Wyrmrest Accord
So today on Steam, a city builder by the name of Banished! was released.

I saw this game via TotalBiscuit yesterday and it piqued my interest - and for $20 I figured it was worth a go.

Banished!, at a glance, shares a lot in common with your atypical City Builder in the vein of the old Rome series or Emperor: Rise of the Middle Kingdom. You're dropped in a randomly generated world and told to build a thriving city.

And like these games, what you can do is ultimately determined by how many people you have available. What makes Banished! unique is that what you start what you get, until the kids start growing up and having kids.

Yup, it is very much a "Survival City Builder", in that the success (or Failure) of your city depends on keeping your population happy, healthy, and alive so that they might sire the next generation. This also means just throwing down houses and waiting for new arrivals to fill shortfalls in your employment ranks isn't going to happen. It's in your best interest to not let your population die needlessly, which means it's very much a balancing act - growing your community, while ensuring you don't over-extend your existing labor pool.

It also reminds me a bit of MineCraft in that the resources generated on the world are all you get. This is alleviated by having self-perpetuating industries (A Forestry Lodge will both cut down trees as well as plant new ones, for example), but it's getting to those industries that's a bit of a challenge.

Case in point: A house costs 12 logs and 6 stone to build, which two adults (A male and female) will then move into. When a child becomes an adult, if there are no houses to occupy they will in turn stay at their parents' house until one becomes available. This means don't panic if a child becomes an adult and you have no houses open - they'll still have a roof over their head, but they won't produce offspring of their own until they can move in with someone of the opposite sex. (Coincidentally, becoming a Adult in this game is reaching the age of 10. They don't start generating children until Age 13. But their age and the game year (Which defines how long your city has been around) aren't the same. I don't know.)

Well, obviously to build that house you use up resources. Now a Woodcutter's job is to provide fire wood to the community during winter so people don't freeze to death. The woodcutter also uses logs.

I'm going into my second winter with zero logs stockpiled and only what firewood was created previously because I got on a building kick. I have my Forestry Lodge...but I'm now praying that Lodge (With its two townsfolk acting as Foresters) can provide enough wood through the winter to keep the Woodcutter operational so I can keep homes warm.

You see the balancing act, yes? Your labor pool is always going to be on the shallow side, and your economy is going to be a hand to mouth one for quite a long time (Food Production such as Hunting Cabins, Gathering Tents, Fishing Quays will continue to produce year round, but understandably the first two slow down dramatically in the winter months. And Crop production is all determined by how the year has been...yes, you can lose this game to a bad harvest).

It's made all the more challenging that unless you start the game on Easy, the ONLY way to obtain Livestock is through trade...and in order to trade you need to have a trading post connected to a river, and even then you have to have an over-abundance of a resource in order to trade as there is no currency, only barter.

If I sound like I'm griping, I'm not. I'm gushing, This game hits that sweet spot between survival and city building that makes it really compelling. You grow to care about your villagers, get some amusement out of the pairings (Cougar 14 year old shacking up with a 10 year old. tsk tsk :D] ), and generally not want to see your hard work going down in flames. There's a lot of pre-planning involved and taking your eye off the ball can put you in some awkward me finding myself facing a winter without firewood.

Worse still, Winter is generally a good time to work on village infrastructure (Where as Spring/Summer months are best spent on industry). The lack of wood means I can't get a Blacksmith up and and running to make tools, or a Tailor to turn animal leather into clothing.

EDIT: TB's video -
You seem a little too enthusiastic about preteen reproduction...

ANYWAYS the thing that I didn't really like about this game: I don't really see any sort of conflict. I mean, you might starve or freeze or whatever, but are there hostile animals? Monsters? Enemy cities and stuff?
02/18/2014 01:48 PMPosted by Viezra
You seem a little too enthusiastic about preteen reproduction...

Heh. Nothing quite so crass. It's just amusing to me in the era of ultra-Political Correctness to see a game actually being historically accurate.

ANYWAYS the thing that I didn't really like about this game: I don't really see any sort of conflict. I mean, you might starve or freeze or whatever, but are there hostile animals? Monsters? Enemy cities and stuff?

