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Chemistry / Alchemy as a system and profession

14 posts in this topic

I've been for some time thinking about how a real chemistry profession could look in TFC, before there were TFC2 forums.  I was going to wait until I had a more fleshed out system, but now with magic entering the discussion, I feel like I should present this idea, because originally I'd envisioned it as a more 'believable' version of magic.  This will be a long post, but I'll spoiler it to break it up.



I've seen some posts by Bioxx that suggest it should not be the goal for any one person to be good at everything, and furthermore that the game is meant to cater to multiplayer, as opposed to single player.  In that vein, I think that chemistry could be made into a technology tree somewhat like the metal tech tree we have.  I think it could facilitate a great many effects, which would be *like* magic, without being magic, for those who want a less fantasy experience.  I think this system should be on par with the smithing system in terms of complexity and time investement. 

As part of my initial thoughts, I considered, what is it that makes the smithing system so great?  The blacksmithing system in TFC is pretty genius really.  I think chemistry has to have a similarly complicated system, with an associated skill, in order to justify the great results that can be produced.   If we examine the blacksmithing system, it has a few salient characteristics that make it what it is:

- large investment in materials and time

- randomness which requires player to re-learn the actual smithing part every game

- a benefit for increased game-skill (higher durability)

- several things to keep track of including:

-the status of your 'production center' (pit kiln vessel, bloomery, or blast furnace)

-the heat of the item in the forge (don't let them melt)

  -the amount of flux in the anvil

-the durability of the hammer in the anvil


  -the 'staging' of the items heating (i.e. if you're going for a helmet you'll be more efficient if you can always have the
  next thing require being heated up, whether that be ingots, another sheet to weld to the one you just made, etc.
  It gets important on items like a breastplate composed of 8 ingots, which cannot all heat at once)

In my opinion it's that last thing that separates a great smith from an average one.  Most people can learn the 'recipe' for a given item after a little time, but being able to effectively manage all the different tasks and factors to keep a smooth work flow is what really makes it a profession I think.

All that said, I don't think it's a good idea to make chemistry like blacksmithing, to use the same GUI and tasks.  Chemistry as a profession should have it's own 'flavor' about it, not be a smithing gui with different labels. 


So what is it that sets chemistry apart?  The smithing system as it is, is a lot of materials grinding, and a lot of banging on anvils, with a little randomness thrown in to spice it up. 


I think what would set chemistry apart is to embrace the experimental nature of it.  Make it a system with tiers and material grinding, but more randomness.  I think the essence is to force the player to experiment, to advance their trade.



In light of the thought process above, I think that chemistry should depart from the MC and TFC norm, and embrace some degree of randomness as integral to the process.  The game minerals will have random 'profiles' assigned to them, and this will change with each world seed.  The player will have to experiment to figure out which minerals have been assigned which profiles in every world.  This will require a suspension of disbelief, as there will be recipes which make no irl sense.


The result of this will be especially evident in a multiplayer environment.  I think that if done right, chemists would be a breed apart from other players, requiring not only a lot of time invested just to produce, but even to gain the knowledge in the first place.  Players will not be able to just look up the recipe for a given concoction on wikipedia and grind some bellows.  They'll actually have to put in the experiment time.  The result being that chemists could have actual knowledge, gained in game, that they could either share, or keep to themselves, thereby protecting their professional value.  Blacksmithing has some random knowledge, but it's not entirely vital to the system - you bang away long enough you'll get there.  most of the barrier to entry in blacksmithing is the material production grind time on higher level metals.


However, if the system is to be complex, there must be useful results, or it will be wasted dev time and player time.



The previous posts I could find on chemistry/alchemy were mostly herbalism, or things that really wouldn't affect gameplay much imo.  But if chemistry is to be a full on tech tree like metals, it needs to have concrete benefits that people will want, and will be willing to put time into.  I'll leave herbalism out of it, as it's been suggested in the TFC1 forums, and could be related to chemistry, but would be sort of a side-branch.  I'll separate the uses into 'effects' and 'products'.  


