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Dynamic Tree Growth & Grass Spread


Davis
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Hello everyone! 

Seen a post about tree's in the discord server, but I always preferred posting suggestions to the forums, so here we are. 

This is not something I think should be prioritized, this would just be a nice thing to have and would add a lot to the atmosphere of the game. 

1. Instead of tree's going from sapling to fully grown, introduce a dynamic tree system that is very similar to the fruit trees. Trees get planted, get larger in size over time and then hit their maximum height level. I think it would be advantageous to allow us to customize the trees minimum and maximum height level in the server settings. The same place you can choose how fast trees grow. 

2. Leaves on tree species that apply (like maple and oak for example) would fall off during fall / winter and then re-grow back in spring. Shout out to Minecrafter for this suggestion he already posted on discord! 

3. One step further, shearing leaves off trees but not actually cutting the tree down, would allow for the leaves to grow back over time. 

4. Finally, I would urgently like to see grass "spread" or grow naturally once fully cut down on a dirt block. I really love preserving the environment in this game, and it kills me that grass doesn't grow back unless you dig the dirt block up and place it back down. Please make grass spread and grow long if not cut. 

Again this would be a nice to have, not something I think should be prioritized over other key features we've been asking for. 

Edited by Davis
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  • Davis changed the title to Dynamic Tree Growth & Grass Spread
3 hours ago, Davis said:

4. Finally, I would urgently like to see grass "spread" or grow naturally once fully cut down on a dirt block. I really love preserving the environment in this game, and it kills me that grass doesn't grow back unless you dig the dirt block up and place it back down. Please make grass spread and grow long if not cut. 

There are players (not necessarily me) that may not want grass to spread back into their settlement/base area once the lawn is mowed.

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In order to be practical, grass and leaves would have to spread/drop/regrow in only the blocks visible from the current block. Depending, a supercomputer might have issues with global change.

But that also means that one would have to recalculate each block as it becomes visible. And it's already easy to outrun the mapgen, even with the server running on a pretty butch i7.

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17 hours ago, Maelstrom said:

There are players (not necessarily me) that may not want grass to spread back into their settlement/base area once the lawn is mowed.

Completely fair argument. But this game stems on realism, when you cut grass it does grow back in a short time. I would argue that we then add a feature like Minecraft has, to use a shovel and right-click the ground to create a dirt path. At least then you could make paths that are inexpensive around your town. Otherwise, I'd argue, if you don't like grass do what people do IRL and build over it to cover it. 

17 hours ago, Thorfinn said:

In order to be practical, grass and leaves would have to spread/drop/regrow in only the blocks visible from the current block. Depending, a supercomputer might have issues with global change.

But that also means that one would have to recalculate each block as it becomes visible. And it's already easy to outrun the mapgen, even with the server running on a pretty butch i7.

I can't really respond to this accurately as I don't program. But I am going to say that having grass grow back or spread to other dirt blocks is not resource-intensive. Minecraft does this successfully and people run it on a potato computer. Vintage is much better optimized than Minecraft. 

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16 minutes ago, Davis said:

Completely fair argument. But this game stems on realism, when you cut grass it does grow back in a short time. I would argue that we then add a feature like Minecraft has, to use a shovel and right-click the ground to create a dirt path. At least then you could make paths that are inexpensive around your town. Otherwise, I'd argue, if you don't like grass do what people do IRL and build over it to cover it.

There's a fun aspect to realism and there's a very UNfun aspect to realism.  It's important for the devs to differentiate between the two within the context of the game they (more accurately, he) is making. 

I think the existing grass mechanics are sufficiently realistic and provide the flexibility to farm or not farm grass as desired.  Additionally, this isn't that other block game.  There exists path blocks that can be craft to make paths and additional path building mechanics aren't necessary.  Everything you describe can be handled through modding in this game.

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On 9/23/2022 at 11:19 AM, Maelstrom said:

There's a fun aspect to realism and there's a very UNfun aspect to realism.  It's important for the devs to differentiate between the two within the context of the game they (more accurately, he) is making. 

I think the existing grass mechanics are sufficiently realistic and provide the flexibility to farm or not farm grass as desired.  Additionally, this isn't that other block game.  There exists path blocks that can be craft to make paths and additional path building mechanics aren't necessary.  Everything you describe can be handled through modding in this game.

Guess we can agree to disagree then. I just don't think taking five minutes to clear grass with a scythe from your area would be a ground breaking / annoying "unfun" thing to add to the game lol. I can tell you it's a lot more working digging up dirt and replacing it so that it will grow back. 

Edited by Davis
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Davis, perhaps it will please you to hear that 1.17 already introduced a new mode to the scythe, toggled by pressing F (like you do with the propick, or chisel, or when clayforming). Using this mode, the scythe will leave stubs of cut grass that will grow back over time, so you can harvest it over and over.

If you want to get totally rid of grass, using the old scythe mode (or breaking it by any other means) will do that for you.

So that part of your suggestion is basically ingame already, if in another form. No more need to dig up and replace dirt blocks.

