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ancientpower

World Generation and Player Freedom

4 posts in this topic

I'd like to kick off this thread with something that's sure to get the attention of the TFC developers: hexagons. I just want to get this out of the way because while it is one of my primary gripes with TFC2, it is also a focal point which ties into some of my other points of discussion.

I don't think the hexagon-based archipelago world gen is inherently bad. What I do think is that it's an odd choice, and perhaps one that sounds better on paper than in practice. However, drawing my own conclusions is going to result in a mess of misunderstandings. I think what the community needs more than anything is a statement explaining the logic behind such a major and jarring change. This includes general notes on how it works, how it will benefit the gameplay, and also why it is being made out as critical to the scheme of the mod. And of course, why hexes in a voxel-based game? I get that the idea is to have "modular" islands, but it's still a lot to process.

 

The changes to the world generation and the very strict direction which seems to be behind TFC2 have also raised my concerns about two things which go hand in hand: varying playstyles, and configuration. There are things that I both love and hate about TFC1. What I really loved it the feeling of freedom provided by the generated worlds which felt much more natural, immersive, and convincing than vanilla Minecraft. But not just that, I enjoyed it because that feeling was juxtaposed with the brutal and low level survival mechanics. Like any other procgen sandbox, you're encouraged to go wherever you can and explore, but with the ultimate goal of finding the perfect place to build your settlement, get into the game progression, and experience all the deep gameplay mechanics which make TFC so immersive.

Island hopping for progression would ruin this atmosphere. TFC plays slowly (especially construction), and TFC2 doesn't seem to accelerate the gameplay. Starbound infamously fell into this "forced nomadism" pitfall by having the player hop planets to progress, meaning that you couldn't both experience the game progression as well as the wealth of building tools provided to them. Minecraft (and TFC) avoid this problem because they warrans almost complete freedom in regards to how the player approaches the game world. An infinite procgenned world does not lend itself well to a rigid progression ladder. Exploration and loose progression work far better and allow the player to decide what they want to do at any time without a playthrough being constrained by progression.

Configuration is something which I feel is lacking and underutilized in both TFC and TFC2. While it would obviously take more work to implement more configuration options, it would also make the game far more appealing by allowing players to tweak gameplay features to suit their needs. Something which I felt was lacking from TFC1 were more detailed world gen options like in Dwarf Fortress. Being able to make the world shallower or increase the frequency of ores in an easily understandable way (unlike the vague config files) could remove a great deal of tedium from the gameplay. Or you could just choose to play it with default settings. Besides the effort of implementation, additional configuration has no real drawbacks.

Tedium is something I'd like to touch on much more, but it is without a doubt TFC's biggest problem. And unfortunately, some of the newer features which required a great deal of work seem to have added an equally great deal of tedium, making the game less fun in the process. The new knapping interface has 4 times as many tiles, meaning that it effectively takes more work to knap out stone tool heads (a process which (while admittedly cool due to its convincing nature) was already grindy and didn't offer much fun to the player as it consists of repeatedly clicking squares away to form the same pattern). It also seems you can get shafted by world gen more than ever before! I spawned on the beach of a badlands-ish area, with steep cliffs surrounding me and no trees, fresh water, or soil in sight. Maybe not the greatest first impression, although that isn't really the devs' faults due to its random nature.

 

tl;dr for mods: Please make a sticky in this forum about TFC2's questionable design choices (like our good old hexes) and explain why they've been made.

 

And Bioxx, please try to make TFC2 as fun as possible instead of making it tedious solely to keep it believable.

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Just for reference back to previous discussion, see the "Regional Difficulty" thread from 2015.

I can say that with regard to hexes, I remember Bioxx saying something about this having a lot to do with rivers.  Basically in order for rivers to path correctly they need to generate from the centers of whatever shape.   otherwise severe height differences between shapes cause problems.  So, you can have rivers travel at 90 degree angles, or 60 degree angles.  60degree is obviously better.  I'm not sure what else might factor into the decision. 

