It’s been awhile since I’ve done a proper devlog, so I want to start with something small. So small, in fact, that it’s only 48×48 pixels: today I’m talking dialogue portraits!
Portraits are an important part of any game with a lot of dialogue text, but for a solo project like Village Monsters it’s absolutely essential.
I have neither the skill nor money to create fancy animations or sexy cutscenes. Instead, I have to rely on writing and dialogue portraits to convey the personality of a villager and the tone of a conversation.
Until recently, the portraits in game were just a villager’s overworld sprite scaled and touched up. It was a cheap solution, though a surprising number of people enjoyed the low fidelity look.
But I knew I had to completely redo them for version 1.0, so for the last month or so I’ve been chipping away at my giant to-do list and improving portraits one by one.
With over 32 villagers (and nearly that many minor NPCs), this has been no easy task! So let’s take a look at a few examples of what I have so far.
Before // After
As you can see, I opted to give each monster a full makeover as I went through them. I’m trying to minimize how many “rework” type tasks I’m doing this close to release, but I’m really happy with how these updated portraits are looking.
I limited myself to a 48×48 base, but villagers are allowed to exceed these boundaries if they have particularly large distinguishing features. I mean, these are monsters – you can’t force them to fit into a box.
Before I end today’s post, I want to share one last thing I’ve been experimenting with: lip sync during dialogue!
Here’s an example:
The new portraits make it easy to add (basic) movement like this, and I think it makes conversations feel much more dynamic. However, I worry it may be a bit too distracting, so I may tweak or get rid of it altogether.
What do you think?
In any case, Village Monsters v1.0 can be seen on the horizon, so I’ll have much more to talk about very soon. Later tater!
Village Monsters v1.0 is right on track. In fact, even as we speak the hype train is barreling down said track at over 400 miles per hour. Don’t worry, I have been repeatedly assured by the conductor that this is all perfectly safe.
I’m now ready to recruit volunteers to help playtest the near-final version of the game! I’ve really benefited from the whole Early Access process, but playtesting is a different beast and requires a much smaller, more dedicated type of group.
I’m looking for ~10-12 testers to play and share their thoughts on the game. Priority will be given to Kickstarter backers and Early Access owners of the game, though I do have a couple of slots reserved for new players.
Your only requirement is to play the game normally and provide feedback + answer questions in a short survey. In return, I can offer some modest benefits: your name will be included in the credits under “Playtester” and you’ll get a Steam key of the game.
The testing period will be this May and will be conducted through Steam’s new playtesting feature.
I am beyond excited to announce that Village Monsters v0.90 is finally done cooking. It’s the biggest and tastiest update yet.
(These notes are quite large, so I tried to focus mostly on the highlights. If you want the full scoop then I got you covered at the bottom.)
To celebrate this release, and of course the Lunar Near Year, Village Monsters is on sale 40% OFF between now and February 15th!
Before we get to the patch notes, let’s get to a very exciting announcement…
Important Scheduling Update
Village Monsters v0.90 will be the final major update in Early Access. That’s right: after this release is finished I’m hunkering down and working on version 1.0!
I’m still planning a Spring release, but I think most people (myself included!) would love seeing the full game as the next update instead of a hypothetical v0.95.
Now, let’s get back to those patch notes!
A Living Land
The world is no longer a static place that remains unchanged throughout the year. Plants, trees, even animals and birds now change as the seasons go by.
A new type of weather called extreme weather has been added to the game. During extreme weather, stamina drains quicker and you run of risk of getting sick (or worse!), but your chance at stumbling upon something rare and valuable is much higher. Do you take the chance and risk exploring? Or do you order a cup of hot coco and spend all day inside?
The look and feel of all weather types has also been improved. Puddles form in the rain, packs of critters scatter during thunderstorms, and plants sway violently during storms. Several new weather patterns have been added to the game, especially during the stormy months of Autumn and Winter.
20+ new music tracks have been added to capture the mood of each season. Dozens of new sound effects and ambient noises to draw you into the world. New animals, bugs, and other small critters also now populate the world – as well as many other mysterious things you might stumble upon.
Your village level now has a more tangible impact. At lower levels you may see trash outside (pick it up and dump it for a boost to your reputation!), while at higher levels you’ll see more flowers, decorations, visitors, and improved buildings.
A new Village Projects desk has been added to Town Hall. Here you can purchase projects that benefit the entire village, such as building a camp site for wandering monsters to stay in.
