Stonehearth has a somewhat steep learning curve and there are attempts to make it easier to learn but there are still much more room for improvements.
I have not been playing Stonehearth for months and when I got (since the initial release of the Potter’s job), when I got back, it has changed a lot (including Knights !!!). I got to say there is substantial growth but the portion of making user experience much easier is still lagging far behind.
After months of not playing Stonehearth, I noticed a Hard mode and I got curious to click on it. I knew I would soon be overwhelmed with monsters but not I was not going to anticipate an attack on the first night already which took me by surprise. I was building up food storage, making my way to getting more jobs setup as soon as possible to anticipate for a monster rush but the first night was already a disaster.
I quickly equipped one of my men I reserved as the footman when I received the message of an attack on the first night and it seems that not one but a couple of them appeared at my settlement. I tried to separately rally the remaining people to do a hasty defense to aid the footman but in the heat of the moment, I was clicking around the menus frantically to try and recall how to setup a group and rally the people for a hasty defense.
I clicked on the Rally button and I was “greeted” with 4 coloured flags besides a main rally flag and that threw me into disarray as I was anticipating some form of button to group the men and rally in a straightforward manner. While my footman was about to be mauled to death by the 3 monsters, I was frantically trying to recall and explore how to rally on the very first night. I thought of hasty promotion of a herbalist and hopefully there is some sort of quick first aid the herbalist could do to apply some form of first aid and heal the footman while in the midst of combat but as per the usual jobs, you have to build a ton of stuff just to get the potions and bandages.
Before my footman sacrificed himself on the first night, I quickly use the manual move button to move the footman into the crowd of shocked and exasperated villagers on the Defense Mode so as to use the footman as a bait to bait the monsters to the crowd and while the crowd defeated the first wave, my new footman died of heavy injury. The next night was just more monsters and dwindling villagers and I decided to hit the Exit button and end the game session.
It would be good if the mechanisms and buttons can be brought for review by the community and developers to improve the user experience.
Below are a list of suggestions of UX improvements hopefully the developers would take into consideration besides adding more features to the game.
1.) Clicking on each individual, I need to know what they can do as fast as possible. For now, I am greeted with huge buttons and I have to click on them to open up some menus and memorize their functions.
2.) I used to remember rotating objects for placement could be done by buttons (maybe it’s faulty memory of mine ?) but now it took me a search on the Internet just to figure out the shortcuts for the simple action of rotating the placement of an object. Please provide a fully functioning Shortcuts menu when I hit “Esc” key as I was digging through the Settings and I found none.
3.) Make setting up defensive groups easier. One function could be clicking on a person and then have a Assign to Defensive Group option next to the person.
4.) Under the Defense menu (if there is one), show a list of defensive kits and healing kits on hand.
5.) When a town enters Defense mode, show an interactive HUD with assigned defensive groups, personnels in defensive jobs, items and options on hand to mount a lower casualty defensive operation. Options for quick assignment and movement of groups and personnels should be made easy. Quick deployment and status reports of medical care would be highly advantageous for players in combat as well.