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Re: What's Going On In Your Unreal World?
The toughest squirrel I've encountered.

Shall we call it a... wait for it... R.O.U.S. (Rodent of Unusual Strength)?

December 22, 2017, 02:09:44 PM
Re: Value of things Given how much research Sami has put into every other aspect of the game, as well as how widely known it is that the fur trade was a huge part of the local economy in the "Viking Age", I don't think this is really an issue. And since time spent on summarizing and presenting research is time spent away from coding and planning for this wonderful game, I would like to instead be the one to present OP with the following sources:

I think that value of things is historical incorrect [...] fur trade was not so developed in that time.

I'm not sure why you think the fur trade was underdeveloped between 900 ~ 1100 CE (the era that's roughly taken as the basis for Unreal World's background), as during that time fur trade comprised most of the eastern wing of the Baltic trade. We know this because the rise of the Swedish/Viking Rus and Novgorod (upon whose foundations the Hanseatic League ultimately gained power in the Eastern Baltic lands) would not have happened as we know it today if not for the fur trade.

This blog post lays out the evidence that suggests just how central the fur trade was to Novgorod's economy (making mention of, among other things, blunt arrows, and the counting of squirrel furs being considered an actual basic monetary unit much like farthings and pence in England).

And while that post mostly covers the High to Late Middle Ages, leaving out the heyday of the Vikings, it's far from controversial to say that the fur trade was important even in those times. In fact, archaeologists now believe that this is the period during which the Sámi made the final transition from a subsistence-based hunter-gatherer economy to one that was heavily dependent on trade with outside sources, largely because of the (at first) positive economic pressure exerted by the immense profitability of the fur trade:
"During the Viking Age and the Early Middle Ages, the areas around the Gulf of Finland, Ladoga, and Vaga developed into a dominant fur trading area. This growth was partly due to the expansion of principalities from the Upper Volga, which extended their sphere of economic strength to Zavolochye. It was, however, primarily a result of the fact that the area surrounding the Gulf of Finland was, from the Early Middle Ages, in the process of being integrated into the sphere of influence of the city state of Novgorod. From its infancy in the ninth century AD, Novgorod had built up an extensive network by the end of the tenth century from which skins and furs were exported to the trading center Bulgar on the Volga to the east, to Byzantium in the south, and to Scandinavia and western Europe to the west. As the demand for luxury furs increased during the eleventh and twelfth centuries, and Novgorod at the same time experienced competition from other developing Slavonic polities, the city republic extended its trading area to the north, linking in Finno-Ugric tribes living around the Onega and in the Dvina valley. These groups were forced to pay tribute and supply furs to Novgorod for further export." (Lars Ivar Hansen, Hunters in Transition: An Outline of Early Sámi History, 129-130)

In fact, it would not be a severe exaggeration to say that, during this period in history, the relevance of Finland in the flow of world events lay chiefly in the role played by Sámi and Finns in the booming fur trade, and especially the Sámi peoples who most directly participated in it at its very source, gathering the furs themselves. And while later they were forced by authorities to give furs in the form of tribute (and even then it took centuries and centuries for the relationship between locals and outsiders to take on the truly one-sided and exploitative qualities that culminated in the racism and cultural extermination efforts seen in the nineteenth century), originally the Sámi played such an important role in the fur trade that entire categories of commodities were specially developed just to appeal to these trappers and hideworkers:

"Novgorod's international trading network can thus be said to constitute an institutionalized framework, which enabled the Sámi to develop meaningful exchange relationships with their Finno-Ugric kinsmen to the east. Some of the brooches, amulets, and metal pendants that the Sámi received in exchange must have been produced specifically for such trading purposes by various Finno-Ugric groups connected with Novgorod. The furs that were supplied in return likely ended up in the trading center of Novgorod before they were re-exported to western Europe and other destinations." (Lars Ivar Hansen, Hunters in Transition: An Outline of Early Sámi History, 130)

