Design Discussion: Caves

May 29th, 2016

Design Discussion: Caves

One of the features of ToA: Exile that I feel doesn’t get enough discussion is how we plan to utilize cave systems on the islands. This could be because we haven’t released much information on them, so I will share with you what I know. Please keep in mind that this post includes many examples that might not make it in the final revision of the cave design.

Caves are going to provide an additional dynamic to the game by offering what amounts to a second biome on each island. They will have their own localized flora and fauna based on the depths of the cave system. For example, bat-like creatures would live near cave exits, so they can fly out at night and easily return in the morning. However, a creature like a cave-rat would remain deep in the depths of the caves, living off of fungi and insects and offering a food source to anyone who travels down into their territory.

The flora inside a cave would be very limited, as the normal leafy plants would struggle to survive. Instead players would encounter various troglodyte fungi, communal bacteria such as slime, molds, predatory plants, and other plant-life limited only by our imagination. Some of it would be edible based on the character’s species, while others would be out to eat the character. Some of it may be bioluminescent, but humans should be sure to bring along torches if they choose to go spelunking.

Caves can come in a variety of sizes, with a few being so small only a hatchling can fit, while others offering room for an ancient, with space to spare. Players will be able to build inside of caves that offer sufficient vertical room in addition to surface space. The potential size of the island’s cave system is a controlled option for the server owner. They will be able to determine how many surface entrances the island has, and how complex the cave system will be during island creation.

Players may encounter both underground streams and lakes during their cave explorations. Such fluids should be carefully considered before ingesting. Aquatic life is also possible in these bodies of water.

The world itself has an internal temperature which can be more hospitable than the external temperature on the surface. If the selected biome for the island is arctic, then the caves can provide a warm refuge to cold-sensitive characters. The alternative is also true; a cave would be cooler than the outdoors of a hot desert biome. Caves make the ideal shelter from the elements for a variety of species, and so they should be approached carefully by any would-be inhabitants.

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