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Category: Dev Blog

[Dev] Always fluffy, always hungry and sometimes dangerous – the wildlife

Animals in “The Settlers” are more than just cute, little creatures who are idling and moving around in the world. Some of them even have special, unique functionalities. Many animals’ purpose is to provide something for the economy or even to disturb it – but they sometimes also create a challenge. Let’s go into a bit more detail.

Fluff animals

Not every animal has a specific purpose. There are fluff animals who simply fly around, sit on roofs, crawl on the ground, climb over mountains or walk idly around. These animals are cute and exist to make the world lively.

Game-play animals

The animals that are involved in the game-play use their own simulation system, which consists of different behaviors. This system is connected with many other game systems, as you will soon see:

Lifecycle

All wildlife and paddock animals can age and have their own lifecycle. When they are born, they are young and protected. Adult animals are able to breed, and some of them can be used to pull vehicles. Old animals will eventually die if they are not used as a food source by either the hunter or the rancher.

Habitat and Movement

All animals can move around, but each has a preferred habitat. For paddock animals, it’s very simple. They love their paddocks and stay in there, moving around. If someone is mean enough to destroy their lovely home, the paddock animals strive around helplessly until a rancher picks them up to bring them to a new home. Overall, these animals are content within a paddock.

Wildlife animals choose their own favorite habitat. Deer and boars feel comfortable when protected by the forest. Rabbits prefer meadows. Whenever they are in their preferred habitat, they move around carelessly, breed, and eat. They can live outside their preferred habitat but will then find less food and the chances to breed decrease. That means an animal species can become extinct if the preferred habitat is no longer available. Protect the forest, and the deer can happily go about their lives. But what can we do when new boards are urgently needed to create new houses?

Shy and Aggressive

Some animals are shy and try to run away if a settler comes close. If a little rabbit gets lost in a city full of settlers, it can become desperate and start running around wildly trying to find a way out. Other animals around it can become afraid when they see it running and flee too.

Other animals are not that shy but rather aggressive. If a settler is close to an aggressive animal, the animal starts an attack to chase the settler away. The settler immediately stops whatever they are doing, drops all of their stuff, and runs away to safety. Because of this reaction, it can happen that foragers cannot continue their work if a boar herd is living near a berry spot. But don’t be afraid: hunters or military units can solve the problem.

Food

As already mentioned, all animals need to eat, and every species has its own favorite food. But why do they need to eat? With a full belly, the animal’s chance to successfully breed increases. However, the animal will only be full for a while, and when they get hungry again, the population growth returns to normal. For example, boars don’t like herbs and ignore herb bushes completely; instead, they love to eat fresh corn from farm fields.

But how does this affect the farm fields? If a boar family decides to live on a farm field, farmers cannot continue their work, as boars are aggressive animals and chase away every settler. As already mentioned, this is not a dead end for the poor farm: boars will run away from hunters and military units when they approach the boars.

Breeding

All animals will mate and breed automatically, but before giving birth to a new animal, every animal checks its surroundings to see that it is suitable for a newborn. First, a lonesome animal is not able to mate. There must always be two adult animals of the same species close to each other. Second, is the animal ready for mating? Animals cannot give birth every second. They need a break in between. Third, how many animals are already living in the area? Animals try not to destroy their own habitat by overpopulating. If there are already too many animals within one habitat like the forest, the population growth will decrease a lot. Last but not least, a well-fed animal has higher chances of giving birth compared to a hungry animal.

Chickens are a bit different, as they lay eggs. Sometimes, chickens are just laying eggs, and sometimes a new chick is hatching. This leads us to an important question: which came first, the chicken or the egg? We still couldn’t find the answer!

Fish

Fish, in general, are different from all other animals. Not every fish can be seen, but if one jumps out of the water, it’s an indicator that more fish are at that spot. If no fish can be observed, then none are living in that area.

Like every other animal, fish have their own lifecycle. They are born, live, and die. They can reproduce and move around. They don’t need food, but they provide food to a fisher who catches fish from the water.

Different fish species have their own habitat like all of the other animal species. Some live in the sea, others in lakes, and some of them can even live in both lakes and seas.

Hunters

In the beginning, the hunter can only hunt small animals like rabbits. But with every upgrade to a higher tier, they increase their abilities and can eventually hunt boars and deer. All animals provide meat to the hunter, and deer also provide leather.

As the hunter is very careful not to eradicate a whole species during his hunt, he only focuses on old animals. He leaves young and adult animals alone. However, it is possible to order the hunter to target and hunt adult animals. Of course, this increases his efficiency in the short term but might result in killing off all animals in his area.

