Building a Village, February 2018

Hello villagers! Development of Village Monsters has really hit its stride in these early days of 2018. January was perhaps the most productive month of my entire life; it’s no exaggeration to say the game has changed more in last month than the previous 3 months before it combined. In today’s update we’re going to take a look at many of these changes. Look Who’s Talking Toward the start of the month I created a new dialogue tool to assist me with writing all the text in the game – and boy howdy, there sure is a lot of text to write! There are many monsters to meet and befriend in this village, and I want to ensure each of them has something to new and relevant to say every time you talk to them. It’s a big effort, but it’s also a rewarding one. Part of this process has included making “character sheets” for each villager in order to better break down their personality traits, goals, and relationships with each other. This has already become one of my favorite parts of creating this game, and I plan on making some of this info available in your in-game journal. Beyond new text I’ve also made major improvements to the dialog box itself. Some elements have been rearranged or expanded on, and the box now appears at the bottom after a little slide animation. But perhaps the biggest change is the inclusion of “villager flair” – each villager will now have their own slightly modified dialog box. This is yet another way of allowing their personalities to shine through. Progressing in Progression A sense of progression is a major appeal of playing life sim games like Village Monsters: think of how rewarding it is to expand your home in Animal Crossing, or how vital…

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A productive and rainy January

Hello villagers! What an insanely productive month January was! Toward the start of the week I took the time to sit down and analyze the primary game loops. I came away from this exercise with a much clearer picture of what I wanted (and what I didn’t want!) from the game. Here are the 4 primary game loops you can expect on release: Making friends (or rivals!) with the cast of monster villagers Completing your collections (critters, fish, treasures, plants, etc.) Repairing & building up the village Expanding & upgrading your home This past week I focused on that last point, and lemme tell you…I mean business with this whole ‘sense of progress’ thing You no longer start the game in a house! Instead, you start out by renting a room at the local inn. There’s story justification, but it’s also to introduce the player into the upgrade loop. I really like what it’s done to the start of the game. With almost no additional prodding the player is immediately incentivized to start engaging with the various systems available to save up money. I’ve also been giving more love to areas outside the village which I’ve come to collectively call the “outskirts”. Some areas – like the above farm – will be related to the village and you’ll find villagers and activities there on occasion Other areas will just be for exploring. I’m definitely going to lean into some video game tropes here; you can expect to find deserts, snow-covered mountains, and haunted forests all suspiciously close to one another. My original intent was for areas outside of town to be a bigger part of the game, but after refocusing the primary game loops I’ve decided to scale a lot of it back (maybe DLC?). Instead, I’ve taken way more…

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Planning Out Beta 1

It’s a new year. People are coming up with (and perhaps already abandoning) new years resolutions, so what better time to talk about what Q1 of 2018 looks like for Village Monsters? Earlier this week the last Alpha demo was released into the wild. In contrast to the Pre-Alpha demos before it, the Alpha series has been the first time the game has started to look, feel, and smell like an actual, real-life video game. So what does Beta look like? Well, it’s a pretty big deal! There are just 2 more major releases between now and release, so it’s important to really nail both of them. By the time Beta releases, Village Monsters should undeniably be a video game that can be played for several hours. Today I’m just going to be talking about the goals for the first 3 months of the year, all of which culminate into the first Beta release – Beta 1! A Game Loop There’s no beating around the bush here – Village Monsters lacks a traditional game loop. That’s a problem. Some of this is by design. After all, my primary goal is to create a faff about simulator, and that means a game in which you have freedom to interact with the game as much or as little as you please. But it lacks connective tissues between it’s many systems and activities. There’s really no “main thread”, and as a result things feel disjointed; the whole experience lacks cohesion. Worse, there’s very little motivation to go and explore things on your own. You can catch critters, but why would you? You can head down to the lake, but why would you? You can talk with villagers, but why would you? Village Monsters needs an economy. It needs routines. It needs motivations to…

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Village Monsters – Alpha 2.2 Release

