An Appeal to the Devs, can you let the community vote on prefered update content?

This may fall more into Suggestions but I feel it’s also something that should be brought up for discussion. As happy as I am to see that we now have an entirely new faction seemingly out of nowhere I must admit I was a bit… disheartened that suddenly we obtained a desert dwelling group of tradesfolk. Now mind you this isn’t a problem per-se but it seems like an odd direction to take with a bunch of content still missing. Alas after playing three or four colonies and reporting my bits of buggery I’m content with how they play as they feel a lot closer to what I want until we get Dwarves in the mix.

Now, onto my thought/request/debate topic; while I’m happy with the direction that the Dev team is working I question if we’re getting to a point where the community and dev-team can agree to let the community vote on what we feel is the most important addition to the Stonehearth experience is. Let the record show that this is not a demand for crazy additions to the game; Far from it in fact as all I’d like to see personally is a small poll every few weeks with a few topics that we can vote to prioritize.

A worded example:

Update 14 is being worked on and there is now a poll on what the community feels would be a great addition. This doesn’t have to be some huge game changer but a few ideas the devs were bouncing around in their heads or something mentioned from the Kickstarter. Maybe this week our four options are based on picking the next class to introduce, Engineer, Geomancer, Archer, Magmasmith; and then after like three or four days of voting the Devs now have an idea on what the community would like to see in the near future. Maybe it’s a really small change like a new functionality, or trying to pick the brains of the people on what they would like to see added to carpenter building abilities.

I’m not sure if this topic will get bogged down but I’d love to see some chatter from both the community itself and the Devs on whether or not this is something that would be interesting or even liked as an addition. Who knows!

Keep up the great work regardless Devs and thanks to all the wonderful people in the community for helping the Devs make this the best colonization game ever.

Hey there @Ramsis, welcome to the Discourse! I am heading with family to Thanksgiving dinner now, but I definitely have more thoughts for you on this idea…will be back later!


They have done something like that before, though the choices will mostly be stuff already in the wroking:


Though it’s old and already has large numbers of votes from before, the Stonehearth Community Roadmap has a basic voting system and shows what sort of stuff the team’s currently working on.

Is it just me, or is that link not working for some reason? Here it is again:

Mod edit: fixed the link :smile:


I don’t find it random at all. They were all just thinking about me and really wanted me to get Nihonjin finished and released. :wink:


Seems it hasn’t been updated for some time. Some things are definitely done (-ish).

I prefer voting for what is worked on when streaming, I really don’t approve of voting for what is worked on next or what is in the game for next alpha, i prefer to let the developers see their vision through at the pace and train of thought they are comfortable with and i’ll enjoy the ride.

This is the point of early access to me.

just my p.o.v


Hey friend I can certainly respect that point of view. I came in with the hopes of starting some debates and a good ol’ bit of dialog if possible. Everyone’s opinion is welcomed here as far as I’m concerned.

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IMHO, that site hasn’t been accurate from the start. It used to be, but now it seems like (since they’ve grown) everything is a “work in progress”, and what we request / vote on on that site is meaningless. Sorry that sounds harsh, but I can’t think of a better way to put it.

As for what the OP is saying, I fully support this. But at the same time, I’m kinda curious where all the other things they claimed were going to be here by now, are. Like, I thought it was said there’d be rivers in Alpha 13. Or how Alpha 12 would start to show the kickstarter pets; the list goes on. I understand it’s their game, and I understand we’re just the players. But to me, lately it’s felt more and more like all the other Early Release games out there, where we just sit back and watch what happens, unlike in the beginning when the community was a part of the game.

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Game development sadly does not work with a democracy. It’s necessary to have a rough roadmap with what needs to be done when (especially dependency-wise), but the order itself cannot be guaranteed as items will pop up that are more important.

For example, the AI is an evergreen. In order to make the game playable on low end machines, or with more units, there was (and still is to some extent) extensive work necessary. They’ve refactored much of the code into C++ which ought to bring performance improvements - but this is a change that I would guess wasn’t planned in the roadmap.

