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Author Topic: Improved Farming, Rebooted: Agricultural Revolution  (Read 75524 times)

G-Flex

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Re: Improved Farming, Rebooted: Violate the Earth!
« Reply #240 on: February 26, 2011, 02:59:53 pm »

I think there's some truth in what each of us is saying.

That said, I think there's something worth disagreeing about with what you have said, in that I don't think that people really always grasp what it is they really want with these suggestions.  Especially with things like the magic arguments, some people just seem to declare they want random kill-your-whole-fort on a roll of 1 magic or Tolkien magic or D&D magic without really thinking any of it through, and without really being willing to discuss it.  Taking the time to actually think about how it would have to be implemented, and how the player actually has to interact with it has made me do some pretty serious revisions to this suggestion, which just talking about my feelings wouldn't have done.

The part of "thinking it through" I'm referring to is the abstract stuff, though. In this case, what purpose would a given type of magic serve to the game, and how? I mean, people not grasping the purpose of the suggestion (or what they want by it) is a big part of the problem I'm addressing here.

Of course, thinking through an implementation is a good way to examine your own suggestion and provide a proof-of-concept. However, some people seem to take a totally different approach. An approach we both seem to agree is good is the kind where you think about what sort of purpose a suggested thing would have for the game, and why, and all that other crap I mentioned, and then possibly flesh out the idea using proof-of-concept details in order to examine it further and show that it is feasible. However, fleshing out a suggestion doesn't imply that you have engaged in those first steps, or that you're even fleshing it out for the same reasons; some suggestions just come off as masturbatory armchair-game-design, where the suggester is taking more of a "this would be cool!" approach to show off some hideously specific thing he's devised with no real rhyme or reason to doing so. It reminds me of those letters people would send to Nintendo back when they were little kids, with crude drawings of monsters and stuff, where the point is more to show off random cool ideas floating around in your head rather than get at actual design issues and try to solve them. My ridiculous strawman example at the end of the last post would be a (fairly stupidly extreme) example of that, where it's just an overwrought string of superficially-"cool" ideas that don't really contribute to discussion at all. I mean, it's not hard to come up with arbitrary examples of game systems, but it's a lot of wasted effort compared to doing so as a supplement to actual design considerations being put forward.

The thing starts as a purely abstract, and works its way in talking about features, then I get into proof-of-concepty things near the end.  (I want to finish off with a mockup set of plants just to illustrate what sort of things we could do, although I have absolutely no doubts that Toady won't want to use the procedurally generated random crap that gets spit out in favor of whatever procedurally generated stuff he can program to be spit out.)

For example, this is a perfectly reasonable way to go about things, because you're not just throwing complex systems into discussion for the sake of "here's my system for farming I threw together in my head because it's cool"; you're doing it for the sake of demonstrating the sort of design goals and considerations you're talking about, the importance and purpose of which you've already established.
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jseah

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Re: Improved Farming, Rebooted: Violate the Earth!
« Reply #241 on: March 02, 2011, 08:24:10 pm »

Awesome read.  ^^

If you don't mind getting more "work", could I make the humble suggestion that you break the implementation into a few major chunks that could be done incrementally?  I think it would be much easier to implement in sections rather than a completely new addition. 
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NW_Kohaku

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Re: Improved Farming, Rebooted: Violate the Earth!
« Reply #242 on: March 07, 2011, 11:00:21 am »

Nutrition Models
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NW_Kohaku

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Re: Improved Farming, Rebooted: Violate the Earth!
« Reply #243 on: March 07, 2011, 11:06:05 am »

Sorry for the delay on this, I had trouble deciding on what I wanted to argue for in the nutrition model, so I decided to just put it off, and wound up just deciding to open up and play Mass Effect 2, which had been just sitting around for a while, so I haven't been on much for the last week. :P

Anyway, I'm getting about ready to work on revising some of the other suggestions I've littered the forum with over the past year, and I sort of want this suggestion complete, which means I need to go back to the Interface section again, and actually complete that.

