The game is "finished" - The feelings are big


#1

Hello everyone,

I’m really not sure how to describe my feelings after the last announcement, that the game is soon considered as a “finished” product. There were alot of promises and I think the game falls short on those at the end, sadly. So when I think about this, my feelings are a mixture of angriness, sadness and frustration. I rarely back kickstarter projects, because the risk of not getting what you expect is big. But I thought Stonehearth will be one of those games that can stick to their promises, especially considered the amount of funds they have gathered. So I jumped in and backed 50$.

But don’t get me wrong, I played the game 119 hours and most of the time I had fun with the game (though there was also alot of frustration thanks to the bugs). But I played these hours and didn’t complain about bugs and crashes because I had this one thing in my mind: The game will develop further, the bugs will be eliminated and at some point the game will reach what was promised.

Right now, the game still feels buggy. It has performance problems (especially in Multiplayer, which was a big promise on kickstarter), the building process still fails at some constructions and many things promised didn’t make it into the game or are badly implemented:

Mac & Linux Port
No Linux Support. Ofc this may not be interesting for 99% of the players, but I think as a programmer you should’ve known before if a linux port is doable (in terms of difficulty) or not. At least you may refund those backers, but it’s like buying a car, waiting 4 years for it and then the company tells you it wont be finished and you just get your money back.

Pirates, Ninjas, Politicians
This is the first where I think to myself: Why didn’t you just ask the community? You have such a big and active community and you could have easily asked the community if this fits into the game or not. At least a comunity vote could’ve helped. But instead, this feature was completely ignored until now and now you’re telling us it won’t come. There may be people who have backed the project just to reach this stretch goal.

Animal Trainer
The same as with pirates, ninjas and politicians. You have a prototype, you could’ve implemented this in another unstable build and let players test it and give feedback on it. Instead, it was just dumped. Very unsatisfying.

Magma Smith
And the list goes on. Another feature that was promised, ignored, never discussed with the community and then dumped. The magma smith could’ve created elemental weapons and materials for the engineer to create elemental traps. And also cool magna-stylized furniture. There are dozens of ideas.

PvP
This was the second big milestone stretch goal (after mac & linux support). There were many people who have expected to see this and yet it was dumped like many other features.In this case I think it’s ok, because your vision of the game may have changed, where PvP just didn’t fit anymore. But still, I think it is important to keep promises.

Geomancer
Though this class will come into the game, I fear that it will be very badly implemented. I will talk more about this when it comes to the engineer stretch goal.

Elementals
I really wonder why especially this stretch goal was so hard to fullfil. As a skilled artist, it shouldn’t be much of a problem to design (for example) a fire elemental that throws fireballs on hearthlings, an ice elemental the is super tanky (similiar to the stone golem) and a wind elemental that man slow down hearthlings or push them around. This is again something that could’ve been discussed with the community.

Engineer
Though this class is in, I feel like it has no real purpose. I never bother getting an engineer, because a fully equipped knight or archer is just so much more useful then an engineer and the engineer also takes important materials to create his stuff. It’s like the engineer is there, but never really needed. On the other side, all the other jobs fullfil a clearly defined role and are needed very much.

Co-op Multiplayer
This is a big one for me. Multiplayer doesn’t feel finished right now. It’s to unstable, the performance is bad, especially when 2 players have like 25+ hearthlings. I wonder how much will change with 1.0 and 1.1, but I doubt much will happen.

Festivals
This is a nogo from my perspective. Saying the festivals stretch goal is kinda finished mainly because some modders have created a good mod is simply a nogo. It’s not the job of the community to create stretch goal content. This is something that has to be in the game vanilla!

Alternate Planes
This kinda made me sad. I expected more from the world you have created. Like digging down and finding abandoned dungeons with undeads inside. Finding artifacts in those dungeons etc. Or maybe being able to ascendend to an alternate plane once you reach a certain point in the game. Another feature which could’ve been discussed with the community.

