A wild surprise appears!
It is super effective!
In all seriousness, however, I’ve had this idea to try to patch the hole in our hearts a little bit (and keeping the SH community tight and engaged 'til the end!) by starting our very own development tuesday vlog from the ACE team!
I’ve made this first video mostly as a surprise and with a very tight schedule, so please forgive me for the… well, not as good quality as it could have
But from now on, the idea is to perhaps let other content creators in the ACE Team come up with their own videos for the upcoming tuesdays, showing what they’re working with, their visions and goals inside the project, sharing cool stuff or just generally discussing things!
We will also try (although no guarantees on that yet) to come up with some cool stuff like interviews with our lovely devs () and things like that! So stay tuned
Without further ado, here it is - the very first ACE Tuesday!
Hope you’ll like it!
Recap transcription from the video:
Before anything, I’d like to apologize for my voice not being as nice as Stephanie’s, but I’ll try my best! Oh, and please don’t mind my english!
Hello! I’m Dani, and I’d like to dedicate our first video to introduce everyone to what is perhaps the most important question regarding ACE: What is ACE? If you have been lurking around the forums and other Stonehearth communities, you probably know or have at least stumbled upon this acronym, ACE. So many of you might already know it, but it’s always good to make things certain, so we’ll try to cover this as clearly and informative as possible, alright? So let’s go!
ACE! ACE stands for Authorized Community Expansion. An expansion - as you can probably tell - aims to expand the game. And the community part means that it is something being done by the community and not by the developers themselves - as for the Authorized, it is because of something we were told before all of this started. The basic idea here is that should ACE become something that really feels worthy before Stonehearth’s standards and style, if it really enhances the game and add many of its missing or cut out features - then the developers would endorse it by making it an automatic subscription for all Stonehearth owners on Steam - or, in essence, officially turn it into a second half of the game. Of course, we’ll figure out the best way down the road - but that’s the main goal.
And when I say “second half of the game” I mean it. It is a key part of what ACE is: we want it to feel like that. We want it to be a finished product, one that completes the base Stonehearth experience and becomes another foundation - just like the main game itself - for the future and for modders. A lot - if not all - Stonehearth modding starts from the base game which is a mod itself. The Stonehearth mod is more than just the game, it is a classroom and template pack for modding. We want ACE to also complete that.
The project came to be shortly after the 1.0 announcement and the news that the game would be ceasing its development. The idea was mostly born out of all the features that were either cut or reduced - and from the mix of sadness, disappointment, happiness, fulfillment and overall tear-jerking, a rallying cry started to unite many members of the community into this common effort. ACE is open to all and any (just head to the forum thread)! It doesn’t matter if all you want to do is hang out to check on news and updates or if you feel like you wouldn’t be able to contribute with much - you’re welcome nonetheless! So hop in if you haven’t already!
Now… Although this is more personal, I’ll share it for this video. I like to think of the ACE acronym in a different way, sometimes. It keeps me grounded to our goals - and yes, it is not an easy job to keep myself grounded among so many great creators and so many amazing ideas - I know that sometimes I might sound like the annoying person cutting all the great ideas short - but it is very important that we do not walk away from the Stoneheath experience and feeling. So I like to think of ACE as Addition, Completion and Enhancement. Because these are the three main pillars of what it is envisioned to be; Let’s start with Enhancement.
Enhancement here means improving what is already in the game but either feels unfinished, not meaningful enough or broken. It’s easy to find examples; building is clearly unfinished: it doesn’t let us reform constructions or use the fences with a proper tool; water is not meaningful enough: it doesn’t have any real uses other than decoration. And pet behaviour is broken, they starve easily and they don’t look for shelter on poor weather. So these are exactly the kinds of things we’re looking to change and improve, not to mention UI and user experience polishes and additions, among other usability changes like the inclusion of some popular mods that perhaps should’ve been in the game since the beginning.
Besides enhancement, the equally important other pillar is Completion. Completion here is not unlike addition - they are the same - but it specifically refers to the things that were meant to be in the game but were either cut or reduced. Not only Kickstarter promises or other previously announced features but also things they meant to do but never got to it. Certainly the most notable feature among these are the dwarves and their kingdom - which is what you’ve been watching me play for a while now, the new faction of “Mountain Folk” in their new homeland biome, the Highlands. Please note, of course, that this is still mostly a work in progress.
And finally comes Addition. Perhaps the least important of all the three pillars, it has a lower priority but a solid concept nonetheless. Addition in ACE - that is, whatever new things we bring to Stonehearth that were neither cut features nor enhancements of existing features - intends to improve the gameplay experience with greater diversity and, most importantly, expand the game’s content horizontally.
So, what does that mean? ACE does not want to add a ton of cool stuff like 500 new types of furniture? Well, as much as everyone loves more furniture choices, that is not our goal. ACE is not a fancy collection of mods nor aims to fill all your crafter windows with hundreds of new recipes. That’s where content depth and horizontality comes in game design: Imagine a chair, we have several types of chairs, different materials and colors and such. Do we have enough chairs? Maybe. But if you don’t think so, it is really easy to add chairs. But the first chair wasn’t so easy. Creating the first chair required a lot of new logic, code, AI for using the chair, and other things like animations. The first chair was a horizontal expansion to the game’s content, it added tangible new gameplay experiences that can be further explored and used at will. It added more tools to play with. Beyond that point, adding more chairs is just adding more depth, or diversity. Our goal is to have ACE as a finished product, alongside Stonehearth 1.1, and ideally not have to touch it anymore. It will remain, as Stonehearth itself, a permanent base of content to be referenced, used and built upon by future mods. For that reason we won’t bother with more or less chairs but making new things instead. Water tools, new engineer gadgets, new job functionalities, new gameplay systems, combat behaviors, AI tweaks and much more. Horizontal gameplay expansions.
ACE will be finished, one day. Probably by December. Just like Stonehearth itself, ACE is not something that will go on but rather something that will remain and be built upon. Future mods will need, use and perhaps even modify ACE; maybe expand it, who knows? The ACE team doesn’t have to stop there - maybe after ACE itself we can work on a content depth expansion. What we know, however, is that ACE itself shall be a single finished mod when we are done, and hopefully it shall stand side by side with Stonehearth, a worthy second half of that game we all love very much and the reason we’re in this together, both for ourselves as a community and out of appreciation for Team Radiant and their work - for which we shall always be grateful.