Village Monsters gets a new Demo!

muddy footprints~

Holy smokes, it’s the first new demo since January!

You can download the demo from Itch.ioIt’s free and available to everyone – you don’t even need an account.

As with past demos it’s limited to three in-game days (about one hour) and there’s the usual caveats of any pre-release demo – expect bugs, placeholder assets, and some missing features. Still, this is the most finished demo yet, so I do hope people enjoy it.

New to this release is a Discord server for posting feedback and bug reports. You can still leave comments or send emails, but I had several folks tell me Discord is a lot easier for this kind of thing.

Have fun!

Building a Village, 6/29/2019 – Making of Monsters

Hello Villagers!

This dev log is sure to be my most game design-y one yet! Today I want to talk about monster design – ah, but of course with the obvious “twist” that in Village Monsters the monsters are the NPCs of the game!

Like the animals in Animal Crossing, there is only one human (you!) in this village, so just step aside, homo sapiens – this one ain’t about you.

Making Monsters

There’s a fine line to walk when designing monsters. You have tremendous creative freedom compared to designing humans, but this means it’s a lot easier to go off the rails. 

This isn’t a new problem. Many games designers – especially in the 80s and 90s – based their enemy creations off of monsters that already existed in our own folklore. Why reinvent the wheel, right? I’m only a little embarrassed to admit that I learned of many mythological creatures and gods thanks to games like Final Fantasy and Castlevania.

Are we the monsters?

To keep myself grounded I came up with a few rules for designing the monster villagers of my game:

  • Keep to familiar monsters like designers of old
  • Monsters of a similar theme should be grouped together as friends or family
  • Our shared understanding of a given monster should inform their personality and role in the village

Grouping together monsters by theme has meant that in many cases a family (classification) of monsters becomes a literal family of monsters. ​Take for example the above family: Morris the zombie, his daughter, Ruby the vampire, her husband, Lindwyrm the dragon, and their kid, Victor the werewolf. Their theme is of standard or classic monsters that you can find in many video games, books or movies.

This family I lovingly call the “Maritime Family” – there’s Edmund the shark, Calista the siren, Oponna the pirate, and Cthylla the eldritch sweetheart. Their theme is pretty obvious: the ocean! You’ve probably realized that sharks and pirates aren’t exactly “monsters” in the traditional sense, but in video games they often are!

There are 32 villagers to befriend in Village Monsters. Most keep to the rules I outlined above, but not all. I mean, come on, these are monsters! They’re all about breaking rules.

​ Here’s Vara the succubus alongside her two kids – Zigi the ghost and Bugs the, uh… something. There’s no common thread connecting this family, and while a couple are based on existing monsters they are very different than what their origin might suggest. This actually plays into their personal story and will make sense as you get to know them.

Monstrous Personalities

Of course, a monster’s type doesn’t just effect how they look. By choosing familiar monsters it made sense to allow common expectations and “stereotypes” to inform their personalities, relationships, and roles in their community.

​​Take our good pal Golbrick here. He’s a mimic which means he’s hidden away from most social interactions. This becomes obvious when talking with him, and you’ll find he wants nothing more than to end a conversation and go back to hiding as an object.

The aforementioned vampire, Ruby, is both immortal and frequently stuck indoors due to the sun. Her immortality makes her passionate about history while being a hermit​ makes her a natural lover of the escapism found in books and other stories.  As such, it was natural to make her the village librarian – and yes, she covers the night shift.

The monsters of Village Monsters are purposefully viewed through the lens of a video game. Take Stapes, a skeleton and one of the town guards. Skeletons are a common monster in many cultures, but Stapes more represents the weak and wimpy skellies you might find lurking the first dungeon of an RPG. This makes his personality very cowardly and he begins absolutely terrified of you.

​ However, playing up to people’s expectations of monsters is never quite as fun as subverting them. Valentine is a robot, but he’s convinced he’s actually a cowboy. He’s the most rough and tumble of the village and is most at home living among nature – despite being the most sci -fi element in the game.

I can only hope you’ll have as much fun befriending monsters as I did designing them when Village Monster releases later this year.

Building a Village, 6/18/2019 – Timeline(s)

Hello Villagers!

Ah, summer – the season in which unexplained squares pour down from the skies

For this update we’re going for all killer no filler: it’s a short one focusing on the timeline leading up to launch. 

Road to Release

As I’ve mentioned before, for the past year I’ve been juggling dual responsibilities as both an indie game developer and a new stay-at-home dad. It’s been pretty great, but my day-to-day work schedule has been… well, chaotic.

Thankfully order is to be restored – at least temporarily. My wife – who is a teacher – will soon have the summer off. This is good news for a number of reasons, but for you all it means I can focus entirely on finishing development of Village Monsters

With this in mind, let’s take a look at the timeline for the next several months.

Summer Schedule

I’m planning to have quite a productive summer. June and July will be spent on wrapping up the remaining features & systems with the goal of being feature complete by the end of July. This same month I plan on releasing a new demo out into the wild, though there’s a chance it slips as the main priority will be on the aforementioned completeness.

August will be spent on lots and lots of content – creating new content, editing existing content, and so on. Examples of this include dialogue, collectibles, flavor, and secrets. Realistically, August will also be spent fine tuning features, but the idea is to add or change as few things as possible.

