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Streetwind's Homesteading Update Brainstorm Thread


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Hey @Tyron, this is for you! :) This insufferable wall of text is the result of multiple months worth of on-and-off gameplay, testing, ruminating, note-taking, and writing. In making this thread, I attempted to adhere to the following principles:

  • Stick to the homesteading theme as declared in the 1.15 feature poll (meaning plants and farming, animals and animal husbandry, cooking and alcohol, and home decoration)
  • Don't make up new game systems and content; look at improvements for existing ones instead (though this may at times result in suggesting extra features that improve existing systems)
  • Keep each suggestion an individual, stand-alone deal with no dependency on other suggested features

It is entirely possible that a number of suggestions made here will be invalid, for any number of reasons. I have no insight into the current status of 1.15, after all. Maybe something is already planned anyway. Maybe something will be incompatible with a planned change. Maybe I guessed the design intent of an existing system wrong. Or maybe you simply don't like a suggestion. That's perfectly fine. But I must admit to being at least a teensy little bit proud of a few of them, and I do hope that there'll be at least one single thing, somewhere in there, that you look at and go "yeah, that sounds like a great idea". :)


Section 1: Plants and Farming
Contains ideas related to farmland, crops, tools, and surrounding processes.

  • WYSIWYG Fertilizers

The topic of fertilizers and their usefulness came up a month or so ago in the #gamedev channel on Discord. I recall you plan to significantly the nutrient release speed. That's a great start towards improving the fertilizer mechanic, but it has another issue: there's a fairly big disconnect between what people think they will get when they look at the item tooltip, and what they actually get when they use the fertilizer.

For example, bonemeal is listed as adding 30% phosphorus nutrient. When a dose is applied to farmland, it shows that there is 30% phosphorus available as slow-release nutrients. However, when the processing ticks and some fertilizer is consumed to raise the soil nutrient level, the player sees that 0.5% of the stored fertilizer was consumed to add 0.1% nutrient level to the farmland. The player sees 30%, but the player gets only 6%.

The nutrient release mechanic could be tweaked so that for every x amount consumed, the same x amount is also added to the farmland. If this results in fertilizer becoming too powerful (as it would quintuple their current effect), their values could be adjusted for balance.

(Note: I am aware that nutrients above the typical maximum cap of a soil type decay over time, just like depleted nutrients recharge by themselves over time, and that this can potentially affect how many nutrients the player ultimately sees released by the fertilizer. But this mismatch between consumption and actual nutrients added is independent from that effect, and can be observed even with partially-depleted farmland that currently has something growing on it.)


  • Additional Nitrogen Fertilizer

Nitrogen fertilization is currently achieved as a side effect of using saltpeter (a potassium fertilizer) or bonemeal (a phosphorus fertilizer). Because the N values on these are much smaller than their primary values, it feels wasteful to use them this way. A primarily nitrogen fertilizer could be added, if a relatively simple, low-tech option can be found.


  • Swap Compost and Terra Preta

These two feel like they both missed their individual design goals. Compost as a renewable, broadly accessible farming upgrade under the player's own control turned out to consume so much food, take so much time, and yield so little that players can achieve tier 3 steel production before fully converting their field to compost. Meanwhile, terra preta as a rare exploration reward ended up being not nearly rare enough, despite nerfs, to keep it from completely taking over the niche that compost was meant to fill - because it's just too good to pass up. At the same time, trying to solve the issue by increasing the rarity of terra preta merely increased player dissatisfaction with the farming upgrade options available to them, as they now feel obligated to aimlessly run around the countryside for ages hoping to spot a hint of black in a hillside.

Now, there could be band-aid fixes by further tuning the rarity of terra preta and tweaking the compost recipe, but there's an option that I feel addresses the underlying issue much more directly: just swap compost and terra preta in their soil tier placements.

Compost could be the new top tier soil, with the highest possible nutrient values, while terra preta could be the second best. This would allow people to explore the countryside for terra preta and take it home as a moderate midgame upgrade, while only the long-term time and material investment that goes into compost would reward the final, best upgrade to a well-established farmer. This could remove the need to keep terra preta rare enough to be frustrating, while simultaneously justifying the effort surrounding compost.


  • Add a "Compost Bin"

One thing that feels off about making compost is the fact that you need to wait for food to rot - but, no matter where you put that food, it always gets a spoiling time increase from the container it is placed in. Outside of the player's inventory, there exists no container that can hold food that does not noticably slow down the speed at which it spoils. And keeping 10-20 stacks of rotting food in one's inventory at all times cannot possibly be the intended gameplay mechanic in my mind.

A new container could be added which fills that niche: having no spoiling time improvements at all on it, no matter where it is placed, or perhaps even a reduction to make food spoil faster than usual.


