So.. I'm designing a food system for a 4X / strategy video game, and I have the following categories of plants:

Trees, with/without fruit.
Bushes, with/without berries.
Grasses, with/without edible grains.

I also want to include tubers and legumes somehow. Legumes might be modelled as a special grain, or.. something.

Am I missing something?
Do I have some bad biases I'm not noticing?

@zatnosk this sounds pretty good! I would possibly add something like edible fungus? And a lot of vegetation is directly edible, but that one might complicate things too much from a game mechanic angle.

@zatnosk also there's a spectrum of grains through legumes so mechanically treating them as one grouping is perfectly acceptable

@InspectorCaracal The mechanics as imagine it now, wouldn't distinguish between whether food need cooking or not. It's simply a matter of "how much food is available in the square, and how much food is available in the future, if I eat my fill".

@zatnosk well what I meant with the second point is that sometimes "plant without fruiting part" is still an edible option

I do think fungus is an important addition. Mushrooms and such

@InspectorCaracal oh right, yeah. Someone else also suggested leafy edibles, like kale and rhubarb.

@zatnosk exactly

From a resource management angle those have the characteristic that if you eat all the edible parts, it's not self renewing like berries and apples. Tubers have a similar issue. Fungus would likely regrow but slower

@InspectorCaracal I should probably add fungus. It's just a whooolly way of spreading, growing and such. But that can possibly be abstracted away.

Which reminds me that I probably need some kind of "these plants/fungi support each other well". On the other hand that might get too detailed and complex.

@zatnosk I think linking fungus growth to local climate environment is the easy way. Dark, damp, cool but not cold, organics? Mushrooms grow

@zatnosk depending on the level of technology and location there are also root vegetables (carrots, parsnips, etc.) and vines (squash/pumpkins, grapes, passion fruit, watermelons, etc.). And for tubers, cassava is one of the most common staple food in the world, but it only grows in the tropics so people in the north tend to not think about it.

@inmysocks I was thinking of grouping root vegetables and tubers in the same category (I had just forgotten that root vegetables was "a word" in english, so I translated rodfrugter (lit. root fruits) to tubers).

And I hope to make the representation (as in one icon per category) of each category sufficiently generic, that it won't feel like "nordic food".

@inmysocks as for the level of technology, the game starts before any agricultural revolution, and is intended to last into scifi-futurism, but initially only up until iron smelting tech.

@zatnosk @inmysocks

Our friendly local archeologist (aka 'the eldest( is not home right now, but basically we have:

Paleolithicum: Hunter/gatherers that hunt and gather whatever nature provides.
(Almost not present in Denmark because we were covered in ice at the time.)
Mesolithicum: Hunter/gatherers that (increasingly) try to makes sure that nature provides what they want.
Neolithicum: Agriculture.

@Jens @inmysocks oh, that's a good detail! The technology of "manipulating wild nature" to gather food is an important step, it sounds like.

@zatnosk If you are going to keep the same icon for the entire span of the game I would suggest using the things that are useful without cultivation as the icon. Which gives cassava, pototoes or carrots as things that make the most sense for that group. Then something like wild rice for the grains. The bushes and trees are probably easy enough to make generic and the wild versions look similar to the cultivated ones so I think that anything works for that.

@zatnosk And that was more than I planned on writing. I was a farmer before I became an engineer so this is something I have given thought to.

@Shutsumon hm. That complicates things, but it also feels disingeneous to just include it in grasses/cereals.


Leaves and shoots?

(think kale, asparagus, rhubarb ...)

If you need fallbacks there's a long list of 'famine foods', that is things that are not normally eaten if people have a choice.
e.g. dandelions.

@Jens good point. Leafy foods should be included somehow.

And thanks for telling me about the concept "famine foods".


Are your players going to be managing foodproduction?

Because there's also the whole complicated business of accmulators of various things.

Most importantly legumes, etc. that extract nitrogen from the atmosphere ...

And I just remembered: I'm sowing calabas this year*), and in the process of researching that I came across the claim that they are the oldest domesticated plant.

And that's for their use as containers.

There's also a long tradition here for planting hazel for stakes and handels and ...

Most things that are plastic today would have been wood or plant material 200 years ago. (Or clay, but they couldn't fire clay without fuel, and fuel was ...)

That's a big one too: Fuel!

@zatnosk Category-wise, there's permaculture vs annuals, or plants whose fruit your eat but leave the plant alone, and plants you "kill" to harvest.
Trees and bushes stay in the same place over years; grasses, legumes, and root vegetables generally not.
I think with grasses you could only collect the seeds and leave the roots to overwinter, but in the agriculture I'm familiar with it's mowed and plowed under.

@Anke that's a good and very useful distinction! Thanks especially the "do I kill the plant by harvesting from it".

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