What's Your Favorite Game About Building Stuff?

‘Lego Worlds’ is a fantastic game-as-creative-tool that should stand with the best.

This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at https://waypoint.vice.com/en_us/article/a3ex4a/whats-your-favorite-game-about-building-stuff

I’m usually not super keen on creating things in level editors and the like. More often I like to save that brain power for when I have some time to work on my own games I tinker with. But, I love it when games let me build something to solve a puzzle, like Polybridge or Besieged or Infinifactory! It’s a nice way to be expressive while simultaneously working toward something (a small something, but something nonetheless).

Just like Glorgu, I’ve always been a big fan of building games which have a puzzly twist. Probably my favourite of these ever is a game (more of a programming game than a construction game, but still…) called Colobot, where you are an astronaut blasted into space and you have to program robots to help you solve problems. Most of the programming was fairly straightforward (and the tutorials were excellent!) and it was always fun to set up a lot of automation: robots which collect ore and put it in a processor, robots take ore out of the processor and put it in a storage area, robots go to get their batteries replaced by other robots, robots take empty batteries to the charging stations and recharge them, etc. etc.

In terms of pure construction games, I have fond memories of Lego Creator, even though it was unbelievably janky. It was always a lot of fun to build a dynamite cannon and shoot it at lego buildings, or build cool vehicles and fly them around. Even further before that I remember playing with an edutainment package about the international space station (although I don’t remember what it was called), where you could snap together modules to build your own station. I think I spent a lot of time trying to build a death star shape out of solar panels!

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I really enjoyed the chill, build-as-you-want vibe of Banished. Especially late in the game, once you’ve “solved” the problems the game throws at you, it’s fun just to create a city in whatever way you want.

Unrelated, I really hope there are pictures of the Lego masterpieces Danielle talks about in this article!

Banjo Kazooie Nuts & Bolts was the secret best 360 exclusive don’t @ me.

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Glad to hear that about Banished, @Athaboros that’s just the kind of thing I like. There’s a certain vibe I’m always hunting for that I would describe as “ant farm simulator.” By which I mean little lite simulations you can set in motion and gently prod, letting run without too much stress while you watch your tiny citizens go about their lives.

I’ll be honest, I can’t remember too many examples of getting really stuck into an entirely open and free building game, but the game I’ve built the most in is probably Skyrim. With the Hearthfire DLC my nascent roleplaying instincts ran riot. I didn’t want to go fight monsters, I wanted to build a home where my same-sex couple and our adopted daughter could live in peace. I delighted in building summer homes to store building materials and trophies from our glory days, tending to the gardens and learning the animals that lived in each area. Ultimately it turned out to be a pretty hollow life bolted onto a different game, but that was how I left Skyrim. A homesteader. A partner. A mother.

The settlement stuff in Fallout 4 absolutely, positively made that game for me. I totally get the cool fantasy of a resourceful loner wandering through the wasteland, but settlement-building offered a figuratively and literally constructive fantasy. By crafting beds, stringing lights and organizing (barebones) infrastructure, I can help to rebuild society. And while there really isn’t an endgame to the settlement stuff I still get a weird sense of community from all those little villages I made.


I used to really enjoy playing Garrys Mod in the sandbox mode with friends. Would download a lot of weird add-ons and spend the entire night making contraptions. In particular there was a really good roller coaster building one. It’s a shame the game is mostly known for its immature community because the game itself and how open it is for modding is great.

Roller Coaster Tycoon is a classic of course and shockingly one of the best games on mobile. Really excited about the Open RCT2 project. Multiplayer in an RCT game is an interesting idea that I can’t wait to try once the desync bugs are ironed out.

Minecraft is pretty damn fun. Haven’t played it in years, and I can’t imagine ever wanting to mine another god damn rock again. Although some multiplayer with a group I like would be hard to turn down. It’s really something to collaborate on strange creations, or showing off what you can do. Just building a farm together and growing some wheat, such simple pleasures.

Otherwise, building cities in SimCity 3000, heck yeah, eternal love.

Honorary mention: Building defences in Company of Heroes. You can put down mines, sandbags, barbed wire, and things like that anywhere on the map with the infantry and it’s an incredible feature.

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Nuts and Bolts is the best creation game because it contextualizes the creation as a form of problem solving. It really was one of the best games last gen, bugs and all.

I really like games that let me build transport networks. Open Transport Tycoon Deluxe, the various Sim Cities (mostly 2000), and more recently Cities Skylines and Train Fever. Open Transport Tycoon was really fun for learning how to properly signal train tracks and create working intersections and stations. I love people who will spend the time to create tutorials for that sort of thing, it’s so valuable.

