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Author Topic: Improved Farming, Rebooted: Agricultural Revolution  (Read 75561 times)

NW_Kohaku

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Re: Improved Farming, Rebooted: Agricultural Revolution
« Reply #15 on: January 27, 2011, 03:57:51 pm »

So many different responders within 24 hours of posting... I guess having a reboot really was a good idea to get more people into the discussion, because the last one became pretty inbred with mostly the same posters over and over again.

OK, first off, I tacked on the feces/urine argument into the second post.

Soil quality need only be tracked for tiles that actually have soil, which won't be many (basically the surface, subsurface soil layers, and the caverns--farming on stone shouldn't be possible without moving soil from elsewhere. A 4x4 embark with 3 caverns, surface and say 4 subsurface soil layers would have (3+1+4)x4x4x48x48 = 300,000 tiles. If you want 4 bytes of data for each tile (water, nitrogen, phosporous and potassium) that's only an extra megabyte of RAM.

Maybe soil acidity could be introduced too? It could be changed by the application of lime.

I haven't gotten to this part of the suggestion yet, since it's part of the "nuts and bolts" I wanted to avoid at first, but one of the things we talked about is why you can't just have binary flags for water and NPK.  There needs to be changes over time, and building up soil (and yes, acidity was included, as was biomass, and there were talks about soil drainage and other more esoteric soil qualities) so that crop rotations can make some logical sense.  This means having more than just 2 values for every soil, and as a compromise, I was talking about 8 bits per soil nutrient, and six variables, for a total of 24 bits per individually tracked piece of soil.  Making larger "chunks" of soil that share their variables would allow for larger values that can have more nuanced changes in fertility over the course of game years without having to track half a megabyte of data just for soil fertility data.  After all, tracking an average of 10 tiles of farm with a single value that is two or four times longer in terms of bits will still have a net savings of two to five times the data.

Quote
Subterranean ecosystems could semi-plausibly be powered by:
1) decaying organic debris, whether brought in by your dwarves or washed in through the underground river system--this would make caves with no water pretty sterile, which is quite realistic.
2) Chemotrophs or lithotrophs--organisms that build organic matter out of inorganic (see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chemotroph and http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lithotroph). These might require special conditions such as the presence of particular rocks or hot vents (maybe proximity to magma?)

The problem with decaying organic debris is that there isn't nearly enough of it to explain cavern ecosystems.  Chemosynthesis was actually a part of a more advanced "magma farming" system I wanted to explore, but I think becomes a little too complicated, especially since magma and water don't play together too well right now, and I'm already asking for enough major system overhauls.

For now, I think it would be best to have some sort of more invented sci-fi explanation for cavern systems, and having some sort of fungus creature that can just tunnel straight through solid rock and leave behind muddy floors that can spawn even more decomposers picking up its waste would be a good starting point, but there needs to be a way to inject more energy into the system without perpetually increasing the amount of mass, and for that, we need a "magic energy source" in the Arthur C. Clarke sense that "any scientific principle you can't understand is functionally indistinguishable from magic" (paraphrased/rephrased to be made more applicable to the topic at hand).  It needs to have a measurable, predictable function to base farming off of it, which means it would behave in a measurable, predictable manner similar to science, but it basically would generate its energy from seemingly nowhere, or at least, generate it in a way that is functionally infinitely renewable without need for destruction of matter in the process to really be able to harness it for our purposes. 

Converting infinite magma sources into energy can accomplish this, but not all caverns really hook up to magma vents of their own.  Something magical about the caverns themselves (and having "cavern climates" from different flavors or densities of that magic) would be the best means of explaining how all this works.

