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Author Topic: More reasonable food system (aka Down with prepared meals!)  (Read 31381 times)

Jiri Petru

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I love food. That's why the current DF implementation always irked me. The idea that cooks would prepare finished meals which you then store in barrels feels so... wrong and illogical. I wouldn't store my roasted chicken with delicious potatoes in a barrel and eat it half a year later, no sir! Besides, being able to sell this chicken to a caravan wouldn't work well with the upcoming caravan arc. I don't want dwarves storing finished stews in a barrel, I want them storing onions, potatoes and salted meat, and preparing the stew only minutes before eating it. No more cooking steaks, stews, etc., and storing them in stockpiles for years... nor selling them to caravans!

In short: dwarves shouldn't cook and store huge piles of finished meals, they should store raw ingredients and cook only just before eating.

While the change is mostly just cosmetic, it would have many consequences in how stockpiles and workshops are handled. The actual implementation is more complicated and open to discussion (this is the opportunity for you!). Obviously, foods could be eaten raw and some raw ingredients could be preserved indefinitely even without cooking (smoked meat, salted fish...). Also, when it finally gets to cooking, the ways could vary. Individual cooking at home, taverns, food stalls, servant cooks... The options are many. I've tried to come up with a system that is both fun and easy to manage. As little micromanagement as possible, hopefully even less than in current DF. Feel free to come up with your own refinements, ideas, counter suggestions, etc.

This is not a thread about food variety! (We had enough of those) It's about storing, preparation, and eating.

I do realise there's about bazillion of food threads here, and I did read them. I'm stealing ideas all around, most notably from Preparation, Preservation, and Hungry Hungry Hominids. I could have posted this in that thread, I guess, but seeing as it is two years old and that this post is quite long, I decided to create a new thread.

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Why change it?
Why change the system "take any food ingredients>cook them>store the prepared meal in a barrel" to something more complex?
  • It feels weird and out of place in a game that simulates yield strength of different metals, individual body tissues or personalities.
  • The old system is bland. Imagine instead of people eating mangled stuff from barrels, they would visit taverns or food stalls, or cook at home, or have servant cooks. New interesting locations or professions!
  • Food could potentialy become an easy way to create differences between a dwarf fortress, human town, goblin tower or elf retreat. I can imagine goblins eating all together from a huge pot, elves eating only raw foods, humans buying food on marketplaces and cooking it home (men could work, women could shop and cook). All of these are viable rooms or workshops for the different game modes.
  • A better system would add flavour to the game and perhaps even make people enthusiastic about food. Take for example how the "realistic" geology made many people interested in stones. Apply it to food (it's healthy and educational  ;D).
  • It completely breaks any economy and I guess it's prerequisite for the caravan arc. You can't just trade prepared steaks and stews without breaking the economy (or at least the immersion).
  • Food has a great gameplay potential in trading or even diplomacy. If storing food becomes more difficult, suddenly some kinds of food become rare and valuable! Caravans of food would suddenly be interesting and important. Trading for exotic foods, grain tributes, etc...

1. Obtaining and storing food
So the food could only be stored before cooking, and cooking a meal would be the end of its career. There are many threads about obtaining food or having different food types so I won't talk about it here. See farming improvements or many others.

To keep it simple, I'd divide foods into things that spoil (vegetables, meat, bread...) and things that never spoil (like alcohol, grain, salted meat, etc.). Things that spoil would all spoil after the same time (say... two seasons in dwarf mode), things that won't will stay forever. It's very simplified, but easy to remember and manage. (Though I can imagine a third group of things that spoil really quickly - like meat - in a month or so). In adventure mode, times could be more varied and realistic, but in dwarf mode, having things spoil only after two seasons or so gives you enough time to process them without much hassle and micromanagement. You would have to eat them or preserve them eventually. Preserved food would never spoil.

A quick sketch of food types, just an example:
  • Meat and fish: spoil, can be preserved by drying, salting or smoking
  • Prepared organs: spoil, cannot be preserved
  • Fruit, mushrooms and vegetables: spoil, cannot be preserved (optionally, depending of how many subsystems we want to implement, can be preserved by canning and pickling... with difficulties and in small amounts)
  • Grain: can't be eaten but doesn't ever spoil
  • Bread: spoils, can't be preserved
  • Milk: spoils (alternatively, "spoils very quickly" if we have 3 groups) can't be preserved but can be made to cheese (or perhaps have all milk in dwarf mode immediately made into cheese).
  • Cheese: doesn't spoil (? - I'm thinking hard cheese as the standard), can't be otherwise preserved
  • More details and suggestions in this thread.

