DT: Conversations - Design


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This week’s stream is cancelled due to scheduling issues. We return next week on 6/8 with a stream from Chris Klochek about his progress with the cantankerous building service!


I’m not really liking the direction the game has taken. I’ve played Stonehearth for more than 200+ hours and I don’t see what the conversation system will bring to the game. It seems more like a complicated journal than anything. With that being said, it seems like there is less of a focus on content in Stonehearth. We’ve seen work done to the rabbit people, watched the magma smith come to life, and seen the large treant in the files. None of it has even made it into the game yet, why?


I’m going to second @Feashrind. We’ve got this much larger team, bigger road map, ect., and yet…nothing seems to really be going on as far as original development goes. Honestly, this chat system feels like a stall.

When do we finally finish all the job’s that have (Not Implamented) on them?
What ahppened to water, and all the ways it would effect your town, crops, people, ect?
Hell, what happened to Kickstarter goals and their pets?

The list goes on, and this is a list people (including myself) have brought up before. You guys want the town to feel alive, and all that, yet we have minimul content and no real story arc. Now don’t get me wrong, I love Stonehearth as much as the rest of y’all, but there’s been how much time now spent on this speach system that doesn’t really do much.


I’m going to disagree with both of the above (Respectfully, of course!)

Stonehearth is a game that screams for another level of immersion, and the conversation infrastructure truly allows for it. It can’t hope to get to the complexity that games like dwarf fortress can get to (Murals about dwarves carving murals about a cat they accidentally ran over with a trade cart), so the storytelling can be told in a new way. This should go a long way to breathing life into those campfire scenes or idle hearthlings that would otherwise be silently twiddling their thumbs and looking about.

Rivalries can be formed, friendships forged, taunts taunted… That’s just some small immersion i’m hoping to see from all of this. (A heroic last stand by a lone hero becoming the talk of the town just popped into my head)

Things like this, IMO can be just as important as setting up a lot of other missing items as it lays the groundwork for so many other options. So I, for one, look forward to seeing how this pans out and what cool things come from it.


If it were to get to that level, then I agree it would add immersion and a whole new level to the Hearthlings. BUT as it stands, it’s nothing more than trying to add artificial life to the town, not a real life we want. On top of that, there would have to be so many MORE systems added in for those things to even mean something. As it stands, the only thing this system will do is increase their moods…which doesn’t give us anymore more than animations.

Honestly, what difference would it make if they’re friends? What difference would it make if they were enemies? They’d still have their tasks to do and would do them.
What good does a positive emote from a lone hero do? Hell, a lone hero is easy enough to setup now.

The game is set up and directioned so that this kind of system doesn’t have many options to help. We won’t see lovers with babies. We won’t see crime or politics. We won’t see anything except a set of 50 Hearthlings building things and doing the limitations of the jobs we’ve told them to do.

Respectfully, I have to ask HOW this statement is true in your opinion.

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Great, now my hearthlings will have more discourse badges than I do… :disappointed:


Pirates, ninjas, and politicians might still be a planned feature. I don’t know.

I felt the same way when they stopped adding features rapidly like they used to and went to work on the mood system, but I love that now. I just hope the conversation system will work out the same way. (I’m already sold on the lighting revamp, once that makes it in.)


When i saw this weeks DT, i was a bit mellow…And when the message was, the next few weeks will be like this and this weeks stream is also cancelled, i had some thoughts…
But i guess patience can be a great test for people. A couple of days ago i went to the steamdiscussions to check them out (wich i usually dont, because of the negativity in steamdiscussions) And the overall feel was a community that dont understand what is going on with the game right now?
Explaining how the speech system works and how the hearthlings will feel more alive is good and all, but please dont loose the (up untill recently) perfect interaction with the community! That is one of the main reasons i got stuck on this games development in the first place!
None of you want to talk about the future or when we should expect new content? If the reason is that you dont know the answer, then i suggest you make a effort to seek that answer out, so you dont loose that wind you have at your backs.
None the less i love this game and i properly stick around way longer than most.
Thanks and i hope these systems will show something great in the future.


Really, we need the conversation system to make politicians viable and fun, and ninjas would be a lot more fun once the new lighting is in…

As you say, while it’s not the same as the rapid prototypes we had earlier on; these are important features if we want to go beyond those early, really basic systems and get to the more rounded game that the kickstarter described.


