The Use of Cranes

Hey everybody!,

A very small little thread I wanted to start here.

So, for those that don’t know, unless it’s been stated recently otherwise, Stonehearth is looking to also include water wheels, windmills, pipes and pumping for water, and some electrical-type things - this information given in many different Q n’ A livestreams over on twitch.

As always, highly recommend them if you want to get to know more about the game, but better yet, watch them when available to answer those burning questions you’ve got!

… Anyway, all that said, I love the idea of having these moving parts in Stonehearth. It really makes the world feel alive. You add in actually moving windmills, flowing rivers, waves on the coasts, chirping birds, jumping deer, and… uhh… ‘forgetful’ fish swimming in the water, it all just sounds amazing and so alive.

But like a human being, I could always want more!

No, all in all, I was just thinking about having a moving crane in the game. A medieval crane used for construction / heavy lifting. Something like this:

Pretty straight-forward.

The problem however is I can’t really think of a reason to include this.

One idea I had was with mining. Let’s say you find some very rare resource - or some really rare loot while mining out an area deep underground. To make it an extra challenge, what about saying that to extract this loot / resource, you’ll need a crane to help lift it out…?

Again, no idea. Don’t really think it’s that practical of an idea… and I don’t know how to make it one… But that said, I’d just like to see that in the game. I don’t know…

What do you guys think!?

Let me know!



A long long time ago, @Tom had said he wanted to do something with mechanics, but to my knowledge, it’s never been confirmed. Could you source some of your information? By no means am I calling you a liar, I’m just curious myself.

If it were included, with the way items / materials are moved currently, this would be solely for looks. I honestly don’t see any purpose for it myself.


What about borrowing the idea of Factorio’s robot arms? When you build a crane it has a “pick up” and “drop off” point, so anything in/near the pick-up point will be lifted and transported to the drop-off.

Because Stonehearth is in 3D space, though, it could be handled either with zones or flags (similar to a patrol flag) – you build the crane and it displays a radius of its “reach”, if you place a zone/flag wholly within its reach then it will start transferring items between appropriate zones.

I think that the flag idea is actually easier and more robust, since it can be combined with existing stockpiles rather than requiring a new zone with new functions. What I imagine is this: anything within a radius of the “pick up” flag is collected and deposited near the “drop off” flag, so you can simply create a stockpile with filtering to desired resources and then place a pick up flag on it.

It’s probably not more practical than simply building a ladder and having the hearthling carry the items, except for reaaaaaaaally big jobs, but anything which can save hearthlings some back-and-forth walking is useful IMO.


I like the idea, but it would involve drastically reworking the construction AI. At them moment, hearthlings don’t really work together when building. Each one just does a task independently. It would be a great mechanic if you could use cranes to move a lot of materials from point A to point B quickly. But for that to have a point, you would need some practical way of getting those materials to point A and you would need to tell hearthlings that are currently in the process of building to not run off to the middle of the woods to get more resources. This would mean that they would actually need to coordinate and work together. I don’t know how practical that would be to implement as a game mechanic.

On the other hand, cranes are generally used to lift and move things that too heavy for people to carry. That’s not currently an issue in the game. If a redesign of construction involved things like statues or beams that are now too heavy for a hearthling to lift on it’s own, it would make sense for cranes to be implemented. But I don’t really see that happening as I think the devs seem to have a good grasp of what they want the construction process to look like, even if they may not be happy with the current design tools.

As funny as it sounds, SimCity Buildit (mobile game) mixed with what @YetiChow said about Factorio gave me a great idea for it. What if it was an auto builder for buildings?

Say you make the “crane” object, and it sits in your inventory like half a dozen other things. You design a building, and when you click build, a Hearthling places the crane next to the building (space permitting), followed by other Hearthlings gathering the needed materials for the building and placing it next to the crane. The crane then works “magically” by itself to grab a material (like a Hearthling would) and place it (just like a Hearthling would).

By doing this, it builds the building for you, but leave your Hearthlings open for other tasks, such as resource gathering. Not to mention, the crane wouldn’t stop to eat or sleep. When the building is finally done, a Hearthling could then just come over, take down the crane like any other object, and let it sit in the inventory for the next time.


Speaking about mechanics, a long time ago there was a mod that added mechanics to SH - wind- and water-powered windmills, forges, transportation belts etc. If we take this system as a basis, a crane can be used to scale heights when transporting goods.
Then again, I would like to avoid turning our hearthling town into an automated factory completely. So some… borders should also be nice. As of now, I can’t imagine how to balance the system so it is still useful but not overpowered.


Just for discussion sake, what’s your thought behind this?

Sure. I perceive SH as a game about hearthlings. I would like machinery to help them, boost efficiency, make their life easier, not replace them completely.


If i may a Crane would not have to replace heartlings. it might require a skill and heartlings to operate, heartlings to disassemble it. And place it again. That alone might be enough for it to be pointless unless you are building something rather large scale.