While i really like the idea of selectively breeding crops, i think it should be a bit more complex than that. Instead of having a single 'better' type of crop, should be different traits you can give it, such as how hardy it is, how fast it grows, and so on. This could also tie into the raws of the plants themselves, having certian traits for growth rate, nutritional needs, ect.
My other thought on this is while procedural advancement is fine for the AI civilizations, when it's a player controlled civ, i think you should have a bit more control, such as ordering your farmers to breed, say.. maybe a faster growing strain of pig tails for example. Then perhaps randomize it, so you may end up with a strain that's just faster growing, or maybe faster growing but a bit more adapted to your exact ecosystem, making it harder to export. Or perhaps you get something else, as accidental discoveries happen occasionally. But, as the player, i feel you should have some say in the direction of reasearch , but perhaps that's an argument for another thread.

Sorry, this is also a problem of my trying to be too abstract when talking about the subject.  You are correct in your assessments, and these are things I also want to try to fit in.

The balancing mechanism I want to put into "better crops" is that, generally, they are just more susceptable to pests and more generally delicate.  Modern agriculture makes up for this with pesticides, but dwarves obviously have this in very limited, if any, supply.  (Unless "dump magma on your fields, that solves everything" counts as a pesticide.)

To make a real-life analogue, the true miracle story is corn.  Corn started as a grass, not much different from wheat, but which has been so utterly unnaturally selected as to be almost unrecognizable when compared to its ancient predecessors. 

Native Americans relied upon their corn, but there was almost no real variety in corn, and as such, it was very susceptable to crop failures.  This is, in fact, believed to be one of the major reasons why the North American Native Americans, which did have an ancient civilization (the Mound-Builders), lost that civilization - a few years of successive crop failures made the people overthrew their leaders, and just went back to more "safe" methods of society, like hunting buffalo or smaller-scale subsistance farming in the areas more capable of sustaining such agriculture. 

Also consider the navel orange.  There is only one navel orange tree in the whole world because it cannot produce seeds, and was just a freak mutation.  It has existed for decades, and more trees are produced by "cloning" it by cutting off a branch, and letting it grow into a new tree.  Still, it's just one organism, with just one string of DNA, with no means of evolving defenses while organisms that might prey on it, such as disease, can evolve every year to better exploit the weaknesses of the navel orange tree.  They are all the same tree, so if one becomes vulnerable to a disease, they are all helpless against that disease.



fgsfds!  Three new posts while typing this one... well, might as well post it before I get caught in a neverending chain of trying to respond...
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NW_Kohaku

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Re: Improved Farming, Rebooted: Agricultural Revolution
« Reply #16 on: January 27, 2011, 04:16:01 pm »

I occurs to me that a lot of effort could be saved (and two long-standing requests could be commingled) by having dwarves take their potty breaks on site, in the fields.

Could also let us compost all those useless body parts that are hard to get rid of.

The problem with this is that just dumping rotting waste onto a field is called "hot manure" or something similar, it's been a couple months since I looked it up, and this is bad for a wide variety of plants.  Hot manure is more nutrient-rich, but the little decomposing buggers create some toxic by-products that are just as poisonous to most plants as it is to most humanoids.  You want to have a "composting pile" device (either a building or a zone or a garbage dump or something) to let that hot manure turn all the way into more stable soil before adding it to most plants.

I read the whole thread.  Took me AGES.  Witnessed the enlightenment, almost. 

It's understandable why not many people wished to read the whole thing. 

Subscribed.  Can you bump this whenever you make a substantial update?

Color me impressed.  I haven't even gotten around to re-reading it to make sure I can harvest all the surviving ideas for placement in this thread.

Anyway, I will make a post noting it whenever I do a major change to the thread.

stuff on genetics

Well, we can't get too crazy about all of this, is the thing.  The key to making realistic Darwinian natural selection is that everything has to have a real cost, and those costs are difficult to model, currently.

