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New Major Patch: Early Access 0.72.5b!

New Major Patch: Early Access 0.72.5b!

Hello Villagers!

Welcome to version 0.72!

This release was originally going to focus only on home and village improvements, but I somewhat accidentally found myself hunting and destroying dozens of bugs instead.

Frankly, all this bugfixin’ work was long overdue, so I decided to change gears and make it my new priority for this update. In total I fixed around 50 bugs which should go a long way to making the game feel more stable and professional. I’ll continue working on home / town building in the next release.

Anyway, here are the full patch notes!


Home Improvement & Town Building

  • Vastly improved the look of the player house exterior and surrounding area
  • Redid the interior (tileset and furniture) of the player home
  • Redesigned and moved shops on main street to prepare them for future upgrades
  • New Homestead Upgrade: Clean out the polluted pond so you can use it for fishing
  • New Homestead Upgrade: You can now move your garden from Agrarian Acres to just outside your house
  • Added a new system that can change the look and feel of the village as it evolves over time
  • The village is now evaluated and ranked each week. Speak with Jaclyn in Town Hall for more info


Graphics & UI

  • Redesigned and improved many of the buildings and decor of Main Street
  • Added chimney smoke effects to buildings in the village
  • Added a large number of new external lanterns and street lights
  • Improved interior lighting of many villager homes
  • Improved the look and colorization of the interior tileset
  • Improved the shadowing for trees and other vegetation
  • Improved the look of “New Dialogue” notification
  • Improved the look of room transitions
  • Improved camera movement when used in cutscenes
  • Improved dialogue box movement in cutscenes


New & Improved Features

  • Modified the fishing minigame so that the hit bar doesn’t shrink as much
  • Drastically improved how ‘flavor critters’ (like butterflies, squirrels) look and behave
  • It now takes substantially longer to unearth treasure if you’re exhausted (eat or nap to get rid of it!)
  • Added a number of new Critters and Fish to catch
  • You are no longer able to move away from a conversation if there are dialogue choices coming up – this solves a few bugs
  • You can now speak to an NPC during part time jobs to hear tips or quit early
  • Drastically improved state management to smooth things out and prevent you from being ‘stuck’ in a specific state (eg., being stuck in the casting rod animation)


Game Feel

  • Improved player collision. In general, collision should feel cleaner and less fragile
  • Your energy is restored to full when starting a tutorial from the job board


Bugs Fixed

  • Fixed crash related to UI elements dimming in cutscenes
  • Fixed a crash relating to sending following critters back home
  • Fixed crash related to certain cutscenes
  • Fixed crash when backing out gift selection when writing a letter
  • Fixed a major issue in which the camera could become “detached” from the player during some room transitions
  • Fixed a major issue in which you could bypass certain areas by walking through them mid-conversation
  • Fixed a major issue in which cancelling a letter would cause the gamepad keyboard to display and be unable to dismiss
  • Fixed several major issues that resulted in becoming “stuck” after certain transitions (cutscenes, jobs, new areas)
  • Fixed a large number of situations in which you could sequence break while performing an odd job
  • Fixed jittery collision when performing a job or chore
  • Fixed issue where exterior lighting would appear to change during a cutscene
  • Fixed some jerkiness / stuttering during cutscene and job transitions
  • Fixed issue where players could still move / act during a cutscene
  • Fixed issue where players could move while during an area transition and cause it to abort
  • Fixed incorrect door collision
  • Fixed notes not having a dialogue portrait
  • Fixed large number of state-related bugs
  • Fixed large number of issues related to purchasing a new home
  • Fixed a few weird issues (like orphaned pixels) in the interior tileset
  • Fixed collision issues near the Balefire Beach entrance
  • Fixed gaps in collision around the edges of Balefire Beach
  • Fixed certain UI elements not dimming during area transitions
  • Fixed a number of debug commands that were erroneously enabled
  • Fixed player house from erroneously changing sprites at night
  • Fixed issue where homestead upgrades could appear missing upon entering the area
  • Fixed a number of issues with the interior of the player home
  • Fixed an issue where the player house would not update to a “fixed up” sprite after purchasing
  • Fixed issue where buying a house put you severely in debt
  • Fixed layering of the Donkey Fly critter
  • Fixed an issue where UI elements would appear partly transparent
  • Fixed collision bug in Carefree Crossroads that would cause you to get stuck between a tree and a hard place
  • Fixed issue where a temporary ‘ghost’ item could appear after making a purchase
  • Fixed issue where players could release critters that are currently following them
  • Fixed a number of discrepancies between gamepad controls across PS4 / Switch / Xbox controllers
  • Fixed a large number of lingering issues with flavor creatures (like butterflies, squirrels, and other critters you can’t catch)
  • Fixed a lack of title on the Villager page of your journal
  • Fixed an issue where placeholder items from the bakery, Pots n’ Pies
  • Fixed issue that was causing weeds to be surprisingly tricky to pick
  • Fixed incorrect control labels
  • Fixed issue where mail was still being delivered to the mailbox outside of Overflow even after moving into a new house
  • Fixed a number of instances of text overextending beyond the dialogue box
  • Fixed a number of typos
  • Various other misc. technical and stability improvements
The Gardening Update (v0.70) + 10% off!

