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Timberborn Developer’s Log #1: Folktails


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[This is a repost of our first Developer's Log, published on Steam on June 2nd, 2021, which we didn't share here on the forums. Apologies!]

Hello!

If you played the beta of Timberborn, you might remember the three makeshift “races”. The beaver factions in Early Access and beyond are much more distinguishable – each will have unique looks and play differently. For launch, we’ll have two factions. Today, you get to meet Folktails.

Let’s begin with a preview video offering some interesting life advice.

Before we dig into the gameplay side of things, let's talk about our design choices.

Who on Earth are Folktails?

While still putting progress over “primal” beaver ways, Folktails respect Mother Nature. They work to live and in doing so they try to make the post-apocalyptic world a better (read: greener) place. They enjoy working in the field and consuming the fruit of their labour. For them, water means life, and they grow their settlements in balanced, nature-friendly ways. There’s one exception: even they can't say no to the canal-digging power of dynamite.

Gameplay-wise, we envision the settlements of Folktails as sprawling villages with vast areas covered with fields and orchards needed to satisfy their huge appetites. That also means you need a proper way of stockpiling food and preparing for droughts. You get to customize their settlements with lodges of different types. Folktails are also the only faction that knows how to produce energy with no fuel and no access to rivers – they have harnessed the power of the wind.

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We wanted Folktails to focus on the food, but not to the point where it'd be the only distinguishable feature. They use the resources that the earth gives them such as food or water and use them to their fullest, making sure that every beaver is cared for and has a place to sleep, with different sized lodges to create unique constructions. We also wanted to put windmills in the game for a while now, and this faction seemed like a perfect fit. Originally, we thought to keep Folktails even closer to the ground, but we decided against it in the end, as the vertical architecture is an important part of the experience. – says Jon Biegalski, a game designer at Mechanistry.

The faction’s style and architecture

Folktails use thatchings and build their structures with light wood. White plaster covers the boards and there are bits of moss here and there but that’s okay! We wanted the faction’s towns to feel like havens in the middle of a harsh wasteland. At the same time, the faction was to become a refined variant of what players recognize from the earlier versions of the game. We had some thatchings in the alpha, for example. We’ve given Folktails’ architecture to the demo’s Beavers of Demoria so you should have a good idea of what to expect.

Before we sat down to create Folktails a few months ago, our environment received a visual pass – and the new faction had to work well with the new color palette. Right from the start, we knew we would go for a nature-friendly, “cozy village” feel – as much as you can get that in a post-apocalyptic setting. We’ve gone through concepts based on American, Italian and Greek villages. We’ve had these hobbitish cottages with entrances going underground. We even tried using wall ornaments and mosaics before deciding to go with something simpler – says Jakub Mathia, Timberborn’s Art Director.

We love experimenting with curious shapes but the game is a tile-based city-builder after all. You can stack buildings one atop another, which calls for flat roofs and floors. We have a power grid system that uses power shafts attached to different wall slots, and the buildings can themselves transfer the power when put next to each other. When that’s less prominent, for example in the case of farms, grills or the temple, we can go wild, but often it’s the “gameplay and clarity first” philosophy that applies – explains Michal Zomerski, Mechanistry’s 3D Artist.

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Folktails are also a good example of trying to balance “beaverish” designs (and materials such as wood, clay, moss, thatches) and buildings that recognizable for human eyes. Speaking of which: let’s see what Folktails can build.

Faction mechanics and unique buildings

Please note that what we're showing below is still a work in progress.

Faction trait
Folktails enjoy good cuisine. Bon appétit!

  • Because of their more relaxed, farming-oriented lifestyle, Folktails’ consumption is 20% higher.

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Housing
Folktails allow their members to live however they want. No wonder there are many unique lodge variants available only to them! Four types, to be exact.

  • Mini Lodge - housing a single beaver
  • Lodge - for three beavers (yup, it is now a faction-exclusive building!)
  • Double Lodge - for six beavers
  • Triple Lodge - for nine beavers

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(Remember that beaver slots in lodges are no longer split into “adult” and “kit” slots. In most situations the original 2:1 ratio will still occur, though.)

Other unique buildings
Folktails favor progress but stick to the more eco-friendly branch of timbertech.

  • Windmills. All beavers need power to operate their factories, and Folktails have learned how to harness the power of the wind. Windmills come in two sizes, with the larger one providing you with higher power output. Just remember that the wind’s strength and direction change easily!

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  • Underground Warehouse. Increased production requires a place to store the goods, and that’s the solution! Underground warehouses beat even Large Warehouses in terms of capacity.

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  • Irrigation Tower. You already know this building, and it’s going to be exclusive to Folktails. Towers let the beavers water otherwise dry areas and turn them into future fields and forests. While an irrigation tower requires a continuous supply of water and a dedicated worker, it is a much easier and faster method than digging canals, especially in remote areas.

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  • Farmer's Special. We don’t want to spoil everything yet but Folktails will also have access to another special building suitable for a farming faction. You already know about the Farmhouse so that's going to be something different. Can you guess what?

Folktails are the first of the playable beaver factions we’re introducing to Timberborn. When the game launches in Early Access and you choose these gold-hearted farmers, your experience will be quite different from what Beavers of Demoria have taught you.

It will be even more unique compared to how Iron Teeth roll. Who exactly are the Iron Teeth? That, our friends, is another story… and a topic for another Developer’s Log!

Until next time!
Team Timberborn

PS Big thanks for the patience to everyone looking forward to the game's launch. We want to give you the Early Access release quickly – but not in a half-baked form. Folktails wouldn't approve it.

PSS This is our first-ever developer's log. Want to see more such behind-the-scenes content? Let us know in the comments or on our official Discord channel!

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