Other than just hunting, the hunter has a second, hidden ability. Boars are very aggressive and might attack weak carriers or other workers. It can even happen that settlers are not able to work in a specific area where too many boars are lurking around. But a hunter can scare the boars, even without hunting them. When close by to the boars, they become scared and might run away.

The Ranch

The ranch is a peaceful place for all paddock animals. The rancher has a busy schedule but is always eager to fulfill his duties and make sure the animals are happy.

It begins by building paddocks for the animals to live in. There can be more than one paddock per species, but one paddock can always only be inhabited by one type of animal. A rancher can increase the size of existing paddocks or build new ones – and they must take care of supplying all animals with food.

After building the first paddock, the worker returns to the stables at the ranch, which have breeding animals in them.

Whenever a new animal is born, the rancher will guide it to one of the paddocks.

As soon as the animals become adults, they can start breeding on their own. In addition, adult chickens begin laying eggs, which the workers can collect.

When an animal gets old, the rancher guides them back to the stables where they can be used as a source of food. Chickens, pigs, and cows can all be used to provide meat for settlers.

Cows, together with donkeys, have an additional purpose: as soon as they become adults, a carrier can guide them to the coachmaker. Put in front of a brand new cart, the donkey or ox can transport a lot more goods at a time than a human carrier could. A carrier always accompanies the cart to guide it.

Fishers

The fisher’s purpose is of course to catch fish – and with every upgrade to a higher tier, a new fish species can be caught. At the same time, the upgrade allows the fisher to gather fish in lakes in addition to in the ocean.

The fisher can also empty a whole lake if no one is keeping an eye on him. Since small lakes have far less fish than the vast sea, too many fishers constantly taking fish out of the water might result in every last fish being caught. In this case, it is no longer possible to increase the fish population, so be careful.

How will you live with the wildlife in The Settlers? Do you prefer peaceful coexistence or can you simply not say “no” to a tasty boar – like a certain group of Gauls? Or are you maybe a farmer at heart? Let us know in the comments!

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Player Feedback – We hear you

Over the course of the past months we shared blog posts about different mechanics, buildings and other parts of the game. You, on the other hand, shared your feedback in the comments, on Facebook, Twitter or other channels.

Additionally, with the help of the User Research Lab, we received feedback from different play-tests where you experienced the game.

The constant flow of feedback is very important to us to improve certain features, the user interface or other aspects of the game.

In this blog post we want to share some of the learnings and changes we applied after going through the feedback.

Every game starts with your colony ships and your settlers unloading materials to bring to the shore line. However, the player doesn’t know how many carriers, workers, builders or resources are left on this ship.

Now the ship is clickable and provides you with an overview of its cargo.

In order to make it clearer to the player we improved the visibility of the gather-able resources when placing the appropriate building.

The Settlers will have more buildings than any other The Settlers game before. Therefore, it is important to us that you not only can read the building when it is placed and constructed but also differentiate the buildings easily in construction menu.

The mini map is crucial part in a build-up strategy game. Displaying all the correct information at the correct time could be challenging. While our first iteration of the mini map was not giving enough information, the team came a long way to improve the mini map, changing the visualization, adding various filters and more. (Please note: The minimap is still not final)

Those are just a few bigger examples of many adjustments we implemented based on your feedback to offer you the best The Settlers experience.

Thanks again for all your comments and valuable feedback. More play-tests will come in the near future. Keep your eyes open and your ears peeled.

As always, feel free to express your opinion in the comments below.

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[Dev] Biomes: Midlands

Detailed insight, explained by Andreas Moritz – Level Artist

Biomes

In “The Settlers”, we are building a system to create a true sense of exploration. Driven by its procedural generation engine, the player sets sail  and conquers an infinite amount of islands within the “Tavos” Archipelago. To offer further variation, the islands are located across different climatic biomes that each shape the landscape into distinctly different habitats.

Not only will they look entirely different but also each offer a unique gameplay experience, fitting the biomes island topology and climate.

Intro Midlands Biome

With its tempered climate, the “Midlands” are a deliberately idealized environment that is inspired by the landscapes of central Europe. As the first ship lays anchor on the beach, the settlers, likely exhausted by the long travel, will be warmly greeted by its inviting and friendly landscape. Roaring green meadows dominate the land, gradually progressing from a sandy coast area towards a lush inner core. Each area sharing an equal base color palette of fresh greens that slightly evolves as one makes his way further inland.

The islands themselves were shaped by recent volcanic activity across thousands of years, leading to its distinct topology. High elevation surrounded by sharp ridges with deep erosion ravines that cut through the land define their silhouette. By no point does it ever tip into feeling dangerous or hostile but rather form a strong contrast to the soft shapes of the grassland, designed to come together in a visually harmonious balance.

