In the current campaign of Strategic Primer, the way I model agriculture is fairly rudimentary—as I noted in a previous post. Today I’d like to expand on one of the ideas I only touched on in that earlier post.
The model I use now is slightly more complex than the plant-and-wait mechanic of, say, Farmville. Instead of being planted anytime and becoming ready to harvest a fixed time later, each crop has a year-long cycle (remembering that in the game-world a year is fourteen turns long) including times for planting and harvest.
On the other hand, the cycle for any given crop isn’t anchored to a particular point in the year; if a new crop becomes available, a player can start planting it for the first time at any time, and for that player that crop’s “planting season” will begin at that point in the year for (presumably) the rest of the game. (Or this might be on a per-fortress, rather than per-player, basis—so far the question hasn’t come up.)
Because of the fact that I had everyone start at harvest for several crops (to ensure that no one starved, despite the very low starting food supply), though, this presents most players with the problem that the cycles of their core crops overlap significantly.
And there’s also the question of how to handle other season-related things—when is “winter” or “summer,” for example?
So what I’m thinking about doing for future campaigns, in any “computer version” of Strategic Primer I develop, or even (if feedback is sufficiently positive) in this campaign after not this game-world year but next (so starting circa turn 28) is setting up a world-wide system of “defined seasons.”
Each crop would still have its “cycle”, a number of turns in which planting and harvesting is possible (though players might be able to plant a late crop, or harvest it early, for a significantly reduced yield) and the rest in which either the crop grows or the land rests. But instead of being based on modular arithmetic centered on when the player first planted or harvested the crop, it would be the same world-wide, set to overlap largely with crops for which this makes sense and not with crops that are planted or harvested at a different season in the real world.
Perhaps the greatest advantage is that this would let me say definitively that the game-world is, at any given time, in summer, winter, spring, or fall, and even provide a base for generating weather.
What do you think about this idea?