I'm sorry, but this gets to my head


After 13 hours switching between Normal mode and peaceful mode, I am still annoyed that I can manage for myself in Normal mode until I found out I could (Cheating… F*ck that) defeat the Mountain via the Console. The preparation that people tells on these forums are indeed not noob friendly, and by that I mean the lack of Guidance through the game, eventually help for the preparations is too bad not to include, eventually being told how many soldiers to train, what weapons to make, and when those requirements are met, the mountain comes, would indeed make the game more friendly to new players, and would be totally fun, because you don’t get thrown in the Lions den all by yourself.

The first problem I encountered throughout the preparations for the Mountain, was that my carpenter wasn’t high enough level to actually make this Flute. ( Said to help) Anyways, I tried to get him to the exact level but because of stupid ignorance he did everything in his mind, and soul to not go and make those wall lamps, that should be gaining him the XP needed for him to make this Flute.

Another thing I want to say is.

MY Hearthlings are doing exactly what I don’t want them to do. The Blacksmith is set to smelt ores into ingots, making weapons, but runs around talking to another fellow Hearthling, and helping the farmers picking up food. What the hell? He wasn’t done giving the needed tools to my footmen in time for the Mountain to come. How nice, now the blacksmith and the carpenter is useless.

I’m a sucker, not quite the experienced gamer, I know this game is in development, but please… The amount of guidance this game need is big. I’m not saying a red line throughout the game needs to be given to us, but at least to those big confrontations, a helpful hand could be needed in different scenarios.

1: I want to fully control my workers, blacksmith, herbalist, knights, everyone! I want them to directly do as told, not doing their orders when they feel like it.

2: When my military units (Knights, Footmen, Archers) gets knocked down, I think it’s annoying that they don’t pick up their stuff again.

3: What ever is necessary for me to actually enjoy this game to a point where I can see I <- progress and I get to know by more Guidance from the game and get further, what I can do to resist the incoming forces would definitely help me to grow with the game.

I’m sure I can’t be the only one addressing this point.

And for the love of God, leave the smart comments out of this. I’m frustrated, but because I want to love this game.

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Stonehearth isn’t an RTS; and what you’re describing sounds like you want to play an RTS – a game with a “meta”, a formula you can use for a known result. e.g. “train two footmen and an archer, stock up 5 healing potions and get a cleric to level 4, then you can beat Mountain”, is that what you’re looking for?

Because that’s not Stonehearth. I’ve beaten Mountain with that before, but it was because of a lot of good planning and a healthy dose of luck. I’ve also “beaten” Mountain with no soldiers to use at all – I had two parties in my town, but both were busy fighting random encounter enemies which had spawned on the other side of the map (I had sent them out to loot the chests, but Mountain came while they were all far too far away to help.) I’ve also failed to beat Mountain and his friends when I’ve had a strong army of three Knights, two Archers, a Footman and a Cleric all at max level and gear.

Stonehearth is supposed to be a game where random factors have a huge impact on how things play out, forcing you to come up with strategies as you go. There are no “rules” on how to “win” because there’s no win condition. That’s not the point. It’s a sandbox, you “win” based on goals you set for yourself. We can help you to learn the underlying systems, or to come up with strategies you want to try, but there’s no way to tell you how to achieve your goals, because for all we know you might follow the instructions perfectly and still get bad RNG meaning you can’t achieve them. However, if you know the core gameplay and how to be creative with your planning, bad RNG doesn’t matter.

And don’t forget that it’s all about the story! That’s the biggest thing that a lot of players don’t seem to understand when they complain about hearthlings not doing what they want, or Mountain (or some other enemy) wiping out their town… yes, it’s frustrating if there’s no warning, but there’s actually plenty of warning about those things in the game! For example, there’s a mysterious shadowy figure who warns you that Mountain is coming, and gives you a way to “beat” him without even having to fight him. I’ve tried both ways, and now I usually pick the peaceful option; not just because it’s easier but because the rewards are arguably better and it fits better into the story I try to create when I play. It took me a couple of goes through the Mountain event to pick up on the hints, but once I actually read the story properly, it became obvious what I could do to improve my chances.

And remember, if you don’t want to deal with enemies you can simply build a wall. You won’t be able to do that forever, but for now, it works waaaaaay too well. It doesn’t take a lot of imagination to see how a defended town with one main gate is stronger than a town with open access. If your hearthlings are too busy to build a wall, you can even just have them dig a moat instead!