  • Optional Interaction with Crops and/or Farmland

If we're moving towards much longer growing times for crops in the future to go with the season system, this will lead to the player not being allowed to interact with their farm for multiple dozen RL hours at a time. But what if we had ways of interacting with crops other than harvesting them? Or with fallow farmland? We already have the watering can, and fertilizer, but there could be more.

For example, you could allow players to hoe fallow farmland again after they harvested something, giving it a temporary status effect of 'recently hoed'. While under this status, the fallow farmland would regenerate nutrients a bit faster. Planting anything on it would remove the status, and it would eventually expire on its own, too - either after a set time, or when the natural nutrient levels of the soil have been reached.

(This actually kills two birds with one stone: it suddenly gives the hoe a proper, continued use. Right now, the player creates their field once, and then never needs a hoe again unless they want to put in some terra preta or move their farm somewhere else. I personally tend to get through >100 hours of gameplay with just two flint hoes. Why even have metal ones? Why ever make them? Well, this proposed mechanic could be a reason why!)

A similar mechanic could exist for growing crops, where perhaps there is weed that could be plucked, or some other gardening task performed to maintain ideal growth rates.

At the same time, though, these mechanics should remain optional. They should not devolve into repetitive busywork that the player must constantly stay on top of; things like weed would for example pop up only once per growth cycle, or the like. And not interacting with the mechanic should not make crop growing impossible. A player not interested in farming should be able to put in their seeds and walk away until they are ripe for harvest, and then walk away again until the farmland has recovered. That player would perhaps have to wait longer than someone actively maintaining their field, but that's fine - they don't want to interact with their farm anyway.

And perhaps that player is playing on a server, and another player in the group does enjoy farming, and now they have a reason to divide up roles between them.


  • Trading Seeds

Seeds tend to be rare and precious at the start of the game. Then there comes a very brief moment in time where you have exactly enough. And then, after that, you just start accumulating more and more. And there's nothing to do with them. In fact, planting them would just yield even more excess seeds afterwards.

Perhaps some of the existing trader types could become interested in buying stacks of seeds for rusted gears.

Alternatively, a new Farming Trader could be added, who buys and/or sells various seeds, soil types, farming tools, and other related items.


  • Farmland Tooltip, Growth Speed, and Nutrients Cleanup

The farmland tooltip is perhaps the most crowded in the game. How to efficiently transport all that information? Write out everything, and the tooltip becomes ginormous; compress everything, and it becomes indecipherable without effort.

I've seen the preview on Discord that is slated for 1.15, which noticeably improves on the visual clarity already. But I also feel like this can be improved even further.

So I made a crude MS Paint mockup of how the farmland tooltip could look like.

If you go with decompressing the nutrient names into their full words instead of chemical symbols, which I really hope you do, the same should probably be done for the fertilizer item descriptions/tooltips.

I also urge you to consider getting rid of the strange breakpoints in nutrient count, where growth speed suddenly jumps by as much as 30% from one per-mille point to the next. In a bid for minimized complexity (especially invisible) while maintaining desired mechanical depth, growth speed could be a breakpoint-less function of nutrients and moisture. The simplest approach would be straight linear scaling (50% nutrients and 80% moisture = 40% growth speed, since 50 * 0.8 = 40), but perhaps you are weighing the two factors differently, I'm not sure. Still, making the relationship as direct and linear as possible helps players parse what is going on and maintain that ever-important WYSIWYG user experience.


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Section 2: Animals and Animal Husbandry
Contains ideas regarding the keeping, breeding, and raising of livestock.

  • Chickens Hatch from Eggs

It may not be a really important feature that fundamentally chages the way we play the game... but I've always wanted to suggest it anyway ;)


  • Chalk from Eggshells

Shamelessly stolen from Oxygen Not Included. If eggs could yield their broken shells after being cooked, hatched, and so on, then perhaps those shells could be thrown into a quern and ground down into a chalk/lime substitute. As "where the heck do I find limestone" continues to be one of the more frequent expressions of dissatisfaction about the game, this would be an added incentive for people to keep chickens next to the kind-of-mandatory sheep.

Small amounts of yield would be okay, as it would be a renewable source that can add up over time.


  • Possible Pig Perk?

Keeping sheep is a no-brainer. Keeping chickens has something going for it (the feathers) even if the previous suggestion is not added to he game. Keeping pigs has... no real perk. I mean, theoretically, they are hyper-efficient in terms of meat and hide yielded for the feedstock input. But not only is grass feedstock literally free - a sufficient number of sheep can also cover a player's leatehr and protein needs, in addition to providing extra calories from milk/cheese. Throw chickens into the mix, and the player just has no need for an animal whose only perk is that they produce a lot of food quickly.