Lately though, Factorio has been far and away my favorite builder. I’m no longer an engineer in my personal life but Factorio totally scratches that itch for me and designing, building, and creating massive factories with endless conveyor belts, assemblers, train networks, and logistics networks is just fascinating. You’re always creating and solving your own routing puzzles and once you’ve got everything humming sitting back and watching it all work to send that rocket into space is super satisfying. The biters can be somewhat frustrating though, they seem to alternate between either totally harmless or an endless annoyance that you spend all your time fighting. The mod potential is endless and people can end up creating working computers in the game just like Minecraft.


Sid Meiers Civilization :slight_smile: It’s a game I rarely play to win and mostly just use to zone out and build and develop. It helps me when I’m having anxiety and I wrote a bit about it a while ago: http://gonzo-opera.com/2015/11/23/i-can-be-civilised/

Factorio is a big one for me lately. It features the same sort of algorithm construction of Zachtronics games but is more free-form.

My absolute favorite though is Kerbal Space Program. It’s fascinating to try to construct craft with techniques used in actual rocket design and it’s incredibly satisfying when you are able to fly your design on a successful mission to another planet, millions of miles away.

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I bought Minecraft for my Switch a couple of months back and have tried, twice, to get into it but barely get past the tutorial.

I feel dumb typing this, as kids play the game fine, but I found the inventory and controls really confusing, so I just wasn’t having any fun. I guess I need a clear evening to just sit myself down and learn the thing, but it’s pretty unlikely I will get that chunk of time for a while.

I loved Sim City 2000 back in the day. Played the heck out of that thing. Also A-Train was a game I put an unhealthy amount of hours into. It seemed incredibly detailed for me at the time (I would have been 13-14 at that time) and every game session I seemed to learn something new.

I saw over the weekend that they are bringing Dragon Quest Builders 2 to the Switch at some point, so I am keen to give that a whirl.

Seconding Fallout 4.

The fact that you get an opportunity in Fallout 4 to essentially bring back infrastructure via making sure wanderers have a home and food, water and shelter, is literally the best and possibly only redeeming feature of that game for me. There are two good side quests I’ve found: Silver Shroud and The Devil’s Due. That’s it. The entire rest of my time has been spent collecting junk for base building, building bases, and establishing supply lines and defenses. I haven’t even fucking gone to look for my kid yet? I only remember his name b/c it’s the same as that other kid from Heavy Rain.

I’ve seen a lot of call for the Fallout series to go back to Obsidian and gain more of a story focus, but I honestly can’t say I’d be willing to trade the base building aspects of the game for Fallout: New Vegas the Vegas-ing.


Yes! Besieged is brilliant. I spent untold hours in free mode just building insane pointless contraptions. Can’t wait for most actual levels as well. Being able to conceive and build a machine for some of the wackier tasks was super satisfying.

Also had some fun with Blockhood this year but it needs a bit more depth before it’s done. It’s a bit too “solvable” at present.

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I love theme parks and roller coasters, so I’ve always been a big fan of Roller Coaster Tycoon. Lately, I’ve been really into Planet Coaster. Despite being a management sim (mechanically, it probably isn’t as deep as it could be) it’s the creative features that are the real appeal. You can literally spend hours just making a building to house your drinks stand. Some of the things people have made in game have been truly fantastic.

Last year I went to Disney Land in Paris and visited the MGM park. I was taken back by how 90s some areas of the park were. There’s the Armageddon ride, and this ‘studio tour’ that is so out of date now referencing that Dinotopia show from the early 2000’s and Reign of Fire. Currently, I’m trying to plan out a park based on really bad movies from the 90s/00s. Rush Hour 2 - the ride. Batman Forever: The Ride. That sort of thing… Just a theme park that is a mish mash of old forgotten movies… A shitty universal studios.

Surprised I don’t see any love for Fortnite here. I can sorta take/leave most of the game right now (and that menu, whoo boy), but building feels great. Everything I make looks impressive, and it’s all very easy to lay out. Very few roadblocks between what I see in my head and what I can conceivably build.

I’ll second all your feelings on Minecraft. For a long time it was a “podcast game” for me just because of the sheer amount of dull, repetitive guff you’re tasked with doing. I recently spent a bit more time with it, though, because I was curious about some of the less… procedural gameplay of custom adventure maps and had tons of fun exploring and questing in someone else’s world. Try it out!

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The most fun I’ve had in building a town was probably in the (not particularly good) Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles: My Life as a King and its sister game, My Life as a Darklord. They’re both town management sims of a sort. In the former, you’re an infant king who can magically rebuild a town and then roam around it, catering to your citizen’s needs and dispatching heroes on quests. I spent dozens of hours talking to my townfolk and making a cozy little town.

In Darklord, it’s one of those tower-defence games in which you build a tower and ambush enemy heroes as they try to ascend it. I played this game a lot less (despite liking the main character’s design, for all my bad teen aesthetic preferences), but still enjoyed the creation aspect of it a lot.