This has been on mind for quite a while. It is a worry I have about a potential problem in the game, my analysis of it and my two cents for a solution. Feel free to comment on either of the three.
first take a look at this:
- In real life, cathedrals take decades to build,
- In Stonehearth, they take days to months.
- Trees take years to grow,
- but in Stonehearth, it takes a week or two.
- to grow crops takes at least a few months, up to a year IRL
- but not in Stonehearth, there it takes mere days to get from a seedling to harvest.
In other words, the timescales in Stonehearth are way off from real life. But I hear you say:
You need to have these kind of timespans to keep the game interesting. There needs to be a balance between how long things take in “real-time” (experienced by the player) and in (the simulated in-game) “game-time”, so these cases you mention are entirely legitamate.
And I agree with you, they are. But on longer scales, it is gonna be weird.
- you can build up to end game in a few months, not only does that feel weird (which can be taken as a sacrifice in favor of gameplay), it also means other things:
- later in the development stage of this game, we are going to have festivals, seasons and that kind of stuff. As a player, I would like to experience multiple years of seasonal change and festival feasting in a playthrough. However, this is unlikely for a game that takes months to reach end game, not years.
- also, talking about seasons. If crops aren’t going to be growing in winter, then you need to stock up on three months (= c.a. 90 days) of food, and somehow keep it from rotting for those three months.
There needs to be a balance between game-time and calender-time (how much game-time you need for a year to pass), in addition to the balance between real-time and game-time discussed earlier. I am fine with fast growing crops, but I would like that to take up a larger chunk of the year. I am fine with quickly buildable buildings and cities, but I would like that to take up a larger chunk of the year.
So I think my point is: years take too long in Stonehearth, and it would be better if they were shorter. I know that Stardew Valley has shorter years (month=season), and I know of at least one Harvest Moon game (also month=season) that does the same. Although these are different kind of games, these too, need to simulate days, months, seasons and years in a way that (1) they are long enough to be productive in, and also (2) short enough that you will experience multiple years over one game.
Now, how to make the years shorter.
- I suspect we can’t just cut some months out of the year. Radiant went trough the trouble of coming up with all those month names, and I expect they want to keep them.
- So instead, maybe make the months shorter. Maybe have it so that 1month = 1week = 7days (or maybe 6 or 8, for evenness ). Then keep the three-months-per-season and four-seasons-per-year. (edit: essentially this means that, in stonehearth, the weeks have names)
- This shortens the year from (3012)=360 days to (712)=84 days.
- a crop that takes 7 days from seedling to harvest, now simultaneously needs a month to grow.
- a few months to build up a settlement to late game, now takes at more than four times longer (in calender-time) , which means that you’re likely to pass at least the one year mark with a settlement.
What do you think about this subject?