Having done a quick search in these forums I could not find much similar so going ahead and throwing this out there…
The game play might really benefit from some Research and/or Technology as a dependency for unlocking primary and secondary materials, structures, skills, etc… I know that adding this to the game engine this far down the line might be a non-starter, but I believe I have a suggestion on how this can be accomplished relatively easily in game.
First we need a way to have some “research”… Introduce a new class called the “scribe”, or the like, lets stick with Scribe for now… This class will use a “Library” or the like as a crafting table. The Library will require inputs from the mason, carpenter and Trapper just to make the "Library"crafting table. This library crafting table will actually be part of a structure/can only be placed in a structure.
Now this Scribe will then produce “tomes/books” that require leather input from the trapper and a new product “paper” from the carpenter.
These books are then the input materials for another class called the “Natural Philosophers” who will have their own “crafting table” or two… Philosophers will then create object called called Achievements, and there will be many Achievements to attain. Each Achievement will be a unique object in the form of some decoration and are appropriate in their appearance to what the achievement represents. Some might be statues, others decorations for buildings, others like obelisk, etc…
Achievements are indestructible, but at the same time are dependencies for various things from tools to inefficiencies at task, to refined/enhanced products.
Adding tech/research to the already existing Level systems of a crafter will add depth to the game both from a “thing to work towards” (which is what makes games fun to play) as well as more complex inter-relationships of crafters and their products. Further one would need to have a robust village in order to support not only more mouths to feed, but also the inputs required by the Scribe who in turn supplies the Philosophers.
Further this adds more Classes that are not “primary” production classes, not working directly from the materials of the land but rather on secondary and tertiary produced material.
– I see Achievements that are inputs to produce materials (and not just skills)
– I see Achievements that are required to progress skills of the various classes. Allow the first 2 or 3 levels to be gained without Achievements, but controlled from there.
– I see Achievements that are dependence for more advanced Achievements - allowing for for a “tech tree” to be established.
– I see Achievements that are required for more advanced tools beyond the simple basic tools, where these tools are required to produce advanced materials and objects.
– I see Achievements that are required to USE newer materials.
– I see Achievements that are required to make more advanced structures - say 2 story buildings.
– I see Achievements that are required certain classes - like the medic, constabulary (off shoot of military), cleric (happiness), etc…
– I see Achievement that support village development itself - limits to population, road types affecting speed of travel, food preservation, Village Centers (replaces the fire pit in advanced villages) and is more like a square where they gather, etc…
– Etc… etc…
So by leveraging everything that is already in the game engine - classes, tables, materials, objects and dependence on objects/materials - a fully realized tech/research system can be implemented. This system will add depth to the game on sooooo many levels from things to work for, to creating more complex villages with the inter-relation of products and classes, to adding late game “reason for being” other than to just watch the hearthlings move about. We get a way to progress our hearthlings from a basic agrarian settlement into a complex village.
I was even thinking of making this a major overhaul mod for the game once released, but of course needed to see how they would allow modding for things like dependencies, etc…
Sorry for the wall of text, I have been thinking about this for a long time.