The Gardening Update (v0.70) + 10% off!

Hello Villagers!

Happy May Day!

Village Monsters v.0.70 is out now for all platforms. I had two goals with this release: completely overhauling the gardening hobby, and redoing how the game saves and loads data.

One of those probably sounds a lot more exciting than the other, which is why I’m calling this The Changes to Game Saves Update The Gardening Update!

To celebrate the release, Village Monsters is 10% off all weekend!

Steam: https://store.steampowered.com/app/679830/Village_Monsters/

Itch.io: https://josh-bossie.itch.io/village-monsters

Game Saves (Important!)

As I warned in a previous news update, any saves made before this release are not compatible with the new stuff. This means you’ll need to start a new game, though you will be able to import some key items (your wallet, inventory, etc.) from your old save.

This should be the last time I have to break save comparability while in Early Access.

  • The entire save / load system has been redone to be more robust and even faster for slower systems
  • Players who have an existing save can import some items – like silver, inventory items, etc. – into their new save by interacting with the suitcase in the player’s room at the inn
  • The previous version, v0.65, will remain available as a Steam beta branch. Password: previousversion



Gardening

The vast majority of my time these past 4 weeks has been spent on improving the shamefully neglected Gardening hobby. To call it an “overhaul” seems an underestimate – the old system wasn’t just improved, it was deleted and replaced entirely by something more fun and interesting.

The changes are too big and numerous to fully capture in a change log… but I tried to anyway. Grab some seeds, head over to Agrarian Acres, and take a look yourself!

If you want to know more, check out this post on the Village Monsters blog.

