Saturday, September 6, 2014

Raw Materials

I've been spending a significant amount of time on the crafting aspects of the game, specifically raw materials. As I've talked a little in the past, crafting will play a significant role in the game and also offer a level of complexity I have not yet seen in a game.

Raw materials are purely fictional. Originally I intended to use some common names like gold, iron, aluminum, copper, etc. I abandoned this because it was much more difficult to randomize the attributes when the names were common. It wouldn't make sense if gold contained attributes not possible for gold. In the end, I've settled on a list of attributes that each raw material will contain:
(not listed in any particular order)
surface tension
half life
particle size
potential energy
decay potential
decay rate
boiling point
freezing point
ionization point
danger Solid
danger Liquid
danger Vapor
danger Plasma

An important thing to point out is the last seven attributes. Raw materials will exist in one of four natural states, liquid, solid, gas and plasma. I left out the state "condensate" on purpose, mostly to keep things a little simple. Each state will have different attribute values. There are a large number of factors that go into the difference an attribute may have from one state to another. Every attribute is randomized but there are relationships made between many causing the code for calculating the attributes for a single raw material to contain 2400 lines of math, logic and randomization.

All raw materials, with the exception of organics which I will cover in the future, are categorized into the following:
liquid - toxic
liquid - non toxic
liquid - anomalous
liquid - unknown
mineral - native
mineral - sulfide
mineral - oxide
mineral - halide
mineral - carbonate
mineral - sulfate
mineral - phosphate
mineral - organic
mineral - silicate
mineral - anomalous
mineral - ore
mineral - unknown
rare - cosmic dust
rare - stardust
rare - dark matter
rare - anti-matter
rare - unknown
gas - toxic
gas - non toxic
gas - anomalous
gas - unknown
Though this list is subject to change.

The distinction between a toxic liquid and toxic gas is not trivial. Since all gases could become liquids and vice versa, these classifications also imply the natural state of raw materials.

On the crafting side, things get a little tricky. Recipes are used to craft various things in the game. Many are straightforward, if you are crafting the hull of a ship, you would expect to be using a lot of minerals. But as crafters advance in their profession, they will find that there are ways to improve the objects they create by experimenting with the temperature of the raw materials. That is to say that there may be cases where a recipe calls for a very stable metal with some specific attribute levels. The crafter may have the ideal material in their inventory but in its solid form, it is very dangerous to use but in liquid form it is much more stable. The skill of the crafter will determine their ability to craft in this sort of complex scenario where materials change attributes when placed in certain conditions: temperature and atmospheric pressure.

Crafting itself is simple. The intention behind the setup of crafting is to make it as approachable as possible. I've played games where crafting was so complex it was boring. My goal is to setup a crafting portion of the game that is simple enough to appeal to casual crafters and complex enough to keep the serious crafters interested.

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