Why I think Stonehearth will stand out (Lengthy)


#1

I wanted to discuss why I think Stonehearth is a very unique and different project which in my opinion will be far superior than all the other games of it’s type that are currently on the market or in development, and which I am aware of.

First a bit about where my perspective comes from. I have been playing electronic games since somewhere around 1976. My first video game experiences were on a TRS-80 that my older brother purchased.

My first console gaming experience was on my best friends Coleco Vision

My first computer gaming experiences were on a Commodore 64 which I worked hard and saved up for. (best computer of all time :wink: )

Since then I have owned an Amiga, and many many PC’s, never purchased anything Apple in my life. As an avid gamer I have played pretty much every genre of gaming. RPG, FPS, RTS, MMORPG, Extremely hardcore historical strategy games, text based adventures, graphical adventures, the list goes on.

With this perspective let me discuss why Stonehearth stands out:

Since Minecraft entered the PC gaming scene in 2009, it’s phenomenal success has created many imitations. The other thing Minecraft did was showcase certain technologies that were not new, but their use in Minecraft and it’s success caused them to receive much attention. This in turn has greatly affected the video game industry. You can’t help but see it’s influence on many games that have been released since and many that are in development. Stonehearth is included in that list, although I definitely do not consider Stonehearth to be a Minecraft clone. It is a certainty that Stonehearth would never have been conceived if Minecraft did not exist however.

To me Minecraft is one of those games, and there have been many before, which is actually not that good, but you wan’t to play it. The reason you want to play it, is that it is the only game that offers a particular thing. Although there are many open world sandbox type games, Minecraft was the first one I can think of that gave you the ability to create a completely custom world within a natural type environment, and having to survive and collect the resources to do so. These things are very compelling, but in my opinion, could be done so much better, but since no one is doing them better Minecraft is the best.

Let me be specific, as an adventure / survival game Minecraft is lacking. The diversity of Mobs, and weapons is minuscule, and combat is very simple and uninspired. So this aspect of the game merely adds some flavor and risk to the building / exploring aspects of the game.

As for an exploring game, Minecraft scenery, even based on giant low resolution textured voxels can be beautiful. There is plenty of variety with the biomes, and practically infinite lands to explore. (I think the limits would fit 75 times the surface of the earth). But as an exploring game I believe it is lacking. Yes there are an infinite amount of worlds, and each world has infinite variety. Once you have seen one Jungle, or one Desert temple, you have seen them all. It doesn’t really excite me to go and find another one that’s shaped differently. Granted there are quite a few different things to discover.

That brings us to what in my opinion is Minecraft’s greatest aspect, building and creating. Everyone here is most likely aware of the amazing things you can build in Minecraft. This to me is why this game is so popular, but it is also what it does so poorly. For me personally, it is the only real draw for the game. Every time I started a game I wanted to build something amazing, and build it while surviving. The practicality of this endeavor soon becomes evident. The hours required to even build a portion of what I imagined was monstrous. If your desire is to create voxel based creations of any type, Minecraft makes a very inefficient Voxel editor. Even in creative mode, flying around in a 3D space and having to select items from an inventory is not a very efficient way to edit voxels. Anyone here who has used Qubicle can attest to that.

I know that there are a multitude of mods which can add a lot to Minecraft. I do not wish to start a debate on how good Minecraft is but want to use it as a detailed contrast to what I believe Stonehearth is.

Another game which I will use to contrast Stonehearth is Cube World. This is a game which I was highly anticipating. It looks amazing. The scenery is stunning, a testament to the creativity and skill of it’s developer. But as a game it has no longevity, for similar reasons to Minecraft as an exploring game. There are several biomes in Cube World, and discovering and exploring them for the first time was a good experience. But after you’ve seen them all, it doesn’t do much to see a new one, with a different random variation. The game-play is completely repetitive. Wander around kill random things to get new gear so you can wander around and kill stronger random things. Adding colored cubes to a weapon to boost few different stats does not really qualify Cube Word as a creating or building game.