Spoiling after two seasons sounds about right... this would mean that eg. humans would be able to live off autumn harvest od vegetables through the winter but come spring they'd be reduced to eat bread only. Unless they had stocks of salted fish or smoked meat, of course. This sounds reasonably historical and prevents you from hoarding huge amounts of food (or at least makes it harder) which is good for game balance I think.

Some kind of AI that would make dwarves eat spoilables first would be nice. Personal preferences would come into play, of course.

NOTE: please don't confuse preserved food which refers to processed raw ingredients (dried meat, salted fish, dried mushrooms...) with prepared meals which refers to cooked meals (biscuits, stews and roasts in the current version).


2. Eating and cooking
Food could be eaten raw (no change here) or cooked. Cooking would happen right before eating, not weeks or months! The player would no longer order food to be cooked - dwarves would cook automatically, by themselves, as needed or as they get hungry. The player would only have to build some kind of a kitchen, then forget about cooking entirely. If the player wouldn't build a kitchen, dwarves would resort to eating raw food. Eating raw food only would probably cause bad mood.

The "prepared meal" items as we have them now would no longer exist. Technically, there would probably still be some "cooked meal" items... existing for a couple of seconds after dwarves take them out of a kitchen, and before they eat them. They would have no gameplay relevance, nor could they be stored. If for some reason a dwarf wouldn't finish his meal, it would count as refuse.

There's many possibilities how to handle "kitchens". Just throwing some ideas (thinking in dwarf mode terms):
  • Individual cooking: a person would grab ingredients and just cook them for themselves. Either in their room (optionally might require a "stove" furniture) or in a communal kitchen that can be used by anyone (implemented the same way as current kitchens, or perhaps as hospital-like rooms where you'd place stoves and food stockpiles). The food turns into prepared meal. Eat it quickly!
  • Family cooking: in non-egalitarian societies (humans?), women wouldn't work (you wouldn't be able to assign any jobs to them). Instead they would obtain/buy food and cook it at home for the whole family. I imagine it implemented via some kind of pot that holds many servings at once. The woman would periodically replenish it so there's food for the family at any time (much easier to implement that to have all the family members eat at once). For the sake of simplicity, the food in the pot wouldn't rot... it's bound be eaten very soon anyway.
  • Communal cooking: very much like family cooking, just for the whole fortress at once. A huge pot or several pots served by full-time cooks. Anyone gets hungry, they come to the mess hall and take a serving of stew from the common pot.
  • Taverns could again use the periodically replenished pot (to have food available at all times). The "pot" system might be expanded to include other meals than stews in other kinds of containers. Like a barbeque "pot" holding a roasted pig, for example.
  • Servant cooks could be implemented the same way as family cooks, so they'd simply keep a continual supply of prepared meals (perhaps better quality) in the lord's manor. Cooking by order would be the hardest to implement since you'd somehow have to synchronise several dwarves to one "job" (the servant cooking and the lord waiting).

Only some ways would be available to a dwarf player, but other races would use different cooking habits. As I've said, imagine dwarves using individual cooking + taverns, humans using family cooking, goblins using large communal pots, etc.

To elaborate on the "pot" idea: I think food in "pots" shouldn't rot or degrade for the sake of simplicity. You can't take it out anyway (so it's almost like it didn't exist), and spoiling would just add too much micromanagement. If fort mode dwarves eat about 8 times a year, then some kind of rotting simplification is necessary. While a pot could still hold prepared meals indefinitely, it would be only small amounts (4 to 10?) - nothing like the thousands of roasts and stews we have in barrells now. The thousands of items would need to be stored in raw/preserved state. Once cooked, food could only be eaten or thrown away, never sold to caravans.

Optional: I believe this cooking system would be later easily expandable by adding nutritional effects or food diseases/sterilisation by cooking. But that's over the scope of this suggestion. I'd like to keep it as basic as possible.

