Is This It For Stonehearth's Features?

In the latest Desktop Tuesday, @sdee stated that the engine is coming to a completion, and that we may be entering a “dry spell” again.

But just to set all your expectations, all of this new work has destabilized performance pretty badly and once this lands, it will be time again to pivot our attention to performance and bugfixing, and away from features. This is an expected part of the process, but if by comparison, the rest of the year feels like a drought to you, consider lending your hand to a favorite workshop project.

With this said, I have to be That Guy for a min and ask, is this it? Are quests, trading, multiple colonies / cities, water and snow being more than smoke and mirrors, just everything that’s been talked about and discussed during the drought last year just…done? Like is this voxel builder sandbox with 25 Hearthlings going to basically be it?

@Solus previously said in My Thoughts on Game Direction:

Now not trying to start a fight, but after last year’s dry spell, and 2018 about to enter the same after a brief period of progress, I feel like this has become the case with this game. To add to that, anymore if feels like the development is going the way of Minecraft, where more pressure is being placed on modding, with the ideal that “if you want it, ask a modder”.

So can anything be said for the future of Stonehearth and whether it will develop more into the amazing game we want it to be, or are we going to see it stagnate again until eventually it’s wrote off as a semi-failure?


Disclaimer

This is NOT the place to dismiss my thoughts in one of the following ways:

  • You don’t know what the end product will be.
  • Well it may be bad now, but it will get better later.
  • This is just the new direction they want to go.

If the engine is coming to completion, then the mechanics we have are what we have to work with. Some new things can be bent and broken into place, as seen in Frost Feast, Cafe Mod, etc. but even then, they are limited in how far that can go.

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Are quests

We plan to add some more quest lines in the future.

trading

Depends on what you mean. Multiplayer has trading, and we are exploring some small additions to NPC trading mechanics, but probably nothing big.

multiple colonies / cities

Not in the build an empire sense, no.

water and snow being more than smoke and mirrors

The water sim is pretty robust as it is, and unlikely to see any fundamental changes. There might be some optimizations in the future, and there’s a small possibility of minor additions to tie it to gameplay, but nothing major is planned. Snow is unlikely to have any fundamental changes, but if we do seasons, that might use a different gameplay system that ties into it.

25 Hearthlings

We are working on some optimizations to raise hearthling count limits.

more pressure is being placed on modding

Yes, we believe mods are a fundamental feature of Stonehearth and the main way that features will be added in the long term.

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To answer this question again from a high level perspective: the game as it is now is roughly the shape we want it to be going forward. We will add more things, but they will not fundamentally change how you play or what you’re doing.

If you want the game to be fundamentally different, I totally understand–there’s a lot of different games that we all thought SH would be, and it’s certainly not all of those. I’d look to modding at this point. For example, Frostfeast’s temperature system shows how a new hearthling need can fundamentally change the gameplay cadence of the experience.

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so, just to make sure i’m understanding this correctly, there is definitely more content (monsters/races, classes, biomes, quests, etc) being developed, but the core mechanics/gameplay (how building works, the hearthling needs, town progression, etc) have basically reached their finished state?

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Yes! For example, we do eventually plan to add more monsters, the Northern Alliance, Dwarves, the glacier, and the animal tamer, but building, town progression, and hearthling needs are pretty much doing what we hoped they would, proviso some polish and a few more nice to haves (a fence tool, for example).

The stuff that is planned for after the performance work isn’t yet defined enough to talk in great specifics yet, though.

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Do you mean, we will do only small things with gameplay, or small things is all it takes to greatly impact gameplay?

Please do seasons.

I understand your thoughts here, they have been this way since the beginning of stonehearth, but I see a problem. As long as the modded in features are bolt-on features (biomes, items,quests, campaigns etc etc. ) of which you admittedly have a lot in the game, then all is fine. But if someone decides, I want fire in the game, that is an awful feature to mod in. It takes at least a few modders, with lots of code-based experience (which is rarer than just modders.) to sink a month or more of their lives into. And then everything needs to be kept updated, and it is a lot of work.

And when you do make it, all other mods need to be compatible with it.

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Small things with gameplay.

True. Speaking as someone who started out as a modder and sunk years of his life into it (Morrowind - Max’s Code), it takes dedication, but it’s possible, and it has kept some games alive and active for many, many years after they were released.

Part of the engine stabilization and focus on content means that updates would be that mods would be able to depend on the API not changing in backward-incompatible ways, and therefore would not require updates as frequently.

We try to allow the system to support mod compatibility as much as possible (e.g. not requiring overrides when possible and instead support mixintos). We’re also hoping to eventually get the modding guide to teach modders how to better support inter-mod compatibility.

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As a modder, this makes me happy.

Just to set your expectations, because it is so difficult, I doubt you’re not going to see it that often. ALthough maybe modder teams become a thing, which would make it possible for your everyday modder to participate in making one of the more grander mods.

