Leaving the Nest
For many years now, you’ve been asking us: when will Stonehearth be finished? And we’ve always answered--when it’s done!
Well… as of today, we feel we’re finally there. Stonehearth has become a game that we on the team are genuinely excited to play. From all of your feedback, we believe that many of you have also had a few (or more than a few) wonderful experiences inside Hearth. Therefore, at the end of July, we will exit Stonehearth from Steam Early Access with our 1.0 release. Following that release, most of the team will move on to other projects, though we’ll provide support, modding guidance, and bugfixes through the end of the year.
Really? It’s.. Done? I’m sort of... stunned!
Yeah, it’s sort of a stunning statement, especially those of us who have been working on it for so long. But actually, yes. Stonehearth finally feels like the game we envisioned when we started on this journey. Most of the features we originally dreamed up at the time of the Kickstarter are implemented. The campaign at last has a beginning, a middle, and an end, and the world of Hearth is now full of allies, enemies, classes, systems, and encounters we consider worthwhile to experience. There is no other game in the world with a 3D builder like ours, and no other community builder that offers synchronous multiplayer the way we do. Finally, the game is moddable from top to bottom and its Steam Workshop page is full of content beyond our original imaginings.
Though it’s true that Stonehearth doesn’t contain everything we dreamed about -- the decisions we made on what to prioritize inevitably led to some systems not being as robust as we’d have liked--we feel that the game is ready for a larger audience to enjoy. With the launch of the new builder and multiplayer, we’ve tackled two of the three largest critical engine-related tasks (the stuff that only our team can really do). The third task is improving performance, which we are addressing now, and will continue to improve after release.
But… It could be Even *More* Done!
It’s true! However, many of the members of the team are ready to pursue other opportunities, for both personal and professional reasons. We first noticed this trend at the end of last year, but since we believe so hard in this game and in making something satisfying for all of you, we agreed to remain together until we collectively felt the game was in a good place. We believe we accomplished this with the launch of A24+/Beta. Though the prospect of moving on is quite difficult -- some of us have been working on Stonehearth for five years, long enough to have watched many of you in the community move on to different phases of your life: graduating middle school, high school, college, first jobs, first children, and more -- in the end, we wanted to bring the experience to a close on a strong, unified note, as opposed to a long fading out.
We remind ourselves that ownership of all games passes from the people who first created them to the people who play them. We’re confident that in your hands, Stonehearth will be well loved, and we hope that with the modding infrastructure we’ve built, you can continue to add your own dreams to it. To further enable this, after the 1.0 launch in July, we will continue work on our modding guide. If you have API requests, we will continue to work on those, along with performance and bugfixes, until December.
What Happens Now?
Since the beginning, we’ve tried hard to be a transparent team. Because we wouldn’t be here if it hadn’t been for your support, we’ve always felt that it was our responsibility to be as honest as we could with what was happening around us, and what comes next. So… here’s what happens next:
- The team is currently jamming hard on getting Stonehearth in a shippable state by the end of July 2018. Remaining features include: performance, bug fixes, Rabbit Clan, Glacier, Northern Alliance, Geomancer, Seasons, and Mac Support.
- At the end of July, we will remove the Early Access tag from the game and officially call it 1.0
- In August the majority of the team will roll off onto other projects or new life challenges.
- Three members will remain to work on bugs and performance and mod support until December of 2018, when we will issue a point release (1.1) containing whatever bugfixes and aforementioned features that did not make it into 1.0.
- As it is unfair to ask a team of three to shoulder the community responsibilities once maintained by a group of fifteen, our participation on Discourse and Steam will be significantly reduced from August to December, and formal support for bug fixes, mod API requests, and questions will cease after January 2019. I expect that we’ll still stop by to marvel at your creations and hang out, but it will be as community members, as opposed to the game’s active creators.
- In that vein, Desktop Tuesday will continue until Tuesday the 24th, and the Thursday 6:00pm streams will continue until 27th of July.
