Hello, everyone! It’s been a while since I’ve posted a suggestion topic on the Discourse. So let’s begin!
Currently, we have notifications in Stonehearth for several events: incoming travelers and traders, daily summaries, deaths, and perhaps most curiously, theft notifications.
How exactly do the hearthlings know that a lone goblin took a piece of wood from one of your stockpiles, even if it is huge lengths from any part of your active town? It would seem more likely that if a settler was nearby, the theft would be recognized.
Thus, I bring up my topic:
##A “Non-Omnipotent Notification System” in Stonehearth!##
What I mean by “non-omnipotent” is that in numerous games and game types, the player is made immediately aware of anything that happens, even if it is not technically something that would be immediately aware to them. For example, how does your RPG hero know a healing potion was just swiped off of him by an enemy thief, in the middle of combat? How do you know your old outpost halfway across the map just got attacked by bandits?
Rather, I’d like to present an alternative, "Non-Omnipotent" concept where notifications are tied to actually settler “awareness”, which is then respectively affected by several variables.
What would this affect?
Currently, the only notification type we have that would actually change is the “goblin thief” scenario; all others are tied to neutral or positive social engagements, like traders (I also suggest deaths still be made known to the player). However, there are myriads of future features of gameplay that would be affected by this system:
Most of the time, if your soldiers see enemies and either party engages, you’ll be told about it. However, there may be cases of extremely dangerous enemies that can put your units to sleep or incapacitate them in some way, essentially preventing singular units from ‘raising the alarm’–an example of this type of enemy is the proposed Ninja group mentioned in the original Kickstarter. This would encourage keeping soldiers in groups, especially when exploring unknown, dangerous areas.
Currently, our structures are invincible–this will not always be the case. We will eventually have to maintain our constructions and repair them when attacked, but again, like the “goblin thief” scenario, how do we know any damage occurred? I feel this would be more interesting if it was tied to hearthlings actually noticing the damage to the building, upon which they’d basically ‘report’ the damage. As long as damage persists on the structure, there could be an icon nearby the structure or on a list to remind you (although there could be an option to ignore damage on certain structures, in the case of unusual custom builds or abandoned structures your settlers might still commonly pass–you wouldn’t want the notification to return to the list each time they pass!) I also inquired about showing damage on structures in a previous thread: Building/Wall/Fence Damage: Structural Recognition System? The system is a little different/earlier in concept than the one here.
(The player will still technically be able to see more serious damage themselves just by looking at the map, but this won’t be the intended means of doing so (too micromanage-y). However, if they do spot damage, perhaps there could be a way to assign settlers (or maybe a specific class, like the proposed Architect) to “Inspect” a building to check its “health”.)
This brings me to the last initial category for notifications, which again is the only one currently present in the game. Unless there are nearby units, theft from stockpiles or (future) storage devices will go unnoticed; because of this, the player will need to protect his stockpiles better and assign guard patrols to ensure their resources are not swiped. However, it should be remembered that goblins are not the only planned threat in this regards–our planned friends the Pirates, Ninjas, and Politicians will likely be both external and internal foes in the game, and measures must be taken to avoid losing important belongings. Military units, like Footmen, would be more aware of theft due to their training and have a better chance of noticing it.
What variables would affect the notification system?
Numerous statuses and conditions could affect how well or reliable notifications work. Here’s just a few:
- Physical Presence of Units–As mentioned before. “If a tree falls in a forest…”
- Morale–Unhappy villagers are less inclined to report damage or thieves. Keep them happy so they keep your city in good shape!
- Sleep and Nourishment–If your units aren’t getting enough sleep or food, their senses will be dulled. If a soldier is really sleepy, for example, they might not even notice a foe walk right past them!
- Status Ailments–As mentioned before, sleeping or incapacitated units can’t really respond or warn of a threat, can they? Watch out for foes that can inflict these conditions on your units!
- Weather and Time of Day–If conditions create poor visibility, it’s naturally harder to see things. A foggy night is the perfect time for a team of rogues to sneak around and look for loot or unsuspecting settlers. Extreme cold and hot could also affect units’ attention, meaning more purpose to climate-appropriate attire.
- Profession–Different classes can have different advantages towards certain types of notifications. As mentioned before, soldiers could have a higher chance/range of detecting theft. Another possible scenario is the Trapper/Shepherd and noticing enemies; they’re used to tracking and exploring outside the walls, so this experience would give them a higher chance to detect enemies sooner and increase their longevity in the field. This could be realized either as an unseen passive (general unit mechanics) or an acquired skill through leveling up a unit.
So, this concludes my suggestion! Granted, it’ll take MANY more features for it to work in a state that doesn’t just come off as inconvenient of annoying, so this would likely have to wait for numerous Alphas to take form. But I think it would be an interesting twist on the “city-building” mechanics that Radiant is attempting with the game. And of course, this brings me to my most important request in regards to this suggestion:
This would be a deeper mechanic of city management than the more casual gamer might like. I myself would desire different levels of intensity/difficulty on this concept, or give the option to switch back to the more conventional “Omnipotent System”. However, I feel that with the ability to control just how much those aforementioned variables actually affect the system, it could be a neat way to both structure the notification system AND limit the notifications the player may receive (again, no abandoned buildings being attacked and constantly needing repair). Ultimately, the goal shouldn’t be to make the game harder to play, but give more reason to aim for better situations for your settlers, as well as treat situations more carefully (don’t just run a single soldier out to randomly fight enemies for experience).
Hopefully this was an interesting concept for you all! It’s still a bit “pie-in-the-sky” right now, but I can imagine the system being pretty neat in Stonehearth. Please let me know your impressions!