These would basically be modifiers to existing TFC items.  They might have an associated product that is crafted with the item to get the effect, but the effect is what you're after.  These might be:

- Increased durability for tools and weapons (I suggested this in the TFC1 forum under "Case Hardening")

- Increase damage for weapons (I suggested this in the TFC1 forum under "Pattern Welding")

- Increased speed for tools  (Possibly related to the above)

- Increased Torch light radius (various tiers)


- Increase Torch Intensity (originally intended to affect zombies as daylight.  Maybe obsolete in TFC2)

- Increased Torch duration (various tiers)

- Permanent 1m radius low light torch effect upon burning out (basically for finding them again in the dark after they 'go out')


- Illuminating arrow effect (basically a torch you can shoot, perhaps of reduced duration, possibly modifiable as above)

- Coal/Charcoal enhancment to make each individual fuel piece last longer


- Coal/Charcoal accelerant for forge (applied to fuel, the item above a specific fuel slot heats faster)

These could be cumulative (a brighter, longer lasting, permanent glow effect torch) or not.  It could get progressively harder to add additional effects to the same item.


These would be something that does not already exist in the game.  I'm kind of violating the one-idea rule, but I'll just touch on them, to try to keep within the scope of this thread:


- brazing material for repair of armor and weapons


- Flammable oil/phosphorus grenades


- poison gas grenades


- Slippery oil grenades (mobs in affected space cannot move out of it)

- Lantern fuels (coal oil, ethanol or alcohol for burning - these could have enhancements similar to torch above)

- Lead/silver solder (if pipes ever become a thing)

- gas fuel (for gas lamps)

- Paint (a use for lead)

- fertilizer

- 'synthetic' flux


-'tiered' flux (special fluxes to weld high level metals)

- glue (make cobble not fall, keep natural stone in place?)

- dynamite


- sleep darts (would allow chickens to be put in inventory, a pig or sheep to be carried on back, put bears to sleep, etc)

So those are some of the ideas I've had so far.  I didn't include the stuff that would be internally used in chemistry itself.   If natural cavern cave-ins are ever fixed, I feel like the torch stuff alone would be pretty attractive.  If chemistry is to be a trade in its own, it has to have an extensive list of beneficial products, or nobody will bother.  These ideas were written before magic was back on the table, so they don't even touch on how chemistry could tie in with magic.  I felt I needed to establish that there *could* be a lot of benefits to chemistry, which is why I made the list.  Discussions on specific products should probably be kept to a different thread, so this one is just about the chemistry process overall.



This is super-long, so buckle up.

Presumably chemistry would have 'tiers', similar to the metal system, but different.  The tiers would be based somewhat on the tool, like anvils, but also would require more complex concoctions, with more conditions, as you move upward.  I'm going to present my initial thoughts on *a* way.  I'm no chemist though, there's probably a lot I'm missing and mixing up.



The player starts by crafting a mortar and pestle.  They use this to make [mineral] dust.  I think the mortar and pestle should require the player to actually move the handle around in a circle.  So players can't set up a multi-pestle station like they can with quorns. The results will be X units of powder.  This player then must craft some glassware (I'll have a separate post regarding glassworking).  The first three will be a boiling flask, a condenser, and a vial.  How they fit together - whether each takes an entire block or what - is for another discussion.


Each mineral will have assigned to it based on world seed, a 'solvent' and a 'solution profile'.  The solvent will be randomly selected.  Example solvents are distilled water, citrus juice, alcohol, and turpentine.  Each solvent will have it's own process to obtain of course (alcohol solvent would require distilling existing alcohols into a pure form).  The player places their mineral dust in the boiling flask, with some solvent, and boils it for X amount of time.  If the player used the correct solvent, The result will be solution in the vial.  If they used the incorrect solvent, there will be a generic 'sludge' left in the boiling flask, which is useless, like unknown ingots.  By process of elimination, they'll arrive at the correct solvent.


An optional idea, glassware could have durability.  each time the player uses a set of glassware, it loses durability.  This represents the accumulation of deposits.  The player can wash their glassware in a barrel, to regain most (but not all) of what was lost each use.  This comes from chemical majors I knew in college who basically said half the job is washing glassware.  It's not necessary, but it opens up opportunities for better qualities of glass, or self-cleaning class, later in the tech tree, and also provides some churn of glassware, to help justify a glassblowing trade.   Also, if each piece of glassware retains knowledge of it's most recent 'residue' this can be used later to cause unintended effects, such as explosions.