Happy New Year! The final Alpha version of 2017 has been posted. It’s also very likely the final Alpha version period! Next up I begin work on Beta 1. Get hyped! Your download portal should already be updated with the new hotness. Here’s the patch notes for the release: Alpha 2.2 Additions The title screen now has music, more realistic clouds, and a proper transition to the game Overflow has been completely redone – new layout, new furniture, etc. A basic controls page has been added to the first page of the journal You can now adjust the window size (zoom level) via the system menu The game window now resizes itself to your particular resolution ratio You can now switch to full screen via the system menu Added a new villager, Mr. Rose Added several new critters to find and catch Interesting secrets have been considered A new calendar GUI element has been added Alpha 2.2 Improvements The camera for all interiors has been adjusted to match that of the outside cameras The following control changes have been made to the gamepad option: Y / Top Face Button now toggles the inventory X / Left Face Button now uses the tool Start now toggles the system menu Select now toggles the journal Reading mail no longer closes the inventory screen Well, it does, but it’ll open up again on its own once you’re done reading It’s now easier to toggle the inventory The whoopie pie truck driver has gone on vacation Shadows of most trees have been improved The system menu selection now loops The dialogue ‘tap’ sounds has been increses The cursor is now hidden within the game window (for now) Both bookcases (normal and small) have been redone Alpha 2.2 Fixes Fixed a bug preventing an open book…

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Village Monsters – Alpha 2.1 Release

Oof, that’ll teach me to make a bunch of changes on a release day. It’s obvious now that Alpha 2 needed much more thorough testing of the last-minute changes; many of you have reported crashes and other problems that are preventing you from even playing. I was able to fix the majority of them and I’ve placed a new patched version of the game – Alpha 2.1 – in your download portal for you to grab. You’ll also get a new email if you’ve downloaded it already. I’m such an idiot, and I’m really very sorry for releasing such a sloppy version of the game out there. I knew I was taking a risk in making changes so soon to release, and it clearly was not the right move. I’ve learned my lesson – expect more stable releases in the future. Alpha 2.1 Fixes Fixed a crash related to a door in the player’s house Fixed a crash related to the vending machine Fixed a crash related to the journal’s Mystery section Fixed a crash related to leaving the vacant house Fixed a crash related to music on the 3rd day Adjusted animations to the player character when the day ends Fixed an issue with ‘freezing’ the character if you attempt to place furniture outside Adjusted the draw distance to see less pop-in, especially with trees Fixed a transparency issue with Bottes’ dialogue in the general store The bed in Boros’ house has been fixed (again) Boros’ hello box has been adjusted A linebreak in the Castled Cake description has been fixed

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Village Monsters – Alpha 2 Release Notes

Here it is! The first Village Monsters demo of the post-Kickstarter era. It’s called Alpha 2, and it’s hopefully a big improvement on Alpha 1. If you’re a Kickstarter backer that has pledged $25 or above you should be getting an email soon with instructions on how to download it. If you don’t fall in that category but still want to grab the latest demo then keep an eye out later this week for some news there. As always, you can send feedback via the in-game feedback system, or to my email, or to my Twitter. I read it all, so send as much as you want! Now let’s look at the big list of changes…

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On Alpha 2, Too

We’re barreling toward the first release of the post-Kickstarter demo of Village Monsters, so I wanted to take some time to talk about what that means. First, the release date: Alpha 2 will be made available on December 11th, 2017! Following Alpha 2 will be several Feedback Releases which will come out between the 11th and the end of December.

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Development Diary – Improving on graphics, fishing, and sounds

I’m still having trouble getting my sea legs, assuming “sea legs” means making time for regular updates! I don’t think anyone has ever used the phrase like that before, but I’m nothing if not a pioneer! Anyway, it’s still technically the weekend, so I’m not late yet. There’s a lot to talk about, so let’s dig into this week’s Village Monsters Developer Diary!

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Development Diary – Kickstarter, New Village Construction, and a Dynamic Camera

Hello monster friends! It’s the weekend, and that means another edition of the Village Monsters Dev Diary Digest (VMD3) Today’s update is both late and briefer than usual, but I hope i have a good excuse: with PAX being this week and the Alpha 1 release next week, I’m already pretty dang busy. But then last week, I had to make another major announcement. Village Monsters will be coming to Kickstarter on September 12th. That’s less than 3 weeks away! I’m psyched. I’m nervous. I’m excited. I’m nervous. I can’t wait for you to see what I’m cooking up Well, that’s enough preamble – let’s just get onto it!

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Development Diary – Beaches, Ruins, and UI Improvements

It’s the weekend, and that means another edition of the Village Monsters Dev Diary Digest (VMD3) There is now less than a month to go until the version I’m working on releases for you all to play with. This’ll mark the very first Alpha version that I make public, and I’m pretty excited about it. September is shaping up to be quite the month, and it’s not just the Alpha release; stay tuned for more information on that very soon

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