DT: Appeal

Hey everyone, welcome to another Stonehearth Desktop Tuesday! Today let’s talk about Alpha 23’s tentpole feature, which we call Appeal.


Recap from the video:

Have you ever painstakingly decorated a town and wished that your hearthlings appreciated the teapots you put in their restaurants or the painted windows you put in their cave walls? Or maybe the lovely shelves and signs you’ve imported from community mods, or all the garden gnomes you’ve put over their cathedral doors?

With the new Hearthling Appeal system, currently available on our Steam Unstable branch, your hearthlings will now finally be able to appreciate all the hard work you’ve put into making their spaces warm and cozy! All placeable items in the game now have an appeal score, and hearthlings will become happier when they are in areas that are full of beautiful things and will gain an unhappy thought if they spend time in places that are messy, littered with rotting food, or close to goblin skull totems.

You can tell when their perception of their surrounding area changes because they get a little golden or blue star thought whenever their enter or exit the area.

You can also get a more granular view of their opinion by going to the appeal tab on the character sheet. The red carat shows their opinion of the current space and the yellow carat shows their overall sense of aesthetics from their recent experiences.

Hearthlings also have specifically generated likes, dislikes, and loves that will slowly reveal themselves over time. When hearthlings interact with things they like, their happiness with increase. When they interact with things they dislike, their happiness will go down. When they interact with things they love, their happiness will increase a lot.

A hearthling will not know what they like or dislike until they interact with those objects in the game, by crafting them or hauling them from place to place. We really like this feature because it satisfies our ongoing design goal of creating nested optimizations: for example, Aleff Megas the Potter loves clay wall-mounted-lamps, so when we’re creating light sources for the town, we’re tempted to assign him to make these instead of the freestanding ones so he’ll generally be a more efficient and productive townsperson. But it also allows us to tell interesting stories about hearthlings. For example, though Aleff lives in the desert, he dreams of the gently rounded berry bushes that he’s heard about only in stories of the Ascendancy. In the meantime, he has strong negative feelings about cactuses. Perhaps once in his childhood, Aleff was sent to pick flowers for the village herbalist, whose sign still brings back fond memories, but found the cactuses rough and spiny, inspiring him to stay indoors and study instead, gaining him the professor trait. Due to his high intellect, he was pressed into service as a potter when his people set out to settle new lands, but he still avoids hauling flowers.

Or here, we have Shuul Grozi, who has never been allowed to pursue the pottery he loves because his jokester nature means that teapots tend to have accidents around him!

As you play, we’d love to hear your stories as the hearthling-focused systems we’ve added over the past year–happiness, traits, conversations, and now appeal–work together to create the moments of warmth, absurdity, and individuality we’ve always wanted inside our game.

There are still quite a few rough edges around the appeal system, so we expect to be improving it over our next few releases to the unstable branch. We’re still looking for an easier way of showing you, for example, what areas generally have what appeal, and we’ve done a bunch of things to the old fine items system, which I will detail in a future Desktop Tuesday.

Other Announcments

Unstable Builds are Now Way More Unstable!

We’ve also updated our criteria for unstable builds! As I mentioned in the release notes for this Alpha, we’ve gotten into a bad habit of holding things back from the Unstable branch until they’re actually quite stable, which means you don’t get to give us feedback as early as we’d like. We also do quite a lot of extra work on things like save compatibility. In order to release content more often and to get feedback from you all earlier, the unstable branch is going to get a LOT more unstable. You’ll see work in progress UIs, assets that aren’t final, and lots and lots of bugs. Saves from an unstable build may not load in a future unstable build, or in the final stable build of the Alpha. We will, however, continue to support save compatibility between stable releases, so if any of this freaks you out, or if you just want to play the game in peace and not have to deal with the chaos, we fully endorse you jumping back onto the regular, default Steam branch by right clicking on the game in Steam, going to properties, going to the Betas tab, and selecting “none” from the branches dropdown.

DT and Streams
More last minute work travel has interrupted my regular schedule, so let’s plan to skip Desktop Tuesday next week, December 12th, and return together for one more Desktop Tuesday of the year on December 19. After that, Desktop Tuesday will return in the new year on January 9th. Streams will continue their regular Thursday schedule on at 6:00pm pst until Thursday, Dec 14th and will also resume in the new year. See you then and see you in two weeks!