Now with this lengthy (I did put a warning in the title that this was going to be long) pre-amble I can more clearly Illustrate how Stonehearth will be better. While I do not like sandbox games where there is a scripted story that you need to follow, I do think you still need some sort of purpose to build your, in this case, city for. I don’t think that purpose should be specifically scripted, but it should be more than to protect it from randomly spawning creepers, or frogs, or Orcs, or the like. The fact that Stonehearth has NPC factions, both friendly, or neutral, and hostile gives the game a more complex purpose that can still be randomized to give each game it’s own personality. This is an excellent way of giving a sandbox game a real sense of purpose without scripting a story into it.

The randomly created world works well in Stonehearth, as your purpose is not to run around and see as much of it as you can, but to build your settlement, or city. The world as described will be big enough that you won’t find the edges, this means you can pick out where you want to settle to suit your desires with plenty of variety. It also gives you the opportunity to pack up and move to a new area if you so desire.

The mechanics of how you build your city (as explained so far) are the best I have seen. It isn’t just plopping down buildings from a set list. It’s actually designing buildings and suiting them for a purpose. This is dramatically different. The fact that you draw a floor plan and your workers build it (to spec) is a huge improvement from other voxel based games. Timber and Stone is an improvement on Minecraft for building things but is still way too tedious, and requires too much micromanagement to be fun. Mark my words, those of you who play T&S, myself included, will not be able to put the effort into building with it after Stonehearth shows everyone how it should be done. Directing and designing with an interface designed to be efficient and not artificially tedious, and then watching all your workers execute your instructions organically is something I have desired in a game like this for years. It is one example of how @Tom and @Ponder 's statement that they are making the game they want to play, is not just cliche.

Combine these mechanics with the high quality visuals that @Tom is producing and you have an extremely compelling world which allows you to create in without grinding, or unnecessary tedium. I think @Tom is respectably humble about his abilities, but his artwork is top notch. He has done an excellent job of giving a consistent style to all aspects of the game, and it is extremely enjoyable to watch him work and explain his reasoning and motivation for it. When I compare what I have seen from Stonehearth to other voxel games, Stonehearth makes the others look like children’s Lego creations, and @Tom’s look like those expertly built Lego creations you see from professional artists in museums and Lego Land.

I don’t want to sound like a Fanboy (too late I guess). I know that while anticipating a game your expectations can grow and you can think more of it than what it will actually be. But this is the first game of this type that has specific design concepts that make it very unique and something I know I will love. Other games which I have anticipated, like Cube World, didn’t have any real (to me anyway) game-play concepts which made them unique. They just looked amazing, and I really wanted to play them. Stonehearth on the other hand looks amazing, and has some very unique gameplay concepts which I believe are going to be key to making this game overwhelmingly compelling to play.

I know that the alpha is not going to have much of the content that will eventually be in the release, but the main concept of designing efficiently and watching your workers build your creations will, from what I understand. I hope there will be some sort of danger in the form of mob’s for you to deal with, but even if I just get to play with construction and crafting it will be a fun prelude to the game.

In summary, December 30’ish can not come too soon.


#2

You should have a videogame review website. (If you don’t already)
Well done.


#3

well done! aside from winning the “wall of text” award, and the associated 10 internet points, this was a very thorough piece!


#4

Create. Your. Own. Gaming. Blog


#5

This thread is an absolute gem, you should consider writing a review for a post-release Stonehearth.


#6

Thank you for the compliments. I have often thought about starting a video game review blog. I guess If I do, I know I will have at least one reader :smile:


#7

I enjoyed and agreed with your post but I just…I just…I don’t get this bit.

What does it share with Minecraft? Lets break this down:

  • Building
  • Crafting
  • Combat/Mobs
  • Voxels
  • Food
  • Sleep

Of course there are other things, but I want to only list the main things, rather than things like they both have swords. :wink:

Ok: building. Building to me seems very much uninspired by MC. It is just so different, and the fact it involves blocks is just like; they couldn’t do it otherwise, it’s a voxel game (which I’ll get onto later), so blocks make sense.

