We're Building a Better Stonehearth!
Hello Stonehearth Kickstarter Backers! It’s been a little while since we last updated you -- and deep apologies for not communicating sooner (sorry!) -- but rest assured, it’s not as if we’ve been on a looong summer vacation or something. Quite the opposite! The Stonehearth team has been full speed ahead with new features, performance improvements, content, and more.
[It’s worth noting that we are always active on our Steam forums and on stonehearth.net, both on the Discourse (forums) as well with (at least!) weekly news updates. If you’re hungry for more of all things Stonehearth, head to one or both of those locations in addition to checking here.]
Moar Alpha Goodness!
The last couple of Alphas have introduced some of the most significant features to date for the game.
Alpha 16 saw the arrival of a new combat system, featuring the arrival of three new hearthling classes to beef up your battle capabilities -- the Knight, the Archer, and the Cleric -- as well as a host of tougher enemies that will test their capabilities. We also introduced the “Hard Mode” option -- perfect for players who realllly like a challenge. Details and more here.
Alpha 17 (the current stable version) is all about empowering your hearthlings to build more awesome settlements. To do this, we’ve introduced the ability for your town to level up and made tons of upgrades to the building system itself (yay stairs tool! yay better scaffolding!). Everything you need to know is here.
Today, Alpha 18 is already well underway, building (pun intended!) on the strong foundation of Alpha 17. It’s available now on our Steam Latest (unstable) branch, with a stable release not too far distant. Among other things, we’ve made further improvements in building performance (and general game performance), and have now polished a new building removal approach (can you say demolition?).
Pondering the future direction of the game
Especially, though, we've been thinking a whole lot about where Stonehearth is going. (Well, actually, we think about this all the time. But recently we've been thinking even more than usual about this....)
It’s a bit hard to talk about where we’re going because Stonehearth’s strength as a game comes from our close, iterative development conversations and interaction with all of you. Our alphas are designed around delivering you either one significant, fun feature – like a new class, or around relieving a pain point, like fixing bad performance or incomplete buildings. We meet every Monday as a team to realign our plans for the week and to make sure we are always working on the most important thing. It’s very common for us to change our weekly tasks based on bugs you’ve reported and features you tell us would make your experience of the game better. The result is that you get consistent, regular builds that actually work. However, it makes it very hard to talk, with confidence, about a schedule – when you might all get the things you’re looking for. Details change every day, features change dramatically every month.
So, if we can’t talk about when we’re delivering features, or what those features are in detail until we actually implement them and iterate on them with you, what IS a useful way to think about where we’re going? Well, one thing we know for sure is that we will continue to focus on finishing single player, PC Stonehearth before we look at multiplayer or Mac and Linux support. Multiplayer and Mac/Linux are definitely still planned, but multiplayer, in particular, is exponentially more difficult than single player, from a gameplay, technical, AND social perspective. Therefore, it’s really important that we finish the foundational elements of the game first, and that means a completely satisfying single-player experience. That said, where ARE we going within the scope of single player, PC Stonehearth? Well, one way to look at the future is to speak broadly about the three largest recurring challenges our team is currently facing, since meeting them head-on will be a recurring theme for the weeks and months to come.
You can read all about these challenges and where we're heading in this blog post.
We’re at PAX! (Again.) September 2-5 in Seattle.
We had a blast at PAX in Seattle last year. It was an opportunity to meet with so many of you, our Kickstarter backers, as well as new players and players-to-be. So we thought, hey: let’s do it again!
This year, we have our very own booth (last year, we were part of a collective of indie devs, but this year we’re on our own). Practically the entire Stonehearth dev team will be there, along with community members Froggy (modder and creator of the Cafe Mod, Candledark, and co-creator of Frostfeast), Micheal Handy ("Builder Extraordinaire"), and Deluks (YouTuber and streamer). They'll be working (together with the Stonehearth team) on a new mod we're hoping to debut in Q4. (Details coming soon… keep an eye on stonehearth.net.)
We have a small but exciting booth (there's swag while it lasts!) -- so if you're attending PAX, please come by! We'd love to meet you and chat. (We will be on the sixth floor of the convention center.) Here’s a mockup of what the booth will look like:
Plus, Stonehearth has been invited to visit the Twitch stage at PAX, so we'll be live on Twitch's own PAX channel this Friday (September 2) at 1.45 pm Pacific. Tune in!
That’s it for now. More news soon (and sooner -- we promise!). Thanks as always for your support and encouragement. We couldn't do it without you.
-- Team Stonehearth