Any way to increase performance?

Hello. I’m playing Stonehearth on a laptop which meets the minimum requirements to play the game. I set everything on min in quality and only using the ACE mod. When I start playing it generally goes fine, but the game gets slower as I keep playing. Is there any way to increase performance without having to install drivers or just switching to a better PC? thanks

Since you’re already running minimum settings, it sounds like the only place left to improve is in “garbage accumulation” – like any simulation game, Stonehearth collects a lot of info as you play it (e.g. keeping track of every item, building, hearthling, enemy, campaign node, etc. etc.) and sometimes this lingers around in memory. What it means is that, over time, the computer has to sort through more and more info to find what it’s looking for; and while there are “garbage collector” functions built in to cut down on this accumulated junk info, some gradual slow-down is inevitable. The way to fix this is simple though: take a break regularly (1 hour seems to be a good medium-point for most people, but obviously your mileage will vary) where you fully shut down the game and let your computer really clean up any random lingering garbage. It’s a good chance to take 5 minutes to stretch or whatever, and I’ve found the best results come when you load up another game or program before re-starting (not just with Stonehearth but with other simulation-heavy games too.)

Aside from that, there are a few other ways you can help your game run smoothly – and most of them actually make the game easier/faster (not just run faster but you actually get things done faster too!) and teach you good habits for project management. Here’s a list:

  • always try to find ways to break big tasks down into smaller tasks, or break them up into stages. Instead of, say, clearing a large area of forest at once I’d recommend setting up stockpiles for wood near the area to be cleared, then clearing a small area, letting the hearthlings haul the wood to storage, and then repeat with another section until you have all the space you need cleared. When hearthlings create a lot of items through large harvesting and mining jobs it means more work for your computer (as well as more “garbage” later down the track); keeping things within easy limits will mean your computer has a much easier time and it doesn’t have anywhere near as many failed tasks piling up, and avoids a huge backlog/“to-do list” of jobs.
  • keep items in storage containers wherever possible – the more your computer has to render, again, the harder it has to work. Even if your laptop has a gaming-spec graphics card, laptops traditionally are limited in their graphics and processing power (i.e. these are much more likely to be your bottlenecks than, say, HDD read/write speed.)
  • the AI is arguably the most expensive part of the game for your computer to run, so any time you can make a decision for it (i.e. reduce the number of options it has to evaluate) the less work your laptop has to do. One example is complex pathing – if there are a bunch of equally long routes to get to a commonly visited place, then the computer will have to choose between them each time. Using roads is one way to give hearthlings a preferred path, and it’s not advisable to spam a lot of doors into a single building (I’m not talking about, say, an inn with a lot of individual rooms; I’m talking about a dining hall with 10 doors around the different walls to give access from all sides.) This really shouldn’t have a large impact on performance; but if you’re trying to do everything you can to streamline your game’s running it’s worth a shot. In general, though, the biggest thing is to try and keep paths short and simple – a 1000-block road still takes a lot more processing power than a 50-block literal maze with doors and ladders and such, simply because of how the pathfinder works. This brings me to my next point…
  • it’s been hinted at in a few previous points, but always try to cut down on walking distance. It’s the single biggest performance-chewer which can be easily eliminated. Keep similar workshops together, and try to get materials in position near worksites before giving jobs (e.g. if you’re building a house then it’s better to move a crate full of materials to the construction site before you begin than to have your workers constantly running back and forth to collect materials, drag them over and then use them.) One great trick is to put containers near mining and harvesting sites, and then move the filled containers rather than having each item (log, rock, etc.) be hauled back individually.
  • golems take less processing power to run than hearthlings do, so don’t be afraid to give them the menial jobs once you have access to them. If your population is limited for performance reasons, that’s a perfect time to use cricket golems and possibly mule golems (although I often find that farmers will handle the harvesting just fine… unless you want, like, a single high-level farmer constantly planting things for a mule golem or two to harvest.)
  • every enemy on the map is another thing for the game to keep track of; and each one has a full AI brain that needs to run. Clearing out enemies, or playing on peaceful, will help prevent an overload of AI brains. Another common issue (partially fixed, but it can still crop up in a “perfect storm” scenario) is that if lots of enemies are trying to find a way into your town and there physically is none, then it creates a lot of pathfinding calculations which will fail and spawn a new one – quickly filling up the processor queue again.
  • lights tend to have a large impact on performance if you use a lot of them, and shadows cast by those lights even more so. You should be able to use the default limit of lights as set by the low setting without any dramas; but if you’re intentionally using them to make lots of shadows (e.g. some Rayya’s Children decorations are set up for this), then it could create a performance hit. You’ll know easily if it’s the case though, because the performance will drop at sunset when all the lights come on.

If you generally try to keep your town compact (not necessarily small, but not intentionally spread out over a large area with lots of empty space), tidy and not a maze of complex pathways then you shouldn’t run into these kinds of “excessive workload” issues, and honestly it’s only the most extreme cases which actually cause visible performance hits. However, by keeping these things in mind you can reduce the general load on your PC, and many of them should make it easier to complete the things you want to do in-game at the same time, so it’s win-win even if they’re not visibly helping your performance :merry:

Good luck, and if there’s anything specific giving you issues please feel free to give us more detail about it – there may be other optimisations out there, or a mod you can use to help, or something else… the more specific you can be, the better chance we have to help.