If your hearthlings were directly controlled, this would be one of the most boring city-building games in existence. It can be annoying when they act dumb, but remember that their priority is to complete the orders you give them – so if they’re doing something else, there’s a really good chance you’ve overlooked something when giving your orders, and the hearthlings are now stuck waiting for something else to happen before they can get on with it. Yes, hearthlings get interrupted by conversations; but if you have your tasks set up correctly then the interruptions don’t make any difference. If an interruption to your blacksmith’s job means they have to walk a long way to get new ores, for example, it’s a good sign you have a completely different problem (the ore being too far away from the workshop.) The whole point of having the hearthlings make minor decisions for themselves is that it lets you delegate tasks, rather than needing to micro-manage everything. If the idea of controlling the hearthlings directly to place every single block seems interesting rather than boring to you, then you might want to look at getting a voxel modelling program rather than a game. The point of Stonehearth is to react to the changing story, not to have everything go exactly as you plan out.

We can’t guide you in how to play Stonehearth, because the point is that you decide that for yourself. We can guide you in specific skills and strategies, we can give you ideas, but we can’t tell you how to “win” or even how to “succeed”, because those are arbitrary goals you set for yourself. And the first goal of any player in a sandbox game should be something along the lines of “work out how the game actually works” – i.e. learn what happens when you do nothing, and learn the consequences of your actions. One consequence of building up a large population of specialised workers, for example, is that there are a lot of idle people who will go and start conversations; which might mess up your plans which require other workers to stay busy all the time. So, one way to avoid that is to keep everyone fairly busy, and reassign sub-tasks (e.g. hauling or construction) to hearthlings who have nothing to do in their “main” job, while turning off those sub-tasks in hearthlings who are doing something more important. If you tell your carpenter they’re not allowed to haul or build, then all they can do is work at crafting and level up. You’ll need to have someone else hauling wood for them, though, or else the carpenter will spend all their time walking around to pick up wood for their crafting jobs.

13 hours is a drop in the ocean for a game like this. Sure, you should be able to feel some progress in that time, but don’t expect to go straight into a “successful” thriving town which can take on the world. There’s supposed to be some challenge to make it a game, otherwise it would just be a modelling program, and then we might as well get rid of the hearthlings and have the player do everything directly. A good goal for someone with under 20 hours is to figure out what happens when you get a Game Over situation, because that’s going to happen quite a lot in the first 20 or even 40 hours. It’s normal, and it’s part of learning how the world of Hearth works. Pay attention to why things aren’t working, and try to get better by making them work properly the next time. Then you’ll feel lots of progress, and soon enough you’ll have a dozen different ways/plans of dealing with Mountain.


I’m going to strongly disagree with this. If a game is holding your hand, telling you exactly what to do and when to do it (like Call of Duty), is it even a game anymore? Like where’s the challenge? Where’s the fun of solving the problem yourself?

I can contest that I myself have ran into this problem a couple times. So I’ll give you props on this.

Makes it so you don’t have to fight him. He turns away and leave you a gift.

Did he have enough materials, both wood and and ore? Normally they do their job first if they have enough resources. If they don’t, then they go and do everything else. Otherwise in the citizens menu, you can turn hauling off for specific 'lings.

Is annoying, but you can use the loot tool to tell your 'lings to pick them up.

Been there…done that.

I completely agree. I personally am sitting at over 2000.



I mean comparrising the lack of guidance that im talking about, that i see comming in this game, which is the point of my thread to Call of Duty is quite taking it to the edge. Im not talking about holding hands, im not talking about a total rework of the game, im talking of more help to new players. Thats the point im trying to adress. Not that i think its to shitty that they havnt included that for me and for others, but this is a suggestions thread and my suggetions is, as to what you call “Holding hands” to get more help for newcommers.

One thing we’re definitely working on (always) is our AI system. It’s definitely not right that your blacksmith/carpenter should be hauling or chatting instead of working; that’s a bug. Unfortunately, there are 2 potential causes for bugs like that, one which we can fix by making priorities easier to implement and use, and one which is a lot more challenging. This second one involves the fact that when you’ve got a lot of thinking entities on the screen, each of them consumes some CPU. If they’re all thinking, then they can’t figure out how to do their highest priority item, and then they do low-priority items instead. We’re still trying to figure this out. Incremental performance fixes help, but the effect varies based on your computer and the size of your town.