  • Mushroom Gardening has become simply Gardening
  • Gardening is now performed via a special UI that’s accessible when interacting with a garden bed
  • Garden beds now show a little preview of what’s growing in them (including any weeds)
  • Each plant can be inspected and interacted with via this new screen. Your options depend on your Gardening Abilities
  • You may now Cultivate plants in your garden. This allows you to perform actions such as watering the plant, adding items to the soil, etc. in order to encourage its growth
  • Cultivation effects linger (usually a day or two) after being implemented. Look at the plant’s details to see how long it lasts
  • At first, you can only water your plants to provide a modest boost. As you level up you’ll gain new ways to cultivate your plants
  • You can also cultivate soil with any item in your inventory. This provides a random effect, and may be better – or worse – than just watering them
  • Plants can now breed to create new plants automatically
  • In general, your garden needs one open space, a male plant, and a female plant in order for plants to breed. Both parents must also be a certain level of growth first.
  • Basic crossbreeding has been added: the look and base plant attributes are based on the mother plant, while growth rates are based on the father plant
  • There is a very rare chance that the offspring plant will instead be a Hybrid. This is a new type of plant specific to the pairing
  • Hybrid are rare and very valuable. They are, however, “infertile” and cannot be used to breed again
  • A huge number of new plants can now be grown in your garden
  • A small number of existing plants have been eliminated or combined with other plants
  • All plant sprites have been improved and in some cases completely redone. This includes both mature and in-progress versions
  • Each plants now have one or more Tags. These specify certain attributes for that particular plant
  • Plants are now rated like critters and fish. Ratings depend on your skill as a gardener, and a higher rated item sells for more silver
  • A number of new seasonal plants have been added to the forage list
  • Plants can now be pruned from your garden. This allows you to remove a still-growing plant
  • Pruning has a chance of refunding plant seeds back in your inventory (higher chance if just planted)
  • This new screen can be used to plant new plants, inspect existing plants, clear out weeds, and more
  • A new info screen now displays key details about your plan including its stage, what each stage looks like, when it was planted, whether it’s under any special effects, and so on
  • Spores / Seeds have been renamed to simply “Starters”
  • Wild mushrooms and plants now spawn a little more rarely
  • Growth rates for all plants have been adjusted. In general, it takes longer for an untended plant to grow to maturity
  • The Spore Extractor has been renamed to the Seed Extractor, and it’s currently out of order
  • The existing mushroom growing spots in Agrarian Acres have been replaced
  • The spore extractor found in Agrarian Acres now takes several days to produce usable starters



New & Improved Features

  • Fleshed out the main Player page of your journal. It now lists your rank in each hobby and some general information
  • Added several new catachable critters, like the Foliage Elemental
  • A new type of chest has been added to the treasure rotation
  • The “Spicy” effect has been changed to be a bit more useful
  • Added several new “flavor critters”, like a spider, parrot, and more
  • Changed player sprite transitions in some situation
  • Improved look and behavior of cloud shadows
  • Increased spawn rates for items on the beach
  • Added large number of new items, furniture, and decorations. Look for them in villager homes throughout the village
  • Added concept of Elemental Affinity
  • Renamed Bonfire Beach to Balefire Beach



Changes to Graphics & UI

  • Forageable items now have a sparkle to differentiate them from plants / objects that are decorations
  • Added a slight drop shadow effect to all dialogue text
  • Add transparency to dialog boxes
  • Improved dialog box title and choices UI
  • Improved the logic for selecting the next active item in a list
  • Greatly improved the colors and look of your journal
  • Added commas to large numbers, like your current cash
  • Adjusted some UI terms and wording to be more consistent
  • You can now rotate tools (via the tool menu) using Left / Right on the D-Pad when playing with a controller
  • Random Name Generation – currently used for naming tamed critters – has been greatly improved
  • Altered music logic somewhat
  • Adjusted notification placement to prevent overlap when a lot of stuff is happening
  • Player names are now restricted to 12 total characters



Changes to Game Feel

I’m still grinding away to find that sweet spot in game feel – something that’s both evocative of retro games (which is especially important given Village Monsters’ story) while still taking modern games into account.

  • Player acceleration has been modified so that you move in whole pixels
  • Most other “partial pixel” actions are now rounded up to whole pixels
  • Default player speed has been somewhat increased
  • Further adjusted player acceleration and friction
  • Reduced player speed when stalking with the net
  • You can now control movement via the d-pad (I have no idea why I didn’t have that before!!)
  • The camera now tightly follows the player



Bugs Fixed

  • Fixed a major bug in which the world state wasn’t being properly saved
  • Fixed a crash when pressing “P” on your keyboard in some situations
  • Fixed a crash related to cutscenes not properly being set
  • Fixed the player sprite not changing when you transition rooms
  • Fixed a variety of collision issue with outdoor decorations, like benches
  • Fixed several collision issues in Memorial Meadows
  • Fixed a few issues with garden weeds
  • Fixed issue where beach shells would disappear
  • Fixed apple trees still providing apples during off seasons
  • Fixed an issue where critters would not flee properly if you approached them from certain angles
  • Fixed an issue where swinging a net drains stamina too early
  • Fixed some minor issues related to when the player character was in between states, or paused
  • Fixed the “Exit” option not working on the title screen in some instances
  • Fixed a graphical glitch in Dio’s house
Building a Village – Garden Variety

Building a Village – Garden Variety

Hello Villagers!

