I’ve made significant progress in laying down the fields for the map. As it currently stands there will be 13 to 14 fields ranging in size from 7ha to just over 42ha. This does not include 12ha of fenced in pasture that will serve as the primary source of grass and hay. That will leave 50ha or so of open grass land that will likely remain just that, open grass land, though I may end up using part of it to create a wood land. Originally I did not plan on devoting any of the map to forestry but if I do go ahead with the woodland I have a bit of land north of the BGA where I could place a small lumber mill. No promises yet, we will have to see how it plays out.
There is still quite a lot of work to do before all of the fields will be playable. Number one is to smooth the terrain so that the hills have a more or less consistent slope. Until last night the hills had more of a stepped look that didn’t feel particular natural. Getting the look that I wanted was proving to be a challenge. Conceptually I knew I needed to use the terrain smoothing tool but I just couldn’t seem to hit on a technique for doing so that got me the results I was looking for. Flatlander84 on FSUK suggested a few things that really turned things around for me. BlobbyFarmer and akuenzi added some addition insight to the thread including links to other threads on neat ways to do things with the terraforming tools. I really appreciate all the help I received and I’ll post a link to the thread for those who are interested in reading up on terrain editing.
Once that’s done I need to drill down on each field and look and correct any imperfections. These include gaps in the terrain detail and bumps or gullies big enough to a tractor or combine. These imperfections are not always easy to spot in GE and I found it more effective to jump in game and ride along as the AI works the field. A second advantage of doing it this way is that it brings to light any potential difficulties the AI may have with the field. For example I’m probably going to add some additional headland between each of the fields as the AI doesn’t have quite enough room to turn around without encroaching on the opposite field. I’ll be honest, I rarely use the AI for field work so I’m still learning what to expect and how to prevent issues that tend to confuse the AI. I have found the AI is quite useful for the ‘hands-off’ testing I described a moment ago.
The field markers, buy points and field dimension points have for the most part all been laid down, though from what I’ve been led to believe I may need to play with the buy points a bit to ensure equipment lines up correctly for missions. Once all of that’s done I’ll start thinking about which fields will be player owned and which will be NPC owned and available for missions.
The map doesn’t have a lot of smaller fields, those under 10ha, and my thinking is that these will go to the NPC players. The reasoning behind this decision is to ensure that there are at least a few fields on which you can run shorter duration missions. Though to be honest the 7ha to 10ha range isn’t that small so mission times will be quite a bit longer on average than they are on Gold Crest Valley.
This does mean that the player’s starting fields will be significantly bigger than those of GCV. To offset this somewhat I’m planning on giving the player more capable equipment than you started with on GCV, though I’m still a long ways off from committing to which equipment the player will start off with. The other option would be to break some of the fields up into smaller fields but I dislike that option for several reasons. First the original plan was always to have fewer but larger fields and I don’t see any compelling reason to break with my original concept. The second reason is that the map will be best worked by the larger equipment that’s available. By starting the player off with medium sized equipment and allowing them to work up to the larger equipment I feel that I can still provide a challenge without the grind that would be likely from starting off with the GCV starting equipment.