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 Niches, Biomes and Resources, oh My!

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Read and review the biomes - what needs work?
I completely approve
86%
 86% [ 6 ]
I don't understand
14%
 14% [ 1 ]
Explain Sucession again
0%
 0% [ 0 ]
Explain Stage 0
0%
 0% [ 0 ]
Explain Microbiomes
0%
 0% [ 0 ]
Explain normal niches
0%
 0% [ 0 ]
Explain transient niches
0%
 0% [ 0 ]
Dissaproval or other (I won't know unless you post it, though.)
0%
 0% [ 0 ]
Total Votes : 7
 

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Mysterious_Calligrapher
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PostSubject: Niches, Biomes and Resources, oh My!   Tue Jun 14, 2011 1:12 pm

Wow, it got quiet up here.
I'm unveiling my plan for biomes today, because I've finally worked with them for a while and, after a long conversation about how this will interact with auto-evo, scio and I agree that this could work pretty darn well. Now comes the explaining part.

First off, a biome is determined by it's conditions. Altitude/temperature are the priority criterion, and precipitation is the second. There's a handful of other small criterion, but they're tagged to specific types of biomes, or sub-biomes, and I'm just going to list them as special cases for now.
Everything else that shows up in our biome thread is a function of the biome, not a criterion for determining the biome. Except for sucession stage, which used to be labeled biodiversity - we'll get to that in a second.

Succession Stages: The Facts
The Explanatory Metaphor
Sucession stage is a bit like watching grass grow in an empty lot. First, you've got nothing but, if you're lucky, dirt. (Stage 0) Then, your grass starts to grow in in patches and clumps - there's not much of it, but it keeps the dust down. (Stage 1) When it gets to the height and thickness that you start thinking about breaking out the lawnmower, it's getting close to stage 2, but only if you have enough variety, in the form of weeds, clover, and whatever else just happens to be growing nearby. Your waist-high grassland is a prime example of stage 2.
In a few decades, you might have the beginnings of a forest - some shade trees, some undergrowth. This is stage 3. Fast forward a few hundred years of undisturbed forest - no fires, no trees cut down - and you have a climax state.

How it works
Stages 1-3 on a slider
For the most part, these stages are set on a slider, so you would be able to see the change between a rolling prairie and a hardwood forest. Except for stage 0, which is a different function (to be addressed in a minute) and the climax state, which is addressed basically by opening up more niches in a stage-three setting. I haven't found the cap on new niches just yet, but there will be one. If only to save our processor.

This slider is basically a function of time without disturbance. The computer calculates how much time it has been since your area was hit with a "disturbance" (random disaster) and what stage that disaster set you back to (usually 0, or not significantly higher) and calculates the appropriate diversity and biomass of your autotrophs. (Plants) This not only randomly populates your area with appropriate plants, it determines how many niches would be available for primary consumers (herbivores), which then determines how many niches are available for secondary consumers, who eat them, and how many niches are available for tertiary consumers, both the alpha predator model and the scavenging and decomposition model.

Summarized, over time, a single biome on your map will change and grow because all of the math in a single biome is linked. We will be using the basics of population dynamics (addressed in another thread - I'm sure you can find it so questions about it will be redirected,) to determine the absolute number of units of each organism, but for now we're mostly concerned with niches. Which will be addressed near the end of this post.

Stage 0
Stage 0 is the simplest. Basically, it kills off the area. Stage 0 is basically a brush associated with resources, and named after the disaster it accompanies.
So, for example, you had a raging forest fire. Your "Fire" brush covers the mathematically determined area of the disturbance, reducing pretty much everything(1) to rubble. There is one available niche type in a stage 0 biome: colonizer. A colonizer is a small plant that grows quickly, and the addition of it immediately bumps the niche up to stage 1, allowing whatever other niches a stage one biome (determined by the mess up above) contains. Setting it on the slider allowsmore niches to be unlocked over time.
The only reason we have multiple stage 0 biomes is that different disasters create different potential resources. A flood, for example, often deposits fertile soil. A volcano, on the other hand, deposits fertile soil that isn't acessable until x amount of years of weathering, which means that microbiomes will pop up in a volcanic plain long before the biome as a whole is out of stage 0.

Microbiomes
Microbiomes crop up in a change in conditions within a bigger biome. They're randomly generated as part of the geography, or from other processes, and although they do affect the biome that they reside in, they can't on their own change it's sucession rating.