For example, spiders aren't all web-spinners, and some are jumping spiders, which hunt down prey with good eyesight and powerful legs.  Webspinners catch flying insects, while jumping spiders catch crawling insects.  Here's the thing, spiders have evolved from one back to the other over and over again, depending on which insects were most prevalent, and hence, how they had to adapt to their prey.  A jumping spider that was becoming a web-spinner couldn't keep its powerful eyesight and legstrength because it needed to conserve its nutrients as much as it could while waiting for prey to land in its web.  Meanwhile, jumping spiders can't afford the massive nutrient cost of building webs out of precious protiens in amounts that take up about half its body mass if it isn't directly demanded for their survival.  The result is that when the spiders evolved from one then back to the other, they weren't "upgrading through evolution levels", they were gaining and losing abilities based upon what was most critical to their immediate survival, and throwing away anything not directly related to their survival. 

The thing about "genetics" as it is currently implimented is that there needs to be some real introduction of drawbacks to it.  Currently, cows eat nothing, but "beefy" cows can produce more meat per slaughter, and there is no drawback to this in any way.  So, why SHOULDN'T every creature eventually evolve into being perfect superman versions of their base creature type?
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Personally, I like [DF] because after climbing the damned learning cliff, I'm too elitist to consider not liking it.
"And no Frankenstein-esque body part stitching?"
"Not yet"

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NW_Kohaku

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Re: Improved Farming, Rebooted: Agricultural Revolution
« Reply #17 on: January 27, 2011, 07:17:41 pm »

I threw together a quick bit on NPK.

To be honest, re-writing some of this stuff is a bit of a grind, so I am cutting this one a bit on the terse side, and throwing links back to the longish posts of days past.  If there's something you guys want me to elaborate more on, point it out.
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Personally, I like [DF] because after climbing the damned learning cliff, I'm too elitist to consider not liking it.
"And no Frankenstein-esque body part stitching?"
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jseah

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Re: Improved Farming, Rebooted: Agricultural Revolution
« Reply #18 on: January 27, 2011, 07:35:42 pm »

If you call that NPK part "a quick bit"...  I wonder what you call a "massive wall of text". 
Then again, you've hit the 40k character limit per post, so I guess we've seen that.

Will read myself to sleep with these.  ^^ 

Don't get me wrong, I love long detailed posts.  Wall of texts that actually present good information are a joy to read and think about.  I'm just up way too late and can't sleep. 
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NW_Kohaku

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Re: Improved Farming, Rebooted: Agricultural Revolution
« Reply #19 on: January 27, 2011, 07:58:14 pm »

Maybe I feel more lazy for using links to old posts, rather than rewriting everything.  I'm honestly a little burned out on rewriting NPK stuff over and over again, though, so it seems like I have to force myself to do it harder than other things I want to explain.  I kind of want to write/revive some of the other topics in my web of suggestions.

Still, it was only 7,296 characters.  One of my mods had me writing a 100,000 character set of posts.
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Personally, I like [DF] because after climbing the damned learning cliff, I'm too elitist to consider not liking it.
"And no Frankenstein-esque body part stitching?"
"Not yet"

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FGK dwarf

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Re: Improved Farming, Rebooted: Agricultural Revolution
« Reply #20 on: January 28, 2011, 03:31:16 am »

stuff on genetics
more stuff on genetics

Oh, I totally agree! Costs of adaptation have to be taken into account, if genetics are implemented properly. Maybe something like the old game SimLife would work?
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sockless

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Re: Improved Farming, Rebooted: Agricultural Revolution
« Reply #21 on: January 28, 2011, 04:07:19 am »

This seems to be a good approach to the agriculture problem. This would also slot nicely into the entire food system, like if your fortress is desolate, then animals won't come to graze there. You could then be able to send dwarfs on hunting and fishing expeditions to get animals from further away.

I think that the entire industry of DF has to be looked at in this way, as it's too easy to scale, just like farming. The "throw more dorfs at it" approach doesn't really work so well in the late game, as it's too easy. A way to sort of fix this problem would be something like Maslows Hierachy of Needs, but less abstract maybe.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Maslow%27s_hierarchy_of_needs


This way, as your fortress goes on, your dwarfs demand more and more. The problem is that all this does is means that you just have to build more types workshops, which isn't really a solution to the problem, it just addresses some of the symptoms.
In a way though, that is just how it works in the real world, as we get higher standards of living, we demand more complex and better quality products.

