Lots of blog activity today. I just wanted to point out that the new version released today (0.27.169.33f) has one feature/change that was proposed by yours truly.
made wagon start in selected biome if possible
That’s what I get for hosting one of the mirrors ;)
I don’t think Toady will be pissed if I repost a mail where we discussed this:
Toady: On the request, the thing that makes it not immediately do-able is that some single square biomes are not edge-connected, and wagon placements will always have a path (sometimes just 1 wide…) to the edge, so as to guarantee some chance at trading and so on. It’s not all that hard to handle, but it’s a border case and should probably be handled more robustly. Something like allowing the actual square in the local map to be selected, or going as far as allowing the wagon(s) to be placed. This last is a bit much, maybe, but it could serve as a 3D camera tutorial at the same time, with a message. I know a lot more instruction is needed, but moving the camera up and down and using up/down stairs seem to be the trickiest early issues. In any case, I haven’t quite decided where I want to go with wagon placement…
Abalieno: Makes sense. A solution could be about making selectable only those biomes that are connected, like printing on screen “unreachable” if the biome doesn’t reach the edge. Is the program able to perform the check already in the location screen?
Or you could as well do the same if you let players place the wagon in the game. Letting them place it only in reachable (edge-connected) areas. To place it you could use something like the workshop placement, using the panel on the right to give enough detail about why a location may be forbidden.
My choice would be doing both. In the location screen you select the biome and with the cursor an approximate location (with all the checks necessary). Then make the dwarves start on the wagon, with the horses linked to it, so that you may then move the wagon where you want if the starting position isn’t optimal, then unload and see the dwarves spread around.
But even the first solution can work well: you give control on the selection of the biome, but only allow it to be selected if it’s edge-connected. With a simple message on screen it should be intuitive enough.
I actually think it’s better to not give players the control to place the wagon manually. As you say the trickiest issue is to figure out the z-depth and it’s better to let players handle it a bit later. Become comfortable with the level where they are, then starting to figure out the multiple levels, gradually. So it’s important that the wagon starting location can be already selected with a decent approximation.
In tutorials this is essential: so that you can explain how to select a good area. And have the tutorial itself being much easier if you can remove some of the odds of the placement.