[Brainstorming session] Animations to make the Hearthlings feel more like people, then robots

Watching the video and reading all the replies… Now i want to make a Mod for adding more animations…
Wait, i already had that planned!


Thanks for the suggestions so far everyone! :smiley: Really great ideas we have so far! Here are some quick notes for thought…
•Animations are for immersion, not frustration lol. Don’t make the Hearthlings more defiant of you as they already are.
•Any current existing animations such as “idle” can be improved if you think there should be improvements.
•You can also add some monster/enemy animations if you’d like.
•Don’t be afraid to post any concerns that you have for Hearthlings not building or working, it can allow us to fix any problems to might arise. We’re here to improve immersion, not break the game. Hopefully. Maybe.

Again, thank you all for posting what you have so far!


I was delighted when I saw an injured hearthling crying. More injury-related stuff like bandaged heads, arm slings or crutches while at low health would be great to see.


The game already has some of these elements, but I agree that more can’t hurt. It’s part of the charme that makes Stonehearth what it is, with its cute little details and animations.

  • Hearthlings already eat together. I think their hunger has two levels, one for “I’m hungry” and one for “I’m starving”. At regular intervals, all hearthlings that are hungry will be called for dinner at the same time. If a hearthling is starving however, they will eat immediately. More event like this could easily be implemented as mods.
  • There’s already a concept of “stuff to do when idle”. For example, during the night hearthlings gather around the campfire, or they’re daydreaming. This could be extended, I suppose. I believe there were references once to playing with pets… might still be?

In the end, it just breaks down to adding more variations of the AI. I suppose the sheep petting one could be fun to implement, as the shepherd needs to “lock” the sheep, then walk to it, then pet it, then unlock it… and start over with the last sheep. The idea of locking a sheep like a resource sounds somehow intriguing.


maybe we start with some organised dayplan, made by the player. like havin 24 h a day and manually preplan the day, 4h sleep, 1 eat, 2 gathering, 4 crafting /building, several hours “free time”. With additional priorited tasks which have to be completed as fast as possible. So depending how much free time and well organized the players plan is, the hearthlings could generate “happiness wealth status” as required gamemechaninc for new citizen (no one wants to live in slavery village, aye?). Additionaly the carpenter could craft a billboard where hearthligns could pin up their personal needs (like mini quest for the player, craft some plushie toys, more decorations etc…) or even really small quest, which spawn a small camp of enemies or the player has to scroll over the map and find manually an item or animal. (something like in anno 1404 venedig). Other aspects could have also impact on the hearthlings happiness like variety of food (some might have personal tastes, which would expand the need of more different recipies for the cook). Personal clothing which is simply a “style” object for them, while it got no practical use (like different model for the straw hats of the farmer)
Simply interactions between the hearthlings and the player mastermind.

I think the most cost effective way to make them feel more alive would be by letting them speak to each other, using speech bubbles with icons in them. There could be both emots and subject icons. To keep it looking nice and clear all the icons should probably be painted (so no pictures of specific voxel models) but the subject icons should be general enough so that there won’t have to be a lot of them. For example there just need to be one for monster (maybe like a black emot with red eyes and horns). Semi random combinations like one emot and two subject icons in the same speech bubble could quite easily make the player wonder what they’re actually saying (“Oh so you love eating monsters? That’s not creepy at all…”).

Another good think about talking is that they can do it all the time, not just when they’re idle, though idle hearthlings might walk over to someone to start a conversation.
As long as they’re close enough to another hearthling there is a chance that one of them will say something and once someone said something there is a higher chance that someone else will respond. Responding could be a “task” that is thrown around. Others might respond with emots at the same time, so a whole group could start laughing or get angry.
To make it look more like an ongoing conversation the response could repeat at least one of the former subject icons.

Usually works the same as talking but with larger speech bubble and a smaller chance of happening.
It would be nice if they could shout warnings. If someone sees an enemy approaching town they shout a warning, which spreads from hearthling to hearthling and the guards won’t come running until they hear it. Could also be combined with warning bells.

