Design Spotlight: Library


Big Huge Games
Jul 24, 2015
This Design Spotlight is brought to you by Lead Designer John Hawkins. Enjoy!

Hello Leaders!

Today I wanted to take a look at the development of one of my favorite buildings in DomiNations – the Library. In the interest of full disclosure, I was heavily involved in its evolution, so I am a bit biased.
Initially, the Library started off as something very similar to the Library found in Rise of Nations ( There were five different research tracks, each themed towards a different part of your civilization – Military, Civics, Commerce, Science, and Diplomacy. Each research track had a focus that would increase with every level, as well as a few upgrades unique to each level. For example, the first Military research would increase the troop limit by 15, as would the second one, and so on. However, the first Military upgrade would also increase the stable limit by 1, while the second one would increase the siege works limit by 1, and so on. The other lines:
  • The Civics research line increased road and wall limits as well as the limit on many defensive buildings.
  • The Commerce tech increased the caravan level and number of allowed farms and houses.
  • The Science research line increased how good your civilization was at hunting and removing debris
  • The Diplomacy research line never really took off, but would’ve impacted donated troop limits as well as other alliance features.
That was the first revision of the Library. The second revision started with the idea that each nation would have its own research tree. This eventually got pared down to each nation having a line of unique technologies (many of which later became incorporated as nation powers or became technologies available to everyone).
  • British: free archers from army upgrades, defenders from the forest, archer bonus vs. buildings, increased trade goods from attacking, and extra loot from revenge attacks.
  • Chinese: extra walls and higher wall health, extra caravan income, extra siege damage, extra defensive buildings, and higher defender and troop attack.
  • French: extra farming income, an extra stable, higher cavalry and siege health, siege take up less troop space, higher supply healing, and stronger generals that have a faster recovery time.
  • Germans: more resources and trade goods from mines and fruit trees, shipments contain more resources, extra mercenary capacity, and more traps.
  • Greek: cheaper techs, cheaper age costs, upgrades free to complete under 10 minutes, extra building health, an extra war tactic and more war tactic damage, and an extra fire tower and higher fire tower damage.
  • Japanese: extra resources from hunting, higher archer damage, higher defender health, more melee troop damage, an extra garrison, higher range and health for towers and forts, more health for generals and troops.
  • Romans: extra roads and road income, extra towers, extra farm and caravan, more troop attack and health, generals get extra tactic usage, and players get longer battle timers.
We ended up removing the unique Library technologies for two reasons – we didn’t have an answer we were happy with for what happens to all the technologies researched upon switching nations (especially the extra buildings that unlocked), and because it was difficult to ensure that all the Library techs as well as the unique techs were compelling and balanced.

This brought about the third revision of the Library, the one with which players are familiar. The key breakthrough here was having multiple Chapters for each library technology. This allowed us to provide a deeper and better themed feature, while still retaining the uniqueness of the 3 different lines (Army (red), Defense (blue), and Economy (orange), which had been established in the second revision). This was also when we decided that we wanted the Library technologies to have a slightly different ramp than other part of the game – they start off somewhat expensive for your economy, but they increase in cost slower than other upgrades. We also decided to keep the research times short, so that players could re-engage with the feature more often.

Overall we are very happy with how the Library turned out. It helps differentiate DomiNations from some of its competitors, and fits in very well with our theme of human history. It also provides players with smaller and cheaper upgrades that don’t require citizens to accomplish. Lastly, it gives us a place to put concepts that don’t fit elsewhere.

Looking forward at the next update, we will be adding another upgrade to the Library in Industrial Age, unlocking a 7th tier of technologies. Here’s a quick preview of what they are and what they do:
  • Internationalism: increases League rewards
  • Negotiations: increases Peace Treaty lengths
  • Air Defense: increases air defense limit as well as air defense attack and health
  • Aviation: increases air capacity as well as Biplane and Zeppelin attack
We are also investigating adding new chapters to the existing technologies to further expand the scope of Library, but that’s for a future update. Until then, I hope you enjoyed this post, and if there are particular Library technologies you think could be better, let us know!

- John Hawkins

Aussie guy

Approved user
Jan 29, 2015
As a player who has played and spent considerable amounts of time money on your game since December, I would like to provide feedback on these interesting library design developments, but unfortunately there has been excessive censorship and a clamp-down on these forums in the past 24 hours that prevents me from freely doing so.
Last edited:


Approved user
Aug 20, 2015
Could we get a Medal System Spotlight next? Specifically how it pertains to matchmaking.


Approved user
Apr 6, 2015
You are already doing a great job! Please DO NOT increase the cost or research times of the Library to ridiculous level or length. Thanks!

Nathan Win

Approved user
Apr 13, 2015
Nice insight, thanks for sharing. Keep up the good work. As others have mentioned, how about a medal system spotlight. Right now it is crappy because we can only gain so few but lose so many.

Swtor Crafter

Approved user
Jun 8, 2015
I really hope you are planning to add some sort of library research that can benefit alliances in some way. right now the alliance functions are so boring and stale that they really need a shot in the arm from somewhere if your never going to put alliance wars in the game.....

maybe a library research line that could add features to alliances as the members of the alliance unlocks them?

let's say it could be worded something like this for example:

"if 35 percent of the alliances total membership unlocks this research then the alliance gains better communication and they gain a message of the day feature as a reward"

kind of rough I know but it's an idea and could possibly spark your creativity as developers.

basically what I'm asking is please make the research system work in alliances favor somehow.

the alliance system needs help bad and the research system actually has the ability to allow you to give cool options and features to them and give them the ability to work together to unlock the perks through their effort as a team.


Approved user
Sep 11, 2015
Longer peace treaties will make the game even more unplayable in the upper ranks where no opponent found problem is huge.


Approved user
Aug 4, 2015
That sounds great! I hope that this will just be one of the new updates that come out in the next week or so ;) Congrats on the new work space and I hope it provides even more room for the creative process.


Approved user
Oct 3, 2015
In his State of the Nations September Edition post, Tim Train said:

Among other things, we are evaluating the cost of Library technologies in the Enlightenment and Industrial eras, and those prices may increase, so we suggest getting your upgrades in now!

Will these price increases be part of the upcoming update, or is the evaluation Tim mentions taking place over the longer term?


Approved user
Sep 6, 2015
TimTrain, what about a new cavalry nation as Russia or Poland? Im sick of repeat it thousands of times, and noone tells me anything!


Approved user
Jul 13, 2015
Hate to be sceptic, is this in preparation for the upcoming nerfs. Eg league rewards, pt length?


Approved user
May 7, 2015
I like all the new suggested library techs, except the one about longer PT. It will, as some other have written already, make it even harder to find opponents in the higher leagues.

A different research path could have something to do with "pollution"/environment. For instance research the ability to turn oil into food. Im an immature IA (lv 130), but already now I see that I will have a huge surplus of food very soon....


Approved user
Jun 1, 2015
One piece of research I would like to see added is the ability to reduce the amount of workers required to gather from fruit trees, gold mines and animals. This could be added as a 4th chapter for pottery and hounds. Please reduce the number of workers required to 1 for fruit trees and gold mines. The workers required for animals could be: bunny [1], deer [1], stag [2], boar [3], bear [4]. This is something that becomes an issue for a lot of people from EA onwards with the long upgrade times so definitely worth taking note of.

Also, chapter 3 exploration is currently very weak and doesn't really offer a good ROI (Have a 5% chance to find an animal when clearing debris). This would be better if set to at least 25%, if not 50%.