<edit>Naturally, caves (and by extension caverns) have a lot of mud in them, I went caving recently and the whole place was covered in a clay/mud substance, so you don't have to do lots of explaining about how it got there.

<edit2>This would work especially well with this:
http://www.bay12forums.com/smf/index.php?topic=69453.0
Particularly the bit that talks about being able to store water in barrels and buy it from caravans.
« Last Edit: January 28, 2011, 04:39:10 am by sockless »
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zwei

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Re: Improved Farming, Rebooted: Agricultural Revolution
« Reply #22 on: January 28, 2011, 10:12:14 am »

A way to sort of fix this problem would be something like Maslows Hierachy of Needs, but less abstract maybe.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Maslow%27s_hierarchy_of_needs

I thought DF implementes it rather well:

L1: Booze, Food, Beds
L2: Dealing with Invaders, Securing resources and industries.
L3: Assimilating and attrating Migrants, Preventing Tantrums
L4: Aesthetically/OCD pleasing fort.
L5: Megaproject, HFS, showing off on forums.

Now, L4/L5 are player derived, but basis is there...

NW_Kohaku

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Re: Improved Farming, Rebooted: Agricultural Revolution
« Reply #23 on: January 28, 2011, 12:17:34 pm »

<edit2>This would work especially well with this:
http://www.bay12forums.com/smf/index.php?topic=69453.0
Particularly the bit that talks about being able to store water in barrels and buy it from caravans.

Rethought this one, but for the purposes of avoiding an Orwellian Edit, just spoilering it
Spoiler (click to show/hide)



<edit>Naturally, caves (and by extension caverns) have a lot of mud in them, I went caving recently and the whole place was covered in a clay/mud substance, so you don't have to do lots of explaining about how it got there.

It's not how "mud" got to the bottom of a cavern that needs explaining, it's how that mud is somehow perfectly capable of supporting a large, biologically diverse ecosystem. 

From the most basic of perspectives, an ecosystem needs to be able to contain matter suitable for life (that is, water, carbon dioxide, nitrogen, phosphorous, and potassium, which, although maybe not all the nutrients would be properly present, is probably not the problem), and it needs to have a constant source of new energy.  Entropic decay ensures that energy is always being lost to heat dissipation, and it is not recovered from that state, so new energy has to be put into the cavern ecosystem, and sunlight obviously can't be it. 

Now, caverns that are near the surface can have some mushrooms and such because the "mud" there is a soup of rotting plant and animal matter brought into the caves by animals who eat and excrete in caves they occupy as lairs, but the "mud" in the deep reaches of the cave have no such rotting biological matter that regularly arrives from the surface.  That mud is barren and lifeless.
« Last Edit: February 01, 2011, 01:42:53 pm by NW_Kohaku »
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Personally, I like [DF] because after climbing the damned learning cliff, I'm too elitist to consider not liking it.
"And no Frankenstein-esque body part stitching?"
"Not yet"

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Draco18s

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Re: Improved Farming, Rebooted: Agricultural Revolution
« Reply #24 on: January 28, 2011, 12:44:42 pm »

I'm glad this got a bit of a resurrection, however I have pretty much made my points, and have little desire to reread this in detail.
My opinions have been taken into account, and I can wait for the democratic process to take effect.
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NW_Kohaku

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Re: Improved Farming, Rebooted: Agricultural Revolution
« Reply #25 on: January 28, 2011, 01:18:58 pm »

I'm going to be reformatting the argument in its entirity to make it about the overarching system, and throw less focus upon NPK for it being only a component of the machine.  Hopefully, that will let us finally escape from Thunderdome, and it seems to be working so far.

In any event, I am fairly weary of rehashing the same argument, myself, but as soon as I get over this hump, there are some new things I think you'd like to see.  In fact, I might just throw out the forestry thing sooner rather than later, since I'm more interested in new ideas than old ones.