Things like rivers are not really possible right now as the whole terrain generation code was rewritten for the biome update in Alpha 12 - it’s a bit unfair to expect them to iron out bugs with that and then extend it even further within just one Alpha.

In the end though, rivers and kickstarter pets and all that are, more or less, just eyecandy. Water does not serve a purpose yet and the pets would be a gimmick if anything. From my observation, they’re focusing on two things right now: Optimization and getting “broad” content in. That means, adding stuff that could be used by other modders to expand the scope of the game.

Kingdoms were, up until now, a bit of a hassle to work with. You could have your own, of course, but it would have been a slight hack, or a major one if you wanted custom GUI. They’ve put in new tools so anyone could add a new kingdom now, relatively easy. They’re plugging in the new terrain generator too, so people could make different terrains.

What would the modding community (and therefore the player community) gain from rivers or kickstarter pets? Nothing in terms of additional value. Rivers would be some function that transforms the terrain that could in the best case be used to make valleys/canyons and as for the kickstarter thing, I don’t think anything would come out there.

In terms of optimization, I feel like the community shouldn’t have a say there at all, as in we shouldn’t be able to say “I was trying to build a house with 16 floors and it lagged like hell; can you fix the floor renderer already?” (imaginary example). They have at least a rough idea of where the bottlenecks are so whatever we might “demand” isn’t necessarily in our best interest.

In terms of broad content, maybe more influence on the design process could be desirable, but you shouldn’t forget that we’ve come a horribly far away since the beginning. The game, its architecture and its team have grown a lot. There’s things that are key elements for future updates and therefore should be implemented and tested thoroughly rather sooner than later. Some things might be desirable to have earlier on, but as I’ve said before, it might not add enough gameplay value to be considered at this stage.

I can follow the idea of having a say when you’ve paid money for something, but realistically speaking Kickstarter backers are not investors. They surely have an interest, but no obligation to do what the community wants. In some areas, this would probably hurt the game a lot more than it would help.

Plus, modding-wise, we had a monthly request kind of thing long ago. Nobody used it, so it died. Don’t forget that these kind of votes could also always bring some tension into the community, which might not be desirable.


Sorry if this comes off as rude, but it bothers me. Minecraft went from “we’ll add stuff” to “the modders will add it”, and personally, I don’t want to see this game go down that same lazy river. If that’s honestly the direction they’re going to go, and the community want it to go, then they should just end the game, release the source, and call it something else.

As for debugging and such being a bit higher priority, I will agree. But at the same time, if you rewrote the world generation, why wouldn’t you “rewrite” features you claimed you’re going to have into it? To me, that sounds like you’re fixing something you’re going to have to break later. Pets were a bad example also, but it was just an example.

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Minecraft is different and very, very difficult. Let’s take a look at how Minecraft handles these kind of things, as I see it:

  • Minecraft sessions usually last between weeks or months (rarely even years).
  • Every time a major update is released, mods have to be updated.
  • Some mods have been abandoned; no new version will be available or it will be taken over but at a later point. This mod is unavailable for the new version, for the time being.
  • Some mods may have some kind of “purge”, where the modder decides that the “virtual incompatibility” between versions makes a good time to start anew; refactor systems, recode some parts. This delays new versions and breaks backwards-compatibility.
  • Nowadays, there’s a few designated packs or combinations that are shipped together. In order to use the new version, all mods that you want to play with need to be updated to the new version.
  • Minecraft itself may introduce breaking bugs into its game itself or the API.
  • Mods may now corrupt worlds. There will be a time where everybody is figuring that out with test worlds; no “productive” playing is happening
  • Something may have changed (because there is no stable API yet); making mods incompatible.
  • Worst case: Something hasn’t changed, but a certain function is now behaving differently, introducing weird behaviour in a mod that goes unexplained for some time.
  • Players are unlikely to upgrade their worlds
  • because one or more mods have not been updated yet
  • because there is no backwards compatibility in one or more mods, or Minecraft itself
  • because the server admin/community decided against an update (to “play it safe”)

So even if Minecraft had weekly builds, the modding community likely wouldn’t switch unless there was a real value in an update - so basically, once in a blue moon. Because of this huge inertia, they can take their sweet time. By the time they release a new version, the modders may have caught up to the last one… So the community is always waiting on the modders, not the developers.