 

Regarding your other items, they basically boil down to "redo all trees to use the same system as fruit trees do". This has been suggested before (quite frequently in fact), but Tyron has started that there are, quote, "no plans at the moment" to do this.

That's not a "will never happen", but it definitely puts it quite far down near the bottom of a ten kilometer high feature backlog and unlikely to even be considered in the foreseeable future.

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On 9/26/2022 at 9:04 AM, Streetwind said:

Davis, perhaps it will please you to hear that 1.17 already introduced a new mode to the scythe, toggled by pressing F (like you do with the propick, or chisel, or when clayforming). Using this mode, the scythe will leave stubs of cut grass that will grow back over time, so you can harvest it over and over.

If you want to get totally rid of grass, using the old scythe mode (or breaking it by any other means) will do that for you.

So that part of your suggestion is basically ingame already, if in another form. No more need to dig up and replace dirt blocks.

 

Regarding your other items, they basically boil down to "redo all trees to use the same system as fruit trees do". This has been suggested before (quite frequently in fact), but Tyron has started that there are, quote, "no plans at the moment" to do this.

That's not a "will never happen", but it definitely puts it quite far down near the bottom of a ten kilometer high feature backlog and unlikely to even be considered in the foreseeable future.

Fair enough on the tree thing, pretty sure I specifically mentioned it shouldn't be a priority and would just be nice to have! It's not a make or break, I just thought it would be an atmospheric thing to have.  

Scythe mode is a step in the right direction, and that was introduced well before 1.17. My opinion is that it should go further than that and just act like normal real-life grass, but I appreciate the difference of opinion everyone has and the feedback. 

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The problem with any self-propagating thing, be it trees or grass or animals, is that it breaks down over time because there's no complete ecosystem simulation.

Minecraft's "Dynamic Trees" mod had this problem in the beginning. You'd start a world, and marvel how well it worked, how new trees would sprout from seeds that fell, and all that. And then, you'd play a hundred hours in that world, and realize just how horribly wrong everything was going. Because all the trees in loading range just kept propagating. Constantly. And there was no system that removed trees from the world, beyond the player. No dying off of old growth. No simulation of soil quality and weather and any of the other myriad of factors that influence the formation of forests in the real world. The mod would simply cover the whole world in trees. Every available space. Slowly, but inexorably.

The mod has come a long way since then, and nowadays tries to respect biome borders, sets its natural propagation values extremely conservatively, and does a few other things to guard against that kind of thing. But at least within forested biomes, the tree coverage will always be noticeably thicker than in vanilla Minecraft, and it's pretty much impossible to do anything against it. There's no such thing as sparsely wooded areas; they may be generated at world start, but with that mod, they don't last.

Now, that's Minecraft. A game with its world comprised of distinct biomes, which have distinct borders, which can be used to decide what grows where. Vintage Story doesn't do biomes. What grows where is governed entirely by the climate simulation. That may allow for a much more fine-grained system... but it also makes it far more complicated and harder to predict.

And then there's grass. Which grows just about everywhere, in all climate conditions. So what are you going to use to control its spread, to prevent the world from becoming completely covered in grass? There is, after all, no process that ever removes grass once it has grown. It can't die. So it'll just keep spreading until literally every available space is filled.

That's why the deceptively simple suggestion of "just make grass spread" turns into a whole can of worms under the hood, and why very few games ever even bother trying anything like it.

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On 9/27/2022 at 1:03 PM, Streetwind said:

The problem with any self-propagating thing, be it trees or grass or animals, is that it breaks down over time because there's no complete ecosystem simulation.

Minecraft's "Dynamic Trees" mod had this problem in the beginning. You'd start a world, and marvel how well it worked, how new trees would sprout from seeds that fell, and all that. And then, you'd play a hundred hours in that world, and realize just how horribly wrong everything was going. Because all the trees in loading range just kept propagating. Constantly. And there was no system that removed trees from the world, beyond the player. No dying off of old growth. No simulation of soil quality and weather and any of the other myriad of factors that influence the formation of forests in the real world. The mod would simply cover the whole world in trees. Every available space. Slowly, but inexorably.

The mod has come a long way since then, and nowadays tries to respect biome borders, sets its natural propagation values extremely conservatively, and does a few other things to guard against that kind of thing. But at least within forested biomes, the tree coverage will always be noticeably thicker than in vanilla Minecraft, and it's pretty much impossible to do anything against it. There's no such thing as sparsely wooded areas; they may be generated at world start, but with that mod, they don't last.

Now, that's Minecraft. A game with its world comprised of distinct biomes, which have distinct borders, which can be used to decide what grows where. Vintage Story doesn't do biomes. What grows where is governed entirely by the climate simulation. That may allow for a much more fine-grained system... but it also makes it far more complicated and harder to predict.

And then there's grass. Which grows just about everywhere, in all climate conditions. So what are you going to use to control its spread, to prevent the world from becoming completely covered in grass? There is, after all, no process that ever removes grass once it has grown. It can't die. So it'll just keep spreading until literally every available space is filled.