Again, I worry that I'm sort of at a state where the idea I have is so complex and nuanced that everyone who reads this thread is going to have a different idea of what it is, but I still hope that the people who are still reading this can give me some comments on what flaws they see, especially with the way that the Interface can work.
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The Phoenixian

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Re: Improved Farming, Rebooted: Violate the Earth!
« Reply #244 on: March 10, 2011, 10:45:57 am »

OnIn response to Xenosynthesis

Faux edit: not sure what to list this as after writing it: it doesn't seem to actually be xenosynthesis...
The idea itself is nice but part of me doesn't quite like it.  It seems a bit simple: replacing the sun with simply another, more manipulable source of sustenance. (Though I may have missed something, I'm not sure.)

I'd much more like to see it as one of several parts of any ecosystem rather than the whole.

For an example, let's say you had a very large underground chamber, like the current cavern layers though probably larger, in which grew "Sun-cap" a subterranean tree that feeds off of wind, and a biomass feeding "glow shrub", both of which provide sustenance to the photosynthetic Nethercap the constant coldness of which provided a source for aircurrents (especially when around lava or fire generating plants.)

Also, I'd argue that any naturally existing ecosystem should be capable of being brought up into a permaculture even if some of the original parts of the ecology can't survive in the once it's fully developed.

(Back to the example, the nethercap might live a meager existence off of the brightness of lava and glow shrubs could be anywhere there was biomass before they meet and the system starts to grow enough for suncaps to develop and while the influx of surface plant life that suncaps allows might crowd out glow shrubs they were still necessary to the initial growth.)

(For that matter it would be nice to see rainforests and such above ground too, where certain plants above ground altered the weather and otherwise changed the biome to what it would not have been otherwise)

On retrospect, that's probably more something that would be found under ecology altering plants or complex biomes than xenosynthesis...


On Nutrition models

Not much to say but I agree with pretty much everything here. Waste especially so though. It may not be pretty but it adds enough that it's necessary at least in some form.
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JohnieRWilkins

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Re: Improved Farming, Rebooted: Violate the Earth!
« Reply #245 on: March 10, 2011, 10:58:57 am »

I think that all underground plants are fungi. They don't undergo photosynthesis and I assume that all underground plants simply feed by metabolizing organic matter. I don't know how that organic matter gets there. And I certainly don't know how forming large tree-textured mushrooms is an evolutionary advantage to fungus. Maybe they can spread their spores farther?

I certainly want an answer to how tower caps meet their energy demands.
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The Phoenixian

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Re: Improved Farming, Rebooted: Violate the Earth!
« Reply #246 on: March 10, 2011, 01:23:13 pm »

Well I'd expect you'd have to have something else down there if you'd want more than just a minor, slowlived kind of life at least, whether feeding on magic, oil, heat, kinetic energy, some strange source of light, or chemical energy present in certain minerals.

Though for biomass, one could partially explain it by having underground rivers begin with rivers and streams that start at the surface but are diverted into caves and carrying silt and other things in with them.
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JohnieRWilkins

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Re: Improved Farming, Rebooted: Violate the Earth!
« Reply #247 on: March 10, 2011, 01:42:37 pm »

kinetic energy,
I'm getting disturbing images of a living rubber band.
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G-Flex

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Re: Improved Farming, Rebooted: Violate the Earth!
« Reply #248 on: March 10, 2011, 10:03:50 pm »

"Sun-cap" a subterranean tree that feeds off of wind, and a biomass feeding "glow shrub", both of which provide sustenance to the photosynthetic Nethercap the constant coldness of which provided a source for aircurrents (especially when around lava or fire generating plants.)

Wind doesn't provide a lot of energy at all. Something that has to survive on wind alone wouldn't have enough energy to visibly glow.

Also, constant coldness is thermodynamically a very awful and creepy thing, and I really don't want to think about the implications of it. Then again, we sort of have to, because they exist.
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Jeoshua

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Re: Improved Farming, Rebooted: Violate the Earth!
« Reply #249 on: March 10, 2011, 10:18:12 pm »

I think Nethercap is so cold because it uses the temperature of the surrounding environment in some way, converting it into energy for it's own use.  This implies very strange and non-standard biochemistry... possibly even magic.

