Optimization needs to be priority

Let me start by saying that it’s was a little surprising to me to download this game and see that all the basic features of the game are there, and they’re great and intuitive and interesting…

until you have more than 8 people. It becomes ridiculously unplayable, villagers just stand around or start doing tasks in strange order.

Each game I start runs fantastic until that point.

What was even more surprising is that devs are attempting to add more content, when all the basic parts of gameplay are already implemented. The building is there, the mining is there, the farming, the crafting, the combat is there.
Just the few features that exist are enough for a full game, so why not focus on optimizing what is already there so we can actually play the game in its basic state.

Why not actually optimize what is there before trying to add extra things on top of that. Building becomes impossible, farming somehow begins to slow wayyyyyyyy down, crafting grinds to an excruciating halt, just eating destroys the flow of whatever productivity was going on prior, and villagers all start acting strangely once you pass a certain threshold.

This worries me, because this is probably the 10th game I’ve purchased off steam that looks like it’s more interested in stacking content then even making what’s already there simply work, and why I’m frustrated is because this is about the only Alpha game I’ve purchased that is actually fun, and seems “complete” even in its current state. This game has lots of potential, there are certain personal touches the devs have added that are intelligent and intuitive. The game is incredibly user friendly, especially compared to most of its kind.

The first few hours of the game are amazing, but just slowly becoming completely unplayable the more you progress is a major major issue, and I bring this up because I really hope this is not another game where content will constantly be added, but optimization somehow takes a back seat

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I totally agree with you. The bugs and the slowness are very disturbing but other people want the contrary : new content then solving the problems. The best option would be to add some (a few) new features and solving the bugs at the same time. So that we can still appreciate the news and enjoying all the rest of the “old” game. But still, I’m not a developer so I cannot speak for them :slightly_smiling:

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I can have a town with a population of about 16-17 before it starts to get buggy on me. I noticed that the hearthlings will stand around if you run out of materials while building(wood, stone). It then takes them a little bit to realize I had added more stone. I also noticed that if there is a lot of commands given to hearthlings(like you asked them to build 3 buildings, mine and chop down trees) it will slow them down… I’m guessing because each hearthling would have a long list of chores to do.

So for me, as long as I keep materials in stock and try to limit the amount of commands given, you can get pretty deep into the game. I’ve actually have a few towns where all jobs are filled and I’m just trying to master the 2 story building. But they are definitely working hard and with a little patience this game will be everything you want it to be.

The biggest problem is to keep a clear game with a lot of HL. The game starts to kick his head off when you get many HL : idling, stuck and others.

Hey there @kurtsshotgun, welcome to the Discourse!

I can tell you that your thoughts are ones that are debated frequently here on the Discourse, and I am sure the developers think about as well. As @Powerclank brought up, there is a fragile balance between performance enhancements and bug fixes, and adding new content. I’ve been playing the game since Alpha 11, and can tell you that each Alpha released is better than the last (performance, bug, and feature wise), but the game is not complete. The devs have said that they want to get the game feature complete before they focus too much on optimization, because any optimization they do now may be meaningless after the next Alpha. Regardless, the devs do frequently tweak things to improve performance, like the recent (last 2 alphas) switch from a task based AI to a more BFS based AI.

One quick request, can you please share your basic system specs (CPU w/speed, GPU, RAM)? The devs (mostly @Albert) are usually interested in the game’s performance on different systems, as performance can vary wildly.

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Appreciate the timely reply.

I do understand the issues the devs face, and trust and believe I wouldn’t even bother posting here if I didn’t enjoy the game. However, the same has been said for every green-lit game I’ve ever purchased. Most, if not all, have said the same thing, and two years later, these games are still not optimized, and are still somehow adding content.
I understand as well that the more $$ devs make through support/donations, the more they are obligated to provide extra content and spend donations on features which has countless times lead to games never being finished, or having to become overly ambitious solely because of a duty to spending cash that was donated.
I also understand the team is very small, and things are still in the work.
There needs to be a clearly defined end game, because, at least in my own opinion, adding content as it comes to mind has more often than not doomed games to being perpetually unfinished and optimized.

At the very least, there should be an option of playing the game AS IT STANDS but optimized, sans future updates that are incompatible. Because as it stands, minus optimization, all the core components are already there.

