Stonehearth isn’t a bad game, for the genre, but I feel like it is still quite buggy and doesn’t perform well on my machine. I guess I need a better CPU, but the fact that the live team is going to be composed of three people fixing bugs… Makes me think that I either get a huge number of bugs (maybe I’ll blank my install and drop a fresh install or something?) or the game is still going to be super buggy. I have mostly been running the unstable versions for the last few years though, and that’s kind of what they’re for… but when I’ve checked back on the live versions they’ve always racked up a dozen or so errors very nearly as quickly as the versions I was playing so I’m not really sure what I think about that.
It’s a shame that the simple gameplay promise of a large world to explore in multiplayer and complete quest modules as a means to progress didn’t pan out. Whether it was engine issues, the complexity it would have added, or whatever… mod support doesn’t feel like it’s quite what was promised in the Kickstarter. The game is pretty wide of that mark, which is disappointing. That being said, I’ve spent a lot of time with Stonehearth and gotten a lot of enjoyment from it when I wasn’t beset by bugs.
I call to mind the quote by Niccolò Machiavelli
“For since men for the most part follow in the footsteps and imitate the actions of others, and yet are unable to adhere exactly to those paths which others have taken, or attain to the virtues of those whom they would resemble, the wise man should always follow the roads that have been trodden by the great, and imitate those who have most excelled, so that if he cannot reach their perfection, he may at least acquire something of its savour. Acting in this like the skilful archer, who seeing that the object he would hit is distant, and knowing the range of his bow, takes aim much above the destined mark; not designing that his arrow should strike so high, but that flying high it may alight at the point intended.”
Since Stonehearth was trying something more often done with far less complex graphics and spaces, in an engine made by the team, and not just building effectively voxel Dwarf Fortress in a standardized engine… I feel like it’s taken what they were able to do and sunk a lot more time (and likely funding) into Stonehearth than it was ever expected to require back during the Kickstarter. I’ve backed a lot of Kickstarter projects, and I’ve seen some fizzle away or worse. Radiant gave a definite good faith effort, and in the end even if it wasn’t practical to deliver on some of the original vision, and with mods and over time maybe some more of the potential of the game can be realized.
I’ve got really high hopes for a fairly stable 1.0 (especially given the list of additions, Geomancer, Clan Amberstone), and while I haven’t given multiplayer a shot yet that’s why I bought the game in the first place so I’ll have to take a crack at it. I’d have loved to see the team stick around and flesh out some cool drop-in campaign stuff, randomized to fire after the initial campaign ended. Caves that open up with enemies to fight, enemies that come from under the water or beam in through teleport gates or what have you, try to simulate a bit of what was hoped for with modules… but that’s nothing that can’t be attempted by the community I suppose.
For what it’s worth, I would probably still have bought the game if I hadn’t backed the Kickstarter, and I might have been happier with what was here if I hadn’t had visions of huge kingdoms and massive enemy conflicts, sending armies out to deal with module quests and so on stuck in my head all this time. After having loved that initial idea so much I can’t help but be a bit sad to know Stonehearth won’t be that.