Apologies if this has already been suggested...
But I think some sort of weather system would be great for this game.
Cloudy and sunny days, clouds would hurt crop growth after a while and reduce temperature. Droughts can occur and hinder crop growth and die if not watered.
Clouds build or blow in and rain storms form that saturate the ground and help crops grow, but too much would cause surrounding waters to rise and wash away crops, and even buildings or parts of buildings.
Thunderstorms could form creating high winds that down trees and damage building's, rip up the roof or windows, knock out power, and blow objects around. Lightning could strike and burn buildings or forests down. Flooding usually occurs in some shape or form but depends on the intensity of the storm. Buildings on the coast could experience damaging waves that potentially wash away buildings into the oceans, which perhaps could help wildlife by allowing a reef to form upon the sunken ruins.
Hurricanes are essentially more extreme and longer lasting thunderstorms.
Tornadoes could occur and cause extremely powerful but isolated wind damage.
These storms could start relatively mild but pollution and global warming would intensify them and increase the frequency of intense storms.
Seasons could occur and change every x amount of time.
Summer is hotter, creates more thunderstorms but rains less overall and is more humid. Hurricanes occur during summer.
During fall the leaves on the trees change color and fall, creating potential fertilizer as the leaves decay.
During winter snowstorms and extreme blizzards occur, freezing crops and water, dropping varying amounts of snow that must be cleared for roads to function. Trees have no leaves during winter.
During spring, everything begins to regrow and it rains often, flowers sprout and snowmelt can potentially cause flooding.
Lastly, tides. Large bodies of water could experience high and low tides that are enhanced by storms. Low tides could create tide pools essential for the survival of many creatures.
Feel free to change or add on my ideas...let me know what you think...thanks for reading :)
I think this would be appropriate if variability in frequency and intensity of weather events could be clearly shown to be a result of land-use by players. For instance, deforestation around rivers and coastal areas is well-known to contribute to more intense flooding events. I think we would have a hard time making more extreme weather events like hurricanes and tornadoes not seem arbitrary, especially since real scientists have basically no idea how human activity influences these events. This isn't to say hurricanes and tornadoes don't exist, but maybe Eco should be more about helping players understand how real decisions affect ecosystems. I really like the idea of incorporating flooding into the agricultural system, since this is a main source of nutrient pollution in modern industrial agriculture as well.
I was under the impression global warming was causing more intense hurricanes, my bad. But I do believe global warming has caused more precipitation to fall during storms, including in the winter, leading to bigger blizzards and rainstorms. (I could be wrong) So maybe pollution leads to an increase in the amount of precipitation during storms, so more flooding, more snow? Shorter winters, hotter summers with more wildfires and droughts, as in California, etc? Also I believe global warming is worsening storm surge from hurricanes, because of rising seas.
And while hurricanes and tornadoes are arbitrary, I feel like they are important aspects of ecosystems around the world. (but thats just my opinion)
I'd say you're right about all those things to some extent. What makes them so difficult to understand in the real world is that human impacts on frequency of hurricanes, severity of storms etc. are non-local. That is, a coal-burning steel mill in Pittsburgh or Shanghai might be contributing to longer wet seasons and more severe flooding in Bangladesh, which has a comparatively smaller impact on global greenhouse gas emissions. For a local environment like Eco, we'd have to be careful about saying how much pollution here affects weather patterns here, there... anywhere. Real scientists don't even know much about it--which would make it hard to put the problem in an educational context. Keep in mind Eco takes place in a Pacific Northwestern environment, so we would have a pretty definite range of weather events to deal with.
I still like what you are saying about flooding. While Bangladeshis can't control variability in precipitation between seasons, the way they manage land, distribute crops and build infrastructure has very immediate effects on the ecosystems and agricultural systems that can determine how serious a flood event is. This puts comprehension of ecosystem processes firmly back into the player's control and emphasizes building--which takes advantage of the voxel engine and the way it handles hydrology. If we could do this, then we could really motivate a weather system (with varying severity of rainstorms and everything you said) so that players are forced to plan for flood control as their society develops.
I see what your saying. Flooding also brings to my mind dams, to try and prevent flooding or create energy, etc, and while it may be successful there are environmental consequences.
On a side note, do you have any thoughts on tides?
Can't say I do. Don't know much about tidal ecology, or marine ecology for that matter.