Dwarves
And this is surely the biggest disappointment, especially since it was a strech goal that required 150000$ on top to be reached. And I’m not even talking about the dwarves themselves. Building underground was one of those features MANY people wanted and many expected those features to come with the dwarves. Now that you have abandoned this class, building udnerground civilisation will prove difficult and we have to work around the current available building mechanics to make this possible…

So out of the19 stretch goals that were funded, 12 of them are either not in the game, or are not good implemented.

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And now lets get to some of the promises that have nothing to do with the stretch goals:

Job classes:
image
Where are those jobclasses? You even said you have MANY more planned. Yet the jobtree looks way smaller then what was promised. The marauder was even shown in the first video.

Modules:
Promised as a feature in the stonehearth kickstarter video. The game should’ve come with many modules and the game should’ve been designed in way so that other players can create modules, which a shared over the network and appear in other peoples game. I’m not seeing that this actually happens in the game and don’t expect to see it in 1.0 or 1.1 as well.

Storytelling and exploring a rich world:
The vision was to create a game that emphasizes storytelling and that motivates the player to explore the world. The story itself has no depth. You beat one monster group and a stronger one comes next. And why should I explore the world? There is nothing to be found anymore. The map is not big and you only find some plants, trees, rocks and bunny statues. And digging underground? Like I said before: You will not find any hidden stuff there. Only stone, clay and ores…

Minigames:
In the video you have shown a minigame for farming as an example. This feature was (in my memory) never discuussed anymore and completely dumped.

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So all in all it sadly feels like the game is far away from what was promised / envisioned. And wen reading the news, it just feels like the real reason for not implementing many of the things is just the lack of time and funds. And that’s why I’m kinda angry, sad and frustrated all at the same time. Yeah, I will get over this in the next days, but right now I’m just simply dissappointed.

And don’t get me wrong: I understand your position very well. You miscalculated and overjudged your own abilities to finish the project like envisioned and you now have abandon this project because at some point you need to look forward, since riot won’t endlessly fund this project. So I know you HAVE to do this. But that doesn’t mean I need to be happy about it. Truth to be told, I was expecting something like this some month ago when you introduced multiplayer. The game still felt so far away from your first vision, that I was wondering already “how long are they actually able to work on this project?” and sadly I have my answer now. I know that this wasn’t an easy step, since I guess you knew that this will disappoint many people, but that’s how it is now.

All this said: I wish you guys good luck. The time I have spent with you in the last years wasn’t bad, just the end made me a bit salty.


#2

This doesn’t really change anything, but I gotta say, as another kickstarter backer, I understand where you are coming from, but I never really expected most of these things to come through, simply because the desired game never would have been achievable for the budget and timeline they where thinking. As long as the Moddability is sufficiently high I don’t mind, because the community can build things that would be impossible for a small team.


#3

The problem i see is, that a modding community often develops during the game development time, or if the game has enough fame.

When it comes to fame, games like Minecraft or Skyrim always get thousands of modders who contribute.

But Terraria is a good example for a game which developed a huge modding community especially in the last 2-3 years. At the start nearly no one was interested in modding Terraria.

And Stonehearth? I dont see enough fame for a big wave of motivated modders. And since the main development of the game is finished, the community will not grow alot. I guess it will take alot of time before many modders will recognize Stonehearth as a great game for modding. And I really wonder if it will be enough to bring the game to a point, where it comes close or exceeds of what it should’ve been.


#4

Because Terraria’s code at the beginning was horrible. If I remember correctly, it started out as a little project to learn C#, and then kinda grew from there. Unless the decompilers are awfully off, there wasn’t much OOP used at all, and the Main class had a huge chunk of logic in the form of static fields. Almost all weapons, effects and so forth are switch-es or ifs, i.e. not instantiated like you would expect in a “modern” app (if you got really fancy, you might have an array or two and some magic lookup). Nonetheless, Terraria works like a charm, which deserves all my respect. It’s a project I often look at when I’m getting stuck in clean code hell - because you don’t need pretty code to make something run well.