So now the player has vials of solution (or mixture, or suspension, or whatever). These vials no longer have any data link to the mineral they were made from.  These are the "solutions" the player has for the next tier.  The wiki will have profiles of each solution, to help the player identify them.  But the vials themselves will have only colors.  The rest of the into will be in metadata, obtained by further experimentation, OR, if the player has a high enough chemistry skill, they can see these characteristics by holding shift, like with food taste.


As an example, each solution could have four characteristics: color (obvious), taste, ph, and a flame color.   With four characteristics, and four options in each characteristic, you can cover 32 different minerals, and no two will have the same combination. I had a picture of how this chart works out, but for the size limit is super-low for this post, so maybe later.


The color is easy to tell, the taste simply by right clicking with vial in hand (this uses up the vial).  The PH via..some method (requires production of litmus paper, but does not use the vial).  And the flame color by right clicking on a fireplace with the vial (uses up the vial).  So, in the course of identifying which solution a given mineral prodcues, the player will be required to A) grind up, B ) distill it which will take time, and C) distill and use 3 vials to be absolutely sure which solution it is.  They will need at least 25 units of solution to successfully test it.  They will need a seperatory funnel or graduated cylinder to split it up, if they have more than 35 units and don't want to waste it. As the player gets better, their chemistry skill will allow them to identify these characteristics simply by shifting.  Color requires no skill.  taste requires some, ph more, flame color even more. 


If the player does this for each mineral, they will be able to cross-reference the results with the wiki solution profiles, to determine which solution is produced by which mineral.   At this point the player can use these solutions to make things.  These can involve multiple solutions, or solutions plus other things.  These recipes will be defined - we cannot expect players to willy-nilly randonly combine solutions and other stuff.   If desired, some may be used to produce certain specific named chemicals, this would allow the derivation of chemicals that, if we were staying 'realistic' would require a bunch of other minerals and elements with no in-game use.   The experimentation comes with the determining which minerals produce which solutions, but the use of the solutions to produce final products needs to be defined for players in the wiki, because random combinations of 29 solutions to produce a product is probably way too much randomness.

At very high skill levels, the player will be shown the name of the mineral the solution was derived from via shift key info (remember, the mineral derivation will be random each seed).  So in the early skill, the player will need to carefully organize their vials, with signs.  Because the items themselves will not make it totally obvious.  I'm hoping storing this info in the shift-info spots makes the idea more feasible, as there's a only a few colored vial items, rather than one for each mineral.


Now, it's worth pointing out, the assignment of solution profiles to minerals may need to be defined slightly, and maybe not use every mineral.  If it's totally random, you could end up with graphite being the solution used in tons of chemistry recipes, making graphite doubly scarce.  So certain extremely rare mineral may need to be excluded from tier 1 distillation.  Of the ones left, it may be good to has an 'abundant' subset, such as bronze materials, a useless subset, and a rare subset, and the abundant and useless get used a lot, which the rare are used in recipes which require less raw material.


TIER 2 and above


In tier 2, the player uses more advanced processes.  Solutions are further refined combined produce reagents (so there will only be half as many reagents as solutions), which are the next level of production chemicals.   Reagents are not necessarily liquid.  They can be gases. I haven't fully explored this, as things get complicated.  So I'll just give general thoughts:


Ways to make it more complicated, are to require liquids be distilled at a very specific temperature (falling out of range ruins the batch - solution is a bunsen-burner like item where the temperature is more easily controlled) or in the presence of certain gases. Some combinations may produce gasses, which require the player to seal the joints with clay.  At least until they have the proper material to produce glassware with lapped joints.  Some things may be required to be distilled from metallic containers - gold or platinum.  More glassware will be brought in - filters, Y joints to allow dual-distillation, or fractional addition.  The player may have to carefully watch the PH of solutions, and add buffering agents to keep it in spec.  Or ad them to get it to a certain point, similar to the blacksmithing interface.  The possibilities are almost endless.  Additionally, there could be better glass types (borosilicate for instance) with more durability.  There can be larger glass vessels for doing mass distillation of bulk chemicals.


