Desktop Tuesday: Smarter Hearthlings

Other Announcements

Quarterly Europe Stream, featuring Allie and Chris, happens at 8:30am PST on Wednesday, 11/8. Bring all your art and building questions!

You can also find Linda’s very first solo stream on Thursday, 6:00pm PST. Ask her about crafting and the new appeal system, which is our focus for Alpha 23, or about her recent forays into long term multiplayer security/reliability infrastructure.


I just noticed your link’s broken. Will leave a better comment once I’ve actually seen the DT.


Super happy with the A.I. changes. Wrote a few in the last days so I know this is all welcomed. If something is going to break and need update, don’t forget to warn us! :stuck_out_tongue:


Dunno why but I’ve read the topic as “Smaller hearthlings”.


It’s because of the extra slash at the end.

Very cool update. Smarter Hearthlings will go a long way towards creating a smoother gameplay experience. I’m excited to see how far I can push this!


Fixed. Sorry about that.

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Having my Hearthlings not drop things and starve themselves for no reason sounds great. Looking forward to pushing the new limits!


Man, I’ve been so scared of the AI system, I’ve actively avoided playing with/ even looking at that code :laughing: Hopefully you can show me a few basic pointers when I feel ready @BrunoSupremo :slight_smile:


Ooooh… every time I hear the words “smarter hearthlings” I get nervous – I’ve had a LOT of bad experiences with players in a variety of games who try to pin every problem they come across on “the AI is too dumb!!1!”; on more than one occasion it’s meant that a perfectly logical and predictable system got replaced with a convoluted and less-controllable system, but in most of those cases it did very little to solve the actual issues of the game having a different sense of priority to what the player held.

That said, I’m very pleased to hear about those smaller and subtler changes such as making the hearthlings prioritise required resources over resources in surplus. Part of me feels like I should be screaming “nnnnooooooo! Teach players that they have to manage that themselves!”; but then I remember how annoying it is to constantly watch the stockpiles and micro-manage the hauling by splitting the tasks up (e.g. instead of giving an order to haul all the wood, only selecting some of it and then selecting some stone from another site, to make sure a little of each is done rather than leaving it up to hearthlings to decide.)

It’s going to be interesting to see how the “improved dilligence” plays out though. I definitely do like the sound of dynamically changing priorities, that’s going to be a serious help for players who aren’t used to juggling so much information at once. At the same time though, it’s going to be even easier for players to work their hearthlings to death indirectly now – although with any luck, the dynamic priorities should counteract that to some degree; it may even totally prevent that situation if the game is able to prioritise the essentials over all else when things get desperate enough.

By far the best news IMO is the config file making it easy for advanced players to tweak their own priorities. Half of the learning curve in games like Stonehearth is figuring out how things work “behind the scenes” (e.g. understanding that given the choice between hauling and crafting, a hearthling will almost always choose crafting if they’re physically able to complete it), after that the remaining learning curve breaks down to understanding the challenges the game throws at you and applying your knowledge of the underlying mechanics. With the ability to tweak the hearthlings’ decision-making process, players will be able to more finely control their responses to some of the more common challenge situations, which takes the pressure off and frees up time to think about “big picture” stuff like how the town is going to be built. It also allows for somewhat faster completion of “chores”(obtaining resources and hauling them), again making more time for the fun stuff.

I still firmly think that no matter how smart you make the hearthlings, “garbage in, garbage out” is going to be the main factor of how smart they appear to players. But some of these improvements sound like they genuinely will help the hearthlings to sort garbage commands from essential ones, which could well take the pressure off of rookie players as they come to grips with how the hearthlings work. The cynic in me thinks that these changes will encourage more bad habits among new players, but if the systems are able to counteract them then it should mean an overall improvement in the gameplay experience.


But it’s Monday?

Radiant has decreed it is Tuesday, therefore it must be Tuesday.

From YouTube:

I was worried I wouldn’t get a chance to post tomorrow, so we posted early today.

But hey, I’m fine with a Desktop Tuesday a day early when we’ve gone without them for so long.

@Wharp I’m scared enough of the game breaking on me just playing it normally, I don’t know how you modders do it! Serious respect for all of you.


The european stream on wedensday is at 17.30 CET for those that find that info relevant :slight_smile:

I am very pleased to see the changes that have been worked on up till this DT. Hopefully the loot issues after the goblin chieftan enters the story wont be so huge from now on :jubilant:


I am not complaining.

I certainly find that relevant, thanks @Fornjotr.


Is there going to be a performance hit if Hearthlings are going to be ‘smarter’?


I think this is a solid question. My hope is that since @max99x tore the whole thing apart, that there was a bit optimization as well? Or that the process is ongoing before they release the new alpha to counterbalance or improve performance instead of it taking a hit.

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I would think it’s impossible to add more calculation steps to the process without adding some extra time requirement; but there’s a good chance that these changes will mean a performance saving in other areas. If the hearthlings are able to clear more jobs, that means less jobs hanging around in memory; and that theoretically means more memory available for the job processing itself… although I suspect that in practice those “stored” jobs have such a small footprint that there wouldn’t be a noticeable difference unless the memory was nearly filled with them (which means the player must have waaaaaaaay bigger issues than just having too many incomplete jobs.)

However, even if there is a visible performance hit, it may well be cancelled out by the fact that tasks get done more quickly – if the game takes slightly longer per task but completes all tasks in less time overall, that’s still “faster” from the player’s perspective; so as long as the time cost per job doesn’t become ridiculous or cause immersion-shattering issues (stuttering or so on) then I’d expect most players would be totally fine with that performance hit. After all, the game would actually be “performing” better from their perspective, the processor is working harder but it’s doing its job more efficiently.

Stream with Linda will be Friday the 10.11.2017 03.00 CET. For all the european players :slight_smile:

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Of course i managed to set the alarm one hour late, so i only catched the last two minutes, but i then stayed up and watched the stream afterwards. It turned out to be yet another turniptown stream with Angelo (not that, that is a bad thing, just not what was expected).

I guess there is some kind of reason to why the content of the stream that was announced, did not end up being true? Well, i learned not to get up in the middle of the night to get “live” news about the development, only to be disapointed.

Will the appeal system and multiplayer then be covered in stream 300? @sdee :slight_smile:


Just got around to watching DT. Awesome!
Adding inertia seems like a logical step, but I wonder if it poses a danger for heartlings’ survival (starvation or sleep deprivation). Guess that depends on fine-tuning of the system.