Stonehearth inspiration from Rimworld. My feedback on that

So a while back i read a post here on the discourse about the game Rimworld. I had seen it on steam, but never really paid it to much attention, until it was brought up here.

I decided to buy it and give it a go, so i understood better what it was the developers was leaning up against for inspiration to SH.

I have now played it alot for a month or so and have come to the point, where the drive is so low, that i feel i can give some thoughts on the content.

First off, it is of course two completely different games on so many fronts, but it is still a bunch of small digital avatars that you have the responsability to lead in the best direction you can.

After having played the game, i suddenly see some features in SH, that looks alot similar and that is exactly what the point was, so mission acomplished from my end.

The thing i dont like about Rimworld, is that the game as a whole is driven by obstacles. The wind blowing at your face almost constanly. And not only that, but the code is sooo obvious with this! Example: A message pops up and tells you that two of your colonists have started a relationship… you are like yay, they finally found some joy in this hardship…But no, the very next second, the game/code/storyteller sends in a small army of mad monkeys to kill one of the new lovers… The only way to beat the game on this, is to create a closed box for all the colonists to live their life in (a bunker). Even then, the game looks for loopholes to do you harm.
The game is filled with fear and negativity and that is the drive to keep moving forward! To me it says more about the author of the game and how he percieves the real world around him.

I guess that most find this fuel as a positive even in the real world. Taking on loans that will fuel them for 30+ years, just so they have a meaning of getting up in the morning and get to work, but this is where i see something different in Stonehearth!

Stonehearth praises freedom and positivity. The developers love their job… Or maybe better formulated, their quest.
This shines through the game in all levels and that is something i hope will remain.
PLEASE, dont take to many ideas from rimworld and put them into SH, it will only end up corrupting what you are trying to create.

Of course there are some of the more technical stuff that works fine, but i think you get what i mean.

Why is the goblins not evil in SH? Because they are not made evil. Evil is not something that exists, but something that must be created and i cant imagine a world without partygoblin, the last hope, the last string that holds up the defences against the darkness of the reality around us!

Thank you for what you have choosen as your path in this life developers and thank you for the light. :sunny:

The wind is at your back.


Rimworld, like Dwarf Fortress, is a procedural storytelling machine. The core of stories are problems, obstacles, and the character’s journey of overcoming them or to fail, the more spectacularly the better. It’s what makes Game of Thrones interesting or any other drama. It’s a whole different slew of positivity: Going on against all odds, pushing through and clinging to hope and one’s ideals with the goal of achieving something meaningful, not just grinding day to day to keep the status quo. Does it have to be as sad as Rimworld is? Maybe not, but it just seems to be a matter of finetuning the AI Storyteller. Maybe someone makes a Happy Mod or something. The mechanic itself is neither good or bad but there to spice things up and to offer a degree of unpredictability to keep gameplay from getting too stale too quickly. So Stonehearth would benefit from a similar mechanic as well if it’s not already there with events. Themes too dark? If the mechanics allow for it, why not use it to the full extent? I’m all for options, though. That being said, I certainly think the makers of Rimworld love their job as much as the Stonehearth team does (and George R. R. Martin), maybe more, maybe less, we don’t know. I also think you might be reading a bit too much into the themes of both games.


Funny, as I just wrote my own post about this.

1 Like

If i came across as stating that stories cant be told without constant obstacles, i better clarify…

I see the reality like this: A wide path runs through the dense forest, with a ditch on each side of the path/road. In the ditch on the left there is the extreme of a subject and in the ditch on the right is the oposite extreme of that subject.
If a person only percieve the world around them in either extreme, they walk in the ditches and not on the road. That is a harder way of passing through the forest and that might be what some people like.

Because i state that the SH developers love their job, is not automaticly the same as all others are in the oposite. I see the SH team as walking in the middle of the road.

I am all for obstacles and the drive they can give, we all need some kind of fuel to go on, but it is the extreme setting in rimworld i dont like. Positive obstacles can be created aswell, how hard do you think it is for a person in either dicth to gain understanding for the other? Is that a challenge? Is it negative or positive? What would the result be if success is achieved? Well, i stand by what i say and i will gladly try to clarify it further if my words dont work as intended to start of with.

Thank you.