That way players would be able to have the basic game w/o all the bells and whistles to tide us over, and eliminate complaints from the community and the consumer. Call it Stonehearth: Basic. Plain and simple, alpha 13 is not a stable build.

Specs:

Processor- AMD A8-6410 APU with AMD Radeon R5 Graphics
System- 64-bit
Windows 8.1

Lag is 0 and runs fantastic until about 10-15 villagers, then all hope is loss. Lag is still low at this point, but villagers themselves just tend to make decisions incredibly slowly.

No problem, we do try our best to be as helpful as possible (ideally without making anyone wait too long).

Now, to your comments. First, (jumping to the end) you stated that “alpha 13 is not a stable build.” You are absolutely correct, it is not a stable build, it is an Alpha build. While it is more stable than the builds in the Latest branch on Steam, it should not be considered to be a “stable” build, nor do I believe it is advertised that way anywhere.

Your concerns about feature overload are well placed, although the devs have a pretty clear list of what needs to be added. If you check out the Kickstarter project, you will see what they said they would include, as well as the many stretch goals that would be reached. All of these need to be added as that is what they promised their backers. Beyond that list, it will likely wait until after the stable release. So far, the devs haven’t added anything not detailed in their original project specs.

Finally, in today’s Desktop Tuesday update, they acknowledge a “…really nasty memory leak we need to fix…” before Alpha 14 is released to the Latest branch, so that might address some of the performance based issues.

Hope this helps, please let me know if there is anything else I can help with :smiley:!

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actually, i don’t know if we still do, but i do know that we used to call them the “stable” and “unstable” builds…

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I know the builds have colloquially been referred to that here on the Discourse, but I was talking about “official” channels, like the Steam Store page or the website. Couldn’t find any reference to it there. In fact, I found this on the website:

Once we’re happy with the quality of the Latest branch, we officially update the game for everyone. We’re still Alpha, so don’t expect things to be 100% bug free, but you can generally play and enjoy the game at this point.

Source: Development – Stonehearth

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the reason the devs are more focused on adding stuff than optimizing stuff is because this is currently an alpha. in developing games, there are 3 stages - Alpha: where all the mechanics of the game are added. every addition breaks everything else; Beta: where all the mechanics are optimized and bugs are squashed en-mass. stuff usually isn’t added in the Beta phase, the Beta phase is meant to make sure the game is playable for final release; Release: the game is technically complete. everything meant to be in the game is there and the game is optimized enough to be playable and most (though certainly not all) bugs are squashed. content is then released at a slower rate so as to make sure that it doesn’t break anything that already exists in the game.

that last sentence is important.

the reason why the devs do not optimize right now is because that would be a foolish thing to do. every single addition breaks at least 1 other thing, and normally breaks many things. usually, games are not played in alpha, the only ones with access to the alpha builds are the devs, and so the alpha phase is gone through quicker because they don’t need to make sure the game is still somewhat fun. alpha builds are normally completely unplayable. by making them playable, content additions are slowed down a lot. if they were to then optimize the game after every single addition, we wouldn’t see the final release for years. take the build tool for example. the build tool is heavily unoptimized. if they were to stop whatever they are working on right now to fix the build tool and make it work 100%, it would be an alpha build of its own. then, on the next alpha build, say they added blocks, or a new race, or a new anything, really. thanks to this addition, the build tool has broken again. the devs must then go through the code once more and re-optimize it for the new content, taking yet another alpha build to complete. that’s 3 alpha builds with only 1 actually progressing the game’s development in any form. since every addition to the code demands reoptimization of the code, it is a far better use of time to set the entire code up all at once and then optimize it once it is complete than to optimize it after every chunk of code is added. you need a skeleton before you can add the meat.

while I can understand the frustration of steam games being released in “early access” and never going anywhere, this game has clearly stated it’s an alpha. steam has a bad habit of labeling everything that’s not complete under the global label of “early access”, which means absolutely nothing to users. games that are labeled as early access could be anywhere from games like starbound, which is pretty much a complete game as it is now but it’s about to be changed in the next 2 updates dramatically, to games like this that are nowhere near their completion. and, frankly, even if they were to stop and optimize the game as it is now, you wouldn’t be happy. with what is available in the game right now, I stop after a week (in-game) of playing, if that. it’s fun, sure, but there’s no content yet. if the game were optimized, I would be able to go through all of the available content quicker than I already do. no one would be happy with the game if it were optimized like the final product would be right now. the thing to remember about alpha games, is that they are currently not games, and they will not be games until, at the very least, the beta phase, and even then it’ll be buggy until final release.