- On the 27th, we will have an all-day community-focused stream to commemorate all the beautiful things you’ve built over the years.
- Stephanie will be streaming tonight, July 5th, 2018, from 6:00pm to 7:00pm (Pacific time) to answer any questions you may have, and will be hosting an thread on discourse.stonehearth.net immediately following this announcement until tomorrow, July 6th if you prefer that mechanism of communication.
We’re proud to have shepherded this pipe dream of a Kickstarter into its current state, and we’re grateful to have met and hung out and played with all of you along the way.
Cheering you on, from whatever adventures come for us next,
Team Stonehearth (Stephanie, Chris, Albert, Brad, Linda, Allie, Nikki, Morgan, Justin, Ana, Malley, Angelo, Max, Luke, and Aaron)
FAQ: All the Questions You’re Asking (and maybe some you’re not, but we have answers anyway)
You said you wouldn’t abandon this game. What changed?
Though it’s true that we can imagine an infinite number of additions to Stonehearth, we as a team realized that we could not commit to indefinite development, and so found a point at which we felt we could reasonably call the game complete. It’s not abandoned--it’s finished!
Is Riot killing this game?
Riot bought Radiant Entertainment in April of 2016, and gave us time and resources to bring Radiant’s first game, Stonehearth, to a state that the team could feel proud about. Though it’s certainly true that some of the external pressures on the individuals on the team come from opportunities posed by other Riot projects, and though Stonehearth is not a priority from Riot’s overall strategic perspective and therefore cannot be funded by Riot indefinitely, Riot leadership has always emphasized player focus as the company’s core mission, and therefore, wanted us to conclude the game in a way that did right by as many of you as possible.
Why are we only discovering this news now, so close to release?
We have, historically, not been great at dates, so we didn’t want to announce anything until we knew we were absolutely going to hit it. Well, we’re pretty sure now: the game is in a good place, the final features are streaming in, and we’re in a good place to make a July deadline.
What about the Mac Port?
We’re working on it! Engineer Angelo has made a lot of progress on this in the last few months. We expect this to be in your hands no later than our 1.1 release in December, and we will also release an unstable version as soon as we feel it’s ready for wider testing. At the moment, we expect the port to work on low graphics settings with any Intel graphics card Macbook Pro from 2014 and onwards.
What about the Linux Port?
I’m afraid it’s more work than our team can handle at this point. We’re going to cut this feature, and apologies to all of you who backed for this explicit reason. If there is no other way for you to play this game other than on Linux, and you backed for this reason only, please reach out to us via direct message here on Kickstarter and we’ll see what we can do to make it right. (Apologies if you have already; we've been drowning in mail, please send it again.)
You say you are proud of the game, but from my perspective, it’s horrible. Why is this?
We could talk about this forever, and we’re really sorry you feel this way. If the game is unsatisfying to you, it probably stems from one of the following three major mistakes we made as devs, and that were only really obvious in retrospect. First: it turns out that games of this sort are just really hard to make with a team our size. Moddable, decomposable AI, pathfinding around destructible environments, dependency analysis around building--and more--are all really hard technical problems--hard to solve, hard to maintain, and hard to debug. Second, we allowed our focus on the technical things to distract us from the design of the game itself, which leads to a campaign and core loop that feel at times, uneven and clunky. A third mistake was to make our own engine, which meant that when it came time for our designers and artists to add content to the game, they really struggled to do so. By the time we noticed these were major issues, we were so deeply invested that fixing any of them would have taken a rewrite and maybe years to address, and so we built the best thing we could out of what we had. So one overall conclusion to all of this is that this was our first game, we were really naive *and* really ambitious, and as a result, the final game was flawed in proportion to our ambition.
What is the game going to cost at 1.0?
Since the game is a bit smaller than we originally intended it to be, we are going to set its permanent price to $19.99 around the time of the 1.0 at the end of July. We also feel this reflects the fact that if you backed during the Early Access period, you backed not just for the game, but also for a chance to see and influence the game in its development. Many thanks to all of you who have done so; it’s been a pleasure to be with you on this journey.
