Defining "Game Over" in Stonehearth: Defend the Central Monument?

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.

Potential issues

  • 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!


I have a very simple answer for you; a King. Start with a Crown that once assigned can’t be reassigned. That Hearthling becomes a King or Queen, and has the ability to build a throne. Wherever the thrown is, the King / Queen will always be within 5 cubes of it, and if they are defeated, the kingdom is lost. Outposts could use the current flags, to which if an enemy gets to it and destroys it, the outpost is lost. This would also fit with why higher ranked visitors would come. Why would you want to visit a King of a few tents?

As the number of hearthlings increases in your village, the King’s / Queen’s power increases as well, allowing you to establish more outposts, as well as unlocking new “quests” to send your disciples on.


If I remember correctly, Tom said on the streams that this object would be the firepit/hearth at the beginning of the game. Once that one is destroyed (or stolen I guess), it’s game over.


If there is some sort of defend objective, I really hope this doesn’t devolve into a tower defense rather than a city builder.


I’m sure it’s the flag since the description says “used to mark territories” or something like that

The descriptions aren’t set in stone yet. Many of them are still sort-of-placeholders I expect.


If that’s true then I shouldn’t of stolen that goblin camp fire (I had to it looks too awesome to be destroyed)

Interesting take on the idea, but I must disagree, because of this part…

[quote=“Atralane, post:1, topic:11703, full:true”]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

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.[/quote]

  1. First, a very defensively-minded player will almost always have an advantage over the AI when it comes to holding out forever: from entirely walling in your settlement to creating trap-filled mazes and such designed to defeat the AI, settlements in mid-air… there are various ways to put your hearth / statue / whatever beyond the reach of the AI. All you’ve done here is make it easier for the player to avoid losing, because an inanimate object is easier to hide away in a cave than a bunch of hearthlings that need to eat etc.

  2. ATM the AI is still very much a work in progress, but still, I would expect goblins to be able to track down your hearthlings - even if Radiant doesn’t show it, you can be sure they’re unwittingly leaving tracks and other signs for the goblins to follow.

  3. Suppose I have a town of, oh, 100 hearthlings, but lose 80 to a rampaging orc horde / Cthulhu / whatever, and only manage to escape with 20 little guys. Well… I’m probably still screwed, because (a) the game will consider the largely-abandoned town as wealth, and calculate enemy attacks based on that, and (b) when all is said and done I’ve still lost 4/5 of my population (and if it’s anything like DF, I’ve scared away this year’s supply of immigrants too). Not a good situation by any means. Sure I may be able to recover, but equally it’s likely to be the beginning of the end for that particular game.

  4. Finally… what actually makes a real city? Now in real life you can point to things like location and such, but fundamentally it’s the people that make it.


I agree with @Teleros totally. And while I think Tom confirmed that there will be some sort of upgradeable town center, I don’t think it should be a primary target for your enemies to attack.

True, but I was suggesting that when you place your settlement at the beginning of the game, that’s where this hypothetical object gets deployed; no secret bunker caves, no floating block up at the world height limit, but a feasible, surface-based location (of course, Dwarves throws a wrench into this scenario, but we’ve yet to even begin seeing how they might function in the game). And sure, you can build mazes and traps around this object, but eventually I expect the foes to be able to bash through walls, build basic bridges and ladders, and even tunneling.

Really, the issue is that we’ve seen no destructible content in Stonehearth yet, so yes, right now it essentially would be a tower defense if this concept was put into action at this point–this isn’t what I’m suggesting the game become. I’d want whatever object this is to be an active part of the game, requiring accessibility and interaction.

Really? I merely said this object is what draws the largest, most organized enemies–there’s still other enemies that can spawn near your people or the prospect of events that target them as well. If we’re considering Titans in the future, surely they wouldn’t spawn at Baub Winset, the one villager out in the wilderness mining a single stone–they’d go for the heart of your population and power. And surely there’ll be ways for enemies to reach the object in the future or attack it from a distance (a critical element that makes tower defense/mazes/traps largely redundant).