Regions

Further to hosting 3 distinctively different biomes: each biome is further split between 3 different regions. These regions are not having any differences in gameplay, however change in appearance to convey and stronger sense of progression and location throughout the island.

Frontier

Drawing from references of north European coast lines, the so called “Frontier” region invites the settlers with shallow reefs shimmering trough deep azure blue water that lead the ship to long white beaches, suitable to lay anchor and build the first settlement. Tall pines and voluminous flat birches form the first coastal forests rich of wood and small animals needed to sustain a basic economy. All of it embedded in and surrounded by large and untamed patches of high beach grass, announcing the wilderness ahead.

It’s the gateway to progress further into the island and offers everything needed to build a strong beachhead. However, with the ocean in ones back and limited starting resources, moving into the “Inland” as soon as possible is crucial.

Inland

With the feet finally dry and a well packed backpack with some first resources, exploring into the “Inland” can be best described as a walk through center European nature. Calm, flowery meadows go hand in hand with patches of exposed earth and dense vegetation, offering much needed space to expand one’s territory.

Painting the ground red with fallen needles, tall and open fir forests populate the area together with dense birch forests with their signature white bark – populated by much larger wildlife such as deer’s and boars.

It´s further the area where the player will have the biggest likelihood of having to make choices on if and how to expand. With most crucial resources usually in reach by this point, the player can either wall up and fortify or continue to explore the various branching pathways.

Coreland

 The “Coreland” is a natural evolution of the “Inland” towards the center of the island, sprinkling the dominating greens with spots of red and orange together with more into the yellows leaning color palette.

Overall, the area has a strong resemblance to autumn to it. The fir and birch forests of the “Inland” continue to be present however the saturated greens shifted.

Flanked by towering cliff formations inspired by the Bastei national park, the spaces start to feel much more vertical and narrower as cities start to be built in literal cliff corridors.

Due to its distance to the frontier, only larger islands can hold areas of core, leaving frontier and inland to smaller ones.

Especially on bigger islands, this area is expected to be where players will eventually meet and cross swords. The core is designed around supporting that importance and thus the most dramatic looking region out of all of them.

Volcanoes

With its landscape shaped by volcanic activity, the evolving forces of nature can still be seen throughout the archipelago. Towering over the ocean, active volcanoes occasionally stand out from the surrounding water through their signature reddish color scheme and sulfur effects. Fortunately, the times of the grand eruptions have long passed and it´s now safe to settle in theirs shadows.

Gameplay

The “Midlands” maintain a well balance between all gameplay relevant aspects. That means all resources are easily available, however not too plenty, yet never too scarce. Likewise, the playable space offering both large flat areas, suitable to build a mighty city, and narrow choke points that can be walled off to protect its borders.

The biome is built to overall support a relaxed gameplay experience in addition to the calming tone of the environment itself, while still offering a good challenge.

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[Dev] Path of Glory – Confidence & Revolution

Detailed insight, explained by Sebastian Knietzsch – Senior Game Designer

Long Live the Revolution

Your Settlers will be more emotional about the state of affairs in your settlement than ever before. We introduce a system that we call “confidence” which determines how loyal your settlers in a district are. This system is the basis for our new alternative winning strategy Path of Glory.

Settler Loyalty

Each settler has a value defining how loyal they are to their faction. That value usually sits at zero which means “loyal”. The aforementioned feature Path of Glory can change that value. E.g. if a settler witnesses their Hero winning in the Arena, their confidence would change by +1. This is what we call “bolstered”. If they witness their Hero loosing, the value changes by -1. This is what we call “converted”. Converted settlers will not work anymore but walk to the district’s keep and start protesting.

Confidence

Each of your districts has a confidence value. If there are too many protesters compared to loyal settlers in a district, confidence will fall. It will also rise again, if you have enough loyal settlers in a district. You’ll be able to see a district’s confidence in the keep’s menu and at the flag of the keep itself. Depending on the ratio of protesters and loyal settlers, the confidence will fall faster or slower.

Revolution

If a district’s confidence hits zero a revolution starts. All settlers in the district, even the loyal ones, turn into protesters. One of them will go to the keep and change the flag to the color of the player that converted the most settlers in that district. In the very rare case of two players having converted the same amount of settlers, chance determines the winner.

The upside for the winner – and downside for the former owner – of this kind of district conquering is, that all buildings stay intact and all Settlers, even military units, switch sides.

Spreading Confidence

You might ask yourself: “And what do these bolstered settlers do?”

First, they will be prepared for when your enemy tries to convert them. A bolstered settler seeing their hero lose in the arena will only become a loyal settler afterwards. Second, bolstered settlers will spread their happiness among converted settlers. A bolstered settler will seek out any protester in their vicinity; they will have a sincere talk about life “n stuff” and at the end of it both will be loyal.

