October 19, 2019
One of the arcs last week was much closer to being the gripping, collective story that I'm trying to create. Someone built an Endtower near the center of the map and surrounded it with a maze full of locked doors. While some players tried to protect and rebuild the Endtower to usher in the apocalypse, others grouped together and used locksmithing techniques to chip their way into the center of the maze. I've always hoped that this kind of player-created quest would emerge.
But how do you find your way to this maze? Once you find it, how do you tell others how to get there? And how many interesting mechanics are available for a would-be maze builder?
The new map-making feature allows all kinds of interesting interactions. You make a map by standing in a target location and speaking a title while holding the map and a piece of charcoal. After that, whoever picks up the map will automatically adjust their current navigation point to that destination. Like any written piece of paper, maps can be stored in backpacks or locked away in chests. They can also be erased to be reused, or made permanent with the help of an elder.
I'm still working on that whole "oil eventually runs out" thing, and as I do, maps will be helpful to locate and exploit the remaining oil resources.
But in previous arcs, I realized that oil was never even necessary for long-term water pumping, because more low tech wells could be built when the first set of them ran out. Yes, spring heads are far apart, but not that far apart. They need to be somewhat close together to give you enough options in terms of settlement locations. But as a result, the rift has hundreds of them, which is just way too much water if they are all exploited with low-tech wells.
To solve this problem, building a well on a given spring head now permanently taps out neighboring spring heads in an 80-tile square radius. Think of a long straw drinking your neighbor's milkshake. Now instead of hundreds of exploitable spring heads, there are at most dozens. By tweaking this radius in the future, I can adjust the amount of low tech water available without reducing the number of viable settlement locations.
Hopefully, we're getting closer to low tech water actually running out, and thus dependence on oil for high tech water, and eventually oil itself running out. My goal for the game is that a village always needs to be on its collective toes.
You probably noticed that backpacks stopped decaying a while back. My general design philosophy here has changed a bit. Instead of an endless supply of resources that allow you to constantly re-make old and broken things, I'm more interested in forcing you to make difficult choices with a limited supply of resources. The non-consumable things that you decide to make can last forever. But did you make the right thing at the right time?
Backpacks were still hooked into a vestigial piece of the old, infinitely-regenerating resource system. After making one snare, you could catch an unlimited number of rabbits with no further resource inputs, and rabbits were respawning almost hourly. Rabbits also represented one of the last few infinitely regenerating and resource-free wild food sources.
As a result of this mismatch, in a recent arc, I personally visited a village that had 50 surplus backpacks stored away. Backpacks were so plentiful as to be worthless. Nothing in this game should be worthless. You should never make something without carefully weighing the costs and benefits. Backpacks had very little cost, so over time, many generations of villagers had made them until they collectively had amassed a whole pile of them.
Snaring rabbits now has a resource input, in the form of bait. This is is one way that people actually do it in real life, as I'll let this gentleman from Kentucky explain:
Bait can be made either from a finite natural resource or a cultivated food resource that requires water to grow. So rabbits are now part of the water resource economy, as they should be.
There are also a bunch of little fixes. The posse speed-boost exploit has been fixed, and some glitches with the blue hint arrows have been cleared up. Framerates in cities with lots of floors has been improved on slower graphics cards.