I spent a good part of the weekend planting trees, implementing the fabrik script, and squashing a few bugs. Tedious and time consuming work made a bit more bearable with the help of some friends. One of the recurring themes that I’ve seen in the forums of late is that the mod community is in a state of decline, that the old guard has shunned us all, unwilling to pass on their experience outside of their old boy network. In my experience nothing could be further from the truth. While some of the veterans have moved on I’ve found that with some diligence and patience on my part knowledge and experience are still freely shared, and I’d like to highlight a few examples in this post.
Case in point was my attempt to get the CompostMaster2K17 mod incorporated into the map. The mod is by default a placeable and a fair amount of tinkering needs to take place to get it functioning correctly when adding it to the map through GE rather than as a placeable. Why bother if its extra work, why add the mod in thorough GE rather than in game as a placeable? The CompostMaster takes up quite a bit of room and I’ve never been a big fan of leaving large empty lots on a map for placeable. A second reason is that you can be much more precise with the mods placement in GE than you can in game and in some cases the game will not even allow you to place the mod where you think it should go
Depending on how the mod was put together you may be able to make changes to the layout of the building or object that you simply cannot do as a placeable. There is quite a bit of empty run in space to the input triggers on this mod. Installing the mod through GE meant that I was able to reduce the width along the X-axis without affecting the functionality of the mod.
In addition to tweaking the physical appearance of the mod, incorporating it though GE gives you greater flexibility in adjusting the modsfunctionality. One of the facets of the CompostMaster mod that I do not really care for as I’ve seen it incorporated into other maps is that it essentially turns compost into black gold, when in reality compost is often given away at little or no charge (this is not a knock against the mod author or anyone's implementation of the mod on thier map, just a personal preference). My intention is to reduce the profitability of making compost while still offering the player a worthwhile reason to produce it. So while selling compost, albeit at a much lower price, will still be an option on Nagce, its true value will be in using it as a fertilizer, or as the input to another Fabrik script mod that I’m going to keep under wraps for now.
This all brings me back to my earlier point about the modding community and sharing knowledge. I tried implementing the mod based solely on my own knowledge and by examining how someone else had done so on their map.But several hours later, while I had the mod in map and looking the way I wanted, it was not functional. Fortunately a quick Google search led to a YouTube video by ShyWizard that explained the process in good detail.
This tutorial got me 9/10th’s of the way there, after following the tutorial I had a functional CompostMaster but I was getting a warning and some errors in my log file. The warning was cleared up by resolving a conflict with another script. One of the steps identified in the tutorial is to register compost as a new fill type. The conflict arose because I had already registered compost with the AdditionalMapTypes script and GE was grumbling about seeing the registration twice. Removing the second registration (the one from the CompostMaster script) cleared the warning and the mod continued to function as expected.
The errors, (related to an out of limit index) took me a bit longer to sort. I knew they were related to the Fabrik script but made the mistaken assumption that they were also related to the composter mod. This turned out not to be the case; when I incorporated the CompostMaster into the map I also placed the basic structure of the other Fabrik script building that I’m developing, the one that will feed off of the composter. This i3d contains input and output triggers that were not pointing at anything which is why I got the errors. Deleting the i3d from the map cleared the errors. Once I have a few things sorted out I’ll be able to reincorporate the i3d and point the triggers at the appropriate fill types.
For a map that does not have a forestry focus I seem to be placing a lot of trees, 2300 at last count. Its my own doing, I didn't plan the edges of my world very well and the trees are a more or less necessary buffer between the playable areas of the map and the distance objects (hills) that surround the map. An alternative would have been to use 2D tree boards but in my opinion these are only effective when viewed from a distance, as I built out to the edge of my map these were not an option.
So while a border of tree objects is more convincing it does entail quite a bit more work, particularly when you add enforced non-uniformity to the picture. One pitfall of the trees in Farming Simulator is that its all to easy to create a forest thats too uniform in apearance; neat rows of same sized trees do not feel natural. To be fair the forest trees that are included with FS17, the pine and the spruce, do come in different sizes, stage 1 through stage 5. While this helps to break up the uniformity somewhat it's still not enough variation to achieve the look I'm going for.
A fellow modder and blogger at F:reL:te Stud:os offered an inovative solution. You can read his blog post on the technique here but the basic idea is to build a forest of stage 3, 4 and 5 trees and then use the attributes panel to add variation to trees within each stage. By varying the stage size +/- 5% to 10% you increase the available tree sizes and add some much needed variation to the tree line. It's an effective technique but quite time consumming.