Villagers now change their schedules depending on the season and weather. Everyone stays inside during storms, while most monstrum can be found on the beach during the warm summer days. Villagers also can now pursue their own hobbies, and you may catch them fishing, reading, or woodworking.
Many new visitors have been added to the roster, including some that provide in-game services.
Several big changes have been made to how you can interact with villagers. Talking with a villager brings up a new menu where you can choose to talk, give them gifts, return lost items, and more.
Villagers can now interact with each other via banter. You’re free to eavesdrop, interact with them, or keep moving. In addition to banter, villagers will now more frequently hang out with friends and family, making the world feel alive even without your intervention.
There are many new ways to improve your friendship with villagers, and it’s overall easier to raise your hearts with them. More Heart-to-Heart events have also been added to the game.
Hop on the Hobby Horse
Numerous changes have been made to improve and expand all four major hobbies. There are many more critters to capture, fish to catch, treasure to discover, and plants to grow.
A new “Perks” system has replaced Skills / Abilities. As you gain experience in your various hobby skills (fishing, treasure hunting, and so on) you’ll automatically unlock various perks that grant you new or improve abilities.
Dozens of community suggestions, quality of life changes, and bugfixes regarding hobbies have also been worked on. Mastering each hobby should feel more satisfying than ever.
But Wait, There’s Lore!
I love finding and reading lore in the games I play – and it turns out I like writing it even more. Many new pieces of lore and backstory have been sprinkled throughout the game in the form of villager dialogue, books, interactions, item descriptions, and more.
New types of artifacts called “GrimWare” offer a unique glimpse of what the world looked like prior to your arrival.
Over 40 bugfixes! Improved graphics and lighting! Tons of new tutorialization and helpful controller icons! And lots and lots and lots more! Don’t believe me? Here’s the full list of changes!
Full Patch Notes
More Realistic World
Re-added the concept of lunar phases. Each month transition from a new moon to a full moon and back to new
Many new pieces of vegetation, plants, trees, etc. have been added throughout the world
Trees, crops, plants, and other outdoor vegetation now change colors / types as the seasons pass
Greatly improved the look of bonfires and torches
Added a number of new trees in each area to better fence them in
Improved the movement of ‘flavor’ critters like squirrels and chickens
Rebalanced how fast time flows. Generally, it flows more slowly, and pauses more frequently
Tweaked the flow of time for the first 3 days so that new players don’t feel as rushed
Made is far less likely for critters, birds, etc. to spawn on top of the player character
Added an enormous number of new pieces of art
Added an enormous number of new pieces of furniture and interactable objects
Added a ginormous number of new lighting objects, like stone torches, torches, fireplaces, and so on
Standardized many sprites in terms of how black outlines are used
Exterior windows now display a wide variety of weather and lighting changes
You can choose from multiple channels to watch on TV. Note that available channels change throughout the day
Instruments now play music when interacted with
Dialogue & Villager Interactions
Interacting with a villager now brings up a contextual menu
You may use this menu to talk to villagers like usual, or select a number of new actions
Dialogue choices now have icons to make each option more clear
Players now have a “Reputation” that is increased for each good deed they do in the village, as well as naturally increasing over time
Reputation provides a multiplicative increase to all relationship gains. This allows you to make friends much faster, especially during the mid-game after you’ve established yourself as a pillar in the community
Villagers will now banter among themselves. There is a slight chance of being able to overhear it as you walk by them
Banter can be ignored for no ill effects, and will auto-dismiss when you move far enough way, or after enough time has passed
Villager schedules now properly change with each season and weather event
A greater variety of choices have been added to villager schedules
Check your current reputation in your journal
You may now give villagers gifts via a new dialogue option
Villagers now display a brief comment on getting a gift depending on how they like it
You may only give a gift once per day via this method. You may send additional gifts via the mail
Valentine has been given a new house in Avalon Acres
Villagers now send a larger variety of responses to your letters. They may even hint at gift likes / dislikes, lore, and hidden gameplay mechanics
Added pronouns to each villager’s profile page
Mail sent by villagers now has a sent date
Gave Yggette a much needed makeover
Villagers now periodically contribute to the community fund based on their friendship levels
Snow Day: A new type of extreme weather during the winter featuring blizzard-like conditions
Firestorm: A new type of extreme weather during the summer
Hurricane: A new type of extreme weather during the fall
Your luck is maxed out during extreme weather, making it much easier and likely to find rare things
Items in the General Store are offered at a steep discount during extreme weather
During extreme weather events, there is a high chance of getting a negative effect while outside
These negative events cause a variety of annoyances on their own, but if you persist outside then you may find your day cut short after running out of energy
Staying inside for a time is a good way to rid yourself of your ailment
New (non-extreme) weather types and forecasts have been added throughout the game
Medicine (purchased at the store) can also clear out an extreme weather ailment
Greatly improved thunder SFX during storms
Improved the look of rain, especially heavy rain
Improved the look of the Autumn tileset, in terms of colors and brightness
Improved the look and logic of puddles during rain storms
Plants and trees now move more realistically during storms
Litter now appears throughout town at lower levels (it’s most common at D/D+ rank)
Trash can’t be sold, but it can be brought to the dump. Not only is it the right thing to do, you’ll even improve your reputation with villagers!
