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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Developer Diary – Pets, Hail, and UI Improvements

It’s the weekend, and that means another edition of the Village Monsters Dev Diary Digest (VMD3)! Like last week I have a bit of housekeeping to do before diving in. Longtime followers know that I’ve tried several different ways to present progress updates, but none of them have really ‘stuck’. However, it seems this weekly format has really been working for me. As such, I went ahead and created an archive for every Dev Diary Digest I’ve posted since I started doing them. If you missed earlier editions, or if you just want to see how far I’ve come, then please do take a look! http://warpdogs.com/developer-diaries/ Anyway, onto the update Pets I may have shared this anecdote before, but the road to pets was a serendipitous one A few weeks ago I was working on debugging critter behavior, and for whatever reason I was testing it in the player’s house. As I kept going in and out of the house it occurred to me how much I actually liked having a critter there – it was sort of like having a pet! Wouldn’t it be cool if that was an actual feature? This week I was able to prototype this idea: Here’s how it works: first, you gotta catch a critter. Then, walk up to an special item (currently a pet bowl) and select the pet you want to tame. You can only tame one at a time, so choose wisely At first, all critters start out as “Wild”, and they’ll act much like they did before you caught them. Over time, if you feed them and treat them well they’ll increasingly become tame and more affectionate. Tamed critters will also continue to behave similarly to their wild versions, and they’ll retain any unique attributes. For example, if you catch a…

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Developer Diary – Newsletters, Fishing, and Botany

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! 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.    (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…

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Developer Diary – Holidays, Postal Services, and Birdsong

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. ​ 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: ​ 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, ​ 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…

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Developer Diary – Potions, Item Cards, and Critter Domestication

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  ​ 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  ​ 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.  ​ All items with stories can have their…

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Developer Diary – Furniture, Tree Shaking, and TV Shows

​ 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. ​ 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! ​ 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.  ​ 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. ​ 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…

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Developer Diary – Log Cabins, Churches, and Idle Animations

Another week has gone by, and that means another version of the Dev Diary Digest! It’s a bit late this time around, but hopefully you won’t hold that against me. This week was a quiet one full of mostly back-end changes – a better collision system, lots of bug fixes, etc. There are just 2 weeks left before the last pre-alpha demo is released on July 9th (with the first alpha demo coming out in September), so it’s been a balance of cramming in as much new content as I can while also making sure it’s not a jumbled technical mess. Still, I do have a few things to share!  ​ I spent a fair amount of time this week re-iterating over a few buildings in the village as well as creating new ones. This’ll be part of the overarching narrative, but the monsters didn’t actually create this village – they found it. As such, the overall design goal of the village itself is a mishmash of re-purposed buildings + new buildings the monsters created. In the above gif you can see a church, a log cabin built by a Harpy-turned-carpenter, and the ramshackle town hall.  ​ Slowly but surely I’ve also been adding more and more furniture to the game. Another design goal is to have it so that every furniture piece has some way to interact with it, even if it’s very small like spinning the globe.  ​ Finally, after some feedback from last week I’ve decided to add some basic idle animations to the villagers. Because everything is so in flux I don’t want to spend too much time animating something that I might need to scrap and redo entirely, but I figure a little bit of animation is better than no animation at all. (you can also see me get…

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Developer Diary – Merchants, Critters, and a Calendar

Another week has gone by, and that means another version of the (newly renamed) Village Monsters Dev Diary Digest! Without really meaning to this week followed a consistent theme – ensuring that every day (in the game!) feels different, or unique, or interesting, or surprising. That’s been a mantra of mine since I first started, and I’m increasingly in the position to make good on it  ​ First up, I changed the merchant around so its stock changes each day. I also split up the show floor so he sell both furniture and normal items now.  ​ Speaking of daily refreshes, similar to Animal Crossing there’ll be a number of things that reset each day. For example, each day a number of ‘diggable spots’ spawn around town that you can find treasure, monster fossils, minerals, and other goodies. These spots used to be marked by a simple ‘x’, but this week I changed it up so that each category of items gets its own unique icon: treasure looks like a half-buried treasure chest, fossils look like half-buried bones, and minerals look like a half-buried rock  ​ Next up, I added a bunch more ‘atmospheric animals’ (which is a bad name). Unlike other critters, these animals are mundane and cannot be caught or donated, and they are mostly ambivalent to the player. They exist purely to add flavor and atmosphere to the village as you walk around each day. Like critters, the types of animals you’ll see differ based on time of day, weather, and season Games these days typically achieve things like atmosphere and ‘sense of place’ via a strong or unique art style. It should be clear by now that I’m no artist, so I’m hoping to accomplish the sense of place by focusing on the little things and attention…

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