believe that you will all love what…

    22nd February 2019 Progress Beneath a Union City

    The 45th city to appear in the Virtual Cities atlas will be the dystopian Union City from 1994's Beneath A Steel Sky. This beautifully illustrated, rich, sci-fi metropolis governed by the all-powerful LINC computer is the final addition to the book's contents (previously announced here); the 45th atlas entry.

    What's more, after countless hours of work the Virtual Cities manuscript is finally…

    23rd January 2019 Progress Report

    January, 2019 is almost over, and we have finally moved past the 50% mark, meaning that I do expect us to submit the final manuscript of Virtual Cities (complete with illustrations, and maps) in less than two months from now. What's more, my amazing wife, Vivi, an engineer with a masters in urban planning herself, has joined the team to lend us her cartographic expertise, help us make even better…

    27th December 2018 Happy Civic Holidays!

    Happy holidays everyone, and here's to a wonderful, healthy, happy, and creative 2019! 

    With eighteen entries finalized --admittedly Orgrimmar proved a bit trickier than expected, and mapping Metro City wasn't as straightforward as I believed it would be-- we are making good progress on Virtual Cities, and are still on schedule. My original estimate of delivering the manuscript to Unbound in the…

    4th December 2018 Virtual Cities: The Contents Revealed

    Narrowing over forty years, dozens of platforms, a menagerie of genres, and a multitude of game city types (and styles) down to the 45 entries of the Virtual Cities atlas wasn't an easy task. I will not bore you with the details, but know that a few hundred hours were dedicated to researching, playing, re-playing, reading, and finally deciding on 41 of those cities. The remaining four were selected…

    21st November 2018 A Rather Wintery Civic Update

    [illustration courtesy of Colorfiction and 0°N 0°W]

    I was hoping to be able to announce the final list of the atlas entries in this update (and was thus postponing it), but am still working with a couple of our super-generous 'Name A City'-level backers on the cities they did like to see featured in Virtual Cities; we are thus not there just yet. Happily though, after dozens of hours of researching…

    27th September 2018 150% reached - five cities added!

    Amazingly, Virtual Cities hit its very first stretch goal at 150% funded, and five more entries have been added to the book! The atlas will thus now grow bigger to include 45 game cities, and I can't help but thank you all so very, very much. We honestly never really expected this much love, and support to be shown to our project.

    Oh, and even though at least another 10 illustration, 5 maps…

    13th September 2018 The steampunk-ish New Bretagne of Lamplight City

    Brilliant detective adventure Lamplight City by Grundislav Games has just been released on Steam and GOG, and I am happy to announce that its rich, atmospheric, Victorian, steampunk-ish city will be part of the Virtual Cities atlas. What's more, creator Francisco Gonzalez has been kind enough to provide me with a pre-release copy of the game, concept artwork, design documents, and all of the city…

    10th September 2018 Take a closer look at one of the best video game cities, Grim Fandango’s Rubacava

    Summer's (almost) gone, a lot of work has been done on the Virtual Cities atlas, and the lovely Polygon published  an excerpt from the book on Grim Fandango's Rubacava. Read it here. You'll also notice that the words are accompanied by a new illustration by Maria Kallikaki.

    - Konstantinos

    1st August 2018 A Midsummer Update on Virtual Cities

    It's been a while since the last update on the Virtual Cities atlas, and as you may have noticed the campaign is steadily climbing towards its first stretch goal. Achieving 150% feels like something we can actually reach, and I've thus slightly readjusted our plans to allow for the inclusion of 45 cities in the book; that's roughly an extra 10 illustrations, 5 maps, and over 5000 words.

    Speaking…

    27th June 2018 The Imaginary Realism of Bus Simulator 18

    Virtual Cities, being an atlas that intends to cover all aspects of videogame urbanism, is, appropriately, also aiming to encompass the entire range of gaming's cities. So, following last week's announcement regarding the inclusion of 0°N 0°W's surreal urban entities, here's a short update to let you know that the contemporary, realistic, and yet imaginary (to the point of utopianism some…

    22nd June 2018 The magical, surreal maps of 0°N 0°W

    0°N 0°W was released only a few months ago by indie studio Colorfiction, and is a truly unique exercise in surreal urbanism, and the crafting of strange, dreamlike cities. An unexpectedly meditative interactive experience exploring the possibilities of imaginary, experimental planning, I simply had to include in the Virtual Cities atlas.

