Alpha 24 Splash

Alpha 24+: The Alpha to End All Alphas

Hello, Alpha 24+! In January of 2018,Team Stonehearth decided to dramatically parallelize our workflow. This let smaller sub-teams work efficiently on many projects at once, with the end result being about six alphas’ worth of features delivered in a much longer-than-usual set of release notes. Without further ado, we present to you:

Alpha 24: The New Builder

Holy cow, we have a new builder. This release contains a complete, top-to-bottom redesign and re-implementation of the entire Stonehearth building experience. We have a totally new building “core” that should allow hearthlings to consistently and correctly build almost any structure you can design–and if they can’t, you should be alerted before they even try.

We also have a completely new user-experience and UI for the builder, with far friendlier and more powerful tools with which you can design your buildings.
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Tell me about new stuff that I probably don’t expect!

  1. Buildings are now built around rooms. Use the room tool to draw out floors and walls together. Overlap rooms to make floor plans. Add rooms on top of rooms to create multi-story buildings. Use the roof tool to draw roofs on top of your rooms to finish off the building.
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  2. Want to build something that isn’t a room? Our new slab tool is pretty powerful (though we don’t yet do a good job of telling you how to use it). Once you’ve placed some slab, you can push and pull individual voxels of the placed slab by selecting an individual voxel.
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  3. You can also translate voxel slab around by holding down the ‘shift’ key to get the translation widget (again, we’ll work on this to smooth it out a bit).
  4. If a structure turns red, that means it’s placed in an invalid location (it might be intersecting something weirdly, or just floating). Red means it won’t build!
  5. When a building is done, scaffolding and ladders evaporate and Hearthlings do a little celebration.
  6. If Hearthlings have not made any progress on a building in some time (currently around 30s), the system will try to figure out if any hearthlings can reach the in-progress pieces. If none can, it will highlight those pieces in red. This is your cue to help your hearthlings out by making sure they have a path to those red areas. Build them ladders, make sure the terrain is accessible, etc.
  7. Hearthlings still cannot build walls inside of caves. Mine instead! (See below.)

You can find an overview of the new builder in the Desktop Tuesday from a few weeks ago:

http://www.stonehearth.net/dt-building-basics/

Handy Hotkeys

A few pieces of building functionality are available through the following hotkeys.

  • Rotate: period/comma
  • Sink/raise a template into/out of the ground: shift + period/comma
  • Deselect/Cancel current tool: right click
  • Select all walls, slab: double click
  • Move slab: shift
  • Move rooms individually: shift

How can I best give you feedback?

  • Create a thread on discourse.stonehearth.net with the tag “new_builder” and write a descriptive title. If it’s a lot of feedback together, one thread is OK. If it’s a bunch of individual bugs, make a new thread for each bug so that we can easily show which bugs have been resolved when they get fixed. Then, especially if your feedback is about an error, write a detailed description of exactly how to reproduce the problem. We want to know exactly how to recreate the error, so we can fix it!
  • If you’ve got a save showing the broken/weird behavior, upload it for us to take a look.
  • Alternatively, send us a template of the broken building (saves are probably better, though).

Mine, mine, mine!

While improving the new builder, we also dramatically updated the mining tools. When a mining zone is designated, the selected terrain is immediately hidden (while in the zones view mode), so you don’t have to wait for the area to be mined before designating further parts. We’ve also added the following functionalities to the 1×1 tool:

  • The size of the mined cube can be changed both horizontally and vertically by holding Shift or Alt, respectively, and scrolling the mouse wheel.
  • You can remove parts of designated mining zones by holding Ctrl, which will make the tool subtract from existing regions rather than add to them.
  • Mining zones now outline the actual blocks remaining to be mined, and are also now visible through terrain while in the zones view mode, so you don’t lose track of mining zones which might be deep underground.
  • Rulers indicating the mining zone dimensions are now drawn in white, and on top of geometry, so they are easily visible even when digging in slice mode or at odd camera angles.
  • You now have the option to start mining zones in a suspended state, rather than each always being active upon creation (controlled by each player separately in multiplayer).

Alpha 25: MULTIPLAYER IS HERE 🎉🎉

Play Stonehearth with your friends. It’s happening.

Stonehearth Multiplayer allows up to eight players to embark together on the same map. Cluster your flags together to create one giant settlement, or far apart to simulate the experience of having a fully functional city on the distant horizon. You may permit hearthlings to work for friends via the citizens menu, ping others with alt+click, chat via the in-world dialog box, and trade goods and gold with the new trading UI.

Multiplayer is best enjoyed through Steam. To play, first figure out which of your friends you’d like to play with, and which of you has the beefiest computer and the internet connection with the fastest upload speeds. This person should be the host of the multiplayer game — the person who runs the server and to whom everyone else connects. Once this person starts up a multiplayer game (through the new main menu button) and selects their kingdom, biome, and difficulty level, their friends can connect to their game via the Steam friends list, or the host can invite them from an in-game UI.

