Month: July 2017

Newsletters, Fishing, and Botany – It’s the VMD3 for July 30th

It’s the weekend, so that means I get to share everything I worked on last week in yet another edition of the Village Monsters Developer Diary Digest (VMD3)!

Before I begin, I wanted to quickly plug something. You might not know this, but I have a newsletter for Village Monsters, and I would absolutely love it if you signed up for it!
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Newsletter Signup: https://tinyletter.com/Village-Monsters

I try to reserve the newsletter for only big ticket items, so you’ll be the first to know of releases and other important news.

Anyway, back to the update!

I had a few really productive weeks this month, so I guess I was ‘due’ to have a slow one. I didn’t get nearly as much done as I had hoped, and I ended up getting caught in a few technical quagmires; still, I have things to share, so let’s get on with it!

Fleshing Out Hobbies

From day 1 of development I knew that hobbies were going to be a major feature of Village Monsters. When you aren’t talking with villagers, improving your house or solving mysteries, you’ll probably be progressing your skills (and making money) with one of the various hobbies

Critter Capturing was the first hobby I put in, followed by Fishing and Archaeology. I had a bunch of ideas for other hobbies to add to the mix, but I wasn’t sure which ones would work best. Well, until now.

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(icons are very much 1st draft)

Village Monsters will now contain five hobbies for you to enjoy: Cooking, Critter Capturing, Botany, Fishing, and Archaeology. This post details some new updates to two of them.

Botany Prototyping

Botany is one of the new hobbies I’ve been working on, and it includes everything plant related.

The reason I’m going with Botany instead of something like Gardening is that you’ll be able to do way more than grow a simple garden

This week, I played around with planting & watering trees, as well as managing growth as time progresses – assuming you make sure to water and care for them each day
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Like all prototypes it’s a big work-in-progress. However, thanks to feedback from a user at another site I’ve had some intriguing ideas that I’m keeping under my hat. Stay tuned next week, yeah?

Fishing Revamp

Fishing was one of the first hobbies I implemented, but I haven’t touched it since. It’s in a sorry state as of the last demo, and I’m pretty embarrassed by how bad it is.

What began as a ‘revamp’ quickly turned into a ‘refactor’ which the became a total ‘rewrite’. I tossed out all my old code and rewrote it from the ground up.

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It was a slow process, but fishing is in a much better state in terms of stability and mechanics. Work will continue on this system this week as well.

I’ve always been dissatisfied with fishing minigames in other life-sim games, so I’m going in a different direction. You can expect a system that’s much more inspired by JRPGs than any existing life-sim out there.

Quality of Life

To wrap up, I also included a grab bag of bug fixes and quality of life improvements that I received from demo feedback.

Trees should behave better and no longer give you a permanent hug. Birds fly a bit slower. The keyboard control scheme was reworked. Critters should hopefully not crash the game as much. Your bit (currency) balance is now shown when you add or subtract from it

And so on.

I also got a lot of writing in this week as well. Every item – every single item – has a unique description and flavor text. Some even have detailed backstories. Pretty nuts, right? Well it’s been a ton of fun, so there’s no stopping me now.
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Until next time!

Holidays, Postal Services, and Birdsong – It’s the VMD3 for July 22nd

It’s the weekend, so that means I get to share all I worked on last week in another edition of the Village Monsters Developer Diary Digest (you know, the VMD3)!

Event & Holiday System

It seems like I’ve been putting off a holiday / event system for at least the last 6 months. It’s one of the systems I’ve been most anticipating, but it relied on too many other moving pieces to work on…well, until now!

At the dawn of each day, the game now checks if there’s an event scheduled, and if so it fires off any scripts related to it. It’s pretty robust, and the scripts can do things like create holiday-specific visitors, add new music or decorations, change dialog, and a lot more.

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As I wrapped it up, I realized that I needed a way to inform the player about upcoming events and what they were all about. This naturally lead into the next thing I worked on…

A Postal Service

You can now receive letters from villagers, visitors, and other friendly monsters in the game. The goal is to integrate the mail system into as many other parts of the game as I can. For example, you’ll get a flyer the day before each holiday that explains it:

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Letters you receive from villagers will reflect their personalities as well as their disposition toward you. Most will be helpful or friendly, but others, like Taswell,

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probably won’t be at first.

As I said above, I want mail to be integrated into as many other systems as I can. As I was browsing my list of features I got to “The ability to submit feedback from in-game” when I suddenly had an idea…

Sending feedback via in-game postal service

…wouldn’t it be cool if you could write letters to the developer from inside the game itself?

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Now obviously there’s a lot of things to consider here – security, spam protection, etc. – but the idea is so cool to me that I’ll do whatever it takes to make it work.

It’s hard enough to encourage users to submit feedback, so providing something in-game that’s also contextualized via a system they’re going to be using every day can only help!

Bird Song

Finally, I’ll end this week sharing a new ‘flavor’ feature.

If you’ve played any of the demos you’ve likely seen birds flying about every so often. But unlike real life, they’ve been totally silent.

Well not anymore! Birds that fly overhead will now chirp and caw and sing. I obviously can’t record sounds via gifs, so I tried my best to provide an alternative:

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Well that’ll do it for this week. Enjoy your weekend, y’all!

