(It’s been waaay too long since we’ve updated our Community Spotlight. Expect more frequent appearances going forward!)
The first Community Spotlight of 2016 shines on YouTube channel Deluks Gaming. Rob, the proprietor and enthusiastic host and player behind Deluks Gaming, is a Canadian with a long-time passion for gaming. He put that passion to work a little over a year ago, launching the Deluks Gaming channel on YouTube — an endeavor which has garnered him (as of this writing) more than 12,000 subscribers and more than 1.6 million views for his highly entertaining (and instructive!) video episodes for various games. (He recently began streaming on Twitch as well.) Rob plays several different games on his channel, mostly world-building and adventure titles — but Stonehearth has proven to be perhaps his most popular series.
Rob started his video series for Stonehearth last September, all the way back during Alpha 12 (seems so long ago, right?). He treats each Alpha as a new “season” of episodes; his first season was a getting-to-know-the-game “Let’s Play” with an Ascendancy scenario. Season Two covered the in-depth development of a Rayya’s Children settlement in the desert biome. And now he’s underway with a new season focusing on Alpha 14 — mixing it up with Rayya’s Children settling in the temperate biome. (A real challenge for those who haven’t tried it… can the plucky RC hearthlings make it? Will they survive in an unfamiliar biome with lots of nasty new enemies? You’ll have to tune in to find out….)
Rob’s infectious enthusiasm, humor, and let’s-figure-this-out-together vibe make every episode truly engaging.
Here at Radiant HQ we’re fans of Rob’s lighthearted approach to the game (and we’ve learned a lot by watching him play!). So we reached out to him to find out more about him, his channel, and what about playing Stonehearth is of interest to him.
Here’s what he told us:
I don’t normally share this much with my audience, but then, so many strangers share so much of their gaming and real life experiences with me these days that I think it is only fair to give a little back. First of all, I’m not really a young gamer kid anymore. In truth, I’ve been around for a really long time and I’ve been there to experience many generations of gaming eras. From the birth of the PC junior, and Atari’s version of Pong, I’ve pretty much seen all there is to see in the world of digital entertainment. I even started programming games for myself as a kid on NEC PC-88 and Commodore 64 computers. Naturally, I eventually started working as a programmer later on in life, but ended up on the side of designing databases for oil companies instead of strategy games for my kindred spirits. Although I moved on from programming, the childlike gamer spirit remained forever. These days, I work outside, in the harsh Canadian climate and I love it.
Besides spending as much time as I can with my lovely wife, I also get to come home every day and connect to my now growing YouTube community and, of course, the ever expanding variety of incoming games. We started the “Deluks Gaming” channel about a year and a half ago as a fun and interesting way to share and grow a warm, like-minded, gaming community. Never once did it cross my mind before we began all this did I consider, first of all, how much work it would be, and secondly, how much enjoyment I would get out of it. As time goes on, I spend more and more time working on our ever growing community games, tournaments and let’s plays. That being said, I had never considered that this might, in fact, be more than just a hobby someday, but as we grow, there are might even be opportunities to, one day, do this (and way more) full time. What a crazy and amazing world we live in!
I suppose that if you were to have watched my channel over the last year and a half, you could characterize my favorite genre as “Empire Building” games. Games where you are start as nearly nothing, grow in power and sophistication, both economically and physically. (Some examples of games that I would categorize as “Empire Building” games are Dwarf Fortress, Factorio, Rimworld, and, of course, Stonehearth!) This is an interesting and, in my opinion, a very underrepresented category in mainstream gaming especially in regards to games that contain a reasonable amount of depth that actually look visually appealing.
It’s pretty obvious to see why a game like Stonehearth, even in its currently unfinished alpha state, is quickly rising as a hopeful new champion in this category of games. As someone who is always searching for more ways to become immersed in a very rich content driven empire building game, it didn’t take long to discover that many of the YouTubers I frequent, who often play games like Dwarf Fortress and Rimworld, had also begun showing us the first early versions of Stonehearth. Although, I hadn’t begun posting Stonehearth videos of my own until just recently, it was most certainly on my radar with my secret hope that, this will be the one to challenge the current 2D leaders in this genre. As a gamer we always worry that early access games will become abandoned and lost forever. So far, however, Radiant Entertainment has been diligently releasing version after version and including more and more exciting content.
Stonehearth challenges the idea that an empire builder must be graphically inferior to other games. Often these types of games will be rendered in a 2D environment and use sprites or even ascii characters to represent creatures and objects. I would probably say that this is the first reason most people will immediately look to Stonehearth. We can experience a fully three dimensional and fully mouldable world with plants, animals, lakes, mountains, and subterranean environments. I have no doubt that when most people first discover this game they must feel the way I did when I first found it, and that was that it cannot be so “in-depth” and look so good. We hear amazingly ambitious declarations from independent developers all the time about how they can make the cake and the frosting, but rarely do we see it deliver. I believe that Stonehearth, even in its early state is already beginning to give us some of our cake and frosting. All we need now is a plate and the fork so we can stuff our face to our hearts’ content.
By no means am I claiming that Stonehearth is playing as though it is complete, and like any early access game, a developer could always still take a game in an unexpected direction or simply not finish the title. Nor am I claiming that what is currently being offered by the title is bug free. I think anyone who has played up to Alpha 13, would agree that there are quite a few bugs surrounding the execution of building construction, hearthlings often get stuck or do not finish tasks and the UI can be tremendously quirky at times. I am, however, saying that an excellent foundation has been laid and the core elements are coming together in a delightfully entertaining way. On top of that, alpha is generally a time where new content is added, and beta is generally for fixing those bugs. I am quite happy to see the content continuingly flowing into the game and have noticed a substantial overall improvement of the hearthling behavior since I began personally playing the game in Alpha 10.
I would absolutely love to see Stonehearth eventually have a game mode that allows us old school Dwarf Fortress/Rimworld lovers to engage in hard-core survival against the wrath of the most hostile environments. Perhaps I speak for any and everyone who loves this type of game, but we have never experienced challenges like the aforementioned in such a beautiful rich environment. I can only assume that many who would love games like DF and Rimworld, might be put off by their old school appearance might find themselves finally enjoying this genre because of this game. I truly hope that we eventually get to experience this in Stonehearth.
Finally, I want to point out how much the viewers of my YouTube channel “Deluks Gaming” are enjoying the Stonehearth alpha videos. It’s remarkable how quickly the fans are raising this series to the top of the channel charts, not to say that my channel is huge or anything, but I do believe that Stonehearth is enhancing the attractiveness of my channel. I also foresee some amazing possibilities to put up a full machinima series using the hearthlings as the stars!
Thank you for the opportunity to speak with the StoneHearth and Radiant Entertainment community and keep up the great work guys!
Thanks, Rob! Congratulations on the success of your channel, and we look forward to seeing how your Alpha 14 season develops.