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Update: Whole New World
August 3, 2019



Thank you all for bearing with me as I continued to adjust and perfect what is now the most massive set of fundamental changes in the history of the game. Like I said in the last update, we got off to a very rocky start, but by the end of this week, it was almost completely smooth sailing.

Containing all player activity in a bounded area, instead of letting it spread infinitely on the map, revealed all sorts of problems, particularly in terms of resource distribution, settlement locations, and griefing. On an infinite map, there are always more resources available if you walk far enough in any direction, which is what people used to do to find settlement locations, and you can also easily hide from trouble-makers in the vastness. A bunch of important features in the game, like fences, were rendered unnecessary by the unbounded map.

So, first up, let's take another look at that now-ancient map generation algorithm. It placed biomes independently in patches, and there was no structure to that placement. That meant that the biomes that were useful together, like swamps and grass (a prime settlement location) almost never spawned next to each other. Finding a prime spot used to require a very long walk. This also meant that jungles could border the arctic areas. The independent placement resulted in a lot of map variety, but there were obviously some trade-offs.

The new algorithm uses a more naturalistic topographic layout, with biomes in altitude rings. This means that each biome always borders the same other two biomes. Swamps always border grass, for example. Now prime settlement locations are all over the place. I also added per-biome likelihood controls, so the really-necessary biomes can be more common---they have wider topographic bands. Finally, I classified three biomes as "special": arctic, desert, and jungle. These aren't needed quite as much as the others--they're only needed for advanced tech---and it's more interesting if they are far-flung on the map. They don't occur in regular topographic rings, but instead at the centers of each topographic peak.

This one change resulted in a dramatic improvement in the survival rates of settlements on the map. Suddenly, the bounded arc area became quite livable. Even better, the old long walks to find a settlement location were gone.

Living close together highlighted a bunch of new problems. Families often live in the same village for generations, yet are still logically separate due to war swords and inability to curse each other. After many generations together, they might even speak a common language. At that point, they really are one village.

Now, if you can curse someone in a language they understand, it will work, whether or not they are in your family. And elders from two families can declare PEACE to each other, as long as it's in an understood language, thus disabling the war swords. They can also declare WAR to each other again later if need be. Note that both these features also work before you learn a common language across generations if you do the work to actually type the other family's language.

Now that people live near each other, fences are everywhere. This is good. Towns are more interesting with fences. However, rogue fences can also be a problem. The idea with fences is that they homestead unclaimed land with a waiting period to ensure local consensus. But what about out in the wilderness? In an infinite map, it's all unclaimed land, but in a finite map, it might need to be used by someone in the future. A fence bisecting a large wilderness area is a real problem. The 2-hour decay period for an abandoned fence is too long in this context. So, I've given you a way to remove a fence, with the help of an elder and a brief waiting period. The idea here is that you'll only be able to remove abandoned fences, because of the waiting period. If someone cares about the fence, they will intervene and cancel your removal notice.

And regarding resources, the only non-renewable so far that has been a real problem has been iron. So I've given you a high tech way to produce more iron by burning oil. Iron never runs out now, but oil is finite, so there still is an eventual limit. Those diesel mining outposts are extremely valuable, both in terms of production and the expensive capital improvements that are installed there.

The goal in all of this is to enable a collective challenge: How long can you all survive together before civilization collapses globally? The most recent record was 44 hours. But there's enough oil on the map to support farming for 100 people for at least ten days. I'm guessing that 44 hours is just the beginning, and you'll all be gradually getting the hang of it over time.

It took a while to come together, but this really does feel like a wholly new and improved game. There's something going on at any moment in this world now. There's a story to tell.


And with that I'm off on a two-week vacation with my family. There will be no updates for the next two weeks.
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