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Since we're throwing around opinions of what TFC2 is shaping up to be, I'll put in my 2 cents.  And while you do have a couple of good points I am largely going to disagree with the main thrust of your post.

 

First of all, I'm starting to really dig the hex-based world generation.  It was weird at first simply because it was different, but that feeling passed once I got used to it.  Remember, what we have now is a pre-alpha release so the game still has a lot of rough edges and Bioxx will no doubt be able to add some noise into the hexes to make their edges blur together more seamlessly.  Can you imagine how terrible vanilla Minecraft would look if every (square) chunk was distinctly visible?  Same deal with the hexes.  But to be honest, in my last look at the 0.1.5 prerelease I couldn't even see that they were hexes in the area I was exploring.  I had a moment of confusion (where'd the hexes go?) and opened up my minimap to double check.  From that bird's eye view they were obvious, but from the ground not so much.

 

It's too early to complain about the lack of configuration.  Making suggestions for how to move forward, yes.  Saying "Hey, you did it X way in TFC1 and I didn't like it, I have an idea that you can do it Y way in TFC2" sure.  But complaining that a feature is underutilized simply because it isn't implemented yet, no.

 

I think the new knapping is an improvement.  I like the recipe overlay, which I'm sure will come in very handy precisely because the interface has more tiles and will allow for more complicated knapping recipes (please make sure there's a simple way to add new recipes, devs!  Maybe something text-based where you just throw a file into a "tfc-recipes" config folder to add new recipes?).  I will agree that the smaller tiles make it a lot more finicky than the old way.  But guess what?  I changed my actual technique for knapping the stone and now I hardly ever misclick and waste stones.  That for me has always been the true beauty of TFC.  It is so much more than just "click button, receive item."

 

As for playstyle?  That is such a totally personal question that the devs will never be able to satisfy everyone, so they ultimately just have to pick a direction and run with it.  There was a ton of stuff in TFC1 that I never did and don't ever plan to.  Honestly, I don't know that I've ever advanced beyond the iron age.  Nothing past iron really grabbed my attention and I was much more likely to just start a new world instead.  The taste mechanic/sandwiches/salads and all that nonsense?  A lot of people really love the taste stuff and can't get enough of it, but for me it is the worst part of the game and I never ever pay attention to it.  But that's okay, because I didn't have to.

Edited by Konlii
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The type of world gen he's using requires tessellating an area with a shape so that each piece of terrain has neighbors that it can get information from so that it can blend together.  This is what allows things like rivers that run downhill and are continuous.  Your shape options are limited to only those that will tessellate, so I guess you could go with squares, but then each cell only has 4 neighbors and you would probably see a lot of right angles.  Hexes have 6 neighbors increasing the blending options and your angles are more likely to be around 60 degrees which is likely to look more natural than 90 degrees.  I'm pretty sure some noise is going to be added in to blur the edges between hexes so they're less obvious and then I don't think this will even be an issue anymore.

 

As far as your main point, I understand where you're coming from and definitely understand how limiting the islands can be, especially since they are currently planned to only have one stone type each.  However, one thing that TFC1 suffered greatly from for me was a lack of progression and challenge.  Sure, there was a technological progression, but the challenges never got harder which made the technological progression seem pointless.  Grinding the next tech level just for the sake of having it even though you were no longer challenged by anything.

 

The island approach, I think, solves this nicely.  To continue technological progression you have to face increasingly difficult challenges and to face the next challenge likely requires that you develop what's available to you.  The one thing I hope gets taken into consideration is transportation.  With the island setup it seems highly likely that you'll want to be gathering resources from multiple islands.  With the current size of the islands I would hate to have to be constantly walking back and forth with inventories full of stone from a quarry two islands over so I can get the stone I want in my main base.  I'm really hoping some good methods of moving resources are considered, probably from integration with another mod, such as railcraft, much like food is being handled by harvestcraft.

 

On the knapping issue, you can hold down and drag to go much faster and the pattern overlay is very helpful.  I don't feel like it's that tedious and I think the larger grid size will allow for more patterns.  I do agree that tedious processes should be avoided unless they're necessary, though.

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