And of course it's very well known how intensely fur was in demand among the fashionable, wealthy, and/or powerful all throughout medieval Europe, including Byzantium. We certainly do see less evidence of the consumption end of it during the Early Middle Ages as opposed to the High Middle ages or Renaissance / Tudor times. But that can be amply explained by the lack of records, both written and pictorial, which would have preserved knowledge about who was wearing exactly what. And even among the scanty records of the time, there is plenty of evidence of an ongoing demand for fur and its desirability as a symbol of wealth and power. Even today, the heraldic term "vair" refers to a stylised rendition of actual vair fur, which is a fancy word for the white bellies and grey-blue backs of grey squirrel furs pieced together in an alternating pattern... the fact that they turned this (as well as ermine) into a standardized pattern with its own name attests to how popular the original fur was.

In fact, many of the sumptuary laws that were passed in late Medieval European countries, to curtail the spending habits of uppity merchants and lower nobles, focused not just on jewels and silks, but to a large extent what furs could be worn / used on clothing + furnishings and to what extent: it was important, for example, whether you were allowed merely a narrow strip of fur adorning your bedslippers, vs a fashionably wide cuff on your gown, vs getting to have a stupidly luxe whole bedcover made of the aforementioned 'vair'.

And why would these laws even be needed in the first place if there wasn't a vast supply of it already available to people who had the money? Remember, these sumptuary laws tended to be as much about preventing hemorrhage of money from the coffers of  powerful landowners and burghers to foreign sources, as much as it was about enforcing the appearance of an intact social hierarchy, so this also supports the general idea that most luxury furs would have been imported.

[...] there was not much use of it (you dont make new clothes all the time) [...]

As for your assertion that fur clothing does not need to be replaced often, everything I know about furs worn as clothing (at least as the inhabitants of Unreal World would have worn them) suggests the opposite. While Sámi clothing is obviously not the same thing as Inuit clothing, there are still some crucial similarities that I think allow us to extrapolate some facts from what Inuit clothing-making practices have survived to the modern day (the Sámi do still make a lot of their clothing using fur, especially reindeer fur, but sadly I do not have access to good secondary sources about how the Sámi specifically sew their fur clothing).

For one, reindeer fur is overwhelmingly the preferred fur type for both ethnic groups, because of the superior warmth it provides and how versatile it can be, as well as the comparative ease of hunting reindeer as opposed to wolves or bears or the like. It's also easier to be assured a steady supply of a grazing herbivore like reindeer, unlike other fur-bearing animals which provide only small pelts and/or cannot be found in sufficient numbers to guarantee a supply of fur whenever you might need them.

The downside of reindeer fur is that it's notoriously weak to humidity and wear, so even with careful repairs and assiduous caring for the clothes, fur clothing of this type needs to be replaced at least once every two years. This uses a LOT of fur, as one might respect... and not just because replacements and repairs are so frequently needed, but because different types of clothing (trousers for hunters vs women with babies, parkas for hunters vs women with babies vs children vs the babies themselves, etc) call for different types of reindeer fur from different parts of the reindeer / caribou body. In real life, you might need pelts from multiple reindeer just to have a new pair of reindeer skin trousers (unlike in Unreal World where all fur is the same fur as long as it comes from the same kind of animal, but that simplification I can accept for gameplay purposes).

