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DT: Northern Alliance & Glacier

Hey everyone, welcome to another Stonehearth Desktop Tuesday! Today I am incredibly excited to show off our third and final playable Kingdom, The Northern Alliance, and their home: the glacier biome, Valkyrie Tundra.

The Northern Alliance & The Glacier

Personally, I’ve been looking forward to The Northern Alliance ever since 2013, when we wrote that: “brave and hardy, the men and women of the north live for the sight of a new dawn over unexplored territory. Armed with compass and hatchet, they pride themselves on their tenacious adaptability.” Even then, we conceived of them as radically different from the overwhelming cheer of the Ascendancy or the canny charm of Rayya’s children: they’re a stoic people whose hunger for understanding–of the world and of themselves–has driven them to follow the stars and settle the harshest reaches of Hearth.

So what does this mean in gameplay? Well, one of the first things you’ll notice about The Northern Alliance and the Glacier is that the early food game is really different. There aren’t any fruit bushes in the glacier, and it’s incredibly hard to grow food there. Storms happen often, and seeds take a long time to reach maturity. Worse yet, hungry rabbits, deer, and boar come to raid the tasty greens on your fields. As a result, the people of the North have developed hunting in order to survive: citizens can chase offending critters out of the turnips, and early loadouts include an archer’s bow, so that you can even start with some significant offensive firepower. The archer’s ranged attacks are much more likely than a footman, for example, to bring down a fast burrowing animal for its meat, which is probably why all Northern Alliance military types train first as archers before picking up swordsmanship.

In addition to hunting, the dire food situation in the tundra has encouraged the Northern Alliance to branch out in their cuisine. Their trappers, for example, cut their teeth trapping subterranean burrowing beetles and early cook recipes involve grilled bug meat. Only later do trappers learn to target those pesky bunnies and foxes for jerky and pelts.

The Mason is the Northern Alliance’s starting crafter, and Artist Malley added a number of new stone doors and windows and beds to his catalogue so that Artist Allie could create some adorable new templates for them, inspired by viking longhouses with steep thatch roofs that won’t collapse in the snow.

Allie’s palette for the houses, a very soothing cool gray and gentle gold, fits in particularly well with the glacier biome, which she designed to be a land of majestic mountains and brilliant blue lakes. To create the gradients of color usually found in steep mountains despite our limited number of terrain color options, she baked an additional gradient into the distribution of the trees; they rise from warm pinks and beiges drawn from winter heather, to the cool green blues on the tall trees near the mountaintops.

We also thought a lot about the Northern Alliance history and philosophy while creating their banners, hearths, and shrines. As you can see from these early hearth concepts, Allie has always had their struggle with the bitter cold in mind as she created them: ice lanterns and giant braziers and hunting spirits with glowing eyes. Here they are modeled up, and here they are with all of Malley’s transparencies and vfx additions. For the Northern Alliance, we also worked out a philosophy centered around the cycles of nature: seasons, for sure, but also the idea that good fortune comes pared with times of scarcity, and that even the most powerful hunter is eventually the hunted, if only by time and age and weather. This philosophy is represented by the three spirit constellation animals that you will encounter on the tier progression quest, and is represented by their respective shrines: the Font of Summer, the Font of Fortune, and the Font of Fire.

Other Announcements

Before we go, an important announcement: some of you may have heard on stream last week, or from the announcement here, with the recent addition of the new builder, multiplayer, the titan, the Northern Alliance, the rabbit campaign, the geomancer, and a few more features, our team feels that this game is at last ready for a larger audience. Therefore, we will exit early access and go 1.0 at the end of July, at which point, most of the team will be moving on to other projects. The people who remain will focus on bugfixing, performance, and mod support. As a result, Desktop Tuesdays and Streams, which have always been focused on stuff in progress, will come to a finale on the week of July 23rd. That means one Desktop Tuesday next week, one more the week after, and a final, all-day stream celebrating all the beautiful community content you’ve all created over the last five years, on Thursday, July 26th.

This game has been an incredible journey to take with all of you, and I’m looking forward to sharing all your Stonehearth thoughts here in the comments, on our forum at discourse.stonehearth.net, and on our Thursday streams, which for the next few weeks, you can find at 6:00pm PST on www.twitch.tv/stonehearth. See you there and see you next week!