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Update; Green Revolution
July 4, 2020


New this week: diesel-powered plows and irrigation systems.

Through these industrial farming techniques, you can use water, soil, and iron much more efficiently.

The third-party tech tree (OneTech) can now be reached from a button on the Login screen.
[Link][7 Comments]

Update: Crave Spice
June 27, 2020


Last week, a bunch of new foods were added to the game, pushing the total up to 64. Pickles were among the new foods added, and they make a perfect example of a pressing design problem. Why do people eat pickles in real life? They don't have much nutritional value. Maybe they eat the lacto-fermented type for probiotic benefits. But they're mostly eaten because they taste good.

As I work toward my goal of making the largest and most comprehensive crafting game of all time---a true love letter to our civilized world, which is so full of all the amazing things that people make---64 foods is just the beginning. But why would people bother to make these foods? They can't actually taste things in the game. Players will likely gravitate to the most efficient food, and make only that, after the novelty of making a food that looks like a hand-drawn pickle wears off. To put it another way: ice cream has been in the game for over a year, but almost no one eats it.

In facing this problem a while back, the YUM system was a good solution. Each novel food that you eat in your lifetime contributes to a growing bonus multiplier, boosting the value of each additional novel food. This is an abstract representation of "nutritional variety" or something like that. A long YUM chain is much more resource-efficient than a mono-diet of even the most efficient food in the game.

However, YUIM only takes us so far. Analysis by community members has shown that an optimally-scheduled YUM chain of just 24 foods---the 24 most-efficient foods---is enough to last a person all the way through their life. What about the other 40 foods? For players who strive for efficiency, the back 40 are effectively dead content.

But sometimes, you just feel like having a pickle, right?

The new craving system solves this problem in a way that can scale way beyond 24 optimal foods. Each family is assigned a sequence of foods that they will crave, one after the other, with foods chosen based on how advanced they are. Eating a craved food gives a bigger YUM multiplier boost---double the usual increment. Of course, for some hard-to-get foods, a double bonus might not be enough to make the food worthwhile. In that case, the craving will persist, even across generations, until it is finally satisfied. For each generation that goes without the craved food, the bonus increases. Eventually, even the most difficult to produce food will be worth making, as the bonus keeps growing.

In a given lifetime, eating a series of craved foods will be even more efficient than a standard YUM chain. However, if you get stuck on a food, or decide not to pursue your current craving, your craving sequence gets blocked on that food. So even if the craved food is not worthwhile for the initial bonus attached to it, it might be worthwhile so that you can continue eating other craved foods that will come later.

To expand your craving possibilities, the raw spices added last week have been used in a few additional recipes---spiced versions of shrimp and mutton that provide no additional food value compared to the non-spiced version. You probably won't bother making them, unless you get a craving for them.

And to aid you in preparing all this stuff, tables have become much more user-friendly, allowing you to transform objects that are sitting on the table without removing them from the table first. So you can make pie crusts, chop ingredients, and season meats, right on the table.

To prevent mother overload, mothers are now blocked from having more babies if they currently have four living children. This will allow them to focus their attention on helping those four survive. This is a soft block, which will be overridden if all mothers on the server have more than four living children. But in general, it should help quite a bit to smooth out the variance that sometimes saddles one mother with loads of kids.

And speaking of kids, since male characters don't have any babies themselves, their nieces and nephews count toward their genetic score---men are treated as uncles. People have figured out that women in the game can avoid genetic offspring by leaving their homeland to remain infertile for their whole lives. This has been fixed by treating any childless women as aunts---their nieces and nephews will also count toward their genetic score.
[Link][11 Comments]

Update: The Pickle
June 20, 2020


I have in my possession one of the great secrets to gustatory delight. Say goodbye to vinegar. Say hello to the magic that can be achieved through a little bit of salt and a lot of patience.

I will share that secret with you now.


24 of the freshest 4-inch pickling cucumbers
8 cups filtered water
1/2 cup sea salt
12 to 16 sprigs fresh dill (or substitute dill seeds, with 1/4 teaspoon seeds replacing 1 sprig)
8 cloves garlic, peeled
16 whole peppercorns
4 bay leaves
1 teaspoon yellow mustard seeds
1/2 teaspoon coriander seeds
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes

In a non-reactive soup pot, combine the water and salt. Simmer and stir until salt is dissolved. Remove from heat and cool the brine to room temperature.

Snip the blossom end of each cucumber, exposing a bit of the white flesh.

