This tutorial is for building a settlement (i.e. village, town, city). This is different to the "Building a Metropolis" tutorial, as it is a guide to give you some ideas on how to classify different types of settlements, as well as what goes in each type. Also, it covers other aspects and focuses more on a modern-day setting.
In Survival mode, it is recommended to build a settlement in flat grounds, like deserts, plains, swamp and savanna biomes, unless extra commitment to terraforming is present.
Types of Settlement
In our world, small and big communities have varying structures and features. A small community's appearance depends on how they live. How are you going to dimension your settlement? A preferred settlement is one where a visitor will not have to fly. So they have to walk, ride horses, use an elytra, or travel by railway. This may be a factor when you build your settlement. Additionally, consider if your community is supported by a bigger one, or if it is independent.
Note: the types this guide mentions are suggestions to help you find inspiration for your settlement.
It is best that you choose between three main types of settlements: villages, towns and cities. There are also other types suggested like hamlets, boroughs and conurbations. However, it is up to you how you distinguish them. It is easier to start by building your house. Then, you can build a house for a neighbor, then a neighborhood, then businesses, and gradually expand to a village. This can then expand to become a town and even a city.
This is a typical village. They have about five to ten houses, a community house for parties/festivities and a library. Notice that all buildings are connected to the street, but not usually to each other. The streets all connect to a village center, which is a well. These are important characteristics of a village.
- A center
- Branching streets that connect all of the structures
- Residential houses and community buildings
- A landmark (e.g. church tower, monument, river)
- Farmland/food supplied from a larger settlement
- Isolated (no special roads connecting other settlements)
A pre-generated village makes an easy starting point for a settlement. You even have residents that you can farm.
As you grow and get inspired while building your village, it is important to add some structure to the road. One method is to form a main street, with good lighting, which runs through the village to the center. Community buildings may face each other in that street. Other streets that branch out from the side may have residential houses connected. This gives the impression of an organized village. These villages have a more unique style and culture (e.g. the way roofs are formed, community "attractions", etc.)
Business-wise, small settlements look genuine if it has a market place. If that is not possible, add primitive small shops like bakery, blacksmith, school, and forgery. They should have their respective buildings. In order to establish these, make sure that the village has become "wealthy" enough, in terms of village habitants (say 30 people = 9 houses can support these services).
If you continue to expand your village and make it a town, you might discover that there are so many residents that the distance to the services is too long. Visitors who explore the city by walking may find it easier to navigate if you use all the available space inside the village, while at the same time increase the size of the buildings. One way to do this is by placing the houses together in one building, with 2 - 4 floors. This would essentially be called a “'residential building,” which have the volume of about 4 houses. At this point, the bakery, blacksmith and schools in village do not have to be placed in individual buildings, but in the same building on the first floor. This gives more space for niche markets to appear (wool shop, jewelry, cloth store, meat restaurant, fish restaurant, etc.) in the same building. This would essentially be called a “department store.” Now you have centralized the society and it stimulates activity in the core of the town.
While the community grows, there should be a wider range of services and attractions. As it becomes a primary destination on highways, the need for community services intensifies. It must have dedicated structures for hotels, hospitals, museums, social places.
These are important characteristics of a town:
- Larger centers (open places), denser structures, organized streets
- Services or structures that share common interests are grouped or clustered together.
- More attractions
- Established road - typically in the main street
- Well known and have connections with other settlements
- Primitive train station, docking area
The city has a lot of resources. It is because it is normally the "capital" of a region. The ways to show this is by building vertically through offices and skyscrapers made of materials such as terracotta and glass. It is basically an "upgraded" version of a town, and is usually larger. Cities are main hubs for everything. It becomes the attraction and therefore it must offer services most places do not give. To support the inhabitants, it must have at least 30 houses and 5 different commercial services. Otherwise, have at least one of the following: a large religious building, industrial center, or university. In a city like this, you could imagine a scenario where the inhabitants and visitors come to work, on trips, holiday, or to party. They usually have homes in a suburb some distance away. This means you will need a neat collective transit system and well-established roads.