Same as talking but they can do it on their own or at the same time as someone close by. Different songs could have different colored notes in the speech bubble. Hearing others sing makes them more likely to sing along and they might keep singing even if they walk away, so a song can spread through town.

Turning heads and hand gestures
On the animation side I think it would add a lot if they dynamically turned their heads (and maybe upper bodies a little bit) to look at points of interest. Not all the time and probably not at all while they’re working.

It would also be nice with animated hand gestures that match the emots in their speech bubbles. This would probably be limited to when they’re idle or walking, and only with hands that are not holding anything.


I’d like to see some job-based animations but I’d like to see other ones as well, ones based on the environment you create when you’re designing your town and the items you put in it.

Hearthlings sitting on benches swinging their feet or watching people go by.

Hearthlings up late at night, hunched over a writing desk, either shaking their head and crumpling up a paper or nodding and straightening up their stack of papers, until finally they either put their pen away (with confident emphasis) or they throw it down on the desk in disgust.

Hearthlings picking up plush toy rabbits and holding them as they sleep. Or stopping by a toy rabbit and making it dance or swinging it around before setting it back down with either a suddenly very self-aware glance around or a confident pat on the bunny’s head.

Herbalists sitting down with a cup of tea (or, if you don’t mind the ESRB bump, a Gandalfian pipe) now and again.

Weavers knitting scarves idly.

People sitting by the fire sometimes having sticks with sausages or marshmallows on the end, with one or the other occasionally catching fire.

Stopping to pet the town’s pets, or giving them treats in exchange for performing tricks.

Masons doing an air guitar headbang number in front of their higher tier workbench with the flames going before going back to work.

Workers who’re constructing a building stopping now and again to try and figure out the right orientation for the blueprints.

Hearthlings who are all sitting at the same table occasionally swaying in sync while raising glasses in song.

Random Hearthlings stopping by the Cauldron to take a spoonful taste, and occasionally one adds a bit of something to the pot. If the Cook’s nearby, have a chance the Cook will chase the Hearthling away from the Cauldron with their Spoon.

The Cleric occasionally stopping in prayer and raising thier hands up as they summon a mote of light that levitates upwards before disappearing in a flash.

The Footmen and Knights occasionally pairing off to spar, smacking swords (wooden, in the Footmen’s case) or doing backflips to avoid swings.

The Archer trying to get random non-military Hearthlings to balance an apple on their head, and the Hearthling’s waving their hands in an emphatic no. This can lead to the Hearthling running away for a moment or two.

Hearthlings climbing trees, peeking out and waving to their friends.

The occasional pair of idle Hearthlings playing a card game or a board game of some kind.

If you get three or more idle Hearthlings hanging out, have one or more break out a musical instrument (pan pipes, bongos, guitar, flute, bass cello) and any who aren’t playing start clapping and nodding while the musicians play. At the end, the audience claps while the musician(s) nod approvingly.

Once in a great while, a Hearthling looks around, then gives another Hearthling a red flower, which is accepted with a happy clap and nod. Even more rarely, this happens near a corner of a building or by a tree, and a goblin/kobold/dwarf/bunny/necromancer/ogre/any humanoid who’s not one of your Hearthlings peeks out before stepping forth and accepting the flower, then disappears again.


I think the thing (for me at least ) that makes them seem like mindless drones (on top of working practically 24/7) is that they are too perfect. None of them have any flaws. They all work together perfectly and theres no hatred or love complicating the efficiency of your town’s infrastructure.
To get past this, rather than just add a few things to add personality (such as the greetings you mentioned), you could add some things that make them flawed. The odd Hearthling could steal a few things from the stockpile (gasp) or even murder another hearthling after having a small feud with them over something. Although this sounds like a pain in the arse to make and/or play with it’d give you something more to do than just watch them run around when they’re busy building things or mining things.
Crime of course brings a new element to the game for the player, having to build things to accommodate criminals, such as a prison or execution or whatever. This goes against the cheerful happy vibe that surrounds everything in this game however that vibe is one of the things that makes them all seem too perfect and robotic. None of them ever have sadness when a fellow hearthling dies, etc.

