Design and documentation journal for my interactive fiction (text games); also reviews and other miscellaneous stuff.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Basic rain stats

Finally did an extended test run with the weather extension, just to see how the numbers broke down.  I suspected the rain might be a little high. 

It was. 

Wissotagan gets a fair amount of moisture - there's precipitation of some kind on about 30% of days.  I couldn't find average hours of rain per se, but an average, moderate rain drops 5 mm/hour.  Making huge assumptions that all rain averages out to that point, the wettest months probably get about 20 hours of moderate rain, with a broader range of 4-100 hours, assuming very light or very heavy rainfall, or somewhere between 2-10% of the actual hours will be precipitation. 

And yes, I'm lumping snowfall in with rainfall in terms of hours expected.

I ran 10 simulations out of the box for around 10,000 turns.
There is a lot of variation in the clear and rainy hours, presumably because of the way they're calculated internally.  Weather is essentially a number between 1 and 10; lower numbers are clearer, and higher numbers rainier, and sunny/clear are edge cases, so get extra randomness.  That's not a problem in and of itself. 

The average clear hours are right in the middle of my low/high/ideal ballparks.  The partially cloudy hours are too low - about half where I'd expect them to be, and the cloudy hours are on the high side - just over my most generous range.
But the rain/snow hours are essentially double my most generous guess (all rain being extremely light). 

This makes sense in most cases that the extension would be used, where it's probably more valuable that weather changes and is visible to the player than it is to adhere to a somewhat arbitrary realism.  It's sort of an issue here, though.

The problem is two-fold:
- I'd like to be able to incorporate rain as an actual effect on parts of the simulation, and elevated numbers are going to bork the sim unless I do constant fixing.
- It's vaguely silly to have it raining constantly when you want the world to "feel" real.

These are only going to be exacerbated by any graphic display, emphasizing *just* how often it's rainy/cloudy.

So I added a semi-random tweak that kicks in when the values are high (cloudy/rainy) and makes it more likely to be sunny.  That helped, but also sent clear number soaring into the range of 50%+.  So I added a line that bumps up sunny values on occasion, and I'm getting about a 30/35/30/5 split between clear/partial/overcast/rain.  That falls into default ranges (a little high on cloudy days, still, but 35% is a dramatic improvement over 50%.  The rainfall quantities are still a little high if I use the default rain rates (about double), but I think I can tweak the rainfall rate so that they stay a little light (averaging out 2.5mm/hour rather than 5, which is borderline light/medium rain).  I suspect the easiest way to do that is to make rain start fairly lightly, which will pull down the overall average, but I can't remember how I did it originally.

Other updates

- Graphics continue to kick my ass.  Photoshop is being a gigantic pain, and sprites and layers are coming out of my ears.  I'm kind of overwhelmed there.  But I've got trees down pat - there's a couple maples, an oak, a cherry, a pine, and a willow done; I think a couple more foundation trees will give me really good range to do things.  The oak may need to be redone - there's a good approximation of oak leaves, but I'm not sure it matches the rest of the style.  The color needs to be tweaked on some of the layers, especially the spring ones, but that's be easier to see once I've got groups up.  (I think.)

- Took a crack at making a map that looked drawn by the PC.  I found the right brush settings to make it look charcoally, but not so much with the actual "this looks good" part. 

- Clarified some ideas on the advantages of maps, compasses, watches, and other physical/temporal location tools. 

- Removed some ideas that totally weren't working in terms of animal generation and placement.  (Basically, strict assignment of probabilities by region, with spawning calculations - the whole thing was wretchedly complicated, and added nothing to gameplay.  Also, it was manically bug-prone - the last straw was the spontaneous generation of rabbit burrows in every location in a 12-room block, despite careful coding designed to prevent such a thing.)

- Completed 3 more entries to the Encyclopedia of Doom.  (This sounds trivial, but every little bit helps.)

- Added 10 more things that need entries into the to-do list for Encyclopedia of Doom.  Have started combining entries to save sanity.

- Found a scanned copy of one of the early Sears Roebuck catalogs.  It is awesome - a good reference for prices, and comprehensive enough that it helps remind me of refinements, or clarify choices of use.  Honestly, I haven't added all that much *stuff* from it (YAY), but I have better ideas how to differentiate between certain tools, and a better idea of what sorts of things should be on sale, and some fun new terms to throw into patterns and descriptions.  American frontier needs are surprisingly similar to post-apocalypse survival needs.  One of the watches actually has a calendar and moon phase tracker, which amuses me to no end, because that would be actually useful in FTA. 

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