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 time to focus on…
In a previous life I was a Business Analyst, and part of my job was coming up with ‘personas’ for all the various users that used our software.
I’ve long wanted to create profiles for the villagers of Village Monsters, but I kept dragging my feet – until now!
It’s been immensely valuable for writing dialogue and stories. Until now most of these guys have lived only in my head, and it’s been getting crowded in there.
Getting everything down in this format has helped me identify natural points of conflict or interest, and it’s let me ensure everyone feels unique and fleshed out.
For example, Saley was one of the first villagers I conceived of, and since the beginning he was always going to be “a kind of jerk skeleton that was powerful enough to guard the village”.
As I made the profile of him other characteristics suddenly popped into my head – that he would love exercise and fitness, that he aspires to rule the village, that he’s insecure about the fact he may actually be powerless to protect anyone.
All this work in turn let me to completely revamping the dialog system to make it both easier to write dialog and more interesting to read it. You can expect a lot more dialog over many more varied topics in the next Beta demo…
It’s been a lot of fun, and I hope it pays dividends later in the year when I’m just writing line after line of dialogue.
I’ll end this update with a whole bunch of screenshots from the latest build – enjoy!