The most damnable thing about Nethercap is that when made into furniture it retains this heat-sucking property.  This implies that it doesn't really die when you cut it up.  Something that sucks heat energy out of anything up to and including magma for life energy that doesn't die when you cut it up into little pieces.

Truly the most terrifying of plants.
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G-Flex

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Re: Improved Farming, Rebooted: Violate the Earth!
« Reply #250 on: March 10, 2011, 10:30:35 pm »

I think Nethercap is so cold because it uses the temperature of the surrounding environment in some way, converting it into energy for it's own use.  This implies very strange and non-standard biochemistry... possibly even magic.

Yet the heat isn't evidently doing anything. It would have to be stored in the form of potential energy, unless the things have locomotion or grow extremely fast without bound, or something silly like that. Or the energy is totally destroyed, with is a thermodynamic nightmare impossible without magic.

Of course, there pretty evidently is magic going on here, so yeah.
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irmo

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Re: Improved Farming, Rebooted: Violate the Earth!
« Reply #251 on: March 10, 2011, 11:01:29 pm »

Yet the heat isn't evidently doing anything. It would have to be stored in the form of potential energy, unless the things have locomotion or grow extremely fast without bound, or something silly like that. Or the energy is totally destroyed, with is a thermodynamic nightmare impossible without magic.

OR we use magic to avoid the thermodynamic nightmare.

Each nether-cap contains tiny portals to the Nether Plane, which is very cold. Their energy metabolism is a heat engine using the portal as a sink, with chemical reactions powered by the temperature gradient from the surface to the core of the mushroom. Only a small fraction of the heat they absorb from the environment is bioavailable; the rest just goes through the portal. Their efficiency is horrendously low but that's okay because their heat and cold sources are both basically unlimited.
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NW_Kohaku

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Re: Improved Farming, Rebooted: Violate the Earth!
« Reply #252 on: March 11, 2011, 12:33:28 pm »

I think that all underground plants are fungi. They don't undergo photosynthesis and I assume that all underground plants simply feed by metabolizing organic matter. I don't know how that organic matter gets there. And I certainly don't know how forming large tree-textured mushrooms is an evolutionary advantage to fungus. Maybe they can spread their spores farther?

I certainly want an answer to how tower caps meet their energy demands.

Well, there's three major problems with "it's all fungi"...

First, fungi (or more specifically, scavengers and decomposers) are terribly entropic beings - their niche in the ecosystem is converting what little biochemical energy remains from the waste of the system, to ensure that all waste is returned back into the system.  No new energy is created or stored.  This means all underground life is unsustainable without massive amounts of organic compounds falling down into the cave system.  Note this mass is not going back UP.  Any caverns being filled with this much mass would fill up the entire cavern system incredibly quickly with dirt long before dwarves would be capable of finding and exploring them, no matter how those caverns formed in the first place. 

Second, it's largely unsustainable because you're basically funnelling incredible amounts of mineral wealth for the surface world down into the cavern system.  If we have a "real" ecosystem, the underground is either a MASSIVE parasitic ecosystem that feeds off of the surface ecosystem, which I don't think would be sustainable, or the sustainable underground ecosystem is run off of some other form of energy.

Third, few of the current underground plants seem like they are really mushrooms, anyway.  Take quarry bushes, with their leaves and their rock nuts.  Take tunnel tubes, which seem like references to tube worms from "black smoker" undersea volcanos (which are chemosynthetic).  And like I said in the section itself, we have floating guts (basically, slime monsters), flying heads, and amethyst men.  It's clearly magical life (I can't really call a plump helmet man or an amethyst man an "animal" exactly, but...) down there already, so we might as well extend the magic to magic underground plants, too.  (And then there's the "always at 0 celcius, even after cutting it down" nether-cap...)

