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Farming 2.0


Erik
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With the next big update 1.13 being set to be the seasons update soon starting development, it really makes sense to also expand on the farming experience in the game. I have some ideas on how to expand the already solid and comparatively deep system a bit:

Seasonal requirements

With 1.13 adding seasons, it only makes sense to make them interact with the farming system. The way this would probably be done is not through a plant a static timeframe of when it can grow, like in for example Stardew Valley, but the seasons changing the climate (temperature, humidity) of the area and thus interacting with plants via the already present limiters, slowing down growth if exceeding the limits or even dying if too far out of the range. While this system sounds fine on paper and could work reasonably good, the player isn't really provided with enough information for farming and has a much harder time planning ahead. I think it would be vital to give the player the range of dates the plant will be (efficiently) farmable in the current location on the tooltip. This should be doable, because the course of the climate over the year should be deterministic. It would also be very helpful to provide the player with an estimate of the growth time till the plant becomes harvestable in days, to provide the player with even more information. I think it's debatable how precise this information should be, if the precise dates should be given or rough timeframes, probably best to have this decision be a playstyle specific one.

To allow setting much more precise seasonal and less environmental requirements for plants, it would make sense to add an additional layer, next to temperature and humidity: luminosity. Luminosity, the amount of light the sun emits, would change very predictably and smoothly over the year and would not be influenced by the climate, only by the season and latitude. This additional stat for plants would probably not be shown on the tooltip, but factored into the range of farmable days and growth time.

Another feature related to seasonal requirements, I would like to see is "early harvesting". The idea is simple, plants being able to be harvested before fully grown, only yielding a fraction full amount of products. This feature would be useful for players who miscalculated their harvest or were given less specific time frames on the tooltip, at least being able to get some resources from their plants.

Farming shouldn't be overly punishing for new players while also rewarding and allowing for careful planning, which is why I think these more user friendly features are required.

Calendar GUI

A small addition to the game, to encourage and simplify planning for the player: A context sensitive in-game calendar GUI. The calendar should not just be a regular calendar that shows which day of the year it is, but also allow for setting appointments, like sowings or harvests and show vital information about the days of the year, like the temperature and humidity on each day. Maybe the weather could also be forecast here, to allow the players to plan even better.

Crop Watering

I think the crop watering mechanic in the game is somewhat lacking, being still very simple just like Minecraft. I think Aira described it best here:

While I agree with Aira on the problem, I have a slightly mechanically different solution in mind: Humidity being a soil stat like the soil nutrients.

Plants would have a plants specific range of soil humidity where they grow at optimal speed. Plants consume soil humidity over time. The rate of consumption however follows a very important rule: Consuming water from the humidity maximum of a plant to the humidity minimum should always take two days.

This is very important because of how watering cans would work: They should always fill up the humidity of the soil to the soil humidity maximum of the plant. This always makes watering required every two days, although watering the plants every day also doesn't work. The soil humidity should also effect the appearance of the soil, but this probably goes without saying.

But why require such a complex system when all it archives is having to water plants every two days? Because of how water source blocks and climate now interact with the system. Soil has a humidity minimum, a value which the soil humidity won't drop below, even if a plant consumes some humidity. If this minimum is in the range of humidity a plant requires, the plant effectively doesn't need to be watered and will always grow at full speed. However if the humidity minimum and thus the soil humidity exceeds the plants humidity maximum, it won't be able to grow at full speed and watering not helping either (Oh no, the plant has too much water and adding more water doesn't fix it).

The humidity minimum of the soil is dependent of the humidity of the climate (A swamp will have a very dank soil) and the distance of the nearest water source block. So the closer soil is to a water source block the more soil humidity it has. The effect of water source blocks and climate could be different depending on the soil type, with some soils staying relatively dry even when next to water and others becoming more almost liquid when next to water.

The effect of this relatively complex system for the player is very simple: If the soil humidity (minimum) is lower than what the plant requires, water the plant at least every two days. If the soil humidity (minimum) is what the plant requires, be happy for your plant. If the soil humidity (minimum) is higher than what the plant requires, you shouldn't have planted here. The main benefit of this system is allowing adding even more diverse and unique crops, having different soil humidity requirements, like rice which needs excessive amounts of water or cacti which need almost nothing.

Oh, and rain fills up the soil humidity.

Crop breeding

This is maybe the most complex mechanic I envision for farming, but also a very exciting one. The main idea is simple, allow the player to breed plants with better stats via abstracted genetics. This is also an entirely optional system for the player, who is not required to engage with it in any way.

When a plant becomes fully grown, it has a chance to get one or rarely two random mutations. These mutations are drawn from the pool of possible mutations, which act like small perks for the plants and can either be positive or negative. These mutations could be a quicker growth speed, a higher yield, less nutrient consumption, but also negative things like slower growth speed or a new additional type of nutrient consumption. Maybe some more obscure ones like "makes rabbits close by very aggressive" would also be fun. Different mutations have different chances to appear, so there might be some very common and very rare mutations. Generally a positive mutation is as likely as a negative one. All the mutations of a plant are shown on the block info overlay.

Negative mutations do however always come with an additional rarer positive mutation, so really plants have a chance to really get up to four mutations, but at most two positive.