In order to incentivize actually experimenting to determine correct solutions, certain combinations of solutions will produce bad affects, such as explosions, fire, poision gas, etc. Some recipes will produce specific acids (nitric, sulfuric, hydrochloric, hydrofluoric, etc) these acids require a specific container at the output or else they destroy the incorrect one, and the blocks below.  And if it goes really wrong, acid explosion!


It could get very complex and interesting.  The key will be making sure the system is determinate enough that the player can reasonably determine what is what.  The very top tier might have totally random recipes for incredible effects, perhaps 1 ingredient from each 'tier' (solution, reagent, colloid etc)  As you go up in tiers the number of options is reduced by half each time because each successive tier requires two products form the previous to make.  But even then a random selection each from 28 choices, 14 choices, and 7 choices, would be almost impossible, even if no special conditions of combination were required.  Almost certainly not worth the time.  So it would be best if there were somehow other limits. To make the uber potion requires 1 acid, 1 product used to improve torches somehow, 1 that heals, etc.  Each would be randomly selected from a sub-set, so the pure weight of combinations would be less.


The system could also be simpler, obviously, and an actual chemist could probably contribute a lot.  But again, I think it could be a very fun and useful addition to the game, could play in with magic well, and should be significantly randomized to make experimentation the key feature.  This randomized use of generic solutions, reagents, etc, allows an extensive system without people getting up-tight about having to include some essoteric materials that will have no other in-game purpose, just because irl those essorteric materials are used to make a thing.  Thanks for reading my gigantic idea, I hope you've enjoyed it, and please do comment.



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Interesting idea - I like it.Not entirely sure about the initial experiments resulting in "useles goo" [my words] - I think this would be *very*  frustrating unless you got a lot of powder from little resource, which would mean that late game you'd be churning out stuff like there's no tomorrow.I think maybe that there should be a *chance*  of "useless goo", but otherwise simply nothing happens - rather like the wrong metals in a clay pot at the beginning of TFC1...

Diferent apparatus sounds interesting, too, but no time to go in depth now.


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I like these ideas. It would be great to have torches that burnt undead in their radius, instead of just letting you see the dozens of them that are coming for you, and glue (or some reasonable facsimile) would make it so you could actually build a cobblestone house. I see plenty of use for these gadgets.


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Interesting idea - I like it.Not entirely sure about the initial experiments resulting in "useles goo" [my words] - I think this would be *very*  frustrating unless you got a lot of powder from little resource, which would mean that late game you'd be churning out stuff like there's no tomorrow.I think maybe that there should be a *chance*  of "useless goo", but otherwise simply nothing happens - rather like the wrong metals in a clay pot at the beginning of TFC1...

Diferent apparatus sounds interesting, too, but no time to go in depth now.

The idea behind the useless goo was mainly a feedback mechanism.  I thought if the player tried a solvent, and got nothing, it could be confusing - they might think it's a bug.  I figured there needed to be something to concretely tell them that that was not the correct solvent. I was not intending that it ruin the vial or anything, it'd just be thrown away.



You're correct that there would be wastage of minerals in what I described.  And further correct that irl, if you used the wrong solvent, the more likely result is probably nothing much happens, you still have the mineral.   The way I described it initially, the player might waste up to 300 units of  a given mineral, before they hit the fourth correct one (and that's assuming there's four solvents, there could be more or less). But I also intended that as part of the barrier to entry into the chemistry field - the notion you may have to waste some minerals.  It also reinforces the notion that chemistry is about experimentation and - yes - failure.  There would be the thrill of luck when you get the correct solvent the first time. 


If nothing happens with the wrong solvent, then the first stage is really just about mass-producing solvents, and whether the player has just one distillation flask, and so has to spread the experiments out over time, or they have four flasks and can do all four at once, and so get all four results in 1/4 the time of one flask.  Which is valid, it's a time sink, so a barrier. 


