In a previous post I discussed how players will be able to freely build whatever buildings they choose to make, for whatever purpose they want. They will have the ability to build free-form by placing individual components, as well as use a powerful visual scripting system to diagram out how their buildings should be constructed using algorithms. In addition to player made buildings, there will be pre-designed buildings for the player to build based on technologies.
The pre-designed buildings are essentially crafting stations which can be manned by NPCs, which automates what they do. For example, you can craft a smithy (a building where a blacksmith works to create swords, armor, horse shoes, etc) and then use the building yourself to craft whatever you want. However, the skill of the crafter makes a large difference in the quality of the final product. While you can certainly train your character in the ways of blacksmithing, over the entire course of the game, it may not be the most optimal use of your time. Instead, you could assign an NPC to the building and that NPC will craft everything for you. You simply put your orders for what you want crafted, provide the materials and payment, and then walk away while the blacksmith gets to work. The blacksmith will level up his/her blacksmith skills over time and eventually become a master blacksmith. He/she can also train an apprentice to pass on those skills to the next generation.
As your technology progresses, you will be able to upgrade these buildings. Keeping with the blacksmith example, the building would initially start with some crude bellows and blast furnace for heating up metals to a workable temperature. It might also start out with a stone anvil and stone or wooden mallets. These are not especially effective tools in terms of crafting highly refined and detailed works. But they get the basic job done. As an upgrade, you might migrate to a metal anvil and metal tools. Another upgrade could add a better blast furnace and bellows design. Eventually, you may reach an industrial era building where you have a very advanced blast furnace capable of quickly and efficiently heating any type of metal you need to whatever temperature you need and an automatic hammer to pound and shape your metal pieces very quickly with minimal physical effort. As a result of these upgrades, the products could be produced at a higher quality and much more rapidly than the initial starting building.
There will be buildings for working with metal, stone, hide, fabrics, etc. As you unlock additional tiers of technology, new buildings will arrive which allow you to craft new types of objects. All of these will be based on pre-designed buildings for now. However, at some future point (well after version 1.0 is released), I would like to replace these pre-designed buildings with the ability for players to build their own industrial complex, including their own custom-designed crafting stations. I have not yet worked out all the details on how this would work, and it is currently set aside to focus on core gameplay. But at some point down the road, my vision is for players to have complete control over every aspect of every building or crafting station in the game. I would even like to add the ability at higher technology levels to create fully automated systems out of basic components like robot arms, belts, CNC machines, storage containers, pick and place devices, etc.