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Update: Lead and Follow
December 14, 2019


This week, we have an experiment in voluntary hierarchical leadership.

Each player can optionally pick one other player as their direct leader, by saying I FOLLOW SALLY SMITH, to follow them by name, or I FOLLOW YOU when standing near them. You can switch leaders at any time, and you can go back to having no leader by saying I FOLLOW MYSELF.

Following someone has absolutely no direct impact on gameplay, and is simply a source of information. People who have the same leader are marked as allies, and they wear the same color badges on their clothing. Leaders can follow other leaders, resulting in a dynamic hierarchy. Higher-order leaders have more elaborate badges and tiles, including Lord, Baron, Count, Duke, King, and several levels of Emperor. Your badge color is determined by the leader at the top of your tree.

Everyone can also exile other players at will by saying I EXILE SALLY SMITH, to exile them by name, or I EXILE YOU. This allows you to keep track of players that are causing trouble, and you will see a black X mark on their chests. I REDEEM SALLY SMITH, or I REDEEM YOU, allows you to bring someone back from exile.

The people exiled by leaders are seen as exiled by all of their followers further down in the hierarchy. Thus, information about troublemakers can be shared easily and efficiently. When a high-order leader exiles someone, a large group of people will all know about this person's status. Leaders can also be exiled, and any remaining followers are marked as dubious. An exiled person can appeal over the head of the person who exiled them, and higher-ups can override and redeem the exiles made by leaders beneath them.

When you're born, you inherit your mother's leader. You can change leaders when you are old enough to speak the necessary command.

When a leader dies, their followers are passed up to the leader above them, if any, and their list of exiles is passed downward to each of their immediate followers. In other words, the tree does the right thing automatically, behind the scenes, to preserve valuable information.

The inner workings of this system are a little complex, but on the ground, as one cog in the machine, you just need to make a single, very simple decision: who to follow, if anyone? And if you find yourself in a leadership position, you can also make decisions about who to exile. The tree will take care of the rest.

This system was inspired by forum-user Kinrany's post here:


More details and discussion about this system can be seen in this very lively thread here:


In other news, the Bell directional arrow has been moved down from the top of the screen to a more visually pleasing location. Thanks to Twisted for pointing out that it was visually jarring up there.


I just added an order system, where order messages get passed down through the leadership tree to followers. To issue an order, say something like ORDER, EVERYONE COME TO THE TOWN CENTER

Please note the comma in there. No comma, no order.

Your immediate followers will pick up the message whenever they get within 10 tiles of you, and their followers will get them message when they are in close proximity, and so on, until everyone in your tree has the message. As an example, you might be away at an outpost and then return to town. When you return, you will be automatically told the leader's most recent standing order. When you get an order message, it's accompanied by an explanation of which leader issued that order.

Exiled people do not see the message themselves, but do pass the message on to their non-exiled followers.

Also, in the original post, I forgot to mention the new verbal kill trigger feature. If you're holding a weapon and say I WILL KILL SAM JONES, you will enter the murder-mouth state against Sam Jones (or I WILL KILL YOU for the nearest person). There are a bunch of variations on this wording that work, too. The point is to allow you to start kill-chasing someone who is hard to click (maybe they just raced by on a horse), or to allow you resume a kill chase after dropping your weapon to eat. As another nice side effect: this kill state trigger is visible to everyone around you, so new players can learn how to do it (where shift-right-click is harder to learn).
[Link][17 Comments]

Update: Feast and Fixes
December 7, 2019


New this week, for a belated Thanksgiving: a feasting table, where you can serve yourself a whole plate of food. This takes advantage of the recently-added food overflow system, and is the first food source that offers +40 in one gulp, giving you a huge buffer of time before your next meal.

I spent the rest of the week making a dent in the very long list of issues that have piled up.

You now have a separate directional arrow, at the top of the screen, when you hear a distant bell tower ring. No more needing to dig up your home marker to follow the bell. A bug in lingering home markers from the last life has also been fixed. Some glitchiness in biome sickness have been fixed, along with an exploit that allowed you to plant biome-specific things outside of their target biome.

Eves were being spread out too far, because tutorial players and donkeytown players were advancing the next Eve position by accident, so that's been fixed. This should bring everyone a bit closer together. I Fixed a few confusing cases of tool learning (like when you're too hungry to use the axe, but learn it anyway).

There was a huge inaccuracy in the way that average lifespans were being computed as part of fitness score calculations. That has been fixed, which should dramatically reduce fitness score inflation, and all fitness scores have been reset back to 0.

There are still loads of issues left to fix, and I'll be focusing on those next week. Thanks to all of the people who spent so much time reporting them. Keep them coming. If I don't know about them, I can't fix them.