    As visiting 0°N 0°W can be pretty…

    20th June 2018 Expanding Virtual Cities -- The Stretch Goals

    I never expected Virtual Cities to be funded in less than three weeks, and both I and Maria Kallikaki are truly grateful for your support, and very excited to be working on our atlas of game cities. Also, having discussed things with the lovely people of Unbound we are now in the happy position of being able to announce our stretch goals:

    • At 150% of the funding goal five additional cities…

    13th June 2018 The Continuous City by Gareth Damian Martin

    Game cities are a fascinating subject, and as is the case with all fascinating subjects, they can be approached, explored, and appreciated in a multitude of ways. Readers intrigued by our Virtual Cities atlas might thus also be interested in a radically different approach.

    The Continuous City by Gareth Damian Martin is a collection of wonderful, black and white, analogue photography exploring…

    5th June 2018 Virtual Cities is happening!

    First of all, a huge THANK YOU to all you wonderful people who helped the Virtual Cities campaign reach its funding goal in less than three weeks! Both I and Maria Kallikaki are beyond excited in the knowledge that our atlas is indeed happening! We also now know how (and where) to spend our summer.

    What's more, we are looking --along with the wonderful team @ Unbound-- for ways of making this…

    29th May 2018 Two Brand New 'Virtual Cities' Pledge Levels

    Popular demand --expressed both publicly in the book's FAQ secion, and privately via emails-- led us to the inclusion of two new pledge levels for the Virtual Cities campaign:

    - the Signed Bookplate and Postcards (a special offer) level offering the book, the signed bookplate, and the postcards,

    - and the Book Bundle pledge aimed at retailers, and indie shops featuring five copies of the atlas…

    25th May 2018 Fallen London and the Cartography of a Thousand Stories

    Fallen London, the wonderfully dark and deliciously devilish Victorian Gothic metropolis of Failbetter Games, and also the intricate urban setting of both Fallen London and Sunless Sea will be a part of the Virtual Cities atlas!* What's more, the incredibly generous people of Failbetter Games shall be helping me and Maria Kallikaki map this fabulously intricate imaginary city, capture and re-interpret…

    24th May 2018 An Update on the Virtual Cities campaign

    We have decided to remove all references to GTA V, and Los Santos, as well as all references to Bioshock from the campaign (and the relevant updates). We will be focusing on other virtual cities instead.

    22nd May 2018 10 Virtual Cities cities revealed!

    Thank you all for the wonderful, heart-warming support!

    The Virtual Cities atlas, this artful, and very cartographic journey through gaming's cities would never be possible without the love you have shown it (and us). Honestly, thank you!

    The campaign is already approaching the point of being 50% funded, and I'm certain that by spreading the word even further, we'll be hitting 100% very soon…

    18th May 2018 Welcome to the very real Virtual Cities campaign

    Back in 2017 I and artist Maria Kallikaki decided that launching a virtual cartographic expedition to map, explore, and capture the essence of gaming's most intriguing cities would be an adventure worth embarking on.

    Now, almost a year later I can't help but feel we are almost there. Virtual Cities is happening, and I'd like to ask all you wonderful people for your help in spreading the word on…

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  • Ashwin Sudhir
    Ashwin Sudhir asked:

    Could you please consider adding a reward tier with the post cards and the signed bookplate along with a hardback+ebook?

    Konstantinos Dimopoulos
    Konstantinos Dimopoulos replied:

    Hello! Ah, yes, a good idea that! Will look into this :) Thanks, K

    Pablo López
    Pablo López asked:

    Hi, This book looks great. Is there any place where I can see the full list of cities or an index of contents? Thanks. Pablo

    Konstantinos Dimopoulos
    Konstantinos Dimopoulos replied:

    Hello, and thank you! The full list has not been announced yet, but I will be disclosing the first definite batch of entries within this week.

    Luke Cashmore
    Luke Cashmore asked:

    Would be amazing if you had this one! https://switchfan.org/wp/wp-content/uploads/lego-city-undercover-map.jpg

    Konstantinos Dimopoulos
    Konstantinos Dimopoulos replied:

    Hello! The list of cities hasn't been finalized yet. We (me and artist Maria Kallikaki) are really trying to include as many and as iconic cities as we can. Can't say we haven't considered Lego City, but it's till not decided upon.