Buildings now change throughout the season
You can now fund village projects from the desk at town hall
Lucy is a wandering artist who can help you change the dialog box’s theme
Ambrosia is a siren that can change the sounds made during dialogue
Improved the look of livestock found in Avalon Acres
Tutorial jobs now ‘expire’ if not taken before the 1st week
Traps no longer disappear when you don’t have the relevant tool category selected
Critters and fish received from traps are now properly ranked
Critter spawns have been bumped up significantly, especially after long period
Guide books will now add 1-3 entries upon use, and they are all guaranteed to be new entries
Fishing may now bring up non-fishy catches from time to time
Improved the look and feel of the trophy screen (displayed when you catch a fish or critter)
Added a number of new critters to catch, tame, and donate to the library
Added some helpful text to the fishing minigame
Fish can now be consumed (raw?!) to restore stamina
Traps now “refresh” on a per-day rate instead of per-hour
Digging out buried treasure now produces little piles of dirt to make your progress more satisfying
Added a large number of new possible dig sites throughout the world and rebalanced spawn chances
Rebalanced dig site HP. In general, spots with more valuable loot take longer (and more energy) to unearth
Plant growth now “ticks” on a per-day rate instead of a per-hour. All growth and cultivation values have been rebalanced
You now harvest multiple plants from the same plot. The text when harvesting displays the estimated amount you’ll get
The amount of plants in your harvest depend on the quality of the plant
You can now change the soil before planting new seeds in your garden
Different soils offer different benefits and maluses
“Abilities” have been renamed to “Perks”
Ability points have been removed. Now, perks are now granted automatically as you level up each skill
Plant Quality is a new attribute that can be increased via better soil, watering, infusing the plant, and via your gardening skill
Added the concept of Luck which can impact hobbies, friendships, money, and other random events
Luck is determined at the start of the day, but can be modified by other factors
Several new Gardening Perks have been added to the game
Added a confirmation when pruning a plant from your garden
Greatly improved the flow of dialogue boxes when managing your garden
The spore extractor is back online, but you must first purchase a basement for your home to use it
Stormy weather (especially extreme weather) now suppresses (and in rare instances, reverse) plant growth. However, the good news is that stormy weather will also clear out weeds – free of charge!
Rebalanced experience points needed for each skill level
Lore & Worldbuilding
Renamed Agrarian Acres to Avalon Acres
Renamed Balefire Beach (back) to Bonfire Beach
New items called GrimWares have been added to various treasure spots throughout the world
The day of the week “Sanctuary” has been renamed to Ludosday
GrimWares are enchanted books that were once used for communication. These relics contain conversations that greatly expand the backstory of the monsters of their world
User Interface & Quality of Life
Items are now grouped together more frequently, so long as they are identical with an existing item (eg., same ranking, attributes, and so on)
Improved the look of helper icons
Added some new SFX to various interface windows
Re-did moon phase icons on the clock and calendar
You no longer immediately pass out upon losing energy or reaching the end of the day. Instead, there is a small minigame where you can resist falling asleep
However, it gets increasingly harder to stay awake, so eat an apple or go to bed as quick as you can!
