Hello, everyone! It’s been a bit slow for me this last week, as I’m working on some academic work at the moment. So, I figured in the meantime, I’d share one of the topics recently on my mind pertaining development.
Namely, redefining the terms of defeat in Stonehearth as the game continues to expand.
Currently, the only way to “lose” in the game is when all of your units are defeated (put delicately). If this is the case, then it will be very difficult in the future to lose, as I assume we will be able to create communities/outposts outside of our “city”. However, one thing I’ve realized contrary to this is that goblins essentially beeline straight to your hearthlings (and stockpiles)–this means either the goblins are globally omnipotent and immediately know where to go next (meaning nowhere is safe, and you can’t be a little daring or sparse), or that the player can simply evacuate all of their people and start again somewhere safe. If the focus of Stonehearth is first and foremost city management and defense, this defeats the purpose if you can just run away, or if it’s the people that are what the enemies are instinctively drawn to.
So, I would like to formally propose some sort of central “icon” or monument that is created upon the founding of your town. I am almost positive this idea has been tossed about on the Discourse (most likely as a central ‘Stone Hearth’), but I figured I would make a suggestion post that explores some of the finer details of the concept and how it would change Stonehearth.
What would the object be?
The central object could be numerous things: a statue, a special fireplace/hearth, or even something arcane for the magic/trade civilization, Kaya’s Children (see the Kickstarter). We currently have the Camp Standard (flag) as sort of the “heart” of our town, but this is actually something I’d like to craft and put around my settlement; plus, it seems…very weak. I don’t really have a strong preference myself, but one element I would like to see in whatever object fills this concept (to make it continue to fit your developing town) is a changing/improving design. The grander your city becomes and the more material you get, the more elaborate it can become–I’ll return to this in the mechanics below.
How would it work as part of the city?
- Safety beacon–As randomly-spawning enemies and events become more integrated into the game (such as the undead or goblin camps), there will likely need to be some sort of “logical safety perimeter” to prevent most of these events from landing right to or on top of your city. It would start off relatively small–encouraging building near the center of your establishment–and gradually increase as your city and object rise in rank and power (possibly requiring both to Worth and certain materials you can acquire). Building off of this…
- Increasing renown–The object can act similar to a Grand Hall in Gnomoria, and can open up more scenarios and events. Special immigrants and traders might only visit these larger cities, again offering more opportunities and surprises to the player.
- Initial drop point for trade/deliveries–Until you are able to establish new stockpiles specifically designed for acquiring items/money/etc. from visitors and trade, the object would act like the current Camp Standard (flag), but again I feel that at the very least it should grow from such a simple beginning into something grand and massive.
How would it work as part of the world/with enemies?
- Draws established enemies’ focus–Rather than every single villager and soldier that is part of your society (and your stockpiles), most established enemies (such as camps or other towns) will be firstly drawn to the general location of this object and whatever surrounds it in the process. Hopefully this will also result in limiting some of the taxation on the pathfinder, as the enemies won’t be trying to track down numerous moving units and go for one static location/object. More on this in the next section…
- Primarily trading location–The area around the object is where most traders will visit; smaller villages or outposts could create a trading zone as well, but rarer or higher-value visitors won’t usually go to them.
- Definition of defeat–If this object is destroyed, you lose. This will force the player to dedicate themselves to where they settle and come up with creative ways to fuel their empire and protect their people.
So all enemies will just beeline to this “object” instead?
No–I assume there will still be randomly spawning enemies in the game, like earlier. These foes can still pop up around wherever your people are in the world, meaning building outside of your city’s general area still has a risk.
What happens to the towns and outposts outside? Do they never get attacked by ‘established’ enemies?
Camps and invading armies should still be able to ‘find’ your outer dwellings and camps–it would take much more time, plus several variables that ‘expose’ their existence to the rest of the world. Building houses, stairs, and other constructions could contribute to a counter of ‘awareness’ in the world as more is built and the longer it has existed (this also brings up abandoning buildings and reclaiming them, which we haven’t gotten to yet in development; just assume the enemies find your old structures and beat the tar out of them for now–once destructible structures is implemented).
Another element I’ve actually mentioned before is the enemies’ ability to track and follow roads that either you, another player, or the world has made. If there’s a road, clearly it must go somewhere, right?
Also, as mentioned earlier, a “trade depot” or “marketplace” of sorts to allow trading would increase the enemies “awareness”; if there’s a known trading location/place of respite, someone could overhear news of it and decide to threaten, raid, or even capture it!
So I’ll just mine and cut lumber without any structures, roads, or trading. No one can find me!
Well, yes, but that’s…really…going to hinder your resource collection. True that only your people would know and could hypothetically keep mum about it, but your people can still be attacked by random enemy groups, and they have no means of getting supplies apart from transporting them yourself (at a likely slow pace, given the lack of roads and the potential hindrance to wagons and foot travelers this can result in). The farther you go from your city, the more critical a solid foundation for trade, transport, and defense becomes.
Plus, there’s always the possibility of scenarios in the future like “Hearthling ‘A’ miffed the wrong people and a kidnapping gang is coming straight for them!”, where the group supposedly kept tabs on the settler and knows where they’re going. In a case like this, yes, a large enemy could be drawn to specific people or structures.
So, that’s my rant for now on how the game’s losing conditions can be redefined in anticipation of gameplay elements to be added. Again, I’m fairly certain this concept has at least been mentioned beforehand, but I wanted to shape it a little more and create a place where the community can discuss hypothetical scenarios and situations that would test its feasibility, plus any other details that could improve it.
I hope you guys enjoyed, and as usual, please feel free to offer criticism, judgment, and other assorted responses on the concept!
Until next time, see you all later!