    Antoine Daviau 3cratere
    Antoine Daviau 3cratere asked:

    Hi, Your work looks amazing. As a french guy, do you have any idea about a future translation of your book ? Regards, Antoine

    Konstantinos Dimopoulos
    Konstantinos Dimopoulos replied:

    Hello! Thank you so much for the kind words. After the book gets published in English, we will try and look into translation options; obviously French will be a key language!

    Antoine Daviau 3cratere
    Antoine Daviau 3cratere asked:

    Ok, I'll be ready whenever it'll be available (even if, I really want to buy it now... Do you have any Dark souls town ?). Regards and good luck for your project :)

    Konstantinos Dimopoulos
    Konstantinos Dimopoulos replied:

    Thank you, but keep in mind that a French edition sadly cannot be guaranteed. As for Dark Souls... well, you'll have to wait a tiny bit and see ;)

    Jack A
    Jack A asked:

    Pledged! Looks really cool, is there any point and click adventures cities going to be included in the book? Also will Deus Ex get some love too?

    Konstantinos Dimopoulos
    Konstantinos Dimopoulos replied:

    Thank you! Also, yes! We've already announced Gabriel Knight's New Orleans, and Rubacava from Grim Fandango. The rest will eventually be revealed; Deus Ex is --of course-- being considered.

    Alice Clarke
    Alice Clarke asked:

    Would you add a retailers pledge? I work for a comic book store and we would love to pledge for 5 copies or so at distribution price.

    Konstantinos Dimopoulos
    Konstantinos Dimopoulos replied:

    Not entirely sure this is possible to be honest, but I will ask, and --if possible-- get it added. Thanks!

    Wayne Hoffman
    Wayne Hoffman asked:

    For the map print pledge, do we choose which print or will it be random?

    Konstantinos Dimopoulos
    Konstantinos Dimopoulos replied:

    It will be decided by the artist, and announced as soon as we have at least 2/3 of the final maps ready.

    Wayne Hoffman
    Wayne Hoffman asked:

    Another question. Any chance at seeing Dunwall in the book?

    Konstantinos Dimopoulos
    Konstantinos Dimopoulos replied:

    Many chances :)

    Matt Gee
    Matt Gee asked:

    Hello are you taking any suggestions for locations? I would love to see some of the following cities in your book... Rapture from Bioshock Midgar from Final Fantasy 7 Rome from Assassin's Creed USG Ishimura from Dead Space Dunwall from Dishonored The Citadel from Mass Effect Bowerstone from Fable The Citadel from Oblivion Bright Falls from Alan Wake Yaughton from Everybody's Gone to the Rapture Please can you share when the final list of locations will be announced as I'd like to see this before I pledge... Thanks!

    Konstantinos Dimopoulos
    Konstantinos Dimopoulos replied:

    Thanks for the suggestions. As we still haven't finalized every entry yet, I always appreciate suggestions :)

    James Hancock
    James Hancock asked:

    I have pledged for 2 copies of your book. Would it be possible to get 2 names in the back under patrons?

    Unbound
    Unbound replied:

    Hi James, Yes this should be fine. Please see here for how to change the name in the book: http://help.unbound.com/unbound-for-readers/managing-your-subscriptions/changing-the-supporter-name-thats-printed-in-a-book Best wishes, Unbound Support

    Armando Gutierrez
    Armando Gutierrez asked:

    Backed! When is the expected delivery after the funding?

    Konstantinos Dimopoulos
    Konstantinos Dimopoulos replied:

    Thank you! We are aiming to have all texts, maps, and illustrations ready by early 2019. After that Unbound will need roughly 10-12 months to get the book on shelves, though backers should be receiving 1st edition books a bit sooner. Please do keep in mind that nothing's set in stone just yet.

    Luke Cashmore
    Luke Cashmore asked:

    Brill! Would love LEGO city to be featured as I worked on it :D. Been telling everyone about this book!

    Konstantinos Dimopoulos
    Konstantinos Dimopoulos replied:

    Thank you so much! I am indeed considering LEGO City :)

    Matt Gee
    Matt Gee asked:

    When will the final list of cities be announced?