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Im kinda surprised about the snow really. i mean how much impact would it have to have the game spawn, for a lack of a better word: white collored tilled soil on every block that can be traced from the sky?
(no collision box ofc.)

to not blow up the game in the performance department steal a leaf out of minecrafts book and do it gradually over say 3 days (would mean snow would not be a one day thing)

if you want to streamline it even more just have the game only do it on blocks you can see, still use the cheat for all the surrounding lands.

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No point posting here any more

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I believe Titans are a hard promise. They’re definitely going to do those.

Geomancer and Magmasmith, I think, are coming as well, they’ve been talking too much about them to abandon them. Keep in mind that right now, we have early game and medium game at best. There is zero late game content – no monsters, no classes, no events that rely on your town to be highly advanced and progressed to work. I believe at least these three will make it into the game.

At this point, I am doubtful about dwarves and everything else on that line. It really doesn’t seem like Team Radiant has enough time to do all of those things. But I’m honestly not super upset, because all of those things can be modded. Which I understand is an unpopular notion in this very thread, but it IS why I’ve been supporting SH for as long as I have.

You kind of are, I think. The overhead that Lua brings to the game is most definitely a limiting factor, but the limits it places on the game are not nearly severe enough to abandon Lua code and completely remove the possibility of advanced (i.e. anything besides JSON injection) mods. There were certain components where Lua performance was a terrible bottleneck, I know that pathfinder was one, at least. They have since moved those components to C++ in order to avoid slowing down the code. And honestly, even that decision has been a sword of two edges. Yes, the hearthlings do pathfinding significantly faster; but if you want to make any mod that fundamentally changes how hearthlings get from point A to point B (I was working on a Portals mod), you are out of luck – that part of the game is inaccessible right now.

Further, more Lua code (e.g. from mods) does not necessarily mean slower game. A vast, vast majority of the Lua code in the game is sitting idle most of the time. For example, the Combat Base Job lua file is enormous – but its scariest parts only run during combat proper. Most of the game, they’re just sitting there.

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All of those would be done in Lua, whether it is done by us or modders. One or two of them are already in progress. :wink:

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Was gonna say, I’ve seen the forge and the outfit for the Magma Smith in game already. Just didn’t have any abilities last I promoted a hearthling to check.

I’m sorry, but I can’t call what’s being shown of multiplayer as multiplayer. Multiple people working one small map, with no challenge against each other (PVP) and no real end game may be multiplayer in the definition, but it’s not in the spirit. So to say that sharing resources in that manner is “trading” doesn’t feel like the spirit of the word.

When I say trading, I mean trading between players playing multiple maps. A global market of sorts. I know that’s pushing it, but it’s the clearest way I can portray my thoughts.

So crop irrigation, uses for water as a material, or it being treated like water and not just a zone are out now too?

Why is Seasons an “IF” when it was one of the original goals?

I’m sorry, but with your (cherry picked) replies, it feels like you’ve indirectly agreed that this is it for Stonehearth, just more objects (content) to come. Is there any chance we can get an official response to why it’s basically ending here for features, or is that something that needs to be kept behind business doors?


@sdee, in reply to your post, I’m not refering to content, but mechanics. I understand modders can add new objects and some new mechanics, as the Cafe Mod did with thirst, but they’re not going to be able to write:

  • destructable buildings (that were talked about at one time)
  • town disasters
  • ways for the goblins to get around walled in towns
  • and a list of other things that have been discussed for literal years.

Even if you had a team of modders working together to try and achieve things like these, they’d basically be breaks made into features. @oldmacman basically states the thought I’m trying to portray.

And I’m not trying to say “do all the things” that’ve been requested, but I am saying that even y’all have said there’s things y’all would like to see, as the developers, that by calling it now is basically even stopping that. And at its current state, Stonehearth (to me at least) feels too shallow for what it should be.


Ok, so shouldn’t half a dozen other parts of this game be the same way? And if all those things stated by @oldmacman are added to that bottle-necked Lua, isn’t that going to make the game that much worse? I understand performance changes are coming, but you can only make a truck pull so much weight.


You have a horrible way with trying to stay neutral. I get what you’re trying to say here, but you make it sound like, “If we get to it we will do it. If we don’t then the modders can do it.” which is still a worry of mine that y’all are pushing a lot of the final product onto the modders to finish.

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No point posting here any more

None of that is part of water simulation, it’s the way the water can be used in the game. I think when Max is talking about simulation, he means, the water can do all those wonderful fluid-y things, like making waterfalls and changing levels when poured from one container to another, while looking nice and not bugging the game out. That said, I definitely feel the water is under-utilized, and I hope Radiant puts effort into making it somehow matter to the gameplay. @SirAstrix, the things you mentioned specifically are moddable already, so they’re not part of the simulation; but I do agree that it is Radiant who should take the first step to make the water utilized by the base game.