I don’t think this will happen, because despite how much they want to praise Stonehearth as a “modding platform”, I don’t think it’s a particularly good one. There are some interesting ideas, but there’s also a lot of drawbacks that, in my opinion, outweigh the advantages.

If I had to predict something, I would say that the peak of modding has been reached, or will be reached in December. With the declining (or already-dead) developer support, the growth is very limited. You have a hardcore base of modders that were already invested in the game since the Kickstarter/early Alphas, but I don’t think a lot of new talent will flow into the community and after a while, some will leave to go on their own way, or onto their next adventure.

For the past few years, I was growing more suspicious of Stonehearth’s possible success as a modding platform, but with the game effectively being end-of-life, I don’t think it can happen. There’s greener grass all around, and unless you are particularly attached to the art style, the assets, or some other part of SH that just cannot be found elsewhere,


#5

omg they did WHAT?

now stonehearth, Timber and stone, and gnomoria are ALL abandoned by their devs

not a single dwarf fortress clone with potential remains

i guess this is the destiny of my favorite genre

forget the artstyle, anyone can get qubicle and do voxels, what was amazing was there was going to be another fortress making sim Gem in existence , not only was it the FIRST one to have multiplayer, it might be the ONLY one to have multiplayer

as sad as its multiplayer is with the bugs, its the only one of this kind of game


#6

I’d like to repeat this again. Team Radiant did NOT “abandon” this game as in “Whatever, good enough, let’s take this money and run.” In fall of 2017, they had essentially received their date of death from the new leadership of their owners, Riot. I remember fondly, how fall 2017 - summer 2018 was the most awesome period of SH development. Every week, a huge cool feature was coming out. Then, with one particular update, this has turned very sour. Radiant was trying to do their best within the “remainder of their lifespan”.

So yeah, I’m not a Kickstart backer and I don’t fully understand the pain of unfulfilled promises, but I sure do agree with their statement “we did the best we could” as for the given situation was dire.

They still have some time left to give support, so please, if you stumble upon any bugs, kindly report them.

I’m sorry, I’m not trying to be mean. I hope I did not come across as that.

Take care.


#7

I disagree. What I’ve seen quite a few times in recent history is what I like to call the “red giant” approach to video game development, especially with new studios/indie studios that have semi-popular titles.

An early access game that is still in development, although barely/slowly, suddenly gains a bunch of new developers and makes rapid updates/promises for the future. A few months later, it’s announced that “due to the recent work, we’re now ready for 1.0!” and the game is effectively “released”. It’s like the sun lifecycle: Just before they collapse and cease to be useful (in any meaningful way, at least), they’ll blow up one last time and shine brighter than ever before. Therefore, I would argue that the sudden spike in activity was more of an act to get “something out that won’t hurt our reputation too much” while still maintaining the base idea of pulling the plug.

What is exceptional in this case is the honesty though. They’re not just saying “We’re releasing the game, thanks for the fun” - they’re effectively releasing the game and ending support within six months of each other. So instead of just not updating it anymore, they’re pretty bold about it, which I guess should be appreciated, but probably won’t end well in the reputation/marketing department.

For me, there’s two kind of extremes. On one hand, Terraria will receive yet another update more than seven years after its initial release. On the other, Stonehearth will be completely end-of-support/end-of-life just mere six months after its initial release. I mean, one can be mad about the Kickstarter goals all you want, but flat-out closing shop… It’s hard to wrap my head around it to be honest.


#8

I’m not sure why you believe this. Radiant as a team will cease to exist at the end of the support period, completely. There is no reputation to uphold. That said, I do know that if I ever see Tom or Tony’s name in the gaming industry, I will give the project a wide berth. For being the visionaries of Stonehearth, they were terribly hands-off right around when Riot bought Radiant. The “dream vision” they had when they quit their jobs to work on Stonehearth clearly wasn’t Stonehearth. It was money.

