In my opinion, after 30 residents, it is rather difficult to attract new ones. 33k / 44k looks a bit unbalanced. I hope this is not an exponential curve?
In my opinion, after 30 residents, it is rather difficult to attract new ones. 33k / 44k looks a bit unbalanced. I hope this is not an exponential curve?
This is a good point - with recent optimizations, we’re pushing the max “allowed” Hearthlings (as in, highest setting in Options) to 80, which would require… 11,000 food aaaand 496,000 net worth. Yikes.
It is in fact exponential as you guessed:
"food": "math.floor(50 + math.max((num_citizens-7)/math.max((51 - num_citizens)/10, 1), 0) * 150)",
"net_worth": "math.max(math.max(num_citizens-6, 0.5)*550 + math.max(num_citizens-9,0)*100, (num_citizens^2 - 18*num_citizens) * 100)"
It used to be that way because the game performed so badly at high Hearthling counts that we wanted a lot of negative pressure to keep the count from getting too high. Now that the game is better optimized, we support more Hearthlings, and we should at the very least ease off on that exponent, yikes.
Maybe each time add a random value, for example, between 1200-3000, to current wealth?
A nice side-effect, though, is that one you hit those higher numbers the way you make money changes. It has a nice kind of progression arc to it, and I think that’s worth exploring…
warning: long post with a chunk of “loose math” incoming – continue reading at your own risk (I’m going into a fair bit of detail, both so that you can check/poke holes in my logic and assumptions, and also for the benefit of new players looking to boost wealth)
So, based on getting 1 of each crafter (assuming vanilla only, modded classes obviously increase the base count), you’re looking at 7 crafters + a trapper to supply pelts for leather. Then you need fibre, which means either a shepherd or dedicating some of your farmers’ time to silkweed/equivalent (or keeping a garden of wild silkweed/equivalent, and manually harvesting… until you get sick of that and just go back to the first two options.) That’s at bare minimum 9 hearthlings in order to make all the stuff you’ll want available for building.
Then you have to feed everyone, which means 1 farmer and 1 cook when you have 9 hearthlings.
Then you have defence, which is probably at least 3 hearthlings (cleric, knight and archer is good as a bare minimum.) So we’re up to 12 hearthlings for a “stable” town which has access to all the items you’ll want to play with.
You won’t, however, have any workers; so construction and mining will take a long time. Of course, you can crank some of that out while you’re getting up to your “bare minimum to experience the whole game” town. So once you have the bare minimum together, hearthlings start going where you want them based on play style rather than neccessity.
The point of this math so far is merely to establish a baseline of what you need. But let’s crank the number to 20 hearthlings, which isn’t hard to attain and is well under the official expected amount for players to be running. At that number, you’re probably going to want one extra cook to keep everyone well fed; let’s assume we went with the Shepherd rather than relying on plant fibre because that way we get meat and eggs too. At 20 hearthlings, we have our 14 hearthlings assigned to “required” jobs, and 6 free to be either workers or duplicate crafters, or to reinforce the guards.
Now this is where it gets interesting. As we grow from here, we need about 1 more farmer OR cook per 10 new hearthlings (let’s assume we alternate between the two, so we have an equal mix of farmers and cooks), so once we hit 30 hearthlings we have 15 “required” roles filled and another 15 workers/duplicate crafters/soldiers. At this point, we’re hitting a high enough town worth that we need extra soldiers, so let’s double that minimum party. We now still have 12 workers/dupe crafters, free to build or work on any projects we like.
At 40 hearthlings, we need another food producer and an extra guard, giving another 8 hearthlings which can go where we like. So we’re still maintaining fully half of our workforce as “freed up” workers from survival/subsistence requirements. In other words, they’re either building huge projects or absolutely cranking out trade goods, or possibly forming a serious military contingent.
But at 40 hearthlings, we need tens of thousands of gold worth for each new hearthling. Building houses won’t cut it anymore (and let’s be honest, by this point we’re back to dormitories purely out of necessity), and trading has become a major undertaking – every merchant being milked for every last gold coin they possess. And given that, of the easily-crafted items, the most efficient trade item is the Wooden Twins Candle Holder (35g for 2 wood and available to a low-lever carpenter, I think level 3?), we’re looking at hundreds and hundreds of candle holders in storage in order to increase the town worth.
Now, the wooden twins candle holder isn’t the most expensive item, not by a long shot; it’s merely the easiest to mass-produce compared to the payoff. Roast Mutton is worth slightly more at 45g/per, but of course it has a habit of either rotting or being eaten, so it’s not viable. The other candle holders are all around the same price, but use less easily renewed/acquired materials. Of other wooden items, the Ornate Comfy Bed sells for 50g/per, but uses gold flakes which aren’t always easy to find. Speaking of gold flakes, they’re the most efficient option if you’re selling metals; since 1 gold bar (50g) breaks into 3 gold flakes selling for 20g each, so you get slightly more profit from them.
But of all these readily available, (relatively) high-value good, we’re still making low-ish returns and filling up our inventory limit. So, in short, past 40 citizens it’s simply not viable to trade in items like basic furniture anymore. The only things worth looking at are 100g+ items, which means either high-quality ornate furniture, hard-to-get items such as the Donation Box, or rare loot from monsters.