Of the list of things you mentioned, I’d say this is the most difficult one. 80% of modding Stonehearth is just linking JSON files, the remaining 20% is Lua. Now, 80% of Lua is just linking game functions with one another, or writing new functions that utilize the game’s API in an interesting way. The remaining 20% of Lua is stuff that needs math. There are tons of modellers; there are some coders; there are very, very few people who can both do code and the kind of math that’s needed for destructible buildings, water, pathfinding, etc. THIS is where I want Radiant to focus their efforts as much as they can, because it’s the hardest part of changing Stonehearth. I’m certain all the other things are coming soon. Town events in particular, we already have the sandstorm, so they could just build off of that to add new interesting events.

I am personally completely against closing off more parts of the game for higher performance. There are very few things you can close off without cutting off huge swathes of mod possibility. Even the pathfinder was pushing it, I was salty about it in my other reply. In this case, I think Radiant made the right call, because the pathfinder was so crucially important to smooth gameplay. If you were to C+±ize the Task Scheduler, the next most performance-intensive thing as far as I am aware, you would pretty much limit every profession mod to what the existing professions can do. That’s a huge no-no for me, I don’t want this game to be limited to adding armours and campaigns. If you feel differently, that the base game as it is is fine, and moddability is of secondary importance in Stonehearth to you, we will have to agree to disagree.

My ideal solution to this is Team Radiant uses their math superbrains to optimize the existing Task Scheduler lua code, to make it performant without closing it off. Thankfully for me, it appears this is exactly what they are about to do.

To be fair, Max may either be following company policy to keep things vague, or he’s just not part of management and does not yet know what the final decision on those particular issues will be. The former may be related to the latter. A lot of Stonehearth is untrodden ground, and I respect the need to make prototypes before releasing a polished public product.

Radiant have said many times that features aren’t ending. I’m honestly at a loss as to what is making you think that way. It’s been stated in this thread, it’s written on the Roadmap, it’s been talked about in the Desktop Tuesdays… updates are not stopping, content is not stopping. Radiant is addressing the worst pain points one by one. Worst pain point was building, that’s why it was getting all the mixed reviews on Steam. They’re almost done addressing that. Second worst paint point is performance, people talk about things slowing to a crawl at 25, 30 hearthlings. Lots of mention on Steam of that, plenty of mention of that on these forums. That’s what they’re about to re-focus on. Does it not make sense that after they do this, they’re gonna go back to making content? They’re addressing people’s complaints first, before giving people more things to praise. That’s literally the right way to do it.

I respect you calling things out on an admittedly usually overly positive forum, but I do feel in this case you are off base. This point has been addressed repeatedly, and there’s nothing more Radiant can say without being either being fortune tellers or bald faced liars.

Lua is an interpreted language. Code is executed the way it is written in Lua files, I don’t think it’s compiled to machine language. They used to have Lua JIT (Just-In-Time), which I think compiles files on the fly as they are requested, but for whatever reason, this function has been turned off a while back.

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No point posting here any more

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But do you like mods? That is the real question here. I know it’s a bit difficult for you to answer though because of the platforms.

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I’m in the same boat with you on this. I don’t want to see parts of the game closed off to that point either. At the same time, there should be a way to find a happy medium. If not, being accessible is better.

And I understand that. At the same time, his vagueness has direction to it, at least to me. That was what I was trying to say with this.

I guess features isn’t the write word here. I know (and have stated I know) that CONTENT is still on the way and that the game isn’t being packaged as is. My quote of @Solus was about that as we still don’t have a finished builder or titans. At the same time, a feature like multiple playable maps at the same time is being closed off, maybe even explorable, ever expanding maps. If the engine can’t support it, then that’s a feature we will never get, even though at one time we could have and it was scrapped.

You’re missing what I’ve been trying to say from the beginning if this is what you think I’m saying. Again…I’m not talking about content as I know that’s to come.

Being you’re trying to be respectful, I will try my best as well. At this point, I think you need to step back and re-read what I’ve said, as I feel you’re getting irritated with something that we’re in agreement on.

That said, with your previous explanations of how the game works, I also feel that I may be at a slight (BUT NOT FULL) misconception here it to where the separation is between LUA and the engine. That said though, unless I list EVERYTHING myself and everyone else want, and we go through every one, I’m not ever going to fully understand that line. That said, that is not a reason to dismiss my thoughts.

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Do I recall correctly if I say that this was already dead. Like, didn’t they extensively test this and find that it puts the focuss off of your town, and on to exploring, an that that is what they wanted. I know it’s just an example you provided of a feature that may need engine changing.


Just to make a political statement of feedback: the features I would still like to see come to stonehearth are:

  • Seasons
  • Festivals
  • Edge of the map
  • Building Renovations
  • Siege mechanics (enemies getting over walls and such)
  • Titans, NA
  • magmasmith, geomancer
  • gameplay uses for water and weather
  • nature biting back if you threat it recklessly.
  • some calender building

Dwarves I thought they were going to go to after release, as far as I know and can remember. But the fact that I struggle to remember might mean that it has already changed.

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