Iunno. I used to think like this, too, what the heck is the point of the whole emotions and happiness systems. Now that they’ve revealed the work they’re doing / going to do on the conversation system, I’m a bit more placated. After all, it would indeed be very interesting if Hearthlings could defend their town from goblins, then have conversations about it.
That said, while I do understand now what sdee meant by core gameplay loop – an overarching system that ties all other of the game’s systems together – and its importance, belaying features like seasons and titans, I don’t know if the way the team is going about it is necessarily the right way. I don’t know what the right way would be, either, just that as it is, it’s a pretty weak glue to hold the game’s various components together.
For example, a hearthling gets good thoughts from having a room. That’s good, but it’s not enough right now to devote any significant time to creating a building. It would get me to decorate the hearthling’s room, for sure. But what’s the incentive to create a 2-floor building as opposed to a 1-floor one? Why would I want to go to the custom building editor instead of just using the pre-made templates? Expressing my artistic side? Forgive the bluntness, but Minecraft’s way of making buildings is easier and less buggy, so why would I want to do the same thing but harder in SH?
What about the crypts and ruins Stephanie mentions? Obviously, if you’ve got a world, it would make sense to make the world be explorable. In other games, where combat has more of a focus, such a ruin might contain a rare weapon or armour, or maybe a piece of treasure. How would happiness reward the player for exploring? Are all our artifacts now going to be mood-affecting trinkets?
Although Stephanie comments against this, I do think that fixing / integrating each feature one at a time would’ve been a better approach. Each fixed element would be a finished piece of the puzzle, making the core game loop clearer, as opposed to trying and figuring out the core gameplay loop from the start and then forcing the game to fit into that particular hole. Some examples:
adding a third dimension to motion, like making hopping / leaping enemies that can scale your walls and/or attack your hearthlings from the roof of their homes would require a significant re-think from the player’s perspective on how to build their base
flying enemies that dive-bomb, now the player needs to either build roofs or anti-air defenses
environmental factors – volcanoes, floods – now we either need to build on stilts, or create dykes and dams to protect our town
I think with a single, solid goal such as “survive by any means necessary”, you not only make it easier for a player to focus their efforts and attentions, but you also hook a lot of other systems along with it in the same fell swoop. More emphasis on survival would make classes like the Herbalist and the Engineer to be a lot more practical.
Then again, I haven’t developed a game either, so I don’t know. I do know that it has been a painfully long time since we’ve had a feature that changes the gameplay to any appreciable degree. I do know it’s been a month or two since I’ve fired up SH, as I have ran out of things to do. I know we’re not meant to get game-changing updates every month, but I know I really could use a shaking-up of the game. I hold out hope for a content-enriched update.