Remember how I was talking earlier about the two possible uses for those many hearthlings – either working to build trade goods, or a massive military? Well, if you take the military route your military score shoots through the roof. Which in turn means larger enemy groups, and more of the tough enemies. And that, in turn, means more rare loot!
The Kobold Scout Hat is worth 35g on its own, already on par with our most efficient trading option made from readily renewable resources. However, if you take that scout hat and make it into a gong, it sells for 100g base price. And all it takes to make a gong is 2 logs – the same as a candle holder takes! Of course, candle holders and gongs both come in quality ratings; an excellent quality candle holder is [I actually can’t remember off the top of my head; will edit in later ], while an excellent quality scout gong is a whopping 300g! We have a clear leader when it comes to efficiency for trading.
But of course, the scout hat is only the first of many kobold hats to loot. The General’s hat gives a gong selling for 170g base price, and at fine quality it’s worth five hundred and forty-five gold. Now, Kobold generals don’t come around every day, right…? Well actually they do – with a military score that high, and a town wealth to match, you can guarantee several generals’ hats plus even more of all the assorted other hats on a daily basis.
Suddenly, we’re earning multiple thousands of gold per day just by completing the daily raid encounters. If we also deploy the various gongs, and get the occasional reward from the wounded rabbit (there’s always at least one hat in it), and keep selling the excess of other random loot (ingots, leather, etc. which drop from the daily raids), it can easily be enough to attract a new immigrant every couple of days.
Now, this min/max math is all kind of abstract, but let’s pull back to the player perspective and what it means for game experience. At the start of the game, the focus in on unlocking new crafters to access more stuff. Once that’s done, there’s a period of using that unlocked stuff to gain more wealth, in order to support more citizens and be able not just survive but thrive. At some point between 35 and 50 citizens, though, you’re thriving economically within the confines of your (relatively) peaceful existence; but foes are lining up to challenge you and there’s nothing really left to do except take them up on the challenge. You could build outwards and outwards, but eventually you start competing for land with enemy camps, so you end up fighting either way. So you’ve grown from a wilderness settlement, to a frontier town with trading ability, to a self-sufficient town, to a market town which produces and sells a surplus… and from there, you start expanding your economy through military power and trading in the most expensive items, probably importing the best food and decorations as they come up in traders. In other words, you’ve made the jump from a town to what most people would call a kingdom or an empire; with the one major deviation being that you don’t have a designated ruler. From there, your military continues to expand and with it comes more influence as every other kingdom seeks to either challenge you (the Red Kiln), or become an ally (Clan Amberstone); and you become the Hearth equivalent of a global superpower.
Of course, by that point you have a large enough standing army that if you go to fight the titan, you can basically just let the army loose and watch them do their thing. Yes the titan’s minions grow in proportion to your town, but there comes a point where you’re immediately killing enemies through sheer weight of attacks and, because of how the AI is built, that’s not likely to happen in return (particularly when you have enough resources to outfit your army in the best gear, and buff potions, and all the rest.) The only challenge remaining is defending the workers who have to go out and dig up any roots; and that’s merely a matter of positioning your hordes of soldiers such that enemies can’t reach your workers.
That’s quite the arc evolving some something as simple as the natural economic limitations built into the game, and the fact that certain loot (which is initially quite hard to obtain) is valued so highly.
Is this a good thing or a bad thing? That’s your question to answer @Rabid_Llama But my perspective is that it accomplishes the spirit, if not the letter, of one of the core kickstarter goals: “grow from a frontier town into a might kingdom.” While the kingdom aspect was officially cut out in the big pivot last year, the combination of optimizations and the end-game quests has pretty much resurrected that old goal. Sure, 80 hearthlings is pretty small for a kingdom; but it feels like you’re playing as a powerful kingdom even if you’re not hitting hundreds of hearthlings.
with all of that said, I’m not saying you shouldn’t reduce the exponent – I fully agree it’s huge, and we don’t need 500(!) gold chests sitting around in storage to prove we’re doing well and can support more citizens. All I’m saying is that the exponential growth forces players to look to other sources of income, which in turn leads to looking at new things to try, and that’s a great thing from a player experience perspective!
(I think it might be worth re-balancing trade costs on a lot of items though – clearly there are some skewed points e.g. the wooden twins candlestick being worth the same as the gold twins candlestick, and the gongs are probably worth far too much on balance. Honestly I’d say they should probably require more materials; not enough to make them tedious but enough that they can’t be “farmed” from only two raw materials.)
whew, I’m done hahah. Hope that’s useful for the final passes on balancing the game economy.
Wow, thanks for the well thought-out post, Yeti! You make a good point, and did a bunch of work for me while I was at lunch
You make a good argument for exponential growth being the right model for at least some of the curve. Today will be a lot of fiddling with spreadsheets, for sure.
(fwiw, the Twins Candle Holders are a mod item, but I do agree that a gold value pass (along with a work-effort pass and an appeal pass) are sorely needed. I got halfway through one and then the Rabbits popped up and ate all my time and carrots.)