Well im sure after reading this that you are experienced, and also to the guy down below with 2000 hours. But lets get to that later

RTS Real Time Strategy; You’re talking about planning, ideas and comeups to help get the unknown achievements throughout the game, then tell me why you arent calling this a RTS, for me its a Sandbox Survival RTS game.

Im NOT asking for people to change the game, im only really trying to tell that the amount of time to “Figure the strategies out” should be chosen by the players. I GIVE ZERO FORKS <- scuse me if you guys want the big challenge, i dont, i just want to feel i can complete the game, build my city, and enjoy that, the rest is fair opinions to which its boring or if its not. To me its not. Thats why --> “The point” is to make a option where you can decide if you want these extra helping guidelines or not.

I Enjoy reading the love for the game that you’ve got! I really do! But in a early access i dont think you can stample the game to which what it is, if its a Survival, if its going to be a blockcity builder, i just know that Stonehearth is “At this point” A RTS Sandbox Survival game, and that its too hard for new ones. I know the Shadow dude came and told me, but the time it took for my carpenter to do as he was told, even after making sure that he had nothing else to do, and i did that. Was just to frustrating, i really dont care how big the challenges in this game should be, but i know for a fact, that a game needs to be fun, i dont really think it is when i have to use the console after countless tries to get further. Especially for a noob gamer like me. I want to decide how this game is played, if its with challenges above my head, or if its easy with help and guidance just so that i learn and so that i feel good when defeating the mountain.

That makes me happy, thanks for the response!

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The key sticking point (as I see it) between your argument and mine is on the definition of “sandbox” – as far as I’m concerned, sandboxes don’t have a defined end condition. Sometimes they have a lose condition, but Stonehearth definitely doesn’t have a “win” you can achieve within the game. In an RTS, it doesn’t matter how you get to the win condition, as long as you get there. You can either use really skillful strategies, or you can use the most basic one and just have more patience than the opponent does… however you do it, as long as you win the game you win it. In a sandbox, though, nothing is going to serve as that “victory trigger”, so there’s no objective way to measure success or failure. All you can do is compare your performance against other performances – and while that might seem like a good way to see whether you’re improving, it actually fails to take into account all the random factors, and all the “hidden” metrics. For example, one player might have trouble with feeding their hearthlings early on, so they move a bunch of berry bushes close to the town and that gets rid of the problem… until their town expands, and they’re back where they were, because they’ve moved all the berry bushes and can’t get any more food from them than they currently are. They haven’t actually got better at feeding the town, because they haven’t learned to recognise the town’s food needs properly or weigh up the pros and cons of different food sources. That’s why learning in Stonehearth is not actually measured by simple numbers, it’s about rates and ratios.

What you can do to quantify your success comes from outside the game; the things you bring to it as a player. And that’s what makes it really hard to give new players the kind of guidance you describe. You can’t really teach people creativity, problem-solving or experimental methods; and those are really the core skills that Stonehearth asks of its players.

You can teach players a 5-step process to build a specific building… but in a game like Stonehearth, there’s no guarantee that things will unfold according to that plan. Sometimes the RNG is nice and helps you out, sometimes it has no impact, and sometimes it will straight-up laugh in your face. So, teaching novice players a “step by step” approach to the game is actually counter-productive – it teaches them to expect certain “rules” which aren’t actually there, and doesn’t prepare them for the times that RNG or their lack of knowledge will force them to adapt.

So, what we need is a tutorial which teaches rookies how to adapt, experiment, and plan. And believe me, I want to see that in the game ASAP! Unfortunately… it’s very hard to figure out how to write/create such a tutorial, especially in light of the fact that it needs to be translated and made accessible to players of all levels of education and literacy.

I’ve been making suggestions which, I hope, will help to create that kind of tutorial. The main one I want to see is for hearthlings to directly communicate with the player, explicitly telling them what is and isn’t working. Most of the time, “bugs” are actually a mixture of expected behaviour and unexpected player input… i.e. something which is perfectly logical to the game, just not to players. The perfect example here is the “bug” that @sdee describes where the carpenter is unable to complete their task, so they do low-priority tasks instead. As far as I see it, the game is working perfectly behind the scenes; what’s actually not working there is that the problem isn’t being communicated to the player. Now, as a player who is well-versed in this genre, I can spot that problem because I know that the socialising tasks are (or should be) a lower priority than the construction tasks; and I can deduce that there’s a problem somewhere with the more important tasks. I can then back-trace and find the problem, once I know to look out for it.