It may happen that a settler is furious which means they received -2 points on our loyalty scale. These settlers will still be protesters and might pass on one of these conversion points to a loyal settler that will turn into a protester as well. It needs two bolster points to make them loyal again. See some examples in the graphic below

Counter Measures

What can you do to protect your districts?

Bolster your settlers! Build e.g. statues to make your settlers forget about lost arena fights. You could also start an arena fight nearby with a friend or a foe, if you are sure enough to win.

If you have an immediate emergency and a district is already losing confidence, you can move an army there. Soldiers will always be loyal and they count towards the loyal portion of the settlers in a district. Be careful though, if there are too many converted settlers, the army might not be able to compensate this and if the district changes allegiance, so will the army.

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[Dev] Path of Glory – Recruitment, Training & Tournament

Detailed insight, explained by Sebastian Knietzsch – Senior Game Designer

Path of Glory is one of the new strategies to take over districts and as a result win games in The Settlers. You can recruit heroes, train them and send them into arena fights. For glory!

Recruitment & Training

If you want to recruit a hero, you need to build the “Heroes’ Retreat” first. Here lives, trains and eats the hero and their sparring partner. It is important to know, that your hero will arrive from the colony ship. Building the Heroes Retreat inland will mean a longer travel time for your hero, building it on a shore could mean a longer walk to the arena.

Currently heroes can be of 3 different weapon schools.

  • School of the Beak heroes fight with swords
  • School of the Pincer heroes fight with clubs and maces
  • School of the Claw heroes prefer heavy weapons like axes

If heroes have enough to eat and do not prepare for an arena fight, they can be trained. Training improves attributes which in turn affect stats, so our hero can take more hits, better evade attacks from the opponent or hit harder.

Tournament Preparation

In order to hold a tournament, you need to build an arena. This requires enough space and plenty of building materials. If you decide to follow the Path of Glory your infrastructure should be ready for it.

Here two worker will take up the job of the herald. If you wish to hold a tournament you select the arena, choose one of your heroes, if you have multiple “Heroes’ Retreats”, and then a spot in the territory of the player you want to challenge. Your hero will immediately go to the arena and will wait for their opponent to arrive.

In the meantime, one of your heralds will go to the location you selected and announce the tournament. Settlers will stop working, gather around and follow your herald to the arena, filling the ranks as spectators. So, initiating a tournament already has an impact on the economy of your opponent.

The player can decide to accept the challenge and send a hero – or to forfeit. If a hero was chosen, he or she will also join the herald. In the meantime, your other herald will announce the duel locally in your territory and idling settlers will go to the arena to cheer for your hero.

The Fight

Once all spectators and both contenders arrived, the spectacle can begin. In a series of blows, parries and counters the heroes will fight until one of them is defeated. Some spectators belonging to the winning hero will receive a confidence boost whereas some spectators supporting the loosing hero will lose confidence. Settlers with low confidence will turn into protesters, which can lead to revolutions – but more on that in the next Dev Blog.

Forfeiting

If your enemy forfeits a challenge, the trainer of your hero will join in the arena for a show fight which your hero will always win. Your herald will still bring settlers of your enemy as spectators and these will not be happy. In fact, they will find it worse than watching their own hero lose.

Friendly Tournaments

If you want, you can also invite settlers of an ally to a show fight between your hero and their trainer. All spectators will receive a confidence boost at the end of the match. This can help to make your settlers forget an earlier defeat or prepare for a future one.

Statues

Statues can be built not only to honor your heroes but are a counter measure to soothe settlers who watched their idols lose. From time to time settlers with low confidence will visit those statues to contemplate and heal.

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[Dev] The Resource Broker

Detailed insight, explained by Volker Wertich

Introduction:

The heart of the Settlers economy is the distribution of goods and their transportation. As many of these processes are automated, a complex game system is necessary to make smart decisions. We call this the “Resource Broker,” and it plays an important role since the very first game, “The Settlers.” Today, we want to give you a detailed insight into how it works!

The “Resource Broker” decides which goods are transported to which location and by what unit. For the player, it is important that the automated ruleset behind these decisions is effective on the one hand, but also predictable, as the player needs to understand what is happening in their settlement.

As hundreds, or even thousands of transports happen simultaneously without player commands, the player instead needs to be able to make decisions that influence the Resource Broker indirectly. The player does this all the time by choosing locations for buildings, deciding when to place or upgrade a building, or by ordering troops of a specific type. But we will also see that the player has control in increasing the priority for a building or by pausing specific production chains of selected buildings.

1. Piles:

A pile is a certain amount of a single good type at a specific location. There are piles in the game that either offer goods, request goods, or do both at once.