I'd originally considered another twist on the first stage of production - all minerals would be placed in a camp fire or forge, and be cooked until they were reduced to [mineral] char (it may be that the char disappears if heated beyond a certain temperature, so the player must watch it rather than just let it cook at max heat).  Then the char is ground up in the mortar and pestle. The twist there was going to be that a campfire or forge reduced the units gained.  Campfire perhaps you get only 25%, forge 50%.  And then there were going to be one or two higher tier tools that would return more (reduction furnace 75%, calcinator 100%) The idea behind this was, in the early stages the player was struggling to get enough material to experiment with.  Mass production would be out of the question.  But higher tiers would allow more efficient reduction.  In that scenario maybe they do not lose the mineral they put in the distillation flask.  Because they're going to have to lose 3 ingots worth of material getting enough to put in the flask in the first place.  In this scenario the player would still lose material, but it would be known from the start, rather than random.  I wonder if that would be less frustrating?  A forge is pretty easy to get, so losing one ingot to get 1 ingot isn't terrible, I'd say.  But even a 3:1 loss ratio (3 lost, 1 gained) doesn't seem terrible to me.  Most mineral pockets have far, far more than 4 ingots of ore, and this wastage only happens once at this stage, as long as the player takes notes on which solvents go with which minerals.



I think really maybe the first decision to be made by the devs, aside from if they even want to consider this general idea of experimental chemistry, is how hard to make it, and hence perhaps the target 'audience'.  It could be made to take enough materials and time, and require some irl deduction, that not everyone will do it, at all.  Or a middle ground where everyone will at least dabble, or make it pretty easy and every home will have a chemistry lab next door to the blast furnace.  I can totally see the attraction in wanting to have everyone at least dabble - it's a lot of coding effort, and perhaps best if everyone uses it at least a bit. But there's also the notion of exclusivity and secret knowledge.  The notion that not everyone should be good at everything. The "wow!" factor of knowing a good chemist.  I'd originally envisioned it, before the TFC2 forums, as a replacement for magic, more or less.  So I thought it would be worth the effort, even if not everyone did it.  With magic in the mix, well, there's the possibility of magic eclipsing chemistry, or maybe they just don't bother with chemistry, idk.  That's up to the devs.


The metals system as it exists is mostly grinding.  Every step and recipe is known and straightforward, tiered and well documented.  The hammering target is the only random.  I personally dropped my single player game after making a bloomery and laying a bunch of rails - I love rails.  I was not particularly interested in grinding high tier metals.  Higher speed picks was the main attraction.  That and buckets.  Not much need in TFC1 single player for high tier armor.  MP can be another story, and of course TFC2 is probably an entirely other story. It sounds like in TFC2, with graduated difficulty, there may be more compulsion to get really good armor and weapons. 


Propicking and mining have a certain art to them as well, but everything else besides those and the metal tech tree in the current game is dead simple really.  chemistry *could* be just another tiered system, with well defined recipes and progression, nothing wasted but time, just like metal tech (unless you put the wrong ingot in your crucible). 


I was trying to bring to it a different feel.  Randomness, experimentation, lost material, catastrophic failure. 

Edited by Darmo

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I have dabbled in chemistry myself and I believe this system would be amazing to implement into TerraFirmaCraft2! I would definitely use this a lot if it were added.


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I mentioned something like this in the Magic! topic. :)


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In the Tier 1 of the process you could also do a spectral analysis it would require a prisma but would acctually be specific for every material


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If this fits in(might be more of a herbalist-chemist shared thing), poison would be cool. One could expand poison to antidotes, assassins, poison-coated weapons, forensic investigation... It seems so interesting. All up to the devs, but it seems really cool to me.

Edited by Brother_Leon

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This could be a very long, but worth it, method for "potion brewing" since its unlikely for people to travel to the nether in TFC. Though i think it would be best labled as Alchemy, as opposed to Chemistry, if we are to keep with the appropriate time period.

Edited by Mathias Ademar

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I like it. 


I love the idea of the discovery aspect to every new game you start. The food system was great for that, this would be very interesting.


I think the idea of the "properties of item / material being dependent on the world seed" is a really cool concept in general and would like to see it applied to more areas of the game, possibly even metals. (name all of them fantasy names (or even generate their names) and then make which make which alloy together with what other metal dependent on the seed etc.) I think the sense of discovery would profit a great deal from that.