"Before the Contemporary era, most Inuit dressed in skins all year, and many caribou skins were needed to clothe an average family of five. The hunter had to take at least thirty caribou each year to meet minimum requirements. (Vezinet 1980, 52). Mitts and the many kinds of boots needed a minimum of the leg skins of fifteen caribou, without accounting for spares. These figures did not include the caribou that must be procured to provide bedding, tents, and food for the family and their dogs." (Betty Issenman, Sinews of Survival: The Living Legacy of Inuit Clothing, 71)

This kind of usage pattern resulted in a truly immense and ongoing demand for reindeer fur... not arduous maybe for the kind of character most of us end up playing in Unreal World: that is to say, a single hunter who only needs to feed and clothe themself and who can basically devote all their time to hunting if they wanted. But if you want to take time off to farm, or fish, or build houses, or maybe hunt for the kind of aforementioned luxury furs that would get you the ability to trade for better goods, this requirement would become cumbersome fast. And yes, southern and eastern tribes would replace part of this fur usage with usage of cloth such as nettle / linen / wool, but cloth isn't much less labor-intensive to produce, and in a society where there is a greater focus on agriculture, it makes even more sense for people to be willing to barter valuable goods to obtain hides ready-to-use.

December 22, 2017, 04:18:11 PM
Re: Short Questions/Quick Answers I've done many playthroughs in version 3.4*. In some, it took me a while to get up to "superior" hide quality from "fine", and other playthroughs where I start getting "superior" hides almost right away and the quality never drops unless I make a big mistake (like leaving the skin to soak for too long). I almost always play a Northerner hunter, with her hideworking skill buffed up real high.

If you're experiencing this at such a high hideworking skill, I would actually look at your weapon stat, how high your proficiency is for the weapon you're using to kill the animal. Generally speaking, the more blows it took to kill an animal, the more difficult it is to maintain high quality of the hide at the end, even if the carcass itself looks fine and not "harmed" or "ragged". It's worse if the wounds are in the body or neck, but the same seems to apply (at least in my experience) whether the blows are limited to the head or not. And keep in mind that the lower your weapon skill, the less you're guaranteed to hit the animal where you want to, so you might have tried hitting it in the head but hit the shoulder or foreleg ("arm") instead.

It's kind of odd in a way, because point and edge attacks tend to do more damage to the hide, but they are also more lethal and allow you to kill the animal with fewer blows... I experimented with this on elks, using blunt attacks only vs a few sharp point attacks, and the latter option offers the better results by far. However, at that point my character was at something like 93% spear skill, so I can't guarantee the same will be true if your weapon skill is even a little lower (in the 80-something percent range, blunt attacks seemed to result in the same or better outcome).

Character attribute may also have something to do with it... for example, high strength might help make each blow more effective, and high endurance might improve how accurate your strikes are even when you're tired. (This is conjecture, I have not experimented myself.) As far as my experience goes, knife quality helps but is not crucial.

December 22, 2017, 04:53:13 PM
Re: Question for Sami Caius breaks it down really well, I thought, especially when it comes to how such a question would present from a programming perspective.

Regarding that the question of marriage keeps coming up, I think there is a tendency for excited newbie players to overestimate how much any single feature will improve gameplay, especially if that feature is still just in the theoretical stages. (And I’ve been very guilty of jumping the gun myself in the past.) But if you read Caius’s breakdown, it becomes clear that in most scenarios, marriage will simply become another game feature governed by metrics, and it will add no more intrinsic depth to the game experience than you might get from exploring the in-game cooking options more deeply, or making fuller use of the already existing animal or companion system.

I’m not saying that it will make NO difference, but that it will be at least as much work and tweaking to implement as any other feature, while not being any more revolutionary than any other feature that could be added.

I’ve played CK2 a lot myself, and there are definitely some fun aspects of the marriage and family system in that game. However, I for one would be very sad to see URW move down the same path. There’s something very mercenary and Machiavellian about how relationships work in that game... which is fun in its own way and works for CK2 because it fits with the concept of the whole game, to treat human beings like symbols and chess pieces, and determine the fate of millions without having to think about the consequences befalling each individual. But that’s not the vibe I get from Unreal World, because it’s a game I play for pleasure, not distraction. I feel attached to it because in the Unreal World I feel like there’s room for attachments to breathe and exist, rather than every ounce of emotion and motivation just being directed towards a predetermined goal or victory. If a game starts just being constantly about the thrill of the chase, without variance or surprises or even the opportunity to contemplate why I chase, that’s when ennui sets in and the game stops being fulfilling.

