DT: Conversations - Design

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.


I can get behind all of these. :slight_smile:


If they make it to where Sally gets pissed because the goblins killed her husband and it turns her into a secret goblin assassin I’ll be so happy I could piss glitter.


First of all, those are some good pieces of feedback, I like them.

Second, you talk about an interesting suggestion, here. The idea that hearthlings themselves can change over time, based on events that happen after they join your village. Not just what they think about (the thought system), but also their attitudes and (thus) how they react to the world (the traits system, to an extent).

Traits already have their impact on the world, so putting in place the link between changes in the world, thoughts, moods and things like that on one hand, and traits/ attitudes on the other, is the only thing you need to do, to make it work (not that that is a lot of work, but at least you don’t need three entirely need systems to e build from scratch.)

This process is, interestingly, what I described earlier in putting the house toghether, in a way that makes the house functional. Putting in place the necessary links between systems to make a game enjoyable.

All in all, I agree with @Solus, I could get behind your idea’s. Lets hope the developers do as well. :slight_smile:


Can’t help myself, sorry.


I love this game. I really do. I started playing it at around alpha 10. Looking at my play time on steam shows like 300 hours lol. It’s like playing with lego when I was a kid, I can just get lost in the game creating things and fending off enemies. However I do feel like the game is in a bit of a rut. The conversations idea seems great, but it feels like a system that would be better served later in development. I thought by now we’d have usable water (which I know is being looked at now) as well as more classes and better use for the classes we have (I’m looking at you mason and engineer). Also, the ability to restore the ground so it is usable again (like you can dig through it or place foundations) has been wanted since the first goblin camps scarred then land.

Behind the scenes work on the engine and better optimization, despite not being a shiny new added feature in-game, would be more useful than the conversations system as well. This just feels like it’s something too abstract compared to what the game needs right now, almost like the other features of the game have stalled and the devs needed something else to work on as a stop-gap. Maybe I’m wrong and when it comes out it will be an amazing feature but i have a feeling I’ll notice it a few times when playing and then just ignore it, like the mason after I’ve crafted a blacksmith hammer hehe


Hey everyone, thanks for all the comments. They mean a lot to me because so many of us have been here since the beginning. It’s actually been four years since the Kickstarter; four years since I’ve woken up and had Stonehearth be the first thing I think about in the morning and often the last thing I think about before I go to sleep. In many ways, this game, the team that builds it, and you the people who play it, define the horizons of my life. I feel very lucky to be in this position! When I write on Kickstarter updates that you’ve changed my life, I mean it literally.

In that context, lemme see if I can’t get to some of your pain points!

Wow! Why does development feel so incredibly slow now?
I wrote about this at length in the FAQ under the Roadmap. It’s the first question not just because I hear it a lot, but because I ask it a lot, of myself and of our team. Before we continue, can you go over here, and read it if you haven’t yet?

Cool, thanks. :slight_smile: There’s not much I want to add to that except that we made this pivot–to these systems and this new speed of development, with great thought and weight. As someone whose been working on the game since the beginning, I loved the days when any team member could just make a model, dump it into the game, and then write the code that brought it to life. That environment of absolute freedom and breakneck speed was my favorite thing in the world. It was heartbreaking to realize that it was actively preventing us from producing the game we wanted to build. Changing the way we worked to the system we have now, and retrenching our features to focus on core gameplay instead of new classes, features, biomes and monsters, was in many ways, like taking apart, brick by brick, the house I’d always wanted to live in. But we decided to do it anyway, because we sincerely believe that it would produce a better game.

Yes, but couldn’t you be working on something more exciting, like finishing the classes, or titans?
That’s actually all coming! The roadmap has us revisit every single major feature in the game. We’re starting with mood and traits because this game is about a small group of people who must optimize their environment to thrive. Everything we do going forward matters because of how it affects and influences your hearthlings. This is the foundation of everything that comes next. I asked Designer Richard if there was any way to start with combat, or titans. He was emphatic. If the game is about people, start with the people. Then move to economy, and THEN move to combat. I was initially reluctant, but in the end, I came to see his point of view. If you don’t care about the people you don’t care about the town. If you don’t care about the town, you don’t care if it lives or dies. Start with the heart of the game, and work outwards.

Something weird happened when you joined Riot.
Riot has only ever been supportive of Stonehearth. When we got stuck, awesome designers from all over the company who already had heard of SH and some of whom had even backed our kickstarter started appearing out of the woodwork to help us get unstuck. When we needed to hire more people, the recruiters immediately sprang into action on our behalf. Riot has traditionally made games in a very deliberate, specific, analytical way, so it’s definitely true that their methodology has influenced ours–we picked up scrum and agile, for example, to enhance communication b/w our teammates, and we now think super hard about all gameplay and tech designs before implementing them–but we’ve examined each practice before picking it up, and we think on the whole, each addition has made our team stronger. Slower, perhaps, but better able to communicate, and better able to produce things of quality.