We all neglect things they really shouldn’t. Maybe it’s a hard task you don’t know how to start. Maybe it’s just cleaning your room.

For me? It’s the mushroom gardening hobby in Village Monsters. It’s “technically” been in the game since releasing in Early Access 6 months ago, but you wouldn’t know it. I’ve barely touched it since then and most players aren’t even aware it exists.

That changes now. Let’s talk gardens, and then afterward let’s clean our rooms!

Gardening

What was onceMushroom Gardening will now be known as simply Gardening. Yep, you can now cultivate all sorts of new plants beyond just fabulous fungi!

But don’t expect to be planting boring crops like turnips or corn. No! Instead, you’ll be growing suitably monstrous plants: man-eating pitcher plants, never-ending creeper vines, fruit that glows eerily in the dark, and yes: mushrooms.

To help you with growing all these new plants, garden management has received a complete overhaul in both look and design. Check it out:

Each garden now has its own plot (above) that you can interact with to manage all the plants inside. From this screen you can plant new seeds, view the status of growing plants, cultivate the soil, and eventually harvest any mature plants. 

You’ll be able to purchase multiple plots of varying configurations, but at the start you’re limited to the basic 2×2 model.

Your garden won’t require a lot of attention if you only care about the basics. You may need to weed it on occasion, and cultivating it with water and fertilizer will definitely help it grow faster, but gardens are otherwise self-sufficient

After all, gardening is meant to be a passive and relaxing hobby. Of course, there are all sorts of benefits if you want to be an active gardener – let’s look at them now.

Breeding

I’m super excited to talk about the new plant breeding mechanics! That’s not weird, right? You’d tell me if that was weird??

In all seriousness, I love breeding plants in video games. I’m not sure why – it’s not like I have much interest in real life botany – but I always get really into it whenever it’s offered. Adding this feature to my own game was a no-brainer.

In Village Monsters, getting started with plant breeding is actually super easy. You just need a male plant, a female plant, and an empty space. Nature can handle the rest!

Your experience as a gardener governs how fast plants grow and crossbreed, and in the beginning of your career it will be pretty slow; plants take several days (and in some cases longer) to grow, and new starter packs are quite expensive and sometimes hard to find.

Don’t fret, though! Gardening is designed for exponential growth, and over time a skilled gardeners can completely outpace the other hobbyists. 

Hybridization

Hybrids are a very rare type of crossbreed where two plants combine to form a brand new plant

As you can see from the chart above, hybrid plants generally inherit the shape of the mother plant + the color / design of the father plant.

It takes a lot of skill & patience to successfully breed a hybrid; they’re often considered the end goal for most gardeners. There are dozens of unique hybrid combinations, so you’ll be plenty busy trying to discover them all.

The uniqueness of a hybrid makes them highly sought after, and Pishky will pay you very handsomely when you’re ready to sell. Better yet, you’re almost guaranteed to win any Garden Festival if you put one of these guys in your display.

Future Gardens

There are two more big features I’d like to add to gardening, but they won’t make the next release (v0.70). Still, this is a dev diary, so I may as well talk about ’em.

The first feature is something I’m tentatively calling Symbiosis. The idea here is that gardening should provide benefits to all your other hobbies – and vice versa! Everything is connected.

For example, you should be able to use certain plants as bait to catch rare fish or critters. Other plants could help you see hidden treasure in the dark. Maybe domesticated critters could provide fast-growing fertilizer for your plants (don’t think about this one too much.) 

It’ll take some time to get it all sorted out, but you can expect this in a future update before release.

The second upcoming feature is called Mutation. Mutations will be similar to hybrids with one key difference: they are completely random! Randomized names, randomized look, randomized benefits, and so on. Procedurally generated plants!

