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Update: What We've Learned
August 24, 2019

On the heels of my return from vacation, there will be no gif this week, but there's still an update.

During my vacation, as many of you might recall, the arc wore on an on and on for something like 8 days, and none of the end conditions were triggered. Meanwhile, the space inside the rift became an over-griefed hell-scape. I had to kill that arc manually from vacation, and disabled the rift barrier temporarily until I could return home and tweak things.

So, this week, we take what we've learned from the arc runs so far and tweak a bunch of stuff that needs tweaking. Keep in mind that this game has been live for 18 months at this point, and we just learned about new problems that never mattered too much before. Bears have been in the game for 18 months, and it never mattered that their caves respawned new bears every 24 hours. I didn't even recall that it worked that way. But inside the rift for 8 days, this suddenly mattered. There were hundreds of roaming bears by the end.

The point here is that an infinite map kinda "solves all problems" magically. If something is broken, you can always walk away from it. If something runs out, you can always find more of it further out. I can't even really answer a question like, "Is there too much oil in the game?" How much oil is in the game? An infinite amount. What if I cut the oil spawning rate in half? Then there's still an infinite amount. We have to talk about resource allocation in terms of what's within a reasonable walking distance from a given town. But towns can move and spread over time, so any distance becomes reasonable, given enough time.

I can find answers to questions about a finite map, however. I can cut the oil spawn rate in half, and there will be half as much oil.

The biggest thing we're testing this coming week is a new arc failure condition: when we get down to less than 5 surviving families, the apocalypse happens and a new arc begin. In conjunction with this failure condition, new Eves only spawn for the first 2 hours of the arc. After two hours, the families are fixed, and the arc will last as long as at least 5 of those families last.

The great thing about this failure condition is that it puts the arc end squarely in the hands of the players. Do you want the arc to keep going a bit longer? Then help that struggling family stay afloat.

The other interesting thing is that the arc end does not kill anyone. Every living player survives, which means family lines can outlive the arc. In fact, with these changes, there's nothing stopping a family from living forever.

We're also testing a new curse system. The old, global-tally Donkey Town has been removed and replaced with a personal cursing system that lets you determine, unilaterally, who you no longer want to play the game near. Once you curse someone (you get one token per hour), that person will not be born within 50 tiles of you for the next 48 hours. If someone is cursed by so many people that there's nowhere left for them to get born, then they do go to Donkey Town, but there's no longer a fixed-length sentence there.

Finally, a bunch of little issues that came up during the last long arc have been fixed:

--The default state between families is neutral instead of war. To use war swords, an elder must declare WAR in the target family's language. Elders cannot hold swords themselves, though, blocking solo crusading.

--Cross-family curses can now work without saying it in their language.

--The shortcuts CURSE YOU (closest player) and CURSE MY BABY have been added.

--Babies now keep their family name even if adopted.

--A bunch of things that were blocking and unremoveable (Newcommen towers and looms) have been made deconstructable.

--Chopping all trees, including juniper, is now hungry work.

--Fences now orient themselves relative to other fences automatically. No more ugly fences.

--Wildcard phrases for gate ownership, like MY OFFSPRING OWN THIS (all living children) and MY FAMILY OWNS THIS (all living family).

There will be one more update next week, and then I'm off to show the game at PAX West.
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