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Glass Working Trade


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I wanted to chat up glassblowing a bit, propose some mechanics and such.  I know this isn't exactly a top tier trade, but it's different from others in many ways, and I think it could provide a lot of 'wow' factor and interest for Vintage Story, and also I basically just had these ideas and wanted to get them recorded.


I'm used the wikipedia article on forest glass (which is very time period appropriate) and also an excerpt from Conciatore, which is about 17th century glassmaking, as references for my process(there's also some other conciatore excerpts that are interesting, including crude alchemy glassware drawings).  So they're a bit apart in time, but Conciatore has more detail.  I'm leaving some stuff out (annealing for instance) because I think you can't get too detailed or players won't like it.  So, here we go:


Quartz and clear quartz will be the base for the glass.  No sand, because that's too easy, and there's already tons of quartz.  regular quartz is only good for windows and lab glass, while clear quartz can be used to make lenses and prisms.  The glass for each will be made in the same fashion, but the crafting process for lenses and prisms will be different, and not covered in this suggestion.

The quartz will be crushed, or ground, or fractured.  Number of steps as devs see fit.  It could first be heated in a firepit, and dropped in a bucket of water, where the thermal shock fractures it into 'quartz sand'.  Then, the quartz sand is ground in a quern or mortal/pestle, resulting in quartz dust.

In addition to quartz dust, the player will need quicklime (which will also be used in a lot of other crafts I think).  They will also need a flux.   This can be potash, or natron.  Natron could be it's own new ore, in dry desert lake beds.  Or, it could be a heat/boiling reduction of salt ore.   potash in the simplest form would be a log burnt in a fireplace (birch only).   This form of potash is considered low grade.  It also takes longer to reduce the logs, vs the plants, which cook fast, or Natron, which is simply ground (or used straight?) For high grade potash (salt ash?), either use some existing flowers that spawn in large numbers, or add new flowers that only spawn near salt water (we're getting salt water some day I hope?), or maybe above near surface salt deposits.  If my item quality suggestion were to make it into the game, regular potash would only be good for regular products at best, while natron and salt ash would produce higher grade products, with one being the best.   The salt plants could be limited, just like flowers, or they could perhaps be farmable, though I would hope only under very specific climatic conditions, maybe in farmland moistened by saltwater, or 'fertilized' with salt (new fertilizer type, S)

There would also be a lot of colorants derived from minerals and ores, but I won't cover those here.



First the Fritting.  You put the quartz dust, flux and quicklime in a crucible together (forest glass wiki says that it can be fritted at 900C, so even peat would work).  24 hours according to wiki.  Conciatore mentions it gets raked during this time.  But that's probably too much for the game, even as a single end or beginning step.

Then the Melting.  According to the wiki article, Natron allowed a melt temperature of about 1150C, while wood ash had to reach 1350C.  I don't think we currently have a 1350C cooking tool in VS, and in any case that might be more complication than needed.  But it's nice that those temperatures are in the vicinity of the higher grade VS fuels.  So anyway, cook at the appropriate temperature in a crucible or kiln.  I would suggest this also take quite awhile.  I remember visiting a glass workshop once when I was younger, and they told the group that they only shut down their furnaces for Chistmas break, because it took many days to get them up to the melting point.  So I'd say the melting takes a day also perhaps. 

That's all there is to the melting.  I think the fritting could justifiably take 24 hours, as it could be fire and forget.  The melting, even though believably could take a day, probably would need to be much shorter, because at the end the player has to use the glass before it cools, so they can't 'fire and forget' it, and will need to hang around.


Currently we can use the bloomery, but that goes away.  I'd propose a proper glass furnace as a more significant and substantial investment.  I like the way you lose fire bricks from the iron bloomery when you deconstruct it, and I'd propose the glass furnace be the same, except you don't *have* to deconstruct it each use.  It simply makes it something you want to plan the position of carefully.  Possibly a multiblock structure similar to the TFC bloomery, with several fire brick blocks involved, and brass or iron set of doors, to gate the tech behind brass or iron, as desired.  If quality comes into play, the quality of the doors shortens melt time, and makes fuel last longer.  Unless ceramics become a trade, in which case maybe there can be a crafted portion of the furnace that has quality.

Adding frit and fuel works basically like the bloomery.  There'd be an area of the texture with grate doors at the bottom, shift-click there to add fuel.  through the main hatch you'll be able to add the fritt material inside the chamber in the same way, because the main doors actually open, like the TFC bloomery doors.   Something should wear out.  Either the doors, or perhaps you can also place fire bricks inside the bottom grate, the idea being that they form the bottom lining.  The number of fire bricks in the bottom slowly decreases over time, which increases the heating time, so you want to keep them topped off.   Anyway, at the end you have a puddle of molten glass inside the chamber.


The crafting part brings up a sort of philosophical discussion:  In a game of blocks, does making things by turning them make sense?  I'm going to say 'yes', and proceed as such.   My proposal is that the player must craft a brass or iron tube, which is the blow tube (hopefully generic iron tubes can be used in many recipes).  The recipe will involve two such tubes, plus a plate (the counterbalance).  I'm showing it much longer than the anvil, so how this actually comes together I'm not sure, but is not important right now. This is a tool they can carry, and which has durability.  Once the glass has melted, the player takes the pipe to the opening, and shift-clicks on the molten glass in the furnace.  each time they doe this, it adds a dolop of molten glass to the end of the tube (though this would probably not show in the tool icon, or when the player carries it)  Below is a depiction of some basic steps in the crafting, to be explained after:



So the far left picture shows a pipe loaded to the max with molten glass.  The large wood block could be any solid block, or a table, or whatever.  The pipe only gets the wooden stand on top of the block, when you shift-click place it on top of the block.  When the player is carrying it there is no wooden stand.   Each time the player clicks the pipe on the molten glass in the furnace, it adds some number of voxels in a 2x2 slice.  And each time it uses 1 glass.  So if each dip just adds a 1 voxel 'long' slice, you could use a max of 16 glass.  If each 'dip' of glass is 2x2x2 voxels, then a max of 8. Regardless of how much a dip adds, each 1 voxel slice is modeled separately, and can be modified by itself.


The middle picture shows the glass expanded.  After the player has loaded the pipe, and placed it on the work surface, they have to start it spinning.  Now here I'm assuming that it can be coded so the player can interact with the glass and pipe while they're animated.  If that's not the case, well, this won't work as neatly.  But assuming it can, the player has to keep the pipe spinning above a certain speed by right clicking the chickened 'counterweight' plate opposite the glass.  Then, they have to go to that end, and right click the single voxel on the end of the pipe.  This 'blows' air into the glass.  The middle picture shows the glass after 3 blows.  After the first blow is applied, the player can no longer add more glass to the core, the length is 'locked in'.  The game will need to have a system for determining how many 'steps' there are to the blow.  For a max 16 long core, I'm showing each step being two voxels shorter at each end, with three steps plus core.  But if the core is only 8 long, maybe there's only 1 or two steps.  If the core is only 1 or 2 voxels there's no steps, but this would be only really useable for making glass plates.  The center picture shows the result of a 16 long core after 3 blows.  The first blow was the 12 long area, 4x4 in section, the second blow 8 long and 6x6, and the last blow the enter 4 long and 8x8.  This has formed the basic series of steps.  The player continues blowing, and it starts over again, expanding from the core this time, in the same order.  The right picture shows the nearly mature blow, with a 8x8 core, and 14x14 middle.  This took 14 blows to get here, having to keep it spinning the whole time. It could be even one series of blows larger yet, for a total of 18 blows.  By the way, a better crafted pipe maintains it's rotational energy longer, necessitating less spins from the player.


The largest the glass boxes can get is 16x16.  If the player blows again while any box is 16x16, the entire piece is destroyed.  However, each box is always enlarged longest to narrowest.  Yet the large recipes will require a nearly cubic form.  What has to happen is, whenever a box reaches 16x16, the player must then use a paddle of some kind.  They click on the 16x16 box with the paddle, and that shrinks *one slice of* that box down to 14x14 again.  So even though that center area is shown 4 long, it's composed of four slices  and takes four paddle strokes to get the whole center to 14x14 again, ans so safe for another round of blowing.   Each slice is controlled separately when it comes to paddles, even though they can move in groups in response to blows.   In this way, the player can maintain the boxes at the size they want, even to the point of a cube, and not destroy the piece.  The paddle might do double duty as something else (wooden club?) or could be it's own thing.  It could also be a piece of leather.  There could be graphite paddles that last longer than wooden.   Following is a specific example of a bottle (like for potions)


So this example bottle, the bottle is only 7 voxels tall.  So the player only has to made 7 initial dips (left picture).   This example bottle is also only 4x4 voxels max diameter - it's a simple recipe.  After I made these images it occured to me that it might be easier to code if the dips always add 2 long pieces, so it's easier to 'center' things.  But Let's pretend this bottle only had 2 expansion boxes.  First blow expands the 5-long one to 4x4.  Second blow expands the 3 long step to 6x6.  The player reduces this box back down to 4x4 with the paddle.  The third blow expands the core to 4x4, and now we are at second from left picture - the entire glass is 4x4, in 3 blows and one paddle.  Now the player takes and uses the paddle twice to reduce two slices to make a neck (third picture) and in the far right picture one more paddle to narrow the base, at which point it pops off as a bottle.  And this whole time, they had to make sure to keep the tube rotating.  If it drops below a certain speed the piece is ruined. 


Plate glass is formed by making a cylinder, and letting it cool enough you don't need to keep it rotating, and then chiseling away a line down the side.  You could even require the player chisel away openings, like the top of the bottle.  This woudl require the textures to be such that they look good from the inside as well.


That is the fundamentals of the system.   I hope I've explained it clearly.   There's a couple issues.  First, it does not allow for the continual use of glass voxels as clay working and smithing, because the player is not allowed to hold and thus add the molten glass piece by piece as they go, by hand.  So your max cost is 8 or 16 or whatever.   I think it would be a bit much work to ask the player to remove the pipe and go dip up more glass each time they need more.  Also, when you get to extremely large diameter recipes, a single expansion would use tons of voxels.  In the first example, going from 4x4x14 middle section to 4x4x16 adds 256 voxels.  I'm not sure there's a good way to scale the material and have a small recipe like a bottle require more than 1 piece, while large recipes don't require scores of pieces.  What you could perhaps do, is rather than track it in voxels, you track it in blows.  So allow the player to store up extra glass on the tool, to account for blows.  But, this conflicts with length limits.  If each dip adds to the piece length, how do you allow the player to limit the length but also add dips?  You could perhaps allow the player to use the paddle on the end square of the core, to shorten it, and each time you shorten it it adds that dip to the reserve instead.  So if the recipe is six dips long and will take 12 blows (and assuming the max core length is 8 dips), you'll start with a max length core of 8 dips, plus three extra.  When you shorten the core to 6, which takes 3 paddle uses, those 3 dips get added to the 3 extra you started with, for a total of 12. 

Another issue, what about glass tubes for labware?  obviously you can't have the recipe just be straight 2x2xZ long.  That involves no blowing or anything.  But requiring a 4x4 section would look ridiculous.  So, maybe tongs can be used on the tip of a 2x2xZ core.  Tongs draw out the glass into a 1x1 extrusion.  The player uses the paddle to reduce the original cores to 1x1.  This way you use tongs and paddles, though no blows.

And finally, this does not address irregular shapes, such as an alembic.  In the final analysis, we could just dispense with much of this, and just allow the player to carry molten glass with tongs, and build up a shape just like clay working.  Personally though, I'd consider a hybrid extension of the system.  Perhaps the player blows a basic sphere, and then uses tongs to build up the alembic neck with voxels, using a chisel to remove ones where appropriate.  Obviously the piece won't be rotating anymore (once it cools down this is ok)  You'd need to be careful that it's not cheaper for the player to just straight build the entire thing from voxels, and just avoid the turning.   Another alternate, you could have the player build a flask, and a funnel, both of which are uniform, and them hot-combine them to form the alembic.  So basically any non-uniform glassware would be formed by hot-combining several pieces that were made via turning.


And that's it.  I know this has been super-long, thanks for hanging in there.  If it seems to complicated, I understand.  As usual I kind of go for max complexity and let the devs simplify it to their liking (if they like it at all).   This was about as authentic as I could come up with, without getting what even I considered too laborious.  I think it would be extremely impressive as a mechanic.  I just hope there'd be enough demand to make it worthwhile.


Edited by redram
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