Cities are core elements of Dark and Light. Compared to traditional sandbox survival games, where the player's character is simply dropped into the world, naked and alone, Dark and Light starts the player off in one of three distinct cities. This lends to a more "civilized" start for the player, and introduces them to the world in a friendlier way.
When the player enters the game world for the first time, they'll need to choose a faction. Factions are associated with specific cities, and so choosing one faction over another means the player will also start at a faction-specific city. Each faction has specific bonuses and banes, so it pays to choose wisely from the cast of humans, elves and dwarves.
Cities provide more than just a spawn point for players to launch (or re-spawn, should they die) their magic-filled careers. The cities are also fortifications, protecting players and NPCs from the various beasts of the wild that would attack lone travelers.
When the player starts the game, they will spawn in a shantytown, which provides short-term shelter. While not the most luxurious of accommodations, the shantytown will give the player a quiet space to rest and store the spoils of battle. It's also a dangerous area where the player will need to watch for thieves, for example, who is waiting to break into the player's storage and take their hard-earned loot.
Players will be able to move out of the slums and into a low-rent district as they progress. They’ll choose a home, pay the rent, and then move in. Just because players have a home now, it doesn't mean it's secure! So, they'll need to continually upgrade their home, locking it down, sealing it up and just generally fortifying it from being looted.
When a player has reached a certain level, they can attempt to become the lord of the town. Only the most accomplished players are eligible for this coveted position. The lord possesses command of mythical mounts, and uses their power to guide other residents of the city in all aspects of daily life, from housing and trade to defense against external threats. If the lord has even bolder ambitions, they can wage battles against threats from within, or outside, their city.
Cities also offer a variety of secondary features. They function as centers of commerce where players can trade resources. Players can become successful through the game's bartering economy with all trade happening at the discretion of the lord. In addition to trade, players can also invest in NPC shops to improve the quality of goods available in their city.
As is the case with all cities, fortifying the defenses is crucial to success, and defenses must be designed and implemented through cooperation between the lord and other residents.
A special feature of the lord's estate are the many statues of various mythical beasts. These are far more simple aesthetic fare - as during wartime, lords and priests can bring these creatures to life to assist in battle.
There are many special resources around the main city, including farmhouses, mines and more, which provide ore, food and other necessities. By making good use of these resources, players can expand their families rapidly while building up a powerful fighting force.
In many sandbox games, non-player characters (NPCs) only provide very basic interaction with players. In Dark and Light, the NPCs play a more significant role in the gameplay. For example, the local guards may hold a dungeon's key, and if you want to explore that dungeon, you must interact with the guards to get their approval. If you're thinking of going the "thieves’ route" by stealing from the locals, realize that the NPC guards will track you down and arrest you if you're not careful.
The art and engineering team for Dark and Light have been working on the game for over a decade now, crafting each building and fine tuning every aspect of it - from the grass roof designs down to the trellising on the exteriors of homes. No detail, be it part of the interior or exterior of the buildings has been overlooked. Below, you can see how a few buildings were brought together from pencil sketches to full 3D models, mapped completely both inside and out.
Original Painting---MAX Sketch---in-game footage