I think I get what you mean and I agree that it’s possible to have interesting stories without relying too much on overly negative themes. Stardew Valley or, say, Kiki’s Delivery Service both are captivating without the protagonists struggling between life and death constantly. If everything is about survival constantly, the little things may become meaningless. Still, if we’re talking about game developement, taking hints from Rimworld’s mechanics doesn’t necessarily involve relying on the same themes. So, all in all, I agree: I like the happy atmosphere of Stonehearth, too.

Other than that, I’m wondering what kind of events would be fitting for Stonehearth and benefitting the gameplay. You brought up positive obstacles. Sounds interesting but I can’t really imagine what kind of stuff you’ve got in mind exactly.


Well at the lowest level, i guess a positive obstacle can be described as this: If you overcome it, you gain something, if you give up on the challenge, you are left with what you had before. Meaning, that an obstacle do not have to have the element of taking something from you if you loose the challenge.

This is important when the challenge is forced uppon you.

An obstacle that has the consequence of taking something from you can be defined as a trap. Let me paint an example:

An Officer gets the order to clear out a village of the enemy. The intel says that the enemy knows about this and the chance of them making a ambush is very high.

This is a challenge that can end up taking something from you if you fail to win. What the officer will do, is to counter it so they change their own strategy against the enemy and therefor increase their odds to only gain from the obstacle.

The scenario could on another canvas, be that the officer dont have the intel of the ambush and are forced into a challenge that only have the bad endgame.

So if you force/trick people into a challenge it is negative but if people choose the challenge freely, it is positive.

Things i could think of in the SH univers that could be challenging in a positive way…
Well the way the setup is now is actual like that, even when ogo attacks, you have the option to use the flute.
The player can still make a choice to fight, but then it is with the risk of loosing. Every player makes the desicion based on different factors, but mainly on how well their soldiers are equipped :slight_smile:

The goblins have the potentiale to really come into play here. In a stream a good while back with Allie, the talk about partygoblin came on the table and how party goblin could come into the players town and let the poyos out of their pen or kidnapping a sheep and so on. All examples of humoristic positive obstacles that the player would not loose anything from.
On the other hand, if partygoblin came in and started to kill the poyos or sheep, the scenario is suddenly quite different.


Usually, “positive obstacles” can be rephrased as “difficult but very rewarding challenges”, usually on a strict time limit or with some other strict rules. They give the player something to work towards and a sense of urgency with every decision, but don’t have the dispiriting sense that it’s you vs the world. For example, a positive obstacle/rewarding challenge might be that you’re challenged by someone to feed your town only vegetarian foods – something which is difficult, but not impossible – and if you manage to do that for a certain time you gain some kind of significant buff or reward. Or as another example, there might be an adventurer who stops by infrequently and offers rare loot to any champion who can beat them in a particular combat (only to first blood, not to the death); so you need a strong champion and you also need to support them with the best gear available.

edit: @Fornjotr got in first and in more detail hahaha! But yeah, the core idea here is that it’s an optional challenge which gives a strong reward/sense of achievement without being a disaster if you choose to pass it up or even if you do go for it and don’t make the deadline/requirements.


Thanks to both of you, got it.


Yeah, I think theme’s one of the biggest differences between these games. I noticed this a while back with the mood system:

  • Rimworld: You’re trying to keep your survivors from having a mental breakdown and going on a violent rampage.
  • Dwarf Fortress: While dwarves can take a lot, they can throw violent tantrums or start fights for no good reason.
  • Stonehearth: Hearthlings are by default content, and you’re trying to make them even happier.

But I think their settings are responsible too. Rimworld’s set on a random uncivilized planet in a pretty dark future, Dwarf Fortress is a dark but still silly high fantasy world, and Stonehearth is a much more cutesy - if so far possibly more realistic - take on a medieval setting.


Good discussion! One of the things we (and especially @Brackhar ) has spent a lot of time doing this year is understanding all the games in this space, what makes them awesome, what we’d like to do differently, and most importantly, why. So some thoughts!

1.) What SH, Rimworld and DF share is the focus on a group of agented entities (Hearthlings). The entire game is built around their exploits, and the fact that you can only influence, but not directly control them. This is what makes them, and also Klei’s Oxygen Not Included, “community builders.”

2.) SH and Rimworld should have radically different tones. Rimworld and Dwarf Fortress are storytelling generators that are geared towards stories of madness, starvation, bandits, and despair. You can see it on Rimworld’s steam page: “RimWorld is a story generator. It’s designed to co-author tragic, twisted, and triumphant stories about imprisoned pirates, desperate colonists, starvation and survival.” Dwarf Fortress, likewise, is titled: “Slaves to Armok: God of Blood Chapter II: Dwarf Fortress.” The creators of these games had certain kinds of stories in mind, and the nouns and the verbs in the game feed back into those stories.

