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Flatraising - Digging Guide

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Ok I finally decided to get round to making a guide to flatraising for all you wannabe diggers out there. I know there is a basic guide on the wiki, but I would like to expand on it for more practical purposes. First things first:

What is flatraising?

Flatraising is a method of raising land by dropping dirt on one point, and flattening the tiles around it. By this method, the surrounding tiles can be raised higher than the 40 dirt "sliding" slope limit. This method can also be used to extend flat areas such as docks out into deep water or over steep hillsides including cliffs.

What are the limitations?

  • The action of Flattening is limited to a maximum slope of 3x your digging skill. For example - with 20 digging skill you will not be able to create any slopes higher than 60.
  • Terrain types can cause issues. Flattening actions (unlike digging) can only be performed on dirt, grass and sand terrain types. If you try to flatten a tile which has clay or marsh next to it, it will stop you. If there is a tree next to it, you may be allowed to flatten but it will often end with the tree side being horribly misshapen.
  • Large areas are required - as you will see in the pictures I provide, you cannot raise a single tile by this method, there must be at least 4 being flattened and as a result you are affecting the terrain of 16 tiles (a 4x4 area).

Now on with the tutorial!

Edit: Thanks to AnarchistRise for suggesting using spoilers to display images, and also thanks to Yaga who has helpfully compiled this into a PDF for anyone who fancies using it that way:


I will be using links to pictures for these tutorials instead of embedding them, as there are 21 of them and I think the ideas will be explained well enough you don't need to look at the pictures and text at the same time. If you disagree, you can always have them open in separate windows!

First off, you need a nice working space. try clearing out any trees on nearby tiles and making sure there are no structures in the way. For ease of demonstration, I have modelled the following tidy world:


I'll begin by showing the most basic method of flatraising - straight up! In the following picture I have marked the tiles that we are going to be performing actions on. These will be the tiles that form our pillar of awesomeness.


The first step is to drop some dirt, right in the middle. It's important to consider the numbers involved in this - you can drop up to 40 dirt in one place (with flat surroundings) before dirt will begin to "slide" to other, lower corners. A good digger tries to avoid the slide as much as possible, as it can waste dirt (especially when operating in steep areas, as we will see later). However we will need to drop a significant amount of dirt, as we are raising 4 tiles which is 9 corners and so for every 1 height gain we need 9 dirts. Let's begin by dropping 27 or 36 dirt in the middle. This way we aren't going to end up carrying dirt around afterwards since it divides nicely:


Now we have a nice small pyramid of dirt, but we can't drop much more there before the dirt slides. The only solution is to make the 4 tiles around that middle point flat again, so we begin flattening them one at a time:


If you continue this process, you will end up with a nice flat 2x2 square which is slightly higher than the surroundings (if you used 36 dirt to start with, this area is now 4 dirt higher than surroundings).


We can repeat this process over and over again, because the action of flattening never leads to sliding dirt:




This means that if we keep dropping small mounds and flattening them round, you can end up with that 2x2 area being significantly higher than the next tile along, depending only on your skill and your supply of dirt. In fact, if you incorporate an extra ring of tiles (so you flatten a 4x4 area first) you can create towers higher than your skill might suggest, because you can then have a slope that is 2 tiles wide around the middle (tower on tower basically) and this way you are reaching 6x your digging skill in height. The downside is that to do this takes much more dirt - for every 1 height on that base level you need 25 dirts instead of 9!

Second Use - Heading Sideways

Next up is the second common use for flatraising - instead of trying to raise a flat area upwards, we are trying to extend a flat area sideways over steep terrain. Take a look at the picture below:


If we imagine that those slopes are steeper than 40, we can't even drop dirt on the edge as it will immediately slide down to the bottom. For whatever reason, we want to extend the flat area out into this steep bit, so how do we do it?

Start by picking a tile (as highlighted in the above screenshot), and flatten it. Here is where skill is quite important - if that slope is too steep for your skill to flatten, then the only way you are going to be able to do this is to drop dirt all the way to the bottom (incredibly slow and incredibly dirt-intensive!). I suggest if it is so steep your skill is insufficient, ask for help or get grinding that digging skill first!


Now we have flattened a tile, we are on our way. However, don't be fooled into immediately dropping some dirt on one of the corners! As you can see in the next screenshot, I have highlighted the slopes that are still steeper than 40:


If you look carefully, there is actually nowhere you can usefully drop dirt that wont slide away. The only solution is to flatten another tile:



Having done that, we now have two tiles that are still lower than the flat land we want, but at least they are level! As you can see in the next image, this means there is one spot we can usefully drop dirt to raise these tiles up by the original flatraising method:





Now we have two new, flat tiles on our land risen from the depths. An important factor to consider on large projects is a subtle difference in that last image. If you look at the edge of our new land, you can see that it is steeper than previously. Since we haven't raised the edge of the tiles below, the slope of the next tile has become it's own original slope PLUS the starting slope of the tile we have flattened. This is generally where people become skill-limited, and it does mean that the further out you go, the more dirt it takes.