Honestly, I tend to think that nether-caps and tower caps and whatever are just mushroom-shaped magical... creatures.  I'm not sure I can say they are "plants" necessarily, either, but that they exibit properties close enough to plants to be used like them. 

OnIn response to Xenosynthesis

[...]

I'd much more like to see it as one of several parts of any ecosystem rather than the whole.

[...]

OK, well, that's basically just more complexity, and why not throw in more complexity at this point?  :P

I've already talked about mushrooms being able to grow "off the grid" of magic, and I think that at a certain point, we could also say that some magic plants are not "aboveground" or "underground" at all, that they just don't need sunlight, they only need magic (or they only need light in general).  That said, that sun-cap had better be a freaking giant lightbulb in disguise to actually replicate the energy output of a sun, even if you are putting the plants right up next to them.  (Would dwarves be hit with their cave adaptation nausea for it?) 

That would require the lighting arc be complete, however.  There's also the wind and air purity systems that we could put in, yes, but while it's great to tie all these things in with one another, there should also be some other forms of magic ecosystems, because clearly that suncap is a magic plant, and it just has some potentially symbiotic relationships.  We could put in the baseline of this system without having to wait for every other portion of the game to be complete...

I think something like a chemosynthetic "plant" that requires access to magma in the way that current "wet" plants require being within two tiles of water might be feasable. 

Rainforests that alter their own biome might be possible, in the sense that we are already talking about trying to make the game recognize that you can change a grassland into a desert, and make animals recognize that the biome has changed, and that they want to now attempt migrating to a new biome if there are prey species available.  This would require a broader check of what goes into a biome, however...

Rather than having a (perhaps seasonal or yearly, no point in doing this too often) check on just migratory animals, there might be a whole "feedback system" check, where some of the properties of the biome are alterable, such as rainfall and how much water is being put into the system in general.

On Nutrition models

Not much to say but I agree with pretty much everything here. Waste especially so though. It may not be pretty but it adds enough that it's necessary at least in some form.

Actually, that reminds me of something I forgot to add to the nutrition section... I wanted to talk about food webs, and because I left off on the nutrition system for so long, it slipped my mind that I wanted to do it...
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NW_Kohaku

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Re: Improved Farming, Rebooted: Violate the Earth!
« Reply #253 on: March 11, 2011, 03:08:43 pm »

I guess a couple other things I should respond to...

Awesome read.  ^^

If you don't mind getting more "work", could I make the humble suggestion that you break the implementation into a few major chunks that could be done incrementally?  I think it would be much easier to implement in sections rather than a completely new addition.

Well, this could be problematic, since the game would be very, very wierd with some things incomplete on one side or another, if we are trying to make everything interconnected, but only have some of the connections up at one point or another.  The 31.19 problem was that some of the groundwork was laid before much of the things that made the groundwork necessary or even particularly functional were put in.

First off, there's going to be a massive raw break involved.  I think you should probably do as many of the raw changes all at once as possible, just because the raw breaks should be limited, and just make most of the new tokens just be dummy tokens that don't really do anything.

Beyond that, you need the interface (even if the buttons don't really do much), since there's no point in putting in nutrient models without having a way to actually see or react to that data.

Beyond that, you could probably work with water, NPK, and biomass, and work in the other soil factors later.  This would require the entire soil datatype rewrite at this point, plus the plant growth model and farming skills.  You'd probably need at least some placeholder fertilizers at this point, if not the entire nutrient model.  The basics of soil erosion and the like would also need to be in there, but the soil erosion by water and such might be able to wait, if you don't mind having a version or three that don't have flooding to create mud.  This would be the big one, obviously, since it's when most of the systems come up and online at once.

Beyond this, would probably be something like pests and food webs (although water management could come before that).  This means putting in the complex chain of who eats what, rather than a simple grazer tag.

Water management could be another next step, allowing for watery soil erosion, as well as magma flooding, droughts, and other water-related problems.  The change to make water carry soil nutrients inside of it could take place at this point (or in the previous big push).  It could also allow for the water-based farming methods at this point.