There is none. No invading armies, no hostile creatures, no possibility of riots against your reign...

So yeah, it does have that bit of shortfall to it, presuming you were looking for that kind of thing. Personally,. the military garrisons and weapon production seen in say Emperor always killed my buzz, but your mileage will most definitely vary.
Played it for about an hour so far, it's actually a lot of fun.
I just wish there was something more to it than a completely peaceful medieval Sim City.
It's far more in depth than Sim City, but I wouldn't say that your calling that is completely inaccurate. Games like that appeal to me at times, there are only so many heads I can chop off before I want to play something calming.
Quintus hit upon the biggest drive for the game, in my eyes.

Also the fact it's not a game that demands 100% attention. You can actually interact with other members of your household while you play it, or even get other things accomplished in the course of playing it.
Awww...this game got insidious.

I have 13 kids.

8 Girls.
5 Boys.

I already have two women in the village waiting on husbands.

I could legitimately run out of breeding pairs if my birth ratios don't stabilize...and that makes it all the more important to keep building houses so no adult is without a home so they can take on husbands/wives and produce more offspring.

Which means I have to keep plunking resources into food production.

Which means I can't stockpile for the "advanced" stuff like a Mine, Quarry, or even a Tavern.

Yeah, I don't need raiders to make this game interesting.
02/18/2014 02:46 PMPosted by Quintus
It's far more in depth than Sim City, but I wouldn't say that your calling that is completely inaccurate. Games like that appeal to me at times, there are only so many heads I can chop off before I want to play something calming.

Constant combat (in a game like this) gets tedious and boring, but so does total peace. I just want some of both :(
I've been splitting my time with Titanfall beta and Banished, so I get what you're saying.
Titanfall is pretty cool. I do really well in it, usually around 10-15 kills and under 3 deaths. I'm gonna wait to actually but it, though. Wanna see what all gets added in the full release, since this "beta" is more like a demo.
Combat in a game like Banished would make the game nigh-unplayable, I think. Your villagers are a precious commodity that you can't get back once they're gone. Introducing a danger element from raiders or wild animals could potentially result in you losing the game before you even get started, given the game's random seed generation.

I know I wouldn't exactly like it if it plunked my people down in the midst of a ravenous wolf pack.
That's part of the fun for me with games like Banished. If something like that happened, I'd just make a new save. The randomness is only fun if it's actually random (working both for and against you).

So I built a school building to help educate my workers. Guess what? I should have read the in-game help guide on what a Schoolhouse actually does.

At the start of the game, when a child reaches the age of Ten, they enter the workforce. With a Schoolhouse, when they reach the age of 10 they become students, and spend a undefined period of time attending classes there before leaving and becoming educated workers (that have increased productivity).

What this means from a survival aspect is I now have 35 Adult laborers, 21 Children, and 10 Students. Those are 10 individuals who could be helping contribute to the growth of the community now but aren't, in favor of increased productivity later.

Ten individuals. A Forester's Lodge requires 4 workers to run at efficiency. A Fishing Quay, the same amount. A crop field? 4 workers. Most of the non-specialized jobs in this game require 4 workers. That's two and a half production facilities that could be staffed in a town population that keeps booming and whose food production facilities have gone from "constant surplus" to "zero food in the storage shed in Summer".

I now face the quandry of either shutting down the School for the time being and getting those students into my economy as uneducated laborers whom I can immediately put to work to try and make up my food shortfalls, or keep the School open and pray I can divy up the existing labor pool enough to get my community to survive the coming winter and hope the students join the workforce soon(tm).

There are pros and cons to each approach, honestly. As it stands right now, beyond building two more Fishing Quays (Which will eat into my chronic log shortage and potentially risk me not having the firewood needed for the coming winter), I can't really do much about the food shortage in mid-Summer. The problem is, right now I see my community being decimated come Winter if I can't get my stockpiles up - which is going to be impossible with 50+ people living off resource generation for 30. Poor planning on my part - I only saw the stockpile without realizing grow = diminishing returns on said stockpile.