Piles that offer goods:

  • (A) Outgoing piles at resource buildings: For example, a woodcutter cuts a tree and brings home a tree trunk to his hut, which is offered as soon as it arrives on the pile.
  • (B) Outgoing piles at production buildings: For example, the smelting works turns coal and ore into iron and offers it as soon as the iron is ready.
  • (C) Currently transported pile: Even a pile which is currently being transported can be offered and redirected. E.g., if a donkey cart moves five wood units which were not needed elsewhere to a storage building, and in the meantime another new building has been placed by the player that requires these units, they will be redirected to the new building site. Anything that is currently being transported to a storage building can still be offered.

Another reason why a transported pile can turn into an offer is when a cancellation occurs. If a transport cannot be resolved anymore, for example because the player decided to cancel a build order, or the target building was destroyed by enemies, the current transport is canceled. The goods will be offered again. If there is currently no need elsewhere, the carrier looks for a nearby place to drop the goods and creates a “landscape pile.”

  • (D) Landscape piles: For different reasons, one reason described above, the player can have landscape piles in their territory. These also offer goods.

Piles requesting goods:

  • (E) Production buildings: E.g., the Smelter has input piles for both coal and ore to be able to operate.
  • (F) Recruitment buildings: E.g., the Archery yard asks for bows to be able to recruit new troops.
  • (G) Building sites: Any new building that is constructed has input piles.

Piles offering and requesting goods at once:

  • (H) Storage buildings offer and request the goods they store simultaneously. They request goods to ensure they are using additional storage capacity, and at the same time, they offer their currently stored goods.

2. Priorities

Now that the Resource Broker knows the locations and amount of offered goods as well as the locations of requested goods, priority comes into place.

If there is a substantial surplus of goods and enough transport capacity is available, priorities do not matter a lot: every request can be fulfilled. But as the player will try to optimize their economy and make the best and most efficient use of their goods, there will be a shortage of specific goods all the time and probably a shortage of transport capacity at some point, too. To ensure meaningful decisions by the Resource Broker, there are different priority levels, and within a priority level, there are sub-levels and urgencies to determine decisions.

Let us run through the priorities from the lowest to the highest level:

Priority 5: The lowest priority is level 5, which includes all requests for storage buildings. It applies to surplus production that must be stored and brought to specific storage locations, which is usually not urgent. As mentioned, all transports heading to storage can still offer their transported goods and may be redirected if there is a need.

Priority 4: The standard priority is level 4, which includes all the normal economy requests of production and recruitment buildings. This applies to the majority of all existing requests and includes all continuous goods distributions. Within this category, all decisions are taken using urgencies, which will be explained below.

Priority 3: The highest automatic priority is level 3, it includes all current orders to build or upgrade something that requests goods.

Generally, we define that anything the player wants to build-up has higher priority than the normal economy requests of priority 4. While this is, of course, questionable under certain circumstances, it is usually a good approach as the new buildings often play a key role in the player advancement and the resource requests for build-ups are one time only while all the requests of finished buildings are unlimited and happen continuously.

Within priority level 3, there are two more sub-levels which further decide the priority:

  • The first sub-level defines that buildings have priority over fortifications and fortifications have priority over roads. As above, this is a pre-defined priority which is usually, but not always, a good choice.
  • The second sub-level defines that older build orders have priority over newer build orders. This ensures that the order placement by the player matters and that the result after some time will be, e.g. 5 of 10 new buildings finished and operating instead of 10 buildings all half-finished and all non-functional.

Priority 2: To ensure that the player can overrule the Resource Broker’s decisions if needed, we grant the player a “high priority” function for finished buildings, which raises priority 4 to priority 2. This means the player can prioritize individual finished buildings higher than everything that the Resource Broker decided. This allows the player, for example, to grant a weaponsmith building highest priority because they want the deliveries for the sword production handled with highest priority.

Priority 1: The player can also use the “high priority” function for building sites, which raises their priority from 3 to 1. The sub-levels of Priority 3 work the same way here, which means if the player sets five building sites to “high priority,” the same sub-priority rules as described above are used to further differentiate between those.

3. Urgencies and distances

While the priorities already separate all the possible matches between offers and requests, within the same priority there can still be dozens or hundreds of valid offers and requests. A single building site may receive the missing boards for construction from any of the sawmills the player owns, or from any storage that contains boards, or potentially from landscape piles if they exist. Now the urgencies and distances decide which offer is matched with which request.

Urgencies go from very high to not-at-all, and work as follows:

The input pile of a building site has a higher urgency if it is empty or almost empty, as the building cannot be constructed without the goods.

The input pile of a production or recruitment building has higher urgency if it is empty or almost empty, as the building cannot operate/train without the goods. The urgency drops to zero if the pile is full.