If you’re not on Steam, you can still totally play multiplayer! Instead of connecting via Steam friends, you will want to modify your “user_settings.json” file to open some ports and state which machine is the host, and to which machine the clients will connect. You will then have to make sure all computers have the same version of every mod. Find more details in this thread on discourse.stonehearth.net.

For more multiplayer details, please watch or read the Desktop Tuesday on Multiplayer, and for advanced topics on multiplayer, including how to enable PVP, see: http://www.stonehearth.net/dt-multiplayer-qa/

Note: Playing with people on the other side of the world can cause performance issues, as can internet connections with slow upload speeds.

Alpha 26: Weathering the Storm

So we’ve made it a lot easier and more fun to build buildings, but what in-world purpose do they serve? Well, we’ve touched on aesthetics — i.e., designing beautiful interiors to make your hearthlings happier — but the more fundamental answer is that on Hearth, people create houses so that they don’t always have to be out in the elements. In this release, you’ll notice three new icons under the sun: a forecast showing the weather for today, tomorrow, and the day after.

Most weather focuses on creating a mood by subtly altering the visuals and audio around your town: the atmosphere, sky, sunrises and sunsets, and ambient sounds. More severe weather types have gameplay effects, like influencing plant growth, making unsheltered citizens and animals hot or cold, destroying trees by lightning, or crops by sandstorms.

There are 9 weather types currently enabled — see if you can spot them all!

For more details, head over to this week’s Desktop Tuesday.

Clearing up the atmosphere

While working on weather effects, we decided to overhaul the atmospherics in the game as well. We also updated waterfalls to their original, flat appearance from our early concept art.

  • Added support for fog, atmospheric scattering, and image gradients in sky settings.
  • Switched waterfall rendering to the flat style.
  • Fixed water rendering seams (in high quality graphics mode).

Alpha 27: Blood, Sweat, and Tiers

In this release, we’ve revamped the Town Tier quest into one about growing your settlement from a numbered expedition to a proud representative of your kingdom, choosing different boons and bonuses along the way, and interacting with some new (and old!) characters from your faction. Based on your choices, your town will experience different challenges and rewards as you help to author its story.  You’ll have to make some tough choices, so play through multiple times to see them all! (Or play Multiplayer with your friends and all pick different options at the same time!)

Re-Embarkation: Towards a new tomorrow

About a week after you finish the town progression quest line, you will get the option to select up to 3 of your hearthlings to leave the town and found a new settlement elsewhere. The hearthlings departing your town can also take up to 10 items with them, including bags of gold or a shred of the current town’s banner, which will carry its town bonus over with you. Once the new adventurers have departed, if you start a new town you will be able to pick them from the same screen where you select your initial characters.

Alpha 28: Steam Workshop & Modding Improvements

One of the core promises of Stonehearth as we first imagined it was that the game would be moddable so that your imagination could expand your hearthlings’ world — and that your creations could be shared easily with other members of the Stonehearth community.

With this release, Team Stonehearth is pleased to announce the launch of our Steam Workshop! Now you have a one-stop shop to find and share community-created content: mods, decor, campaigns, biomes, and building templates. Create mods and upload them to Workshop from inside Stonehearth itself, and use the Steam overlays to subscribe to ongoing updates to community mods.

Workshop also acts as a central service that can coordinate mods in multiplayer — upon joining a game, all players are invited to sync to the mods running on the host machine. Mods are also saved per-game, loading and unloading themselves as you switch between saved cities, each of which can be created with its own set of mods.

SHED, the StoneHearth EDitor

In this release, we’re also including SHED, a tool used by our artists and designers to more easily edit items, quests, and visual effects, and which may be of use to modders doing the same. The tool itself is already publicly available, but now we’re including it with the regular installation of the game so modders can have it at their fingertips!

As an internal development tool, SHED is still very rough around the edges, with almost no documentation and a variety of bugs and limitations — for example, cloning items between different mod folders isn’t supported, cloning recipes isn’t supported, adding campaigns through a mod requires manually adding some aliases, and so on. All the same, we think it will save modders some time, which is why we are including it even in its current state.

If you’re a modder and would like to try using SHED, go to the “shed” folder inside the Stonehearth folder and run StonehearthEditor.exe. If you find a bug or an issue, or you discover something you wish were easier to do, please be sure to tell us on discourse.stonehearth.net and we will see what we can add to make the tool easier to use.

If you’re using SHED and you’d like to improve it yourself, the program is actually open source and can be found on GitHub. Pull requests are welcome!

Modding Guide & Engine Complete

What little documentation we have for SHED, plus documentation on how to create mods in general, can now also be found at our very work-in-progress modding guide. You can find an early draft of it here: https://stonehearth.github.io/modding_guide/index.html

But wait, you say! Me, make a mod? YES, actually. Since we started Stonehearth, and in our very first Kickstarter video, we expressed that our vision for the game involved everyone in the community making and sharing modules of content, just like how multiple people’s Dungeons & Dragons modules can combine together to form an epic campaign. We wrote the entire game of Stonehearth as a mod, in fact, to make sure that our architecture would support that vision going forward.