I think these sorts of stories can be really amazing and surprising and entertaining (boatmurdered!) but I also think it should be possible for a game to tell stories that are more in the vein of warmth, heroism and mystery–Zelda-like stories. Zelda stories aren’t always happy either; there’s a strong vein of recurring tragedy that runs through Hyrule. But for moments in time, the hero triumphs, the people are saved from great evil, and everyone looks to the future with a sense of joy and optimism. Those are the sorts of stories we’d like Stonehearth to tell, but in the context of a community builder.

3.) Gameplay vs story. Listening to the Rimworld and Dwarf Fortress devs talk, they really emphasize how their games are storytelling generators first and games second. In the case of Dwarf Fortress, they’ve talked about how they tell a story like: Sad dwarf treated like a dog by his mean neighbors is forced to show his neighbors the location of a dragon treasure. Chained to a rock outside the dragon cave, he claws at his bonds as he listens to the dragon eat all his neighbors and then erupt forth to destroy his town. They then take this story and build mechanics into the game that might allow this story to happen: the ability for dwarves to treat low-status neighbors as pets, dragons that are jealous of their treasures and that have a revenge system that includes not just the thieves but their whole community. This is a jawdroppingly cool way to think about adding features to a game, but I hypothesize that it leans towards putting story first, and balance and stickyness and interlocking systems etc second. SH should do the opposite: create an environment where you’re always wondering: what can I next do to make my town more amazing/make my hearthlings happier/fulfill their epic dreams and quests/beat those goblins. It should have rich interlocking systems that make for an enjoyable game. The awesome story comes along for the ride: a hearthling who always wanted to be a footman who was forced by his high intellect and academic interest to be a crafter, who finally gets a chance to take up the sword to defend his town against the goblins, and who is then memorialized in a statue as a hero thereafter.

There are lots more similarities and differences, but those are some of our thoughts on the subject, which we’re proving out slowly as our systems come online. As you can see, they echo yours pretty well so I think we’re on the right track.


To me, what’s being described here is a all reward, no risk system…that’s optional. And what would the point of that be? In any other game, and I mean ANY, you either have a risk vs rewards system, or all reward, no risk system that forces you in a linear direction. Legend of Zelda isn’t optional, because it’s either you play the story…or run around with nothing to really do. It’s not your choice whether to save the princess or not.

There’s an old saying, that you don’t know the value of a dollar till you’ve earned it. This fits to this perfectly. If it’s optional to choose peaceful methods every time, then why are you playing non-peaceful to begin with, but what are you really earning out of this? Even if the game says to send your knight to X, but there’s no chance of it failing because that’s too dark, then why even send him off? Why not just have a dialog screen pop up and the magical sword adds to your inventory?

Struggle makes a good story. Risk vs reward makes a good story. When people talk about their favorite moments in a video game, they don’t talk about the time they were given a wooden sword at the beginning of the game (except in meme). They talk about the time they had half a hearth left, but Leeroy Jenkins charged in anyway, and still won, knowing it could have sent them back to the beginning of the level.

I’m sorry, it may just be me, but I really can’t get behind being excited that my Hearthling made a friend with the bunnies. That’s something my 3 year old daughter would like. I want to know how the bunnies went Monty Python on my group, and I now have to figure out why and how this happened.


I still fully expect the goblins and orcs and monsters to attack your town. We didn’t make all those models for nothing! :wink:


this reference. :laughing:


To me it seems like you misunderstand the setup? You seem to categorize negative and positive obstacles into war and peace?
The idea is, that if the situation is forced upon you, and the risk with loosing everything is there, it becomes such a negative experience if you loose that you might shut down the game and perhaps never open it up again.
But if you have a choice of actively taking up the challenge, wellknowing that the consequense can be loosing everything, you wont have anyone else to blame than yourself if you end up loosing and then you get the drive to become better and try again.


Sorry, but when I read this line, I took it as “If you win you gain, if you lose, then no harm done”, which to me is an all reward-no risk situation.

