Suggestion: Mechanics, Machines, and Triggers

I haven’t seen this mentioned except in passing so here goes…

For starters I’ll get mentioning the elephant in the room out of the way. While you can do a great many “mechanical” things in Dwarf Fortress, the UI and implementation make these features unusable for maybe 99% of the “average gamers”.
So while a lot of what I’m asking for will sound Dwarf Fortressy, there must be abstraction to make these features usable by a wider audience.
The “hardcore” engineers will hate that but “doing it right” is simply not an option if this is supposed to be a game.

I’ll also say that I do not know how “objects” are handled in the game. How settlers can tell a “house” from a house-shaped pile of pixels.
I assume that there will be a system to create objects in the game and tie scripts, properties, and purposes to them.
For instance, a “forge and anvil” object that a smith recognizes as a workplace.

So without futher ado… (or rather TL&DR…)


  • Muscle power. One of more settlers turning a crank or using an animal for the same purpose.
    Conan The Barbarian Movie
    (not an animal - just saying)

  • Wind power.
    Windmills have always been popular in mountaineous regions… or very flat ones like the Netherlands.

  • Water power.
    Kind of relies on the fluid mechanics that - as everyone who has tried knows - are difficult on any larger scale. =)

Power transfer

I would largely decouple power generation from power use.
Much like in some RTS power is “radiated” over a short distance. You do not have to run pipes or axles criss-cross through your settlement.
Power would have a range, though.
To transfer it over a greater range, you build transmitters, much like Protoss pylons.
That is a justified effort without the micromanagement of literally connecting every generator with every machine.


  • Pressure plate. . .
    Admit it - you love em. It’s devilish fun to watch the orc party step on the coloured tile and release the Big Rolling Boulder™ atop the ramp they are facing. Catch!

  • Lever. . .
    Some devices you just can’t trust your settlers with. These are player-only.
    Things like the Button Of Earth Shattering Kaboom.

  • Watch post . . .
    Some actions should only be performed when “enemies” are in sight.
    The pressure plate that initiates your Goblin Juicer would be inactive while friendlies are in that corridor.

Motivators (no, not whips) / Actors

Stuff that does something.
This could be the “mill” part of a windmill.
A turning millstone that turns grain into flour.
A moving wall, horizontally or vertically (aka elevator).
A valve or pump to drown the orc warband like so many rats.
The more motivators are drawing on a power transmitter (and so generator), the lower the output. Some motivators will have a minimum power at which they stop operating.


Motivators have to be somehow connected to triggers.
Optional, I guess, if you just want the millstone to turn. Period.

In many cases you want conditional operation, though.
How the UI for that works - I’ll have to admit that I cannot tell what would make sense with what little I have seen of the game.
Could be drag & drop to connect a trigger to a motivator. That or a right-click on the motivator opens the motivator’s menu where you arrange the order of triggers and what state they must have for “the signal to go through”.


I’m not sure if I entirely agree with this - I mean, for player mods that could potentially bring the game into a more ‘modern’ setting sure.

But I’m not sure if power is really going to be a prevalent thing outside of the immediate source of power - i.e. windmill as power and mill, watermill as powering sawmill, the uses of the power is directly linked to the power generating building.

As for mechanisms -

For me there has to be a happy medium, to use Gnomoria as an example, before a recent update you would have to manually build each item required for a specific workshop, this was changed so that you place the workshop and the items necessary will automatically queue.

So to bring this to Stonehearth, I think there has to be a balance between - pre-built place X and Y mechanism down that do this effect here, and your guys go off and do it and a level of freedom if wanted where you can place certain mechanisms down for varying effects.

Actually, it would be pretty good, if say for a trap, each element has a degree of free choice - so rather than just placing a singular trap mechanism that your guys will build and effects a single block or a 3x3 area you can:

  • Place the trap mechanism;
  • Are then given the option to place many traps in whatever pattern and area you wish within a certain radius - these are all linked to this singular overarching trap mechanism
  • You then place the tripwire - again length and placement is completely your choice.
  • Rince and repeat with every mechanism with each part of the functionality being up to player preference.

I think that’s a nice synthesis of allowing players the ability and freedom with their mechanisms whilst still providing a good usability.

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It’s an abstraction because “laying power lines” with axles and sprockets all over the place is pointless micromanagement.
The detailed approach does not alter your decision of where and how to generate power and where and how to use it.

Those intermediate transmitters symbolise the cost of transferring power over a greater range.

You can even make them cost power to simulate resistance in a tansparent way!
That encourages “building correctly”, as in having the generator close to the machine.

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I see what you mean, but my point really hinged on the extent to which power actually factors into the game.

I’m not really sure what the power would be used for?

@Geoffers747 “I’m not really sure what the power would be used for?”

Perhaps if there were tech trees for further research into perhaps steam power or the like? Just a thought.

Don’t really like the idea of having a radius of power, sounds like C&C or Warhammer RTS games, not a fan of that. Would rather lay power lines personally. Maybe make them underground and only visible when the building view is on or something? Having something akin to Protoss pylons is silly. This is a city building game it’s all about the management of everything.

