Food Production

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Food Production

Postby James » Sun Dec 29, 2013 12:11 am

Hello, it's been a while since I was playing towns the last time, quiet a few changes have come and I'm happy so far.
But there's still one problem that bugs me the most.
I don't know if I'm too stupid to manage a good food production or the game just wants to torture me.

The problem itself is pretty simple:
No matter what I do, I always have to have about 60% percent of my townies to do everything that's related to food (harvesting, butchering, cooking, baking), otherwise my stock runs empty, heroes leave and townies starve...
I'm always trying to set a few townies to only do this work, so that my townies can be put in other workgroups which are focused on things like building, gathering, mining or just hauling.
With this problem I'm just to lazy to get more townies... cause it only causes more townies to work at the food production.
Let's say I'll get 15 more townies... at least 8 of these will have to work at the food production. It just doesn't seem worth it.

How I do it for now:
I only have 15 Townies, I didn't want more, because of the stuff I said above.
Right now I have two workgroups:
One, in which everyone's dedicated to do all the cooking and baking (which apperantly includes taking the wheat to the mill to make flour).
And another one, in which everyone's doing the harvesting and butchering.
(In my first trys I put those groups in one, it didn't work out so I'm trying thise approach now)
Out of my 15 townies 8 are put into these groups. The number of how many are in which group is still not settled, as it still seems to be a flawed system and I'm trying to improve it.
And still, If I don't have about 2-3 townies that are not in any group, which means they help with the food production if necassary, the food gets eaten faster than produced!
Which actually increases the percentage of townies who are needed for food up to 70% or more... that's just ridiculus....

So my Question to all of you is now: How do you manage your food production? Do you have a simpler way, that consumes less townies?
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Re: Food Production

Postby YetiChow » Sun Dec 29, 2013 5:26 am

First off: the very fact that you're thinking about workgroups as opposed to, say, food in general, is a big step in the right direction :)

Food production is still the most complicated part of the game, and even the most veteran players still have to experiment with every single town to find a setup that works. The reason is that so much of the work the townies have to do is indirectly related, rather than obvious cause-and-effect. For example, the map itself is a massive factor in food production; but there's nothing to jump out and say "hey, the reason everyone is starving isn't because of a lack of crops, it's because your farmers have to walk the perimeter of the map to get to the farms".

Honestly, there are soooooooo many variables at play here that it's impossible to give a formula for stable food production; but I can give some guidelines. I use these myself and I developed them the hard way over my whole time playing the game - they're constantly being tested and adjusted even as I play now.

1. <FillPCT> is king. Most players would disagree, and this advice is going to cut against the grain of 80% of everything else I advocate, but in my experience it's always best to max out your food's fill value even if it means heaps of extra work producing the food. The reason is that more fill = more time between meals, which means a much greater chance for crops to ripen and a lot more time for your townies to do other things between food tasks (even your farmers need a chance to improve upon and increase the size of the farms; they can't do that if they're constantly harvesting to keep up with demand). Even though the Special Roast is insanely expensive as a food choice, it's also insanely effective once you get it stable - two days between meals, mixed happiness bonus and enough fill value to get your townies right down to the dungeon bottom and back again? Yes please!

2. There is no such thing as a "perfect fit" when it comes to food. Everything has a random element - the food itself will have a semi-random effect in terms of how much it fills, the townie has a semi-random time between meals, which townie gets the food is randomly determined... even if you have a perfect balance one minute, a series of unlucky rolls (low fill values, long growing times for crops, not-very-hungry townies eating the big meals while starving townies only get raw fruit) could see your town approaching a famine. You always have to have a wide margin of error and an "emergency stockpile" or ten - that doesn't literally mean having barrels of prepared food locked away (although that's a popular tactic), I like to have a forest of wild fruit trees which I can order to be harvested in the times that the automated harvesting runs thin.

3. Don't be afraid to get messy. Just as there's no perfect fit, there's no "clean" equation to how much food a townie eats. If your peons have to eat raw badger meat, they have to eat raw badger meat - starving townies only puts more strain on your food supply (even if 90% of your population starves, that leaves 10% to harvest and cook and haul ingredients and do everything else; and if you don't immediately get in and cancel the unneeded production tasks your townies could well starve themselves trying to feed the already-starved population). Butchering is by far the messiest food source - the animals need feeding, yields look low, there are heaps of steps and even more to consider, but you can avoid most of those by simply using up the animals as soon as they're bred. Contrary to what I said about "buffer zones", if you produce as few livestock as possible you can still get meat which is essentially free; especially early on.

