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