That's why the deceptively simple suggestion of "just make grass spread" turns into a whole can of worms under the hood, and why very few games ever even bother trying anything like it.

I feel like were bringing things in here to the suggestion that I did not suggestion, in order to make a point. 

 

1. I did not say tree's should self propagate in my suggestion, I agree that would be a bad idea because forests would just spread uncontrolled. So the whole first part of your above post doesn't really apply at all to what I posted. 

2. The world map already has grass, literally everywhere, when the world is generated so I am not getting your point here. I can't see why it'd be an issue to re-write the code to say "was grass cut on this block? Great, in a few days the grass will grow back if outside etc". So call it spread, or re-growing or whatever. 

3. Grass should spread where ever a dirt block is...that's everywhere except deserts, polar areas etc. 

Your points do not seem grounded in reason at all if I'm being honest, what basis do you have to say grass growing back or spreading would cause any sort of hardware / lag issues? Minecraft has done this successfully for a long time and it literally runs at 100 fps on potatoes computers? You state games never do this, we really have one single game to compare this game to, and even then this is miles better in terms of performance and it's still early development. 

image.png.01e8a1211a0d0af7f64d8f6265d2deae.png

And finally, for the people who do not want grass to grow back, or spread, you can make it optional in the world gen customization. 

 

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14 hours ago, Davis said:

I feel like were bringing things in here to the suggestion that I did not suggestion, in order to make a point. 

And I feel like you're intentionally sidestepping the spirit of the replies you're getting, in order to hang on to your point.

I was recounting an example of self-propagating systems in block voxel games similar to VS, in order to highlight potential issues with such systems in general. I did not claim you suggested copying those systems; I was just drawing on them as an illustration. And while we're on the topic of putting words in others' mouths: I did not mention performance at any point in any post I made in this thread, so I'm not sure why you're accusing me of overstating the impact.

 

14 hours ago, Davis said:

I can't see why it'd be an issue to re-write the code to say "was grass cut on this block? Great, in a few days the grass will grow back if outside etc". So call it spread, or re-growing or whatever.

That could be implemented. It would basically flip the current behavior. Right now, grass never regrows unless it is cut with one of the two scythe modes; you'd make it so that it always regrows unless it is cut with one of the two scythe modes.

It's a fair suggestion, I don't see anything directly wrong with it.

 

14 hours ago, Davis said:

Grass should spread where ever a dirt block is

We'll have to agree to disagree on that one.

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17 hours ago, Davis said:

3. Grass should spread where ever a dirt block is...that's everywhere except deserts, polar areas etc. 

This does happen already. 

A brown block of dirt turns green as grass spreads to it.  Secondarily, long grass will grow on it until it is harvested with the Remove function of a scythe, but it will leave a grass block behind.

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5 hours ago, Maelstrom said:

This does happen already. 

A brown block of dirt turns green as grass spreads to it.  Secondarily, long grass will grow on it until it is harvested with the Remove function of a scythe, but it will leave a grass block behind.

It doesn't happen in the capacity I'm stating, once it's cut it never grows back. I wasn't clear enough I guess on that. 

The only way around that, is to dig the dirt up and place it back down, in which case grass will grow back, until it is cut again and then it never does. 

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8 hours ago, Streetwind said:

And I feel like you're intentionally sidestepping the spirit of the replies you're getting, in order to hang on to your point.

I was recounting an example of self-propagating systems in block voxel games similar to VS, in order to highlight potential issues with such systems in general. I did not claim you suggested copying those systems; I was just drawing on them as an illustration. And while we're on the topic of putting words in others' mouths: I did not mention performance at any point in any post I made in this thread, so I'm not sure why you're accusing me of overstating the impact.

I apologize for that, it was Thorfinn who mentioned needing a super computer, you both have the same colored display picture I must have read both and didn't separate the two when I replied. 

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Sure, that was me. When I started coding we counted clock cycles. Yes, the applications have become more pretty, but more fun? I'm not convinced. They just suck up a lot more computer time.

In the early game, I run away from the origin, harvesting whatever is necessary to survive. Whatever is behind me might as well be scorched earth for all I care. But by the time I settle down, I have either found a scythe or can make one. So it just does not matter.

Sure, you can set a timestamp on each block for the last time the grass spawn ran, but does that actually add any fun? I just don't see it. In fact, I'd probably never even notice it.

If that's something that would add enjoyment, fine. But I have seen way toomuch movement away from gameplay into realism. If I wanted realism, I wouldn't be spending time sitting behind a computer screen, eh? There's plenty of realism just off my back porch.

[EDIT]

BTW, congrats on "separate". 👍

[/EDIT]

[EDIT2]

In case it wasn't obvious, I'm a big fan of the additions to a game being done in the interests of fun. Heck, I don't care if that's not the direction the devs want to take things, but I'd rapidly lose interest in a game that lost track of the idea of being a game and decided to become a reality simulator. Not a huge deal. I already got my money's worth. I'd just have to start looking around for another survival game that wants to be a survival game.

[/EDIT2]

Edited by Thorfinn
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