Didn’t I read somewhere that this game was like Sim City? Pretty sure you had to run power lines and such in Sim City. Actually I’m 100% sure.

Yer, I mean power would definitely play a factor in terms of modding, but generally it doesn’t seem to sit quite right with me in terms of the setting of the game.

Outside of Watermill and windmill I’m not quite sure what access to energy you would have. Probably a furnace as well for the blacksmith or something, but you wouldn’t really be able to utilise the energy from that outside of it’s initial purpose - smelting and forging etc.

Same with the watermill and windmill, wouldn’t these structures be used for their original purpose - as in using that energy to aid production of lumber, textiles, flour, etc.

If it did get to the stage where there were other things requiring power then, personally, I would much rather install and manage power lines (although this might be damn hard to install once all your buildings are up) and the such rather than having random structures with an energy radius.

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[quote=“Geoffers747, post:6, topic:163”]
If it did get to the stage where there were other things requiring power then, personally, I would much rather install and manage power lines (although this might be damn hard to install once all your buildings are up) and the such rather than having random structures with an energy radius.[/quote]
That’s my point.
It shouldn’t be difficult to add / modify the things you build.
Having to tear up a complex construction of axles and sprockets in order to route it to a new destination stops the player from building and creating things while he fiddles with the system.
It adds only complexity, not depth.

I completely agree that it shouldn’t be too complex, but let’s go back to basics -

What would power be used for?

Or what do you think it should be used for?

Just so we can then look at how it’s done in other games, and see how it’s worked etc.

Power would be used to

  • turn a millstone
  • drive a hammer forge (advanced forge)
  • operate a crane to speed up construction of a placed house template
  • open a valve when one or more pressures plate are activated
  • lift / lower an elevator platform based on levers or pressure plates
  • move mine carts along tracks to greatly speed up mining
  • power advanced weapons such as a steam cannon
  • power lanterns or other illuminating devices if there is a gameplay purpose to that. No such requirement if lighting is only visual.

This is not “electrical” power but rather the bare physical definition of “power” with a unit of Watts. =)
It can express the torque generated by a windmill, pressure generated by a steam boiler…

My main point is that the player should be able to decide that he wants to build “powered” items for his settlement.
Then he builds power generation depending on what natural resources (like a water fall or river) are available.
And it stops right there. The decisions have been made, the gameplay purposes been served.
Since power distribution is greatly abstracted, there is minimal effort required to “transport” the power to where it’s needed but long-range transport still costs extra resources and possibly loss of efficiency.

I want the gameplay without the micromanagement. =)

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I completely agree with your uses of power, but excuse me whilst I play devils advocate :stuck_out_tongue:

Is power actually necessary?

All of these things can surely be constructed and utilised, without the need for a power element/ power system.

The mill could function as part of a wind/water mill structure - the placement of which could factor into the productivity of the building itself - or it could just be a single building with the purpose of allowing access to certain items.

Each of these things could simply have a certain resource cost attachment, and require a certain level of skill to man?

Lights in timber and stone for example you can tell them to turn on and off with the time of day, there is no need to power them (granted they’re lit by fire, but still). Similarly the log fire will require you to keep adding logs to sustain the fire.

Therefore, an overarching power system could be complete unnecessary? Not having one would completely negate the need for any micromanagement, of what could be considered an unnecessary layer into the game?

I think it would be interesting to have an implementable concept of power, which could factor into other aspects of crafting, building, and combat, but without pigeon-holing a role for it.
For instance we’re talking here about mostly modern commercial aspects of power (lights, mills, etc.). I would think, given the games context, an initial concept of power would be magical. Like ley lines. If you had a mage profession, maybe they don’t just fill up on mana, but have to go stand on ley lines to recharge, build their laboratories on ley lines, or cast long-lasting spells (magical wall instead of stone wall) on top of ley lines.
Similarly you could have a mill that hooks up to running water, with gears and equipment built by an advanced carpenter … or maybe it’s hooked up to another power source, with infrastructure built by some other profession (e.g. mill on top of ley lines, special gears built by an ‘artificer’).
This could play well with other city management aspects. For instance you could have torches in your castle, which cost you wood over time, or perhaps magical stones that stay lit, which cost you some other power related resource. Maybe eventually constructing buildings using workers carrying things becomes outdated, and you can tech up, use another power source to fuel cranes (can’t wait to see the first steam-punk construction equipment) or mages that levitate pieces in place.


It would be pretty awesome if you could have say 3 or 5 mages that could create a shield around your settlement if it came under siege, or reinforce structures/ outer walls with magic protection.

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I completely agree with your uses of power, but excuse me whilst I play devils advocate :stuck_out_tongue:

Is power actually necessary?[/quote]
For a strictly medieval and workshop-level setting? Absolutely not.

Once you go beyond that scope and use early steam power, things get a lot more difficult because it alters the scale of power that is available - and the method by which it is generated.
Steam boilers (and more advanced technologies) require fuel. They require a lot less space compared to “natural” generators but they can also provide power to a lot of different applications.

