DT: Town Upgrades

Hey everyone, welcome to another Stonehearth Desktop Tuesday! This week, as the building and multiplayer teams continue to make progress in the background, let’s talk about our third goal for 2018: making the world around your town feel more alive and interesting through more encounters and in-world content. In particular, let’s check out some of the changes we’ve been making to the existing township encounter to make your settlement feel better connected to the larger world. This stuff is pretty early still, but for those of you who enjoy seeing concepts and giving feedback that helps us shape features, we look forward to hearing what you think.

Town Upgrades++

Recap from the video:
Right now, there’s an Ascendancy quest in the mid game where Anwyn the herald appears and says “hey, in order to get township status, please build a bunch of fountains!” The quest is weird and incomplete because you probably didn’t know till Anwyn shows up that making fountains is part of Ascendancy tradition, and that being a town was even a goal you wanted. And of course, she never comes back after you do build the fountains, so there’s no closure either.

To improve this experience, we want to create a series of related encounters and quests, spread throughout your game experience, that expresses your settlement’s relationship with the larger culture from which you come, that helps to distinguish your town from other towns, and that gives you a moment to reflect on why your hearthlings are out here and what their goals are.

We’re still working on the final shape of these encounters, but the idea for the Ascendancy anyway, is that a thousand years ago, when the Phoenix empire collapsed, it left a huge, monster-infested wilderness in the most fertile parts of the world. Hundreds of years later, Cid the Warrior (or Cid the Teacher, depending on which history you read) forged The Ascendancy, a Kingdom of hardy settlements determined to retake the land not just with steel, but with community and prosperity. This is where you come in–on embarkation day, your brave group of hearthlings set out into this wilderness to form a new town and expand the livable parts of hearth.

So how does this become a series of quests? Well, instead of just one fountain related crafting quest, we’ve created three milestones for your town to reach for as it grows to its full potential. Shortly after you start, there will be a new encounter that informs you that early Ascendancy outposts may select an aspirational banner that reflects what kind of town they’d like to grow into. Here, you see Artist Allie’s concepts for banners, as she explores what kind of shape language best works to show aspirational goals like heroism, prosperity, and wisdom. For speed, she actually printed these banners out on paper and filled them in with pencil; later she mocked some up in qubicle, one set for each faction. The banners are not just visual; thanks to some work from Designer Luke and Engineer Max, each also comes with a buff that helps your town along it’s goals: for example, a trading town may want roads to be more effective, and a farming town may choose to have plants grow faster and be more appealing to hearthlings.

In a later quest, you’re asked to complete some other goals in order to be granted an upgrade to your initial hearth that again represents the kind of town you’re striving to become. Allie did concepts for these for each kingdom: Ascendancy hearths would be earthy, inspired by the world around them: worked metal, holding logs, stone, inspired by bunny statues, or a very fancy stump, inspired by the carpenter’s first workbench. Rayya’s Children hearths draw from their cultures: giant urns decorated with colorful cords, clay lamps with beautiful glaze, and latticed boxes, casting intricate shadows. Northern Alliance hearths would illustrate how their culture is a bastion against the cold.

She passed these concepts to Artist Malley, and together they did mockups in Qubicle. In the video, you can see some early samples of what they’re playing with.

Other Announcements

Builder update: As Allie, Malley, Luke, and Max are working on this, what’s going on with the builder? Well, the UI is now in, and the build is actually out to a small group of friends and family testers. Thus far, we’re collecting lots of good feedback–for example, that moving from a floorplan model to a room model can be confusing for people who are used to the old builder, or that the voxel tool and it’s capabilities aren’t nearly obvious enough for people who have only used the new one. We’re also working hard on the UI widgets for tactile manipulation that have replaced all the colored blocks in our previous mockups, but grabbing them and pulling the isn’t yet as natural as we’d like it to be, causing people to create rooms and walls they didn’t want. We’re making good progress, though, and plan to slowly include more people in our tests as we fix bugs and get increasing confidence that the new if buggy interactions are indeed, more enjoyable to use than our awkward if well-tested old ones.

Streams: Due to a scheduling conflict, this week’s Thursday stream will start half an hour later than usual, at 6:30 instead of 6:00, . This week it will be me, so come with general SH questions or ideas for the Northern Alliance!