I see it like this:

To build a good house (game), you need a good foundation (engine), good walls, fine windows and other miscellanious fine architectural pieces (the content) to build said house out of. You can start fabricating lots of those components, which might be fascinating to watch a crafter do, but you cannot just trow that together and call it a house.
It might work, of course, but it would just be a building (piece of software), not a house, that has the specific function of housing (letting the player have fun). You are going to need to arrange the components in a certain floorplan, so the end result looks nice, and also is functional (like, you don’t want a house where there are rooms not connected to any others by doors, or that you need to go through a bathroom in order to get to the kitchen.).

So after you have constructed lots of the components, there is going to be a phase where you need to put those together. I feel like that is where we are right now. That doesn’t mean there isn’t going to be any second floors (with their own walls and fine windows and fine architectural pieces), but it does mean that the first floor is not ready to support such a second floor. I even believe that the architects started doing this phase because they realized that the second floor could not be supported by the first in a way that made house overall a good house.

What i’m trying to say is, you cannot build a house in the crafters workshop, you need an architect in the building editor as well.

I still agree with @Fornjotr though, that preserving the relationship between dev and player is important.

P.S. Maybe these phases are the less interesting ones in game development, (i wouldn’t agree, but hey, people can have different opinioins) and maybe one alpha focussing on more content in between wouldn’t hurt, but that is not up to me to decide.


I see a lot of empty promises when I go through the old Twitch streams, Desktop Tuesdays, and the old Kickstarter . When I woke up yesterday I expected something big, I was wrong. Let me remind you of May 30, 2013 the day Stonehearth was funded, the day $751,920 was raised to fund Stonehearth made by Radiant Entertainment. You know what wasn’t mentioned yesterday? The anniversary of Stonehearth… It’s been three years that Stonehearth has been in development.

Stonehearth used to be an amazing game, things changed when Riot bit into the apple. When Tom let Riot take Radiant right under their feet, and we were along for the ride. We had no say in it. I remember the day Radiant announced it, we all took to the forums and were astound by this. People expressed joy for the company, they were so excited that the company was going to finally get a bigger team and have more resources for Stonehearth, I remember the months following a lot began to change, @Tom disappeared completely, everyone else got more and more quiet, people left the company, Radiant moved, and the team grew.

After that the game kind of had a new taste to it, and it wasn’t right . I look at the comments above and I see a lot of excuses for the company, all of it is from the community. You know who isn’t commenting? The developers, cause they have no excuse as to why this game is going in the direction it is. This community has been through a lot, we not only successfully funded Stonehearth, but also Rising Storm. We helped an indie game become something, just to watch it be destroyed inside out. This isn’t Radiant anymore, it’s Riot.

I want answers, I’m upset and need to know what is happening?


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.

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Rising Thunder wasn’t funded by the community. As per this interview:

It has external funding, so it won’t be running a Kickstarter campaign or asking players to donate.

I’ve never had strong feelings about Rising Thunder, except that it took away resources from developing SH. If anything, I was glad when they canned it. Those fighting games don’t appeal to me in the slightest, it’s not what drew me to SH.

You know who isn’t commenting? The developers, cause they have no excuse as to why this game is going in the direction it is.

You are making a post on a developer comment. I would argue that Radiant explained very well why and where the game is going. I don’t necessarily agree with the explanation, as you can see from my post above, but I accept it as valid.

I remember the months following a lot began to change, @Tom disappeared completely, everyone else got more and more quiet, people left the company, Radiant moved, and the team grew.

Yeah, that concerns me, too. I asked before why Tom and Tony vanished from the public eye, and was told that they’re still around, but they do more behind the scenes stuff, like guiding the direction of the studio, keeping the development environment stable and updated, and some security stuff. Here’s a post from Tom (bizarrely, on Reddit, not here…) confirming that they’re still alive and working on Stonehearth:

Hi! We’re still around! I’ve taken on somewhat of a different role since the Riot acquisition, helping support the team through hiring and managing the studio. As old-timers know, I was responsible for most of the art in the game. Now Allie and Malley are doing a great job on that front, so I’m more focused on how we can continue to move the project forward.