However, obviously new players won’t have that knowledge, so it looks like their hearthlings are just being lazy. I can sympathise with that, but I refuse to see it as a problem with the engine. It’s a problem with UX, i.e. a communication issue. And yeah, something totally needs to be done to improve that! Trying to change the back-end (e.g. the hearthling AI) won’t fix it, it’s the players who ultimately need to make a change in themselves in order to get rid of that problem.

In case it’s not clear (because I have waffled on a bit, hahah!), what I’m saying here is that situations like the one you describe can’t be solved with a simple step-by-step guide, or a tutorial which shows players how to perform basic tasks. It requires a more abstract/“higher level” of learning to show players how to diagnose problems and figure out a way to get around them. I’m really hopeful that Stonehearth can be the first game to properly pull that off in the sandbox/city-building genre, because there’s a desperate need for a game which can!

In the meantime, here are a couple of hints/advice for the specific problem of “lazy” hearthlings:

  1. usually, it means they’re unable to find or reach something; so if you see a hearthling standing around all day it’s a good cue to check their supplies, trace their route to work, and check their tasks (they might have had their job disabled for something else, and it just hasn’t been turned on again – it’s more common than you’d expect!)

  2. if all of the above didn’t show you a problem, it might actually mean that they’re too busy to complete the “important” tasks. The game can only track a certain number of tasks at a time (it depends directly on how powerful your computer is), so if the hearthlings aren’t taking on new tasks it might mean that the game is too busy trying to figure out old ones for them to try something new. This shouldn’t be a problem for you, but if you’ve been playing for a really long session or have a massive number of hearthlings or buildings, it may happen.

Ultimately, I do sympathise with your position – you want to learn the game’s rules, and you want the game to make that easier. And I think that’s totally fair! However, we keep getting “requests” (they’re often worded as demands) to make the game itself easier, and that muddies the waters on what players actually want. At the moment, Stonehearth isn’t particularly challenging when you understand it, the challenge comes from learning to understand it. I definitely want to see the UX improved, and more interactivity between hearthlings and players to be added, so that players have more “windows into” the world of Hearth and thus more opportunities to understand how it works.

However, if people keep asking for the game itself to be made simpler, we’ll lose what makes Stonehearth so awesome. What we need instead is for players to clarify what they’re not understanding about the game, and to elaborate on where their expectations don’t meet up with what’s actually happening. If everyone can do that, the devs will get a much better idea of where the UX fails to communicate what’s going on “behind the scenes”, and they’ll be able to fix it so that rookie players can see what they need to do to fix it. For example, if the carpenter keeps having conversations with other hearthlings because there’s no wood available for them (maybe because the blacksmith is using it all for forging, as an example), then there should be something happening in-game to make that clear to the player. The carpenter might get into an argument with the blacksmith over who gets to use the wood first, or they could simply inform the player directly that they’ve been trying to do a job for a couple of hours but can’t get any wood for it. Either of those things would get the attention of even a completely new player, and the solution would be pretty clear.

If Stonehearth can get to that level of interactive UX, it’ll be an awesome game and really easy for new players to pick up and understand – so I agree with you on the core point that the game is a bit difficult to understand right now, I only disagree about how it could be fixed. I don’t think that explicit tutorials can do much here, and that’s mostly because I’ve seen a lot of other games try it and not really succeed. What Stonehearth needs, IMO, is to bring its puzzle/problem solving elements more into the spotlight, and give clear hints rather than specific instructions.


I get what you mean, Hints are fine for me, i just want some kind of help to move on :slight_smile:

I completely disagree with this. I feel that this is an engine problem that comes from optimization. If the engine was designed to run better, regardless of the machine, then it wouldn’t only run low-end tasks, but would always run the high-end tasks first, thus fixing this “bug” as it’s being called. Teaching players how to spot the problem and the steps to get around it doesn’t fix the problem, it only makes people ignore it. Bethesda calls these features.

I second this, as I’ve stated that I fear the game may end up being simplified to the point where it’s no longer fun for anyone. As I stated in another thread, Games like SimCity, Cities Skylines, even RimWorld, are fun on a basic level, but when you REALLY get into all the eccentricities it has to offer, then it’s a masterpiece. But those eccentricities can’t be taught or tutorial-ed. They have to be learned from playing.

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As far as the first point, the way I see it is this: no matter how powerful your computer, there will come a time when it’s overloaded and can’t handle “high level” tasks. There will be a small window where it can still squeeze through minor tasks quickly, but that window will shrink very quickly as the computer power increases. Eventually, it gets to the point where no tasks are being done, or the game outright runs out of memory.