On the flip side of the coin theres things like dynamic relationships, families, etc.

WOW! Some really awesome suggestions, thank you everyone!

Just some tips for further suggestions - the more similar it is to the current action (time duration, motion, etc.) - the easier it is for an animator to make. The more complex the interaction, and the more involvement with multiple assets (like the plush bunny) or other entities (like another hearthling, or a goblin) - the harder it is for an animator to do, and often requires AI programming and/or additional technology. (It may sound silly, but picking something up like a book and having it open to leaf through it is actually very complicated from a technical standpoint.)

For a good example - sitting at the campfire, busting out a marshmellow to roast. That’s pretty awesome : ), the hearthlings are already sitting stationary for a set amount of time.
And another - Musician playing to a crowd. Now this does break the ‘multiple hearthlings’ issue, so it would require programming - but from an animation standpoint this is very easy. It can be broken down into separate animations like:
o Play Music
o Stand in awe
o Clapping
o Courtsey/Bow
And another - I really like the class specific idles like: Weavers knitting scarves idly, and Soldiers banging their shields or raising their arms before or while charging into battle.

Some examples of harder things:
Picking up an asset in the world.
Touching another Hearthling.
Throwing one asset to another hearthling.

Not that we will never do these more complicated things, I’m just giving you guys a basis for easy vs. complicated : ).

Cheers! And thank you again for all the suggestions.


In limiting the number of heartland’s at work on a side project set it by the size of a mining block. 1 harling / footprint of mining block. So if you have a house that is 8 x 8 block footprint with a door and single story or two story you’d have 4 hearthlings that would work on it because if I remember correctly a mining block is 5x5 or 6x6. It would also be nice that if a hearthling finishes a mining or building task he searches with in maybe t10 blocks away if there’s another mining or building tasks on the same project and the hearthling it’s a signed to is more than double his distance away. Also he has the resources or empty space in his inventory to do that building / mining project he can steal it from the other hearthing.

Hey so I was thinking, about Animations, and it got me thinking. Why dont they have children in the game yet? So like instead of hearthling joining you, they just reproduce. I know there is a thread out there in the forums, can someone please give me the link. Also since children arnt fully capable of working, it would be cool to have some unique animations for them, like playing tag, and you dont find out their characteristics until they grow up, but their animations while they are young reflect to what characteristics they get when they grow up. Like if one child falls, and the other helps it up it will have a good caring characteristic.

During building, hearthlings will be looking at the building or gathering together to make plans. While these animations play off, the hearthlings on the task do not have to pathfind, and so the game can run building computations.

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I would like to bring in my experience with the game called “diggles”, that is very similar to stonehearth and contains the “fun and spare time”- factor.
As- is, this factor would be a huge downside since all of the villager’s actions are too ineffective to compensate for spare time.
In the “diggles” game, you’d have your citizens skipping work because of being unhappy. The need for constant improvements to spare time happiness made midgame management a mess up to a point where most of your citizens wouldn’t work at all and people started to starve to death. I knew this game very well and still had a lot of trouble with that.

So all in all: Make working twice as efficient and get a proper setup for happiness values or don’t add it.

I believe Radiant’s mostly decided against children, for a number of reasons.

First, games right now are way too short for children to grow up.
Second, if Hearthlings are growing up, will they also die of old age?
Third, with the PEGI rating system the game’s more violent if children can die, but then it’s unrealistic if they’re invincible.
Fourth, reproduction’s a messy topic.

I’m sure the official list goes on.

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I guess the interaction between the heartlings and the player is not going to happen then… maybe a player avatar like a mayor or clanleader ingame could fix that?
Well animations should add some humor to the game in my opinion, one of the funniest things at this point in the games development, is when you actually sit and think about, how the heartlings get themself into really dangerous situations, or just other stuff based on bad AI, like ending up on a cliffside with no way down?
Mechanical this is a bad feature, but i like the humor in the situation and hope when the heartlings AI gets better, the humor will be implemented in other parts of their behavior?