A big part of that has been augmenting the team with skills that we’ve been lacking. So since spring we’ve hired an animator, an actual game designer (!!!), a UX designer, and an engineer. We’ve also made an offer to Morgan, Destroyer of Worlds, (last summer’s intern). She has accepted and will be joining the team mid next year! We continue to actively hire, especially for more engineers to help pick up the pace of development.

That said, the fact that Tom only makes himself known when people start asking questions doesn’t really reflect that well on his dedication to the team. I remember when he used to be in the public eye a lot more. He and Tony were the visionaries for Stonehearth. Now the situation seems like: “Hey, thanks guys for funding our studio. We’re gonna sell it to a fighting game company and make fighting games now. You didn’t really think that the organizers of the biggest fighting game tournament in the world would care about this game for long, did you? Anyway, here’s some staff hopefully to finish this game. Sorry, gotta go, got a meeting with Riot now.” Would be lovely to see Tom or Tony post on these forums, but it seems that they don’t really care about SH anymore. People who care still post here, developers or not. They’ve no excuse as far as I can tell.


Double you there on ruins and world exploration. Including underground exploration.
I still have this pic of Pandemic’s in mind

Should there be any?
I may see what you mean here. But do you really want a certain style of building to have palpable advantages? That kinda defeats artistic freedom for me, leading to the rise of “minimaxing” optimisation guides I’ve learned to hate. Don’t get me wrong, I do my fair share of minimaxing, placement research etc. I’m just not sure it’s the kind of thing I want to see in Stonehearth.

Agree with you here. Close dev-community ties and incredible opennes were what always thrilled me about SH’s team. They still are. But as of late I got the feeling it’s slipping away.
Maybe I’m wrong. Maybe I’m imagining things. I would be glad to be proven wrong.
Maybe it’s just a temporary setback caused by work or… whatever.

As of features, the question raised by @Feashrind… I can see why one would be frustrated. I’m not that frustrated myself. I believe that in the project of such openness and mod friendliness core mechanics and specialized tasks (like animation) are more important to be made by devs, because models and small features can be made by the community if the base is there.
Now, I don’t suggest that the game should leave the forge half-done, and I don’t say you shouldn’t keep the promises you’ve made. I don’t like the approach of “oh, the fans will do it”, too, especially in AAA-class games (like Skyrim). This kind of a product should be finished when it hits the shelves. What I want to say is that I still have faith in Radiant being able to do their job, especially when we make sure our voices are heard. And I can be patient when I believe the result is worth it.
I, too, hope that my faith is not misplaced.


Yes and no. I would not want any singular style to be better than all others; however, I would like to see the game reward certain styles in certain situations. Creativity is great when all you have is a blank canvas. Right now, yes, that is all that SH has. And after playing for a while, that gets boring. There’s only so much creativity that can come from nothing. The creative works I’m most proud of were made to solve some problem – Terraria was really good about this. I created certain fortresses to be optimized for defense against raids/invasions, others I made to experiment with combining different liquids (e.g. lava and water), still others were made in remote spots for farming, etc, etc… Every fortress was a work of art I loved creating, because as I was making it, I was thinking about the problems that it solved, and how I can create it in such a way as to both be aesthetically appealing and functional.

Again, let’s use the example of a flooding dynamic. Currently, in Stonehearth, if I wanted to build, say, a water wheel, I would do that, take a picture of it, post it on the forums here for uplikes, and be done with it. But what if your map occasionally flooded?

  • You have to solve this problem, enticing you to either build up on elevation, channel the water around your settlement, or build some sort of sea walls

  • You can harness this problem to work for you by e.g. building a water wheel, or refilling your water supplies without being damaged by the flood

  • You continue playing the map, both to see your engineering in action, and to perhaps improve it and further conquer the natural forces

Basically, I want my creativity to have a point. There’s a difference between making a spiked wall because it looks neat, and because then the Leaping Were-Rabbits will have more trouble getting into your village to cause havoc.

I would like to point out that this whole “We want the player to have 100% freedom in the kind of story they want to tell, game mechanics be damned” killed the otherwise incredibly promising game called Spore. It was SUPPOSED to have been the game to end all games. You design your creature, and your design actually mattered – if your creature had a fat tail and short legs, it wouldn’t be able to run as fast, for example. If it had huge wings but lived mainly in the bush, it would have a hard time finding enough runway room to take off.