The thing is that the game already prioritizes high-level tasks first, that’s the nature of its engine architecture. In fact, you could look at socialisation/conversation tasks as all falling under a single high-level umbrella, while construction tasks and crafting tasks each fall under their own high-level umbrellas. The order would be something like crafting > construction > socialisation, and under each of those umbrellas there’s another hierarchy of tasks within those big jobs. So currently (at least as I understand it), a hearthling checks “is there a crafting task I can do? Y/N”, then “can I help with a construction task? Y/N”, and then “do I want to have a conversation/is someone trying to have a conversation with me? Y/N” This means that if there are conversations taking place while those other tasks remain uncompleted for extended periods, there’s something stopping them from getting completed; and it’s very likely not going to be a lack of computing power, because simply failing to find a path/solution to the task won’t make the game give up after one try.

The hearthlings and the game itself don’t have long-term planning. What they do have, however, is an awareness of which tasks can’t be completed right now. What I propose is that the info in that awareness is made available (and explicit/obvious) to players, so that they can act immediately on any bottlenecks. That will prevent unfinished/junk queries from building up, and improve the game’s ability to process tasks – in other words, it’s a form of optimisation in and of itself. It’s just optimising the player (who has, IMO, the most potential to be optimised) rather than the hardware (which can’t be) or the software (which has a very steeply diminishing return on optimisation – i.e. it gets to a point where any further optimisation requires an inordinate input for very little gain.)

As a human player, I can back-trace to find a bottleneck and put a solution in place. However, an AI can’t really do that. Even our most advanced AIs can’t really do that – the closest thing to an AI which can is already in development by Google, and they’re trying to teach it to play Minecraft; but it’s a long way from being able to do that! In order for an AI to solve the type of problem I describe, it would need to:

  • recognise the exact task which is failing (this is very easy)

  • understand the cause for failure (again, fairly easy – lack of resources? Lack of available hearthlings? Lack of pathfinding/access?)

  • figure out what’s causing that lack (much more difficult – let’s say it’s a lack of wood causing a wooden door not to be made, which is holding up a whole building and making the carpenter idle around having conversations. Is that lack of wood due to a lack of harvesting, or competition with other classes, or is there plenty of wood around but it’s inaccessible… or do the goblins keep demanding wood… or has the wood been stolen from stockpiles by thieves… has it been used in firepits… etc.?)

  • implement a solution (again, very difficult for an AI – should more trees be harvested, should wood be purchased from a trader, should old/temporary buildings be knocked down once they’re not needed?)

  • what are the consequences of that action? Will the solution create larger problems in the future? (almost impossible for current AIs – sooooo many variables which cannot have a definite value, there’s no way to know what the future will bring unless that AI either cheats or runs every possible scenario. The first is plausible but not fun, the second could literally take forever and still not get us anywhere.)

As you can see, the first two steps are easy for the computer because they’re simple questions with definitive answers. They’re actually the hardest for players to answer, though, aside from perhaps the one about long-term consequences. We can easily see from experience and common-sense what the short term consequences of the various solutions are, and the long-term ones we can make educated guesses at… and besides, we don’t need to know for certain, we can make contingencies or deal with them later. What’s hard for us to know is exactly why the carpenter isn’t busy making that door – and that’s because we see the symptom (idle carpenter), not the issue (failed task) or its cause (lack of wood.)

The game, by its very nature, does see those things though. So if the game can inform us what’s happening there, we can easily take over and make our adjustments. That’s basically the gameplay loop for Stonehearth – player has idea > gives orders > hearthlings/game try to follow orders > success/fail > reasons for failure/celebrate success > new plan/try again. Currently, the thing missing is robust feedback on the reasons for failure – we have a little of that, but we need more.

And that brings me to my final argument against making the hearthling manager “smarter” – eventually, it starts taking over our role and playing the game for us. And then, what’s left to do? The game is supposed to handle the micro-management decisions, not the macro-management. If it’s constantly deciding on major actions, e.g. it autonomously creates orders to log a section of forest because it detects a shortage of wood, then it’s taking the player’s agency out of the game. It might be convenient in a large build, but it badly damages the story-driven gameplay which most of us are here for – remember, we the player are still meant to be the main character/protagonist around which the whole game revolves.

