The Arbor: Feedback, Suggestions & Testing

AerioOndos

Donkey Lord
Just jumping onto the thread here. Based on the discussion for Garner, it would make sense to have a developed textile industry on the arbor, producing cloth for the general population as well as a huge amount for the sails.

To quote Lemon from the Garner thread
"Partially why there needs to be a large wool-production industry! You need people to take care of the sheep, to shear the sheep, to card the wool, to spin the thread, to weave the fabric, to full the fabric, to make the fabric into sails, clothing, etc., and to sell the fabric to other people.

I don't think you need to get as specific as sail-making for the main industry for the entire project. You can do something broad like wool-production and include sail-making as a part of that."

Now, when it comes to the Arbor, there's potential for a semi mechanised version of the process for a range of different fibres. Wool, flax, cotton potentially. Due to the huge fleets the Redwynes are able to man, it would make sense if there was some degree of mechanisation.

Having at least one mill involved in the processes that clean fibres, like carding or fulling, would be a efficient way to represent a textile industry. I've explored ways to do it with carding paddles (basically a board with hooks like velcro) but they are difficult to represent. I'm not an expert with the medieval technology too much, most of my knowledge on textile processes is on wool and 19-20th century, or about exotic varieties of sheep but it would be something brilliant to look into!

It'd be cool to see a section of town with rope makers and sail makers nearby, working on huge looms near a mill where the fibre is washed and spun. Lots of white against the arbor palette
 
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Elduwin

Skinchanger
There is some industry connected to all this included in the arsenal plotting: a very long roppery, sail makers, etc.
And you're right about the fabrics/textiles needs, we'll see flax and hemp fields here and there around the Arbor for that!

Havent plotted mills dedicated to this, but there will definitely be at least one.
 

Jakethesnake8_8

Aeromancer
Pronouns
he/him
I’ve got some feedback I’d like to share regarding Vinetown. Currently the size of Vinetown looks a little big. It creates an over scaled feeling, especially with the proximity of the walls and mountains. The unintentional effect of this is that it makes the mountains on the arbor look smaller. Additionally, the expansive area mapped out for Vinetown scales down the distance between Vinetown and Ryamsport and probably Starfish Harbor when work starts there. I think instead of having fields inside the walls, you could move the wall back to where the fields start, and then from the fields to the mountains can be economic sites, an adequately sized sprawl and enough food to support such a large town. I think the size of Vinetown really warrants that sort of crop space. I think the Arbor style really lends itself so rural areas and complexes in the middle of vineyards and fields. I think it would really solidify the intended vibe of the Arbor if there were a bit more space for rural settings and sprawls. While Vinetown is a principal harbor, I don’t think the town necessarily needs to be the size it is currently. There will be a lot of sizeable structures in Vinetown, the warehouses, the boathouses, the town walls, the Sept of the Vine and the Redwyne Castle to name a few. I think the mountains will end up being dwarfed by these, or vice versa.
 

FD001__

Envoy
If I were to hazard a guess, the walls enclosing the town's fields may be due to the fact that the Arbor was often raided by the Ironborn in the past and even conquered - so Vinetown would've often been besieged over history. Having some fields within perhaps a small encircling wall would make sense defensively, so that the city could sustain itself when facing a blockade of the port by the Ironborn as well as Ironborn raiders siegeing the town from the land. I think a good compromise may be if Eld chooses to have the encircling current walls smaller, with perhaps bigger, internal city walls to serve as a final line of defense.

Personally the scale of the mountains is probably going to rise anyway - we are getting an update relatively soon that will increase the height limit.

It would also be a handy social barrier between the peasantry, and the city dwellers (lol).
 
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AerioOndos

Donkey Lord
The issue with the mountains is not their possible size. Hell, there is about 180 more blocks they could use in height if need be still. The problem is comparative scale. A large vinetown makes the rest of the island seem small because proportionally it takes up limited space. A tall vinetown makes the mountains seem shorter than they are, making the island feel flatter and rockier than it would if the town were shorter. Its all about perspective and comparison.
 