One thing that could be an issue though is that at some point it may devolve into a repetitive "gotta try through all these x metals / ingedrients in a mind-numbing process which will take me y hours to discover all their propreties and be able to start using them properly"


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One thing that could be an issue though is that at some point it may devolve into a repetitive "gotta try through all these x metals / ingedrients in a mind-numbing process which will take me y hours to discover all their propreties and be able to start using them properly"

Ya, it all depends on how random things get, and how many materials are incorporated.  The current metal tech tree involves a lot of grind, many hours of time, and people seem to be more or less ok with it.  But it could also be that people are ok with it because they know exactly how it will go at each stage, they just have to put in the hours to get the materials and work them.  It is a good question, if randomness would bring less tolerance for spending the time.


There's a few factors that would influence the uh...'work level', of the profession. 


First, assuming it followed the solution-reagent-etc path I outlined (two random ingredients per each) the degree of work would be increased by the number of materials involved in the system.  That is, how many minerals, and if other materials come into play.  I'm going to give a shot at classifying the existing TFC minerals according to their abundance vs usefulness.  These are based on my experience in the game, and a little on what I see other people say, so please feel free to give your own opinion:


Tier A (11 types) common-minimal-use - lead, platinum, gypsum, jet, cinnabar, saltpeter, sulfur, gold, lignite, bituminous coal, and Kaolinite.  Minerals which are abundant and either entirely useless, or the uses are few enough relevant to the quantity that there is a large surplus available in game to where I think both the metal and alchemy uses could easily have enough ---  In include coal because it's easily replaced with charcoal. I don't even know why we need two types of coal that occur in exactly the same rocks.  Saltpeter, sure it's useful in gunpowder, but personally I don't consider gunpowder worth the effort.  By the time I've got much saltpeter plus the other ingredients, I could have spent that same effort actually mining the mineral in question.   I'm sure other will disagree on that point though.  Sulfur is the same deal, and entirely renewable.  Gold is only needed in small quantities, imo, relative to the amount that exists.  Kaolinite, again, small quantities needed for as common as it is.

Tier B (5 types) Common-useful - Bismuth, Cassiterite, Native Copper, Sphalerite, and Tetrahedrite.   Minerals which are used in some quantity by metal tech, but still, there is probably enough for both the metal and alchemy techs to use lots, and still not have scarcity, because they are basically the bronze matierials, and the metals tree eventually moves beyond them --

Tier C (8 types) rare-minimal-use. Silver, pitchblende, lapis, sylvite, cryolite, borax, Malachite, and kimberlite.  Relatively useless materials that are rare(ish) ---   Malachite is copper, but there are two other kinds of abundant copper, so it's rare-ish, but lets say, 'expendable'.  Borax is useful actually, but rare, and can be replaced with massive amounts of flux stones (which are 4 stone types as opposed to the 1 stone type borax occurs in) which is why I group it as rare-but-useless.    Of these, Malachite and Lapis are probably more common than the rest, at least in my experience.  Silver is also kind of common if you happen to find a top layer gneiss or granite biome, but it seems to be one that people often are looking for.  Silver is kind of borderline Tier C-D possibly.

Tier D (2 types) rare-useful - Graphite and Garnierite. Minerals which are rare and useful, seemingly always in high demand relative to quantity - Silver I put in tier C, but is borderline Tier C-D I think.

Tier E (3 types) IronHematite, Limonite, and Magnetite.  Iron minerals which are pretty common, but needed in large quantities for metalworking, in perpetuity


So tier A and B are basically extremely common minerals that could be 'the backbone' of alchemy, needed in large quantity - I'm going to call them 'pyramid 1'.  Tiers C-E should perhaps be less used (pyramid 2).  It's 29 total minerals, which for one example would be enough for 14 two-part 'solutions', in turn enough for 7 two-part 'compounds', followed by 3 two-part 'reagents'. 

