I am… blown away. Completely and totally blown away. Whatever I was expecting, it was not this, and this has exceeded my expectations in every way.
At no point ever in Stonehearth have I ran a settlement for longer than 20 days due to bug-related reasons. In the last couple of alphas especially, I could hardly get past a week without a bug breaking my game somehow, and being honest, it’s dulled a lot of my enjoyment for playing. I only really got back into playing SH after realizing that Radiant now leaves their Lua code unminified and commented, something I’ve been a beggy nag about for the last … year, probably.*
I’m not being entirely fair… My games didn’t just end because of the bugs, they also ended because I sucked, of course. I insisted on playing the game on hard mode, because I wanted to see the new enemies. (Which, by the way, isn’t entirely clear: do hard enemies spawn in normal mode too but in lesser numbers? or do they just spawn in hard mode?) I died a lot. Even this time, within those 35 hours, there are four previous attempts at a settlement. Two failed because of a building bug (one of which I posted on the buildings thread), and in two, I got mobbed to death early.
I ended up hardening myself up, and in my current (successful) settlement, I made liberal use of the profession switching function. There were three of them; they were soldiers when we were under attack, farmers during the harvest season, and workers when the smith’s ore ran dry and the mineshaft needed to be expanded. This allowed me to survive the early hard mode until about 10 hearthlings, which is when my settlement was big enough to grow people on its own without me putting special effort into attracting them.
Two of my universal hearthlings died to Kobold wolves. Months later, I dedicated my Statue of Plenty to them. Fitting for the food of progress. I, however, was on my feet, and I was able to grow my settlement into a prosperous hamlet with half its GDP and manpower going to military force. I can’t be less than 20 hours into this particular settlement, and I’m writing this while being excited about upgrading to the Engineer.
The campaigns, you guys. Holy moly, the campaigns. So on one hand, honest feedback: I groaned out loud about the Mountain quest (y’all know which one), it was so cheesy good lord. But I suppose that’s part of the aesthetic that the game is going for, so it’s something I’ll accept. Also, I’m a little sad about the problem that others were complaining about. The one where low-level encounters don’t show up for a higher-level settlement – I like feeling curb-stompy sometimes, and don’t need to be challenged all the time ;-; plus it makes no sense for them in-game to show up only until your settlement is worth a certain amount.
But ON THE OTHER HAND. The campaigns are a gift that keeps on giving, not only because of the nature of Stonehearth, but also because of the clear amount of work Radiant’s put into them. On one hand, even the simplest campaign can be made interesting by the player. Wolves spawn? You could wait for them to come to you to test out your defenses, go to them and kill them, let them eat your chickens and leave you alone while you hide deep in your bunker behind locked doors…
On the other hand, it just keeps going and doesn’t let up. I repeat: I’m at least 20 hours into the game now, and I still have yet to become a township and complete the Elite Gong quest. This is just… Really, really good. Far beyond expectations for an alpha. I’m so happy not only to see real progress, but also to be able to play a really, really good game. I cannot wait until future updates. I really hope Radiant continues to hold to their promise of not breaking past-version save games (…too much). I would love having a large, functional settlement to test new content that pushes new boundaries of the game.
Cetacean intelligence is old news, today we’ll talk about hearthling intelligence. In spite of having trouble digging upwards and getting stuck in self-made pits, they are otherwise quite smart. Each little hearthling is capable of a lot, and is equipped with a never-ending well of willpower that allows them to work constantly and without downtime. Unless this is not a game design decision and there re plans to change it shortly, why not have a single hearthling be able to use multiple profession’s tools? As mentioned before, the ability to switch hearthling professions in the first place is a godsend in hardmode, but I did have to pause the game quite a lot of times to demote and re-promote everyone to their right places. The functionality to do this is already there, it’s just very inconvenient to use right now. I feel this could be an elegant solution to the problem of having too many hearthlings (and getting slaughtered at the start with too few… though I don’t know, maybe I am a noob and you guys realize something about the game that I do not).
I would like to see more open-ended campaigns. Something not necessarily scripted. The Goblin War quest is on the right track. But what something like a warlord that controls his army with an item? You could deal with the warlord and give in to his demands; you could go in guns blazing and kill everyone; you could ALSO stealth-kill the warlord, or perhaps steal the item from him; you could control his army, or you could break the item and make them frenzy on each other; etc. I am guessing the official response to this will be “let the modders do it”. I won’t complain. Fine, I’ll try. But the suggestion is there.
I really have no other complaints or suggestions. SH is beautiful, I cannot wait to see its growth. Before I go back to tending to my settlement, here are some pictures of the same.
Introducing Lindblade Hollow:
A view from the dining area. I tried to use every part of the house. The wing roofs are, aside from their other functions, fairly effective archer vantage points. The top shack has beds for archers and most of my monetary wealth. On the roof of the shack I have a little hangout area (closeup later) with two firepits. One is the one I started with, the other just kind of floated into my inventory at some point, and I’ve no idea where it came from, but my guys light it anyway.
And yes, we do eat from writing desks. Fine ones, thank you for noticing. On fine cathedral arch-chairs. That’s because our chef is a master. When we eat, we consume art. Nothing less is acceptable.
Walls stripped down from the image above. The north wing (far left) is where the herbalist and the weaver live. They both use non-food herbs that can be harvested from their wild counterparts, so it made sense to put them together: they’d need access to the same field. The south wing is where the farmer and the cook live. A leather-bound box bugged out there, hence the ghost, and I’m too scared to delete it using the
destroy console command. The east wing is the sleeping quarters, and the hidden west wing is the entry foyer.
The image also shows how the “floor” of the upstairs shack was done. On the side are slabs, in the middle there’s a “+”-figure of floor, on which I raised walls and roof. On the statue’s side, the two ladders lead to the (partially fenced) hangout at the top.
How much excavation it took to level up my blacksmith. AKA this is what you get for having easy access to veggies and trees by starting in the middle of a plain.
The house isn’t one house, but five. Four “wings” and one central support and rooftop shack, gaps filled with slabs and walls. The area in the middle is a chicken coop surrounded by a road for faster internal movement.
Another view of the mines. You can see where I started going to the second level because hearthlings took too long to travel on the first, and how deep the dang things were. Seriously, I’m going to start at the foothills next time, so I don’t wait 10 hours before the first ore shows up. Although getting brightbell and flax early sure is nice!
The four “wings” are mostly bare, and almost identical to one another. That made them cheap and easy to build. This helped tremendously with quickly building settlement value and getting new settlers. One unfortunate side effect is that the front door isn’t very strong (my carpenter was still a newb back then). I’ll need to build some sort of a security building in front to reinforce it.
* Modding SH was possible but very time consuming when the code was minified, as you had to figure out what a function did based on its context in code and its name. In great credit to Radiant, though, their code is clean and generally readable. (As a fellow, though relatively young, coder myself, THANK YOU Radiant for teaching me the real value of keeping my files short and my big functions broken into smaller functions!) Regardless, my current life situation simply forbid me from spending that much time on it. I originally bought SH early to get into the modding scene early, so I was a tad miffed that I couldn’t just “jump in”. Now that comments are in and the code is clearer to read, I’m finding more pleasure to explore and mod the game’s functions.