Added “Available Skill Points” to the Skill page in your journal
The mouse cursor is now visible when moving it
Added more information to the Feedback / Bug Report email
Added tons of new ambient tracks to the end-of-day summary
Added new details to the Feedback / Bug Report email
The “invisible” effect now greatly boosts chances of eavesdropping on villager conversations
New options for dialogue “voice” SFX (like tapping and beeps, or just silence) have been added to the game
Fixed a rare crash in Bonfire Beach
Fixed crashes related to fetching critters during specific times of day
Fixed some Pishky-related issues at the General Store
Fixed in-world dialogue so it is less intrusive
Fixed a number of tile issues in Mock & Birdie’s home
Fixed seasonal music not playing when loading a game
Fixed dialogue errors related to villagers talking about their current schedule status
Fixed payment issue with the Test Subject odd job
Fixed incorrect Hobby levels being displayed in your journal
Fixed a number of bugs when tallying up experience at the end of the day
Fixed a bug that caused dialogue boxes to persist when a cutscene started
Fixed overlapping schedule issues for Mock & Birdie during rainy days
Fixed issue where puddles and other weather effects wouldn’t trigger properly
Fixed several collision issues with furniture
Fixed / adjusted collision against water
Fixed a number of overlap issues caused by buildings
Fixed Effect Icon placement in some resolutions
Fixed a number of issues that could arise when a cutscene triggers while the player is doing something else
Fixed issue where some weather types displayed an incorrect or no icon on the clock
Fixed collision issue with the player bed in the first home purchase
Fixed issue where certain items in the world would erroneously display a “Pick Up” text
Fixed goofy movement issues with chickens, squirrels, etc.
Fixed collision issues with some critters, like chickens, squirrels, etc.
Fixed certain UI elements from not disappearing during cutscenes
Fixed a number of issues with the end of day summary
Fixed lost items from not triggering a conversation with its recipient
Fixed the ability to ‘permanently lose’ a lost item by mistake (you can still dump it, though)
Fixed Golbrick’s placement blocking the seasonal cash back stuff in Pishky’s
Fixed Sprint / Walk toggles from resetting when changing direction
Fixed a number of spots in Firetree Forest where players could get stuck while sprinting
Fixed “Met So-and-So” from repeating over and over long after you’ve already met the villager
Fixed issue where an empty garden could get overtaken by random plants
Fixed a number of issues that caused the background music to overlap
Fixed a number of wonky collisions in Bonfire Beach
“” is no longer a valid name for your character
Made it less likely for glitched trees to appear in impossible-to-reach locations
We’re little over halfway through the Steam Winter Sale! You can still grab Village Monsters for 20% OFF between now and January 5th.
If it seems like there has been an endless stream of sales lately… well, that’s because there have been.
This is the 3rd major sale Village Monsters has been a part of since October. However, this is probably the last major Steam sale prior to Village Monsters hitting version 1.0 in Spring 2021, so I hope you take this opportunity to grab your copy.
The Journey to v1.0: The Pitstop to v0.90
Back in September I announced a major update that I was calling “The Living Lands”. I split off a small chunk of it for October’s big update, but I’ve been hard at work on the original scope of features ever since.
The update is big. So big, in fact, that I’m now comfortable labeling it version 0.90 – in other words, one of the last big releases before we hit the fabled v1.0.
So what’s coming? Well, here’s a partial list of things to get hyped for:
The promise of a “living, breathing world” finally realized
Exciting changes to the world triggered by the seasons, weather, and game progress
Village events and holidays, including tons of new visitors and event NPCs
More Village Restoration Projects and rewards for increasing your village level
Fleshed out lore and backstories, including many new Heart-to-Heart events
Villagers follow robust schedules which can include shopping, banter, and hobbies
New critters, fish, birds, butterflies, weather, treasures, wines, scrolls, cupcakes, and much more
Tons of new music, sound effects, and ambient noises
A boatload of bug fixes
The one downside of a big update is that it takes me a big amount of time of finish. But things are looking really good so far, and the plan is to release it in January. More on that (and a more proper dev diary) as we get closer.
That’s all for now! It’s been a good year for Village Monsters (and not much else), but I’m really looking forward to what’s coming in 2021. Hope everyone had a great holiday time, and I wish you all a happy new year!
This is a small technical update which upgrades the underlying engine of Village Monsters.
This release doesn’t include new features, but it should resolve a number of technical bugs and other oddities that have been discovered since the major release back in October.
Of particular note on users on Linux and Mac. An enormous number of fixes and improvements have been made to the engine for these platforms. If you’ve had problems on these platforms in the past (especially with regards to crashes, save problems, music problems, and more), then I encourage you to check the game out again.