DT: Conversation Visuals

http://www.stonehearth.net/dt-conversation-visuals/

Other Announcements

Stream! Stream is happening this week on Thursday at www.twitch.tv/stonehearth. This week it’s Artist Matt Malley, so hop in with animation, vfx or general art questions!

Work! This week, aside from conversations, the team is working hard on bugs—our recent push to Steam Unstable uncovered an issue between Symatec and our version of the sound library SFML. We haven’t updated our SFML instance in 3 years, so we’re sure nothing has changed on our end, but Symantec is unconvinced. We’ll keep petitioning them, but in the meantime, Justin is upgrading our instance, which is always fraught; in our case, a bunch of our audio now crashes on load.

The rendering abstraction work we did altered the way we use the pathfinder, which was the source of some of the idle hearthling bugs you guys noticed earlier this week. It turns out the pathfinder was giving up earlier than before, and also consuming more CPU than before. Max, Linda and Chris tanked this one, and hopefully it should be fixed in the version we shipped last night.

In addition to this, the team continues to work on conversation features, on tuning conversation frequency, and on some long term projects—building performance and AI, metagame design, water, and concept art, with some notable experiments from Chris in improving the UX of building walls and rooms. You can see these in his devstream from last week, or on YouTube here! Stonehearth Dev Stream 275: Moar building

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Looks like some of @BrunoSupremo’s archipelago stuff made it into the folder of speech bubble item portraits!

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Yep! :jubilant: I noticed that too. Congrats @BrunoSupremo.

I really like the conversation development, even if the hearthlings do drop items and their current orders to talk. :glum:

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:stuck_out_tongue:
Those item portraits probably ended there while they were testing the pathfinder bug using the town I gave to them.

As hearthlings talks about things, the portraits get saved.
If you go into \saved_objects\generated_icons you will see everything they talked about in your game.

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We’re working hard on that conversation tuning! We couldn’t really do tuning properly till we fixed the idle hearthling pathfinder bug, since that was causing them to converse much more than they would have otherwise.

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Sounds like you guys had the same audio bug IGN had at Sony’s E3 this year. Was still able to hear it, just thought it was funny that everyone’s having audio issues.


I wanted to ask what exactly these are. @Solus and I threw some ideas and speculation around a little while ago, but I can’t say I’ve heard directly from @sdee or anyone team related EXACTLY what the end goal was. So I’m going to bluntly ask, what are y’all working towards, specifically?


When will we get an update about what’s going on with water? I apologize for asking, but this has been an issue for me for a little while now.

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Liked the video!
I thought there isn’t much to tell about dialogues bc some things are self-evident. Boy was I wrong.

  • Nice touch with the autocamera. Initially I thought the item icons are used for this. Apparently this is not the case.
  • “Abstracting” when zooming out is a good idea to prevent cluttering the player view, ensuring only vital info is visible.

I’ve also a few questions. Actually, make that “a lot”.

  • If hearthlings’ talk changes their mood, do we have any control over it? How can we influence the discussions?
    makes plans for a Ministry of Truth building and Thought Reassignment therapy rooms
  • In earlier DT I’ve seen visually (in terms of animation) dialogue consists of several “parts” to help its construction. Is this also true about the dialogue bubble itself? Will we see hearthlings arguing, making assumptions and theories, plotting, joking? Because I think simply “discussing a topic” doesn’t quite nail it.
    When “making assumptions” perhaps it would be useful to be able to place more that one pictogram in a bubble. Like “bunny statue” and some “shadowy picture” icon together can mean an assumption about the mysterious builders.
    Or the coming of the benevolent Bunny Deity.
  • Will hearthlings be able to discuss other hearthlings?
    Imagine a situation where one H gossips to another about the third, and then said third comes to 1st and throws turnip at him. Or stalks him and hits him with a fish. Seriously, we need fish for that.
    Dogma - Fish
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Yes, fish fight!


Also +1 for Gossip

how did you get that video in @MelOzone? solved

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Just paste a normal youtube link on it’s own line. Don’t try and use the embed link, add markdown, or anything else.

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So I’m going to bluntly ask, what are y’all working towards, specifically?

Nothing as complex as your ideas! Both Sad Trapper and Spreading Dour could happen with our convo system, but as emergent behavior, not explicitly planned behavior. Though I think Spreading Dour is something we’re actively trying to avoid; getting into a loop where everyone is unhappy about turnips because one very gregarious person hates turnips is not the purpose of the game.

Specifically, we’re adding some more conversation related traits, and putting pet/animal conversations and thoughts back into the game as special cases of the existing system. We’re also tuning the existing conversation system–how often convos happen, how much they’re allowed to affect mood, etc.

When will we get an update about what’s going on with water?

@Albert is making good progress on revamping the system; updates after we do a bunch more testing about edge cases. Just to set expectations: the result should be a dramatic reduction in errors, not yet any gameplay stuff

If hearthlings’ talk changes their mood, do we have any control over it? How can we influence the discussions?

I’ll leave this question for @Brackhar. Personally, I think an “Ascendancy Office of Optimism” would be both awful/hilarious and very pirates/ninjas/politicians.

In earlier DT I’ve seen visually (in terms of animation) dialogue consists of several “parts” to help its construction. Is this also true about the dialogue bubble itself? Will we see hearthlings arguing, making assumptions and theories, plotting, joking? Because I think simply “discussing a topic” doesn’t quite nail it.
When “making assumptions” perhaps it would be useful to be able to place more that one pictogram in a bubble. Like “bunny statue” and some “shadowy picture” icon together can mean an assumption about the mysterious builders.

