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Extended Progression City Builder


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Vintage Story covering implemented and unimplemented features taken from the roadmap.

Vintage Story, as planned, is a progression farming simulator. It doesn’t have much focus on combat both in terms of a combat system and combatants. It isn’t really a survival game because the player doesn’t overcome a lot of environmental dangers. There’s hunger, fall damage, and … beasts? It does have a tech progression and different ways of getting enough to eat. There are even difficulties such as soil depletion to make farming more difficult. 
There’s nothing wrong with being a progression based farming simulator, however, some things like a dungeon boss don’t quite fit with that theme. Here are some suggestions that I think will make Vintage Story better. 

  • Abstract the NPCs in Vintage Story from creatures IRL. 
  • Don’t add oceans for a long long time.
  • Stretch progression from stone age to the age of steam.
  • Turn Vintage Story into a Progression City builder by adding humanoid NPC’s.

At this point I assume people know what the uncanny valley is, and if you don’t, look it up. Basically the more something looks like a real-life animal, the more it is expected to behave like a real-life animal. By abstracting the creatures in a video game, you relax those expectations. Something that looks exactly like a chicken, people expect to behave exactly like a chicken. Something that looks kind of like a chicken, people will expect to sort of act like a chicken. This cuts down on disappointment from failed expectations and cuts down on criticism.

There are many ways to create geological separations and oceans are one of the more difficult ones. They take a number of creatures, plants, biomes, transportation, and mechanics. Oceans have so much stuff they can be games on their own. It’s much better to add vast barren sand dunes than large empty oceans if the goal is to separate things by distance.

Starting at the stone age and progressing to the age of steam makes for a great core. Starting with the stone age is important because it helps to keep things simple at the start. Stopping at the age of steam is good because it gives modders a great place to take off for creating end game content. They could go steampunk, heavy automation, etc. Don’t have to worry as much about balance if the mod is intended for endgame as well. To pull this off though, each age needs plenty to do. Farming, herding, and building was done way before metal and would be good things to focus on in the stone age. Players will naturally work toward metal production because that’s what they are use to doing. To extend the ages this needs to be slowed down by making mining and refining more difficult. There are many ways to do this from environmental hazards to transportation. Each age should also upgrade existing technologies, not completely replace. Bronze and steel cut through flesh and blood equally as well. 

A progression city builder encompasses many elements already in the game but expands on it in a well-rounded way. Villages have farming, smiths, combat, and trade. The idea would be to start humanoid NPCs out as a hindrance to the player and by the age of steam, a necessary ally. The reason for them to be humanoids but not necessarily anything we are familiar with is for the reason stated above about abstraction. These NPC’s would provide the player with a lively environment, potential allies/enemies, job flexibility, source of goals, competition, difficulty options, and resource consumers. 
At the beginning, the NPCs would have basic gather behaviors. They would run around eating whatever they could find during the day and huddle up at night. As time progresses they develop hunter behaviors where they will group up to start hunting down animals. During this time they might also construct tents. Next development would be to start planting crops in the general area. Not really farms per say but expanding the food plants in the general area. Over time those would turn into farm and villages. Villages would start developing professions. Villages might have a chance to get into conflict with other villages. The villages would expand fracture and eventually turn into towns. I know that sounds like a lot of work, and it is, but you’d be surprised how complex systems develop from simplistic behaviors.
The player would not be able to interact with the NPCs at first. They would be competing with the player over food. As the NPCs developed the player would be able to start trading a limited amount of goods. When the NPC’s develop tribes the player would then be able to start earning reputation. This would be done through successful trading and killing tribe enemies within sight of a tribesman. As professions develop the player can start performing tasks for those NPCs. A shaman may need medical herbs or a chieftain might want a hunting trophy, etc. At the same time if the player didn’t want to do something they could trade for the goods. The village would adapt to the player based on the village needs. For instance, if the player was always trading them wood, the village might not have any lumberjacks because that need is fulfilled already. Though if the player kept the price of wood too high for too long a villager may turn into a lumberjack and start a tree farm.

None of this could be possible without time-based approach. Meaning like in TFC if you wander off and come back later, the crops will have progressed. It also means a lot of background calculations. When the player comes back should this still be wilderness or a town? What should various creature populations be? Etc. This doesn’t work so well with ways to speed up or slow down time like beds. Beds are in my opinion one of the worst things that happened to Minecraft. They remove the challenge of the night, they cause player conflict when some people want to sleep and others don’t. In TFC servers they make predicting how much time will pass when you log back on a server impossible leading to ruined crops. Minecraft would be much better off if the fast-forward function of them were removed and they added more things to do at night. Anyway, at this point this is long enough half won’t read all of it and if it gets too much longer no one will read it so please leave some feedback.

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Dynamic villages is a very laudible goal, and it's definitely good to get any necessary code groundwork laid under the hood.  But I feel like there's a ton of other content between where the game is now, and there.  We don't even have food decay, or growing wild crops yet.  I guess my initial reaction is 'this all sounds good, but what about everything in between'.   There's a lot of conflicting design notions that would need to be resolved. 

For instance, right now dirt (and cobble) are unaffected by gravity.  This automatically moots a lot of discussion of more 'stone-age' building materials as anything other than cosmetics, because the player can easily build a dirt hut sufficient to survive.  The game has also taken an apparently intentional stance of avoiding some of the more detailed and grindy features of TFC, such as flux, melting ingots in the forge, ores by stone type, and mine supports and collapsing.  These features - as I understand them - are not simply absent due to development stage, but intentionally being omitted.  And yet at the same time, the propick works vastly differently from TFC - it is much more time consuming to use, and makes actually zeroing in on ore more difficult.  So there are some conflicting stances on more vs less difficult compared to TFC.   So while I agree that giving a player certain city building options is good, there's a lot of detail between.

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I agree there is a lot of groundwork to do be done between what I have laid out and what currently is. The goal of this is not a step by step instruction manual, but to provide a compass and a map so development isn't running around in circles. For development that includes avoiding conflicting design choices and limit the amount of code, that has to be rewritten due to changes in design choices.

TFC had the progression bit but didn't fully develop it. A lot of servers I played on had a progression mod to slow down the progression because it was too easy to reach end game. I thought that was funny because TFC it's self-was a reaction to Minecraft being too easy. If Vintage Story is designed such that you need metal before you can do basic things like food processing, then I see it going down the same road and once enough infrastructure is built it is really difficult to change that down the road. I get some see this as far off concerns when some of the basics aren't fully fleshed out but when smithing and metal working is already in the game, to me those are things that should be down the road but are already here.

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Some remarks from me:

  • That roadmap you mentioned there is from our mod, Vintagecraft, so that's fairly outdated
  • As Redram said, there's a lot inbetween now and your vision that will offer very interesting gameplay still. Generally beyond the progression mechanics we also want a greater amount of exploration mechanics or generally more incentive to explore. I could even imagine a nomad mode where the whole gameplay revolves around never staying at one given place for a long time.
  • Many current mechanics are still in their infancy. There's supposed to be many hard to overcome hostile creatures and better combat actually. 
  • @redram I would not quite say we intentionally omit your mentioned TFC mechanics. Example the mine support/collapse - we just don't find this fits well in a normal survive&build experience, because it is, in a way, counterproductive to the building aspects of the game. 
    Something like that is however very well suited for the proposed "Wilderness Survival" playstyle, where just surviving is the primary goal, much like the game "don't starve". 
    Other mechanics such as flux is just a question of how we can integrate it best into our current smithing mechanic. 
  • @Stroam bringing your proposed npc simulation system to a level of quality we'd be satisfied with I suspect to be incredibly difficult. The demands on a intelligent enough AI system and overall world balance would likely be immense. 
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