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FASA Games, Inc. • Developer's Blog #2: Potatoes and Survival
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Developer's Blog #2: Potatoes and Survival

Posted: Wed Oct 23, 2013 3:08 pm
by TarlimanJoppos
Colonizing a new world takes considerable effort, and there's always something that you don't expect. The Gruv being an entirely other world, on the far side of some kind of spacetime portal, there's lots of things nobody expected. Like the Samsut. I mean, who really expects to run into the descendants of the Babylonians and Hittites and Akkadians, armed with weird science technology that lets them raise the dead for sword fodder? And don't get me started on the giant bugs.

But it's the small things that will trip you up. As an example, let us consider the potato. Nobody gives much thought to potatoes, right? And yet the failure of the potato crop in 1845 and 1846 threw a large part of Europe into famine, killing somewhere around a million people and sending several million out into the world as refugees. It wasn't just Ireland that was hit. The cultivar that the blight struck was popular in many countries. Of course, the people sent to the Gruv (or who went there voluntarily) planted potatoes. Some of them planted the same cultivar that the blight had attacked a generation previously. Some planted other cultivars, figuring that maybe they ought to try several and see what grew well.

None of them did.

Nobody knows quite what the problem is, but your bog-standard baking potato just doesn't grow properly in the Gruv. The plants are stunted, the blooms dry up early, and the tubers that form are small, woody, and bitter. Remember that line a couple of paragraphs ago, about "a generation previously"? There's people living in the Gruv that remember the potato famine. Supplies are readily available from Earth, through the Rabbit Hole, just a train ride away, but bringing in enough food for just one settlement would be expensive. Trying to feed all the people of the Gruv would be a financial and logistical nightmare. Where would the food come from? Who on Earth would get shorted? On the edge of panic, the colonists found a solution.

Peruvian potatoes.

One gets used to one's chips being blue fairly quickly. After a few meals of azure spuds, the novelty wears off, and they're just potatoes. But they're potatoes that grow in the new world, that grow properly, that can feed a settlement of over a thousand men, women, and children, and keep them from starving. Why do the Peruvian cultivars do well in the Gruv, when the North American and European cultivars didn't? Maybe a clever botanist will figure it out someday. In the meantime, would you like another helping of blue mash?