All the heartlings go and eat at the same time… same thing every day… same damn carrotsoup… but one day one of the heartlings jumps up on the table and starts to sing and dance! The other clanmembers laugh and laugh tumbling down from their chairs… maybe a bit much, but i think it made my point? :wink:

Climbing down a ladder, could be replaced with sometimes gliding down, like a fireman or something?

The footman could get out a sharpeningstone and use it on his sword?

The farmer could look around a bit frantic, and when reasured noone is looking, grabing a extra huge carrot from the pocket and eat it?

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I think a good game to maybe look to for making AI feel more human and less robotic might just be the Sims franchise from EA! I’ve been a long time fan and while it may be a completely different mindset between sims and stonehearth I’m sure a few things can be plucked!

For example small variations in sleeping postures/positions or eatting animations based on whatever the max stat is to determine their personality? Or even small standing animations depending on the max stat.

silly examples:
Body- do stretches when idling randomly
Spirit- maybe a small meditation/prayer/ takes out a flower from pocket to sniff
Mind- pull out a book from pocket and read it/ daydream or thinking then suddenly a little lightbulb esc animation of a new idea

these could be intermingled with the class specific animations to give them a little more flavor and variety. I’m sure you could even go deeper with the sub stats but I don’t mess around with them enough to give specific example ideas!

Or to simplify it even more have actions dedicated only to certain objects that are added in late game? Such as a practice dummy for your militia to practice on (perhaps with a very slow exp gain attached if at all)

sorry if htey’re a bit too complex, I try to keep resources and effort in mind when giving ideas! I expect animations like this to be a bit of fluff and icing on the cake to be added later but still excited for them! qwq


Papyrsatyr, I had an idea for the opposite, in one regard.

Use Goblin animations occasionally (e.x. ear pickin’) for hearthlings with 1 Mind.

Aww thats a bummer, because I mean it is reality. It would bring a realistic feeeling to the game. It It is kinda wierd when hearthlings dont die though. I always feel sorry for when a hearthling dies. Who knows mabye it would make a cool mod.

The level-up skills sometimes mention things that can be made into animations. A level 6 knight for example, has a horn to draw attention.


expanding idea.

introduce needs and personality, to drive the animations in more believable manner, instead of random, or hard-scripted fashion.

Needs, (similar to the “bars” in Sims), represent basic needs such as general happiness, hunger, thirst, sleep, social, fun, cleanliness and …eh… toilet. When they get low, the hearthlings will need to deal with them or something negative will happen (similar to Sims’s moodlets. e.g. not going to toilet in time because the player keep forcing the poor hearthling to do other work may make him soil his pants, creating a decrease in happiness, penalty to productivity for a period of time. Needs will drive the Hearthling to take actions in order to satisfy them (though Hearthling’s personality may affect the tolerance, urgency associated with different needs accordingly)

Usually, a Need can be satisfied by more than one type of action. E.g. if a Hearthling is in need of fun, what is available could be influenced by what furniture/facilities is built by the player. There may also be some which does not need facilities (e.g. sing to oneself). Which action the Hearthling choose will can be weighted (with possible random factor) on the effectiveness of the method, as well as the Hearthling’s personality (including interests/hobbies). (e.g. a hearthling who likes music may choose singing even if it is less effective than another action)

Also, some standard actions may have different variants depending on personality.

E.g. borrowing the idea of how a herbalist’s action of caring for his patients…

A cool herbalist may just go about his duties, without any redundancy. He just do what is required and move onto next patient or more work, and is efficient in terms of time.

A compassionate herbalist, however, may take more time to sooth the patient, (insert appropriate animations etc), which makes him slower than the cool version earlier, but he greatly improves the mood (happiness, etc) of the patient, which in turn may help that patient recover productivity faster.

just some ideas of the top.