Instead of continuing to group and centralize the services in a town, the society has probably come to a point where the city itself gets so urbanized, that it needs some arrangement. Perhaps make zones to include residential, commercial, industrial places, etc. respectively. More details about this is in the tutorial for Building a Metropolis. Cities are well known throughout the entire continent, and have connections with towns. Capital Cities also contain Government Buildings and maybe even a palace.
These are important characteristics of a city provided in this guide
- Downtown, bigger and higher structures, different streets and road standards
- Capital status: government institutions and departments
- Transit system across districts - dedicated train stations, signs
- Services (education institutions, hospital have their own property)
- Residential, commercial and industrial areas are put into separate districts
- More attractions than a Town could offer - a nice, green park, swimming hall, sports hall, concert halls, bars, etc.
Other types of Settlement
Smaller than a village. A hamlet is simply a small group of houses with little or no commercial services. It may not even be named!
A very large town that doesn't have official city status. It must have at least 30 houses and can have some city characteristics, as well as be part of a larger city, but doesn't meet the requirements to become a city itself.
Many towns and cities merged into a one really large urban area. Just build at least two or three different towns and/or cities close enough to each other to be seen as one.
A massive city with plenty of skyscrapers and high-rise buildings. Usually a combination of boroughs.
Challenge yourself by thinking socioeconomically; how do the resources available (cobblestone, wood, farms, etc.) appear visually on your settlement? You don't have to assess this beforehand. At least, for a visitor, it creates the illusion of a genuine place to be at. This comes naturally in Survival mode, but in creative, it may be a relevant question. Do you build your settlement out of stone, when there is no quarries, mountains, or access to a shaft nearby?
Naming Your Settlement
You can name your settlement before or after you have begun.
One of the easiest queues to names are the associations to the place. Town's and city's names derive from nature, region, other's name or a mix of these. Many places have same suffixes (word added at the end). You can use names from cartoons or video games.
- River in the plains - "Flat River Village/Town/City"
- Jungle Mountain - "Monkhill Village/Town/City"
- Forest - "Bush Village/Town/City"
- Swamp - "Wet Village/Town/City"
You can name your place after it has taken shape so it looks thematically correct. Like if your place use a lot of stone material and have sharp roofs, it may be called "Rocky Point Village/City/Town". Ask yourself; why are the Rocky Mountains in North America called Rocky Mountains?
If else, look for names of real towns and cities (possibly around your area in real life) or dig through this fantasy name generator. The fantasy name generator has an enormous name database, having 500 generators for names you could not imagine. Navigate to "place names".
You can use them to mix and match suffixes and prefixes. Here is a list of some suffixes you can fit on the end of the settlement's name with all examples being names of real places in Great Britain.
-ton (e.g. Northampton) -town (e.g. Newtown) -don (e.g. London) -dale (e.g. Rochdale) -ville (e.g. Bourneville) -chester (e.g. Manchester) -field (e.g. Sheffield) -gate (e.g. Ramsgate) -burg(h) (e.g. Edinburgh) -borough (e.g. Scarborough) -market (e.g. Newmarket) -port (e.g. Southport) -head (e.g. Birkenhead) -bridge (e.g. Cambridge) -mouth (e.g. Portsmouth) -ham (e.g. Nottingham) -ford (e.g. Oxford) -church (e.g. Whitchurch) -bury (e.g. Shrewsbury) -bourne (e.g. Eastbourne) -wood (e.g. Brentwood) -wich (e.g. Norwich) -sea (e.g. Swansea) -end (e.g. Southend)
Highways and Route Numbering
When you expand your settlement, it will need systematic routes and highways for your visitors. Here are some methods, using a sign:
- Color marks
- Number system - Route 1, 2, 3 ...
- Letter system - (Route: A1, Route: B1)
- Classed system - (Major route terminating at cities: A1, Minor route terminating at towns: B1, Expressway connecting main cities: M1)
- Combined system, using subway charts with color references and end-stations.
So if your visitor travels to your town, and not your city, they need to be able to easily orient themselves and find the correct line or route leading to that place.