4. Over-prepare, over-staff, under-work. Whenever you can, have more utils for foodmaking than you strictly need; have more food workers than you need; over-stock on raw ingredients etc. It ties in with points 2 and 3, but I can't stress enough how important it is to have that buffer zone so that your "emergency response" is ready to go when you notice your townies getting hungry. The other good thing about having under-worked food crews is that you can send them fishing; which massively boosts your average happiness. Whenever you have idle townies, put them in the farming group and have fishing tasks queued and you'll get very happy townfolk - the same is true for new immigrants, unless you're immediately putting them somewhere they're needed (e.g. guards or construction workers for your siege-proof wall) stick them in with the farmers. Speaking of immigrants, have their first few meals ready before they come to the town - it may seem obvious put like that, but "enough food for now" is not "enough food for the future when new people show up" - as I said before, even if your stocks are stable now it only takes a string of bad rolls for it to all come crashing down. If those bad rolls come when the system is already stressed by immigrants... well, that's just asking for a famine.

5. Keep your farms close and loose. By that, I mean make sure that your farms are within the same screen width as your food production buildings, and don't tightly squeeze the farms into small spaces. Most crops have a chance to drop multiple products when harvested, and even single-product crops like wheat will need somewhere for their product to be dropped. I like to leave 1 row between crops, or even 2 rows for fruit trees, to maximise the chances for extra drops and to give the townies somewhere to put the products after harvesting. Most players would say that it's best to put barrels around your farms so that townies will take the products straight to them, but I disagree - I prefer to have my raw food barrels inside my kitchen and bakery (naturally the bakery one only accepts wheat and flour, though I'll usually also have a prepared food barrel full of fruit too), so that the food is carried straight from the fields into where it's going and thus eliminating the need for the chefs to walk out to the fields to get ingredients.

6. Layering and irrigation. You can grow food underground, inside mountains, even in "tiers" by mining out alternate layers of a hill. I don't like the feel of that, but that's a purely personal preference - if you want to turn your grassy hills into a layer-cake farm, more power to you. If that offends your sense of realism, consider terrace farming - IMO it looks amazing, and it means you can move your crops off the premium flat grassy areas and leave them free for animal farms.

All of that said, you will still need a big protion of your population in food production to keep everyone fed; I'd say 50% with a really good setup. Remember, work with your map rather than against it - if there's a snowcherry grove nearby then make snowcherry pie; if there's a jungle nearby but no room for wheat then look at jungle salad and mushroom soup. Never be afraid to fall back on foraging to supplement your farming, but always always be active in your food supplies - don't rely on your backups, build in redundancies if you want "set and forget" production or else prepare to constantly monitor your food supplies.

It's not meant to be super-easy, but you can pick it up quickly with some experiments and some planning. I fall else fails, set everyone to food production and wait for a large buffer to build up before going on with new projects - sometimes you do just have to take the game one step at a time. Good luck :)
What's that you're eating? A nice, juicy apple? You weren't supposed to eat that you fool, you were supposed to make it into a pie! - last words recorded words of Francis D'Avre before he went looking for snowcherries, but found a hungry Yeti instead.
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Re: Food Production

Postby James » Sun Dec 29, 2013 5:00 pm

Thanks for the input.

As you stated it seems there's nothing I can do about having so many of my townies being dedicated to making food.
For now it seems like it got pretty stable with 4 people for cooking and baking and 4 people for butchering and harvesting.
The new food I added to my stock (ham and eggs) also seemed to have improved the overall foodstock.
Still with 15 townies.
Right now I'm planing to flatten more land so that I can expand my town.
Then I'll look at how I can work with more townies.

What I still don't get is the need of feeding... every pig I breed gets instantly butchered.
And if not, who cares? If it starves, I just wait for the next one to spawn.
With enough farms, there's no problem to it.

Even with animals I (right now) don't butcher, which are sheep, cows and chicken, it's pretty much the same.
Sheep and cows are for now just there to have them and chicken to get eggs.
But even though I never feed those, I also never fall behind on eggs.

Back when that feeding system was implemented I already thought it was useless... but seeing it now... I even think it's a total waste in this game.
(And why do I even have to put all the farms on grass If I'm feeding them with wheat afterwards...)
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Re: Food Production

Postby burningpet » Sun Dec 29, 2013 7:32 pm

Feeding will be changed to being an action performed by the animals themselves, so you will only need to stack on their choice of food which suppose to relief a lot of burden from your townies.

The reason for the heavy emphasis on the food production aspect of the game is due to me being greatly inspired by "Guns, Germs and Steel": http://www.ahshistory.com/wp-content/up ... -STEEL.pdf (Not sure if its legal to link to this, if its not, ill remove the link)
I was really fascinated by the idea of societies needing a broad and efficient food production in order to progress, expand and build up.
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Re: Food Production

Postby tom k. » Sun Dec 29, 2013 10:35 pm

burningpet wrote:Feeding will be changed to being an action performed by the animals themselves, so you will only need to stack on their choice of food which suppose to relief a lot of burden from your townies.