Economy
Food is the base level for the whole economy. Unless you have food economy functioning properly, you have no economy  :) It's very important to get it right for the caravan arc if Toady wants to have "realistic" worlds. The target we want is: basic foods like grain selling for very low prices in very high quantities (think grain caravans), and moving from villages to towns. Villages keep towns alive, a towns can't survive without food from the countryside. In more concrete terms:
  • Grain, vegetables and fruit are cheap and available in huge supplies. They are only traded in the raw form.
  • Since fruit and vegetables are spoilables, they should have limited caravan "range". Caravans would take them only short distances. Grain doesn't spoil and can be shipped all over the world.
  • Addendum: I think the problem with fruit/vegetables transport wasn't just time, but perhaps more importantly the hazards of medieval travel - insects, bumping and other nasty things that would destroy the fruit after quite a short distance
  • Raw meat and raw fish are average priced and can be traded only locally since they spoil too fast. Prepared organs fall into this category as well, so you wouldn't be able to buy sausages from caravans for example.
  • Meat instead gets traded in livestock form  :)  If you want sausages, you have to butcher the pig yourself! Livestock is expensive and can be traded short distances (I guess?).
  • Preserved (smoked, salted...) meats and fish are expensive but can be traded all over the world.
  • Milk is extremely short distances only.

For dwarf mode players it would mean they could buy quite a limited range of foods, depending on the exact game location. If they are in an isolated area, caravans would only bring things like salted meat, but the player might arrange grain caravans as well. No fruit or vegetables though. If, on the other hand, the fortress was built in an inhabited area, it would get large variety of spoilable foods from the outlying farms.

It's debatable whether to have the same "towns need villages" apply not only to the world, but also to player fortresses. I'd say YES since having to care about food caravans sounds like Fun. But fortunately fortress mode can cheat and use different rules then the rest of the world.


Optional:

If we want fortresses dependent on the outside world, we have to do something about the limited food consumption. As it is now, dwarves eat too little. Butchering one cow yields about 15 meat and 10 organs, which is 25 food units, which means single cow can feed 4 dwarves for a year. Obviously, this totally breaks the whole economy. Unless this is changed, having enough food in fortress mode would stay extremely easy.

Ideally, a dwarf should consume the same amount of food per year in the fortress mode as in the adventurer mode. In adventurer mode, dwarves eat (or will eat) each day. In fortress mode, they eat about 8 times a year. Which means one fortress-mode meal ought to represent 1/8th of 336 = 42 adventurer-mode meals. The question is how to handle this in a way that still is user-friendly. In any case, it would probably require many changes in Numbers(TM)

We have no answer yet, and I would like to ask you to discuss the issue. My original, now outdated proposal is in the spoiler.

Spoiler (click to show/hide)
----

Well... and that's about it. I've outlined how I imagine food could be working after the caravan arc. I also recommend reading the thread I mentioned many times for inspiration. Any comments welcome.
« Last Edit: July 13, 2010, 07:00:51 am by Jiri Petru »
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Julius Clonkus

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Re: More reasonable food system (aka Down with prepared meals!)
« Reply #1 on: July 03, 2010, 09:09:03 am »

This is awesome. Especially the parts about communal cooking and restaurants intrigues me the most, though.

I rarely ever use cooking because stone crafts have been sufficient for trading all the time. This however would make cooks a lot more valuable. Communal cooking in pre-economy times would be sufficient. Post-economy times should activate taverns, restaurants (aka noble tavern, remember to include a flood-based cleaning system) and all the like. The player defines a tavern/restaurant complete with a kitchen area, a dining area and maybe an ingredient storage and a cook would decide to rent it and give it some food-related name. Coupled with a working guild system you could even have the cook hire some other cooks for full-time work and pay rarely-ever working dwarves to serve food, essentially creating a business group similiar to a guild.

Preserved food would most likely be the "favorite" meal of miners, hunters, woodcutters and soldiers.
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Silverionmox

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Re: More reasonable food system (aka Down with prepared meals!)
« Reply #2 on: July 03, 2010, 10:38:45 am »

Jiri, I'm amazed that you can eat an entire cow in three meals :p It's probably the easiest to track nutrition to some extent (if only to make malnutrition possible as a gameplay problem). That way we can give different organs different nutrition values, and it won't be necessary to handle all food in meal-size quantities.
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StephanReiken

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Re: More reasonable food system (aka Down with prepared meals!)
« Reply #3 on: July 03, 2010, 11:35:49 am »

Most meat lasts longer after prepared, so its unrealistic to have it otherwise.

And certain types of preperation DO last forever. Jerky can last for a very very long time if not directly exposed to the environment.


And the Food trade is constant in modern times. I'd imagine that in less-technological times where Preperation is not as advanced, its still a popular trade profession as travelers need to eat, as they travle.