Semantics? That’s exactly what happened, from our perspective. I’m not sure why I should care that their bosses are the ones who pulled the plug. I know that I saw a kickstarter, and I liked what’s on it, and I supported that. If their vision changed at some point not to include certain features they talked about in their kickstarter, then they have changed the project I was supporting, and it is no longer a project I want to support.

Yeah maybe. I wish they were more honest and told us that they’re closing doors at the beginning of the year, not when they did. It would’ve saved me a lot of embarrassment prancing around the forums and preaching optimism and tolerance and patience.


#9

Radiant might be gone, but Riot kind of carries this away - although I doubt that anyone would seriously care about small fish like this when they have much bigger problems to deal with, and an seemingly endlessly loyal fanbase on top of it.

I think in the end it was an experiment for them, and “let’s make a game” is kinda hard to do. There’s a world of a difference between a quick prototype to see if something works, and something more fleshed out.

Not sure about that, to be honest. I would expect a job at VMWare to pay pretty good cash. Without knowing them too well, the game idea did seem kinda off-character though. I don’t know how to say this properly, so this will sound awful, but to me it seems like it could have been “just a phase”. I don’t mean it that way necessarily, but I hope you get the gist.

That’s kickstarter in a nutshell, though. Without wanting to redeem anyone or anything, it’s just this common misconception about Kickstarter (and, to some extent, Early Access and Preorders). You’re not really purchasing anything, you’re investing into something. They can promise you the moon and the stars, but they have no real obligation to follow through. I mean, like 80% of all IT projects (independent of KS) are either running late, or out of budget, or both. Kickstarter isn’t an exception, it’s just making things way more obvious. I think I saw at some point that surprisingly stuff like board games and artsy stuff had a high satisfaction/delivery rate, whereas “games” in particular were the bottom feeders.

There’s more to making a game than having a good idea about dragons and some pictures.

Eh, if I wanna play devil’s advocate again…In many ways, it’s much better to get out ASAP. By closing shop immediately, you get a bit of coverage, but since it’s all over, well, what’s going to happen? Nobody’s going to report that you have, in fact, still abandoned the game, and nowadays the attention span of anyone is so short that nobody will remember it. It’s a storm in a teacup.

If you were to announce that, a year from now, you’ll close shop and in six months most of your employees will be gone, not only will you have to fight the community for half a year, but also you get two chances for people to pick it up and talk about it: Once at the halfway point, and once at the end. Here, you only get one, because the initial statement and the end-of-development were kinda close to each other.

But take a look what actually happened, and it’s amazing. We have this fait accompli, the accomplished fact, that the game is semi-dead. And presto, some still motivated community members jump in and fill the gap, partially in a hurry because of their promise that “If you make something good, we might give you the lead for this game’s future”.

I wonder if ACE would exist if there were a statement at the beginning of the year. I kind of doubt it. Without a sense of urgency, and a bit of a shock too, the transition would have been a lot smoother I think. People would have just left the community and the game altogether, maybe take a last look in December, but that’s it. I don’t really think that some guys would have organized themselves like this if the development was still ongoing (and whatever they did would be uncertain to be useful because Radiant might still add it, or something they do breaks it, and so forth - stuff that kept modding at bay before), and I don’t know if it would have picked up after that.

I guess we’ll never know, but it can be an entertaining thought experiment.


#10

A large modding community isn’t going to spring up around a game with a bad engine. The first big modding project would have to be to fix the terrible AI/pathfinding/whatever it is that causes hearthlings to just mope around instead of working. The second would be to take out conversations, a “feature” that ate up months of the development team’s time and only resulted in your hearthlings wasting half their time talking about soup and petting sheep instead of working.

Another game with high potential absolutely killed by mismanagement. This team had no direction.