|Update: Known Homeland|
March 12, 2020
Specialty biomes, and the expert families that go along with them, can provide a kind of social puzzle. If you travel to find one of these families, are they going to help you with what you need? There's a language barrier to deal with, but even if you are able to communicate with them, do they know how to get what you need from their biome? And if they do, are they willing to get it? Are they going to ask for anything in return, and if so, how are you going to get what they need? What if they ask for too much? What if they outright refuse? What if they simply ignore you?
The idea is to build a more complex and varying challenge. It's not enough to understand how to make what you want to make. It's not enough to gather there required resources from the land. You must navigate the whims of intelligent entities (other players) in order to succeed. You can't just memorize one solution and apply it over and over. Depending on the social situation, it may not even be possible to succeed.
This isn't a puzzle that needs to be solved by every player in every life, but instead a transgenerational puzzle that needs to be solved by someone in your village several times over the life of your village.
Here's the problem: where are they? The people that you need to interact with---the experts for the biome you need help with---how can you find them?
Wandering around randomly isn't interesting problem-solving. Hearing a distant bell, and chasing it down to discover that it was rung by the wrong family isn't interesting problem solving (not to mention the 18 hours you need to wait before a bell tower can even be built).
Now the location of each expert family is common knowledge to all. Each specialty biome has new Expert Way Stones in it, placed along the same ley lines as springs and oil wells. Touching one of these will point you toward the closest expert for that biome.
So, now you can find other useful families right from the beginning.
But this introduces a new problem: if you all move into one central village from the very beginning, no interesting social geography will develop over time. You won't need to take the road to the north to find these folks, nor will you head south through the desert to find these other folks.
I want you close, but not too close. That other family should be just down the road, and you should know how to find them, but they shouldn't be right on top of you.
Each family now has a homeland around their well. The place where the water tastes sweet to them. A family only feels comfortable enough to have babies in their homeland. Elsewhere, they are too homesick to breed. Building more well outposts means a bigger homeland, of course.
Due to spring tap-out, wells can't be any closer than 200 tiles apart, which means the village next door will always be at least a 50-second walk away (much shorter by road, horse, or car).
Because you can find each other so easily, it won't be hard to build villages close to each other. Gone are the days when you have to travel 2000 tiles to find the expert family that you need. Short-range transportation networks can be useful in this new world, stitching together the fabric of the new social geography.
And of course, a bunch more issues have been fixed. The most noticeable thing is the new Lab Table, which you can use for non-food bowls, like various chemical solutions.
Only 94 issues to go.