But I agree that prepared food should still rot. Just not as quickly as unprepared.
« Last Edit: July 03, 2010, 11:39:28 am by StephanReiken »
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Solace

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Re: More reasonable food system (aka Down with prepared meals!)
« Reply #4 on: July 03, 2010, 01:49:32 pm »

Maybe you could have a "brew vinegar" option, which allows long term storage of usually perishable items in barrels? Possibly preserved items would be less "good" (nutritious, happy-thought producing?), but more valuable to trade because they'd last long enough to actually get there.

Maybe prepared food would be better with or actually require different items? Instead of preparing the "big pot of plump helmets", it would require each new ingredient to be different, as well as possibly have a "cooldown" for different types of food (big pot of plump helmet, dimple cups, and cave wheat would not be a big step up).

One thing I don't like now is how prepared food gets rid of the seeds/ect that eating the item raw saves. Maybe the cooking skill should increase the chance of getting these items?
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thijser

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Re: More reasonable food system (aka Down with prepared meals!)
« Reply #5 on: July 03, 2010, 03:26:42 pm »

well preparing food could have 3 steps: one making something out of the raw goods(For example buchering) 2 making shure it can be stored (salting smoking ext.) and 3 dirrect cooking(putting it on a dish ext.)
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marcusbjol

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Re: More reasonable food system (aka Down with prepared meals!)
« Reply #6 on: July 03, 2010, 08:09:37 pm »

There is a simpler solution to this:  Add a perishable tag to most foods and have them rot.  Food with a perishable tag should not add to the fortress's value and caravans will not trade.
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Silverionmox

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Re: More reasonable food system (aka Down with prepared meals!)
« Reply #7 on: July 04, 2010, 04:01:59 am »

The obvious link for people looking for inspiration.

Quote from: Wikipedia
Common methods of applying these processes include drying, spray drying, freeze drying, freezing, vacuum-packing, canning, preserving in syrup, sugar crystallisation, food irradiation, and adding preservatives or inert gases such as carbon dioxide. Other methods that not only help to preserve food, but also add flavour, include pickling, salting, smoking, preserving in syrup or alcohol, sugar crystallisation and curing.
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RCIX

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Re: More reasonable food system (aka Down with prepared meals!)
« Reply #8 on: July 04, 2010, 04:14:58 am »

I like it, as long as there's a realtively easy way for new players to get going with some sort of food for their dwarves.
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Wyrm

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Re: More reasonable food system (aka Down with prepared meals!)
« Reply #9 on: July 04, 2010, 10:26:12 am »

Cheese: spoils, can't be preserved
Only applies to soft cheeses. Hard cheeses keep for years. Indeed, some must be kept years to be properly aged.
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Jiri Petru

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Re: More reasonable food system (aka Down with prepared meals!)
« Reply #10 on: July 04, 2010, 07:17:39 pm »

Thanks for your reactions, guys. Just to clear some misunderstandings:

Most meat lasts longer after prepared, so its unrealistic to have it otherwise.

And certain types of preperation DO last forever. Jerky can last for a very very long time if not directly exposed to the environment.

What I imagine a "prepared meal" means is something like your everyday dinner you put on a plate. A steak with potato mash, a tomato stew with beans, whatever... Things intended for immediate consumption. Prepared meals like this should rot almost immediately, couldn't be stored and of course couldn't be traded to caravans.

Things that DO last forever are what I call preserved, meaning salted meat, dried jerky, hard cheeses (thanks Wyrm), etc. These could of course be stored and traded. Food trade was of course the basis of the enonomy, I'm only saying people traded grain and dried ham, not oatmeal and roasted steaks.

Jiri, I'm amazed that you can eat an entire cow in three meals :p It's probably the easiest to track nutrition to some extent (if only to make malnutrition possible as a gameplay problem). That way we can give different organs different nutrition values, and it won't be necessary to handle all food in meal-size quantities.

No I can't  :D But I also eat more than 8 times a year. So what I'm proposing is to massively increase the amount of food people in dwarf mode (!) consume in one meal. Multiplying it by 10 would mean that 1 meal actually represents 10 meals that just aren't displayed for gameplay purposes (it would be unplayable, having you dwarves eat too often) - but are consumed for economy purposes. Having single cow feed 4 dwarves for a year is simply wrong. And even after multiplying by 10 it's still only 80 meals per dwarf per year.

There is a simpler solution to this:  Add a perishable tag to most foods and have them rot.  Food with a perishable tag should not add to the fortress's value and caravans will not trade.