Crafting is also different. Crafting in SH is far more traditional, not needing to know and actually ‘input’ recipes, but simply tell a Worker to craft it. So not much similar there.

Combat is fairly different. It being a 3rd person game rather than 1st person (an enormous difference), means you can use multiple troops, actually allowing for strategy in combat.

The mobs are completely different to MCs too. Everything (with the exception of the lagomorphs) is a traditional, medieval creature. MC goes for the typical, scary Halloween creatures, with some slightly unusual additions. So nothing there either.

The use of voxels is hardly a comparison. Voxels aren’t very uncommon, being one of the options to go down for 3D games. And comparing two games for their voxels is like comparing Pacman and Rogue Legacy for their pixels. Absurd. In fact, the graphics in MC and SH are very, very different. From a technical aspect, SH doesn’t actually use textures, whereas for MC the retexturability is very popular. Yes, I get it, people are really only referring to the aesthetics, but I personally don’t get on with parts of MC graphically, such as its textures; I think the wood block and grass block are very ugly with so many different shades next to each other. SH however has a very defined style within the workers and the landscape, to me, also looks fairly different, again affected by it being 3rd person and not 1st.

Food is an uncommon thing, in real life and in games. It looks to be being implemented very differently to MC, not affecting health but instead meaning they can’t work. It is not something you need to monitor, just ensure they have enough food available. As for the gaining of food, we don’t know too much on Stonehearth’s end, but farming is again not unusual.

Sleep is in there for both, but means such different things. One of the more popular ways to play MC is on large 24/7 servers, in which sleep is made impossible. For SH, sleep is similar to SH, and they will just do it, and you can get a bed if you want buffs/don’t want debuffs. So different again.

Now I know the fact that it shares so many elements, even if they are different, suggests that it is based on the same thing, but all systems are very popular. Building, crafting, combat (the main systems) are all features of different games that I feel SH could draw inspiration from a lot more. I feel it could be fair to say that it would not exist without Dwarf Fortress, the game that really defined the genre, but MC? No. Its just a completely different game. I mean its an RPG RTS City Building game set in a medieval fantasy land. MC is either a survival game, with crafting and building elements, or a sandbox 3D voxel building game. They’re just…different. So no, SH would have been conceived without MC.


#8

I completely agree. You have perfectly stated how I feel also, and why I am so excited about Stonehearth as well! I would love to read a blog were you to create one.


#9

@Smokestacks
I get the feeling you are bordering on just nitpicking on details. You may have thought out your post well, but it adds very little to the whole point.


#10

I apologise if it seems that way to you, but it’s a comment I’ve heard in many places and it irks me very much. It just seems so unthought out. If they provided reasonable and factually correct reasons to support it, I would agree, but this statement made in passing just had no backing, as it always does when it appears.

As for its relevance, I don’t feel it is nitpicking. I feel that he was picked the wrong game to compare it to. Cube World was halfway there, but he mentioned that it stood out from similar games around it and hasn’t actually mentioned one. He did mention T&S, but only in the building aspect. Dwarf Fortress, Towns, Gnomoria and any real overall comparison of T&S were all left out despite being far better comparisons due to the fact that they are actually of the same genre and offer much more similar gameplay.

Just because it is better than MC doesn’t actually mean a lot really. People will get both, because they are different and offer different gameplay. But people would be less inclined to get Towns and SH, because they may feel there is no need, as they’re quite similar. However if you can prove how it is better than Towns, you can justify those users splashing out on SH. I don’t want to sound like I’m ripping on him, I just feel that there were better games to compare to. If you want to show how it stands out, you need to pitch it against its competitors. Therefore it is very important. I don’t feel MC is similar enough to be a good comparison, and therefore it is fairly unnecessary for a large part of the OP to be comparing SH to it to show how it will stand out, as it doesn’t show it, as the two can shine together.

And to be frank, posts simply saying “I agree” add very little to the point anyway. Mine also said “I agree”, but actually added to the discussion. I don’t have a problem with posts just saying “I agree”, “Well said” or “You should do a gaming blog”, but I don’t see why mine is any less relevant.