But then Corporate came in and said: we want our players to have as much freedom as possible. All those mechanics were out the door. You could create a walking male reproductive organ, and it would have a 50/50 chance beating an actual lion in a fight. Spore was popular for a year or two, and then died after everyone had their fill of designing vapid creatures that played exactly like the millions of other vapid creatures others designed. I desperately, desperately hope SH takes its lessons from Spore and does not disappoint in that area.


Good point.
Some ideas for multi-storey buildings.

  1. They have certain advantages in terms of defence. Maybe there are ways to combine doors/traps to make them more useful.
  2. They are an obvious choice when lacking building space, just like in the real world. Generating worlds with little building space requires some mechanic and procedural generation changes, however. That would be interesting (including the influence of ruins we mentioned earlier).
  3. I’m not sure but multi-storey buildings should be slower to navigate for our folks. So these buildings have some disadvantages as well. And that’s great.
  4. I remember Radiant mentioning they are considering structural integrity at some point. If it’s still on the list, it will tremendously influence construction. It’s such a big feature, though, that I have my doubts about it appearing in the game.
    Still, I have successful example of structural integrity in front of me (you can look at Dig or Die on Steam if you have none - sometimes one man is all it takes to make wonders).
  5. Multi-storey buildings may have synergy with H traits! Loners may like “single huts” more, while talkative fellas would like big houses with neighbours (we already can assign beds don’t we?). Depending on traits there can also be a bonus or a moral hit for “dormitory”-like buildings.

Back to this DT, I have this idea of hearthlings exchanging conversation topics.
My general idea is this: if every hearthling has a list of “topics” for conversations based on their latest experience, why limit it to only that? A hearthling can be made to “weigh” new topics he heard from others against his own interests, traits and experience. If this check is successful, he gets a new topic in his list.
This can lead from conversation “Hey, I’ve seen a wolf today” to “Can you believe Harry’ve seen a wolf nearby? Where are the guards when you need them? Outrageous!”

Another idea is to make topics “rot away” from the list with the passage of time based on their (un)importance for this H and the memorability of the event. For example, if our Harry doesn’t have a thing for bunnies he would probably “forget” about the bunny he saw yesterday. But if he is a Bunny god cultist he will see it as a good omen.
Similarly, if a H loses a friend in battle he probably won’t forget about it very fast, mentioning it to others in discussions. So this topic will “persist” in his list for significant time. If he made some serious bond with the lost person, and he is not a loner, it will persist even longer.
Pessimist hearthlings can have “better” memory for bad events they experienced or heard about, not only influencing their morale, but also reflecting in their conversation topics. And vice versa. Guess you get my idea.

Rumors are not too far from politics :slight_smile:


Sure, let me paint a couple pictures.

The first being a simple example of what we basically know will be in the game for sure (and soon).

The Regretful Trapper(click me)

Tom is a caring Hearthling, a man that has always found kinship with the animals in the wild. However, the town had to eat, and Tom was the best man to find food beyond the simple berries nearby.

One day, Tom comes home rather depressed. His head hung low and his gait was slow and unsure.

A friend of his, Sally, noticed his unusual behavior and skipped over and asked Tom what was wrong. He dramatically explained how he’d gone to check the traps out in the field and had come across a little squirrel with the biggest soul-piercing eyes.

Knowing the town counted on him, Tom had to finish the job and bring the meat back to town, but the task had left him empty and sad.

Sally pats Tom on the shoulder and gives him an understanding nod, then praises him for fighting through his desires for the sake of the village.

Tom feels better, and Sally feels good for helping him out! They trot off together to get some dinner before night falls in full.

This is an example of a Hearthling doing something that made him sad (affecting his mood) and another hearthling coming over, listening to his plight, and then reassuring him through the conversational system. This adds another layer of kinship among hearthlings and storytelling (a la Dwarf Fortress) in the game.

Here’s a more dramatic and complex picture.

The Spreading Dour(click me)

The battle had been bloody and had cost the village of Clearwater dearly. Not even half of the military had returned from the field and what’s worse, more kobolds had attacked from the shadows while the troops were out, murdering innocent farmers and the trapper, Tom.

