Building Your First City

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C Flag.png A French version of this page exists.

To read the French version, go to Building Your First City/French.

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

This guide assumes that there are no other cities, and that you are on your starting habitable world, after having picked either "Reach for the Stars" or "Savage State" start types.

Gathering Age

The construction menu, with Mine selected.

The first step of starting 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.

Stone icon Log icon
C Stone.png
C Wood.png

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, as bigger buildings cost a lot of materials and you currently have none. Place the building in an area that has the resources.

Hint: A recommended building blueprint for a mine is the "Quarry by Haxus". It is very cheap and quick to construct, requiring only 4 stone.

Tip: Stone can be found almost everywhere, and is the most commonly used construction material.

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.

Use the top-down view to locate the needed materials and move to them. In first-person view, you should be able to find the resources and click it with the hand cursor.


Once you have have the needed materials, go back to the construction site. While on the construction site, open your Gear (F4) window and then drop the materials on the ground.

Open the Building (F10) window again and press the "Work Construction Site" button. Stay at the construction site and keep the Building window open until the building is fully constructed.

There is a small chance that some of the materials are wasted when applying them to the construction site. This will result in the material count lowering in the construction UI, and so you'll have to go forage replacements for the lost materials.

Basic Tools

Some building blueprints might require some tools to construct, or might be faster to construct if specific tools are available. Basic tools are hammers and shovels, and they can both be handcrafted using stone and logs.

To use a tool it most be in either a ready inventory slot, or within a utility pouch in a belt slot. This step can be skipped if none of your starting buildings require tools.

Stone Age

With a basic mine or logging camp constructed, you now have a source of construction materials so you don't need to forage anymore. Any construction site connected to your building will be able to automatically fetch needed construction materials from it.

While you are standing at the mine or logging camp the Building (F10) window will have a tab for manufacturing. There should be a manufacturing line set to produce stone or logs, if not then delete the manufacturing line and create a new one for stone or logs.

Start the manufacturing line by clicking the "Run" button. It will then count down for the process to finish. You do not have to stay at the building while the manufacturing line is being run, you can even construct a second building of the same type and alternate between multiple buildings to speed up production.

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. Constructing multiple Quarry mines helps a lot with this. After the first town, you should rarely ever need to do this again.

Note: You can temporarily skip to the nation age part of this guide and immediately build a capitol at this point, to easily allow you to switch between multiple mines for easier manual stone production. This will also allow you to construct buildings without moving to the site.

On the Building (F10) window's building tab you can check the current inventory of the building.

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 farm near your other buildings. Go to the construction site (or select the farm in the capitol) and push the Work Construction Site button on the Building (F10) window to start manually constructing the farm. Construction materials will automatically be fetched from the other buildings' inventories; you may have to go back to your other buildings if you run out of construction materials.

Homes will be needed. Most farm building blueprints have homes included, but it is not a requirement. Make sure the design has a few "Homes" shown underneath the design dropdown in the F11 window, as seen in the screenshot to the right.

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. Take a lunch break, etc. Alternatively, you can continue down this guide and manually work the processes and setup infrastructure until more citizens have moved in.

After some time, the town will have an abundant supply of food and construction materials, because citizens are running the manufacturing lines. Your little town 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.


Roads are used to connect buildings together. On the Construction (F11) window, click the road category button to start building a road.

Construction materials (stone) for standard concrete roads are automatically fetched from the environment. In addition, dirt roads don't require resources at all. This means that resources are never a concern when making dirt and concrete roads.

Use the hand cursor to select a location. 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.

The "Level grade" option makes roads level the terrain by forcing the second end of the road segment to be at the same altitude as the first end, which significantly increases the labor required to build them. It's generally recommended to use the "Grade Area" button instead, as this will let you flatten large chunks of land at a minimal labor cost.

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 Building (F10) window. The left box shows the materials consumed in construction. The right box shows whether or not tools that give optional bonuses are present. On the bottom left is a check box labelled Employ Citizen. This has no effect if your town has no citizens, but if it does then this option will allow citizens to construct the road for you. Bottom right shows the amount of labor needed. Press the Work Construction Site button to apply labor. Construction of the road section is complete when all labor has been applied.

Hints and Tips

  • Place all buildings and roads using the top-down view. This will make planning, placement and organization a lot easier. It is essential when you are placing resource harvesting buildings because it lets you see where the natural resources are.
  • When placing a building, hovering it over an area will show a "popup" of would-be available resources next to your cursor. This is ideal for determining how much a building will have access to and optimizing placement.
  • You can hold Shift while placing a road to angle snap it. This can help make for cleaner road layouts.
  • You can press Space when placing buildings to automatically align them with a road.
  • Also, you can acquire more player-created building blueprints from the Steam Workshop by accessing the Blueprint Exchange, see that page for more info.

Metal Age

Metal production is needed to advance further. Metal is an essential component needed for producing electricity, computers, manufacturing of vehicles, spacecraft and more. 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. You may need to do some exploring to locate ore.

Ore icon

The icons on the top-down view just indicates that there are ore rocks in that area, but not how many or exactly where. When you are placing a mine, hover it over an area for a second and it will show how many rocks are within the mine's site. The mine won't be able to have more ore mining workshops than there are ore rocks at the mine's site.