Players have little to no incentive to upgrade to a new version, either. Whatever they want is in the modded version, so whatever little feature the developers can offer for an upgrade will not outweigh the loss of all mods.

Stonehearth is, due to its nature, very different. It cannot offer you the modding capabilities that Minecraft does. But the community is - so far - very different, too. There are very little scripted mods, most of them can work with whatever components Radiant has supplied so far.

This is a clever move: Imagine you’ve created a game and sold it before it was done. You are expected to release updates frequently that add more and more “replay value” to your product. Now you can either try to create something amazingly new and unique with every update, exclusively, or you try something different: Tune down the expectations per update, but include little bricks that can be used by others to create their own content.

The “hiatus” between large updates is therefore bridged by the community itself. And this is great: It costs you very little to nothing, and they get what they want (because they create it themselves). You can continue to work on the core while others build a bit around it to extend the game.

This is different from “Here’s the game, here’s the API, now finish our game” that is sadly so often found in Kickstarter games. The most recent failure I’ve expected, for example, was this ecosystem simulation game where the developers seemingly had the idea to create one half of the game and the community would do the other half (and the best part, they would even pay for it). It’s taking a bit bizarre turns.

However, I would argue that this is not the case. Yes, they cannot deliver on promises made and that’s somewhat inexcusable (as in, it would be wrong to say “Oh, but no Kickstarter ever does”). They have parts where they really, really need to work on - and they do. However, these changes, as is often in sofware development, are not visible to end users, and this can be frustrating. You don’t really notice the modified pathfinding for example. You may notice that pathfinding is a lot faster, or that the game seems more fluid, but there’s no visible effect. It’s not a new class or mechanic or what not that brings you an additional three hour of play value; it’s just something that allows you to play longer/with more complex scenarios.

So the problem is that their construction sites (AI, pathfinding, memory - optimization in general) are invisible. It’s not recipe balancing or something else that would have a visible effect, so it’s fully understandable that whatever is changed there has no real long lasting impact.

About the rewriting: Rewriting code can be tiresome. Really tiresome. For me, as example, it’s usually like this: I code something and there’s new features added everywhere and sometimes you need to add something but think “eh, I’ll do it prettier later”, but later you have so many dependencies on that code that changes become impossible without a straight teardown and rewrite from ground up.

So you’re doing the same thing again, but using experiences from the last time - scenarios that didn’t even turn up when it was first made. For example, I’m sure they thought of having custom trees or what not, but they needed to get some sort of terrain going as soon as possible - so it was done in the most convenient way possible (which is often not maintainable nor optimized nor anything except convenient, really). You’re using these experiences, the problems that turned up during development and integrate them.

In this example, I wouldn’t have included rivers either. A rewrite is bad enough, making sure that everything afterwards works and looks the same is a big enough challenge. You want to keep changes between versions to a minimum, which might sound weird. Imagine they’ve added rivers and now suddenly, there’s holes in the landscapes (just straight down missing terrain all the way down). What’s going on? Is it the new terrain code? Is it the river? Is it something else?

So when rewriting, you’re usually aiming for “the same thing as before, but prettier”. Once you’ve got that, and it works fine, you can think of adding things. Because during the rewrite, you knew that this would be done soon after, so your rewrite, although it doesn’t contain it, has been built in a way to incorporate it easily enough.

In this case - and disclaimer, I know nothing about the actual new terrain stuff - I wouldn’t have included rivers, but maybe added some sort of functionality that allows to alter certain parts of the terrain after it was created. It could have been used for water straight away (lakes, as it is). So whenever I go back and add rivers, I could plug into whatever generates lakes and use it to generate rivers easily.

