Boss Llama's Basics
Greetings all! I figured I'd try my hand at writing up an intro to playing the game in its current form, InDev-10-14-2014b Forgive the length, but there is a lot to cover. If you're familiar certain aspects, you can probably skip whole sections. Items that might be of particular interest are the Structure Guide appendix (section 7) and Hotkey appendix (section 8).
I welcome any and all corrections, questions, and feedback! I'm far from perfect and am still new to the game myself, so if you know something I don't know, I'm all ears!
1) All things change
Please bear in mind when reading this document that it is written about a very specific version of the game – InDev-10-14-2014b. At the time of posting, this is the current version, but this can change quickly! Some things are likely to remain the same, others not so much. I’m not 100% sure how fully certain mechanics have yet been introduced, such as efficiency based on happiness, but what follows is what I believe to currently be the case.
2) The Interface
When launching the game, you will start with only the topmost interface, and a box asking you to place your village center. Left, right, and bottom interfaces become available rapidly. These interfaces are the way you issue commands and gain information, and are important to understand.
Top: The topmost interface is your overall town and game summary. You do not issue commands with it. In the center is the time of day and sun indicator, showing where you are in the world’s day/night cycle. To its left are three buttons, and to the right are two columns of data.
The left button: Shows a villager in front of a red house, and is your Main Menu button. Presently games can’t be saved, so it only has “Exit without saving” as an option. As more system options become available, look for them here.
The middle button: Shows a crowd of villagers, and toggles a list of all villagers in your control. A mini portrait on the left shows what each villager is presently doing, while level appears in parentheses on the right. The list is sorted from highest level to lowest. Males are in blue text, and females in pink text.
The right button: Shows a map, and brings up a full-screen map of the entire play area. Buildings, both claims and unclaimed (see “Placing Village Center” below), show up as bright blue. Villagers are tiny green dots moving around, and yellow areas indicate resources piled on the ground. Wild resources such as food crops (orange) and crystals (blue, red) show up as well.
The left-hand column: This data has your resource indicators. On top is wood, in the middle is stone, and on bottom is food. The number show is the sum total of all of that resource that is currently in your possession in any state. If you mouse over the number, a small set of three digits separated by slashes will appear (such as 360/155/3). The first number indicates the quantity of that resource stored in buildings, the second is the quantity of that resource lying on the ground, and the third is how much is currently being carried by villagers.
The right-hand column: This contains the data on your villagers themselves. The top number is population, the middle number is average happiness, and the bottom number is average hunger. If you mouse over the population number, you will see two digits separated by a slash (such as 24/2). The first indicate how many working adults you have, the second number is children. For the happiness and hunger numbers, higher is better. Low numbers, especially for food, may indicate imminent danger or problems in your town
Left: The left interface (“Work” tab) is your harvesting command interface. There are seven buttons.
Size Control: The two arrows with a number in between control how large an area your commands apply to – click the arrows to adjust. The area can be as small as 1 block, and as large as a 30x30 square – 900 blocks at once.
Brush: Changes the shape of the area you give orders for. Options are circle, square, and filleted or chamfered squares.
Assign Work (x4): The next four buttons are used to assign workers to collect a given resource. From top to bottom, they are wood, stone, crystal, and food. Select the button in question, click over the appropriate type of resource, and the villagers will go to work.
Unassign Work: The bottom button with the big red X through it is used to cancel a work order assigned above. Be aware that cancelling the order will not prevent a worker from going to that location if they already got the call, but it will prevent them from starting work on arrival.
Right: The right interface (“Tiles” and “Objects” tabs) is your build menu. Objects is currently empty, so all activity is in the Tiles tab. There are nine buttons here, for the various categories of structures planned for the game. Two of these are empty (“Decorative” and “Flooring”) and have X’s through them, and the last one is a Debug Mode tool for testing. The other six buttons are Farming, Housing, Lighting, Resource Gathering, Resource Storage, and Walls. Clicking each button will bring up a new set of buttons representing each building within a category. Click the arrow in the up left to return to the first menu. For a summary of costs and purposes of each building, please see “Structure Guide” below.