Dismissing the students into the labor pool immediately also doesn't fix my issue. For starters, as students they still live with their parents and aren't helping contribute to population growth. As laborers, that will change. Meaning I'm still faced with the same dilemma, but without those 10 additional workers I'm almost certainly going to lose a good chunk of my population this winter (Unless it's blessedly mild, but you can't count on that). Admittedly with those 10 additional workers I can't guarantee I won't lose some of my people in the winter, but it's a "damned if you do, damned if you don't" kind of situation.

Amazing how one innocent decision ("I'll make a schoolhouse so these kids get an education and become more productive workers!") has resulted in the possible decimation of my entire community. (Though to be fair, I was always going to hit the point where population outpaced food production, given my focus on more industrial pursuits)
It's crazy that a single guy developed the entire game.
I was looking into this game last night, but was hesitant because it looked like it would be boring (same thing initially said about Civ V . . . 95 hours later . . .).

This post pushed me over the edge. I will be purchasing tonight.
Eyup, that's played out pretty much exactly as I expected it would. Early Winter and despite re-allocating workers to fill the gap, there's no food to go around. Nobody's actually died yet, but it's only early winter and my population has grown to such a size that my wood cutter can't keep up with the demand for fire wood.

Heck, counting the "students" *Glares at School House*, my children now outnumber my working adult population. School Houses are definitely more for better established communities that aren't living hand-to-mouth.

I've also learned through the in game help menu (Which I should have looked at in the first place, since it is essentially the manual) that stuff like Quarries and Mines are limited utility and cannot be removed once placed. This means my not-yet-constructed Quarry that I set right outside of town is occupying space that could have gone for another crop field.

Also I've discovered a possible glitch in the game's system. Specifically if I have more houses than residents, I start getting single parent homes from people that used to live together and essentially just sucking up unneeded resources as I have two homes that require firewood instead of one. So the lesson there is never try to "build ahead" - just build a house for every two adults you have.

Live and learn, I guess. I'll keep the town's save file, but I'm not really interested in watching my community slowly self-destruct. Time to apply the lessons learned to my next venture.
After reading this I immediately scoured the internet for all the informations about this game because it sounded like exactly what I was looking for. And it was!

Except, from everything I heard, I expected it to be much more difficult than it is. I bought the game and on my first try I got to year ten without so much as flinching and ended up starting a new game out of boredom which I have been playing casually for a couple days.

It's on year eighteen now and I'm having to artificially manufacture challenges to keep myself on my toes (ie not allowing myself to farm for certain years, trading away more goods than I can afford to spare, allocating extra workers at useless jobs to make things slightly more difficult) and I'm still having to constantly bump my resource limits up and build storage areas to maintain everything.

I'm not trying to brag because in general I'm run-of-the-mill on my best day of playing city builder / resource management games. I'm mostly just confused and a little disappointed. Have I triggered some toddler setting unknowingly?

I guess I'll try hard mode with a small mountains map and cut off my hands so I have to play the game by smashing my nose into my laptop.

EDIT: Also my new town is much prettier. The first one was grossly survivalist and while I certainly support pragmatism, I'm much more refined than to have people living next
I've got a question about the Production Limits option attached to workplaces. Is that the personal stockpile of the building, or does it mean that once that limit is reached, they stop working until the next year, or am I completely getting it wrong?
02/24/2014 12:41 PMPosted by Lunairen
I've got a question about the Production Limits option attached to workplaces. Is that the personal stockpile of the building, or does it mean that once that limit is reached, they stop working until the next year, or am I completely getting it wrong?

Let's say you set the production limit of firewood to 300. Your woodcutters will continue to make firewood until there is a total of 300 firewood in all of your storage facilities combined, at which point they will stop working and you will see the limit symbol appear over woodcutters. If firewood is consumed so that there is less than 300 total in your town, then they will return to work.

For most things I set my resource limits way higher than I will ever reach simply because in a good year, my net gains of most non-food resources are nominal (rarely higher than 25) since I'm constantly spending logs/stone/iron/etc to upgrade and expand.

The only limits I really have micromanaged are firewood and food. Firewood because it takes up logs and there really is only so much you need and it tends to change depending on number of houses, weather conditions, stone versus wooden housing, etc. I've had to constantly up my food limit until finally I stopped it at 20,000 and shut down most of my farms.

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