Vinnie

Playwright
Personally, I’m not overly concerned with the proportions as they are. I think of the mountains more as a natural sort of screening that aids in the illusion of the island’ size. I would bet most viewers can’t hike up their render distance high enough to make the scale visually consequential as is. (I know I can’t) I’m more concerned with explorability and thoughtful architectural features which I think were well on track with at the arbor already.
 

Elduwin

Skinchanger
Hi all,
I deliberately let some time pass before answering the different points discussed, so that anyone could join the discussion and also to take the time to fully consider the arguments put forward.
First, I'd like to remind that several arguments have already been made and answered, and that, even though they're not completely up-to-date, there are still useful documents posted on the Arbor thread that can be read before discussing stuff regarding the Arbor.

On the question of the mountains:
- no, they are not canon, simply because there isn't any canon description of the Arbor, except that it's a "golden island" and have a warm and very pleasant climate. We can also deduce from the very large wine production and the heavy amount of wood necessary for the fleet that the island would be very fertile and have sufficient forests, which can both work very well with low mountainous terrain).
- the fact that there isn't mentions of mountains doesn't mean that there shouldn't be.
So, why put mountains?
- because it makes sense geologically: my main terra inspiration is Corsica, and my interpretation of how the Arbor was formed is that it was a part of the Red Mountains that got detached and moved a bit along the sedimentary basin of the Honey Wine (hence also the Reach terrain set on the Northern tip). In addition to Corsica, many of the inspirations I am using are rather coastal mountainous areas. It also allows for more interesting terra especially on the coasts. Having hills on the top of the island (like in Brittany (yes, it's not an island, but still a coastal region) were once stood the highest mountain chain of Europe) would mean that the old mountains have been eroded heavily and were a lot more ancient that the Red Mountains (which are still very much tall and pointy).
- because it also helps a lot on the issue of the (canon) heavy settlement density of the island. As have been mentioned, it creates screens breaking the views between the main towns, creating a better illusion of distance. It also provides with areas that can be wilder, especially on the western coast, and make the whole island much more interesting in terms of heights and diversity of vegetation and landscapes.

Now, on the topic of Vinetown's size:
I will not enter again in the numerous arguments in favor of a rather sizable town: wealth, history, largest fleet, etc. My main concern regarding this whole discussion is keeping scale between different projects and with canon. Keeping the scale with terrain goes in second, as have always been on the server.

Canon dictates a very extensive marine, shipwright industry and overall a very strong trade activity (it's suspected to be even wealthier than OT, for reminder). Main consequence is the introduction of the arsenal: which, due to the growing size of our ships, has to be up-to-scale to them. Making 50 blocks long ships means you need somewhere to create them. And having just one huge slipway besides the town would just be completely unrealistic. Hence, we have a rather large arsenal (of which the 2/3 are still water btw) and a trade harbor.
Around that, we build Vinetown: so obviously you need to provide for everything necessary for such industries. Each higher profession added means putting more bakers, weavers, etc. Even though there would probably be sailors from other locations, you still need a large population to sustain a fleet of the size of Venice's one in the Renaissance. The military fleet alone (200 warships) requires as many captains (from nobility or higher class) and crews ready for all these ships, crews that (for military purpose) would definitely not come from outside the Arbor. Besides, as been pointed out, there will be several large points of interest (sept, arsenal, castle, etc), but I differ on thinking that it risks scaling down the town if it is too small.
Yes, the canon behind the Arbor and the Redwynes is a bit off, thanks GRRM. But we've had extensive discussion about how many things don't necessarily make sense in ASOIAF, and in the end, when recreating this world, we kinda accepted that it is what it is. Did kingdoms keep armies in towns and such? No, yet we have tons of barracks in our towns and even more in our cities. Would a kingdom keep that many warships in addition to their merchant fleet (still >1000 ships)? Probably not. The rare IRL historical parallels that can be made are with Venice: a limited space, a naval power extending all over the Mediterranean, and wealth beyond measures due to strong trade activities, even before the Renaissance.
In terms of scale compared to other larger settlements (cities), it is still smaller than Whiteharbor, which is the smallest city, so Gulltown redo (and Lannisport potentiel redo) would have to be bigger than WH anyway.
So yes, even though it's not a city, I strongly defend a rather large size for Vinetown.