I don’t imagine it would take modders long to go there so I’d rather have a system with a bit more scope.

“Early” applications would work with the same system… but otherwise pretty much like you described.
Build a water wheel and it has a tiny “power radius”. Just enough to build a grain mill right next to it.
More flexible than building a “water wheel + grain mill” building because you could just as well build a wind wheel… but then you depend on the weather. It’s all a trade-off.

If the player does want to build more complex machinations, the proposed system lets him do that without getting bogged down in detail-work.

I like medieval :frowning: do we have to have technological advancement?

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I can see where everyone is coming with this some people love the idea of having a steam punk era sort of place and i do as well. but i can also see why people don’t want that sort of thing in the game.

So my proposal is that by all means have a steam engine with a generator of some sorts or maybe a steam / mana hybrid of one ( it would need to be placed on a very rare Mana vein which could be open to attack ) but instead of making it a core aspect of the game make it optional instead so while you can still have a watermill that watermill will be as efficient as one powered by a steam engine.

Now on thinking back i don’t actually want that maybe for boats or tanks but when i see steam engines i see a city made of steel and iron not wood and stone. So yea i dunno it would have to look good so while the idea is nice some thought needs to be made on how that would be implemented and how it would actually make it easier , to me it only makes it harder as suddenly you now need to manage your power so all your machines remain operational.

Traps and weapons however i do like the idea of maybe advanced traps would require steam or some sort of power for instance a those walls don’t close in on each other by themselves maybe a steam engine drives them how knows? but yea my say on the matter ;3

There are plenty of old(some very, very old) technologies that could easily fit in to the game. Before wind or water wheels you need to mill by hand or use animals to move the mill stones. There way of sending power was limited and lessened efficiency out of the machine. People in general built the grind stone on the other side of the wall to the water wheel. The buffs for this a game could be as impressive as doubling the resources cut or processed.

Things to power:



Water Pumps

As for traps, for every trap you can just about think of or have seen there is a way to have made it with the tools and methods available in older times.

In this you are right. Most old style traps used weighted lines or springs to function. As an example you would have your workers pull/lift a weight into place then attach the trap line. When the trap was sprung the weight would fall and pull the line the line would then pull a wheel that would force the walls to close in.

However, this is assuming traps would be a part of your castle. Most medieval societies did not put the traps on the entrances to towns but instead on tombs or vaults. There was too big of a chance that some child or visitor would inadvertently set off said trap and kill himself or any number of other people. That is why there were town guards and militia. And if magic is going to play a part in this game I can see a number of spells that could be placed within a short time that would have effects like “If ‘Orc’ then ‘Explode!’”

As for the idea of what the any in game “power” would be used for, if we are looking at wind and water power there is quite a few. The Safehold book series by David Weber went into this with quite a bit a detail. They used the water wheels to turn crank shafts that ran throughout their manufacturing complex. these crank shafts in turn ran saws, looms, grinding wheels, and even bellows for heating metals.

Using this type of “power” would of course be limited, to how much torque you receive from the water/wind, the strength of the material the shaft is made from, and the distance from the source. however this would allow for a moderate amount of technological advancement without breaching the medieval feel of the setting.

Dealing with the idea of light sources here is a snip-it from wikipedia:

Early lamps were used by Greek and Roman civilizations, where light primarily served the purpose of security, both to protect the wanderer from tripping over something on the path as well as keeping the potential robbers at bay. At that time oil lamps were used predominantly as they provided a long-lasting and moderate flame. The earliest lamps required that a lamplighter tour the town at dusk, lighting each of the lamps.

This would give you yet another character class for the game if it was to be installed.

As far as steamtech, magitech, or regular old industrial tech, they would be a great expansions but I am more interested in the basics for now.

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I’m the same as you in that respect. I would want the team to explore their own styling of things rather than stick to tried and tested in some ways - obviously you can’t escape it all, but the Magma smith is a really great example of how you take a traditional crafting role and ‘fantasy’ it all up.

If this crosses over into other systems then I’d be a happy bunny!

I don’t think it’d be necessary to have a specific class for that, however it could be a part of the town guard’s nightly duties - patrolling the streets, lighting lamps.

Helps to protect your folk from pesky thieves and assassins, increases visibility; this could impact in a few ways, and I’m just spit balling here - but ranged units accuracy over distance, units walk speed could be slightly reduced in the pitch black, things like that.

Back to reality for a second … I’m sure the lighting of torches could easily slot into an existing/ forthcoming classes role :slight_smile:


welcome aboard @TyranAvalon! :smile:

you certainly seem knowledgeable of medieval mechanics… does that stem from a general interest? hobby? historian, perhaps? :smiley:

I am all for mechanics, machines and triggers. I cant wait to see what they have in mind with the engineer and the magma smith.
Some may not like the ‘advancement’, for me it is more natural to have this then magic. It is the equivalent of magic, but much better fitting the game imo. And if they do it with some kind of fantasy theme, it is even better.