Examples are:
Rivers, lakes, streams and swamps: the presence of fresh (or brackish) water is an additional resource for the immediate area, and this area could be a stage 3 sucession (because water is life) while the biome it lives in is a stage 0. Think of a river canyon in the middle of a thousand-year-old lava flow - the lava surface could resist all but minimal weathering for a very long time, outside of the concentrated erosion of a river.
Hot springs and other volcanic associates: Some microbiomes will be restricted by terrain, others by the presence of other resources. An area need not be in a volcanic stage 0 for these to pop up, but it must be geographically tagged as having the possibility of volcanoes.
Caves and Caverns: These pop up underground, beneath other biomes, but are acessable via a route through those biomes. There's some implementation speak running about the biomes thread if you're interested, but for now, let me summarize as: what we have so far seems to work.

These micro-biomes will have requisite conditions tagged to them. So rivers run along a randomly generated path of least resistance, lakes collect at low points, and a hot spring needs a volcanic area to run. They will also have resources additional to those of the host biome tagged to them, as well as their own niche set. However, since all their other resources are determined by their host biome, they have a great role in hosting transient niches, and aren't biomes in their own right. It's just sometimes less confusing to talk as if they were.

Niches and where to stick them
Niches determined by biomes
Right now, we have proto-niches posted in the biomes thread, just getting a basic idea of the food chain and sizing that a biome can support. A niche will be determined by the resources it requires, and the resources that it provides.

For example, a tree (tree equivalent) will require accessable water (Water is life. Deal with it.) a soil where it can anchor itself, and sun (star) light. Two of these resources are provided by default, while the third depends on the sucession stage. At stage 1, expect baby trees to wither and die, because the soil resource is linked to sucession stage. So to anchor a tree, the soil must be stage 2 or higher.
This tree is, itself, a resource. Sample resources tagged to it's niche include
General shelter: For any non-sessile organisms - in other words, things that can move.
Shade: Different plants or other creatures will thrive in different amounts of the sunlight resource.
Food: There will be some seperate food tags hashed out later, not too many, but the tree will be flagged as food for some organisms.
Not important to this thread, but included for the benefit of Tenebrarum and Alaska, an organism should be able to be tagged in strat mode as a civ or tech resources. So a resource tag that is not biome-generated is added to this tree in later modes. + Wood resource. Unless your civ just happens to be a race of wandering plants, in which case you can feel free to ignore that.

Transient Niches[size=16]
Basically, this happens when a highly mobile organism can access resources in multiple biomes, so they might be tagged to hunting grounds in biome A, and shelter in biome B. This also accounts for migratory creatures - they can spend x units of time in one biome, but they need to travel through biomes C, D, and E to get to their breeding grounds in biome B. They will, in most cases, be able to use "General food type x" and "general shelter" resources in biomes C, D, and E on the way, but they won't be permanently tagged to anything in those biomes - that's why "general" resources exist.

A biome will be able to support transients for just a little while, but they won't be an integral part of the ecosystem, simply a temporary drain on general resources that aren't flagged to a specific species, unless the transient is tagged to a local resource for a temporary unit of time, such as mating/birthing season.

In summary, each species will have the ability to "Accept" certain general resources. Every species of plant in an area could be tagged as "General food type plant," and any species with the ability to "accept general food type plant" could eat it. (They would have a less specialized stomach in Org mode, taking this all the way back to auto-evo.) Transients are simply species who a) have resources tagged in more than one location or b) have no/less than x number specific resources tagged, and simply have the ability to accept general resources.

[size=24]Resources we haven't already covered.

All right, we've covered orgs as resources, and general versus specifically tagged resources, and we aren't going into the resources of strat mode, so, any questions?

Mineral Resources: Proposed by me on multiple occasions, these would simply be a specific "food supplement" resource that either comes with a biome (think salt flats) is simply a "+ growth rate" fertility bonus for autotrophs in the area, (Think fertilizer.) or is just randomly generated at geographical points.

Civ resources: By this, I mean anything you need to build tools. Some things in a biome, such as trees or whole forests, randomly placed rocks, and microbiomes such as rivers will need to have them when they are created, but they won't be so apperent if you're playing pre-civ as some wandering creature.


