Civilized Tiles, Wilderness Tiles, and the Nature of "Edge Ecology"

For discussion on the most 'core' concepts and ideas for the first version of the SOTE project. This is for absolutely necessary mechanics and ideas that form the backbone of the game.
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Demiansky
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Civilized Tiles, Wilderness Tiles, and the Nature of "Edge Ecology"

Post by Demiansky » Fri Jun 23, 2017 1:02 pm

Hey guys, I'm starting this thread to discuss the foundational nature of tiles and also the ecological principles at work.

We've already discussed that tiles are the fundamental unit of the game map. Each tile has its own ecotone. There are "base" ecotone types: plains, swamps, grasslands, forests, etc. Now, to the point of this thread: each tile will have a "wilderness" rating. This is extremely important. The rating will run from -10 to 10. A -10 will be an utterly wild, late succession, and biomass intense tile. On the other hand, a 10 will be considered a highly "civilized" and infrastructure mature tile. A tile with -10 wilderness rating will be extremely dangerous to the civilized player, because there is far more biomass there capable of supporting dangerous animals and--- especially--- apex monsters that can attack your civilization. Conversely, a super civilized tile has no monsters and is capable of supporting much more of your people. Tiles, by default, tend to shift slowly toward wilderness unless civilized folk live there.

Now for the fundamental difference between the two kinds of lifeforms in the game: wild and civilized. Both can be intelligent and capable of social organization, though "wild" species tend to have less of both. The key difference between the two is this: wild life forms do not build sophisticated societies, infrastructure, or change the landscape. When wild species dominate and control the landscape, the landscape tends to shift toward a higher wilderness score because that's the default direction of a tile. Conversely, "civilized" races are ecosystem engineers, meaning they will change the landscape to be more suitable for themselves. They will slowly clear the wilderness in a tile and move the wilderness rating from negative to positive. Of course, to do this the civilized species must come into confrontation with the wild species that live there, so the humans that slowly encroach into the forest will likely incite the wild species to organize into some kind of raid or war party in order to fight back the encroachers. However, the more the civilized folk change the land to a lower wilderness rating, the more it reduces the carrying capacity of that wilderness "province." And this is where "edge ecology" and "island biogeography" comes into effect.

In ecology, how dense the biomass of an area is and how diverse the species is tightly wound to how large the ecosystem is as a unit (island biogeography) and how insulated it is from other ecosystem types in the form of large surface area as compared to the perimeter of the ecosystem (edge ecology). So for instance, if you have a small forest surrounded by plains, the "wilderness rating" of any given forest tile in that forest is going to be quite meager, like -3 or -4 as opposed to -9 or -10. What's more, the tiles that are furthest toward the CENTER of the forest will be more wild, say -5 or -6 while the tiles on the edge will be more like -4. However, if you have a massive forest that has a small perimeter relative to its surface area, it will have have lots and lots of -10 wilderness tiles near the middle and only a few tiles that have moderate or light wilderness scores around the perimeter of the forest. This kind of "large island" that is well formed would be considered especially dangerous for civilization (though might theoretically have high valuable resources). Clearing or encroaching on a forest like this could be quite dangerous because larger, more mature forests have significantly more dangerous monsters living there (just as large real life jungles have large predators). These large areas also act as a refuge for monster species as well, allowing monsters to head out during over population and recolonize smaller swamps or forests and also terrorize civilizations.

Even living near these areas can be quite dangerous if you want to play a "civilization" dense game. Monsters might not only migrate outward during overpopulation, but might also form war bands to raid nearby civilization for food or shiny things. So if those tech light lizard men decide to form a war band and leave their swamp, they could raid your cities or farms and carry away cattle (which would help boost their population numbers) and weapons (which would make them more dangerous). These types of raids would then empower the lizard men against their own competitors back in their swamp and gradually result in a species turnover there in their own favor.

So anyway, that's a rough summary of how the wilderness rating works in a province. I'll open up the floor to discussion.

Wargey
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Re: Civilized Tiles, Wilderness Tiles, and the Nature of "Edge Ecology"

Post by Wargey » Fri Jun 23, 2017 4:29 pm

Humans elves and dwarfs would shift it but not much like draining marshes but I would say that central govt should issue a drain the marsh or fell the trees as most mediaeval human societies did not cut many trees down they kept them to hunt/ poach but cleared enough land for dwelling the level of civilization should work that the area has a Mac pop based on it wilderness rating and as the pop gets close to the max pop or even as it passes max pop then trees should start coming down

Demiansky
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Re: Civilized Tiles, Wilderness Tiles, and the Nature of "Edge Ecology"

Post by Demiansky » Fri Jun 23, 2017 5:15 pm

For sure Wargey. No one just hauled off and cut stuff down without a compelling reason (overpopulated, settlers looking for new land so are willing to clear).

lastresort1
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Re: Civilized Tiles, Wilderness Tiles, and the Nature of "Edge Ecology"

Post by lastresort1 » Wed Aug 23, 2017 2:06 am

Possibly have population groups which have an Ideal Wilderness range. Ex elves have a (-1) - (5) wilderness range all tiles owned by the elves would rapidly progress to be in the range. Once a tile was in the wilderness range it would move slowly towards the middle of the range. Ex. If the elves take over a tile 20 years later the tile would become with in their wilderness range a 100 years later it would become the middle value of their range(in this case 2).

xelada
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Re: Civilized Tiles, Wilderness Tiles, and the Nature of "Edge Ecology"

Post by xelada » Wed Aug 23, 2017 7:15 pm

I feel the -10=maximum biomass works well for things like forests and swamps, but it kinda falls apart when looking at things like deserts and tundra. Doesn't biomass decreases as it becomes more desert-like? Or will land which is inhospitable by climate as opposed to fauna be treated differently?

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David Buunk
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Re: Civilized Tiles, Wilderness Tiles, and the Nature of "Edge Ecology"

Post by David Buunk » Wed Aug 23, 2017 11:17 pm

Yes, Xelada. I've brought up that point before. We need to speak in terms of managed an unmanaged biomass, and the ratio thereof can act as a measure of civilisation versus wilderness.
Programming SotE.

Demiansky
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Re: Civilized Tiles, Wilderness Tiles, and the Nature of "Edge Ecology"

Post by Demiansky » Thu Aug 24, 2017 11:11 am

Xelada, I was envisioning that places like Desert, Tundra, and even dry plains simply wouldn't get to higher level biomass. So a plains tile might never get above, say, 2 or 3 (otherwise it becomes a forest).

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gutza1
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Re: Civilized Tiles, Wilderness Tiles, and the Nature of "Edge Ecology"

Post by gutza1 » Thu Aug 24, 2017 8:01 pm

Honestly I feel like the "wildness" of an intelligent creature should be determined by culture instead of being innate. For example, elves might decide to live as forest-dwellers because their primary deity reveres the natural landscape, not because of a biological drive to.

Demiansky
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Re: Civilized Tiles, Wilderness Tiles, and the Nature of "Edge Ecology"

Post by Demiansky » Sat Aug 26, 2017 12:08 pm

You can be biologically disposed to something without that disposition being innately psychological. While competing with all manner of other forces, elves are simply more likely to end up in defensible places like forests, and thus end up developing forest cultures.

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gutza1
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Re: Civilized Tiles, Wilderness Tiles, and the Nature of "Edge Ecology"

Post by gutza1 » Sat Aug 26, 2017 3:23 pm

Or, if they are stuck in a large plain without easily defensible structures, they could do what Russia did and blob massively to protect their core.

See this video:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=v3C_5bsdQWg

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