Nate’s review of Oxygen Not Included made me interested to try it, and I got about ten minutes in before deciding it wasn’t for me, very politely, as if I were refusing a slice of immensely complicated fruitcake from a granny. “Look at all nice bits in it!” she is saying. “I know, I respect your talent, but I do not like those bits all together,” I sadly reply. But it’s okay because I remember there is another granny who is well into medieval reenactment and she is making me a great big chocolate sponge. That’s right, it’s time for a biannual check in on ye olde towne simulator Foundation!
I like Foundation a lot because it still has the interlinked chains of supply lines, and things you need to get other things done, but nobody is in imminent danger of asphyxiation, and actually once you get your head around it your town will just thrive. Much like the desk plant I recently got, neglect will not destroy my town in Foundation, and the simple act of it existing, being there for me to watch and occasionally direct, makes me very happy.
I have been quietly checking in on my town, Aliceburg, for some time. The game is still in early access, and the little tweaks have added up into quite significant changes. I think it might be time to take you on a tour. As a reminder, here is a view of my first church by the sea, looking towards the heart of Aliceburg:
Today that church has been extended to accommodate the much enlarged congregation, and forms the centre of the fishing district. Though it was the second major construction in Aliceburg, the fishing district is now the largest district after housing zones there exploded in popularity. Rather than constructing houses yourself, you merely paint the zoning areas and the people will build in a lovely jumbled way within it, sometimes knocking two houses down to make a larger one, or moving things around. It gives your town a very organic, natural feel. Paths emerge the same way: the ground wears down where your people walk the most.
Despite being large, and essential to the economy of Aliceburg, the fishing district is also probably the poorest. The exception is the manor house (my manor house), which I built next to the church as a symbolic gesture of solidarity. Currently I am extending the treasury on it, which will hopefully increase the limit of the town budget. I’m also going to probably have to reconsider fish as the keystone of our economy, because the latest update proposes that resources like fish and berries can be depleted, and replenish if given time.
Moving on, above we see the bustling town centre, or the market district. A recent effort towards urban beautification on my part has seen the appearance of features like floral arches, decorative bushes and, in the background, a fountain. The townsfolk here are more affluent, having a more direct line to goods like woven shirts, and so have built themselves sturdier homes.
You can customise the look of your markets by placing the stalls where you want, giving them different coloured awnings, and generally tinkering with all the individual elements. You can decide what it sells at any given time depending on your needs or, y’know, market forces and the like.
In a misplaced attempt to treat this like a real town, I’m building a sea wall to the back of the market district. I am hoping the fountain will distract them, because the loss of that view will really bring the market value down. You can see the ‘before’ in the header of this article.
Bordering the market district is the industrial one, sprawling up the hill. Look up and you’ll see this view:
The industrial district contains the lumber camps and mills, as well as the forester, and the bulk of resource-generating buildings. Currently, Aliceburg has three trading posts, which you sort of have to build by default to store excess goods, but the developers going to introduce a granary to stock and trade food resources. They’re also going to raise the capacity of warehouses. This is all genuinely brilliant news.
Demand to live in Aliceburg is so great that a new housing area is developing off the side of the industrial zone. We’ll see how this turns out in a few more weeks. For now, the top of the hill is still an agricultural area but that may change too. You can even zone out the shape of your wheat fields, so if you wanted to you could draw a big willy with them. I would never do that, obviously. Agriculture has also massively expanded, with most production lines now doubled.
The biggest project currently is the construction of a keep, right on the top of the hill. A big part of Foundation is building monuments (so, the manor house is one, for example, and the churches too). You can change the placement, angle and height of loads of different elements of your monument buildings, with different style options. One of the best changes so far is the inclusion of tutorial text reminding you of the controls when you’re doing this.
Once you’ve built a monument, you can edit it and add extensions and extra bits as your fortunes change. Really, Foundation is all about these monuments, because they’ll change the flow of your town. They give you a “splendour” value for either religion, the people or the kingdom. Aliceburg has high religious splendour because it has two pretty roomy churches, but now its kingly splendour is low. If I get it high enough by building things like this keep, then I can access new resource buildings like a hunter to bring in meat, which I only get by expanding down that specific route.
That’s why I like it so much. You decide what you want, and head in that direction, and you’ll get a totally unique town that’s still very pretty. Things then arise from this. For example, building a keep means that the king might ask me to participate in wars. But they’re less problems than they are considerations.
This is still in early access, as I said, and it still needs tweaking. It’s difficult to organise your townspeople to marshal them into specific jobs, which is the biggest gripe I have right now, and the trading process is still a bit of an opaque thing to understand properly. Your townspeople have needs, like most city builders, but figuring out what they are and how to supply them requires some trial and error on your part. But it’s still being tweaked, is the good thing.
The devs are going to add bad weather events in the new update too! The seaside town of Aliceburg could be rocked by this! And I hope to one day build some kind of theatre-y monument. I could make a Globe. When the keep is finished, I’m going to gradually increase it in size. And then switch it to a stone one. After the keep we’re going to start on wine, also a new feature, so the good Aliceburgians can get pissed up. To do that we’re going to need to increase our trade to cover coal and iron imports. Yes, so many future projects.
Unfortunately, though, the keep is going to take a while, because I fucked it on the placement and now the builders have to walk for miles to get there.
Look at that poor little bastard right in the centre, toiling up that hill. Sorry mate. It’s for the greater good.