Building a Village, 02/18/2019 – Story Time

Hello Villagers!

The date at the top of this draft says “January 4th”. Oh past Josh, you were tragically naive.

At the bottom of this post I’ve shared why this update is so late. But for now, I want to talk about something I haven’t yet: the story of Village Monsters!

In my original pitch I said Village Monsters would blend together elements of Animal Crossing and Harvest Moon with the adventure and story aspects of Zelda and Earthbound. I think I can be truthful now: I wasn’t quite sure how I’d do this.

Now, to be fair I had plenty of ideas, but I wasn’t sure if they’d work in practice. But now I know, and I’m super thrilled to be able to share some specifics today!

(I’m careful to avoid spoilers, but if you want to play Village Monsters fresh then consider skipping this update.)

An Odd Introduction

Like most stories, Village Monsters begins with a mystery. You awaken suddenly in the dark with only a disembodied voice to guide you. The voice is friendly and helpful, but it seems just as surprised by your appearance as you are.

With the voice’s help you are guided out of the darkness, only to awaken in an inn surrounded by monsters.

As you already know, these aren’t the bad kind of monsters. They explain how they found you passed out at the edge of the Glitchwood, a corrupted forest that has overtaken much of the world. They brought you back to their village in part because you were in bad shape, but also because humans supposedly disappeared ages ago.

That makes you rather unique! But where exactly did you come from…?

Well, one thing is clear: you need a place to stay, and you probably want some warm food in your belly.

Thus begins your life among monsters.

Patchlings

You’re given ample opportunity to settle into the village, but before long you’ll eventually discover the corruption and glitches that cover the land. Whether it’s a glitched-out bridge that can’t be crossed or a strange fog that’s as thick as a wall, it’s pretty obvious the world isn’t in great shape.

But it’s not all doom and gloom! At some point you’ll discover your first Patchling, a sort of magic sprite that seems especially interested in you. With their help you’ll be able to do something rather special: mend the damage done to the world.

Patchlings are drawn to positive events, so you’ll earn new ones by doing things you’re probably already doing: making friends, completing challenges, exploring the world, and so on. The more Patchlings you have the more of the world you can heal and explore – and the more of the main story you uncover.

You can think of this as the main loop of the game:

Villager Stories

The main story in Village Monsters is there to provide structure and long-term goals to help guide you through the game. I’m really happy with how it’s turning out, but I also want to be candid that the real meat-and-potatoes of the game comes in the form of personal stories.

This is a true village life simulator. You’ll be making friends, overhearing gossip, and piecing together narratives from objects you inspect in the world. There are no minor NPCs – every single villager has a unique backstory, relationships, secrets and passions and problems to solve.

You might make friends with Birdie, a harpy that wants to pursue a lifelong dream of carpentry. Or Mock, a depressed goblin that just reluctantly needs help charting the world. There’s even Tarn, a duergar noble who wants an editor to help him finish his (soon to be) bestselling book – which is obviously an autobiography.

End Game

Of course I won’t be spoiling the end of the game, but I do want to address a couple things you might be wondering about.

First, there is a conclusion to the main story! Like with most games of this style, the end of the main story doesn’t mean the game is done. However, there is a satisfying conclusion to everything you’ve done leading up to that point.

I also want to stress that there’s no ticking clock and you’ll never be punished for doing other things outside the main story. Everything can be done at your own pace – including ignoring the story outright.

Personal Stuff

Alright, so let’s chat about why I’ve been quiet these past few weeks.

I started out the year by getting demolished by the flu. I’ve had influenza before, but nothing like this; even just sitting quietly on the couch took effort.

I started feeling better, which was in retrospect a mistake as at that exact moment a giant windstorm hit our area. It caused major roof damage and was, of course, another big distraction.

By the time February started things were finally slowing down. In fact, it felt like spring was just around the corner! …you’ve probably already guessed the punchline, right?

We got absolutely stomped by 30 inches of snow. The Seattle area never gets snow, but in a two week period we got hit by 4 separate debilitating storms.

Am I cursed? I don’t think so. But I can’t rule it out.

I’m sharing all this not for pity but for context to my recent silence. It’s been a trying year, but not an impossible one, and even during the lowest points I’ve continued to chip away on the game and make progress.

I look forward to sharing things more frequently as the release gets closer. I also look forward to not having any more disasters in 2019. Please? Please….?

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