Randomly combining 29 mineral extracts at the base level would be way too random, even with solutions only requiring two.  That's, what, over 800 combos? (disclaimer, I'm not a math or statistics guy)  Nobody would ever invest that much time.  So The solutions I think need to have definied pairings based on characteristics.  14 solutions still has like 196 possibly combos in pairs, so still probably a bit much for total randomness.  However, 7 combos would be only 49 possibiloities, and that may be doable on a total randomness basis.  So maybe the compounds' characteristics would not be used to determine the proper pairing, it would just take experimentation.  But that all assumes we only use 2-part recipes.  If we want to add more ingredients, it quickly gets out of hand again. 



But, the above example also assumes equal use of all minerals.  The alchemy system could be split into subsets (I'll call them 'pyramids') that use materials available in large quantity, and a separate for rarer ones.  So tier A & B only have 16 minerals.   That's 8 solutions, 4 compounds, and 2 reagents.  Manageable on a totally random basis, as long as the player knows which minerals are in tiers A and B.  Tiers C & D, being rare, could be used in a separate 'pyramid' of reactions.  Tier E, I could see being in *either* the first or second  pyramid.  It's true iron is used a lot in metallurgy, but there really is TONS of it.


Both those scenarios are based on random ingredient combination, using only the current minerals/ores list.  Other things could be added - bone, spider eyes, wild flowers, clay, charcoal, flux, etc.  Those would increase the complication.  Likewise, totally removing some minerals/ores from alchemy would reduce it.  And we haven't even touched some other factors yet.



The Equal-Use and Two-Pyramids Ore scenarios are based on random

ingredient combinations.  That doesn't even need to be the randomness, although I think it helps to avoid the grousing about 'realistic' chemical derivations.    But some or all of the randomness could be based on the processes.  In that case, the player would know that combining copper solution with Hematite solution results in chemicalX.  However, what they have to DO to copper and Hematite could vary by seed.  There's the solvents mentioned in the original post.  There could be acids involved (themselves derived by other processes), they could have to be distilled or baked at specific temperatures for a certain interval (requiring them to monitor temperature), they could need to be done in a sealed test-tube environment (requiring noble gases, and sealed glassware joints).   So maybe at a certain tier the player knows they need solutions of two minerals, and they know that each has to be processed with two or three things:

- a certain acid or solvent (3 choices)

- a certain temperature (3 choices)

- a certain gas combination (3 choices)

So what the player would know is, to distill copper into a solution, they would have 3 factors, each with 3 choices.  So the player knows that from the wiki, but it's up to them to find out which actual combos whit seed has.  Three choices of 3 results in 27 combos, for just one mineral solution.  A bit much perhaps for tier 1 but maybe not unreasonable for a high tier.  3 choices of 2 would be 8 combos, two choices of 3 nine combos. 3/3/2 18 combos, 3/2/2 12 combos.   An eventual balance would have to be found of course, where the effort is worth the reward.  Since each reaction takes time, it might be more appropriate for tier 1 solutions to have only like 8 possible combos, if each take 4 hours or so. Remember that *on average* the correct combo will be found in half the possible combos.  So if there's 8 possible combos, on average it will only take 4 tries to get the one you want, and that's just for the first one.  It will be faster for all the others.

As you go up the tiers, they can take more time, and have more combos.  Basically, if a decision is made with regard to the *average* time desired to discover each solution, reagent, etc, then the hours and number of combos can be designed appropriately.  But using process randomness means the player will know exactly which minerals they will need to make anything, what they won't know is which processes will be required to refine those minerals into useful chemical components.  That will be the random experiment factor.  The advantage to this system is that specific minerals could be assigned based on their commonality/usefulness, and even how 'realistic' they might be.



The systems could be combined.  There could be sub-sets of ore randomization, with a small amount of process randomization.  So you know that making a certain second tier compound will require two solutions from a sub-set of 4 (solutions themselves will just involve some process randomness, as the original post outlined).  And two processes, each with two options.  You'd have 4 process combinations, for 4 minerals, resulting in the player having to make as many as 16 tries to get the specific solutions they needed.  This would maintain a little of each world, in terms of randomizing ores and processes.  It might help divorce minerals from their 'real world' counterparts, but also allow them to be in manageable small groups, tailored to how they fit in the rest of the game, especially vs metal working.  So graphite and garnierite for instance could be their own group, but each have up to four process variables.  That would be 16 process combinations for each minerals, resulting in as many as 32 tries (but an average of 16) to get the specific solution needed (being a group of two, they would never be combined with each other, only outside the group).  And you'll probably need both so really the concern is the number of tries per mineral I think. 

