This is a shot of the new resource fields in an experimental biome that probably will likely never otherwise see the light of day but I thought the shot turned out quite pretty.
The original design for resource harvesting was a lot simpler than what I ended up with. I wanted a nice looking field of crystals with a crystal formation and steam geyser at the centre, harvesters to go to the field, wander around for a while filling up their tanks, then drive back to the refinery. I wanted two types of resources, one worth twice what the other is. I wanted large resource fields spread out throughout the map that show up on the world map and give people fortunes to fight over. I also wanted smaller player-specific fields that don't show on the map and give players a nearby source of money. I planned to render the fields using the same particle system that does the game's flowers. The resource field itself would be purely decorative needing just the number of resources in the field to be replicated to clients. Under the covers the harvester would simply drive near the field, tell the server it was nearby, the server would validate its position then set up a timer. The harvester would wait until the server gave it the OK to leave, then do more or less the same thing at the refinery. Resource fields could grow or shrink over time and if depleted, pop up in a new location.
Much of this was already implemented when the plan started to fall apart. I found some sugar crystals I grew with my daughter a few years back. The sugar crystals were translucent and sparkled in sunlight. I really liked the look of them and I wanted Miranda's resource fields to sparkle. There was no way to get interesting and correct sparkles with particle billboard crystals so I realized I'd need to 3D model the crystals. I also remembered that one aspect of resource fields that affected gameplay was that while vehicles can drive across them, you can't build a building on them. If resource fields were going to have a physical effect on the map for players, then the full details of the field layout needed to be replicated perfectly to everyone who saw them.
Since every entity in the game needs to have an owner, and there are going to be tens of thousands of resource fields on the map, I needed to have a way to have more than one server operate all those resource fields. I created a tool to divide up the map and modified the simulation server to load some special users to manage all the resource fields. It was funny the first time a resource field showed up on the client because the resource field owner user showed up on the list of visible players. I had to modify the player list specially to ignore those players.
The in-game map now shows large resource fields as little red and blue boxes within map grid squares. Resource fields aren't mapped exactly, players will have to go to the square and find the field.
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