steam has done a very bad job at readying players for early access games, and I’m not the only one upset at them for how they’ve gone about treating the games. by giving terraria the same label as stonehearth (back before the 1.0 update), players assume stonehearth must have the same amount of playability as terraria, when it in fact does not. even though there is a section that says “why is this early access” that explains the state of affairs of the game, almost no one reads that. sure, I do, but the general steam user simply looks at the video and pictures and maybe the review quality (not the reviews themselves, just whether it is mostly positive, mixed, or mostly negative) before going “oh cool I should get this game before it rises in price”. what steam should have done is give multiple labels for varying levels of completion, with the explanation on those labels for how complete the game is and what should be expected of games in there. at the very least, an alpha/beta designation instead of the blanket term “early access”

I’ve got 99 bugs in the code
I’ve got 99 bugs
take one down
patch it around
I’ve got 127 bugs in the code

by the way, the devs have tried to avoid the issue you stated with games becoming so overly-inflated that they never get completed. during the kickstarter, they already roped off everything that will be in the game on final release. there have been a few minor alterations to their original plans for varying reasons, but for the most part it is still in tact, and everything new that they might be thinking of adding will only be added AFTER the game is fully released. they intend to work on the game (iirc) for 10 years after the game is released, continuously adding content. the reason why the release date was pushed back wasn’t because they’re adding more into the final release, but because they didn’t realize how tough it was gonna be until they started. the company is quite new, and (iirc) this is their first game. however, even with them getting caught off-guard, they are making better progress than most other games I’ve watched over from early-access to final release (a great number of those games I’ve watched never made it to final release, and a number of those have been dropped). they increased the size of their workerbase and upgraded their machines to be able to handle the load they didn’t expect to be too much for them to chew beforehand, and are still being very close to the consumers in terms of the forums and updating the game on a regular schedule. they are doing better than most games on steam’s “early access”.

phew. that was a huge wall of text. sorry. also, sorry if I came off as rude/arrogant/whatever, I don’t mean to.

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I feel like this problem should be a bigger priority. I’ve done several games and they all crap at 14-15 hearthlings regardless of what I’m using. It’s just as bad on my home PC with an i7/GTX 970 as it does on my cheapo work laptop i5 & integrated graphics card.

The problem is the devs are pushing more content. That’s great… but we need to have enough hearthlings to open up more classes. I have yet to try out the trapper or shepherd for this very reason because of the way the crafters are set up. And we’re getting another class with the next major update.

That is actually a very interesting point Igtenos. If they want to add more monsters and opposing camps or villages optimizing the way the game runs may be needed for that too without even touching the limit on actual Hearthlings.

If I’m counting right a basic (Rayya) village needs a potter, two farmers, a stone mason, and a blacksmith, 2 guards, a cook, plus 2-5 workers to dig in the quarry. That is almost half of the default population cap without ever trying out a shepherd, a carpenter, etc . . . Add in the medic and you are looking at some serious limits; especially since the blacksmith could use at least one or two extra guys to go work in a mine. Of course if you are playing the ascendancy you’d replace the potter with a carpenter. :slight_smile:

That is cutting things pretty close and if you have a machine that can’t run the max population now . . . you might not be able to play at all with additional content and no optimization to the code/AI/Organization.

During today’s devstream Tony gave a bit of a “State of The Stonehearth Address”, thought they have not made public their decisions he said that in a previous meeting they have made tentative plans as to what they would like to focus during the upcoming Alpha Builds this year so there is an endgame plan in motion behind the scenes by the sound of it.

Also during the stream Tony also briefly mentioned that (i beleive) Albert is working primarily on building at the moment while Tony himself has been working on almost solely on optimizations and will continue to so optimization is definitely a priority here!

Just this morning I watched Tony rework some of the AI task groups, making the goblins and critters AI take up a much smaller chunk of memory so hopefully this will make some improvements! :smiley:

Kanpai :sake:
Avairian

EDIT: Apparently Tom also relied today that Combat is very “task heavy” (tasks are semi evil old systems of laggyness in large numbers) and said he needs to talk to Albert about this.

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Liked!

Use the like system folks, let devs know how we feel about this.