Potions, Item Cards, and Critter Domestication – It’s the VMD3 for July 16th

It’s the weekend, so that means I get to share all I worked on last week in another edition of the Village Monsters Developer Diary Digest (VMD3)

Since I released the demo on Sunday I’ve been working on experimental prototyping; not all of it will survive, but it’s a fun excursion.

Potions!

The most successful prototype has been a ‘potion’ system. The idea of Village Monsters is that it’s set inside an old video game, so I’m always thinking of things that could be ‘artifacts’ from the original game. Potions seemed like a neat way to have that + add all sorts of fun and unexpected ways to play with the systems in the game

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Potions will range from useful to the bizarre. You can control time, change your look and other attributes, and even do things you wouldn’t – like control the weather. Like I said, it’ll get pretty weird!

The system I made for potions allows me to whip up new effects in only a few minutes, so expect to see a lot of them.

Item Cards

Work on potions lead to improve the amount of item info I give players on items, so I began to prototype the idea of item cards

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But I also want to use item descriptions as a way to tell stories. This is something other games have certainly done (Souls and Nier come to mind), but I’ve yet to see it done in a life-sim game where your items aren’t swords and shields but rather furniture, decorations, and collectiblesI want a chair that you earn via a quest or hard-to-do challenge to be more meaningful and interesting then one you bought at the store; stories are one way I’m hoping to do this.
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All items with stories can have their item cards ‘flipped over’ to view a short snippet related to it
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​(text and graphics are all placeholders btw)

While messing with item-related stuff I went ahead and crossed off some of the smaller features on list: selling items, an expanded inventory, and basic dialog choices.Finally, I had something of an incidental inspiration that I’m really happy about!

Critter Taming

I worked a lot of critter behaviors this week – things like patroling around, running away from humans and other predators, and so on.

I ended up using the player house to test things instead of a debug room, and after I was done I left the little guy there and went to do other things. Each time I came back to the house I saw him running around, and it hit me – wouldn’t it be cool to allow critters to become pets?

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You were always going to have a dog, cat and guinea pig as pet choices, but the idea of letting other critters be ‘domesticated’ into a pet really struck a chord with me. It also makes catching critters a bit more interesting after you donate them, and gives a valid path beyond just selling them

I worried a bit about feature creep, but I have the systems there to hook it up pretty easily and I dunno, if I keep it lightweight enough I think it could be really cool! Pets are definitely something games like Animal Crossing really lack in

Until next time!

Furniture, Tree Shaking, and TV Shows: It’s the VMD3 for July 3rd

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Another week has gone by, and that means another version of the Village Monsters Dev Diary Digest! It’s late again, but that’s because I’ve been busting my butt off. Lots to share today, so let’s go to it.

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One of the bigger changes I made last week was to the furniture placement system; It’s now much easier and more intuitive to move furniture around your home. You can move furniture with either the gamepad or the mouse, and with the gamepad you can click in the right stick to snap back to the grid. It’s pretty neat!

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Speaking of house things, I’ve also started prototyping various upgrades to the overall structure of your house. Upgrades will generally fall under two categories – size expansions, and new functionality. In the above gif you can see an example of the latter: a hidden room you can install to any room.
Like with the rest of the house you can do whatever you want with your hidden room, but for me? A house isn’t truly a home until you have a secret room to eat cake in.
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I reworked how to make donations to the historical society and it makes a lot more sense than the old version. Currently only critter donations are possible, but they have their own little section to run around in now

I also greatly increased the spawn rate of new critters during an average day as during my playtesting I wasn’t finding a lot of them.

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Someone suggested last week that it’d be neat if villagers could say something as you walk by them, so I put in a barebones prototype of a system that could do just that.

Right now it’s pretty simple smalltalk, but in the future I could extend it to when villagers have something important to say, merchants that tell you about sales, inter-villager conversations that you aren’t involved in, and so on.

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In previous versions you had the ability to roll, similar to 3D Zeldas, and it served as a way to interact with some objects – like rolling into trees to knock stuff out of them.
In the upcoming version I’ve removed rolling entirely (it was causing a surprising amount of issues), but I still wanted a way to shake trees, so I added the ability to shake them by hand. The ‘loot table’ for a tree is pretty big, so you never know what’ll pop out…
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Finally, I put in a prototype for daily shows you can watch on TV. Each show has a timeslot (like early morning, afternoon, etc.) and they’ll differ greatly from one another. In the early morning you get the weather, which is useful, and in the late morning you’ll get the ‘news’, which is mostly silly writing making fun of things Good Morning America

It’s all very lightweight – maybe 2-4 boxes of dialogue per show – but when appropriate it’ll have continuous storytelling, running jokes, and more. Believe it or not, having daily TV shows was one of my earliest design notes I scribbled down!
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Well, I suppose I should wrap this up. I did even more than the above, like adding shadows to all the buildings, idle animations to the rest of the villagers, and more, but pretty soon you’ll be able to see all of this stuff yourselves.

On July 9th – In less than a week! – I’m releasing the last pre-alpha demo for Village Monsters. It’ll contain all the new stuff I’ve talked about for the last couple months and a lot more.

I define “pre-alpha” as being pretty rough and lacking some or most of the primary game loop,s systems, and core features. This is definitely my most polished and content-filled pre-alpha yet, but the release that comes after – in August or September – will be the first alpha release, and then we’ll be cooking with fire.

But! That’s neither here nor there. I hope you’ll all take a look and play around with the new release when it comes out this Sunday!