DT: Advanced Builder Topics

Hey everyone! Two weeks ago, we looked at how to build a basic house in the new builder. This week, let’s look at a few more advanced topics!

Advanced Builder

Recap from the video:
For example, what if you’d like to make a house with two floors? In the old builder, this took us multiple alphas and had a very weird button that put down floor but only on top of other walls. In the new builder, to make a second floor, select the same room tool you used to create the rooms on the first floor and draw a second room starting from the top of an existing wall. This room is now dependent on the walls below it, meaning that if you increase the height of the walls using the arrows that appear on selection, the room above will also move. Double clicking on things selects all peer items, so in this case, double clicking on the wall of a room will select all the walls so that you can alter them all at once. Also, if you move the room in such a way that it’s no longer touching the walls below, it will turn red to show you that it will not build correctly.

To get stairs to your second floor, first use the hole tool (looks like this window in a wall) to cut a hole in the floor, much as the eraser tool used to do. Then use the stair tool to draw a new staircase on the floor below–this may require some tricky maneuvering of the camera for now. Draw the stair tool as long as you want the stair to be high, and then use the period and comma if needed to rotate it into place. We’re currently also working on re-implement the snap-stair creation from the old builder, but for now, this provides a solution that works for both freestanding and in-place stairs.

The hole tool is actually quite versatile: in addition to holes in floors, you can also use it to cut holes in walls. Select the side of a voxel wall, and drag a section you’d like to remove. Where you click on the voxel is really important: if you click on the side of a voxel, it will cut in 2 dimensions along the vertical axis. If you click on the top of a voxel, it will cut in 2 dimensions along the horizontal axis. Though this requires some thoughtful clicking, we felt it was a lot more precise in the long term than two separate tools, or a drag that attempted to select things in 3-D space, or a slice tool that went voxel by voxel.

Now that you’re done with the second floor, you might want to go back and add furniture to both floors. This is a perfect time to shuffle between floors via the new floor tool!

While on the subject of placing furniture, I should also mention: a building can involve disjointed pieces, so you can place furniture or even a nice patio outside the building’s floor plan and still have this counted as part of the building. If you want to specify that you’re creating a new building while still working on the old one, so that your hearthlings will build them separately, use the New Building button before going on to work on a second floorplan.

When you’re done with the building, you can save it from the purple template button, which will cause it to be saved to a list of templates.

But what, you ask, if you want to build something that isn’t a building? Well, the voxel slab tool is now a ton more powerful trhan it was before. As seen in previous videos, it’s easy to drag out layers of voxels. You can also use the pointer tool to drag-select a subset of them and pull or push them to create new shapes or holes. As with the hole tool, the surface of the voxel that you touch is important: touch a side surface, and you can drag the voxels in the horizontal plane. Touch a top surface, and you can drag the voxels in the vertical plane. Use this, plus the new paint tool, to create statues or pagodas or bridges or anything else your hearthlings want that aren’t houses.

When you’re done, click the build button! At this point, the game evaluates how the hearthlings should build your building. This process is broken into two steps: the initial calculation, and ongoigng calculations that happen as hearthlings put down scaffolding or as you deform the terrain around the building. One new feature we’ve added is that if the game cannot, at any point in these calculations, figure out how a hearthling should path to the next part of a blueprint so that they can build it, that part of the building will turn red and pulse. This is your cue to help them get there by building them a ladder or making the terrain accessible. Because in a game of deformable terrain, it is impossible to know for certain if you absolutely cannot path to a location, it may even be the case that a part of the building pulses red for a while, and then stops as the pathfinder figures out how to get a hearthling from here to there. In this false-alarm case, the red goes away, and you don’t have to do anything. If you see red pusling for a long time however–and you’re getting impatient–the hearthlings don’t know how to stand beside the building part to create it, and you should see what you can do to smooth the terrain or ladder up the side of the building to help them along.

There are a number of janky, rough edges you can still see in this editor: for example, as of April 2018, the road, fence, and ladder tools are still missing, we still need to be able to cut holes in roofs, and the stair tool could still use that auto-snap feature that the old builder had. In addition, we’re still solving a number of “how to build this building” bugs, and we still encounter some trouble when casting rays through things to select the right part of a building–lots of things! That said, we think it’s coming together nicely, and love seeing what things you’ll build with it.

The builder isn’t quite ready for the Unstable branch yet, so we’ve put it up on a special, “rickety” password protected steam branch. If you want to put on your QA hat and help is find all the edge cases where stuff doesn’t quite work yet, head over to this thread for details:

Other Announcements

Stream should happen Thursday at 6:00pm PST as usual this week! It’s Justin, so bring your modding and building questions.