Most of these mutations are however useless on fully grown plants and the mutations don't carry over to the seed the plants drop. The be able to grow a plant with these mutations you need to take some cuttings. This can simply be done by right clicking the fully grown plant with a knife and will yield several cuttings, however also destroy the plant and yield no resource or seed drops. The cutting can be planted like a seed and will grow into a clone of the original, carrying over the mutations and not getting new ones at full growth. The cutting however has a slight disadvantage compared to seeds: it decays like food. This can obviously be slowed down or prevented in the same way as food. Cuttings with specific mutations are also sold at merchants.

So now you can get and reproduce mutated plants with special perks, but how to actually breed them? It's really simple, if a plant (not from a cutting) reaches maturity, it will not only have a chance to get random mutations, but also has a 30% (50% if there apiary nearby) chance for each mutation a neighboring fully grown plant has to also get that same mutation, 5% if the plants aren't of the same species. Obviously plants have four neighbors, so a plant surrounded by fully grown mutated plants with the same mutations drastically increases the chances of mutations carrying on. A plant also can't have the same mutation twice, so no stacking of three "Fast growth" mutations, but different mutations effecting the same stat stack, so a "Fast growth" and a "Quick growth" mutation, is possible.

This is actually the whole system, it's not actually that complex, but adds a lot to the game. There are no limitations on how many mutations a plant can have, the only real limitation in the system is time, as breeding plants takes as long as growing them and because randomness plays a huge factor in the system, getting to the point of having every positive mutation on a plant will probably take many, many ingame years. End even then, that would only be for one species of plant.

The whole system encourages a bit of specialization on specific plants, as plants of different species don't breed well, and therefore really encourages trade between different players, as they may have focused on different plants.

New crops

New crops are definitively something that should be added to add more variety to farming. I would actually like many crops to have unique mechanics or twists to them, much like in Stardew Valley or the Growthcraft mod. Grapes and hops that will grow onto ropes above them, rice that needs a lot of water, plants that allow multiple harvests, etc. I would keep fruit trees for another update, as they will probably follow much different rules than the current crops.

The new crops could also contain some new world crops, with a special way to get them: Only being available on climate bands other than the spawn one. So players would have to travel very far through the arctic to get them.

This wraps up my collection of ideas for a farming expansion in 1.13, be sure to post your feedback and other ideas.

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I like every innovation that can make the game more immersive and realistic. 

Calendar is an interesting idea but I think it should be craftable and not just a built-in GUI.

Crop breeding ideas are also nice but, for the moment, I would be happy with a more realistic seed collecting system: for grains the seed is the crop itself while other plants need to be let beyond the harvest time in order to collect seeds (e.g. For onions it's necessary to wait until the plant don't makes the flower).

 

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With the mutation system, there's one thing that'd have to be done which is balancing it. If it's not well balanced you can get systems like Minecraft mods where you wind up with horrifyingly OP and unrealistic plants that grow within minutes with enormous harvests. If people can game the system, they will, and if I've learned anything it's that people are very good at learning how to game systems. Perhaps have it so that it operates so that you can have two of three things - High yield, fast growth, low nutrient uptake. Also adding a cap on these aspects would be good so you can't just keep breeding them to the point of being able to feed yourself for a year through a single plant.

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On 2/24/2020 at 2:37 PM, Yukihira_S said:

Crop breeding ideas are also nice but, for the moment, I would be happy with a more realistic seed collecting system: for grains the seed is the crop itself while other plants need to be let beyond the harvest time in order to collect seeds (e.g. For onions it's necessary to wait until the plant don't makes the flower).

I really like this idea, it gives the different plants some flavor and makes them more unique. It would also be a rather easy to add feature, so I think it would be possible to have both crop breeding and more realistic seed harvesting. The seed output of plants probably also needs to be adjusted to be higher when adding cuttings, so cuttings don't flat out replace seeds because they are easier to get.

21 hours ago, greatorder said:

With the mutation system, there's one thing that'd have to be done which is balancing it. If it's not well balanced you can get systems like Minecraft mods where you wind up with horrifyingly OP and unrealistic plants that grow within minutes with enormous harvests. If people can game the system, they will, and if I've learned anything it's that people are very good at learning how to game systems. Perhaps have it so that it operates so that you can have two of three things - High yield, fast growth, low nutrient uptake. Also adding a cap on these aspects would be good so you can't just keep breeding them to the point of being able to feed yourself for a year through a single plant.

A cap on mutations would only be required, if all positive mutations at once added up to a ridiculous bonus, because the number of available mutations is finite. So just balancing the mutations would be required, so they don't give unreasonably huge bonuses. I'd aim for a fully decked out plant to have twice the growth speed and twice the yield and maybe half the nutrient consumption. It would very significant and reward the players engagement with the system, but also not too op imo.

But something that may be required are general adjustments to the growth time of plants when seasons are added. That would obviously be balanced around how long seasons last, I think a plant being able to fully grow twice in a whole year would probably be a good spot and limit the speed of breeding quite a bit.

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Having the mutations be pretty limited to prevent OP growth would be good. Another issue however with the system is that the game's going for realistic and plants don't tend to reduce their nutrient uptake while increasing yields and growth speed simply due to the fact that increased growth and size requires more resources. Granted it could be a break from reality there if that's seen as acceptable, it just strikes me as odd to do so.

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