Put cucumbers and all other ingredients into a large clay or glass crock. Pour in enough brine to cover all cucumbers by at least an two inches. They will float as the brine level rises, so push them down to make sure there is at least two inches of extra liquid above them. Make more brine if needed.

Place a clean ceramic or glass plate on top of the cucumbers, and place a sealed glass jar full of water on top of the plate to weigh it down and keep all the cucumbers below the surface of the brine. Use the largest plate possible that fits in the crock, and put the plate face-up to avoid trapping too much air under the plate.

Cover the crock with a clean pillow case. You can also use a towel, secured with a loop of string to cinch the loose ends shut around the crock.

Place in a cool place. 68 to 72 degrees Fahrenheit is ideal for fermentation, which should take about three weeks, but happens faster at higher temperatures. Slower fermentation produces the most delicious results.

Every few days, remove the cloth cover and skim any scum or mold that appears on the surface. You will see bubbles coming up around the plate as long as fermentation is happening (you can tilt the plate a bit to observe any trapped bubbles).

After two weeks, remove the plate and sample one pickle. Rinse it off. Slice it in half along the cross section, and check how far the fermentation has progressed. If it's finished, the army-green translucent part should extend from the skin all the way to the center. If there's still some white-looking flesh near the center, the fermentation isn't done yet. You can also taste it for doneness. If they're not done, rinse the plate and put it back with the weight on top. Let them go another week and then sample one again.

Once fermentation is complete, fish all the pickles out and place them into jars. Ladle enough brine into each jar to cover them. Place them in a root cellar or refrigerator to keep them long term---they will be good to eat for many months.

To eat: Fish out a pickle from a jar with a fork, rinse off, slice, share, and enjoy.

Note that every year's batch of pickles tastes slightly different.

When you have a good pickle year, it's a really good year.
[Link][16 Comments]

Update: Forgiveness
May 30, 2020


You can undo a personal curse against someone by saying I FORGIVE JANE SMITH or I FORGIVE YOU.

A mistake in the way curses were counted has been fixed, where the count could grow stale relative to curses that had expired long ago. Unfortunately, this mistake resulted in at least one person being sent to donkeytown unfairly. I'm really sorry about this. For anyone else who was affected by this issue unfairly, please know that it was not brought to my attention until this week, and it is fixed now---you're free.

To prevent an overload of hungry and dead animal babies, domestic pigs and sheep now wait until you feed them before they have babies, so you can control the population yourself. This does make their meat more expensive in terms of feed, so you get one extra piece of meat from each to balance this. And for sheep, there's also a new feed bucket to mirror the functionality of the corn bucket.

In terms of "juice" in the Petri Puhro sense, your character now looks in the direction of your mouse (left or right) as you move it to click on things. You can easily face the person you are talking to, and it generally makes everyone feel more alive.

Tap-out gradients for oil and water now include diagonal versions, making it easier than ever to find your way to the source of the tap-out (the oil or water well that dried up the site you're looking at).

After a bunch of complaints about untenable Eve locations (where all wild resources are stripped bare), I've changed the way Eve placement works to make sure that it always happens a bit to the west of the farthest-west active homeland. Before, the Eve grid marched at a fixed rate, regardless of how fast civilization was expanding, meaning that it often fell behind and placed Eves right in the thick of things.
[Link][13 Comments]

Update: Zero Known Bugs
May 23, 2020


Finally got through the whole list of reported issues. There's now a lovely count of zero outstanding reports on both the code and data repositories.



Beyond that (and because of all the very helpful reports), the game is in a pretty good place right now. Most of the systems, like property, leadership, and YUM chains are more useful, and therefore more widely used, than ever before. The challenge of managing collective resources to survive is ever-present, even in advanced villages. Even more important, that challenge is constantly changing, as the situation in each village shifts over time. There's very often something important to do that will actually help your village survive---and the choices you make along the way actually matter. The promise of each life being a unique story is closer to being delivered than ever before.

The big things to notice this week is that you can get an arrow to your top leader with the /LEADER command, and a new /UNFOLLOW command is available in case you're too young to utter the necessary phrase. Speaking of being too young, the speech length curve (which grows with age) has been tweaked quite a bit, giving you more speech length much earlier in life. You now gain a ton of speech length between ages 8 and 16, and gain a bit more than that by the time you reach old age.






People who are starving (less than 20 seconds left before they die of hunger) make a starving face, complete with a whimpering sound that can be seen off screen. Rail carts hold twice as much as they used to, and corner property fences auto-renew themselves when nearby fences are renewed. The car is now faster and goes much farther on a single unit of fuel. Also, a bunch of other little fixes.
[Link][30 Comments]

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