[Discussion] How to bring an investigative mindset to players, stonehearth style

Hi, welcome to the discussion,

So in another thread the following topic came up:

Let’s say we eventually get a game that looks like Dwarf Fortress, but in the style of stonehearth. Say your town falls thourgh an emergent chain of events caused by some of all the interlocking systems that stonehearth will have. How do you prevent the player from blaming the game for their loss. (when the game is not to be blamed.)

For the sake of convenience of discussion, let call an event genuinine when it was the result of the many interlocking systems, and thus events that you want to have in the game, and let’s call it ingenuine if it is not genuine, and thus the result of unbalanced game mechanics.

In short : How does a game like stonehearth prime the player to expect events to be genuine, instead of ingenuine, and how do you spur the player to investigation to check whether it is.

First a few quotes that led to this discussion:

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The thing I worry about is that the game already tries to do that (indicate to p), showing everything you can do to influence anything, but that is on a system to system basis, not on the scale where multiple systems influence each other. That’s why I think some investigate aspect is necessary in the game.


I think the biggest answer is clear signposting and alerts. Like, if there’s a fire, have an alert go off; if something is making people dramatically unhappy, make sure the player is warned; etc.

The other answer that you seen in DF is inculcating a “losing is fun!” mentality: i.e., making sure players understand that sometimes things will spiral out of control and that’s ok if it makes a good story happen in the process.


Personally, I don’t want to see Stonehearth go that far down the Dwarf Fortress route. And the devs of Stonehearth don’t seem to want to do that anyway. :merry:

Total unhappiness in the hearthlings doesn’t head into destructive behaviors.

Yeah, full on “embrace annihilation” might be a bit much, but – think of SimCity; everyone who’s ever played SimCity has, eventually, destroyed their city in a cataclysm of godzilla attacks. There’s a point where tearing things down can be as much fun as building them up, and the possibility of a “lose state” can add a lot.