Also, we may live in a monarchy, but it seems to have some elements of a constitutional monarchy, here.  This entire Improved Farming thing is on the dev list thanks to Eternal Suggestions, after all.  The entire last round of argument started because Toady had said something about being interested in using the NPK system.

If I can rewrite and reformulate my argument and concept to make it persuasive to the majority of forumgoers, it sure can't hurt in making it persuasive to Toady.
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Personally, I like [DF] because after climbing the damned learning cliff, I'm too elitist to consider not liking it.
"And no Frankenstein-esque body part stitching?"
"Not yet"

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Draco18s

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Re: Improved Farming, Rebooted: Agricultural Revolution
« Reply #26 on: January 28, 2011, 01:53:54 pm »

Also, we may live in a monarchy, but it seems to have some elements of a constitutional monarchy, here.

I decided after wards that it's more of a dictatorship.  The monarchy requires inheritance of the "crown" which hasn't happened yet.
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Vince7403

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Re: Improved Farming, Rebooted: Agricultural Revolution
« Reply #27 on: January 28, 2011, 03:11:45 pm »

I approve of the notion of dwarven outposts requiring latrines and sewers, mainly on the realism and ecosystem grounds already established. The people who may be thinking that it's not suitably dwarfy are failing to realize that, just like everything else in DF, sewers can be weaponized. Just imagine, trap rooms that dump invaders to drown in the sewer, that they might fertilize next year's crop! The glory, the stench of glory!

It is worth noting though, if it hasn't been mentioned before, that use of un-composted feces for fertilizer dramatically increases the risk of farmers to certain diseases, the details of which I can't remember at the moment.

Somewhat tangentially, farm plots could perhaps track the presence of earthworms (or fantastical equivalent), which themselves could become a useful resource if an associated industry could be made to breed them in captivity. Worms would, at first thought, accelerate the availability of incompletely decomposed resources in the soil/compost bed.
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NW_Kohaku

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Re: Improved Farming, Rebooted: Agricultural Revolution
« Reply #28 on: January 28, 2011, 05:54:18 pm »

OK, Draco, I was going to make an update of the old stuff, but your comments have encouraged me to move on towards the new, instead. 

The new ideas I have had are what really excite me, anyway, and when I got really going on this one, I just couldn't slow down.  Funny how expanding upon the logical ramifications of simple changes long enough can get you to world-changing consequences.  I think I've really outdone myself in thinking of a way to make this game more of a "Fantasy World Simulator" this time.

Anyway, I was going to do pests and water management first, and you'll notice that water management is referenced several times in that post, so I'll have to do that part next, just to explain myself, but at least I am feeling more motivated to start doing it, so I'll probably shove that one out tommorow, or maybe tonight if I really want to just stay up until 4 AM writing again, and - oh crap, I have homework?!

edit: Oh, I forgot to talk about pollutants... well, there's always making another section, I've already made that last one long enough.  I won't be happy until we can make our dwarven dirt glow green with radioactive waste.

Anyway, I wanted to talk to Vince's concerns in that I actually thought about worm farming, and think it is a good idea, although I'm not sure quite how to fit it in at this particular moment.  Maybe remind me of it later, although I do like the concept of composting pits fed with worms, although the exact mechanics of worm wrangling will wait to a later day.
« Last Edit: January 28, 2011, 05:56:42 pm by NW_Kohaku »
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Personally, I like [DF] because after climbing the damned learning cliff, I'm too elitist to consider not liking it.
"And no Frankenstein-esque body part stitching?"
"Not yet"

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Vince7403

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Re: Improved Farming, Rebooted: Agricultural Revolution
« Reply #29 on: January 28, 2011, 06:32:09 pm »

Well, yes, worm husbandry would be an advanced feature for later implementation. Basic nutrient tracking and resource cycling theory would have to come first, worms just seemed like something worth mentioning while I was there. At the moment, I'm not quite in the right mental state for serious algorithm wrangling, unfortunately, but the framework as presented so far seems sound.
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