It’s like that with simulating relationships too, in that while I’m not opposed to the basic idea, I have my share of misgivings about the implementation. The point of having spouses and partners in real life isn’t just as a warm body or someone to do their share of the chores, or as (pardon the phrasing, but that’s really how it’s depicted in games like CK2) breeding machines. Even the people who are asking for this change right here and now, a program-based solution like the one they are proposing is not necessarily going to effectively fill their want, deep down... and especially not within the time frame they are asking for.

I dunno. I am personally of the opinion that it’s far better to be lonely than in an unfulfilling relationship, so maybe it’s that attitude carrying into my gaming style. The only thing that might get me to change my mind is if Sami himself found a way to integrate that approach into the overall style of the game. And it’s happened before... I used to be skeptical about how a magic system would work in URW, but the newer quest-related gameplay, getting to interact with spirits, and in general being shown-not-told the ancient Pagan worldview is a great development in the game, and the one that made me fall in love with it all over again.

Ultimately it comes down to vision, and one of the best things about this game is how much work the developers put into realizing their unique one. I want to echo many of the opinions given in the other thread (the poll thread) and say that the consistency shown by Sami and Erkka in developing this world is what keeps me sticking with this game, like how a person who is quietly self-confident and seems to know their own mind (even if it means we sometimes disagree) is usually more attractive than someone who acts like a weathercock.

December 23, 2017, 09:43:17 PM
Wearable trinkets Just what the title says. I like that we have ornaments and trinkets in the game now, and thought it would be nice if the characters could wear them instead of just carrying them around to trade.

Of course, it's not a big deal whichever way, because we don't see our characters wear their clothing, either. So there's absolutely nothing to prevent us from imagining our characters "wearing" the accessories that they are actually carrying in their inventories. I just thought I'd bring it up once.

(And yes, for the record, Iron-Age Finnish men wore jewelry too. Neck pendants, finger rings, ornamental brooches, and even some arm rings have all been found in male graves, likely worn by the grave owners at the time of burial.)

December 26, 2017, 08:53:52 PM
Re: Mik Those badgers really have a knack for making you feel ineffectual. One of them once led me on a merry chase starting north of Driik territory and circling all around Sartola territory. After five days, I almost had it cornered, but then my character passed out from lack of sleep and food, and I lost it again.
December 28, 2017, 07:36:26 AM
Re: How about Scurvy? As I understand it, the eating of raw flesh wasn't a practice among the peoples of Finland, the way it has been with some peoples of Siberia or the Arctic Americas. However, we know the Sami at least were aware of the problems posed by scurvy, and had various foods they would eat to stave it off, especially during the dark winter months. Such foods would have included pine bark flour, birch sap, various plants (such as sow thistle and sorrel) boiled with the milk of reindeer to produce a cheese-like food called gompa. The roots of angelica and Cicerbita alpina were dried and chewed on throughout the year, as much for their flavor and for amusement as for their nutritional / medicinal properties.

There's more written here:

Berries too were preserved, mostly by submerging in water to make something akin to vattlingon which is still consumed today (I have also heard of preservation in reindeer fat instead of water). For preserving in water, any combination of berries could be used, but you would at least need to include either lingonberries or cloudberries or both in the mixture: they are the berries that contain the highest amounts of oxalic acid, and that would be the agent mostly responsible for making sure the berries do not rot in the water.

Currently, we do not have mechanisms in the game to preserve berries or plants or whatever. My personal opinion is that it would be a little unfair to add a disease (which would have been well-known and preventable even in those times) to the game without giving the player a chance to do something about it. Not to say I wouldn't welcome it as a possible addition to the game, merely that the decision whether and how to develop it is not something that's up to me.

September 27, 2018, 01:16:32 PM