Before I get down to the subject of this post I want to say that I love the passion that TFC creates. I've seen so many people from all different walks of life joining our community and sharing their knowledge and love for TFC, that it's truly been epic. We have so many die hard fans that it has truly been an awesome experience to be at the helm of this community for going on 3 years now. To think that the very first reply I received on the TFC MC forums thread was someone saying "This might be going places" and then to end up where we are today still gets me excited. So even though we are still 2 months away from the official 3 year mark, I want to say thank you to everyone who's been along for the ride.
Now down to business.
It's been a while since I've done a post on something other than strictly update news, but I decided it would be a good idea for me to update the definition of 'believable' for everyone. I've seen a few threads come and go that challenge a particular feature as not being believable because 'insert reason here'. Most of the time, these arguments are made because the user has extensive knowledge of said topic and cares deeply about us getting it 'right'.
Dictionary.com defines 'believable' as: "To have confidence in the truth, the existence, or the reliability of something, although without absolute proof that one is right in doing so." I like this definition, but I do not feel beholden to it. I find that narrowing down what is and isn't believable is too complex of a matter to definitively say for each and every person. We all come from different places in the world, filled with our own life experiences and holding to many different ideologies. As a result, what makes sense for each of us is slightly different.
So how do I decide if something is believable? First of all, I tend to read quite a bit about the topic. Obviously some things receive more research than others but I try my best to get a good handle on the subject. More often than not, my initial plans for a feature are crazy in depth. Then I have to take a step back and decide how to best translate this into a game. Everything in the universe is incredibly complex, no matter what the subject is, that you have to decide what to cut. Sometimes I don't cut enough detail and the feature is overburdened with needless invisible complexities (the old system for heating/cooling which used math that approximated specific heat), or has little detail at first but needs more details to make the entire thing feel complete (Food taste). At the end of the day I have to ask myself if the player could take the knowledge that they've gained from playing with this feature and apply it in some small way to the real world and be successful. If the answer is mostly yes, then it passes my meter. I always want players to be able to learn something when they are playing TFC. Education in gaming is incredibly important to me.
However, there are times when believability and accuracy is sacrificed because we are dealing with a game and with players that will exploit anything if given the opportunity. It's human nature. Thatch is a perfect example of this. I am fully aware that a thatch roof is very solid and could easily hold a mans weight. However, for so many reasons, allowing players to walk on thatch is just terrible in a game such as TFC.
Another example would be tomatoes being classified as a vegetable even though they are technically a fruit. If TFC were attempting to be textbook accurate, this would be a grievous mistake. But we aren't, and tomatoes are vegetables for two specific reasons. First of all, if you've noticed, there are no fruits in the standard crop system. This is by design. I prefer the idea of fruits being seasonal and out of the players control. This encourages an interesting aspect of exploration to make sure that you have fruits all year long. Secondly, the average person doesn't think about the tomato as a fruit. Do you believe that most people really think about the fact that they are pouring fruit sauce on their spaghetti?
An important subject that I should address here is the aspect of fantasy elements and how they mix with TFC as a whole. Fantasy is perfectly fine. I've never wanted TFC to be based completely in reality. As awesome as real life can actually be sometimes, fantasy aspects provide convenient ways to make a game better. I love having Skeletons and Zombies in Minecraft, I've just always wanted Minecraft to be grounded, which I feel TFC achieves. Obviously we have more work to do for everything to mesh well but its coming along.
The last thing I will say before I end this article is directed at those who know a whole lot about a particular subject in real life and find that TFC isn't accurate when it should be. Before you spend the time to type up a long post and get into a heated discussion, I ask that you first try to put yourselves in the shoes of someone who doesn't have your extensive knowledge. Then ask yourself if the basic idea is sound. If it is, then we've achieved believable. Remember, TFC is not a simulator, its a game that encourages people to want to learn new things without the boring drudgery of school and textbooks.
Ok I'm done typing now. I started this at like 4am so forgive me if my thoughts don't translate into text well. It makes sense to me so hopefully it will to all of you as well.