We decided not to make compound dialog bubbles, b/c of readability issues. But I think the animations do a pretty good job of implying when hearthlings are making jokes and arguing about stuff. :slight_smile:

Will hearthlings be able to discuss other hearthlings?

This would be pretty cool :slight_smile:

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[quote=“sdee, post:10, topic:30687”]I’ll leave this question for @Brackhar. Personally, I think an “Ascendancy Office of Optimism” would be both awful/hilarious and very pirates/ninjas/politicians.[/quote] Actually it was a joke.
I thought about the politics, but the literal MiniTrue (or a sufficiently resembling analog) will be out of place in SH, I guess. The question was more about “If we have a said “Spreading Dour”, how can we beat it?” Having a Civilisation-like approach, like “put two citizens at entertaining the others to keep the effectiveness of the town optimal” sounds too mechanistic, buuuut…
As far as I understand, you’ll want to avoid “Spreading Dour” falling into a loop with no way out. Also, your example about one turnip-hater ruining it for the whole town makes sense. While this may be realistic (there are toxic persons in the world, after all) I don’t think Stonehearth is about them.
To reiterate, I was asking something like this: “okay, we have hearthlings feedback in the form of discussions influencing moods, what can we do to make things better?” It’s sort of a game-within-the-game. Since it’s not a direct-control game, we can’t directly influence the problem. “Fix the source and hope for the best” approach has questionable efficiency. And if it will be 100% efficient, will it really be interesting to play that way? Because it will make discussions a purely decorative “magnifying” thing, increasing reaction to outer factors.
An interesting challenge, I think. Wonder how will you resolve it.

[quote=“sdee, post:10, topic:30687”]We decided not to make compound dialog bubbles, b/c of readability issues. But I think the animations do a pretty good job of implying when hearthlings are making jokes and arguing about stuff. [/quote] Yeah, readability is a problem. Second that.
I have my doubts about “animations should suffice” though. Guess I’ll have to look again in a while, see how the system fits when it’s more… complete.

PS. From now on I’ll call the whiners “turnip haters”. Has a nice ring in it.

PPS. And to complement the “Dour” point…

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We’re not yet trying to create gameplay around optimizing for conversation subjects. Longer term, once we add a concept of social relations we may do more here (friends are more likely to agree, rivals more likely to disagree, so maybe group or separate those hearthlings), but for the moment the intent is to just reflect what is going on in the town a little and to also add some randomness to the happiness system.

There’s a risk that the conversation presentation is a little too much of a call to action to the player, so that is something that we’re watching as we iterate. As of right now it’s not intended to drive player action though; just add flavor.

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Understood. There’s much ground to build on. Just sayin’

PS. I’ve read “Brackhar - Team Rabbit”. No idea why.

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Yeah, I mean, that are clearly some spider legs in his avatar picture crawling up from under the hood seconds before devouring that armed piglet.

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Some day I’ll replace this avatar with a custom character. :slight_smile:

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I want to say thank you, @Brackhar. No offense to @sdee, but this was an answer I needed.

At first, I had typed out paragraph after paragraph asking “why this mattered” and “what does that really benefit”. But then I went back, and reread what I had said, and realized that, even with the way it is now, it’s a space waster, but a necessary space waster. It adds that just enough flavor, to let you know what’s going on but doesn’t scream it at you and force you to take action. Yes, there’s other ways this could have been done, but honestly, thinking them over, this was probably the best. In this way, it directs you where you should go and what would help better your town, yet it doesn’t throw it in your face and say you HAVE to do it or you’ll lose.


I already know my answer, but I have to ask just in case, but how far are y’all wanting to take that? Obviously, it’s been said multiple times children (reproduction) won’t be part of this. But will this lead to side quests, with Hearthlings making demands, cults being formed and convincing people to not do their job, like where could this go?

I know y’all try to keep a happy, family friendly, deposition on the game, but as all great stories go, where’s the conflict? Will this system become part of that? I apologize and digress.


Just my opinion, but don’t soften it up anymore. As it stands, it subtly gives players a direction, and if it were any softer, I fear it wouldn’t have the same impact as I now see it does.

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How far we want to take it is a bit up in the air, to be honest. For this type of system I’d want to build it up far enough that it helps create context and emergent stories inside of the world, but not so far that the game becomes about optimizing around these relationships.

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Thanks for answering as best you can here – a lot of us are interested to see how this system evolves and ends up contributing to the end-product game.

With the fall of Clockwork Empires, and with Rimworld’s massive impact; there’s a niche open for a city building game which abstracts away the micro-management while still giving that taste of interaction between the workers. It’s a massive pair of shoes to fill, so I wouldn’t be surprised or upset if you folks chose to focus on Stonehearth “as Stonehearth” (honestly I’d expect that to be your default position anyway) rather than actively trying to fill that niche… but it’s something to be aware of.

At the very least, it’s a contributing factor to why so many of us want to see conversations and hearthling interactions expand to fill out our wild imaginings, and drive the gameplay beyond just commemorating our own actions.

As @sdee said though, this is all sounding very pirates/ninjas/politicians, so I guess we’ll cross those bridges when you folks put them together :merry:

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I feel I’m missing something, but why are we trying to stay away from pirates/ninjas/politicians?

The concept of ideas spreading through a populace was my favorite conceptual idea from Clockwork Empires, and it’s definitely influencing the design here, at least in a light way. For instance, at the moment if the first time a hearthling interacts with a subject is from a conversation with another hearthling, instead of adopting a random stance about the subject they will instead take on the opinion of the person that introduced the subject. I don’t think we’ll ever get to the level they intended to (nor do we really want to), but it is something we’re aware of.

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