The output pile of a resource or production building has higher urgency if the pile is full or almost full, as the building stops operating if there is no room left to store.

The landscape piles get an urgency above average, but not very high. In theory, they could remain forever, but for a better overview by the player, it is better to get rid of them sooner or later.

Distances are quite obvious: The higher the distance between a requesting and offering pile, the less effective the transport order is compared to another transport with less distance. It is important to know that the real walking distance, not the direct-line distance needs to be considered.

Distances are considered together with urgencies, and basically, the Resource Broker accepts the double distance if the overall urgency is twice as high too. As the urgency values can be balanced individually, this grants the game design team a way to control the impact of distance.

 The match: Finally, when the Resource Broker matches a request with an offer, a carrier will be assigned to execute the transport job… but we will skip the details for carriers, as we will grant more insight about different carrier types and their behavior in another article!

4. The Extended Example

Now you have heard all these rules, can we explain the impact with some examples?

Let us assume we have a woodcutter hut and a sawmill approximately 30 meters away and another sawmill approximately 60 meters away.

The first trunk the woodcutter produces will be brought to the nearby sawmill, as it is closer and shorter distance matters. Since the sawmill is fast enough to handle the input of 1 woodcutter easily, the input pile will stay empty or almost empty, and the transports only deliver to the nearby sawmill, which is fine.

Now if we assume that we place another woodcutter next to the one we already have, it will soon happen that the first sawmill has a few tree trunks in the input pile as they start to pile up, and the urgency of the request for more trunks will drop. At this point, the Settlers start to deliver tree trunks to the distant sawmill too. Usually, the input pile of the 2nd sawmill will be half as full as the first one, as it has double the distance.

Now if we place another two woodcutters closer to the 2nd sawmill, those trunks will be delivered to the 2nd sawmill instead, basically until the sawmill input piles are balanced. Because distances and urgencies balance out, the transports will now usually always go to the sawmill nearby.

If we assume that the four woodcutters produce more trunks than the two sawmills can handle, sooner or later the input piles of the sawmills run full and the output piles of the woodcutters will fill as well. At that point, they would stop working for a moment until they have room again. We may want to place another sawmill or upgrade them. But instead we do something different, we place a storage for tree trunks!

Now, but only if we have enough transport capacity (because storing goods is priority level 5 only), the carriers will pick up the trunks and bring them to the storage. This ensures that the woodcutters keep working, as their output piles are not full anymore since we increased the size of our buffer. Only after the storage is full too, the woodcutters would take a break again.

…but before the storage is full, we order five new residential buildings, which need tree trunks to be built. Depending on the distance those materials will be hauled from the storage or the woodcutters to the new building sites.

If we have a shortage of carriers, those new orders would be handled first as new building sites have priority over standard economy transports like “woodcutter => sawmill,” which means the sawmills now work with the trunks they have already stored. In the worst case, the sawmills would stop working temporarily until the carriers finished the building material deliveries.

However, if the player needs boards created by the sawmills urgently, they could grant “high priority” to one or both sawmills, lifting their economy requests above anything the Resource Broker decides on its own.

Now the sawmills will get all tree trunks available until their input is full, only the surplus available would be delivered to the building sites… in the worst case, the ordered buildings will not be finished for a long time if we insist on priority for the sawmills (which we could disable anytime).

Let us assume we now have an urgent need for a new city wall to protect us from enemies, as we just scouted the enemy and consider an imminent attack. We quickly place two towers and a connecting wall between.

As fortifications do not get priority over buildings, the Settlers would deliver the tree trunks to the residential buildings first. Since we are worried about an attack, instead we set the towers and walls to high priority, and now all tree trunks will be delivered to those first, which ensures that the towers and walls are built as fast as possible.

We hope that this detailed insight provided you with interesting information and that you can use this to your benefit when playing the game later!

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[Dev] Territory Expansion

We have built and expanded great settlements with a flourishing and lively economy. However, we’ve never talked about how we expanded our territory. In this week’s blog post we talk about just that.

In previous the “The Settlers” game we usually had to build barracks, guard towers or other military buildings, wait for a soldier to occupy it and our territory was automatically expand.

In the new The Settlers the players have more choices in territory expansion and it is visualized in more details too.

Whenever we see our frontier, marked by the border stones, we know we cannot build past that. Everything behind it is unknown, unexplored and might be dangerous.

In order to expand our territory we need to build a keep, castle or fortress. The keep is the most basic military building helping us to expand and secure the area.

Once the construction is completed, our military units will make their way to the building. If this is our first keep, our military units will move from the shoreline to the building. If we already have another keep in our settlement they will split their forces depending on the keep settings, which we can define.

Once they reach the keep they will start claiming any neutral territory nearby. Step by step by moving the border stones manually.