This’ll take some time, and it may even have to come in a post-launch patch. I’ll keep you updated.

Hey, isn’t this like –

Yes, almost certainly!

I really love playing video games, and I’m proud to wear my inspirations on my sleeves. I’ve borrowed tons of elements from games like Animal Crossing, Stardew Valley, even Cookie Clicker and Monster Rancher. If you recognize a gardening element from one of your favorite games then it almost surely is on purpose.

Video games rule.

When can I play with the new gardens?

Very soon!

Everything I described above will be available in Village Monsters v0.70, which will be releasing in the next couple of weeks. Look forward to playing it then!

A Note on Save Compatibility

A Note on Save Compatibility

Hello Villagers!

How’re your gardens doing this year? My physical garden has been shamefully neglected (per the usual), but as for my virtual garden…?

It’s literally never been better!

Since my last update I’ve working super-duper hard on the next version of Village Monsters – which, incidentally, will feature a brand new Gardening hobby for you to enjoy.

It should be ready in a couple weeks, but before then I have a bit of bad news to share.

What’s the issue?

Save files created in the current version of Village Monsters (v0.65) will no longer be compatible with this upcoming version, v0.70.

This means you will need to start a new game once the update is released.

Are there any workarounds?

Yes. I will continue to make v0.65 available for those that don’t want to start a new game:

  • Steam players will be able to opt into a beta channel running v0.65
  • Itch.io / GameJolt players can simply download the older version

In addition, I’m working on a Save Import feature where certain items from your old save are carried over into a new game. I’m not sure yet what exactly I’ll be able to bring over, but you won’t need to start fully from scratch if you don’t want to.

But why break saves?

Your save file is a snapshot of what’s going on at a given time, and in a game like Village Monsters there’s a lot to keep track of. This becomes a big risk for a game in active development – large changes to the game can cause older saves to become incompatible.

It’s something I’ve been able to avoid so far, but the changes I’m making to the game are only getting bigger and grander.

For example, I’ve completely revamped the Gardening hobby so much that any mushroom gardens in your current saves are no longer compatible. There are mushrooms you planted that don’t even EXIST anymore, man!

So the question for me was this: do I continue to break things feature by feature from now until release, or do I rip it off like a band aid and get it over with? Well…

Will save files break again?

Save files should not break again while in Early Access. The point of breaking them all at once now is so that we don’t need to go through this again later.

There is the question of what to do about transitioning from EA to 1.0, but we’ll cross that bridge when we get to it.

Until next time. Stay safe, keep cozy, and have fun!

Building an Island 04/01/2020: Fresh Frontiers!

Building an Island 04/01/2020: Fresh Frontiers!

Hello Villagers!

For a very long time now – as far back as March 20th, at least – I’ve wanted to make big, sweeping changes to Village Monsters. Well, today seemed as good of day as any to finally announce these exciting changes.

Without further adieu, let’s take a look!

New Focus!

Living in a forgotten game world is cool and all, but how would you like to live on a deserted island? An island that you could personalize, decorate, even terraform, and it all happens in real time?

Is such a thing even possible with today’s technology?

These are questions nobody has been brave enough to ask – until now. Introducing Village Monsters: Fresh Frontiers!

New Features!

The eponymous village of Village Monsters is transforming into an island getaway, so I’ve added a host of new features to support this new venture.

The first is called the “Better Than Nothing” (BTN) crafting system! With BTN, you can craft new items and furniture using raw materials found around town. These user-created items are very ugly, break quickly, and nobody likes creating them – but they’re better than nothing!

The BTN system also lets you terraform your island – or the entire world – to your heart’s content. Simply boot up your copy of GameMaker Studio 2, load the Village Monsters source code, and go to town – literally! 

It's easy to make anything into an island - just add water!
It’s easy to make anything into an island – just add water!

Don’t know how to use GameMaker Studio 2? No problem – I don’t either!

One of the bigger things I’m working on is a “real life” time system. This means that one minute in real life equals one minute of in-game time; the game world even keeps going when you’re not playing.