Please report programming-related issues here:


and content-related issues here:

[Link][8 Comments]

Update: Pie and Wine
November 27, 2019


As a mini-update before I start my much-needed family vacation, I give you pumpkin pie and wine.

Have a great Thanksgiving, everyone!
[Link][8 Comments]

Update: Distant Explorers
November 24, 2019


This week's update focuses on new ways to find each other, in light of the fact that you now need each other for long-term survival.

First, there's a new tool in place for sharing long-distance navigation, and for helping people find your village. Way stones were inspired by forum member SirCaio's suggestion. They act like permanent maps that anyone can use simply by touching them. If you're looking to interact with foreign explorers, you can make your village easier to find by planting way stones in a radius around it. Just like maps, way stones can have long titles, which means they also can function as informative sign posts. Way stones can also be used to duplicate maps, but they can also be used in village center to make sure that important destinations are known to future generations---no chance of the map getting lost if it's literally etched in stone.

And now, when you pick up a map or touch a way stone, your character speaks a distance estimate along with the title. No more wandering in a vague map direction and figuring out that it's actually too far away.

Next, rideable objects, like horses and cars, protect you from the effects of bad biomes. No more long, circuitous routes. If you're riding, you can plow right through.

Along with these exploration updates, there have also been huge improvements to wall-building.

First, pine walls now require a lot less resources, and pine floors are possible, making them viable for early-stage camps. Being indoors adds a huge reduction to your food consumption rate, so building a few primitive buildings might be worth considering as part of your bootstrapping.

Next, all walls now auto-orient, freeing you from the tedium of cycling through the various wall orientations when building. You can put walls down wherever, and your building will look nicely connected, guaranteed. Fences also auto-orient, even relative to walls.

Finally, springy doors now open automatically when you pass through, and they don't interfere with path-finding. Being indoors is no longer a navigation inconvenience.

Beyond those content changes, a bunch of bugs have been fixed, and an exploit in the fitness score system has been cleared up. Committing suicide when young no longer allows you to reap a score benefit from a long-lived mother. Your mother and grandmother still count toward your score, but only if you live longer than they do.

Even with this exploit removed, some rather high scores are possible, and such scores make the tool slot limitations irrelevant. I've updated the mapping formula to a sigmoid, as shown in the following graph:


No matter how high your genetic fitness score goes, you'll never have more than 19 tool slots.

The recent Steam sale brought in a lot of new players. I'm deeply grateful to the existing players for helping all of these new people to learn the ropes.

There will be one more content update on Monday, and then I'm on vacation for Thanksgiving.
[Link][5 Comments]

Update: Family Specialty
November 19, 2019


The specialty biomes, which spawn sporadically in the center of the topographic map rings, include the jungle, arctic, and desert. In this update, each of these biomes is assigned to one specialist family skin tone---they are the only people who are comfortable working there. The other families must depend on this specialist family for help in getting necessary resources from this otherwise inhospitable area. Fortunately, the resources found in these special biomes aren't needed until the later stages of a developing civilization. Thus, families can live and work in isolation for a while before they are eventually forced to find each other and cooperate through trade.

While there are only three specialty biomes, there are currently four family skin tones. The fourth skin tone has no biome specialty, but gains the polylingual ability to communicate with all the other families, so they can help with the coordination and trading efforts.

The general idea here is that as your village climbs the tech tree, you should face new and more complex challenges, including challenges that involve social interactions like negotiation and diplomacy. Transportation networks between towns will go from an entertaining diversion to a necessary component for group survival.

Specialists can also build roads and buildings in their biome to make it traversable and hospitable for other families, so trading posts and gathering areas are possible.

To go along with these changes, some new content has been added in these biomes, with a new biome-locking feature ensuring that you have to visit those biomes to interact with that content. For example, you have to visit the jungle in order to get a tattoo, and only a jungle specialist can perform the procedure for you.

The language learning system has been changed so that it always happens gradually over generations of cohabitation, at a fixed rate, and it can't be "forced" by spamming lots of training text to a baby. As long as a baby hears a single utterance in the foreign language, they learn 10% of the remaining unknown letter clusters. Even after many generations of living together, some interesting accents will linger.

A huge set of loading stability improvements have been implemented. What happens when the data files the client is expecting to find aren't present or are corrupted? It used to crash, now it doesn't.

The genetic fitness score has been overhauled to give you points based on how long you help your offspring survive beyond their own personal average. Thus, you don't get punished for having a novice baby who dies young, as long as you help them live a bit longer than they usually do. Genetic scores are much less impacted by luck in baby assignment now, but they are also unbounded in both the positive and negative direction (the scores used to naturally cap themselves between 0 and 60).
[Link][33 Comments]

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