There are definitely things which can be done to improve UX, such as adding more auto-action zones and options (e.g. “auto harvest and plant trees in this area/tree farming zone” or auto buy/sell options with merchants such as auto-sell any surplus eggs), adding more interaction with the hearthlings to make their day-to-day challenges part of the story rather than roadblocks to progress, and giving players more options to influence how hearthlings go about their tasks (e.g. hours of work per day, or global policies such as choosing whether hauling is always a lower/higher priority than other tasks or even setting that per-hearthling.)

However, all of those changes are changes to what players give the engine as inputs, not how it runs. So, I’d say that the issue is in UI and UX, not with the engine itself. It’s not being illogical, just hard to understand.

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It scares me that it would eventually be able to, though.

anyway, back to the subject. I do agree with your analysis on the situation. While you should aim for optimization when the returns aren’t yet diminished a lot, the player has the most potential for optimization. I also agree that to much hearthling smartness can take out the game from stonehearth.

You’re going to have to explain this one to me. If I give an order to build a house, why exactly should it fail? If I give an order to gather or mine, why should those fail? The only command that should have a failure option is combat, in which all my units die. This statement is confusing to me, can you please clarify what you mean by pass/fail?

Even if the game said “House cannot be built due to scaffold #3” and highlighted it in green you cannot delete scaffolds for building, and building scaffolds over it doesn’t fix the pathfinding issue. What good does that feedback do me if I can’t even manually fix it? In either case the error shouldn’t be thrown in the first place. There are parts of the game that are expected to work regardless of human input.

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It usually shouldn’t, at least not if you have all the information available and nothing comes up in the middle of the job.

However, sometimes things will change unexpectedly, e.g. goblins stealing all your wood, in which case the house won’t build properly. It won’t fail in the sense that you fail the whole exercise and have to start again; rather, the specific task queued up (e.g. “build this wall using 2 logs”) will fail to be completed until requirements are satisfied, and that stalls the rest of the order you’ve given.

What you describe is a straight-up bug, and yeah it should never happen. However, if that situation does happen for some reason, it’s important that it’s communicated clearly to the player. That’s what error logs are for (and we have debug tools available so that we can fix many of those bugs if they come up during Early Access – after all, we expect such things at the moment. The plan, of course, is that they’ll all be fixed by the date of full release.)

However, if the task has failed for a perfectly logical reason and the game is working perfectly, it’s also important to make sure that information is communicated to the player, too! Otherwise, it looks like there’s a bug/software error where there isn’t one, it’s just a greedy goblin doing exactly what it’s supposed to do, hahaha! In that case, the player can’t be expected to have an omniscient view of everything going on at once (their attention should be on something fun like building or coming up with other ideas), so there needs to be a way for you to access the information about why the house you ordered hasn’t been finished yet.

Currently, it’s not super difficult to check out any specific information – for example, you can click on the half-built house to see what materials it’s missing, or inspect the carpenter to see what their allocated task is. However, if you don’t know where to look, it could take you a while to find that information; and even if you find it then you might not find the cause – often you have to dig back further and further to find what’s really going on. However, if the game makes it very obvious to you where you need to start looking, that cuts down your searching time significantly. In other words, it means less time troubleshooting your orders, and more time playing! As an added bonus, it also means you’ll learn more about the game’s “rules”/how your hearthlings will complete the tasks you set them, so you’ll get better at giving them tasks they can complete easily.

If every single task was completed quickly and without any hiccups, the game would get pretty boring very quickly. However, if the hiccups are the sort which come out of seemingly nowhere and won’t go away easily, that’s no fun either. They need to be easy to diagnose and treat in order to keep things fun, and that’s why it’s important that the player knows where, why and how a task/order has failed/stalled. Experienced players will know what to look for because they can compare successful tasks to failed ones, but novice players will need to be given more hints and help to discover what went wrong. Rather than “error logs for building”, though, the proposal is to make those hints into a direct part of the story – i.e. when a task fails for reasons which make perfect sense within the story, the characters will act appropriately and talk to their leader about how to solve it. This generates the next chunk of story, as the leader comes up with a plan and the hearthlings try to put it into action :merry:

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But how would the game know the difference between the wood being stolen, used for something else, or just not there in the first place? All it could report is “Not Enough Wood for House #46”, which it does already with the red “!” above the house.

Referring to my previous statement, if you can’t notice a sign above the building, nor know how to click on it, as the build menu showing you exactly what’s missing pops up, then you don’t have a right to play this game. Sorry to be an ass about it, but to make it any simpler than that would begin becoming an annoyance to experienced players, to which even the noobs that can’t click on a building will eventually become.