I was tempted to suggest manure, especially since it would be the ideal candidate for the nitrogen fertilizer suggestion from the Farming section, but I seem to recall reading that it was already decided to not have such things in the game.

Perhaps something else could be done to make keeping pigs more attractive? A start might be to increase the amount of fat they drop, since getting deep into mechanical devices requires huge amounts of it. But that doesn't really feel like a must-have just yet...


  • Animal AI Improvements

One tweak that would make animals look more believable in the game would be to give them a preference for dry land. All too often, I would swim across a lake so large that I can barely see the shore, only to encounter a single bunny being chased by a single fox, swimming half a kilometer from the nearest piece of dry land. Or maybe I accidentally scare a chicken into the water as I walk past, only to come back a month later and discover that it still has not found its way back ashore - in fact, it might have decided to swim further out, even without a predator to drive it there.

Pathing behavior could be tweaked so that an animal will never enter deep water (more than one block deep) unless coerced, for example by a chasing predator; and that it will only volunatrily enter shallow water if it serves as as means to cross over to another piece of dry land.

Predator AI could be changed to abandon a chase if the predator can no longer detect dry land within X blocks of it. This prevents them from chasing their prey all the way across an entire ocean. Additionally, it might lead to a cool moment now and then where a player flees into the water, and the chasing wolves stop and return to the shore, where they prowl and wait. You could even have them continue to track the player without approaching directly. This should only work with players, though, to avoid all prey animals getting herded into the water without a chance to get back out ever again, while all predators are forever locked into tracking prey they cannot reach.

Animals left in water could, if left to their own devices, attempt to find their way back to dry land. To avoid instances of not being able to find a valid path, an animal could save the coordinate of the location where they first entered water, and if unable to find dry land to path towards within X blocks, try to path towards that coordinate instead.


  • Bones Dropped by Skeletons

Skinning an animal and taking all the loot currently spawns a skeleton in its place. The skeleton can be left as it is, or broken; but it never drops anything.

Meanwhile, bones are often unwanted by the player, due to the limited usefulness of P fertilizer.

Animal loot could be changed to no longer include bones. Instead, bones could be dropped by breaking the skeletons left behind.


  • Animal Tooltip Polish

Female animals that are pregnant do not show the "portions eaten: x" line in their tooltip. As soon as they have given birth, they show this line again. However, at that point they will still be a month or so out from being ready to mate again. And as long as the female animal is not ready to mate, the female animal is not going to eat.

This used to not matter. But nowadays, male animals also eat. As a result, the player will keep filling the troughs, thinking the females will get a head start on eating while they wait to become ready to mate again, but all that will happen is that the males will devour everything for nothing in return.

To solve this issue, the "portions eaten: x" line could only be shown once the female is ready to mate.


Edited by Streetwind
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Section 3: Cooking and Alcohol
Contains ideas related to combining edibles in interesting ways. Though there's not that much here, as it would venture too much into suggestion new systems or content, neither of which is the point of this thread.


  • Unhide Hidden Satiation Bonus on Meals

Currently, when eating a meal that was cooked in a pot, the player receives a grace period during which the player's hunger bar doesn't decrease at all. But to find out anything about it - including to discover that it even exists - the player would have to read the game's source code. Or, okay, the wiki will do, since it's mentioned there. But why does it sometimes last extremely long, and other times not, even if an identical meal is eaten? Does it matter if the meal is hot or not? Does the grace period get shortened by injury or heavy activity? Is there perhaps an invisible bug in play? Nobody knows, least of all the player.

But, since we're getting a cooking-related update with 1.15, now is the perfect time to take another look at it. Reassess whether the feature is needed/wanted, and if yes, allow the player to know it exists.

Possible implementations could include info in the meal's tooltip, and/or an additional overlay over the hunger bar which shows something like a golden outline or a different color over the regular bar to represent the extra reserve, and/or an entry in the C menu screen.


  • Storage Shelf Tooltip Polish

Bowls with meals on a shelf do not show a spoiling timer on mouseover, while all other perishable objects on shelves do. This info could be added for bowls with meals to improve consistency.


Edited by Streetwind
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Section 4: Home Decoration
Contains ideas centered around building oneself a beautiful, individual, and satisfying home.


  • Corner Stairs

This is another item I see very often while stalking Discord and the forums: people want to have stair pieces that go around corners. And, to be honest, I totally get that. I want them too! Chiseled blocks are generally not a good stand-in, as they are not valid for forming enclosed rooms, and the full blocks they stem from are also textured differently from native stairs.

A simple implementation could be handled similar to how slabs can be exchanged for variants by simply placing them by themselves into the crafting grid. With stairs, you could swap them like: regular stairs -> corner stairs -> inverted corner stairs -> regular stairs.

The Minecraft way of autodetecting the corner based on nearby blocks is another way, but probably more work.