This method would also conveniently allow for certain minerals to produce specific things.  For instance acids.   So the player could know that Borax, Lignite, Cinnabar, and Jet will all produce acids.  The player will further know that Lignite and Jet produce tier 1 acid, Cinnabar tier 2, and and Borax tier 3.  The tier 1 acids perhaps have two process of 3 options each.  They're both valid tier 1 acids for any reaction that requires a tier 1 acid.  So to get the required solution of either group only will require a max of 9 efforts.  Simple.

HOWEVER, her we can hybridize the system more.  Lignite solution, for instance, must be combined with *either* copper or Hematite solution.  Only *one* of those two is valid for a given seed.  So the player might find Lignite, and KNOW that it will work, but they will have to experiment to find out which of copper or Hematite works with it.  Copper and Hematite are both from another group, each requiring 3 process of two options each.  So 8 combinations at most for each.  With the nine combinations for Lignite solution (9 tries at most).  The process of combining lignite solution and one of the other two is itself a 2/2 process lets say, so 4 options.  So in the worst case scenario, if the player explores all the copper options(+8), combined them with lignite(+4), and none are it (at that point they've expended 9+8+4=21 efforts), and they only get the right hematite processes on the very last try (+8 efforts), and if they only get the very last of lignite/hematite (+4), then in total, they've done 33 experiments to produce their tier 1 acid.  So maybe that's an average of 17 or so efforts? If each is 4 hours, that's about 3 solid days on average, which is probably too much,  But even then, they will have discovered the correct solution recipe for copper, which will surely be used elsewhere, so those efforts there were not wasted. 


It could get pretty interesting, but it will take a lot of organization, and good documentation, making sure the average hours required do not get out of hand. This combination system probably would be the most complex though. At the same time, it would allow finer control, so that Tier A sedimentary minerals could be a group, and Tier D could be their own.  I might better support recipes that allow for players to have a couple pathways to producing a given acid, solution, whatever, to adapt to different rock biome situations.  It could also allow for a given chemical to have an 'easy way' that involves a rare mineral (so they can get lucky), and a 'harder way' that involves common ones.

Edited by Darmo

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I think that all the minerals should have different "profiles" (i.e. copper could be "A" and zinc "B", or maybe the other way around, but mixing "A" and "B" should always yield "C") determined by world superseed. I also think that when you first encounter them, you should not have a name or description of an item ("green liquid") and when you gain skill levels you will know more ("green liquid, ph 2.7, heavy) but they will not be named. You should have some kind of GUI (maybe a name book, or an inventory tab like the nutrition) where you can set names of substances (set all green heavy liquids with a ph of 2.7 to "thisisarandomnameium").


Also, cinnabar should give mercury.


EDIT: Thermometers. Get the temp out of the debug screen, or at least make the debug screen unnecessary to get the temperature.

Edited by sthegreat

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So I think this suggestion is an excellent idea. While I do not fully understand your full system of experimentation as it is now, I would hope to be able to do stuff like this in TFC2. However, I do have some ideas. 


First, the tab information. I like your ideas about color, flame color, and pH. However, taste, while occasionally dangerous (what's life without risk?), kind of works into pH in some ways, as evidenced by "basic" and "acidic" foods. If, for instance, one has an upset stomach, it is suggested that one eats "basic," higher pH foods like toast and rice to try and counter the symptoms. Bases tend to taste bitter, and acids tend to be sour, so at the basic levels, the pH could be determined by taste, giving one a very general idea of whether or not it is acidic, basic, or almost neutral, and litmus paper could be implemented into a later part of the Alchemy tech tree. In lieu of taste (if it was taken out), I would suggest perhaps another physical property, like the density of the product, which could also make it so that one is more inclined to create more "refined" versions of the solutions, so while several may work, some may be more or less "watered-down" from the perfect ratio.


Also, perhaps having a special journal for recording your results in-game could be useful (like sthegreat's idea).


Other than that, I think this idea is very well thought out, and I hope this gets implemented, even if I don't understand them all. 


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