If we want to expand in a specific direction we can easily do this. We simply click on the keep and set a focus point. Our units will then favor the direction we choose and expand accordingly. However, each keep has an “area of influence”. This is the maximum distance they will go and expand. The same goes for castle and fortresses.

Once our units have expanded to our defined direction, they will not rest until the other areas of influence has been claimed.

In order to speed things up we can assign more units to specific keeps, castles or fortresses. Each type has an individual unit limit. The more units we have assigned, the faster we will claim the land around the keep.

In a future dev blog we will dive deeper into other military buildings, various units and different defensive options available in the game. Stay tuned.

What do you think about territory expansion? Do you like the concept of it? Let us know what you think in the comments below.

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[Dev] Townhall & Upgrades

In the last few dev blogs, we sometimes mentioned that we upgraded our buildings and promised that we will talk about it in detail later. Wait no more, the day has come. In this blog we cover how we unlock new buildings and why we should upgrade them.

After we landed on an undiscovered island, we only have access to very few basic buildings. In order to change this, we need to build the very important Townhall. It is the first building that needs softwood boards produced by a sawmill. Once we have the necessary materials we can build it.

By constructing the Townhall we unlocked new buildings and the possibility to upgrade others. In addition to the very first buildings we can now build Coal & Ore Mines, Smelters, Animal & Crop Farms, Weaponsmiths, Caserns and Mints. Please keep in mind that the building list might change in the future.

In order to get access to every building in the game, we will need to upgrade the Townhall multiple times. Each upgrades unlocks new buildings and giving us the opportunity to upgrade our existing ones even further. The buildings in The Settlers are divided into several Tiers. Those upgrades unlock new Tiers. Tier 1 is called the Outpost level, Tier 2 Village level, Tier 3 Town level and Tier 4 is the City level.

Going back to the unlocked Tier 2 or Village level buildings: The Ore and Coal Mines provide us with the necessary resources to smelt iron for better military equipment.

Additionally, we also unlocked new food production buildings. In order to use the new food we need to upgrade our houses, as explained in the Food and Stamina dev blog, to have access to new recipes.

We can also upgrade all previously placed buildings, not only making them more efficient, but also granting them the ability to harvest / gatherer / produce new goods.

Let us take a look at the Gatherer, how the building evolves and what changes throughout the upgrades.

The Tier 1 Gatherer is available right from the start, has one worker and can only collect berries. This is sufficient when we start a new settlement, but with the growing needs of our workers we need herbs or mushrooms soon. Our basic gatherer cannot collect those resources. It is time to upgrade.

For this we need softwood boards. Once the construction is done our Gatherer can collect herbs and he or she gets company: A second gatherer will join to assist.

By upgrading our Gatherer Hut another time with softwood boards and stone we get third worker and the possibility to collect mushrooms. If we don’t fancy any herbs or mushrooms, we can simply turn this production / collection off in the building’s menu.

Upgrading buildings will be crucial later on: we can use more workers without consuming additional precious building space and we can harvest or produce other, better goods. We have to keep in mind that we need to provide more food as more workers occupy the building. This also means we should keep related buildings close together, reducing the transport routes. While upgrading a building the workers will stop working and don’t provide any products anymore.

Of course we want to offer you the choice to immediately place higher tier buildings, or to stay with lower tiers and upgrade them at a later point.

If we place a new Gatherer, it doesn’t have to be Tier 1, we can also build Tier 2 (or 3 respectively) directly. Sometimes, if we are short on higher tier resources for example stone, we might want to build some lower tier buildings. Tier 2 buildings only use wood, this saves us stone, which can be used somewhere else.

We may intentionally placing a lower tier building and upgrade it immediately. Why so? Here is an example:

To place a Tier 1 Gatherer we need 4 softwood logs.
To place a Tier 2 Gatherer we need 8 softwood boards.
To upgrade a Tier 1 Gatherer we need 6 softwood boards.

Upgrading only consumes 75% of the Tier 2 building costs, so you can save some materials through upgrading instead of directly building the higher tier. The downside is a longer construction time and the additional consumption of lower tier building materials. This is a nice playground for optimizer among us.

What is your stance on upgrading versus building several buildings of the same type to boost production? Do you like the evolution of the gatherer hut? Are you an optimizer or is this not your focus? Let us know and discuss it in the comments.

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[Dev] Direct Actions

Last week we talked about the population system and how you get new settlers. Sometimes those settlers are not busy and this is where Direct Actions come into place – another new feature in the new The Settlers game.

Please keep in mind that this feature is in an early stage, we are experimenting with it and there may be changes in the future.

What are Direct Actions?

Direct Actions are initiated by the player to temporarily boost production buildings or resource gathering.