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If the game reports that there’s not enough wood, the player is almost certainly going to check what happened to the wood in their stockpile; and that in itself is enough IMO. No matter what caused the shortage, players are smart enough to find a short-term solution, and if it keeps happening, they’ll look for a long-term solution to stop it happening again.

As far as making things more obvious to rookies, there’s always options for levels of information display – i.e. your classic “display pop-up hints?” toggle. Players who don’t want the hearthlings to tell them about such occurrences would be able to easily turn them off, and it’s not like it’s hard for the dev team to implement that option.

Also, I’m suggesting that the hearthlings would only “contact” the player if the task has been sitting/not progressing for a few consecutive days; so a temporary interruption to workflow wouldn’t result in a multitude of pop-ups. However, a task which has sat idle for a week would. I’d also expect that event to be tied into the story in other ways, for example there might be a happiness penalty since everyone is sad to see an uncompleted task, and completing the task obviously gives a happiness boost since the long-term project is finally done.

Again, the point isn’t to automate everything, it’s to point new players in the right direction and then let them figure out the solution. I really don’t imagine that a player would miss a goblin stealing their wood, but they might be too busy to replace it, or forget about doing so if they focus on something like defending their town… so if the wood shortage continues for several days and it means that jobs aren’t getting done, eventually someone will speak up “hey, we need more wood to do our jobs!”

However, that’s the most basic application of “failure feedback.” A more useful one, for example, would be for an over-worked hearthling (such as a farmer trying to tend too many fields) – the game can detect that the hearthling is always busy, and that farming jobs are sitting idle, and put those two facts together to trigger the farmer saying “hey, I’m really busy over here! Maybe I could get some help, or give me less fields to tend?” Or, if your military score is below a certain threshold after X number of days, and you’ve had hearthling deaths in combat, someone might speak up and say you need a stronger military presence.

The conditions for these hint pop-ups are all simple if statements, so you could think of them as a “what not to do” checklist. This way, if the player is falling off the rails in a particular area, the game can gently nudge them back in the right direction without taking away the fun of experimentation.

The key thing, though, is to switch from passive notification (e.g. the red exclamation markers) to active notification (i.e. event pop-up) after a reasonable amount of time and only if nothing is being done about the problem. A canny or experienced player should never even see those pop-ups, since they’d notice such issues through the course of their normal supervision rounds. The pop-ups would be a gentle but un-miss-able reminder geared towards very inexperienced, very young, or cognitively challenged players; making sure the game is open to everyone without dumbing things down to the point it’s no longer fun for the rest of us,.

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So…then why isn’t the current system enough, as it literally does all of that?

I could see this being helpful, as long as it’s a toggable tutorial, or option that can be turned off. The notification system is already crowded enough, we don’t need more notifications to get lost in that, that the big red “!” already tells us.

If the task has been sitting for a few consecutive days, then that means that it’s been 15 to 30 min IRL MINIMUM since the player has gone back to check on their project. At that point, they’re AFK playing or aren’t too into the game.

This I could see, as I can see a small town getting upset if the new town Inn had problems getting completed.

But in a way, this is already in there…and this whole thread is about why it isn’t enough. If a building doesn’t have enough wood, there’s a marker above the building, and red numbers in the materials list. If a goblin is stealing from you, you get an “IN YO FACE” pop-up that says a goblin is stealing from you. So if you as the player forget or don’t go back and make sure your town is being taken care of, then that’s on the player. If a game has to remind you to keep playing it, then how is it a game anymore? At that point, you’re borderline automating it, and almost taking it to a hand-holding level.

This would all depend on how it was implamented. My reference here is going to be Galactic Civ, as if you turtle the game, you’ll get taunts from other races about how puny you are or how weak you appear. I understand the point of it, but at the same time, when I turn around and steamroll them with my “puny” army that I’ve had them commenting on for the last hour, it gets annoying. Stonehearth could be the same because as you stated above, each player’s experience is different. So I could have the 4th Hearth Army and still lose, or I could go in with the town’s fool and win.


The main change I’m advocating here is to keep the current “passive” notifications, but supplement them with “active/in your face” ones when the player doesn’t do anything to rectify the problem.

The current warning for a stalled building is a great example – sure, it’s easy to spot if you know what you’re looking for or you’re focussing on just the town, but for a new player who might be trying to split their attention between a dozen different events (and, let’s be honest here, new players almost always queue up too much at once – I still did it when I first played Stonehearth, and I had the experience of half a dozen other city-building games telling me not to!), those exclamation marks can easily fade into the background or go unnoticed.

