Building Your First City

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To read about the old version, go to Building Your First City/OldVersion.

For more information, go to the Building Update page.

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The reason given is: This page needs to be updated to reflect new-style buildings/cities. Page need to be better segmented and more links added.

After getting used to the basic controls and maybe explored your world a little, you are ready to found your civilization's first city.

This guide assumes that there are no other cities in the solar system, and that you are on a habitable world.

Gathering Age

The first step to start a civilization is the construction of buildings; houses, farms, mines, workshops and so on. But to start any construction you first need construction materials.

Press Backspace to enter the top-down view and use \ and Shift + \ to cycle through the different overlays. The first thing you will need to find is stone or wood.

Once you have found one of the basic construction material resources, open your Construction (F11) window, by pressing either F11 or by clicking on the icon with the small orange construction sign on it. Now, in the building menu, select the Manufacture category at the top, and then select either the mine or logging camp depending on your choice. It is important to select a small building blueprint, bigger buildings cost a lot of materials and you currently have none. Place the building in and area that has the resources.

Hint: Recommended building blueprint for a mine is the "Quarry by Haxus". It is very cheap and quick to make.

Material Foraging

With the construction site of your first building down, you need to collect a few construction materials manually. This is done by foraging the stone or wood needed.

Go to the construction site and open the Building (F10) window. A construction tab will show what is needed to construct the building.

Hints and Tip

  • Place all buildings, using the top-down view. This does make planning, placement and organization a lot easier, especially because you can also see the natural resources, helping you to position your buildings.

Old information being worked on

, where you are close to required resources such as ore, minerals and oil. Most of the resource icons shown on the map are easy to interpret. Don't worry, if you do not find all of your resources at once, or if some of the resources are farther away from you. Once your city is founded, it will quickly expand, so that even harvesting resources far out, is no longer a real problem.

Once you have found the right position, open your Construction (F11) window, by pressing either F11 or by clicking on the icon with the small yellow construction sign on it. Now, in the building menu, choose the top icon, which shows the big flag on it. This does allow placement of the town square, essentially founding your city.


Every city is started by building a town square. A flag is needed to build a town square. If you do not have a flag, the materials may be present to handcraft one. On a new emperor's homeworld, the materials needed are certainly present. Read the Handcraft page for more information.

Planning a town is often easier in top-down view; use the Backspace key to switch between top-down view and the first-person view of your avatar. In top-down view, the [ and ] keys will change the view zoom level; the \ and Shift+\ keys will change the information overlayed on the terrain.

The Construction (F11) window offers controls for constructing buildings and roads. The column of small buttons on the right selects a category of buildings. Each of the large square buttons builds something. The lower section shows information about the building selected for construction; it also has buttons for selecting the construction material.

Click the Town Square button to start building a town square. The Construction Materials section shows the town square requires only a flag. The terrain requirement is Land Not Near Anything which means the town square must be built entirely on land and it cannot be placed next to any existing building or road.

Use the hand cursor to select a location on the terrain to build the town square. Press the Enter key or hold the Ctrl key to use the hand cursor. A green box will appear at the build location on the terrain. Arrow keys rotate the box. The box contains a green line from the center to the edge of the box. This indicates the front of any building you are constructing. It also selects the construction altitude; the end of the green line that touches the box is always elevated to the terrain, simplifying the process of placing buildings near roads. Click on the ground to build the town square.

After the town square is built, the city can be expanded. The general rule for construction is that everything must be built next to a road or next to the town square. There are a few minor exceptions, such as parks and zoos.

Roads are used to expand the reach of the city. When starting a city, dirt roads should be used. Dirt roads require the least amount of labor and no building materials are needed.

On the Construction window, click the Dirt Road button to start building a dirt road. The terrain requirement is Land Near Road which means the dirt road must be built entirely on land and it must be placed next to an existing road (or the town square).

Use the hand cursor to select a location next to the town square. Click the terrain to establish the starting point for the road segment. Click the terrain somewhere else to finish planning the road. Hold the shift key to constrain the road angle.

When the mouse wheel is rolled, the circle showing the start location of the road grows twice as large. This selects a special kind of road section called a slab. Slabs are used to designate airports and vehicle spawn locations next to factories. Slabs level the terrain by forcing the second end of the slab segment to be at the same altitude as the first end, which significantly increases the labor required to build them.