This seems to be about it for now - I don't have a function for Ocean/Deep water biomes as yet, and will edit this post when I do. For now, all bottomless sub-surface ocean is classified as a subset of stage 0, while surface ocean is something of a stage 1 and ocean floor areas are classified by distance from surface, much as land biomes are classified by elevation. The chart of associated biomes will be ready when people start giving me biomes to work with again, and a list of resources will be agreed upon immediately after that, as will population dynamics tags. So read, comment, and start posting biomes.

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PostSubject: Re: Niches, Biomes and Resources, oh My!   Tue Jun 14, 2011 1:21 pm

OUTSTANDING... just reading this made my mind crash (I couldn't even imagine trying to think this up).
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PostSubject: Re: Niches, Biomes and Resources, oh My!   Tue Jun 14, 2011 1:26 pm

This is the product of the crash programming course scio, tenebrarum, keen and alaska have been putting me through without knowing it since december.

Well, that and some boredom. Job hunting is not an occupation requiring a lot of brain, and with finals gone, it's you guys and writing stories that pass for entertainment around here.

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PostSubject: Re: Niches, Biomes and Resources, oh My!   Tue Jun 14, 2011 1:32 pm

I think its funny that were online at the exact same time (how often does that happen).
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PostSubject: Re: Niches, Biomes and Resources, oh My!   Tue Jun 14, 2011 2:56 pm

I think I'll make a class tree that goes along with this.

Code:
Resource:
   Living:
      Plant:
      
      Animal:
      
      //OTHERS, I SUPPOSE
   
   Nonliving:
      Objects:
      
      Ground:
      
      Water:
         Lakes:
         
         Rivers:
      
      Atmosphere:

This means that any body of water, organism or atmosphere will all have some shared properties given by the Resource class, but an atmosphere and a plant wont necessarily have anything in common other than the fact that they are both resources.

Quote :
Mineral Resources: Proposed by me on multiple occasions, these would simply be a specific "food supplement" resource that either comes with a biome (think salt flats) is simply a "+ growth rate" fertility bonus for autotrophs in the area, (Think fertilizer.) or is just randomly generated at geographical points.

Sort of like the compound thread I made...
Hmmm here it is!

@other thread
sciocont wrote:
I think that including something like this, while interesting, is not needed. It adds a whole new level of complexity that would take a lot of code to implement and might not really be used much.

False. If trees are resources, and salt is a resource, my system meshes with the OP's system perfectly. The Resource class would then have a list of compounds defining how it's made up. It would have a function, hasCompound(), which would easily determine if a given Animal, River, or Rock had a given compound. I could write a c++ class structure today.
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PostSubject: Re: Niches, Biomes and Resources, oh My!   Tue Jun 14, 2011 3:55 pm

Critical Error: Stack overflow (Line:2312 Column:12 "CKBrain/GetInformation.cs")

Standing ovations, Calli. At first, I thought my head is going to explode, but I managed to crunch it. Somewhat. I'm not good at orienting in all this complicated biome stuff you and Scio got up, but I can still sense the awesomeness radiating from it.
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PostSubject: Re: Niches, Biomes and Resources, oh My!   Tue Jun 14, 2011 6:32 pm

Very nice, Calli. Very nice. I actually understood all of it, i think. And i am very impressed. We seem to have pre-sapience very nearly worked out.

And i'm also showing some support for the ideas of roadkillguy. Minerals could easily be handled asjust another resource.
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PostSubject: Re: Niches, Biomes and Resources, oh My!   Tue Jun 14, 2011 8:59 pm

So long as we are focused on the use and not the chemistry, I say yes to minerals as resources. We may even need them when you get tech figured out. Plus, and Tenebrarum could back me up here, salt is one of the first items to drive inter "national" economies. I figure the early civ people will love it, because mineral resources that are also classified as food = economics. (Salt = world's earliest food preservative.)

@ AK: I know. It's a shock - unless something else should come up, I think this is one of the last big ones.

@ Keen: Sorry for causing the fan in your brain to kick in. Don't worry, I've got a lot of it packed, I just need some more biomes, some input on possible disasters, to hobknob with Scio when he gets back about how to stick a city in as a microbiome, and a few hours of swearing at Excel so I can put it in a program that won't cause the programmers' brains to overheat.

Speaking of which, thanks, Roadkill! More or less what I thought it will be, I'll probably steal and tweak it... we need % sunlight and all that.

@ Gorb: funny, that. I'm always on at exceptionally weird hours. College does that to you, even after you're home.

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