So where do we go from here? Well, that new area is just 2 tiles wide, let's go sideways and make it more spacious by flattening one or both of the highlighted tiles:


Using the same method as before, we can drop dirt on the inside corners and flatten them so that our highlighted tiles have joined our flat land:


And now we can easily continue in two directions - make the flat land wider, or extend out further by repeating this whole process:


End state:

Most often these skills are used to create docks, flat roads on steep hillsides, or tall towers. For a long dock, it is possible to continue the sideways-flatraising process with just a 2-tile wide area. If you find that water becomes a problem, remember that you can also flatten the tiles behind you essentially sinking the dock until you drop the next load of dirt down.

I have nearly reached 90 digging skill (89.13 at time of writing!) without grinding, simply because I have enjoyed making all of these things. Below are some pictures of my personal projects even just within a single village that fit these descriptions well. I hope this guide has helped people understand how to save those precious dirts. Please do leave feedback on ways to improve this, or any other comments.





Hillside Road:

(also check out my Crystal Coast Trail from the Cave Canal around Crystal Lake on Independence! ;)


Edited by Wraithglow
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Very Nice and helpful, I will surely come back to this a few times. One thing I would like to sugest, is mabey use the "Spolier" function and import the pictures directly to the fourm post? Not sure if you could do it with all of them, but that would make an amazing guide that much more user friendly.

Thank you :D

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Nice, I was wondering if you would ever share your vast knowledge of moving mountains. Good work wraith, I just ask that you try not to bulldoze my home and raise a shopping mall while im away!

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Nicely done guide. For the longest time I was frustrated with my attempts to *flatraise* areas on the edge of steep slopes until I realized one very important thing; there can be no trees touching any of the outside of the 4 corner tiles that you are flatraising, as they will prevent those 4 tiles from *flattening* properly. Best to cut down all trees in the immediate vicinity before starting. When I flatraise an area now I only drop 20 dirt max and never create more than a 20 slope so that the dirt has no chance of sliding down when working on a steep hillside.

It can be confusing at first to learn how to flatraise but once figured out how to do it, it can be quite fun to raise up areas to new heights and different levels. I have found that for areas that are just hilly, that it is best to just dig and drop dirt as needed and I reserve *flatraising* mainly for steeper sloped areas where the dirt would tend to run downhill. A common newbie mistake would be to try to use *flattening* for areas of of hilly, irregular, bumpy, up and down terrain where dragging a cart to fill with dirt to drop in the dips which was dug from the higher points would be the best option.


Edited by Ayes

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When I flatraise an area now I only drop 20 dirt max and never create more than a 20 slope so that the dirt has no chance of sliding down when working on a steep hillside. Also, by dropping 20 dirt in the center of 4 tiles, it will raise those 4 tiles by 5 dirt each; so in effect if you divide the number of dirt dropped by 4 (equals 4 tiles being flatraised) that is how much you will raise those tiles by. Drop 4 dirt in center, raise each tile by 1, drop 8 dirt in center rasie each tile by 2, and so on.

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Sorry to burst your bubble ayes, but your maths is off. 20 dirt dropped would raise one tile by 5, there are 9 corners involved in raising 4 tiles :)

I agree with you that dig/dropping is far more effective on slight gradients, flatraising is really only useful for 40+ slopes.

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Awesome. Even as an expert terraformer myself I love to see it all condensed and laid out so nicely. This would have saved me huge rage / panic headaches and a lot of wasted dirt back in my newbie days!

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When extending a flat area onto a slope, or making a road along a slope, it can often be better to flat raise every other tile instead of every tile.

So if you have 3 tiles you want to flatten, just flatten the 1st and 3rd. That way the 2nd doesn't unflatten the 1st. It ends up pretty flat without any effort.

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Another hot tip is you don't have to pile all the dirt up before you start. You can add dirt while flatraising and it will just keep carrying on till you run out of stamina.

However be careful the slope doesn't change while you have a heavy pile of dirt in inventory, as that seems to give more and bigger "ouchies".

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This is a really good guide to using the flattening ability!

However I would like to quibble about one tactic that you seem to have missed. If you want to create a ramp, you don't have to make it two (or more)wide.

A single-tile wide ramp can be created fairly simply. Rather than flatten a tile next to the first flattened tile, simply drop dirt one tile back from the first tile you flattened.

If you are starting from a place where there is no flat land above you to dump dirt on, then you can flatten three tiles, side by side to generate a place where you can begin dropping dirt on the back side of the first tile you flattened.

Your single-tile ramp can then be "inchwormed" down by dropping dirt at the top, and flattening it down progressively.

This is very handy for situations where there is very little dirt available, or very little room. It can take longer, because you have to flatten dirt once for every tile that you move it from top to bottom, but it's a lot less space, and a lot less dirt needed for a big ramp.

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Hey, just wanted to come back and give a huge thank you to everyone for this thread and the linked guides. They were immensely helpful in getting me started on learning to terraform, and now I'm running around my deed having fun getting the land modified wherever needed! Even have a switchback I've been building to make moving between the hilltop and lowland with carts manageable. :D

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