The reason for the heavy emphasis on the food production aspect of the game is due to me being greatly inspired by "Guns, Germs and Steel": http://www.ahshistory.com/wp-content/up ... -STEEL.pdf (Not sure if its legal to link to this, if its not, ill remove the link)
I was really fascinated by the idea of societies needing a broad and efficient food production in order to progress, expand and build up.


It should be fine to link to that, so long as they have permission to post it. :)
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Re: Food Production

Postby YetiChow » Mon Dec 30, 2013 6:44 am

burningpet wrote:Feeding will be changed to being an action performed by the animals themselves, so you will only need to stack on their choice of food which suppose to relief a lot of burden from your townies.

The reason for the heavy emphasis on the food production aspect of the game is due to me being greatly inspired by "Guns, Germs and Steel": http://www.ahshistory.com/wp-content/up ... -STEEL.pdf (Not sure if its legal to link to this, if its not, ill remove the link)
I was really fascinated by the idea of societies needing a broad and efficient food production in order to progress, expand and build up.


so, animals will eventually get a basic AI to handle survival instincts like eating and, presumably, replenishing the herd...

oh spiderite, better stop hosting those gladiatorial badger death-sports and hope that they don't retain any racial memories of the dark days, or we could be in trouble :lol:

I can just see it now, an army of semi-organised badgers stealing our food barrels and eating all the chickens while running the guards around in circles.
What's that you're eating? A nice, juicy apple? You weren't supposed to eat that you fool, you were supposed to make it into a pie! - last words recorded words of Francis D'Avre before he went looking for snowcherries, but found a hungry Yeti instead.
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Re: Food Production

Postby BlueSteelAUS » Mon Dec 30, 2013 8:43 am

lol you can already make them kill the chickens..
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Re: Food Production

Postby YetiChow » Mon Dec 30, 2013 9:57 am

BlueSteelAUS wrote:lol you can already make them kill the chickens..


That's not what I'm worried about. It's when they decide to kill the chickens of their own accord... in other words, when they become self-aware and take over the world Skynet-style :lol: Badger shaped terminators... well, I'm not sleeping tonight :shock:
What's that you're eating? A nice, juicy apple? You weren't supposed to eat that you fool, you were supposed to make it into a pie! - last words recorded words of Francis D'Avre before he went looking for snowcherries, but found a hungry Yeti instead.
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Re: Food Production

Postby James » Thu Jan 02, 2014 3:18 pm

So... I'm still finetuning here and there, but it seems it gets better and better.

I started of with letting my guys who harvest and those who cook to always have the shortest possible way to their work.

So I made a little home, right beside my kitchen/bakery and everything which is close by for food: farms, fruit-trees, wheat.
I made a cellar right beneath the kitchen/baker for raw food and fruits, to shorten the way for my cooks even more, cause after all, the most important thing is to get the food ready.
I made roads everywhere to increase their speed and even gave everyone boots of haste.
With now still 4Townies having to cook/bake and 4 Townies having to harvest/butcher and an overall Population it seems like I don't even need 50% of my Townies working on food.

Ham and eggs is my main food for now.
I'm having 24 pig farms to provide me with pork and 6 chicken farms to provide me with eggs.
I set the minumum stock on ham and eggs to 10.
Sometimes it drops down to about 2, but it's mostly stable on 7-8 in stock.

My townies working in these groups even have an average happiness of 95, even though they are working non-stop. :)
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Re: Food Production

Postby YetiChow » Fri Jan 03, 2014 5:18 am

Are you killing the chickens, or just letting them starve?

I find that having cows, chickens, and pigs all breeding (with 2 pig farms for each cow and chicken farm) is actually incredibly efficient, if you treat the meat as a by-product. In other words, aim to have the townies milk/de-egg and then butcher immediately after, and your town will have 2 ingredients for free coming from each source. Then your only "meat production" will be the pigs, you only have to worry about a steady supply of those, and you get "bonus" special roasts while still being able to make your ham and eggs as well as soups (something you should never underestimate - mushrooms are something of a wonder-crop, especially if you can spare the meat for mountain stew).

Again, your results will vary; but you seem to have the basic idea - if you optimise the individual steps, the rest of the production chain virtually takes care of itself :)
What's that you're eating? A nice, juicy apple? You weren't supposed to eat that you fool, you were supposed to make it into a pie! - last words recorded words of Francis D'Avre before he went looking for snowcherries, but found a hungry Yeti instead.
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