After clicking both ends of the road segment on the ground, the terrain changes to a road construction appearance. Move your character to stand within the road construction area.

To construct the road you have planned, display the City (F10) window. The left box is empty, showing that no materials are consumed. The right box shows things that affect the process but are not consumed. Bottom left is a check box labeled Employ Citizen. This has no effect yet because your town has no citizens. Bottom right shows the amount of Labor Needed. Press the Work Construction Site button to apply labor. Construction of the dirt road section is complete when all labor has been applied.

Stone Age

Stone icon

Construction materials are needed to build most buildings. In this example we will build everything out of stone. Use top-down view to locate stone.

On the Construction (F11) window, click the Mine button to start building a mine where the stone is located. You may need to build dirt road sections until the road passes next to the stone.

A mine can be up to four levels deep, depending on the number of rocks present in the terrain area. The cursor shows a green number which is the number of levels to build. Roll the mouse wheel to change the number of levels. Build as many levels as possible at the stone outcropping.

Move the cursor near the road until it turns green. If it turns red because it overlaps the road, click the mouse to orient it to the road. When it turns green, click a location to build the mine.

After clicking on the ground, the terrain changes to a building construction appearance. Move your avatar to stand within the mine construction area and open the City (F10) window.

Construction of a mine does not require any materials, just labor. Press the Work Construction Site button and wait until all levels of the mine are completed; you'll have to stay within the construction site and keep the City window open.

Once construction is finished the City window will display the manufacturing lines. If a manufacturing line is set to produce anything other than stone, change it to produce stone. Press the Run button on each manufacturing line to mine some stone.

Mine a large amount of stone. 100 units of stone is a good start. This is the most tedious step of getting your first town going. After the first town, you should rarely ever need to do this again.

The Comm (F3) window can query your town for its current inventory at any time. To query for a city's inventory, you must be standing in a development of the city, not in empty terrain near the city. Select the Trade channel on the Comm and press the "Inventory of City" button. The city will respond.

Food and Shelter

The construction menu, with Farm selected

A town with homes attracts people to become its citizens. Citizens fetch materials and apply labor to construction and manufacturing jobs of your town, freeing you from that tedium. Citizens need to have food to eat or they will not be very happy; they might even die.

Use the Construction (F11) window to build a two-level farm. 30 units of stone are needed per level. Push the Work Construction Site button to start manually constructing the farm, stone will automatically be fetched from the city's inventory to the construction site; you may have to stay at the farm for a short time while the farm is being built.

A two-level farm adds four homes and three jobs to the town and it produces food. The extra home will result in one extra citizen to do other jobs outside the farm.

More homes will be needed. Use the Construction (F11) window to build a four-level house. Each level requires 10 units of stone. A four-level house adds a total of eight homes and one job to your town.

Time is needed for citizens to move into your burgeoning town. Now is a good time to take a break from building the town. Explore the surroundings. Hunt animals. Go eat lunch or dinner, maybe even log-off for the night.

After some time, the town will have an abundant supply of food and stone in its inventory and there will be more people than jobs. Your little village will be ready for growth. From now on, you should only have to plan the buildings and roads and your citizens will do the work.

Metal Age

Metal production is needed to advance any farther. Metal is an essential component needed for producing electricity and manufacturing vehicles and spacecraft. Your city cannot progress without metal.

Metal is smelted from ore. Ore is a mineral resource that is mined from the environment. Use top-down view to locate ore. Build a mine there, as many levels as possible. You may need to do some exploring to locate ore.

Build a smelter. The smelter will create metal using ore from the city's inventory. The resulting metal is stored back into the city's inventory.

The city's inventory can reveal weaknesses in your manufacturing potential. For example if your inventory accumulates a large amount of ore but has little or no metal, you probably need more smelters. If your inventory has no ore and little or no metal, you probably need to increase your ore production.


The City window showing the 8 manufacturing lines of a level 8 machine shop.

With metal it becomes possible to manufacture metal tools. Tools are required to construct more advanced buildings and vehicles. Some tools also increase the efficiency of manufacturing processes.

Construct a machine shop in order to start producing tools. Each manufacturing line can be set to produce a different tool. The most important tools in the at this stage are hammers, shovels, and sew needles, but a having all types of tools is good.