To ensure maximum realism, I’ve programmed advanced AI for each villager so that they can feel new emotions like abandonment, loneliness, and despair. Just be sure to never change your system’s date or time!

I said don’t change the system clock! Ugh. Haven’t you ever seen Black Mirror?

Let’s talk multiplayer. Frankly, it’s a little embarrassing to be releasing a game in 2020 that doesn’t have a robust and fully featured online multiplayer mode. I’m a solo developer, so it’s not exactly easy for me to make such a thing… but I think I’ve found a pretty sweet workaround.

Do you have a USB flash drive? Sure you do! Check your junk drawer, everyone has at least a couple these days.

Just plug it into your computer, copy over your VM:FF save file, and mail it to your friends! After 3-5 business days it should arrive at your friend’s place where they can load up your island and explore it as much as they want. 

After they’re done, they just mail the USB drive back – this time with their own save file! 

We’re living in the future! The best part: no subscription fees!*

*Postage not included

New Hor- Fresh Frontiers!

While it may seem like a bad idea to reinvent and re-brand a game mere months before it releases, I think you’ll agree that these changes to Village Monsters will be well worth it.

Look forward to hearing more info at a later – oh, wait a sec, the UPS guy is here. It’d be rude not to answer the door. Computer, pause dictation.

Fresh Frontiers! Royal Edition!

Well folks, it’s been several hours since I first made this post, but I’m already pleased to announce another brand new update that supersedes everything I just said. Surprised? Don’t be! Things move pretty quickly here at Village Monsters HQ.

I’m beyond pleased to introduce to you Village Monsters Royal! Bet you never saw that coming.

Details are still in a rough draft form, but I’m scrapping the whole island idea in favor of a high school! You’ll be able to take classes, date your classmates (who are still monsters), and even fight demons using a fully formed JRPG combat system! Please enjoy this new logo while I flesh out the rest of the details.

Until next time!

Building a Village, Update 21 – Homesteadin’

Building a Village, Update 21 – Homesteadin’

No preamble today! Let’s talk updates. But first:

A Brief Message about COVID-19 From Our Founder & CEO

It stinks and I hate it.

What’s New and What’s Next?

Since my last post here I’ve put out a number of updates for Village Monsters. The latest & greatest is v0.65.0 which you can read all about here. There’s too many changes to list here, but highlights include:

  • Vast improvements to game feel
  • Cutscenes
  • New features related to treasure hunting, villager mail, critter catching, weather, effects, and more
  • Lots of bugfixes
  • Graphics & UI improvements

That version number isn’t just for show – I really do believe the game is about 65% of the way finished. The good news is that this means I’m on track for v1.0 to be ready by this fall

The next upcoming release – v0.70 – will be focused on expanding existing features. While many of the previous updates have added new features, this one will try to expand on what’s already there. 

For example, you’ve been able to grow a mushroom garden since release, but the ‘shroom system is shallow and needs a lot of work before it can be considered finished. Many of the features in the game right now fall into this category which is why I want to spend an entire release making these shallow features… well, deep!

This update is scheduled to release in early April.

v0.65 introduced cutscenes to flesh out both story and tutorials

The version after that (v0.75?) will be all about customization – new looks / gender for the player, better house and village personalization, critter customization (like hats?!), and so on. This one is scheduled for late April or Early May.

As always, each update brings with it a host of improvements to the art and graphics of the game. You folks are some of my longest supporters, so I don’t need to tell you how weak my art has been. I’d like to think I’ve improving with each update, but I’m not so naive to think my job is done! 

I’ll continue polishing pixels with each new release.

A few villagers, old vs. new

…And That’s It

Listen, there’s no use pretending there aren’t a million more important things to pay attention to than some dumb indie game. I feel foolish for even wasting the bandwidth sending a Kickstarter update. I tried to keep it this short and sweet, and if you made it this far then I want to say thanks.

We’ll get through this, villagers. Stay safe, keep cozy, and have fun!