Until recently, however, we’ve held off on publishing a modding guide and really encouraging people to start, because we’ve always known that modding on top of an ever-changing code base would be really difficult. With the new builder in place, last year’s dramatic fixes to the AI, and multiplayer solidified, we finally believe that the main engine of the game is near enough to completion that it’s time to formally invite you all in to party and build on it.

Undoubtedly, our upcoming planned performance improvements will take a few swipes at code stability, and we’ll discover together as you learn to mod that there are quite a few more features you’d like us to implement specifically to support mods. But with the opening of Steam Workshop and the new modding guide, we would like to at least begin that process together.

Alpha 29: A Peck of Plants, Pets, and Performance

Through the last few months, we’ve also implemented a number of smaller features aimed at making the world feel both alive and responsive. Here they are!

Traders and Exotic Pets

Tired of getting visited by the same old traders? Tired of having thousands of gold pieces lying around and nothing to spend them on? To complement the tier progression quest, this alpha introduces three tiers of traders with thematically cohesive inventories, including brand new herbalist and pottery traders. A very special late-game trader also introduces a number of exotic (and expensive) pets, including ones originally designed during the Kickstarter campaign. As promised, an upcoming mod will additionally give Kickstarter backers the ability to embark with these pets at the beginning of the game.

Water Management

Water everywhere! This alpha introduces the Wetstone, along with its super important counterpart, the Drystone. Both are available through the debugtools item stamper, and we’re so excited to have them in the game that we’d like you to start using them even before they become officially available through in-game quests or other sources.

For those of you who just want to jump in, here’s how it works: a Wetstone is an object that adds a certain amount of water to the world around it at a fixed rate. If you stick it in a lake or river or moat or a voxel bathtub, it will eventually fill up that volume and overflow. Thanks to some anti-flooding code, which prevents water that falls on terrain from expanding forever, it will only create a certain sized puddle on the ground, but it will still create a puddle.

If you want to build a waterfall that flows from one level to another without creating this unsightly puddle, you want to put a drystone at the destination location. Drystones absorb water at the same rate Wetstones produce it, so you can reach equilibrium with your water flow.

This means that towns can at last enjoy sustainable waterfalls and water levels. It means we can finally create scenes like the one in Tom’s original concept art, with irrigation and rivers that always look good. Because water now interacts with buildings, it means we can make fountains with constantly flowing effects. As someone who has been waiting for this tech for five years, I’m super excited that Albert has finally added it!

More in this DT: http://www.stonehearth.net/dt-water-management/

The best laid plants of mice and hearthlings

The world of Hearth is alive! One way to show this is through tree-life cycle simulation, and a bunch of features that allow you to better integrate new and existing plants into your town.

  • Plants now sometimes drop seeds on harvest. Place seeds to grow new versions of those plants. Seeds decay after 1 week if not placed.
  • Herbalists can convert resources to seeds.
  • Added a Sugarbell plant, along with the Sugar resource and cooking recipes, and incorporated the Sugarbell into both forest and desert biomes.
  • Added Tulip Cactus and Wax Cactus to the desert biome.
  • Plants can now be undeployed and placed in your inventory.
  • Added Wild Carrot plants to the temperate biome.
  • Tree crops grow faster than they did in A23.

Performance, bugs, and automated error reporting

This release also contains a number of performance fixes, hopefully making your games more stable than they were in Alpha 23. It also contains a brand new automated error reporting system. This means that if you’ve opted in to send us your analytics data, we will also be notified of errors that pop up while you’re playing the game. If you haven’t opted in to send us analytics data (but please do opt in, because it helps us find bugs sooner!) then you will experience no changes.

A Note for the Future

As we mentioned in the modding section above, we believe that Stonehearth is now engine complete: a sufficient number of the game’s core features (core AI, building, crafting, combat, multiplayer, and top-to-bottom moddability) are now in a sufficiently stable place to enable full-on modding and content creation. Alpha 24+ is, therefore, the last Alpha release, and future releases to our unstable branch will be named “Beta” releases. To make bug fixing and performance work more efficient, we will not guarantee backwards compatibility between saves from Beta versions of the game and Alpha versions of the game. If you’re very attached to saves from A24+ and earlier alphas, you may want to save a copy of this version of the game to a separate place on your computer so you can continue to access and play with it as we update the build going forward. We will also create a Last Alpha branch so you can retain access through to this build through Steam.

Special thanks to everyone who has helped us debug the myriad of features jammed into this release — it’s been a crazy dense five months! There were many times we thought that we’d never come to the end of the seemingly infinite bugs between where we were and something playable, but in moments like those, looking at all the beautiful things you’ve been creating and posting gave us the energy to go just one more hour, make one more fix, and finally arrive at this alpha to end all alphas.

XOXOmega,
Team Stonehearth