Tools aren't directly consumed when used, instead tools have a chance to take durability damage. Tools made from good quality materials will be more durable.

Nation Age

With metal available the city is ready to become a capital. Build a capitol building and declare the city as both an empire capital and a sector capital. Do this using by standing at the capitol building, open the Building (F10) window and clicking the two buttons in the upper-right corner.

The capitol building allows easy remote access to all factory manufacturing lines in the city. It is also possible to remotely do construction using the capitol building.

City Report

Every 13 minutes, your city creates a status report for you, commonly referred to as a city report. To request a city report, use the Governance (F12) window, Cities tab; then right-click a city. City reports provide all the information needed to manage a city.

City reports show factors affecting the morale of the citizens. Morale determines whether the population will grow or shrink. A positive morale causes citizens to immigrate into the city. A negative moral causes citizens to emigrate out of the city.

Certain events that occur in a city are carried out at the time the city report is generated. Most importantly, this is when the population of the city changes due to migration of citizens.

Review the status report periodically as you continue building the city. Each new building will add jobs to the city. More homes and food will be needed as the number of jobs increases. The demands of the citizens will change as the city grows.


Build a bank and start minting metal bullion. Set a tax percentage on the Governance (F12) window's Taxes tab. Any tax below 50% should be ok, but the higher the taxes the less productive your citizens will be.

The introduction of money will allow the city to begin researching patents. This will be important going forward, because all manufacturing processes beyond the metal age will require a patent to be researched first.

The bank also allows you to redeem rewards earned while during construction or manufacturing work, also allows taking 0% interest loans for a quick startup. With money you can more easily trade for supplies from the city, no more need to forage for food.

Electrical Age

Your city will grow very slowly until electrical power is generated. This is because the citizens do not work at night when there is no electricity. Once the city has electricity, the lights come on brightly at night and the citizens work all the time. The pace of development of the city increases once it has electricity.

Resources and terrain at your city will determine which power plant is best to build first. If you are near a coast line, build a hydroelectric power plant. It is built with relatively simple materials and it does not consume any fuel. A tool tip showing the amount of each item needed appears if you hold the cursor over the row of Construction Materials icons.

If you are not near a coast line, the coal power plant is probably the next best choice. This requires you to locate coal in your area and to build a mine there. Coal is also a necessary component of gun powder, if you decide to make firearms.

Alternatively consider a wind power plant.

Industrial Age

The first step to make your civilization expand beyond the horizon will be trade connection by air. Your city is a long way from producing everything needed to build an airport terminal. Let's do it anyway, as a way to figure out what is needed.

Build a road slab. A slab is a wide section of road that is level. A slab is required before you can build an airport terminal.

Build an airport terminal next to the road slab. The road slab becomes a landing place for the future spacecraft that your civilization will make.

Look at the City (F10) window to review the requirements for the airport terminal. You do not have all that is needed. Build the industries that are necessary to make those things needed to complete construction of the airport terminal.

Your town will grow to considerable size by the time you complete this step. As you place each new industry, the City (F10) window will show what is required to build that new industry and it will show what is required to manufacture that new industry's products.

Keep working your way down the production chain until everything needed to complete construction of the airport terminal is being manufactured. It's not hard to figure out now that you have learned the basics of construction and manufacturing.

Trade Connections

Trade routes allow for cities in the same solar system to trade and share commodities with each other.

Cities can be connected by road, sea, or air.

  • Two cities that are connected by road will have the fastest trade connection. It also allows the two cities to share electricity.
  • Any city with a wharf is connected to all other cities on the same world that also have a wharf.
  • All cities with an airport terminal in the same solar system are connected.

For more information, see the City Trade page.

Rocket Age

Your goal in building your first city is to develop space travel. To do that, you will need a spacecraft factory. Either make a new road slab or use the same road slab as the airport terminal. Build the spacecraft factory next to the road slab.

By the time the spacecraft factory is finished, your town will have grown into a city. You are close to slipping the surly bonds of your world.

But wait! The spacecraft factory needs a spacecraft design to manufacture. You quickly read Designing A Spacecraft and build a design studio. After spending a day designing the ultimate ship, you return to the spacecraft factory, design disk in hand, only to discover that two things are needed that you don't have, grav couplings and lumenite. You look up into the sky. Somehow, you know the things you need are out there.

