Exterior design with (historic) land use awareness


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Posted (edited)

One thing that always bugged me about the world space design of medieval fantasy RPGs was the lack of consideration of resource management. Let me clarify:

Skyrim is a province with hundreds of NPCs, interiors are stuffed with food items. My bags are constantly overflowing with bread, apples, meat, mead and all the food items you can think of.

What I do not encounter very often are clues of where all this food is coming from. Where do all the apples come from? There is not a single orchard in Skyrim. One could argue that the climate in Skyrim is too cold for apple production and they are all imported from Cyrodiil, Hammerfell and other warm areas. (although there could easily be apple varieties bred for harsher northern climates)

Where does all the wheat for the bread, cakes, mead, ale and sacks of flour come from? there is barely more than two handful of farms in skyrim and none of these farms has even an acre of farmland. Instead there is all this unused land in the province that in real medieval societies would have been converted into farmland.

 

If you look at the medieval countryside of Britain for example, there was barely a piece of unused land. In fact, most of it was under cultivation for crop production. Even forests were sparse since most of them were logged. The few pieces of forest left were either fenced of for nobles to hunt or used by the commoners for production of charcoal or woodland grazing (sending pigs into the oak forests to feed on acorns).

 

I am not saying cut down all the forests and get rid of all the wild, wonderful landscapes of high rock, but I would like to see more landscapers taking into consideration the resource demand and land use patterns of medieval economies. This would increase immersion and at the same time make big areas of the world more populated and interesting. You would never find small villages surrounded by nothingness and 1 or 2 tiny "token" farms like in skyrim.

My question: What are your thoughts on this (thinking specifically of high rock since it's supposed to have the feel of medieval Europe if I am not mistaken)?

I would offer you to come up with some ideas and research if you see it fit. I study (Forest) ecosystem management which might be the reason why I am kind of sensitive to the land use issue :)

Charcoal Production:

charcoal_production.thumb.jpg.cbe6339df2

 

 

woodland grazing

woodland_grazing.thumb.jpg.d6c9b4431157c

land use ratios

medieval_land_use.thumb.jpg.9450c1203f3d

Edited by mindmonkey
Put images in spoilers for better reading
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Posted

 

Hi there,

 

A lack of farmland and other resource infrastructure is indeed a common theme in RPGs, with some notable exceptions such as The Witcher 3. While High Rock does feature these, it’s difficult to implement them in the way you propose here.

 

The reasons for this are twofold; first there’s the space problem. High rock is quite narrow compared to Skyrim and is densely populated. That leaves us with little space in between to use for quests, points of interest and whatnot.

 

Second there are several forests located in High Rock, such as Ykalon forest or Skeffington woods. These also take up large parts of the region, again limiting available space. We’re scaling the farms and  resource infrastructure according to gameplay perspectives and the space we have to work with.

 

That’s not to say we don’t pay attention to these things. I can off the top of my head confirm orchards, vineyards, wheat farms, windmills and a quarry. High rock is known for its amazing chefs and wine, and that should be noticeable when one explores the province.

 

Hope that helped :)

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Posted

Believe me, if I had the space for a full sized farmland area, I'd totally do it. But our worldspaces are limited due to the engine to 128x128 cells, which was barely enough to squeeze in our current implementation. 

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Posted (edited)

I am so glad to hear that. you even have a quarry! I am looking forward to see that. I guess some elements like the grazing of pigs in woodlands could be implemented when placing NPCs. Might even be a quest option (the good old "kill the pack of wolves that threatens my pig herd"). Places of charcoal production might also not take up much space, although new models would be needed.

I also like the idea of coppice forests (trees were cut for fire wood and allowed to regrow for continuous harvesting). This forest form was very prominent in the past but does barely exist anymore:

coppice01.thumb.jpg.b68fb59f6ebaf83dbae6

Anyway, I am just dropping some ideas. No demands! ;)  I know you are doing an amazing job in landscaping high rock (from what I saw on screenshots) and put a lot of thought into it (from what I read on the forums)! :)

Edited by mindmonkey

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Posted (edited)

I also like the idea of coppice forests (trees were cut for fire wood and allowed to regrow for continuous harvesting). This forest form was very prominent in the past but does barely exist anymore:

 

That's an idea we had for Ykalon forest , which is supposed to have magical properties, in the sense that its trees grow very fast. The village Ykalon is renowned for their staves, which they make from Rowan and Oak trees. There's also the Daenians, who have a large wood supply because of their surroundings. The idea would be that they'd cut the trees, which would then rapidly grow back in the manner your reference here shows. We don't have the models for those trees but I might be able to conjure some with kitbash magic. The coal production idea is pretty cool too, I'll hold on to that, thanks :)

Edited by theblackpixel
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Posted

That's an idea we had for Ykalon forest , which is supposed to have magical properties, in the sense that its trees grow very fast. The village Ykalon is renowned for their staves, which they make from Rowan and Oak trees. There's also the Daenians, who have a large wood supply because of their surroundings. The idea would be that they'd cut the trees, which would then rapidly grow back in the manner your reference here shows. We don't have the models for those trees but I might be able to conjure some with kitbash magic. The coal production idea is pretty cool too, I'll hold on to that, thanks :)

I like the idea with the staves. I think coppicing would be ideal for that due to the shape of the regrowth. and oak was actually among the species used for that.

In southern Britain, coppice was traditionally hazel, hornbeam, beech, ash or oak, grown amongst oak or sometimes ash or beech standards. In wet areas alder and willows were used. (Wikipedia)

I bet the models will be much more complicated than regular tree models but on the other hand it would create a greater diversity of forest types with more individual feels to it.

 

One question regarding trees: when designing the exterior how much thought do you put on the environmental needs of individual tree species? I am not asking for nitpicking, just that matching tree species with the place where there grow creates more immersive and realistic environments. But actually now writing this, I am sure that you are very well aware of that...

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Posted

Do you have any beekeeping assets (vanilla or BS)? they would be a nice detail for farms and villages. So far there is a lot of honey to be found in TESV but it comes solely from wild bees as far as i know. Having beekeepers would just make sense.

bee03.thumb.jpg.653930e3aca01021debc9667bee04.thumb.jpg.0e5bdff4504c422d9081cd6b

bee01.thumb.jpg.c67145e83c383aa02e40ba5fbee02.thumb.jpg.a1e4fdf95c7858d8ee8dda55 

 

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