Developer Blog #7: Flora in Dynasty of the Sands

Picture of plants and trees in Ancient Egypt City Builder

Ancient Egyptian landscapes were much more than just sand and rocks. Ancient Egypt teemed with life, with a variety of trees, plants and flora across multiple biomes. Plants played a variety of roles in Ancient Egyptian life, providing building materials, crops, clothing and cosmetics, as well as playing a role in religious ceremony across Egypt’s vast network of temples and shrines. In Dynasty of the Sands (DotS), our flora plays 3 roles:  Aesthetics, Resource Collection, and as Resource Production.


Aesthetics

Aesthetics are important to us while developing Dynasty of the Sands, and our plant life plays a role in this. We want you to be able to build your city surrounded by the natural beauty and colours of Ancient Egypt. We hope that the wide range of flowers, trees and bushes will provide you with the inspiration you need to make your own city as unique and personal as you please. You can choose to eradicate or accommodate nature, giving you the option to bulldoze the land around you in order to create a vast industrial city or gently and respectfully build a wild green city with spaces for wildlife and nature dotted within and around it. There are also numerous decorative floral options, to decorate cities with, but we’ll go more into that in a later blog post.

Gameplay 

During the game you will require resources from trees and plants that are key in your production chains, providing building materials and trading options. Wood can be acquired by sending your lumberjacks out in order to fell nearby trees, with varying yields depending on size and species. You will be able to tell which tree will provide you with ample resources and which will leave your workers returning with their quota half met. Other resources can be collected from some trees, such as dates from date palms.


Making Trees and Plants for a City-Builder

Careful consideration of performance has to be taken into account for plant life in a city-builder; the more detailed the plant model, the less of them we can have at any one time.

Making foliage for games has always been a tricky business; trying to balance the visuals with performance whilst being time-efficient makes plants and trees a challenge for 3D artists. In recent years though, it’s been made a much smoother process, thanks to the development of tools like Speedtree. 

We used Speedtree to make almost every plant in DotS, with the exception of the lotus patches for which we used a simpler, bespoke approach. Because of this, we’ve been able to create 3 different species of palm trees, acacia trees, willows and olive trees, each with at least 3 variations, saplings and dead versions too! These, plus an assortment of flower patches and reeds make up the current flora of the landscape.


Players will also be able to plant, grow and farm various crops but more on this in a future post.
Next, you can head over to the Steam page and add Dynasty of the Sands to your Wishlist!

Thanks for reading and have a lovely day! 

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