Build an aircraft factory. This is built quickly given the production capacity of your city. Set the aircraft factory to manufacture space rockets. Build any additional industries needed to manufacture the space rocket. It will require a large rocket motor, which your city is probably not manufacturing yet.

The space rocket and all spacecraft will require hydrogen for fuel. Build a refinery to make hydrogen.

Harsh conditions exist in space and on other worlds. An environment suit will be needed to survive. Build an armoror to make environment suits and environment suit helmets.

Once these things are finished, the rocket training mission starts automatically. The rocket training mission will only start if your character has less than 3 minutes of experience in a space rocket and your city has a new unused rocket, hydrogen, environment suits, and environment suit helmets. The mission provides the player with an environment suit and helmet if the character has never possessed them. It is a good idea to stay out of the rocket and wait for the rocket training mission to start automatically.

Launch Me Now Tutorial

You can skip the rocket training mission if you are in a hurry to get into space. However, the training mission isn't very long and it does have some valuable things to teach, and you get a free space suit just by starting the mission. You will find that EVA suits are expensive.

When the space rocket is manufactured, it spawns on the road slab next to the aircraft factory. Look at the space rocket and press E to enter it. Once inside, E will exit the rocket. While sitting in the rocket on the road slab, the K key will request service, which will refuel the rocket if the city has hydrogen in its inventory, and it will repair a portion of any damage to the rocket.

The space rocket is the most challenging space vehicle to fly, due to its inertial movement physics. When you enter the cockpit, you will initially be facing the sky ahead of the rocket. For a "Buggs Bunny" blast-off, turn around to face the ground behind you. Press Shift+PageUp to maximize the throttle. Press P to turn on the power. Once outside the atmosphere, press Delete to kill the throttle. The rocket drifts with inertia. Steer the rocket using the A, D, W, and S keys. Roll the rocket with Z and C. Arrow keys provide weak lateral movement thrust. Space bar applies brakes along the forward/reverse axis of the rocket. Q applies brakes laterally. Hold space bar and Q together until the rocket stops completely.

The rocket holds its position in space as long as the engine is on. EVA from the rocket by pressing E. Maneuver EVA in the environment suit using W A S D Z and C keys. Space bar applies brakes. Without an environment suit, you cannot control your body's acceleration or braking while EVA; you will plummet to the world below.

Space Age

The space rocket enables you to explore your solar system. You must find eludium and lumenite. Eludium is needed to manufacture grav couplings, an essential component of gravity drive units. Lumenite is an essential component of wormhole drive units.

Lumenite will be the hardest to find as it is very rare. When you find it, there will likely be an abundance of eludium in the area. Search the smallest coldest darkest moons for lumenite, that is where it is most prevalent. It is also found on the colder planets but eludium is unlikely to be found nearby on a planet that has an atmosphere. Lumenite glows bright blue in the dark. Eludium is most prevalent where there is little to no atmosphere. Lumenite and eludium are mineral resources so top-down view will show them along with stone and other rocks. Eludium tends to be so prevalent that it is shown on the overlay that shows stone.

When you find lumenite and eludium, read Building Your First Moon Base.

Your first solar system is guaranteed to have eludium and lumenite. However, due to the way rock resources are distributed, it is remotely possible that the only lumenite in the system is in a location that cannot be mined. Here are some suggestions if you find yourself in this rare "stuck" situation:

  • If you find lumenite but can't build a mine there, forage the lumenite you need by hand. Go to a retail store and use the Comm to sell the lumenite to the town. It will be stored in the town's inventory, where it can be fetched by the spacecraft factory. It doesn't take much lumenite to build a small spacecraft with wormhole drives.
  • Design a spacecraft that does not require lumenite. Lumenite is only needed for wormhole drives. You could then deadhead to the nearest star in that ship and cross your fingers. Plan ahead. Take everything you need, including colonists.
  • Fly the space rocket to another solar system. This sounds insane but it has been done many times. Carry extra cans of hydrogen with you; the K key will refuel your vehicle using items in your inventory. The + shaped stars can be reached directly. Size is based on distance; the larger the +, the closer the star is to you. The rocket takes about 6 minutes to reach light speed at maximum throttle; the speed reading on the HUD will stop increasing at light speed. Turn off the engine and coast until you are near enough to the destination to begin braking; as with accelerating, it takes about 6 minutes to decelerate from light speed.