    Konstantinos Dimopoulos
    Konstantinos Dimopoulos replied:

    We will keep on announcing cities during the summer. I am expecting a 99% final list to be made public early in September.

    Stefan Wagner
    Stefan Wagner asked:

    Hi, this looks like a great (and beautiful) project! Provided that you're going to include all backers in the printed version, would it be possible to add a nickname (or hometown) in addition to the real name? – would be awesome as my name for example is pretty common.

    Unbound
    Unbound replied:

    Hi Stefan, You can certainly change the you'd like in the book if you like. Just see here for how to do this: http://help.unbound.com/unbound-for-readers/managing-your-subscriptions/changing-the-supporter-name-thats-printed-in-a-book. Unbound Support

    Konstantinos Stavrakakis
    Konstantinos Stavrakakis asked:

    Hi there Mr. Dimopoulos,I would like to ask you if there is going to be a copy of this book translated in greek since you are Greek (judging from your name).

    Konstantinos Dimopoulos
    Konstantinos Dimopoulos replied:

    Hello! Provided a Greek publishing house is interested in such an attempt, and agrees on terms with Unbound, I cannot see why not. And you are judging correctly; of course :)

    Tom Majski
    Tom Majski asked:

    If yharnam and lordran appear i'm in 100% good luck guys!

    Konstantinos Dimopoulos
    Konstantinos Dimopoulos replied:

    Thank you! Oh, and we've already announced Anor Londo.

    Matt Gee
    Matt Gee asked:

    When is the final list of cities being released?

    Konstantinos Dimopoulos
    Konstantinos Dimopoulos replied:

    Sorry for the belated answer (it is posted above), but their was a small delay on getting my answers to the previous batch of questions approved.

    Ben Edwards
    Ben Edwards asked:

    Really excited for this to come out! Would be awesome for Lumious City from Pokemon X/Y to be in the book or any other city from the Pokemon universe!

    Konstantinos Dimopoulos
    Konstantinos Dimopoulos replied:

    Thank you for the suggestion! Will definitely look into this.

    Mike van Putten
    Mike van Putten asked:

    I really love the idea for a game atlas and am happy it’s founded and hope you get to the 150% stretch goal. These are just some city suggestion so don’t feel obligated to reply. Both Bowerstone from the Fable series and Hyrule Castle (Town) from the Zelda series and how they both evolved through the games. Good luck, Mike

    Konstantinos Dimopoulos
    Konstantinos Dimopoulos replied:

    Hey Mike, and thank you both for the kind words, and the suggestions! Still haven't decided how exactly to cover Zelda's urbanism though...

    Ross Hargill
    Ross Hargill asked:

    How will I get the digital version of the book?

    Konstantinos Dimopoulos
    Konstantinos Dimopoulos replied:

    The digital version of the book will be sent to all backers starting from the $10 tier. As soon as the book is finished you will be notified. Thank you!

    Ethan Ward
    Ethan Ward asked:

    Hey Konstantinos! I was just hoping to upgrade from the hardback tier to the signed bookplate tier (one level up) but it isn't showing on the upgrade list. Is there any way to do this or is it just not possible at this point? And if not, does the Game Design Articles Tier copy include the signed bookplate? Thanks so much and keep up the great work! -Ethan

    Unbound
    Unbound replied:

    Hi Ethan, If you're still having trouble upgrading, please email us via support@unbound.com and we'll look into this for you. Thanks! Unbound Support

    Ethan Ward
    Ethan Ward asked:

    Hi Konstantinos (and or Unbound)! Sorry for the additional question.. but as a game designer myself I'd love to upgrade again to the game design article tier.. however it would seem that it might not include the signed bookplate from my current tier. Would it be possible to somehow upgrade or donate to be able to get the signed bookplate copy and your digital design articles? Thanks a million, you all are awesome :).

    Konstantinos Dimopoulos
    Konstantinos Dimopoulos replied:

    Hello Ethan, and thanks again for the support! I honestly do not know how to fix this, but am pretty confident Unbound might have an idea or two. Please drop them a line at support@unbound.com. If this fails please hit me up (find my contact info via game-cities.com) and I'll try and fix this. Thanks!