Bottom: The bottom interface is your selection data panel. It shows information about whomever or whatever you have selected with your cursor. It shows building information for a selected structure, or villager data for a selected villager. Villager information is detailed below. Structure Data is generally as follows:
During Construction: It will show the resources required to build the structure, and construction progress. It expresses these as pairs of numbers divided by a slash, alongside an icon indicating the type of resource in question. A picture of a log accompanied by “10/30” indicates that 10 logs have been delivered and are awaiting construction, and a further 20 are required. This number can be somewhat tricky, as the second half then begins to count down as work is performed. A structure that is 10/30 can have workers hammering away at it until it is 0/20 before more logs are delivered. The same 20 logs are still needed, it’s just that now none are on site awaiting workers. When the second number reaches 0 for all resources, work is complete.
Resource Storage: A complete building that is capable of holding resources will show how much it is holding, and how much it is capable of holding, on the left side of the panel. For example, a lumber shack will have an icon of a log accompanied by a pair of slash-separated numbers, such as 20/50, indicating it has 20 of a possible 50 logs stored.
Workers: Buildings that require employees will have the familiar slashed pair of numbers in the top center of their interface, alongside a hammer icon. Small green and red + and – symbols are present, and allow the player to increase or decrease the number of workers assigned to a building. If the number is 0, the building isn’t used. Maximum workforce isn’t required at this time for efficient use of some buildings (such as farms), but can be used to speed certain tasks along. This is as close to manual control of workers as the game comes at present, as you can force workers (by assigning them to jobs like “Lumberjack” or “Food Hauler”) to prioritize certain types of tasks. It is very important when you first place your Village Center to remember to assign your workers to it! Without assignment, they wander aimlessly.
Residents: Houses will have a resident counter in place of a worker counter. It indicates in the same way, but is not manually controllable at this time.
Range: A number alongside a pair of green arrows, indicates how many blocks away from the building are considered to be within buildable range.
Portraits: Small portraits on the right of the interface show the current activities of all employees/residents of a structure. Mouse over to see their names. In the future, one will be able to access stats and to directly select from here, but at present it is not possible.
3) Meet the Villagers
First and foremost, let’s take a look at who the villagers are in the game. Villagers are your basic workers and functionaries, much as you might find in any other town building game. While they have occupations, you cannot control them at an individual level. Work is assigned to the community on the whole, and based villagers working in appropriate occupations will be assigned to perform the tasks required.
Stats: Villagers have a number of statistics visible if you select them. They are:
Health: In red and indicated by a heart, if health hits 0, the villager will die. Villagers heal gradually over time, if they have their basic needs met.
Hunger: In green and indicated by a turkey leg, if hunger hits 0, the villager will begin rapidly taking damage from starvation. A villager will seek out food at their home, if they have one, and barring that, may run to collect food that grows wild nearby. They will not raid a farm to feed themselves, and can easily die amidst fully grown crops if food delivery hasn’t occurred.
Energy: In yellow and indicated by a lightning bolt, energy represents how tired a villager is. As the number gets lower, the villager will need to sleep to recover energy. A villager with a home will go there to do so, and will recover energy rapidly. A homeless villager will collapse where they stand and sleep in the fields.
Happiness: In blue, and represented by a peace symbol, unhappy villagers (lower numbers) will slack off, work slowly, and won’t mate. Homelessness, hunger, and overwork will contribute to lowered happiness in your population. A sufficiently happy villager will be a better worker, and will seek out a mate with whom, eventually, children will be produced to grow your town’s population. Children will have the surname of their parents.
Marriage: If a villager has found a mate, the name of that mate will be shown in white, indicated by a ring icon. The surnames will also change to match that of whichever partner was more recently generated by the game.
Attributes: Villagers also have a set of attributes. I don’t yet know what precisely these indicate or if they have an effect on game mechanics – please report if you know for sure. These attributes are Strength (red), Dexterity (green), and Intelligence (blue). Villagers also have a level, written in white and indicated by an upward-pointing arrow. As level increases, so do the attributes.
Icons: As villagers work, you will see various icons popping up above their head on a regular basis. The include:
XP: Blue text indicating numbers such as “XP +7” to represent experience earned from carrying out tasks. This goes towards increasing the villager’s level.
