The Arctic Dodo and the Desert Fox

In new climates, there are new opportunities and new challenges. And these involve a heck of a lot of little things that need to be attached properly to other similarly little things, or (at the very least) given slight variation between varied biomes. The Arctic Dodo for instance:


Look at ‘im go!

Take farming, for another example. What can you grow where? Wait no – it’s not that simple. Wrong question. As a developer, I’m not playing the game, I’m making the game. Try again: How do we control the unlocking of the crop field placement buttons and what feedback do we give if they are locked due to some condition? Then we must handle the same question for cooking recipes which are also locked or unlocked per-biome. Turns out the latter is essentially done and required only minor data entry while the former required a slight expansion to how we define field locking/unlocking.

I hope you like iceberg lettuce.

I hope you like iceberg lettuce.

For the sake of sanity, sets of agricultural products are set to one of four climate zones (cold, temperate, desert, tropical) rather than per-biome. These climate zones can be used to influence all sorts of other things, like events to … well, just about anything. We can talk more about balance in that regard when we get there. To restate our assumptions, here’s the hierarchy:

Climate Zone > Biome > Subbiome

In the shot above, our climate zone is “cold”, the biome is “tundra”, and the subbiome is “tundra plain”. You can grow cabbage there, but we may make that a bit more punishing. (Tundra is the traditional “hard mode” in Dwarf Fortress, after all.)

So, what else do biomes – subbiomes, rather – need? They all need more or less uniquely identifiable ground textures that match their biome set, so a whole lot of those were created using existing textures as a base. These have to be checked against the nature objects which appear in the biome to ensure they fit together in a way that creates an identifiable theme. Oh, and then said set of nature objects needs to created per-subbiome and also ensured to be unique and identifiable.

That last one was my test texture. If you ever see that then you know there's trouble afoot.

That last one was my test texture. If you ever see that then you know there’s trouble afoot.

So we try to have some more or less unique trees, shrubs, flowers, animals, and/or forageables. When you see a patch of sub-biome, you should always be able to say “Ah-ha! Baobabs plus yellow bamboo with prominent rock outcroppings populated by the reticent yet lovable Scrub Tortoise? Tropical dry forest. All the way.”


Populating the new biomes is a thousand small details, and it’s going to take a few iterations to get them all playing properly with one another. There’s also a tremendous amount of previously unseen content going in, so I’m sure players new and old will get a kick seeing the assets we’ve been sitting on for so long. Like a clutch of warm eggs, pulsing with inner life, but not life as we know it…


… Turns out I shouldn’t talk about the eggs. Ignore all that. Here, have some more biome shots!

Where the swamp meets the alpine trees, a deer hides.

Where the swamp meets the alpine trees, a deer hides.

Foxes frolic where the savanna meets the desert.

Foxes frolic where the savanna meets the desert.

Explore these places and moreĀ in the next experimental, Alpha 49B. I have a feeling that it’ll be out very soon.

Posted in Clockwork Empires | Tagged , , , , , ,

9 Responses to “The Arctic Dodo and the Desert Fox”

  1. Samut says:

    Very cool.

    Do animals have any sort of preference for the biome which spawns them? Or will the Artic Dodo wander anywhere?

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  2. Alavaria says:

    If we actually have hilarious colony setups to try and take advantage of biome borders to get the options of two or even three biome cropsets…

    (Like Wheat/Sugarcane for those pies, eh~)

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    • AdminDavid Baumgart says:

      Nope, sorry! Each map gets a climate zone which is set by the most plentiful biomes that makes up the map. So if it’s mostly desert, you get desert; if mostly tropical, you get tropical.

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  3. Matz05 says:

    Those foxes! The adorable-to-polygon quotient is off the charts! Please excuse me while I make baby noises for the next five minutes…

    …soooo CUTE!

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  4. An Actual Englishman says:

    The latest experimental revision is excellent, it is starting to all come together I feel.

    I have one suggestion; true hard mode in Dwarf Fortress is actually related to the Savagery of the biome as much as the area, are there any plans to add a biome that is a little more….Eldritch in nature?

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  5. Not an Englishman says:

    Extremely late comment, but what about a system somewhat similar to what Banished did? Instead of making it simply based on “seasons” or biomes, like DF did, make the different crops have certain needs, like a certain temperature, etc, to grow. It would be similar, but make for mor interesting, immersive and unique storytelling. It could be for example, that in a certain season (a certain amount of days would make a season for example) it would’ve been colder than normal, making you hungrier than you expected, etc…

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