Founders’ Fortune is an early access game available on Steam. It is under development by Oachkatzlschwoaf Interactive, a two-person team based in Germany. The game is a colony simulator that draws inspiration from The Sims, with a focus on both building and colonist needs. The game has been in development since January this year and was released on Steam as an early-access game in July.
This Founders’ Fortune preview is for alpha patch 10.4, with patch 11 coming out in several weeks. Alpha 11 will add stairs, allowing for multi-story buildings. The game is still under development and won’t be rated as a complete game.
There are three difficulty options to choose between before starting the game. Difficulty affects starting food, how much food colonists need, and how much damage colonists take. There is no purely sandbox mode in the vanilla game, but there is Steam Workshop support with a sandbox mode mod available.
The objective of the game is to develop a colony and attract more colonists to build a community. There is no win condition, though there is currently a maximum of eleven colonists and a finite number of research projects before everything is unlocked.
The game starts with two colonists with several traits and possible starting experience. There isn’t an option to manually create colonists, but each can be reshuffled. There are a mixture of positive and negative traits: Randomised colonists can start with a combination of the two or have only positive or negative traits. Generally, colonists with more or worse negative traits have additional starting levels in jobs.
Colonists have four basic needs: mood, friendship, hunger, and stamina. They also have a health bar, which depletes when the colonist receives attacks, has an allergic reaction, is starving, or has an infection. The friendship need is not yet a feature of the game. Hunger must be satisfied by eating food from any of the food storage items. Stamina and health are restored by sleeping in a bed. Colonists will generally eat and sleep on their own accord.
Mood changes based on positive or negative modifiers. Some positive modifiers come from eating favourite foods, good social interactions, fulfilling wishes, extra pay, and relaxing by a fire. Likewise, some negative traits include low health, bad social interactions, denying wishes, and jealousy of other colonists.
Colonists can work in any job and gain levels in each of them, up to three stars. The jobs are: farmer, forester, miner, craftsman, doctor, scholar, and combat. Combat doesn’t function like other jobs and only affects how well colonists fare in combat.
Growing the Colony
One of the first objectives is to build a bonfire within your colony. Migrant ships will spawn near to the bonfire, as well as travelling merchant ships.
In order to attract migrants, every existing colonist needs to have all their expectations satisfied. There are a total of six types of expectations, which unlock and increase as the colony grows in size. These are: food, comfort, life satisfaction, profession, salary, and community. The last expectation is not yet part of the game.
The food and comfort expectations, near the start of the game, require the first colonists to merely have access to a sleeping bag and raw food. As the colony grows, older colonists start to require better quality of food and comfort. Eventually, when the colony has nearer the maximum population, colonists will demand large houses with three or more rooms and to be fed with top quality food from the bakery,
Life satisfaction levels up as colonists’ wishes are fulfilled. Wishes often include interacting with others, buying objects for their bedrooms or houses, relationships with goblins, or gaining levels in jobs. Life satisfaction levels also give points to spend on removing or adding traits, or removing present negative moods or conditions.
Developing the Colony
Building in Founders’ Fortune involves a tab for both objects and structures (walls, floors, etc), with all items requiring resources. Wood and stone are the most common resources for building. Some items require iron ore or coins. Most building options require research, with the game starting with access to simple objects and structures. As technology advances, more crafting and farming options become available, including access to tools and clothes.
Researching involves a research book stand and later a research scroll stand. Earlier technology requires crystals, which can be traded for or harvested on the island. Later technology requires scrolls, which are only obtainable from travelling merchants.
The first accessible techs are very important for colony development. Farming gives access to the first crops and campfire food. Woodworking unlocks the carpenter’s workshop, which a craftsman uses to create wooden tools, and a healing potion cabinet for doctors to treat sick or injured colonists.
Tools and clothes are important for improving job efficiency whilst also providing bonus attack and defense. Each colonist can claim a single tool cabinet, clothes stand, weapons rack, and armour stand. Weapon and armour stand contents are used when the colonist enters combat mode.
Colonists aren’t the only inhabitants of the island you spawn on. There are generally 4-5 tiki goblin villages that spawn with differing reactions to the colony. Some tiki goblins are more xenophilic and have a bonus to their base approval, whilst others are either neutral or xenophobic. Relationships increase through accepting tribute demands, offering gifts, sending colonists with the diplomat trait, and making large trades.
Below a certain relationship score, goblins will attack colonists on sight and may outright attack if it deteriorates enough. Goblin villages can be destroyed, with each lost hut reducing their maximum population. Some equipment is only obtainable by looting goblins, either dead or unconscious, including tiki armour and weapons.
Maintaining friendships becomes harder later in the game as population and wealth of the colony increases.
There are also NPC factions that visit the island periodically, mostly merchants and pirates. Merchants appear as long as there is a bonfire and will buy and sell many items. A friendly relationship allows for a discount on trade.
Later in the game, pirates will appear and start to demand and collect tributes, and they will harass the merchant faction. From time to time, merchants will ask for protection from the pirates, which will involve combat.
Founders’ Fortune lives up to its intentions and manages to give an experience that balances building and colonists’ needs well. Whilst the game is still in an alpha stage, and there are many more potential features to come, it is still quite enjoyable at this point in development. There are a few flaws and frustrating elements, but the game is still in development.
Expectation requirements for migrants and research provide an element of progress to the game. Rather than having access to everything at the start with no limits on gaining colonists, there is an objective to each game.
The building mechanics are fairly similar to The Sims, in that houses and rooms need to be made using walls and flooring. Houses can be whatever shape and size you choose, so long as you have the resources. Though unlike in The Sims, every object, and wall or floor tile, needs to be built by any colonist. These features help the game stand out from other base-building games whilst giving it somewhat of a Sims-like feel.
Whilst colonists have depth to them through emotional state and needs, social interactions are very limited at this point in development. The hefty number of objects that colonists wish in their houses can mean they take up a large amount of space to fully satisfy. Stairs and multi-story buildings coming in the next patch would help with this.
The inability to obtain research scrolls outside of trade with travelling merchants becomes grating when there are long gaps between visits, which can delay progress for a while.
Relationships with goblins can be difficult to manage, and even those with xenophilic goblins can collapse if they don’t request tribute. Inability to build lasting alliances with at least 1-2 goblin tribes without heavy micro-managing is a little distracting.
Overal,l I enjoy Founders’ Fortune a lot, and I am eager to see how development continues over the next year and up to release. The game is very different from other survival base builders due to the Sims-like elements. It has charming gameplay, and the graphics are simplistic and stylised, fitting the tone of the game.
The game is getting regular attention, and it’s clear the developers are passionate about the project. There are regular updates on development, with an average of two to three articles a month since the July early access release. Major updates have been happening between one to two months apart.
Check out Founders’ Fortune on Steam HERE
You can follow the official Founders’ Fortune Twitter account HERE
Watch the trailer for Founders’ Fortune Steam Early Access below: