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On food system, cooking, taste, and general food benefits


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So, thought I'd try to start a discussion on food in VS, and the benefits it might provide.   Currently hunger and healing are the only purposes for food.  There's no cooking system yet, but in order to have a cooking system that people are compelled to use, I think that we probably need to have more benefits.

In TFC, the extremely limited 'cooking' system had only 3 products.   Salads and sandwiches basically just let you eat food faster.  I never personally used salads as the bowls weren't worth the bother to me.  Sandwiches were quick to make since they involved no actual cooking, and being able to store them in vessels made them not too inventory intensive.  You could also combine several food groups in one, helping to keep that balanced.  Then there was bread.   Baking bread basically let you double the amount of food you got from grain.  Which was fairly compelling, plus you needed it for sandwiches.  But overall the system was extremely simplistic and boiled down to satiating your hunger and keeping your food groups filled so you could have max hp.  Each food group contributed 200 hp to your 1k basic total, but dairy was, I think, the only one that was a challenge sometimes, the rest were fairly easy to get.  There was of course the taste system, which was a pretty neat system since it required individual player customization, rather than just rote wiki reading.  But the benefits imo weren't great enough, since food was easy enough to get that you didn't particularly need more satiation from each individual dish.   There were a lot of alternatives discussed there, and I'll try to rehash some of them here, but also put in new ideas.





Ark-Style refers to the game, Ark.  It means that each stack of food has a circular timer graphic, that fills in, in a circle, over time.  Each time it completes, you lose one food item from the stack.  So if the timer completes every 5 minutes, you lose one piece of food from the stack every 5 minutes.  It's basically like decay, but without having to insert an off-the-wall ounces/grams system.  It keeps the same stack mechanic as vanilla.  when a player combines two stacks, the new stack simply inherits the lower of the 2 timers.  This makes it so it's always most effective to carry food in the largest stack possible, so you only have 1 decay timer going, rather than 2+.   I think this system is very good, and I think VS should adopt it.


I do think that VS should not have healing (at least, not the instant kind) linked to food.  That should be medicines and poultices, which will be a good tie-in for alchemy.  This of course could be a gradual transition.


To replace the taste system in TFC1, Bioxx was considering assigning each player an individual taste for each raw food type.  The higher the player preference the more benefit.   0 was least preferred, with max number the most.  Cooking method would increase the player's affinity for the dish.  So you like apples at 3, you like them ok.  Apple sauce maybe adds +1.  Apple Pie +2.  It was never really fleshed out beyond that, for instance multiple-ingredient dishes, how the sum of the various preferences would work.  I also felt there was a risk that you railroad the player into a geographic region or other playstyle that they did not necessarily want, based on food preference.






Bioxx had stated his plan for TFC2 was for better foods to give the player some 'delayed regen'.  This apparently would get stored up, and only used when the player was injured.  Foods the player liked better would add more of this regen.   Not a bad idea, but I  would have again been skeptical that the benefit of player taste would have been enough of a driver, vs just eating more mediocre food to stack up regen.


This was that you get your basic hp max from the basic food groups, as in default.  But, you could then get bonuses hp for *each food group*, *on top of the 1k base*, by having a variety of foods within each food group.  To me this sounded like a good way to compel the player to cook a variety of foods, without making them frail stick-people if they didn't bother with food variety.  There was skepticism expressed by by some about the unwieldy nature of it, in terms of the code tracking of meals.


The idea here is that there is the normal food bar which we have now, but there is also *another* food bar above it.  Once the player has filled their normal food bar, they cannot eat anything more.  However, the last thing they eat contributes any satiation above the normal bar, to the super-bar.  For basic raw foods, you'll get basically no super-satiation as the amount the fill at once is very small.  But more complicated cooked dishes add more satiation at once, and if you end with one of these dishes, you can get a nice boost into your super-satiation bar. 


Furthermore, things could be complicated by limiting how fast the player can eat.  Basically you take the tier 0 food (raw stuff), and limit the player to only being able to eat enough to slowly progress.  So to use arbitrary number examples, say tier 0 raw food restores 4 satiation per piece eaten.  The max 'sustenance' bar (current hunger bar) is 50.   But the player's 'stomach' only holds 5 pieces of food, period. This could be indicated somewhere in the hud bar, though probably not as a full bar - don't want to have too many bars right?  So they can only eat 5 pieces of food (of any size) at a time - with tier 0 (raw) food this means filling their sustenance by 20 and stomach by 5, then they have to wait.   Say their stomach empties down at 1 piece per hour, while their overall sustenance goes down 2 per hour.  So they eat 5 pieces of tier 0 food (+20 sustenance), and in 5 hours they can eat their fill of it again, but their sustenance has gone down 10 in the meantime, so they only made 10 progress in the sustenance bar during that 5 hours.  In this way, if your sustenance gets extremely low, you cannot just fill it immediately by eating a pile of raw tier 0 foods.  If you almost starve, it will take you 20 hours to fill your sustenance bar again with tier 0 food no matter what, because the stomach limitation means you can only make 10 sustenance progress per 5 hours.  However higher tier foods give more satiation, filling up the sustenance bar more for the same pieces, so with good enough food you can fill your sustenance up in one sitting.   

There's a little danger here in naming, in that tracking the stomach fullness separately from the other bar (probably referred to as hunger by most people).  Add in nutrition system, maybe a super-satiation bar, you may get a lot of bars and eating related concepts floating around.   There is some risk in this idea, of confusing people about what is happening, and why they can't eat any more food even though their sustenance/hunger bar is not full.


There's always the option of bringing in yet another bar - fatigue.  This would govern the amount of exertion a player can do at once.   How far can you run, how much smithing can you do, how much mining can you do, etc.  This can tie into a lot of other systems, but with regards to this topic, you can have better cooked foods provide better fatigue restoration and/or regeneration.  It's a system that does not threaten the player with death.  And, it can somewhat track tiers.   So for instance mining copper takes one level of fatigue, that is fairly easily maintained by tier 0 foods.   But mining tier 3 ores might drain fatigue so fast that you can't keep up with just tier 0 food.   Same with smithing: smithing copper is lower energy than smithing iron.   You get the idea.






Food Tiers refers to the complexity of the food.  Raw foods provide only the basics.  More complex recipes provide better benefits, and yet more complex ones are the best.   This is a little counter to the contemporary concept that raw food is best.   But, in order to provide progression, that may be a sacrifice to be made.  Higher tier foods might require a lot of different ingredients, prepared in many ways, and also ingredients that are themselves prepared foods (bread for instance).  They may require specific cooking conditions, such as a specific heat that is not gotten by simple fuel burning.  It might require a high tier stove or oven that has temperature regulation capability.


The player's coded skill provides benefits.  Probably added satiation or whatever.   If we have several food tiers, I would suggest that cooking a given tier only contributes to a certain skill ceiling.  So tier 1 food only helps advance the novice skill.  Tier 2 foods can advance the novice skill level, or the next level if that's where the player is.  And so on.  But you can't become a grandmaster by making sandwiches.


Special optional ingredients might be used to either directly add benefits to a food.  So spices for instance, might be used with specific types of dishes (oregano adds to pasta dish satiation), or, to bring the taste closer to the player's ideal.  It might be interesting if certain dishes had randomly seeded spice benefits, so that the spices to use with a given dish were different for each world, thus rewarding experimentation, and allow 'secret' recipes.   These extras might only grow in certain climates, or be difficult to make.


Hard to find ingredients might either benefit normal dishes, similar to a spice.  Or, they might open up entirely new possibilities for high tier dishes.  Rare mushrooms or animals might be examples of this.  Nothing that the player can easily cultivate or ranch though.


Again, the possibility that players might have specific individual taste preferences, and the closer a food fits it, the better the benefits.  Ambitious, but I think hard to balance.


So that's kind of a summary.  Interested to hear other peoples' thoughts.  Both what they may have thought of TFC's system, and how VS's system could be better.

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Food was a very Controversial topic in TFC, and as we evolve it will also be here.

I divide the Food topic into 3 areas:

  1. A spoiling system with accompanying preserving methods.
  2. A Nutrition System: With food divided into groups and each providing a nutrient.
  3. A Taste system: IE complex food well prepared. With some reward.

P.S. Some of my ideas and arguments can be considered controversial, just remember the subject here is about Nutrition and how to create a Game feature that is envolving, gratifying and fun, in a way that feels intuitive and allows for immersion.




I do not like the Ark system of spoiling one item from each stack at a time. I much prefer a date tag system. In a date, tag system, food has expiration dates. For me, it feels more realistic and it will create inventory challenges for the player to solve.  To have a 64 stack of raw meat in your inventory and have one piece of meat going bad every x time is just not realistic.

In a date-tag system, you are still able to stack food as long as they have the same date. Now think about, when you go hunting and kill a few goats, you do it all in the same day. When you go harvest your farm you do it all in the same day. So to have many of the same food with different tags is not supposed to be as common as some would make you think.


As far as spoiling, I need to add, that as much as I enjoy the challenges of working for a feature or technology, once I acquire that I want to be done with it. The thing that i most disliked about food spoiling in TFC, was the concept of cutting off the bad percentage. A much as it is possible to cut off a bad part of an appple, and it would be safe to eat the rest, that does not reset the time on that apple. If it was starting to go bad today it will be gone tomorrow.

So, please do not add any type of spoiling until you are ready to add a preservation process for each specific food that you will start to spoil. I will not mind if a multiblock structure would need to be build in a specif way using only specif materials in order to build a grain Silo. But once I am done with that, t hat's what I want to be, done with that. I already went exploring to find the seeds, I prep the soil and planted it , I waited and harvest the grain. I build the Silo and stored the grain in it. Now I want to be able to forget about it untill I need it.

Historic preservation methods:

Meats - Salting, smoking and curing. Cure meat can last for years. Jerky beef, Sausages, Hams, Salamis, so on and so forth.

Dairy - Cheese, Smoked cheese and cured cheese.

Fruits - Dry fruits, Jelly, and why not even pickling. And one that many do not perceive, but it actually it is, Wine. When you make a fruit wine you are preserving many of the nutrients from that fruit that can be consumed in the winter.

vegetables - the same as fruits.

Grains - Among other ways the silo is a good one. Grain if kept in a dry cold place will last for a long time. And also one can not forget Beer. ( After all bread is a poor grain that wished it was beer).






This was one of the features that I really like in TFC, The use of the 5 food groups as it was created more than a hundred years ago was never perfect and there are as many nutrition systems as there are nutritionists. They will never agree, (Some are still figuring out if eggs are good or bad for your health). So in my view, the 5 food groups system is the most easily understandable Nutrition system. I agree that some of the groups were very easily obtainable, and could be made a little harder to extend gameplay. I like the idea of each food  group increasing your maximum health, as it is in real life a diverse diet will make you healthier.

The part I would like added to the system is to have a way so the player can increase his health even more if he eats different items from the same group. To avoid the player eating the same thing over and over and still have a perfect health.

In TFC the player got to the maximum of 1000 health from eating all of the 5 food group, and after that, his XP would increase his health. No idea what kind of numbers we will end up having in VS, but my idea is to have the player first needing to eat all 5 foods to get  a Let's say 1000 Health, them only after that if he eats at least 3 different foods from the same group he could increase his health to a maximum of 3000. This was actually the maximum health that a player could get in TFC using nutrition and XP points. Explaining the player needs to eat, Meat, Grain, Vegetable, Fruit and, Dairy. to get to the initial 100 points. After that and only after that if the player would get an extra 200 points for each different food inside the same group to a maximum of 600 points Total for each food group. So to get to the Maximum health the player needs to eat 3 different types of meat, {Red Meat ( Cow etc), white meat (Poultry, birds) and fish. 3 types of grain (For example, Rye, rice and Wheat), 3 types of Fruit (Oranges, Peachs and Bananas), 3 types of vegetables (green beans, Bell peppers, Zuquini) And last but not least 3 types of Dairy ( Milk, yoghurt and cheese) We could here add milk from different sources. I agree the dairy part is not as realistic as the rest, but it would add gameplay and I think to be consistent with the other groups.








Here comes a point where I strongly disagree with Bioxx,  His system is based on an individualist society, where kids grew without a mother inside the house actually cooking for them. when I was a kid I was not allowed to ask what was for dinner. Mother would server the dinner and we would eat it. We were allowed to have favourite dishes, but not to dislike anything. My generation grew eating a healthy balanced diet, with plenty of fruits and vegetables. The concept of taste was something alien to me. When I first heard someone say "Oh I don't eat eggplants", it was so weird, because such thought has never passed my mind. 

Now times changed, I have a daughter that I have not raised to be someone's maid, I raised her to be a strong independent woman, but for as much as today's society has gained in equal rights and a more just and fair system we have lost in the kids' education. Kids that were raised by TV, most of the times alone in the house without supervision, Parents at the end of the day too tired and feeling too guilty to reprimand their kids and insist that they eat all the vegetables. 

That said a system that prioritises taste over nutrition does not work, it doesn't work in real life and it should not in a game. TFC had a weird notion where you could make a perfect sandwich, and eat just that same sandwich over and over again and it would give you perfect nutrition and because it had perfect taste it would increase your saturation levels.

I think we can create a better way to handle Taste, a way that is not based on an individual freaky sense of taste, but a collective sense of taste. When people lived in Clans and tribes they all knew what good food was, when they had feasts they would spend many days to collect the perfect ingredients and cook them to perfection to make the most delicious dishes.

So, for the Taste system, I propose complicated and time-consuming dishes. They are not needed for the player health and would be considered more like a treat. The only bonus is a bigger saturation level. 

The advantages of such a system are that even so the single player is able to create such dishes in a multiplayer environment a player or a group would be able to invest the time and effort to create a varied number of dishes and offer to the members of their group or even invite other player to participate in a feast.

These special dishes could be based on real-life complex recipes that ask for a big number of ingredients and to be carefully prepared with certain conditions.

My main argument is that even so it is possible for one individual to not like a specific food, the majority of people will agree on what is considered good food. Ther is a reason that some restaurants succeed and everyone wants to eat there. Usually, because the food is great. For anyone that had a gramma that knew how to cook, just remember your whole family enjoying that special dish that only her would make.


P.P.S. I am in favor of creating new features, like animal hunger, to encourage the player to have bigger farms and   continuing food production even after has a considerable stock of preserved food.

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  • 4 months later...
2 hours ago, Saraty said:

Let me know what you guys think!

I think it generally looks ok, but roasting or cooking meat should also be mentioned as a way to make it last longer. I also think that "lasts forever" preservation shouldn't be so easy to archive, sealing should always be needed for effective preservation. Temperature should also play a vital role. Sealing also shouldn't need fatty matter, it may however be used to gain some bonus preservation. Sealing containers should have all different properties, to make them distinct:

  • Earthenware crock: 1 stack storage; no liquids; can't be picked up when items are inside; four can be placed per block
  • Earthenware vessels: 6 stack storage; no liquids; can't be picked up again, even when empty
  • Glass Jar: 1 stack storage; liquids; can be picked up, even when items are inside; 4 can be place per block
  • Barrel: 6 stack storage; liquids; can be carried on your back (TFC-like) when items inside, picked up when empty
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As always I am in favor of Realism. As such one would think I should be in favor of Temperature as a major part of food spoiling speed and or preservation.
But I have some reservations on that matter.
One of the biggest problems I see is how players quickly exploited that, by either building Sky Freezers or just keeping their food in the poles and teleporting there.
I mean, if you going to cheat the whole preservation feature why not just switch to creative and spawning lots of food anytime you need it?

Some would say that exploiting game features is not cheating. To those I say, let's not create features that allow such easy exploiting.
If temperature, is a desirable feature in the game and part of food spoiling, then I propose that elevation should play a minor part in it.
let's imagine that the Vintage Story World is an old world. One where there are no really tall mountains and the maximum temperature difference between sea level and the top of any mountain is no more than 5 degrees, maximum 10. So, enough to be colder, but not enough to justify Sky Freezers.



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Mainly for balancing, to make them clear early-game storage. The earthenware crock can be picked up, but only when empty. Otherwise players would be able to carry sealed food on long journeys in the early game. Making the vessels not being able to be picked up makes vessels much more stationary, which feels somewhat realistic for huge ceramic things. There should be no reason in the late-game to still use ceramics when other things are much better suited.

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So I agree with Tony on temperature, and I've said it before.  I think temperature (at least in the survive version) should not be an end-all preservative, for the reasons Tony stated.  It neuters tech preservation methods.  Freezer burn is a thing.  It ruins food.  I think that temperature below a certain point should be just as bad as normal temperatures.   If the window of preservation is narrow, this might keep 'natural' freezers from being such a factor.

The containers, I don't know how big these crocks are envisioned to be but it doesn't really make sense or help playability to have them not able to be picked up.  There can be all kinds of restrictions of course - only when empty, or they slow player, etc.  But the player needs to be able to re-arrange them.  Crocks are actually good for storing large amounts of stuff - larger than you get in jars.  Ceramic crocks were used well into the 20th century.  I think it would be enough for barrels to hold larger stacks than crocks, and be movable while sealed, to make them the next step up. 

The various preservation methods all sound plausible, but there are clear winners.  Salting and drying meat requires no fire, just salt and time.  Best method by far.  If drying rack is metal tech, then stone age smoking and drying sounds easier than confit.  For fruits why would I go to the trouble of boiling and jars and sugar when I can just dry them to last forever?   It seems like there's several redundant methodologies and some are just flat out more expensive.  Now if the given list was the 'survive and build' game mode, and the survival game mode will perhaps just 1 'forever' mode, then that's another thing.  Or, if some methods perhaps remove some of the food, so they have a food cost.   But, as a basic list it sounds pretty good.

I would add to the list ice boxes as an upper tier tech, and ice houses as the ultimate mechanic (at least in temperate climates).


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As much as drying meat and fruits look like an easy thing. It should take time. I do not like the prevalent idea that many things need to be gated after metal.
Man learned to preserve food long before he learned to use metal.
Drying fruit and meat,  is a slow and tedious process, without glass you need to keep an eye for rain and rapidly cover it or remove it. It should take a few in-game days to complete the process. 

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Thought I'd compile a few things from discord.    Regarding the current dough situation, it's extremely tedious to have to combine 1 flour with 1 bucket of water.   This needs to be streamlined I think.   A few different ideas:



Tyron's idea - Buckets have a quantity or something that allows them to convert up to, say, 10 flour per bucket.  Takes special coding for the bucket and crafting I assume.

Balduranne's idea - Make a recipe that is a bucket  plus 9 flour around it.   Nice thing about that is it doesn't take any new coding for bucket quantity.

My idea - a special block (mixing bowl or something) that the player fills with water, tosses in a stack of flour, and it all become dough at once.  Obviously the most resource intensive in terms of art and code, but people do like tossing things around I think.  This could be a top tier method perhaps,  requiring a metal bowl.  Also could open the path for kitchen pitcher pumps, maybe.

Saraty also had the separate idea of having to let dough rise for a time.  Not opposed to it, but I feel like we'd need a bakery rack or something to have lots of dough out rising at once.  That or stack the loaves like ingots!


SALTED MEAT - another thing that strikes me is All other methods require at least time, maybe also fuel.  Salting is apparently instant in grid.  Might bring it more on par with other methods if it took time as well.  Saraty mentioned a mechanic similar to bloomeries, involving barrels.  I don't love the idea of having to add 128 items via shift-clicking each one though.  Could it be coded such that the player simply puts meat and salt in the barrel in the regular slots, seals the barrel, and then after X time the salt disappears and the meat becomes salted?

DRYING - A critical aspect of drying will be the materials required.  A) are they metal gated, and B) is string going to be an expendable (as it was in TFC).  The string thing will make it cost heavy enough to compete with fuel methods, but if no string is required it'll be very cheap.  With respect to fruit, at least currently I end up with so much surplus honey I would not mind at all if drying fruit only made it last very long, while honey-jarring was forever.  It seems reasonable that a nearly cost-free method is not as good as one that requires both a crafted storage item (jar) and a non-trivial expendable ingredient (honey).

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I think a good balance for salted and smoked meat is if they require to be hung as part of their preserving and storing. So, is OK to have in inventory, but salted or smoked meat should not be stored in chests. 
This gives the extra cost of room and in creating the hangers for the meat. Simple wood or string.
One more time. 
No need to gate behind metal. The player should want metal for their speed and durability if that is not enough, make it faster and more durable.  ff


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  • 1 month later...

I think a couple of things need to happen with food:


  1. Preservation needs to last independently of logging in (only tick decay when players are logged in) this is not realistic but allows for people to play on servers that can play without extreme frustration
  2. Worry less about whether people can use the mechanic in a non-realistic way and make sure that people who want can use it in a realistic fashion
  3. Incorporate early game realistic ways of preserving (pickling, smoking, drying, salting, cooking, fermenting) but stream-line them or people will have to spend all their time managing food.  Even on a server with a good population there is not enough people on at one time for realistic division of labor and in single player this could feel super grindy. 
  4. For taste make a boost to "happiness" or some such that makes you more productive but not more healthy
  5. For nutrition give a boost to health but not to productivity.  I like increased HP but healing ticks would work as well.
  6. Have herbs or some such for actual healing, the botany in this game is excellent and playing off that strength to add something that is different from TFC would be cool.  Tinctures and tisanes would be a great way to progress but also make sure there are early game plants you can eat for healing (like berries are now but that make more sense)  This would give people a desire to travel to different biomes.  Which gets back to the world gen questions about making sure that all biome types spawn in a world which was a problem with TFC as well where you never found chalk or a desert or...
  7. Have a wide variety of later recipes for immersive nerds that are just for fun or have minimal differences (so I don't have to eat onions but someone else can avoid carrots)
  8. Have fresh options for recipes as well (not just cooked) and because they spoil faster maybe they have a more significant effect.
  9. Add mast foods like walnuts, acorns, pine nuts... that store indefinitely and have to be harvested in a certain season.
  10. Use beeswax to seal storage for longer preservation but once you open it decay starts ticking.

Sorry for the huge post but I just discovered the correct place for suggestions and have been thinking on this a lot.  

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