Stonehearth announced

Minecraft has always had sort of an RPG veneer, as have numerous other games with visuals inspired by its voxel aesthetic (see e.g. 3D Dot Heroes and Cube World). But we haven’t seen a proper voxel fantasy strategy title* yet–not until now. reader Steven Adamo wrote to me last week to let me know about Radiant Entertainment‘s project Stonehearth; the devs describe the game as “equal parts sandbox, RTS, and RPG.”

In Stonehearth you lead a band of settlers who must carve out their place in the world by gathering resources and building fortifications, while under constant threat from intruders.  As your settlement grows, you will eventually train up a standing army then venture forth into the world, where greater challenges await.

The features list reads as follows:

  • Randomly generated, destructible worlds built with voxels
  • Creative building on both large and small scales, from cities to teacups
  • Scripted RPG-style content to discover and adventure through
  • Robust class trees for both combat and civilian units
  • RTS-style combat with an emphasis on tactics over micro management

As for what this actually looks like in action, here’s the latest trailer:

I got in touch with one of the developers, Tom Cannon, to unearth more details about the game. He tells me that city management includes managing resources and crafting items, with the ability to both lay out the city on a macro level and create individual buildings right down to floor plans and furnishings.

I asked him about this game’s RPG credentials as well. (Specifically, character persistence, leveling, classes, and unit control.) Cannon had this to say:

All your settlers, both civilian and military, have their own class which will level up and gain new abilities: Carpenter, Mason, Blacksmith, Geomancer, Swordman, Archer, and many more.

Your town is made up of persistent characters, each with with a name, class, and level. You can upgrade your units’ class in a tech tree, similar to Final Fantasy Tactics. Here’s a small portion of the class progression tree.

You control your military units directly, similar to an RTS. For your civilians and crafters, you give general orders like “chop down those trees” “build this house” or “craft me 10 swords” and they figure out how to do it themselves. We don’t want you to have to micro dozens of different kinds of workers/crafters, and like the ant-farm feel of your little guys working to implement your orders on their own.

You’ll have to deal with waves of invading enemies, which (scripted RPG content aside) seems to be the main source of the game’s battles. The developers state that although the controls derive from the RTS genre, battles “will play out at a slower pace, with a priority on strategic decision making over reflexes and multi-tasking.”

Stonehearth is being developed for Windows, Mac and Linux. A beta release is planned in December 2013, with full release to follow in September 2014.

The game is presently on Kickstarter, where it has long since met its goal. Over the next 9 days, $15 will pre-order Stonehearth in anticipation of its full release in fall 2014, while $30 pre-orders it for beta release onwards.

*Except for Castle Story, arguably, though I think that one is a pure RTS title.

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