Real fertilizers (meaning waste management) would come after that.

Then you could do the crowding, competition, weeds, and polycultures sections.

Soil types and more biome-dependant plants.

Pollutants.

Xenosynthesis.

Invasive species, and dwarf-created biome changes.

Alternative farming methods that haven't already been put in (meaning the stuff like algaculture and Chinampas and flowers).

The ability to create procedural plants takes the last bit of this, although it could go in earlier, I think having the basics of the system working before you deal with procedural might be better, although that's just personal opinion.

Still, this is thinking about it only in the broadest of terms, and I don't know if it's really helpful (in the sense that G-Flex was talking about) to talk about these things.  I guess what it really comes down to is that there would have to be a major update that adds much of the groundwork for the system all at once, which would probably be massively buggy and have many portions of the system non-functional or with dummy placeholders. (Like dwarves just producing fertilizer from thin air to apply to the fields.)



Yet the heat isn't evidently doing anything. It would have to be stored in the form of potential energy, unless the things have locomotion or grow extremely fast without bound, or something silly like that. Or the energy is totally destroyed, with is a thermodynamic nightmare impossible without magic.

OR we use magic to avoid the thermodynamic nightmare.

Each nether-cap contains tiny portals to the Nether Plane, which is very cold. Their energy metabolism is a heat engine using the portal as a sink, with chemical reactions powered by the temperature gradient from the surface to the core of the mushroom. Only a small fraction of the heat they absorb from the environment is bioavailable; the rest just goes through the portal. Their efficiency is horrendously low but that's okay because their heat and cold sources are both basically unlimited.

If we are talking about xenosynthesis as I have been talking about it, then nether-caps might be producers of magic.  I'm not sure what kind of magic "creates cold" (which would be reducing heat in real-world terms, although perhaps not in a magical set of physics), so it could be that it opens a portal to a frost dimension or a nether dimension or a shadow dimension, but if the nether "wood" "produces" cold even after death, then maybe it generates a heat-regulating (it should raise temperature up to freezing, as well as lower it...) magic field, even after the chemical process the nether cap itself survives upon has ceased.

The nether cap "sprout" could be a relatively normal (term used relatively) magic underground plant until it reaches some sort of maturity state where it can produce a stable portal to its alternate dimensional energy source where it can feed upon the energies found within the portal.  Until this point, maybe it is just a mushroom, feeding off of biomasses or chemosynthesis of magma, or feeding off of the spilled-over energies of nearby magic-generating plants. 

Of course, if the energy of a nethercap comes from feeding heat into a portal to gain some magical output in return, then you would expect nethercaps to explode into life around magma vents.  They might just ring around magma vents, and stay clustered around them (especially if they are chemosynthetic in their earlier stages).

Oh, and this reminds me... mushrooms aren't used by fungi for any reason other than mating/spore spreading.  The real fungus, as in the portion of the creature that do the eating and growing and life-sustaining work of the creature, are the functional equivalent of the roots, and since fungi don't need sunlight, they never grow the mushroom until they are mature and ready to expend the wasteful amounts of precious nutrients to create a mushroom for the purposes of breeding.  Once breeding is complete, the fungus rots its own mushroom to reabsorb those precious nutrients back into itself, as well.  Mushrooms are temporary structures, they don't grow like trees do.

Again, this is why I think of tower caps as just mushroom-shaped magic plants.  Maybe they have those magic portals on the inside of them, and so they grow into a sort of Dyson Sphere around the portal that it grows to capture radiating magical energy without being too close to the portal itself.  This would raise the question of why they would need a "trunk" to raise this sphere off the ground, however... Perhaps to keep out of the range of some mud-based parasites?  Maybe the stone floor itself disturbs the collection of energy or the stability of the portals, since the stone itself might have an "earth sphere" effect?
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NW_Kohaku

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Re: Improved Farming, Rebooted: Violate the Earth!
« Reply #254 on: March 11, 2011, 05:06:17 pm »

Food Webs
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