The entire village had a dour mood about it. Gone was the energized feeling about Clearwater and instead it was replaced by mourning hearthlings trying and failing to console each other.

Sally, however, took this harder than the rest. She had made a real connection with Tom and their relationship had blossomed into something truly wonderful. Now he was gone and she was at the end of her rope…

She wasn’t quiet about it either. She began to offload her fears, sadness, and depression onto any hearthling that would listen. The conversation spread from one to the next, dropping the mood of the town into a full depression. No one wanted to work, fields were left unattended, and soldiers spent their days sleeping instead of patrolling.

When the beasts came again, the town had lost its will to fight, the soldiers had lost the drive to truly protect their town, and Clearwater soon fell to an onslaught of kobolds and orcs.

Obviously a bit more detailed and beyond what is currently implemented. But this is the idea that if the situation is right, a conversation stream can spread throughout the village for good or in this case, bad. The mood of the town continued a downward spiral which affected productivity and eventually combat.

Hopefully this gets the point across of what i’m hoping to see from this system. Some of it already exists from what we’ve been shown, which is awesome, but it can bloom into so many other things.

While there may not be babies in the game, there was never a mention of not having relationships in the game. Sally and Tom in my case were best friends on the verge of something more, which with the system they are implementing, doesn’t seem too much of a stretch.


I completely agree with this. Currently, you can build a whole, functioning town withing a few chunks. Hell, I’m sure someone could do it on the test chunk. But where’s the fun in that? I want to see the opposite. I wanted to see towns come alive that take up the whole map. Cities that have districts to them. Ect.

You’re not alone in this. Before Riot aquired them, about the time @brad joined, I felt like they were beginning to pull away (may of been just me). But after the aquisition, and especially after this new years, I honestly feel like this game has became a zombie; not dead yet but not really alive. Now I may be burned at the stake for feeling things, but it’s how I feel. Regardless, I’m still here, holding out for hope that it will go back to how it was. That being said, it’s deffinitly not been the same since @Tom left.

I completely and whole heartedly second and back this kind of ideal. I would love to actually have problems that have multiple ways to solve them. Hell, with what we have now, I’d be happy to have some diplomacy with the goblins and orks. That being said, creativity would then increase drastically, as we’d have hundreds of people coming up with hundreds of ways to solve hundreds of problems.

And that’d be awesome and all…but we’re back to what exactly does that accomplish? In “The Regretful Trapper”, it made a small moment where a few people were affected, but it didn’t change anything, statistics wise. Unless the trapper gained a random bonus, or his relationship with Sally actually meant something, that whole thing was a journal entry (as @Feashrind originally said).

As far as “The Spreading Dour”, I’ll give you that one. That would be a good implamentation of the emotion / conversation system, but that’d have to extend past just the bad. It’d have to;

  • Trader comes to town and people start talking about it. All of a sudden, a craftsmen knows a guy that knows a guy, that worked with a guy, that lived with this other guy, who got his pet from the aunt of a guy, who has better stuff.
  • Sally, just losing Tom, decided to get her shit togehter and take on the goblins herself. With that, she gains a new perk of Courgages, Hot Headed, or Blood Lust.
  • Tom, being hurt by the little squirl’s eyes now makes him not want to be a trapper anymore, and thus gains “I hate my job” emote. Now he wants to be a Sheppard and gains that trait because he has a new found love of animals.

My point is, it’d have to matter somewhere. And honestly, we don’t see that or any hint that that will happen. We just get “they’re talking to each other. YAY, immersion!”

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Game development cant be all new content and bunnies and puppies, sometimes they have to do the underlining work to make the other things (like bunnies and puppies) work.

If they just kept adding on content, but didn’t do this, it would all feel bolted on but not really a good part of the game. The foundation they had was severely flawed and this is an effort to fix that before adding the stuff that actually needed these changes to feel satisfying.

I understand that it’s not where they wanted to be, but really. I was promised a lot more then what we have now. I don’t see it as possible to get there just by bolting on bits and pieces into a hogpog style of game design. This is a necessary step and while it may not be as fun as a new class or a item, It’s important.

Just my 2 coppers.