Where is Tom?
He’s now our studio lead, and he interfaces between us and the main Riot campus and leadership. He checks in on Stonehearth regularly, but isn’t in the details enough with the rest of us to post about it.

Are you working on anything other than conversations?
Indeed! In addition to working on conversations–everyone contributes to the active feature–Chris has been working on dramatically improving performance, building and AI, Richard has been working on overarching gameplay meta stuff, Angelo and Allie have been working on long-term solutions to rough edges in our art style and Malley has been working on making our art pipelines more efficient.

Will we get to see new stuff soon?
Next up is revisions to building, and we’re adding another designer in August, which should help us tackle revisions to crafting and economy. We’ll probably never be as fast as we used to be, but in exchange, the systems we build should be much stronger and more robust.

Other questions? Let me know, I’m always here. :slight_smile:


In the original kickstarter you had this picture on it,
edit I cannot seem to find the picture, it appears to be gone from the website. (@moderators the city from the kickstarter screen)
My question is this, will the scope of the game grow to this size in some time other than “soon”?
I understand the progress of the game and all that you do for it. I may not be as content as I could be but, you should upload Alpha 1 to steam in some way just show them everyone what you have made.
I may not love the way you guys are going around Desktop Tuesday, but I trust you guys to make the best game you can.


Also, consider spacing the DT’s apart so that we do not get fatigued with the same content two weeks in a row.

will the scope of the game grow to this size in some time other than “soon”

Are you talking about this poster?

You can actually build that city now, in the game, except the water won’t have reflections in it. :wink: However, it won’t be much different, gameplay wise, than having a bunch of beds in simple log cabins, which is part of the gameplay problem I mentioned above. All the systems are kind of shallow! We’d like there to be a gameplay benefit to building. We’ll discover together how big this allows us to scale.

Also, consider spacing the DT’s apart so that we do not get fatigued with the same content two weeks in a row.

I’ve often been tempted to ask people to work on stuff JUST so I have something to make a Desktop Tuesday about. But right now, conversations are the team’s main focus, and everything else is too in-flight to make for interesting videos, so I thought it was a good time to do a deep-dive on conversations. What other things would you like to see a DT about?


I may be the outlier, but I’ve always loved the technical “deep dives”, having an engineer explain in detail not only the feature, but the technical details behind it. DTs on pathfinding, for example, always interested me. I under they don’t make the greatest video, but that’s my 2 cents.


@jomaxro I personally do not dislike the Desktop Tuesdays, content wise. But I would like some separation. I feel that DT’s would be better if they were separated like doing, Lighting Part 1, Conversations Part 1, Lighting part 2, etc, etc.

Some ideas for “filler” DT’s would be:
(A) A music/ Raj Mann update. Doesn’t even need much, just showcasing the new songs and his inspiration for them.
(B) Have some sort of Q&A with some builders in the community, Just to talk about building.
© I personally would like a (no more than) quarterly roadmap update DT
(D) Recaps of Important streams. I do not have the time to watch them and I feel that I am missing out a when something major is talked about in the stream.
(E) Possibly doing something on Stonehearth Builds? I do not think many people know about the website.


I like D. I often miss the streams, because I forget, or can’t watch, and I feel like I missed cool stuff in the works, like the one about Effort Based Crafting.


Even if you took a couple min just to say “Hey, this is what else we’re doing”, I feel it would go a long way to getting rid of that dragging on / stalling feeling that everyone has. No, most of the people here won’t really care about it, but at the same time, it won’t be “oh yay, conversations for the 12th week in a row…”.People like myself and @jomaxro can at least say “oh, they’re working on making buildings better by doing X, Y, and Z”.

Personally, I’d like it to go back to how it was, when Desktop Tuesdays meant that us unstable players got the most stable unstable branch every week, just to see hands on what’s changed. Sometimes our game would break, other times you’d be like “Oh, they’re adding a new item. Cool”. As for the “fatigue”, review what I said above.

Now all that being said, I still feel like Team Radiant as a whole has really left the discourse anymore. For months now (and this may just be me), this site feels like an unofficial discourse, with no real feedback from people that do know what’s going on. Again, this refers to back in the day, but when I first joined you guys (Alpha 10 I think…can’t remember, it was right before shields), the community felt alive. I remember a few builds you guys would comment on and give tips and tricks too or other times, people would drop a suggestion, and (I remember @brad specifically) someone would comment on why that was or wasn’t a good idea and if we had any hope of seeing it. My list can go on, but you get the point.

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