Why am I not scared of how the island will end up?
First, I don't think the fact it's an island really changes things (not on such a large one, obviously it impacts a lot on very small islands). Compare the size of the Arbor to many other projects: it's usually much larger.
Now, check the area around major settlement (both cities and big towns): most of the time, proportionally, the area left for sustaining it isn't much larger or even sometimes smaller. If you take the whole green concrete area around OT and consider it as its direct supply area, OT covers 1/4 to 1/3 of the area. Same with KL and its surroundings. For towns, look around Stoney Sept, Duskendale or WIP MaidenPool: it's usually pretty much the same ratio. The area dedicated to Vinetown (which can easily be seen with the mountain chain) is about 3 times larger than the town itself. Add to that the fishing activity that would provide lots of food as well, and they could easily import what they need more.
My main point here is that our towns and cities are all/most largely upscaled. I personally don't see it as a problem. Yes, our server would work a thousand times better with a larger map. Yes, it would make it a lot more immersive. We have amazing terraformers and fantastic pieces of landscape on the server, which give such a great cohesive feeling. But in the end, when visitors ask what is worth seeing on the server, 99% of the time we give castles and towns and cities names, because this is the main attraction of the server.

Why not putting the walls a bit further in than where they are currently to make a smaller footprint?
Because it allows for a better variation of density, growing lower on the outside. Lots of our current towns (especially in the Riverlands) are very dense and tall, most houses being 3 to 4 stores up, with low surface of yards and gardens, inside the walls; and then a very thin sprawl outside the walls. While I think it works very fine, I also believe (especially when looking at old town maps around Europe) that we can show different stage of urban growth. Yes the center of the town will definitely be dense and tall, but the more external districts will be more rural, low and spreading horizontally instead of building up. Vinetown, in terms of style and plotting, is heavily influenced by Oldtown. I think it also makes them more unique to have such differences to more northerner towns.
I also plan to use this surface for having more gardens and yards, both for the "very pleasant" feeling of the Arbor, and for the necessity of greener areas to cool off in the hot summers.
To be honest, I'm also not really convinced just moving the walls to put a few fields outside instead of inside would change anything. The walls aren't super tall (no need to be, as they wouldn't except a strong and extensive siege from the land, but more probably invasion through the harbor), so they don't break that much the view.

What I am considering at this point, following this discussion, is indeed to bring the current walls a bit lower and have an older wall inside the town, maybe more incorporated into the town itself. Though it is still up to discussion and change, as I don't want to overcharge the town.

Now, moving on to the next steps:
- there is still need of a large amount of terra on the mountains and foothills.
- a Vinetown document is under preparation. The town will be divided in districts which will be apply-able by builders (in the same way as KL districts, though a lot less obviously).

I would like to remind that there are extensive testing areas for the whole Arbor server build, with specific areas for the towns itself. As have been stated since the beginning of this server build, participation of the community is more than welcome, it is necessary so that the style can be defined and agreed by the most people. I am still holding any move on Vinetown to more tests from the community. And I am still looking for people willing to be involved in the castle and arsenal planning and leading.
The rather low amount of tests (and more importantly, testers) since the opening is a bit discouraging. It really is the best way to provide input in the project in the end. The other is inspirations, through the forums threads, which is always open for posting inspiration pics and maps and ideas.

As a personal note, and I think I speak for OT team as well in saying that it would be really appreciated if some of the most critical builders would find a more productive way to help on these server builds.