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One of the major features of Vintage Story is its climate system, where different sorts of biomes are arranged according to latitude, which both improves verisimilitude and allows players seeking to obtain new biological resources to be able to predict where to travel to find them. Unfortunately, the same verisimilitude does not appear to exist for geological resources, at least not to the same degree, and likewise a major roadblock for many players is being able to locate new ores or types of stone. Additionally, many roadmap features are blocked by the lack of a realistic hydrological model, such as waterwheels, which depend on flowing rivers, and sailing ships, which depend on oceans; moreover the simplistic hydrology again detracts from verisimilitude and limits the ability of players to locate resources dependent on rainfall. I propose that an elegant solution to all of these issues would be thus. In the same manner as players travelling north or south will move from polar to boreal to temperate to equatorial climates, I propose that players travelling east or east will move from oceanic to coastal to inland to mountainous landforms, with players typically starting inland. I will not attempt to exhaustively map out the design, as I'm sure the VS team is more than capable of doing that themselves, but as a rough sketch, I would posit a design where a prevailing wind is determined by an area's latitude, and terrain height as determined by longitude produces dry or wet areas according to the rain shadow for that latitude. Stone types, and thus the possible ores, would be generated according to the geological type of the area, combined with erosion patterns derived from the patterns of wind and rain. The existence of this sort of slope from mountain to coast allows for the implementation of flowing rivers, though I am not prepared to offer a technical solution in that regard. The new system, then, of realistic geology and hydrology, could be crossed into biome generation for additional verisimilitude, and the existence of oceans would allow for both age-of-sail gameplay and game elements specifically tied to exploring or even crossing the ocean e.g. ores or loot needed for the final progression to the Steam Age that are found only undersea.
What I am proposing is a new system for water broken up into three major parts, the addition of water salinity to bodies of water, the existence of still, flowing, and rapid water tiles, and the introduction of mechanical power systems that can use flowing and rapid water tiles to generate wind-independent force. Salinity Mechanics Fresh water is drinkable and identical to the regular water ingame. No changes made to the recipes or mechanics. Brackish water is the result of fresh and salty water mixing, and is useful for neither watering crops, nor for making pickling brine or refining into salt. Salty water is non-drinkable, but can be refined via a concentration furnace into salt powder. It cannot be placed as a tile of water, only placed into barrels or other liquid holding vessels (no 3 square wide infinite salt ponds). This incentivizes people making a separate salt works away from their main base, and improves immersion. Also the possibility of salt water only plants growing in it? Seaweeds maybe? Dead Sea water produces twice the salt as salty water, and can be used directly as pickling brine solution. Like salt water, it cannot be placed as a tile of water, only placed into barrels or other liquid holding vessels. The concentration furnace is a multi-block item similar to the cementation coffin for making steel. The coffin is made from copper plates in the crafting menu, and each half uses 7 plates. The firebox is made from firebricks and uses 8 bricks per section. The firebox is placed first, then the two halves of the concentrating tub on top of it. Pour up to 200 liters (20 buckets worth?) of salty or dead sea water, fill the firebox with 40 fuel items and light it, and over one ingame day, the water will be concentrated into salt. 200 liters of salty water produces 100 units of salt. 200 liters of dead sea water produce 200 units of salt. Worldgen changes During worldgen, each body of water is assigned a salinity, which ranges from fresh, to brackish, to salty, to dead sea. Fresh, brackish and salty water can be generated anywhere, but the super salty dead sea water only forms in areas over halite deposits in the desert biomes. During worldgen, the heights of bodies of water are compared, if some ratio of height to distance is surpassed, a river is created that connects the two, with the width based on the size of the upper body of water. The river tiles are flagged as ‘flowing water’ and can be used for water wheels. Waterfalls or cliffs and anywhere where a water source tile travels less than 5 blocks before dropping more than 6 blocks during worldgen are given the ‘rapid’ water flag, and are 3 times as powerful as a flowing water tile. The single source ‘springs’ commonly found underground would qualify for this. To prevent trivial cheesing for infinite power, player placed water will always be still, regardless of where it’s placed. This can open up some griefing possibilities, but a land claim and a box will prevent it. Mechanical Power A waterwheel consists of four major parts, the rotor, the shaft, the end support, and the water wheel itself. The Rotor is much like the rotor for the windmill, and is where power is outputted from the system and where the rest of the things attach to. The rotor should have one block of space between the flowing river water, or the vertically falling rapids water. The shaft connects the rotor and the end support, and is where the water wheels are placed to generate power. It can be up to 8 units wide to span the largest rivers, but can only handle 250kN of power before being destroyed. The end support caps off the system and is required to be placed before the water wheel is (due to the large weight of the heavy wooden wheel, and because I think it looks nicer that way) The water wheel is placed on the shaft last, and if the rotor is positioned correctly, the edge of the water wheel should be submerged in the water, and the whole system should start moving. A single wheel in a tile of flowing water produces 50kN of force, as much as a 2 sail windmill on a reasonably windy day, enough for a helvehammer or quern without too much issue. A single wheel in a tile of vertically falling rapid water produces 150kN of force, enough for a helvehammer and a crushing machine. To gate mechanical power further into the metal age, the rotor and end supports use bronze bushings, and each wheel takes two iron wheel hubs to manufacture. The bushings are made using a half bushing mold. 2 molded half bushings are used along with a log, a chisel and some resin to make the finished bushing. The iron wheel hubs are iron plates spread into a circle with a hole in the center, and a bolt hole pattern on them. Easy to make with regular blacksmithing once you have iron. Getting to bronze and iron in my experience takes about as long as is as much of a time investment as finding, farming and trading for enough linen to make a set of 4 sails, so this seems like a valid cost/benefit tradeoff, or at least something that doesn’t require a large flax farm and 2 ingame years to get to unless you obsessively hunt for flax seeds. Additionally, this produces much more interesting base selection criteria than ‘find the nicest looking ruins near spawn and rebuild them’ that I see in basically every server I end up playing on. Flowing water, the need to find a source of fresh water, making a saltworks near a body of salty water, and generally finding cool worldgen terrain features would add a lot of depth past the initial rush to colonize the closest neat looking place near 0,0. I can provide more details or elaborate as needed on any of these sections, or provide examples of specific items.