  • Crafted Wooden Furniture Matches Wood Used

Just by offering ingredient-based recolors of the many wooden furniture items that currently default to oak, the options available to the player for customizing and personalizing their home through color matching could be greatly expanded. With the new, eye-catchingly gorgeous wood colors already previewed for 1.15, this is more desirable than ever!

Perhaps this could be achieved by an automatic system that modifies the crafting output, so it is not necessary to keep many different distinct palette-swapped items in the game; but given the choice between having heaps of palette-swapped items or not having the various wood colors available at all, I would definitely choose investing the items.


  • More Immersive Lamp Recipes

Have the recipe of oil lamps and candles include a single piece of flax fiber as a wick.

This may seem a weird and inconsequential suggestion, and well, it probably is! :) But everytime I play and make one of these items, my brain asks "where is the wick?". I have no idea if other players feel the same... but this is a really quick change to make, and single pieces of flax fiber are easily plentiful enough to be a fair price for an infinite light source, even in the earlygame.


Edited by Streetwind
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I am curious to hear from others as to what gameplay experience they are hoping to get from the homestead update.  In example are you hoping for a 3D version of "Farmville" or "Stardew Valley"?  Given the original description "The Homesteading update (fruit trees, alcohol, improved meals, more animals, more crops, birds, animal leashes, pies!)" deals mostly with the production of more variety and quantity of food, how complex do you want that interaction to be (i.e. grow anything anywhere or highly restrictive growth)?  What sort of environmental effects should come into play (i.e. droughts, blights, disease, hunger, plagues, floods)?  What sort of balance do you expect between this and other game elements (i.e. 1.13 Climate effected overall gameplay schedule)?

Given a certain type of gameplay I think Streetwind's recommendations are excellent (especially compost/Terra Preta) and I look forward to hearing from the community on this subject.

Edited by Soliton
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Cooking Simulator, but in VS.
I'm not joking, either. It would be somewhat tedious, but being able to place carrots on a cutting board and manually chop them up with a knife would be awesome. Especially if that led to blenders and stuff.

Wait a minute.

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I really, really, really want to be able to adopt the wolf pups who get left behind when I kill a wolf who's been chasing me. Not only would sheepdogs be useful for moving around livestock, or guard dogs be useful for keeping a farm clear of rabbits or a mine clear of drifters, but I just plain feel guilty when I leave those wolf pups behind with no parents. I think the generation changes on wolves should go from generation 0 being unable to perform tasks beyond "sit" and having an accidental bite mechanic where even tame ones will have a chance to bite you or passive mobs if you eat near them or run towards them, with the accidental bite chance decreasing each generation and then generation 3 starting to be able to specialize as sheepdogs, guard dogs, or maybe a third profession for transport as sled dogs. Then every generation after 3 could have better stats at their specialization (sheepdogs would have passive mobs react at a wider distance and more predictably, guard dogs would have higher combat stats, and sled dogs would be faster). They could eat dog food made from meat and/or grains, wear collars made from twine and dye, and follow players who held a bone in their hands. Specializations could be either random and genetic (like with real breeds of dog) or set by the player using some kind of training item.

Maybe we could have cats too? I think they could just bring us little gifts (ranging from pebbles, feathers, bones, flax fiber, raw bushmeat, small hides, raw redmeat, twine, arrowheads, spearheads, lamellae and even rusty gears) with higher generations of cat giving higher chances of better items. I took the items from the panning list and animal drops for some small animals, figuring that's probably what cats could find (plus flax and twine as a nod to cats playing with string). I figure there being a chance to get good items would probably not unbalance cats if they gave one item a day, since at that point unless you're making a massive hopper-floored cat dungeon the odds are higher of getting a little piece of inventory clutter that might be useful than of becoming a cat tycoon with a pile of free gears. The idea is based off minecraft cats, but I made the list broader because I think that would be more fun and interesting than waking up to the same piece of flax fiber every morning. Cats would probably eat cat food made from meat, but might not need to be fed but instead gather at fire pits if they were able to hunt and kill a rabbit or chicken that day (I think needing to ensure your cat can access rabbits or chickens to hunt while making sure it doesn't leave you forever would be an interesting balance, but might be too hard).

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I love the idea on swapping compost as well as a compost bed. Corner stairs and cobblestone walls which allow grass to grow underneath are welcome too, those would be nice additions. I also think an agricultural trader is needed with so many plants. I started in a temperate spawn travelled 30k blocks to get to the tropics for tropical plants like soybeans, bamboo, papyrus, kapok, etc. Having a trader who can circumvent that would be great albeit the cost of items would be expensive. Lastly, I agree on hoes, you build and forget them. Having a continued use would be great if its not a micromanaging chore. 

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