Flora And Fauna

  • I also mentioned this on the main Kickstarter page, but if plants respond to local conditions, could fire be modeled as a plant that requires fuel, accelerants, other chemicals or burnable material to "grow" - and its "health" could be modeled on the amount of "nutrients" (fuel). It would have a much faster growth, consumption, reproduction, and death cycle than a normal plant, and respire at a much higher rate, but you could also "feed" it or "poison" it if you knew what would work on a fire.

    Oh, and if plants can "grow" on human constructions, this would take care of fire spread to buildings as well... : )

  • That's a unique approach to fire... And I mean that as a compliment.

  • An interesting fact about forest fires I learned: Having dead wood lying around is a huge hazard for an area. It lights much easier than live wood and burns much hotter and longer than brush, making it capable of lighting trees that would otherwise have survived.

    I actually got to take part in a volunteer project once where we chopped up dead trees, chipped them, and spread the chips so that if a fire did start in the area, it would quickly move through the brush and leave the trees alive.

  • @thomthom yep you could change the biome of a region by terraforming it like that.

    @eat_those_lemongs & @Gritmonger I want to apply for a grant to add evolutionary features at some point :)

    @luisjoliva Re time: it will have to be a different scale based on the thing being simulated. IE, you can make technological breakthroughs in a few days, and those can represent dozens of years, but trees and crops also grow in a few days, which can represent a year or less. The time rate wont be consistent across sims, just to make the whole thing work.

    @cr4zyc4t that kind of stuff would be pretty cool in evolution addition, but even just localized domestication could be something interesting to add. I want to add animal-power, ie, plowing fields with oxen, transport via horses, etc. Wolves and hares are for KS backers only, but probably some other species will be generally tamed (as @Mantolwen mentions)

    @luisjoliva we'll be adding more species, not sure which yet, except the HOARY MARMOT which we will be adding for sure.

    @TaminoSch re mods: I like the way you think :) Mods for this kind of stuff will really stretch our efforts, and possibly make it into the official game if they work well enough.

    @Gritmonger that person sounds like a total psychopath. Flight distance will be an important thing to tweak, and higher hunting skill will let you get closer.

  • @JohnK Yeah, he was the reason they banned hunting. That kind of behavior is sometimes what drives laws in the first place: almost every law has an interesting pastiche of how it got implemented. All the warnings about putting gasoline soaked clothes in washing machines that are printed in every washing machine made no sense to me until I learned that people in the United States used to do home-dry-cleaning using open pans of gasoline.

  • Also, @JohnK, I'm curious if there will be "learning" for animals as well - if an animal has a close call with a hunter, would its flight distance increase as a result? Would an animal that finds food while humans are nearby and has no incident learn to decrease its flight distance? This is outside of reproductive variation, and goes more towards "learning" - would animals have "skills" that would improve?

  • @johnk by days do you mean in game days or real life days? The real length of a game cycle is about 30 in-game days if we manage to keep the world alive, but with tech research and tree growth will that be over in-game days (so an hour or so) or real days?

  • @Gritmonger that would be cool, maybe some micro evolution where animals are given a flight distance, and through selection they become more flighty if hunted a lot. But learning is another intersting option.

    @mantolwen real days is what we'll use for all our measurements, though trees will grow in 'days' that way.

  • I like the idea of some sort of traits in animals. This could influence behaviour (which could be trained in positive and negative ways), survivability ("stats" such as health, strength, speed) or maybe even appearance (think of procedural generated animals like Spore). It would give the game a nice touch, especially regarding re-playability.

    I also kinda like the idea that @Gritmonger mentioned with food traps. Maybe this could be simplified and expanded at the same time to just food places: Players can build some sort of feeding troughs and fill them either with hunted/gathered or grown (i.e. farmed) food. Animals could see that as a food source and would therefore regularly meet at this place, making it easy to hunt them if necessary. However, it could also prove a useful tool to control a species' population by making food search easier. This could even be used to control species indirectly. For example, if there's an animal that eats both animals and fruit, providing fruit could lessen said animal's impact on the local fauna.

    Of course, if we're going down the trait/behaviour line and add this "making food search easier", it could be possible that a species actually "forgets" how to hunt efficiently on its own, rendering them somewhat useless "in the wild".

  • Well, if species have sets of behaviors, they could have behavior triggers that are set off by thresholds. Search for food is a high one when low on food energy/fat, search for water is high when thirsty, both can be overridden by flight if the flight distance is set off, but would there be contention? Would a high enough hunger override the flight distance, making bears invade local towns? Could, alternately, an animal be starved to death by enough disturbances by people?

    Could disease change behavior (much like rabies or some parasitic flukes)? Will there be a chance of a zoonosis epidemic, like a malaria or rabies or ebola disaster caused by enough animals being unhealthy and spreading a disease to which they otherwise might be resistant?

    The recent die-off that hit the saiga antelope is one interesting possibility - a fast enough environmental change causes a massive die-off due to changing conditions making animals vulnerable to a microorganism they normally resist handily.

  • Two thoughts on this discussion:

    1.) There was an old game called "Creatures" by Cyberlife. They used extremely simply artificial neural networks and digital DNA to allow the species to adapt, evolve, and get sick. They also made their own decisions based on learning, and the file size for each creature was very small. They made their decisions based on a system of biochemical "drives" such as hunger, hot, cold, etc.

    Could you apply such an approach in your world? The technology is more than 20 years old, but the idea of the world truly living with animals genuinely responding would significantly add to the realism. When a player kills a deer it's not just some sprite file, it's something that has the real experience of pain. This in turn could allow for empathy. An animal adapted to the high mountains would have a different temperature drive so although it could travel to a warmer region if something pushed it out of it's habitat (a stronger drive) it would still seek the habitat it is adapted to. Although with random mutation one species might migrate to another by chance.

    2.) Will players be allowed to replant trees? Suppose I become a wood cutter. In the real world I can expend time and resources to plant a new tree in it's place. Maybe if the game requires you to remove the stump and gather saplings or seeds during specific seasons as a condition of replanting it would be balanced in game play.

  • Oh, and what about animals that impact their environment? Like beavers building beaver dams?

  • @Elliander I think the ability to replant trees would be critical for this type of game. I image most buildings and tools would need wood, and like in the real world trees would need to be replanted and grown in order to not run out of trees. I think maybe you would need to collect the seeds and then have a "Planting" skill or something to plant the trees, or your could give the seeds to someone who has that skill to plant.

  • It's kinda interesting to see how this would work though. Assuming a normal game is about 30 ecosystem-years, that would mean you could get one generation of trees at most (unless I'm mistaken). So either the trees are growing amazingly fast, or well, not at all.

  • 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

    <b><u>Man's Friend</u></b>
    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 :)

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