Of course, if you’re not rewriting properly, then yes, we’re doing exactly what you’re saying: We fix something by doing it again, only to notice that it wasn’t done good enough, so we start from scratch a third time. Third time’s a charm, eh?


@SirAstrix, I am going to respectfully disagree with your first paragraph. First, I feel that you cherry picked the text to quote. @RepeatPan’s comment referred to the developers focusing on features that can be used by modders was just that, adding tools and game elements for modders to play with, not ignoring features and asking modders to develop them instead.

As to the comment about rewriting world generation, I will also agree with @RepeatPan. Rewriting too much at once does not allow for good testing of bugs, as now the question is: “was this related to the generator or water changes” instead of “this is generator related.” Unit testing is very important in development like this.

People that follow your mod extend their game. Now, regardless of the game, multiple mods can break each other, as well as mod developers (the majority of the time) aren’t paid for what they’re doing. And thus within months to a year, mods are abandoned, and now the game I’ve grown to love will never be the same again. All so that the developers to push a little weight off themselves onto the FREE community.

I will agree with you that the backend is important. And yes I agree that we don’t see them like we do new content. BUT, at the same time, they shouldn’t be cutting their list of visible features down, just because they’ve done a lot of backend work, all in the name of the next release. My best example (and I may be wrong) but was the transition from Alpha 11 to 12. It honestly felt like a huge bug fix update, with very little of the content update they promised. I apologize in advance for this sounding petty, but I feel they should have held back with advancing, till ALL their goals were reached.

On the other hand, if this was a marketing ideal (increase interest in new version to increase revenue), then that’s a good enough justification. Yes that’s none of our business, so I can’t ask that.

Yes I cherry picked it, but at the same time, I felt that his entire reply was focus for modders, not taking into consideration people who don’t like mods. At the same time, if the developers are purposely adding specific content (whether that be front end or backend) just for the modders, how does that not say that they’re pushing some of their weight off? How does that not say what I was stating?

I will agree to this too. I was just looking at it in his latter statement of if it were not rewritten properly, not thinking about how if it were.

Arguably one of the toughest decisions the devs have to make is what to put in the next release. On one hand, both the developers and the players would like there to be big, visible changes in every update that is released. However, they, (the developers), need to balance that with the time between each release. If they work on too much for each Alpha, then the time between Alphas increases and people (players) can start complaining about when the next build will be.

Well, @RepeatPan is a modder, so I am not surprised that his response focused on modding. If you look back to the original campaign, the developers promised that the game would be very moddable, and they have worked very hard to ensure that it remains that way. They have not abandoned any features that were promised by attempting to “dump them” onto modders. Other than coding changes to allow for translation, I do not know of any features that they have added for the sole purpose of passing them on to modders.


It’s definitely a mixed blessing.

I remember how games used to work prior to the “DLC & mods” business. You’ve paid full price for the base game and maybe got one or two addons a few years later with some content for the same price. That’s it. That’s all the content you will ever get for that game. If you’re lucky, there was some sort of map editor or skin editor or whatever so you could have a little variation, but not much. Some developer or rather publisher decided when it was time to pull the plug from a game.

Thanks to modding, games can live on and on and on. There’s games released more than a decade ago that still have an active playerbase that extends it, builds new things and plays it. This wouldn’t be possible at all if the content creation died when the developer decided to abandon the franchise.

There has to be a clear intention behind it. In my opinion, modding should be embraced as it adds much to a game, but it should not be relied on. You should produce a stable game even when assuming that there’s going to be zero mods for it. There’s developers that can handle that pretty well (Cities: Skylines comes to mind), and others that can’t (cough Bethesda). It’s wrong to just assume the community will build half of your game.

However, the modding community is something that needs to be fostered from the very beginning, something which Radiant has neglected a bit too in my opinion. If you turn your back at them at some point, they’ll just move on and probably not look back - and suddenly whatever advantage you had (player created content that is enjoyed by players) turns into an disadvantage (player created content is suddenly not available anymore because of the developer). Example that comes into mind is Payday 2 with its recent choice to pretty much screw everyone and everything they can get their hands on. If you have mods becoming so vital to your game experience that players won’t play without them, you better watch out that you take care of those people in charge of those mods.

