In essence, Tribe of Pok is a tribal survival simulation/strategy game inspired by games such as Dwarf Fortress and the Cultures series. It's about a tribe of hunter-gatherers trying to eke out an existence in a savage environment.
You will make the important decisions such as where to gather resources, which animals to hunt and what items to craft while your tribe carries out their duties autonomously.
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Simulated Natural Environment
The natural environment is heavily simulated. Water flow, ground saturation, evaporation, fertility, temperature and humidity all contribute to shaping world. Cut down all the trees and eventually they will stop regrowing. Use up all the water in a pond and it will be dry until the rains return.
Day/Night and Seasonal cycle
Temperature and humidity are affected by the time of day and season. Winters can be harsh with below-freezing temperatures, so keep the camp fires going to prevent hypothermia. Summers aren't much better, with the possibility of heatwaves causing strokes.
The Circle of Life
Plants and animals adhere to the circle of life. Plants absorb organics from the soil as they grow, produce fruit during maturity and return organics upon death. Animals travel in herds around the map trying to fulfill their own needs. For predators, this means hunting other animals when hungry. For prey, this means running away from anything that wants to eat them.
Nature is the Ultimate Provider
Almost everything you need will come from nature. Plants are harvested for their produce, animal carcasses are butchered for materials and rocks are broken down to make tools.
Craft the Tools of Survival
Craft spears to defend against wildlife and other tribes. Axes to cut down trees and awls to make clothing. Some tools are even capable of performing several tasks. The stone knife speeds up fire creation, but can also be used as a weapon in a pinch.
Stop the Decay
Food left in the open decays very quickly. Build pits to slow down this process. Don't place it too close to camp, or the warmth from a campfire will speed up decay. If the pit gets wet, any food inside won't last very long either. It's all part of the deep simulation that drives Tribe Of Pok.
Balancing the human artificial intelligence has been one of the harder parts of development. The difficulty stems from trying to make the AI do things that seem "logical" to the player. For example, consider the two possible desirable actions "harvest food" and "eat food". We need to determine which action takes priority. If someone is hungry, the logical action would be to see if there's any food around and eat it. OK, simple. We set the desire to eat to be higher than the desire to harvest food.
What if there isn't anything to eat lying around? Since the desire to eat is higher, they will continually try to eat and never try to harvest food first. The player thinks, "What a stupid AI". The logical action would be to harvest food first, and then eat the food. OK, then let's switch it around so we set the person's desire to harvest food to be higher than the desire to eat food.
Now what if the player creates 50 "harvest food" tasks on 50 different plants? Remember, the tribe member's desire to harvest food is set higher than their desire to eat food. The AI thought process will be: hungry -> harvest food -> harvest food -> ... -> harvest food -> STARVING -> harvest food -> harvest food -> starved to death. They will continue harvesting until they either finish all the harvest tasks or starve to death, despite being surrounded by plenty of recently harvested food. Once again the player thinks, "What a stupid AI".
One way to work around this is having a variable desire to eat that fluctuates depending on current conditions. Firstly, add a check for food's existence before trying to eat food. If there is nothing to eat, then set the desire to eat to be zero, no matter how hungry the person. That way the person will carry out any harvest tasks first. Secondly, if something to eat exists, make the person's desire to eat higher the hungrier they become. With these extra rules, let's see how the AI behaves in the above scenario with 50 harvest tasks.
The AI thought process will be: hungry -> look for food -> find no food -> harvest food -> harvest food -> ... -> harvest food -> STARVING -> look for food -> find food -> eat food. This thought process requires more calculations, but it makes the tribe member appear smarter to the player.
Now add in desires for drinking, sleeping, staying warm, fighting, fleeing, finding missing equipment, crafting and building to this equation. It's pretty easy to end up with an AI that doesn't always do the "logical" thing if the desires aren't carefully balanced. Even worse is an AI whose desire fluctuates every few milliseconds, causing it to flip-flop between two different actions but not making any progress on either one. If you've ever seen an AI in a game move their units backward and forward over and over again, you'll know what I mean.
I'm constantly testing and tweaking the human AI in Tribe Of Pok to balance desires (and stop them burning themselves, like in the above gif). It can be time-consuming, but I think it's worth the effort. It's great to see your Pokians on screen running around acting the way you would expect.
Latest tweets from @parsleypwg
Improved the disease and illness system today. Infectious and treatable diseases last for a set time period. Can be reduced with herbs.
Feb 28 2015, 1:57am
Working on an overhaul of the query panel and map menu to make them less prototype-y
Feb 26 2015, 5:45am
Workers drilling the pavement outside since 8 in the morning - so hard to concentrate on coding!
Feb 20 2015, 11:59pm
Feb 19 2015, 7:21pm
Been working on adding ambient sounds to the game for rivers, forests, etc as well as UI sounds
Feb 16 2015, 3:44am
Just posted the latest blog entry about the Human AI in Tribe Of Pok T.co
Feb 14 2015, 7:54pm
Feb 14 2015, 12:26am
Spent most of today streamlining the deployment process for art assets
Feb 10 2015, 6:51am
Did a play through today and found about 20 issues to fix/adjust
Feb 7 2015, 10:30pm
Been working on the tundra biome and modifying game mechanics to suit. The extremely low temperatures caused problems in the simulation.
Feb 5 2015, 12:53am