HP: Appearing in red text, HP represents Hit Points, or health. It typically moves up or down in 1 point increments as villagers heal or take damage. If you see a villager running along spraying blood with a chain of “HP -1” appearing over his head, he’s probably starving to death (at this point). Once mobs and magic are added, we will likely see numbers far larger than 1 appearing.
Peace symbol with an X through it: Blue symbol, red X, indicates a decrease in happiness for any number of reasons – see Happiness, above.
House with an X through it: A small yellowish thatched hut, with a red X. Indicates that the villager in question is homeless – more housing is required.
Attributes: Attribute abbreviations followed by a number, such as “STR +1,” indicates a change in the attributes of a particular worker.
Hammer: Seen above builders working on structures, a small hammer followed by a +1 indicates that the villager has just contributed 1 construction point to the structure being built. Each point brings the structure closer to completion, with the total number of points required being the sum of the resource cost of the structure (ie 35 wood and 10 stone requires 45 points)
Rings: Always seen in pairs, villagers with small white ring icons rising above their heads have just gotten married. They will attempt to live together, and may end up having children.
Hearts: Always seen in pairs, villagers with red hearts above them have just mated, yielding a small chance of a pregnancy in the female.
Reproduction: A couple that is sufficiently happy and has idle time together will mate, and may become pregnant. If this occurs, there will be status text on the female’s stat box indicating that she is pregnant. She will be less efficient a worker during this time. When the child is born, you do not yet receive any notification, but will see that your population counter has increased. Children use resources, but cannot work until reaching adulthood. The reproduction rate of even a healthy town is presently very low, but the reproduction mechanic has been identified as one that will be balanced in future updates.
4) Resources, and Placing Your Village Center
When placing your village center, it is important to consider where you are putting it, and not just slap it down willy nilly. In the current InDev, without mobs, defense isn’t a consideration (though it certainly will be in the future!). Instead, look at the resources available to you before placing this all-important first structure
Wood: Wood is used in nearly every single structure in the game, including the center itself. You’ll want to make sure you have sufficient woodland near your start point to support the construction of your starting buildings, as a long walk to reach it will slow things down and can doom your town to starvation.
Stone: Stone is used for most buildings, in increasing quantities the “better” the structure is. You don’t need as much stone right off the bat, but you will need some if you want to create decent houses and farms. Expect stone to be especially in demand near town after mobs are added, when it can be used for high-end walls
Food: Food shows up as small patches of carrots growing in grassy areas, often up against trees or mountains. It is critical that you have these an accessible distance from your starting point, as they are presently the only way to get your farms working! Do not set your villagers to gather food until you have at least one, and preferably several, fully built farms. If you do, they are liable to eat all the food and leave none to plant your farms. If this happens, given the current pace of hunger in the game, you will starve to death.
Crystals: Not yet used in the game, do not worry about these in this build. In future builds they will be used for magical structures and potions, with different powers existing for different colors. At present they are nothing but eye candy.
Open Land: Not a harvestable resource, but vital none the less. If you build in a tightly confined area, you will not have space to build the buildings you need until you clear out all the trees/stones in the way. Simply put, you do not have time to do this – you will die. Each building you build has a Range characteristic, indicating how far it spreads your influence (buildable area). If there isn’t space within range of your current buildings, you can’t build. Being encircled at some distance isn’t necessarily bad, as it provides resources, and when mobs are introduced, defense, but having enough open land to build your center and your initials houses and farms is critical.
Pre-existing Structures: Scattered throughout maps at the start can be various structures, left behind by previous unfortunate villagers. If you build close enough to them to bring them within your Range, you will take them over. These structures exist in a damaged state and will take some amount of resources to repair, but it is only a small fraction of the cost of building one from scratch. The right pre-existing structures (houses and farms) can give a new settlement a big shot in the arm. Just be careful not to build too close to something you don’t want… we can’t yet cancel or pause build orders once issued, and villagers will spend precious time and resources on every structure in your Range, whether you want it or not.
