Build-a-lot is a 2007 casual video game for Microsoft Windows. The object of the game is to construct, upgrade and sell houses for profits. They can flip houses for quick cash or collect rent to make funds go up. Players help mayors from eight different areas and through 35 different levels to complete the game. Build-a-lot was created by HipSoft. It has also been ported to Mac OS X by Red Marble Games.
There are two game modes in Build-a-lot: career mode and casual mode. In career mode, the object is to complete levels in which the player is assigned a set of tasks. In casual mode, the object is to meet a cash balance goal in the shortest time possible.
In career mode, the player's object is to complete a set of tasks in an individual game scenario, or "level". After doing so, they can advance to the next scenario. Once a level is completed, that level is available for play to that player on a continuing basis. Career mode has a total of thirty-five different levels, which are grouped together in eight different "neighborhoods" of between three and five levels. Each "neighborhood" has a different map character, number of lots, and different mayor. The neighborhoods advance in terms of game complexity. New structures become available at higher levels, and goals become more difficult.
Meadow Dale is the tutorial neighborhood, in which the player is given the most basic tasks and is provided on-screen instructions for the game. Levels 1, 2 and 3 are played in this neighborhood. The "new" Mayor of Meadow Dale is Jennifer Russell.
Pleasant Valley is the first regular game neighborhood. Levels 4, 5 and 6 are played in this neighborhood. The Mayor of Pleasant Valley is Beatrice Hudson, who in the game is revealed to be a native of New England.
River Glen contains levels 7, 8, 9 and 10. The Mayor of River Glen is Patrick O'Brien.
Evergreen Park hosts levels 11, 12, 13, 14, and 15 and its Mayor is Theodore Buckley.
Lakeside is the setting for levels 16, 17, 18, 19 and 20 and its mayor is the bald Frank Crawford.
Granite Springs is the setting for levels 21, 22, 23, 24 and 25 and its mayor is the blonde Annie Stanton. It's a western-style mountain community.
Summit Ridge is the penultimate neighborhood, where levels 26, 27, 28, 29 and 30 are played. Summit Ridge is modeled as a skiing community, a la Jackson Hole or Aspen, Colorado. The Mayor of Summit Ridge is Hans Stallmire.
Palm Grove is the final neighborhood, where levels 31, 32, 33, 34 and 35 are played. The Mayor of Palm Grove is Vince Danner, who claims to have been a "Hollywood Superstar". Palm Grove is an island community (a la Hawaii), as Danner refers to the "Mainland".
In casual mode, the player's goal in each level is solely monetary—reaching a predetermined level of cash. The player may achieve that goal using any strategy, and is not required to build any particular house or building. However, in each casual mode game, the player is given only a starting cache of cash, workers, and materials. Other than the Rambler blueprint, the player must purchase the blueprint for any house or building the player would like to build.
Only six neighborhoods are available for play in casual mode, as opposed to the eight neighborhoods in career mode. The six neighborhoods available in casual mode are the last six neighborhoods in career mode.
River Glen - The goal of River Glen in casual mode is $1,000,000. The player begins with $100,000 in cash, four workers, and 500 materials.
Evergreen Park - The goal of Evergreen Park in casual mode is $2,500,000. The player again begins with $100,000 in cash, four workers, and 500 materials.
Lakeside - The goal of Lakeside in casual mode is $5,000,000. The player begins with $150,000 in cash, six workers and 750 materials.
Granite Springs - The goal of Granite Springs in casual mode is $10,000,000. The player again (as in Lakeside) begins with $150,000 in cash, six workers and 750 materials.
Summit Ridge - The goal of Summit Ridge in casual mode is $25,000,000. The player begins with $250,000 in cash, eight workers, and 1,000 materials. There are eighteen total lots in the Summit Ridge neighborhood in casual mode. At the start of a casual mode game, one lot is occupied by an unowned Colonial, two lots are occupied by unowned Tudors, two lots are occupied by unowned Estates, one lot is occupied by an unowned Castle, and twelve lots are empty lots owned by the player. One of the premium lots is occupied by the unowned Castle, and the other is occupied one of the unowned Estates.
Palm Grove - The goal of Palm Grove in casual mode in $50,000,000. As in Summit Ridge, the player begins with $250,000 in cash, eight workers, and 1,000 materials.
In Build-a-lot, there are six types of houses that can be built:
In addition to houses, players can build commercial buildings that assist them in various aspects of the game. These buildings come in two basic types:
Functional buildings assist the player in some aspect of completing a level or achieving a monetary goal, for example increasing revenue by generating interest (the Bank), or speeding up construction or repairs (the Workshop). There are three functional buildings: the Sawmill, the Workshop, and the Bank.
In casual mode, each of the blueprints for the functional buildings costs $75,000.
The Sawmill The Sawmill has three functions in Build-a-Lot:
There is no benefit provided for having multiple sawmills.
The Workshop The Workshop has three functions:
In the casual mode of the game, the Workshop is important, as it allows players to speed up the construction and upgrading of houses, reducing the time necessary to generate cash.
There is no benefit for having multiple workshops.
The Bank has two functions:
Having multiple banks increases the amount of money generated for the player. However, the amount of interest earned does not increase on a linear basis, i.e., each Bank will not generate 10% interest on the player's money. Instead, the game acts to distribute the player's money evenly in each Bank, allowing a greater total rate of interest in the Banks, so there is an overall compound interest effect. As an example, if the player has a total cash balance of $1,000,000 and two Banks, $500,000 will be deposited in each Bank. The first Bank would generate 6% ($60,000) in interest, raising the total cash amount to $1,060,000. The second Bank would generate 6% interest ($63,600) on half that amount ($530,000) to raise the total amount in the player's account to $1,102,500. If the player has three Banks rather than two, each bank generates 4% interest on the player's money. Accordingly, while the difference between one Bank and two Banks is substantial in that two Banks will produce more than 20% more interest than one Bank on its own, the addition of a third Bank does not appreciably add to the interest generated and takes up funds that could otherwise be used for house construction.
CostMart is a building unlocked if the player completes all levels of the career mode of the game at a "high efficiency" or "star" level. It may be used in re-playing levels of the career mode, and is available during the casual mode of the game.
Cultural buildings are relevant to the career mode of the game, and are frequently the goals of particular levels. For example, in level six, a player must buy the blueprint for and build a post office as goal to complete the level. Examples of cultural buildings include the Library, the Post Office, the Surf Shop, the Cinema, and the Western Museum.
It was named Big Fish Games "Action/Arcade Game of the Year", and RealArcade named it "Strategy Game of the Year. It was nominated for the Interactive Achievement Awards for 2008 Downloadable Game of the Year.