So what should they do instead? Delay the release another month so they can get more visual features in? There are only finite resources (mostly time in this case); they can’t just summon another Tony (plus chances are they would end up with another Tom, which wouldn’t be bad per se but not the desired result either) or whoever.

You’ll get people complaining about the infrequent updates. Release early, release often, and the earlier you release the more often you probably should. Especially in Early Access, showing vital signs is essential. Two months without updates or just half-hearted videos isn’t going to win you awards. What would they gain from this strategy? They have all these bug fixes which could cut down support requests and improve “quality of life” for the game; but they’re holding back to serve it with a bit of decoration? This isn’t in neither their nor our interest I would say.

I mean… Technically, we could say “Please stop wasting our times with those Alphas and come back when you have a final release candidate of the game”. We would probably wait a year or more without any testing or anything, really, but we would get the final release a few weeks earlier. That doesn’t really seem like an useful compromise.

I might be modding biased, that’s true enough. But you shouldn’t forget that with Stonehearth, things work differently than in most games. For example, Stonehearth itself is just a mod, too, as is Rayya’s Children. So whatever tools they develop to make modding easier is helping them create new content, too.

So whatever advantages they create for modders will be useful to them later down the road. I would even argue that some of the tools they create are too specific for exactly that one cause that they’re using right now (and little else).

They’re adding modding tools for whoever’s interested and themselves. It’s not like they’ve added some new functions, announced it huge into the world and then held a contest “Show us the prettiest biome you can think of [winner will be included in Alpha 15]”. They have no expectations. Maybe somebody uses it in this Alpha. Maybe somebody uses it this year. Maybe somebody will use it at all. I don’t think they’re actively betting on somebody filling the gaps, I was merely stating that it’s a possibility they have - one that I would rather have because it’s quite little effort for some gain.


I’ve seen this with game’s I’ve been an active part of modding communities with before (Freelancer for one). But at the same time, some take years (like freelancer with Discovery) to become only used by a single mod. Others though seem to fall into that from the start (Minecraft for example again with Technic). I apologize if it seems like I’m complaining about something that’s out of everyone’s hands, I personally just don’t want to see this game only be decent through mods.

That being said, if the developers found a way to incorporate mods into the final game, I’d love to see that as well, as it would help insure the continued support for the added content.

Visual features, no. Promised features, yes. If someone in their company makes a statement that they will have X or Y in a specific release, then we pass that release and have nothing but scratches of code for it, to me it feels like a let down. If they promise we can have 50 h-lings instead of 30, that’s performance, but it’s still a promise.

As much as it pains me, you’re right in this aspect, and I apologize for voicing against it. I guess it’s a double edged sword really…

I know this is always an option. But to me, it feels like the same cop-out as when your parents told you to do something “because I said so”. And I apologize if I sound like someone bitching about how an early access not being complete.

I will agree with your whole statement that I pull this from, but I want to focus on this sentence for a second. What if they do something like this? They did it for the store-house (or claimed they would at least). Would this not be a beautiful way to combine the modders with the developers?

But anyways, you make sense when you say they’re adding tools for themselves.

That all being said, I want to try and bring us back to the original topic if we can. As we’ve cleared now to why they have to have frequent releases, I’m still missing why they can’t have more interaction with the community; why can’t they ask what we want and try to run with that? @Tom kinda did that a while back with how long they held the additional work benches off. Or is it that I’m missing how winy the community has become since it’s Steam Release?

I don’t know about Discovery, but it’s vital to remember there’s three kind of modding architectures. If you’re building your game with modding in mind, you probably work on the modding API as you go. This is the case in Stonehearth, where like I’ve said, the whole game is actually a mod itself.

Then there’s games where modding support is somehow available, but not official; Minecraft falls into this category (by being decompiled/reverse engineered). Support here is wacky.

