Sprint 13 – Pink Moon Rising – Retrospective

Click pic for image source


Week of April 9th, 2017


It was a big week, y’all – it’s a new release! Of my game! Village Monsters!

Release weeks are always going to feel rad, and this one was no different. I love that rush of excitement I get in the lead-up to the release – I absolutely do my best work when I know people are going to play what I’m making

I’d like to say it’s some due to some sort of motivational thing, but in reality it’s all about, uh, shame – “ugh, people are really going to see this terrible thing I made? Guess I have no choice but to make it less terrible, huh?”

Regardless, you can go experience my shame for yourself if you’d like – if you do, I’d love your feedback!



Feature Friday: Holidays & Events

Welcome to another edition of Feature Friday! Yet again I’m here to take you all on deep dive into one of the many wonderful features and systems you can find in Village Monsters

Today, I’m going to talk about holidays.

Save the date

As you may already know, there’s a full calendar system in Village Monsters –  every day is different than the one before it, whether it’s shop schedules, weather, seasonal items, and all sorts of other stuff.

Of course, a big part – and indeed, perhaps the best parts – of any year are the various events and holidays that pepper the calendar. Village Monsters is no different!

There are many events to discover each month, and they can range from as big as major holidays that overall the entire town, to reoccurring events like fishing tournaments, to very local events like villager birthdays, bowling, and Anime Night.

Indeed, the calendar is so important that there’s an entire tab in your Compendium that keep tracks of the various happenings around town. You’ll definitely want to check this section periodically so you can keep track of what’s coming up – for instance, you don’t want to show up to the fishing tournament with a crummy rod and amateur fishing skills, right?

As with most things, everything here is WIP

It’s a holiday in Cambodia

Each event will bring some new wrinkle to village life – new activities to enjoy, exclusive items to buy and collect, and visitors to talk to.

As you can likely guess, many of the holidays and events in game have analogs in the real world, though each one is sure to have its own unique twist.

For example, the Good Egg Day – which occurs the end of Early Spring – will seem pretty familiar and, ahem, relevant to certain events going on this weekend.


Major holidays won’t just introduce new visitors or activities – in some cases, the entire village, background music, and even the UI will get a themed overhaul. Villagers will of course take part in the festivities as well, and even areas outside the village may have some secrets to find during certain special days.

Above all, I want holidays to feel like a big deal, something that you genuinely look forward to. I think it’s easy (for both designer and player) to fall into a checklist-trap – you wake up to a new a holiday and think, “Ok, new items bought…check. Holiday activities exhausted…check. Now what?”

That stuff is part of it, of course, but I don’t want it to be the only things you think of when a holiday rolls around. I’m hoping that if I can make it seem like the village itself is genuinely excited about holidays then you, the player, will be too.

Sprint 12 – I am Thou – Retrospective


Week of April 2nd, 2017


It was a good week this week. I got a lot of work  done on some things I had been meaning to since, uh, forever.

I have a theory about game development – and probably all development, actually. You know the warts in your code; not just the outward facing bugs, but also the terrible workarounds, the shameful lack of documentation, the abominable exploitation of innocent data structures.

But you need to ignore most of them if you want to stay sane…especially if you’re a solo dev with limited time (and a lack of skill in my case)

So you ignore them, and ignore them, and ignore them…until finally they drive you absolutely nuts, you reach a breaking point, and you’re forced to actually fix them.

Soon enough you realize that the above works for features, too. Before too long, all of your prioritization is based on what annoys you the most.

and you know what? The system really works. I fixed all my annoyances this week.

Sprint 12 – I am Thou – Planning


Week of April 2nd, 2017


  • The state of our WARP CORP continues to hold steady at ~pretty good~
  • The Extinction-Level-Event (ELE) is holding steady at ~44 weeks away. Neat!

Hey, hi, hello! My name is Josh. I do, uh, video games…?

It really does feel like I’m back after weeks of floundering. Which is good, because there’s a new demo release right around the corner – April 10th, next week!

Anyhow, the state of our business is strong. We’re continuing to do well in the money department thanks to my team of Highly Respected Accountants, and I’m ready to put my head down and dive into work this week.

One possible hiccup? 2017 has been an insane year for really good games, and Persona 5 is hitting on Tuesday. Like any respected member of society I’m picking it up at launch, but I don’t expect to be nearly as distracted by it than I was with Zelda.  I’ve hopefully learned my lesson.


My goal this week is to wrap stuff up, polish what I can, and get this thing ready to ship on Tuesday. I also want to add a few more secrets that you can discover for yourself once it’s in your hands, so I’m gotta be hush-hush for now.

Sprint 11 – The Weather Man – Retrospective


Week of March 26th, 2017


It only took me an entire month of failure, but I’m finally back to a normal and productive work schedule.

Without really meaning to I’ve been slowly transitioning to creating “content” instead of “systems”. This is a really cool and important change, and while I wouldn’t dare call my systems completed, I am really excited to start making stuff that is more outwardly interesting.

The biggest victory this week was creating an entire forest to explore. This included changes to lighting, creating a whole bunch of tree and vegetation sprites, and a lot of other changes. If you’ve been following along you’ll have noticed how insanely large the change list for the next version is! This week is my last full week before the next were-release on April 10th – please be excited for that!