When using a bigger building blueprint for ore mining but there aren't enough ore rocks to use fill all workshops, consider using the spare workshops to mine some stone and retiring your old stone mines.

Next build a smelter. The smelter will create metal using ore gathered by the mine. The resulting metal is stored in the smelter's inventory.


The Building window showing manufacturing lines of a machine shop.

With metal it becomes possible to manufacture a wide range of metal tools. Tools are required in some more advanced building construction and manufacturing processes. Some tools also increase the efficiency of manufacturing processes or construction speed of new buildings.

Construct a machine shop in order to start producing tools. Configure manufacturing lines to produce the desired tools. The most important tools at this stage are hammers, shovels, and sew needles, but having all types of tools is always 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 your town is ready to become a real city and a capital. Do note that you can still create a city without metal if the capitol design allows so.

If you haven't already created an empire, you need to either handcraft or otherwise acquire a flag in order to create a new empire. You will be unable to turn your town into a real city if you aren't in an empire.

For more information, see the Starting as an Emperor.


Build a capitol building in your town. When you place it you will be prompted to give it a name and also to name the solar system and sector if they aren't named already.

The capitol building has a small jurisdiction radius around it, buildings inside this area are considered part of the city. This jurisdiction area can be extended by constructing police stations.

Tip: Wild animals will generally stay out of the city area, and the starting village tribe will also move away. This should ease up some stress if you've been getting attacked by animals.

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

If you skipped here from the stone age part of this guide, you should now return to that part.


To declare the city as your capital you need to go to your capitol building.

Declare it as both an empire capital and a sector capital. To do this, stand at the capitol building's site, open the Building (F10) window, on the Capitol tab click the two buttons in the upper-right corner.

The empire capital city will be the city that you respawn at after dying.

City Report

Every 5-10 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 and Bases tab; then right-click a city. The report can also be accessed from a city's capitol. 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 faster. A negative moral causes citizens to emigrate out of the city.

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 gold bullion. This will require gold, if you have not already found and started mining some gold ore you should do so now.

Money is used for all trade, both with players and automated spacecraft trading.

Airport Immigration

Constructing an airport terminal allows for citizens to immigrate into your city from outside your city's local wilderness. Citizens immigrating via an airport will potentially double your immigration rate. This works even if you don't have any actual aircraft in your city.

An airport terminal can be built using a basic building blueprint that doesn't use anything else than metal. So making it early can greatly increase your city's growth rate.

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 in the city increases dramatically once it has electricity. This is especially true if your planet has long nights and short days due to the solar system layout.

Resources and terrain near your city will determine which power plant type is best to build. 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, while producing quite a lot of power. A tooltip showing the amount of each material needed appears if you hold the cursor over the row of "Construction Materials" icons in the Construction (F11) window.

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 later.

If those two options aren't viable, a wind power plant is a good last resort option.

With a power plant constructed, electricity will be available as a production process.

Industrial Age

The first step to advance your civilization towards the stars has been taken. Now your civilization will start its industrial revolution. Electricity allows for faster manufacturing and working at night, but it also opens up the possibility for electronic parts and computers.

An airport radar is a good example of a building that your civilization should be able to build at the end of this stage. This will allow your civilization to watch the skies for aliens and survey their home solar system.

Place down an airport radar construction site, and look at the Building (F10) window to review the requirements for the airport radar. You do not have all that is needed. Construct the industries that are necessary to make those missing materials needed to complete construction of the airport radar.

Your town will grow to considerable size by the time you complete this stage. As you place each new building, the Building (F10) window will show what is required to construct that new building and once constructed, it will show what is required to manufacture that new industry's products.

Tip: You can also hover over the "Construction Materials" in the Construction (F11) window to check exactly what resources it'll take to construct before placing, and also over the product in the "make product" dropdown to see the manufacture requirements.

This wiki has all of the manufacturing processes documented, however the construction cost for each building is blueprint-dependent.

Keep working your way down the production chain until everything needed to complete construction of the airport radar is being manufactured.

Industrial Resources

A few additional resources will be required in this stage of development. Most notably oil, but also minerals and crystals. Do note that oil nodes also contain natural gas, and are always found together.

Oil icon Natural Gas icon Minerals icon Crystals icon
C CrudeOil.png
C NaturalGas.png
C Minerals.png
C Crystals.png

Some of the resources can be rarer than others depending on the randomly generated world. Oil is especially critical and can be a hindrance. Exploring the other resource zones of your world might be necessary.

For useful hints in finding these resources, check out the Oil Finding Tips page.

In the absolute worst case scenario where oil or another of the resources are completely non-existent on your world, there are still ways to make it to space and find them elsewhere. It is however situational to what is available and therefore going into details here would be too much.

Trade Connections

Trade routes allow for cities connected together to automatically trade and share commodities with each other.

An airport terminal will allow a trade connection with all other airport terminals in the solar system. Alternatively if near a body of water a wharf can do the same for other cities on the same planet with a wharf.

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.

This allows you to travel to other resource zones on your homeworld and get any resources you might be missing or resources of better quality.

For more information, see the City Trade page.

Rocket Age

Once you've got a lot of the basic infrastructure down, you're ready to start progressing towards space travel. This will include production of Space Rockets and EV Suits for survival outside of an atmosphere. The ultimate goal of this is to setup your first moon colony, which can produce resources to create more advanced spacecraft.

For the next steps, see Building Your First Moon Colony.