In order to execute Direct Actions we will need an idle carrier and motivation points.

How do we get Motivation Points?

In a perfect The Settlers world all of your carriers are busy and have something to do. But reality is sometimes different. You probably have carriers who are idle and waiting for their next task. While they rest those idle carriers will generate motivation points automatically. These motivation points are an extra reserve, which can be used at any point needed.

If we have idle carriers and motivation points, we can perform Direct Actions to boost our economy. There are multiple ways to do so.

How to perform Direct Actions?

Resource gathering

Direct Actions can be performed on forest areas, copper, stone or coal deposits or any other area where you can harvest / mine goods. Simply click on the resource you want to gather and execute the Direct Actions. Every Direct Action will use one motivation point and requires one idle carrier.

You are low on wood? Simply click on your forest and let you carriers help your woodcutters by chopping down more trees. Forgot to build a gatherer hut and your workers are hungry? Send your carriers to collect some berries.

As long as you have enough motivation points and free carriers you can send them to do those extra little tasks for you.

By using Direct Actions you can avoid bottlenecks or ensure your production chains have additional goods.

Productions:

You can also temporarily boost your productions by using Direct Actions. Since the production of a good is divided into several stages, you can simply send carriers to help the craftsmen working at the buildings!

As an example let’s take a look at the smelter. The production is divided into several phases. One worker uses the coal to heat up the furnace and his/her colleague adds iron ore. Once this step has been completed they will make their way over to the mould. One will put the hot iron bar into the cold water, while the other one waits until it is cold enough to put it on the output pile.

If you now want to boost your production, you send your carriers over to help with the smelting process temporarily with the help Direct Actions. Since they are not trained for the main job, they will only handle the transportation phases. Meaning: They will carry the coal and iron ore to the furnace and transport the iron bar to the output pile. This makes the whole production more efficient and faster.

Each building has a different number of additional carriers who are able to help if you boost your production with Direct Actions. It is completely up to you (and of course the number of Motivation Points and idle carriers available at this time) how many carriers should help up to the allowed maximum of the specific building in this process.

So, we showed carriers are not only useful when transporting materials and goods from one place to another. Even when they are not doing anything, they will generate motivations points, which you can use to your advantage. Never underestimate the carriers 🙂

How will you use your idle carriers? Temporarily boosting your production or gathering resources? What do you think about the system? We are also considering other ways to use direct actions in the game, do you have any ideas about that too? Let us know in the comments below.

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[Dev] Population System

In the previous dev blogs we talked about food system and how your residents take care of your workers. Veterans of the series might have asked themselves if houses have a different function, how do we get new settlers?

Well, we answer this question in this week’s dev blog. We’ll talk about the “Harbor & Population System” and everything that is connected with it.

In the new The Settlers we have different types of settlers. Our workers with the blue shirts take care of constructing, gathering resources and processing materials. We also have the carriers, the girls and guys with the white shirts, transporting goods from A to B – our busy bees.

The Building:

In order to get new carriers we will need to build a harbor. This is done at the shoreline. In the first stage the harbor requires softwood logs as construction material.

Once the building has been constructed the harbormaster enters his small little skiff and leaves the island to unseen shores to convince other settlers to join our settlement.

As the boat is rather small only a handful of new settlers might join us.

While new settlers arrive as carriers on our island, those can be educated and trained to take different roles later.

The waters are rough and we need to make sure our settlers arrive safely. Our harbormaster is not only tasked to bring new settlers to our island, he / she will use hardwood logs to repair the boat as well.

Population Level:

While it is easy to attract new settlers to an adventurous new settlement on an unexplored island, it becomes harder when we already have a higher population level. We can increase the chances of people joining our settlement, if we support that idea with some coins.

So, it is time to construct a coin maker / mint. In the first stage, we can use copper ore to produce copper coins, but we decided to upgrade our mint and use silver ore to produce better coins.

If we offer higher valued coins, the chances will be higher to convince others. Upgrading your harbor should be also a priority. We will not only get better boats, which can load more people, we also have more workers to help loading and repairing them.

If we have space for it, we can build multiple harbors and get new settlers faster. The requirements stay the same. If we already have a high number of settlers in our settlement we will need to provide gold coins to ensure the boats are returning with full load.

With a simple option we can decide (by turning the building on / off) in which harbor(s) the helpers arrive and we can also choose which coin types the harbor should use to attract people.

The game will also offer other methods to gain new settlers, but it is too early to reveal them yet.

Even if we don’t need those guys yet, they are not useless. The Settlers which are able to rest will generate motivation points, but hold your donkeys – this is something for the next dev blog. 🙂

What do you think about the concept art? Do you like the harbor and the population system? Let us know what you think it in the comments below.

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