Think of it this way: the first time around, the player may well end up out of their depth, and not know how to prioritise something which the rest of us think is really obvious. So, they may benefit from the game outright telling them “hey, it looks like you missed _____, but it’s really important that you deal with it ASAP!” One assumes that after a couple of those friendly reminders, the rookie will learn to pay more attention to what’s happening in their game, and soon they’ll stop getting those pop-ups at all.

For the rest of us, it’s a good “disaster alarm” just in case we do miss something for 15 minutes, or do try to play AFK. I know a lot of players will occasionally play with the game on a second screen or minimised, so the pop-up serves as both a visual and audio cue to check in on things.

The most important part here, IMO, is actually the whole concept of the hearthlings directly contacting/communicating with the player. It’s not just a way to prompt new players into action, it’s also opening the door to all kinds of fun stuff which veteran players will enjoy – such as hearthling-given quests, more dynamic stories, or event-driven hearthling actions/reactions (as an extreme example, if a hearthling’s quest isn’t fulfilled they might leave the town.) The tech which would run that is largely in place, but building a “soft guidance tutorial” to react to game events would be another piece of the puzzle, and have an immediate positive impact on the game even if it’s really part of a bigger and cooler change.

So…you want to create a system that helps players who do things that anyone would know they aren’t supposed to do? Even so, you want to have a system that tells the player how to play, when they’re already ignoring the game?

This game is in alpha still (and probably always will be), so I’ll cut it a break. But most games give you a basic tutorial on the start screen on how to do each part. Giving SH that IMO would be easier than clustering the notification system more. It would also keep it from annoying experienced players (like myself).

I’m going to give a personal example of why this would be annoying.

These two pictures are from a previous playthrough. Being I’m playing the Ascendency in the desert, wood is a major issue. This building as you can see requires a lot, and thus I planted trees…and waited. Well, I don’t like to harvest trees until they’re large, and as an experienced player, I’m sure you know how long that takes.

With the system you’ve proposed, I’d constantly have a notification that I’m out of wood. Well no shit, I’m working on it. By the time the trees hit the large stage, I’d have how many notifications on top of the dozen others that are already in the game.

I completely understand where you’re coming from on this, but I feel there’s more you’re leaving out. If you’re playing AFK, then you’re waiting on something, whether that be for crops/trees to grow or some smiths to finish their cue. A rookie wouldn’t do this, or shouldn’t do this, as they’re still learning the game, and you can’t learn without looking. As for an experienced player, chances are they have enough defenses setup to be AFK. As for a notification cue, we have the music change or the already notification that someone’s starving. Thus there isn’t anything else that could kill them that can’t be rectified easily for an experienced player.

Now before you argue that when AFK they have the audio muted, then, in that case, a notification wouldn’t help anyway.

This I will completely agree with and stand behind. But at the same time, it doesn’t need to be a hand-holding system that copies other systems that are already in effect. I’ll leave it at that as I feel I’m running in circles.

Oh, I totally agree that it shouldn’t be hand-holding, or spam notifications. And it’s not meant to help new players keep up bad habits – rather, it’s meant to inform them that they’ve fallen into one.

When a hearthling has to pop up a dialogue box to the player, I’m not imagining it’s going to be a cheerful, yay-you-tried-have-a-gold-star moment… more like “Oi! Where in Hearth is my wood?”, and going on into either a mini-rant or a bit of a sulk. It would be worded in a way that’s also humourous, but not a positive reinforcement; i.e. the hearthling is telling the player that they goofed up and now have to fix it, not just that there’s a small problem they should take a look at.

Of course, the point you mention about Glactic Civ, or your desert ascendancy town, does still apply; but that’s where iteration comes in. For example, the dev team might look at giving players multiple response options (e.g. one to console/calm down the hearthling, one to bite back, one that says “do not notify me about this problem again”, etc.), and the messages can be worded in such a way that even if you fix the problem 5 seconds later they don’t look out of place.

What I’m imagining here is an ideal version of the system, but yeah I can see where the pitfalls you mention come into it. I simply believe that the dev team will deal with those in good time, which makes me confident that the idea can work. But it’s a conversation which needs to be had eventually, and you’re right – if it’s not implemented very well, it’ll look silly and damage the game’s aesthetic. Long story short, I think we agree on most points here and are looking at the same picture from two different perspectives :merry:

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