5) First Structures/Build Order
I won’t get too much in to strategy, as I’m sure there are many different things that work, and part of the purpose of testing is to find as many of those things as possible. Still, to reduce frustrations for new players, I’ll suggest the following:
Farms: After placing the Village Center, the very first thing I suggest is a working farm. Preferably two. Large farms are far more efficient uses of space, and if you have the wood available, a better idea. When the farms are finished, immediately assign some farmers and send them to gather food. Get those farms planted! Once the farms are planted, you can reduce the number of farmers and reassign them to builder jobs at the Village Center.
Houses: Once the farms are planted, housing is the next imperative. Homeless villagers are unhappy, unfed, and less rested. The Small Shack is the best deal currently, offering the best ratio of housing to space to cost. Be aware of future balance changes. Make sure you have enough housing for all of your citizens, and if you hope to expand that population, best to have the house available first.
Other Buildings: Once you’ve got stable farms and housing, you can play around without danger. Most of the other buildings serve limited purpose in the game so far, but will become important as additional features are implemented. Consider your priorities, and build accordingly. Experiment, have fun, don’t worry too much! Saving games isn’t available yet, so go wild and don’t fear the consequences.
6) Assigning work
Slow and steady wins the race when it comes to assigning gatherers to collect resources. Because the game is using a first-in first-out system of tasks, if you assign a huge swath of forest before clicking on a couple pieces of stone that are in your way, the stone won’t be cleared until the forest is fully chopped. Basically, select things in the order you want the villagers to do them. A few others things to be aware of:
Dot system: When you assign something to be collected, you will see dots appear on top of the resources in traffic light colors – red, yellow, and a green. Green means that the resource is accessible, and a worker has been assigned to come collect it. They are on the way! Yellow means the resource is accessible, but nobody yet has the assignment. Red indicates that a resource is not presently accessible – something else will have to be cleared out of the way before an assignment can be made.
Storage: At present, resources last forever on the ground. This will change, and storage buildings will be required if you want to make good use of what’s available to you. The workers in storage buildings specialize in collection of their specific resource, and it has been suggested that they will have a bonus to collecting it. Place storage buildings near the resource you want collected, for extra efficiency.
7) Appendix 1: Structure Guide
Structures by build category, listing cost, footprint (WxH), and useful data
Small Farm: 30 wood, 7x7, Up to 4 employees, grows 6 food at a time and holds up to 25
Large Farm: 60 wood, 9x7, Up to 8 employees, grows 12 food at a time and holds up to 50
Tent: 15 wood, 4x4, Up to 4 residents, stores up to 12 food
Small Shack: 35 wood/10 stone, 4x4, Up to 8 residents, stores up to 24 food
Small Hovel : 70 wood/20 stone, 5x5, Up to 12 residents, stores up to 36 food
Small Wood Torch: 10 wood, 1x1, casts light
Lumber Shack: 25 wood/25 stone, 8x6, Up to 8 employees, holds up to 50 wood
Lumber Mill: 50 wood/75 stone, 11x7, Up to 16 employees, holds up to 150 wood
Stone Shack: 25 wood/35 stone, 8x6 Up to 8 employees, holds up to 50 stone
Stone Masonry: 50 wood/100 stone, 8x9, up to 16 employees, holds up to 150 stone
Food Storage: 40 wood, 7x7, Up to 4 employees, storages up to 75 food
Wall (Stone): 15 stone, high-end wall built one square at a time
Wall (Sturdy): 5 stone, mid-range wall built one square at a time
Wood Wall (Basic): 5 wood, simple wall built one square at a time
8) Appendix 2: Hotkeys
Until the ability to assign your own controls is added, I thought it best to list the hotkeys I’m aware of to help folks navigate:
Screen Movement: Use WASD to move the screen around. Alternately, hold right click and drag.
Selecting: Click the primary mouse button
Deselecting: Press the Esc key
Zoom In: Press Keypad +
Zoom Out: Press Keypad –
Toggle Fullscreen: Press F12 to toggle between fullscreen and windowed mode.
Toggle Grid: Press G
Screenshot: Press F2 (saves in “screenShots” subfolder of your RPC directory)
Visual Performance Overlay Toggle: Press F3 (places box around each entity, provides performance and game tracking data in upper left)