What are you all doing next?
Lots of different things! Though some people are moving on to other projects at Riot, others are leaving to pursue personal goals.
I’m still very upset! Is there anything I can do?
Many things! Stonehearth is a passion project for all of us, and we recognize that as backers and Early Access supporters, you’ve invested more deeply into this game than most people do on most games. If you’d like to ask more questions or talk more, leave us a note here in the comments, or on our forum at discourse.stonehearth.net. Since you’re probably here with us in Early Access because you’re passionate about the creation of games, I hope that you’ll be able to take something from our victories and hard learnings and go make something fabulous.Wherever we are, we’ll be rooting for you.
And finally, for those of you counting, here’s where it stands with the Kickstarter Campaign promises:
Mammoth Bonanza, Dragon Whelps, Kitten, Puppy
Currently available from the Lvl 3 pet shop. KS supporters at the $15 level and above will receive additional access to all four pets via a mod that will appear on their Humble Bundle backer page. The mod will allow one of these animals, chosen at random, to be a starting pet for one of your settlers.
Friendly Faction: Rabbit Clan
This will be part of our 1.0 release, including a campaign and rabbit citizens. Many rabbits (Clan Amberstone) are NPCs and some may even join your town, but they are not playable as an independent faction.
Currently available on the Steam Latest branch.
Mac & Linux Port
We’re working on the Mac port, and expect this to be in your hands no later than our 1.1 release in December. We will also release an unstable version as soon as we feel it’s ready for wider testing. At the moment, we expect the port to work on low graphics settings with any Intel graphics card Macbook Pro from 2014 and onwards.
We have, however, chosen not to pursue the Linux port. We do know that it is possible to make a Wine wrapper that will enable the game to work on Linux, but if this solution does not work for you, and it is the only means by which you can play the game, please reach out to us through a direct Kickstarter message and we’ll see what we can do to make amends.
Pirates, Ninjas, Politicians
After some discussion, we decided that this feature doesn’t really fit with the thematics of Stonehearth, so we have dropped plans to implement it.
A prototype exists, but we were never able to make it satisfying from a gameplay perspective. Cut from the game.
We have investigated this, but whenever we think of something they would do, it seems to work better as part of the blacksmith or geomancer. Cut from the game.
We did a lot of research and experimentation on multiplayer modes. PvP is simply not part of our vision for the game, its tone, and the experience you would get from playing with other people. This feature is therefore cut. We have made sure, however, that PvP can be modded in if someone wants it bad enough, and at least one PvP mod is available from Steam Workshop right now.
Will be in the 1.0 release.
Ents and stonelings are in. Fire elementals burninating the countryside proved to be more heat than we could handle, so those were cut from the game.
Will be in the 1.0 release.
Candledark and Frostfeast were completed as mods by the amazing community members Froggy and RepeatPan. We’ve also included town celebration events as part of the town tier quests, completing a building, or re-embarking.
This was not really a clearly defined feature, and we could add something to tick the box, but we did some experimentation, and didn't think any of the outcomes did it justice, so we’ve cut this feature.
Musical Score & Art Book
We will make these available to relevant Kickstarter backers through their Humble Bundle pledge pages some time before the 1.1 release in December.
3 Playable Kingdoms
Two are currently available and The Northern Alliance is available on the Steam Latest branch right now, and will be available on the stable branch for 1.0 in July.
Cut from the game. Sorry about this one; we were daunted by the amount of work required to significantly re-imagine gameplay for subterranean dwellers.
And that’s it for this very long announcement; thanks for sticking with us--through this, and for the last five years. There isn’t anything we’d rather have done than take this journey with all of you.
For those of you unwilling to think or say goodbye just yet, keep watching Steam--we’ve got a few more treats coming in unstable pushes over the next few weeks, so stay tuned, and see you all, hopefully, on streams and in comments in the weeks to come.