Speaking of pleas for excitement, I sent out my first newsletter yesterday. If you’d like, you can sign up to get these in your inbox on a bi-weekly basis. They’re written “in-world”, meaning it’s trying to mimic an actual town newsletter, so you can expect a different style with new and interesting (?) information than what I post here or on Twitter.


Feature Friday: Exploration

Welcome to another edition of Feature Friday! Yet again I’m here to take you all on deep dive into one of the many wonderful features and systems you can find in Village Monsters

Today, I’ll be exploring (you’ll get this joke in just a bit) one of my favorite subjects: exploration! Let’s take a look…

Wanderer Above a Sea of Fog, by Caspar David Friedrich

I absolutely adore exploration in games – the good ones know how to really tap into that innate curiosity we have for discovery and adventure. Even if you aren’t so keen to explore the real world, it’s a whole lot easier (and often more fun!) to explore a virtual one.

Yet the genre is also notorious for being…well, boring. It’s a tough nut to crack; exploration by its very nature relies on novelty, and unlike reality, video games are very limited in content and place.

Eventually, you’ll have seen everything in a handcrafted world, or you’ll have begun to see the seams and patterns in a procedurally generated one, and the result is the same: your sense of discovery – and the resulting urge to explore – vanish.

Here’s a good way to make people hate exploring your world

Game designers are well aware of this pitfall, and you almost never see a pure exploration game. Instead, it’s often blended with another genre to give you other motivations to explore beyond just seeing what’s beyond the horizon.

A modern approach is to mix exploration with elements from the survival genre – Minecraft being the most popular example, as well as No Man’s Sky and Don’t Starve.

Other games – like the wonderful Eidolon – pair exploration with narrative elements from the ‘walking simulator’ genre.

My plan for Village Monsters is to try something different. Like the other games I mentioned I’m going to use genre blending, but instead of survival or story I’m going to pair exploration with a village life simulator.

Feedback Loop

So how do I keep you, the player, interested in exploring my world?

(Beyond just making it interesting, of course.)

The answer is by using exploration as means to feed back into the other systems in the game. This is way easier to describe via real examples, so let’s dig right in.

Exploring New Hobbies

A large part of your day-to-day life in Village Monsters will be spent on hobbies – catching critters, going fishing, finding treasure, and so on.

There’s a lot to do and find within the town and immediate outskirts, but if you want the really rare and valuable stuff you’re going to need to go out exploring.

Many creatures and fish will be native to a given area, and of course the best treasure and artifacts will be found far away from the village.

The loop here is simple: the more you explore, the more you’ll find to catch, collect, and sell. This in turn allows you to upgrade your skills and tools to become even better at catching and completing your compendium.

Meaningful Souvenirs

Several months ago I played the wonderful Uncharted 4 – I know this seems like a digression, but it’s relevant, I promise!

My favorite moment is from the very start where Drake is in his attic examining treasure and other souvenirs from his past exploits. This was neat from a nostalgia standpoint, but it also speaks to something we can all relate to – reminiscing over physical reminders of fond memories.

So how does that relate back to Village Monsters? Well, you’re going to have a house, and you’re going to want to furnish said house. Like in other games you’ll be able to purchase furniture in the relevant shops…but instead of buying a plain wooden chair to sit in, wouldn’t you rather lord around in massive, golden throne that you found in an abandoned castle?

I want every item in your house to tell a story and remind you of your adventures. As you explore the world, you’ll find opportunities to grab furniture and other items that you can bring back to your house. Often times they’ll be locked away by some puzzle or other obstacle, but that’s just to give you motivation to solve it!

Whether it’s the aforementioned golden throne, an orb of illumination you unearthed deep underground, or a strange TV you found in the middle of the woods…items become personal when there’s a story behind them.

Over time, your house will reflect your skill as an explorer and the progress you’ve made through the game.

Perhaps one day you’ll be able to drag this thing to a more convenient spot – like your living room

Unlocking Mysteries

The world of Village Monsters is set inside of an abandoned video game. It makes for an interesting place to explore, but it’s so filled with mystery that not even the locals really understand what’s going on.

“Mysteries” in this game are essentially like quests in other games. Many times these will come from villagers, but just as frequently you’ll stumble upon something in the world that’s unusual enough to investigate. You’ll likely need specialized skills, items, or even villager input to solve these discovered mysteries, but it’ll be worth it – some of the most valuable treasure and world-building lore can be found via these hidden discoveries.

Exploring with (Monster) Friends

You don’t always have to be alone when exploring.

As you build relationships with your villagers you’ll eventually unlock the abiltiy to go out exploring with them. Sometimes it’ll be to advance the story or make progress with a mystery, but more often than not you’ll bring them along for their unique abilities.

For example, adventuring with a harpy villager may allow you to cross gaps that were otherwise impassible. A huge, inconveniently-placed boulder can be pushed aside by your rock golem friend. A roving band of feral monsters may attack you, but they’ll (probably) listen to one of their own.

Spending time with villagers also further improves your reputation with them – this is yet another way that exploring can feed back into the other systems present in the game.

I can’t promise that exploration won’t eventually become dull and chore-like, but I hope that by giving you multiple objectives and rewards it’s something you look forward to for as long as possible.