I’m not categorizing them as war and peace, but I was saying that if you always choose the easy way out of just giving the goblins or whatever the challenge it is what it wants, then why are you playing on non-peaceful? If options like this continue to other conflicts of being able to just ignore them outright without any consequences, then again, why not just play peaceful mode? To allow a person to not be punished for choosing to ignore the game is hurting those that want a challenge and rewarding those that don’t want to play a different mode for whatever reason.

Now that being said, all quests, challenges, whatever don’t have to be 100% life or death. A few examples from the other post talking about the flip side of this conversation, shows the player can be punished to a point that it’s annoying, but not life threatening. Take what I said about a disease rolling through your town.

  • This disease could still be cute, as Theme Hospital has a whole list of funny problems. That being said, anyone who’s affected by said plague just goes on bed rest like a downed soldier.

  • If untreated, they stay in this state for a stonehearth week (needs to be tuned).

  • If treated by only an herbalist, it lasts for 4 days.

  • But if the player sends their men on a quest for the cure, say Dragon’s Drool, then it cures the town instantly upon use, as well as the town never has the problem again…at least with this disease depending on how you wanted to handle repeating it.

In this conflict, the player can still choose to ignore it like you’ve said, and they just have to have no production for a couple days. But if they do, they could end up with a Dungeons & Dragons like campaign that would add to the story of the town. Maybe even a new decoration of the cure for the Herbalist.

As for rage-quitting, you can’t fight that. Anything can cause someone to rage-quit; hell a lot of people now do over the stupid undo button. A while back, we had a user post about how they basically wanted a strategy guide to always win in Stonehearth. Well as any experienced player knows, there’s not a set defined way. But if we start catering to that ideal, and hold the hands of those that quite the first time they have to think, then what kind of game is that going to create, not just over-all, but for players that are, and when the new ones become, experienced?

And don’t take this as I’m out to attack the player by using the term “punished”, I just don’t have a better term for holing a player accountable for playing.


First i like to try and point out to you, how you dont think a player that wants the option to say no to a challenge, should have the ability to play on “normal” mode and then in the next sentence prefer if a player that wants the challenge should not have to play in a different mode…?

Did you see my example with the path and the ditches further up in the thread? Normal mode is equal to the path, where peacefull and hardmode is equal to the ditches. Then you could argue that on hardmode, the player should not have the choice to turn down the challenge and that would maybe be fitting, if the developers like that idea :slight_smile:

You give an example of ragequiting over the undobutton… Try and give it another thought and then tell me, why exactly you think they ragequit over that issue?

I like the examples and ideas you have with the disseases or plauges, but in my opinion, they dont have to be cute or cuddly to fit in, they just again have to fit in with the choice of taking up the challenge. Just like you deliver a solution for that, even encounters where your whole village is set on fire could be an awesome scenario, if only the player is not forced to loose all the hours spent, designing and building it up in the first place.

Maybe the answer to your search could be to tune the hardmode of the game and acomedate the players that really want the stakes to be out of their hands? @Brackhar @sdee might have some thoughts on that?

Thank you.


Speaking of disease, here’s a real world medieval example I could imagine being adapted to Stonehearth:

Imagine the frustration of all your Hearthlings going idle for a while to dance while you’re trying to get work done.


We still need to have some good conversations on the team about the nature of threats, as at the moment, our focus is all on economy and making sure everything is useful. However, a longrunning theme in our conversations is that challenges happen because you invite them: you saw a bunny statue, you mined it out and then bunny ghosts start haunting your town. In theory, you could avoid this threat but… maybe you really needed the stone and there were rock golems guarding the mountain so…


You (read: team radiant) wanted this to become a thing right, where cutting down the forest, or mining extensively, basically going all expansionist and treating your environment less than ideal, will make entities in the game mad at you.

This would be an example where the game forces you to choose the challenge. You can either invite the problem of said mad entities, or you can try to prevent it, which is a challenge in and of it’s own. Here, the option to ignore the challenge isn’t the easy, more rewarding route, it is a challenge. This gives the player the option about what they are most comfortable with. (Maybe the player likes the cutesy style of stonehearth, and has moral concerns with pissing off the environment, or not.)



sounds to me like you want hard mode to be much harder? so instead of giving the player an out, for instance if you already chopped down the treants favorite tree or the rock golems bunny statue then you get no out- you have to fight. the option to have peace the who is it Ogo? would only happen if you were playing defensively the whole game and did not actively pursue the goblins

so basically if you just beat them up and let them run away, you could earn their respect eventually., but if you kill them for their things they will be enemies forever