Then there’s the third, where the developer add a modding API later on, this would also be Minecraft at some point, or SimCity 2013 (which is a glorious example of how to not mod, I believe). In this case, you’ll have a hard time because unless you’ve prepared the code already, somehow stuffing an API through everything is going to be quite painful.

If we were at 2, or 3, I would say yes, that’s a completely justified statement. They shouldn’t waste time on a modding API of an unfinished product since that time could be better used. But seeing as they need the API themselves to actually build the game, I would say they’re “excused” (quotation marks because there’s nothing really wrong with that approach that would need to be excused in the first place, imho).

Whether or not early access is a viable or useful method of developing things (or making money, although that doesn’t require much debate I think) is a different topic. The point is kind of that instead of just reading blogs or looking at screenshots or watching trailers, we can be part of the development. In “oldschool” development processes, we wouldn’t even know about half the problems that are currently existing - up until the release at least, where we would just get a list of things not working yet and be left wondering what the hell they’ve developed in the past X years (see also: SimCity 2013…)

Well, it’s not happening now, but if it did, I would probably think otherwise too.

I don’t think combining modders with developers is a good idea. Both parties profit more if they’re independent of each other, rather than intertwined. The decade game I’ve mentioned earlier was doing this kind of thing; holding contests and the winning entries were reworked into an official pack (free of charge). This meant that the developer was now responsible for all those things, however. Which is technically nice of course, because it means it is supposed to work with each new version - but at the same time, increases the work necessary to create a new version, therefore increasing the risk of killing the project.

Of course I don’t know much about Radiant’s structure or resources available or what not, but I think that they’ve got enough to do with their own stuff, without having to worry about some third party assets they’re not completely familiar with.

Tom kinda had these strawpolls in his streams long long ago (back when I was still watching them from time to time) about what he should do, which probably gave them some idea what the community wants too. I don’t know if they’re still doing that kind of thing.

I guess the best person to ask here would be @brad however, as he is responsible for the community managing I believe. Maybe he has an idea how community feedback could be further integrated into the development process, or something like that.

The Steam community is toxic (in general, what I’ve seen in SH’s [Steam] community hub wasn’t much better though) so I could only understand too well if they want to keep their distance :stuck_out_tongue: (with that said, poor @brad).


I could be in the minority, but I feel that compared to most Early Access/in-development games there is a huge amount of interaction with the community. First, they have organized (and paid for) this forum which we all frequent. Second, the developers are frequently on the Discourse helping out with support and dealing with bugs (OK, except maybe Tom and Tony lately…). Third, they stream. Consistently. 3 times a week. I am a backer of many EA games, and I cannot report on any other game that streams that often and that consistently. Fourth, Desktop Tuesday. We can expect (and receive) a weekly update on something that is going on in the game. That might be a new feature, a bunch of bug fixes, or an opportunity to learn something about development. No other dev team that I can find comes close to matching this level of communication.

As a software developer myself, I can tell you that it is very hard to do so. The community asks for lots of things (the archer being one I see come up a lot), but as far as the devs are concerned there is no need yet. I would (if I was developing a game) be concerned that I would be asked to do something that did not make sense or wasn’t even possible yet. To return to the archer, there is currently no system for projectiles, so that would need to be solved first. Then, the archer could be added, but what would that do? Right now, the enemies aren’t powerful enough to require it. Thus, the next update (Alpha 14) is expected to include some major combat related updates. If they did decide to do what the community asked, out of the order that makes sense for development, they would have to deal with the “complaints” when the development took too long, or failed!

He still does so from time to time. The most recent I can remember was during the devstreamathon a while back.

I don’t feel like the community is “whiny,” in fact this is one of my favorite communities which I am a part of.

I was not planning to announce this just yet, but who can it hurt. The moderator team has been gearing up to work on an overhaul of the suggestions category. I am in the middle of a large post detailing some of what to expect, so I am not going to repeat myself here. Check out the Meta category in a little while.

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@Tom has stated before that this is a Dictatorship. Do you dare go against his authority?!