A couple of you have asked for more content-related weekly updates. I’m happy to oblige.

Terrain Generation!

Here’s a sampling of Albert’s awesome work on randomly generated terrain. I would say that this is about 40% of the way there. There’s still lots more work to be done, especially on the mountains, but it’s really starting to come together.

These shots represent roughly one square mile of landscape. The terrain engine can tile land indefinitely, so there will be no border or “edge” to the world. Here’s what Albert has to say about the current state of things.

We wanted the terrain in Stonehearth to not only be unique and attractive, but also provide interesting tactical or strategic options for gameplay. So, instead of gradually sloping hills composed of tiny little blocks, Stonehearth terrain is constructed from large world-size blocks with discrete plateaus. These plateaus provide a natural obstacle which you can use for defense, or they can be a barrier you need to overcome to reach an important resource.

However, the world is not just rectangular blocks with hard edges. It has been lived in and evolved over time. Chunks of rock have crumbled from ledges, corners have been eroded, and piles of dirt have accumulated at the base of cliffs.

These screenshots show the current state of the terrain. You can see that we have three primary terrain types – plains, foothills, and mountains. Plains allow you to build your town without any obstructions, but also expose your town to anything that walks by. Foothills provide a natural defense, but you first need to figure out how to navigate up and down the hills. Mountains are a huge strategic barrier and may also provide rare resources.

Forests also cover the landscape, providing you with the first resource you will need – wood. You may also notice a few other details about forests. Mature trees tend to appear in the center, and there are several tree lines determining elevations for where the deciduous and evergreens are allowed to grow.

Our Priorities and How They Affect our Work

Just to give you a feel for what’s going on in general, here are some of the major projects that the team is undertaking right now.

  • Terrain generation and tiling
  • Particle effects and advanced lighting
  • Monster AI
  • Placing crafted items in the world: UI, AI, etc.
  • Major mod system overhaul, to make it easier to write mods
  • Major construction system overhaul, to make construction moddable (define your own wall types, etc)

You may notice that about 1/2 the list is to rework existing systems. We feel pretty strongly that a game system isn’t “done” until it not only works, but has clear APIs for modders to hook into. This means that as we’re writing the game, if we find that it’s a pain in the neck to add content, be it AI, GUI, or whatever, we go back and fix the source of the pain. Sometimes that’s a small tweak. Other times it’s a more extensive change.

This definitely adds overhead to the time it takes to write the game, but we think it’s worth it.

Live stream tomorrow, 4:00 PM Pacific

I’ll be streaming again tomorrow, answering questions and working on…well whatever I happen to be working on at the time. You can tune in at http://twitch.tv/radiantentertainment.