#11

I don’t know. Your post has more of a purpose than mine, but it seems, well, demotivational.


#12

Perhaps, and I tried to avoid this, but it was hard to make my point without doing so. Besides, if constructive criticism can’t be taken and applied, then life ain’t gonna be fun for you, especially working in a team environment towards a combined goal.

I mean, other than that, I thought it was good. The layout was there and all, I just thought @2_Zons picked the wrong comparisons. I mean, they’re halfway there. They’re definitely far better choices for comparison than CoD, FIFA or Binding of Isaac. In fact lots of games. But I just thought had T&S (or preferably all 4 that I listed, maybe not each one for each aspect but why and where it beats each would be cool) been compared as well, it would’ve gone from a pretty good rating to an excellent rating. :stuck_out_tongue:


#13

@Smokestacks, I said in my post that Stonehearth is definitely NOT a Minecraft clone. The reason I use it for comparison is that I was focusing on the aspect of Stonehearth which is building and creating a city of your own design, and by your own design, not simply deciding where to plop down cookie cutter buildings. Something which you can only do in a game like Minecraft or T&S. I wanted to illustrate how creating in Stonehearth will be much more refined, and efficient than these other games. No where was I trying to suggest that Stonehearth is just like Minecraft. I was also going to talk about why it is better than games like the new Sim City or the Anno series, but it was a long enough post as it was.

Why is it that I think Stonehearth would not exist without Minecraft? How many voxel based 3D games can you think of before Minecraft? Prior to Minecraft (or Infiniminer, which inspired Minecraft) voxels were only used in isometric 2D games, like Command and Conquer 2. And how many Isometric 2D games have come out recently? I’m sure @Tom and @Ponder played Minecraft before they were inspired to create this game. Granted some of the ideas they are using in this game they may have had for years, but the game the way it is now was definitely influenced by Minecraft.

And I can fully accept constructive criticism as well as compliments. Perhaps I could have made it a bit more clear that I was not comparing the 2 games directly but only that particular aspect of them.

edit: you mention Dwarf Fortress, I didn’t want to go there, I could have written 20 pages on why it is better than DF.


#14

@SteveAdamo can you give him “Official Radiant Fanboy” under his name?


#15

Ahhh! Got it! No, I read that wrong. Apologies, and I retract my comments. Yeah, building probably is a fair comparison. Minecraft does offer better building in the aspect that it is super sandboxy; you can create anything, which probably is one of its biggest draws. But other than that, it can be hard to build anything aesthetically pleasing in MC for some people, and doing it block by block means that it can take a long time for larger builds. Its building style certainly wouldn’t be suitable for a city building game. SHs way also allows buildings to be far more regular, pertaining to a certain style with much more ease. And yeah, comparatively templates kind of suck.

It does excite me thinking about some of the larger scale builds we may be graced with.

I still disagree that SH wouldn’t exist without MC, but to the extent of it graphically (which I feel is what you are more getting at), it probably would be a lot different. I would certainly agree that MC is fairly influential in the rise of the voxel games.

p.s. Sim City would be an interesting comparison, seeing as it being so visually different that people wouldn’t necessarily make the mental comparison, however both being city-building games, it certainly is there. Would be interested to hear it.


#16


#17

titles are earned, not given … with a few exceptions, of course… :tongue: I’ve enjoyed this thread though, and haven’t found @smokestacks response demotivational at all…

plus, there can be only one official fanboy… much like the Highlander!


#18

@SteveAdamo How about “Unofficial Radiant Fanboy”?


#19

Aspects like survival and adventure are very much alike. Random world generation. Sandbox. Things like that. I very much agree with @2_Zons statement. I think you are thinking about those things you listed too literally. Sure they aren’t the exact same thing. But in a way it’s like you are controlling a minecraft civilization. I know when I show my friends this game and explain it to them they say “Oh so it’s like minecraft.” Now I’m not saying they copied MC or that @2_Zons is saying that. But I am saying that there are similarities and inspiration from MC.

I freakin’ love you for this btw.


#20

Indeed, I earned this for sitting and typing all day long. I am a trooper.