Developer Blog #3: Buildings and Upgrading

Ancient Egyptian Building Concept Art

Now we’re back after a break over the holidays, we’re getting deep into development of our buildings, their systems and their upgrades.

From the get-go Dynasty of the Sands (DotS) has been focused on letting the player rise from humble beginnings, with simple mud and straw housing, to a grand city of gold and jewels, set beautifully in the desert sun.



To achieve our goals we started in the research and concept phase. We quickly settled on 6 levels for most buildings along with a foundation. These are: Mud, Mud Brick, Sandstone, Limestone, Gilded & God Favored.


Foundation
Mud & Straw
Mud Brick

A few sample buildings were chosen and all 6 levels made for each, to give us a feel for how a city will progress throughout the game.


Next on the agenda was considering how these buildings actually went through the construction phase. I suspect this is a difficult decision for many dev teams working on city-building games, ourselves included. The simplest approach is to just have the building appear instantaneously, possibly with a range of particle effects to hide the pop-in.

A more complex and time consuming approach is to have a custom animation for each building. In our case, due to the hundreds of building models, we ruled this out pretty quickly.

We searched for a balance, and decided on a shader based approach:

Each building is comprised of numerous materials, our ‘Building Upgrade Shader’ reads each material separately, and the building rises into existence one material at a time, giving a much greater impression of it being ‘built’.


Upgrading buildings grants numerous improvements.

An upgraded farm can handle more crops and new crop types, allow more villagers to sow the land and help prevent crop disease. Upgraded structures also provide passive benefits to the local area, making villagers happier and, at higher level buildings, healthier.

Stone
Limestone
Gilded

After progressing a building through 5 increasingly resource-intensive levels, the final upgrade requires blessing from the gods. These ‘god favored’ structures will be a rare and imposing sight.

God Favored

We’ll be going into detail on the final building levels in the near future.

For now make sure to follow us on social media for all the updates!

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