You need to make more potters! The Blown Glass Vase takes 1 clay, 1 unfired clay vase (2 clay), and 4 bronze ingots—not a very high cost, but requiring a level 6 potter and combining a lot of lower value resources into a single item—and sells for 180 base. And at level 6, they’re making a lot of fine or better quality items. This is ideal (if you’re acquiring clay) for higher level money-making by way of crafting.
I ended up just tweaking the exponent, from 2 to 1.94 (plus some constants to line up the earlygame again). I think it puts 80 in a more achievable place, but it’s not easy by any means.
Also, it gave me an excuse to fix it so that Daily Update requirements use significant figures, so you don’t get asked for 4,512 food, but instead the much more aesthetically pleasing 4,500
Ah yes, I consistently forget about the blown glass vases – I was probably “subconsciously blocking” their existence, since I really really want to use a bunch in my current town but my potter only juuuuuust reached level 6 and I have no clay at the moment hahaha. They are significantly more work than wooden furniture, but on balance still pay out really well as you say.
Ah, yeah that makes sense. They’re a significant outlier anyway, which I call this a “loose” exercise rather than a proper analysis; they’d be the obvious first candidates for a rebalance if they were vanilla.
To be honest, I’d like to see the basic wooden furniture be worth more as a base, but probably be a little more involved to craft (i.e. an extra 1-2 logs needed) so that it’s not so much of a “pump and dump” product. Weaver items feel like they’re in a nice place, since they’re made from readily available sources but have a lot of hearthling work-hours involved in producing them. The high-end masonry decorations likewise feel pretty good because they’re not easy to access, and if you are cranking them out in a production line it means you have a whole economy to back that up – so that’s fair. For the lower-end ones, honestly I don’t usually sell them because at that stage I haven’t done any large mining projects; by the time I get to those I’m able to make the better options so I stick to them for trading. I’m not as familar with pottery items since I mostly play Ascendancy, but again, they seem pretty well balanced.
One thing that doesn’t feel balanced is food, though – especially since it’s rather expensive to buy, but if you want to sell food then you need a lot of infrastructure (particularly storage and hauling, probably multiple cooking workstations to keep up with production) and of course you lose a chunk of profits to hearthlings eating your best stock. The 10,000 hours ability for cooks probably would have helped here, since a) more expensive food to sell, and b) some of the random buffs would certainly included a higher satiety value so hearthlings are less inclined to eat all your merchandise lol. I think that bumping up the price of raw ingredients by even 1g would make a significant impact. At the moment, bread is actually amazing as a trade item because for a few wheat (1g per bundle… yowch!) you can get a 15g loaf of bread; not amazing on its own but then you can crank out bread to sell and it doubles as a backup food supply.
Another tricky one is the herbs and potions – I can understand they’re valued low because they’re easy to obtain, but at 1g per they’re barely worth selling except to clear space. I’d love to see a “crate of dried herbs” or similar which uses 10 flowers + a small crate and sells for about 25g, with the logic being that you’re shipping off something that’s abundant here but probably rare (or at least highly required) in larger towns/capitals. That way, if you have an excess of herbs you can offload them more easily; but they’re not a magic cash-crop.
Speaking of magic cash crops, Hearthbloom Seeds… daaaaaaayum! This feels fair because they’re not exactly lying around the same as brightbells et al, but once you get your Geomancer to level 4 you can get an explosion of growth happening. I think the solution here is actually to reduce the amount of seeds you get per hearthbloom flower; I’d even say make it 1:1 so that expanding your hearthbloom farm is a significant investment in time. Honestly, getting 3 seeds per item across all the other plants feels rather generous, it saves on tedium if players want to expand their ‘wild farms’, but honestly I think there should be a little more work involved – particularly since you also get seeds from simply harvesting the plants. I’d say 2 seeds per craft feels more like intentional expansion and less like a population explosion; if we’re going to be intensively farming plants then that’s what proper farmers are for hahaha.
And while I’m on the subject, I brought it up in the minor polish thread already but I’d really love to see farmers be able to unlock ALL seeds – if we can get Vert Greene’s seeds to grow in the wild there’s no reason that farmers couldn’t grow them en masse when actually caring for them haha. Vert could sell some seed boxes, but it would be great if some came from quests (the rabbits seem like good candidates – they may not grow their own, but they’d have access to many kinds of seeds), and the “a seed merchant approaches your town” trade could be given a higher weight in order to balance the larger number of seeds to acquire (and of course this trader would need their trade options expanded).
Obviously most of this can happen in 1.1 rather than 1.0, since it’s just variable changes.
For prices of craftable items, I use a simple calculation for my modded items. A sum of every ingredient price raised by 1. So a recipe that uses items valued at 3g and 7g, would be calculated as 4g+8g= 12g in value.
I then spread the result value in case of ties and to avoid whole numbers. For example, the result value is 10g, which is really common, there are plenty of items with that value, so I change it to be either 9g (if it is not so important) or 11g (if it should be worth a little more). Or if I end up with 3 items worth 13g, I will just change the least important to 12g, one keep at 13g and the most important jump to 14g.