But this doesn't solve the main reason I started this suggestion - that is how kitchens and cooking currently work. I don't want my dwarves cooking hundreds of meals and storing them in barrels. I want them to store raw ingredients and cook only before eating!

EDIT:
I like it, as long as there's a realtively easy way for new players to get going with some sort of food for their dwarves.

Well... as long as you had some raw ingredients and a kitchen, dwarves could cook for themselves and it could be automated, so I think there's no problem here.
« Last Edit: July 04, 2010, 07:24:34 pm by Jiri Petru »
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StephanReiken

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Re: More reasonable food system (aka Down with prepared meals!)
« Reply #11 on: July 04, 2010, 10:53:03 pm »

Thanks for your reactions, guys. Just to clear some misunderstandings:

Most meat lasts longer after prepared, so its unrealistic to have it otherwise.

And certain types of preperation DO last forever. Jerky can last for a very very long time if not directly exposed to the environment.

What I imagine a "prepared meal" means is something like your everyday dinner you put on a plate. A steak with potato mash, a tomato stew with beans, whatever... Things intended for immediate consumption. Prepared meals like this should rot almost immediately, couldn't be stored and of course couldn't be traded to caravans.

Things that DO last forever are what I call preserved, meaning salted meat, dried jerky, hard cheeses (thanks Wyrm), etc. These could of course be stored and traded. Food trade was of course the basis of the enonomy, I'm only saying people traded grain and dried ham, not oatmeal and roasted steaks.

Ah, I understand, and thus change my perspective ^^.

 Well, Prepared Meals from that point of view, still last some time after prepared. Not a very long time depending on the food, and as time passes it would become more and more stale, and then start becoming rotten. And in this setting, there isn't any refrigeration or anything so I expect it to not be very long, once temperature works to satisfaction how long it lasts should very depending on how warm it is.

And such foods may become rotten without being too apparent. If the dwarf is drunk, lost his sense of smell and taste, or desperately hungery, it might eat such food and acquire a syndrome for doing so.

Also, many preservation methods are decent meals out of the can. Jerky lasts forever and tastes great. Canned fruits, assuming they were canned well, last a very long time and tastes great. And other preserved foods would still be edible. There should be some preference to what minimum quality of food a dwarf likes to eat. And higher noble positions would demand higher qualities of food.
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WormSlayer

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Re: More reasonable food system (aka Down with prepared meals!)
« Reply #12 on: July 06, 2010, 10:32:35 am »

I really like the idea of expanding on cooking, the current system is a bit weird and simplistic for such an awesome game!
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NW_Kohaku

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Re: More reasonable food system (aka Down with prepared meals!)
« Reply #13 on: July 06, 2010, 01:46:44 pm »

I agree with this in general, and would like to see kitchens become something more like "cafeterias", however, some of these things, like cheeses or jerkies do suggest a different solution.

That is, it might be best for a more complex system to arise, with cafeterias serving prepared food, but also making "jerky huts" that specifically preserve dried meats, an option between soft cheeses and hard, salted cheeses, and a difference between baking soft rolls and baking hard, salted crackers with your grains.

From the dawn of civilization, people have worked on ways to preserve their food, after all, (the ability to grow and store enough food to survive even the hard times is, presumably, the entire reason civilization started,) so preserved foods should be represented.

With that said, it might be best to have the happiness (for lack of any better mechanic to tie it to) a dwarf gets from eating related to how they eat.

Currently, there is no reason to encourage dwarves to eat anywhere but in a great hall that is saturated in the best decorations you can make, as this causes dwarven happiness to absolutely skyrocket.  For family cooking to compete, it must have bonuses that would compete with the bonus of a legendary dining hall.  On the other hand, hard tack, hard cheese, and dry jerky should not be as pleasurable as fresh foods.

As a plus, though, it would be nice if we could get dwarves besides military dwarves who go on extended trips away from the center of the fort (such as woodcutters, hunters, miners, mechanics, etc.) to be able to carry some dry rations as well.
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Ricky

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Re: More reasonable food system (aka Down with prepared meals!)
« Reply #14 on: July 06, 2010, 04:32:05 pm »

you forgot an important job to be implemented: catering

caterers will take food to certain dwarves and either cook it on the spot or take it cooked, you can assign certain dwarves to always be catered, likes miners who are busy, they will be happy to sit down and eat the food there instead of a chair, because its on-the-spot, thus there would be no chair/table penalty
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