Flora And Fauna
Animal AI - are they going to be relatively simplistic, are they going to be complex, would they learn, are they going to be capable of cooperative behavior (flocking, pack)?
Honestly, some of the more interesting "animal" AI I saw was quite a few years ago in a development version of a mini-game for "Spore." Many different levels of cooperation, aggression, flight, etc.
Plants: are they going to only grow based on their determined biome, or based on local conditions? That is, if the environment starts shifting due to drought or other climate shift, would the plants change, would which ones grow better change and thereby change the "biome?" Or would it artificially place the biome and then stamp in the right plants for it? The former allows for creation of artificial mini-"biomes" in the form of farms or greenhouses or the like, the latter might prohibit this.
I thought that the rate of time is accelerated so that the player could see the impact of their actions though. Trees would have to grow fast, regardless of the player's ability to plant them. Otherwise resources would not be capable of replenishing.
Time is accelerated, the number going around is 1 in game year is about 24 hours. Since a game lasts about 30 days until the meteor hits, that would mean 30 years. So currently, yes, planting trees does not seem to work out.
hmm. Well, different trees in real life have different rates of growth. If you look at this list you can see a large variety of trees that grow to be tall and usable in just 3 years:
What's really important though is the environmental impact of replanting - not so much the usability of the wood. If a fast growing tree can grow to 10 to 15 feet tall in a year (depending on the tree and conditions) it's not going to be very useful to cut down right away, but would counteract some or all of the environmental damage. In fact, if it takes extra effort, but doesn't reward the player for a few days at least, it would be even more important to see in the game since it encourages delayed gratification.
And of course there are also alternatives, like Bamboo which have varying heights and growth rates as well. I would love to see Bamboo forest in the game as well, especially since they can be useful in certain types of construction and can be burned for fuel sustainability. (well, depends on the type)
Lots of good ideas here. Makes me really excited about ECO. I would like to expand on the traits/evolutionary aspects of animals. My thought is 5 < More 2 traits from the mother 2 traits from the father. If the two parents have the same traits those would be more likely to transfer. Furthermore a thought on some specific traits that would effect the players/environment and encourage player reaction.
<u><b>Peaceful</b></u> (two ideas for the trait)
Will only attack for food/only eat plants or the dead
Is not afraid of humans or other animals and will not run due to close proximity
Those two traits together could evolve to another trait If their food source is provided by humans
Lives in harmony with humans
This could happen with Raccoon getting food from the trash we leave behind and could become a bit of a plague with Raccoon rooming the streets and in every home and some may be (or become) rabid and attack. Causing humans to react. Same with things like flies/cats/dogs requiring either players to take care of the situation themselves or seek a community reaction. (like pesticides to rid us of flies)
If the behavior trees were granular enough, you could really have some interesting behaviors - say, that flight was patterned by a route and variants (like the old turtle game, with one or two patterns) with a few "turn turn turn" patterns, you get a rabbit's flight pattern, which can be a nearly circular one aiming to out-maneuver an enemy from a straight run to mitigate the straight ground speed of some predators and gain distance before sprinting off.
New patterns could be introduced by variation and subsequently culled by what doesn't work against human predators, or animal predators. Maybe this is too in-depth, but if all the animal AI used this similar component, it would mean less custom code and more animal brains are wired to a similar pattern generation engine.
There also are several different senses animals use; so if a human wore camouflage, it could reduce the distance of flight for sight-based prey, but wouldn't be the same as a hunter's bonus because it wouldn't work against sound-based prey. And we aren't discussing field of view or visual acuity...
Will bears be one of the animals in the game? I know someone who said they would back at the $250 tier if there were bears in the game :)
also Beavers, will there be beavers? :)
Personally, I think it would be especially interesting if all plants and animals were procedural animations. That way their size and configuration could adapt or change. The implication there is you can have radiation from your nuclear reactor impact and mutate the environment. It also means players could breed species. Would be cool to have a giant hare ranch (like in real life) or saber tooth wolves as mounts (extinct species).
And foxes? I'd like foxes. And given some instruction on how to, I'd like to contribute art for foxes. And other animals too. (Sorry for diverging to art.) I like a lot of the ideas so far for traits, evolution, and learning. I think the game developers should get the basics of these systems in place and allow the modding community to expand them while the game developers focus on other things and then add in what they/we like from these systems from the modding community.