Right, I agree. But I don’t think it should be too common that enemies are able to perfectly track your people outside the safety of your city. Most intelligent foes would be primarily drawn by constructions like roads and structures, while something like wolves or zombies could be drawn further away instinctively by smell/sound/etc. It would take a little while for these different means of drawing/tracking to be implemented in the game, like invading enemies’ means of conquering the environment and overcoming structures.

Unless it gets razed or taken over. Again, not implemented yet, but I’d expect that in the future as well.

Mainly, I don’t want the game to develop into “Make structures, but the enemies really just go straight for your people, wherever they are in the world. Once they’re all found, you lose.” In my opinion, it feels like it makes the point of city-building more of a façade than the real focus of the game. You need people to build a city, and you need a city with defenses to protect and organize them into a greater entity; both elements are critical.

What if it was a hearth that had to keep burning or you lose? that way you have the single inanimate object, but you still need to access it.

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That’s actually a pretty interesting concept for a game mode; I’d be interested in trying something like that. I’m not certain how well it’d work for a standard game (especially in certain biomes like tundra and deserts to be added; fuel would be pretty limited), but I could clearly see this arising either from the community or the team themselves as a way to mix it up.

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What if this were a territory thing. Since obviously we’re talking about multiple maps forming a region, what if when you chose where to start, you could see how close you were to Goblin and Dwarf territories, as well as if there are any indications of Titan residence? You build in the bad lands where there’s very few resources and your closest neighbor requires a plane to get to, then you’d rarely be attacked expect by maybe (and very few number of times at that) small goblin scout parties. Now you build a town that’s a stone’s throw from Goblin Central Command, you can be assured they’re sending raiding parties like it’s 1999.

I would have to see how this is implamented first to tell you how I feel about it. If it requires a constant supply of fuel, then I’d have to see how it were balanced. If its a phoenix and just burns to burn, then it’s really no different than a flag. Also, say I’ve only got a town of 5 Hearthlings (goblins ate the rest), and I get attacked. Do one of them stay back to defend it, or if they all go to defend the walls, and it burns out for lack of fuel, do I lose?

I like both this and the OPs suggestions. As to what will define what is the town and not that could be defined by the object itself. If you start the settlement with a flag or stone hearth, a progression path could follow it. When you feel you have enough resources or big enough town you upgrade it after certain criteria, the next stage maybe needs to be indoors, maybe it requires hearthlings of certain professions or just materials to build it. And with it when the camp standard or fire pit is upgraded you also appoint a mayor who can eventually ascend to be a king or queen.

It could also incorporate a influence area mechanic, you can only “build” or place stockpiles within the influence or reach of the standard, and the area grows with upgrades. In a similar fashion if you need to make an outpost then you construct and place a flag down where needed. Maybe with its own rule set, it has to connect with the original towns influence or be a maximum squares away from its influence, and maybe that in turn is affected by roads and so on. My 2 cents on this :smile:

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These options could be a good idea if introduced as additional game options when starting a new game.
This would add variety and challenges to a game on demand.

In one game would could choose for your town protects a valuable artifact - in the next you raise the future king from a child - then you play a game where your hearthlings smell delicious so that they attract lots of monsters on a regular basis.

It would add lots of replay value to the existing game, and would allow people to play to their tastes without locking people into one game style/type.

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Has anyone here played that mobile game Block Fortress? The one where a bunch of goblins try to tear apart your blocky fortress to get to a single structure that cannot be destroyed.

Now, it’s not a bad game. But if this “defend the X” system is adopted, Stonehearth will become just a tad bit too similar to Block Fortress, which in my opinion is a completely different direction from what should be the case with Stonehearth. This isn’t a bad idea, just not one that fits the game.

I agree, the “game over” shouldnt just be as you said, fail to defend X and lose, that makes it too much of a tower defend. And with the tools available, as someone said earlier in thread its super easy to make it inaccessible to enemies by digging out chasms, moving X or maze it in with slabs. It needs to be more organic somehow in recognizing what defines a town and when you have lost enough that the hearthlings won’t put up with your mismanagment anymore.

Good point, also I would like to be able to go on the offensive and Stonehearth Alpha 1 is Now Available! – Stonehearth states that is also a playstyle they plan, so I prefer the sandbox to the tower defends.