So i dont see it as replacing heartlings as sutch it might just speed up a task.


I can agree that it’s better to not turn this into Factorio. At the same time, I wouldn’t mind a little industrial revolution, especially when you hit end game with 50+ hearthlings. If you’re just expanding your town/city to expand it at that point, increasing production speed would really help out.


That’s what I meant.
As far as I remember, in that old mod the number of machinery was limited by “energy cap” - in order to get more transportation belts moving you needed to build more “energy generators”, like windmills or water wheels, then build additional machines to “translate momentum” from generators to energy consumers, and use some hearthlings for supervision/operating these machines. Maybe some limitations akin to these can make the system balanced.


Not saying anything about vertical mineshaft elevators. Nope, not me. Just sitting here being quiet.

And besides looks, what point would they have? How would it be an improvement on a ladder?

Set up the elevator once. Go as deep as you like without having to constantly replace or add more ladders.

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Besides breaking the cardinal rule…

I’m going to play devil’s advocate for a min. Normally when I find an ore vein worth mining, it goes horizontal, then verticle a bit, then horizontal again. By the time I’m done digging, I’ve created what looks like an “h” shaped mine filled with ladders.

Now I don’t mean this as an insult at all, but how would one click building ladders still not be faster than mustering all the materials for everything that goes into one elevator, then crafting said elevator, then placing it? Let alone the fact that I’d need multiple ladders to get to the places to put the elevators. Also, how would the elevators be faster than a hearthling climbing a ladder?

I am not aware of any underground lava in the game yet, but then again I don’t dig down much. Forget moving hearthlings, and instead think of it as a cargo unit. Hearthlings move supplies to a stockpile at each level, and the crane moves the supplies to a stockpile at the top in bulk. Your hearthlings don’t have to go all the way to the top on every trip so they can mine faster. Just a quick trip to the central shaft stockpile and then back at it.

And for the record, I am only defending the idea because I can’t sleep at the moment. I don’t really see it as practical myself, but hopefully thinking about it will tire the ol’ brain out enough to let me pass out.


There isn’t any lava…yet…I was just trying to make a joke. I apologize.


Well, we know that the dev team want to have caverns and lava and all that “!GOOD!” (in the Dwarven sense) stuff underground… it’s just a matter of them getting around to it.

Going back to the other point about cargo elevators, though: I can see what you mean, it’s not exactly practical… but it’s a cool image/idea! And this is very much a “rule of cool” suggestion.

It’s pretty much the same with cranes, conveyors, minecarts… none are strictly necessary or even useful when compared to a simple hearthling (particularly when it’s a very simple matter for hearthlings to get bigger backpacks, assuming the devs feel like adding that – or we can even theoretically mod it in now as a “universal skill”.) However, if players are given the tools to play around with, invariably cool things result. Look at what people do in Minecraft with redstone, or Terraria with wiring, or Starbound with wiring, or even Factorio with its logic gates… none of those games strictly needed a way to automate tasks, but adding those new areas of gameplay added a whole sub-game/mini-game with an unforeseen amount of depth.


Not exactly. While the Rule of Cool applies, it usually cannot sustain a feature forever, so some practical value to the gaming process is important. For example, while wiring in Terraria or Starbound isn’t necessary in a strict sense, it makes things easier or more interesting, allowing traps, defenses and automated engines/crafting systems simplifying things that would take very long to achieve otherwise. Or wouldn’t be very convenient.

As an example, in Terraria after I’d done some research and made effort to gather the ingredients, I created:

  1. An automatic “lava oven” with a wired shark statue to farm some rare water drops
  2. Pump-based water and lava splitters and obsidian generator

And while you can manually place blocks around yourself in Starbound to achieve the same result, building an underwater airlock is sort of a “graduation work” for any wiring engineer.

I had no idea about this - and it somewhat tears my spirit down as I was planning/hoping to work on a “water wheel and windmill” mod down the line. :cry: Thanks for telling though! :smiley:
They would provide energy for cranes, elevators, and some other stuff I had in mind.

“My” reason for cranes (and/or elevators) would simply be to save time.

I imagine a mining operation maybe 100 blocks down into the ground which then expands into all directions. Having my Hearthlings running up and down stairs with 4 stacks of items each time will take a lot of time in total.
Instead having a massive box at the center of this mining operation where all my Hearthling drops their items, would reduce the amount of “running” required before they can grab new stacks. If “my crane” then would be able to lift up and down this massive box it could help in the time-saving department.
I was toying with the idea of either having an automatic crane or having the requirement of one Hearthling controlling the movement of the crane.

Helping with time-saving or not, it could look cool, too. Just as you say, it could help bringing “life” into the world.

Anywho, about my “water wheel and windmill” mod.
It was all just blurry ideas I was hoping to put more time into once I felt my Commemorative Items mod was more completed; I don’t know if I’ll ever go back to those ideas now though xD We will see :slight_smile:

But hey, thanks for sharing the information and your thoughts! :smiley: