I felt like it might be helpful to offer my personal perspective in terms of what Stonehearth is, and where it’s going.
To begin with, in Steam I have categorized it in my library as a city builder alongside games like Cities: Skylines, Timber and Stone, and Banished. The main focus is on resource management and prioritization to go from a handful of people to a bustling metropolis (or… 20 people…); it isn’t an RPG, it isn’t a 4x strategy game, it isn’t an RTS (although close).
I view the Ascendancy, Rayya’s Children, and (not yet implemented) Northmen as three factions that each have their own biome and their own focus.
The Ascendancy starts with a Carpenter in the forest, and focuses heavily on agriculture/gathering. Their common material is wood, and they have more crop options than anyone else. While they can fight and trade, their focus is on gathering resources and using them. This makes them the ‘starter’ faction, since they can do pretty much everything themselves whenever they need to do so.
Rayya’s Children start with a Potter in the desert, and focus heavily on trade. They have very limited resources in terms of crops and their biome, but they get more traders stopping by than the other two factions. Therefore they have access to a lot of trade goods they can make in order to purchase the resources they need in order to make their town grow.
The Northmen I’m expecting to start with a Mason in the mountains/subarctic, and focus heavily on fighting. They have limited crops and limited traders, but there’s more small random encounters than for the other two factions. Most of their resources come from attacking goblin encampments, crypts, and fighting wandering monsters, so more of their people are Footmen, Clerics, Knights, and Archers.
I’d like to see Dwarves, Goblins, and Rabbit People as playable factions as well; I’ve heard that’s not in the plan. But when I was trying to figure them out, it struck me that each could be an ‘expert mode’ or more hyper-specialized version of the above with variations.
The Rabbit People are vegetarians, and they avoid the use of Coal. Therefore they have no food recipes involving meat, no Engineers, no Knights, cannot craft Steel, and don’t have Trappers. They do have Shepherds and their Masons can make some stone-based arrow traps and deadfalls, like the Engineer. All leather must come from trade or killing monsters. Giant stone rabbits are a decoration option. They live in the forest.
The Dwarves start with a Mason. Their food crops are extremely limited and they don’t have Shepherds. They do not have Carpenters, but their Blacksmiths do not use Logs to smelt ore. Their Masons can craft ‘Training Hammers’ in place of Wooden Practice Swords, while their Engineers and Blacksmiths have more crafting recipes than normal. The Cook has extra ‘Brewing’ recipes using faction-specific food crops. They live in the mountains/subarctic.
The Goblins start with a Potter but they have very limited crafting options. They do not have a Blacksmith or Engineer, but their Carpenter’s Saw recipe can be made by a Mason using Bone. They can gather Bone from creatures other than Ents and Golems, and use it for unique Carpenter and Weaver recipes to make weapons and armor. They do not have Knights, but they have a Soothsayer that can cast a confusion spell on a single enemy causing them to (randomly) attack allies, wander off, or stand still for a short period of time.
Obviously if these aren’t playable factions, that’s all moot, but it’s what I came up with while pondering on the game in general.
I am very interested in the multiplayer options, because I have two friends who also really like the game and I think it’d be fun to play it with them. I’m particularly hoping for a cooperative multiplayer where everyone gets their own faction and town on the same map (probably need it to be significantly larger than it is now) with unique multiplayer storylines and ramped-up random encounters (hopefully spawned within a set radius of each town banner, so that nobody gets 3x the normal number of Entling swarms unless everyone plants their flags together). Competitive multiplayer I could also see, although that’s definitely less interesting to me. I could see that being akin to a 4x game with multiple win conditions, possibly tied to the new 1.7 monuments. Build a particular monument to get access to a particular win condition, raid the other town(s) to find out what they’re aiming for and try to disrupt them. And so on.
Beyond that I haven’t really thought heavily into what this game is, or how I hope it will turn out. It’d be nice to get more building options (always the case) and maybe hire temporary help (there’s definitely times when it would be nice to be able to buy specific items or tell a craftsman, ‘here’s some cash and raw materials- I need this’ and get it after a long than usual delay) or mercenaries to defend the town for a set time period. The idea of titans intrigues me but I’m a bit worried too- I can easily see a lot of hard work being demolished because my military is insufficient for this new threat or they’re busy dealing with something else. I’d get very salty about that.