Fall Schedule

This brings us into the fall. My ultimate goal is to enter September with a finished game that I can poke and prod and break and fix. At some point I will also need some volunteer play testers for both feedback and testing of the near-finished game.

This work naturally leads to a launch date sometime in October or November. My plan isn’t too complicated – I will continuously test and polish the game until it feels right and then unleash it into the world. 

This is a firm plan that is unlikely to change too much. I’m finally close enough to that fabled finish line where even a hiccup here or there isn’t likely to cause much mischief.

Beyond?

Village Monsters will release as a complete and polished game, but there is always more to do!

December and January will be focused on fixing any bugs and annoyances that I missed in testing. After that I have a laundry list of ideas for future updates – things that include some kind of multiplayer, new areas to explore, and post-story content.

I can’t wait for you all to get lost in the immersive world of Village Monsters. Until next time!

I’m dreaming of fall already…

Building a Village, 5/17/2019 – Treasure Mainland

Hello Villagers!

There are many hobbies to pursue in your time in the village, but if you like making money and learning lore there’s really only one hobby for you:

Treasure Hunting!

If you get this reference then we can be good friends

Treasure hunting is immensely rewarding, but it requires a lot more leg work than the other hobbies. You must first find where treasure is hiding, then you gotta dig it up, and finally you have figure out what the heck you just unearthed.

This dev diary will detail some of the things you can find in your hunts. Treasures are generally split between three categories: Jewels & Minerals, Artifacts, and Treasure Chests

Jewels & Minerals

Let’s get the easy one out of the way first. While there’s no such thing as “filler” when it comes to treasure, there is such a thing as “destined for the merchant.”

Jewels, ores, and other minerals can generally be safely sold for a tidy sum. Still, it might be worth checking out item descriptions before you head to merchant.

Artifacts

Most artifacts must be identified first

There’s no sugarcoating it – this world has been through some rough times. Multiple wars, the Glitchwood, the disappearance of humans and gods… so much has been destroyed or forgotten.

Thankfully for historians, the world is blanketed in priceless artifacts from the all ages of the past. Each one reveals some kind of lore or history that was once thought lost.

Head over to the library for more info on artifacts. One nice thing about them? Each is a one-of-a-kind, so you’ll never find a duplicate.

Treasure Chests

Chests are a very special kind of treasure you can find in your hunts. They always contain something valuable – usually several valuable things, in fact – but there’s really no predicting what’s held inside.

The deeper something is buried the more valuable it is

Crack one open and you might find a bunch of money or a rare item for your collection. Or maybe you’ll discover sacred texts from the gods. Maybe you’ll find a very traumatized fish.

Some chests are sealed up and you’ll need help to unlock ’em. Others were deliberately hidden and require you to solve a map or riddle just to find them!

Whatever the case, uncovering a treasure chest is the most exciting moment for any hunter. Here’s a small list of what could pop out when you crack it open…

Lost Mail Keys

While it’s not a well known fact, several buildings in the village predate the arrival of its current monstrous residents. The post office is one such building and it houses an intriguing mystery – a wall of abandoned mail boxes all locked up tight.

Nobody knows what’s hidden inside them (hopefully more than just junk mail), but Glimmer says it’s finders-keepers, so bring any keys you find to the mail room to claim your prize.

Regional Drinks

There’s not much of day-to-day life that has survived the world breaking apart, but there is one relic of the old days you still can find locked away…

Regional drinks! You see, each region of the world had their own ‘signature’ drink and it was a popular hobby among monsters to try and collect all 26 of them.

Koma, owner of the village pub, was one such hobbyist. I’m sure he’d be very interested if you find any!

What better place to store drinks than the basement of a pub?

Celestial Comments

The gods may have disappeared with the humans, but their written words still remain scattered throughout the world.

The most common works are known as Comments – direct observations of our world written by divine hands. It not only proves that the gods truly existed but also that they knew of our lives and histories. As you can imagine these Comments are priceless.

Fascinating

And more?

A staff that controls the weather. A potion that enables mind reading. The aforementioned traumatized fish that can teach you how to talk to its brethren.

There’s never a dull moment for a treasure hunter.

Building a Village, 5/12/2019 – Flight Delay

Hello Villagers!

A couple weeks ago I announced that Village Monsters would be missing its spring release. It’s a major bummer, but it was the right thing to do for the game.

In this post I’ll expand a bit on why it was delayed as well as outline the new schedule. If nothing else I want to be transparent and accountable.

Why the delay?

I usually love the start of a new year – a clean slate is so motivating! But this year… this year was rough.

January began by gifting me a severe case of influenza that knocked me out for two straight weeks. What followed was a train of misery – my wife got sick, my kid got sick, the house was majorly damaged in a storm (twice), and everything else that could go wrong did so all at once.

By the time things slowed down it was the middle of March and I was no closer to release.

I’ve also discovered a fact most other devs know already: there is undeniably some kind of temporal paradox surrounding indie game development.

It’s like the more I work on the game the more there is left to do. This isn’t even a joke – I’ve completed nearly 1,000 tasks this year, yet my backlog of “To Dos” has actually grown in size. I’m far from a perfectionist and I’ve been vigilant in preventing feature creep… so how can this be?

I don’t have the answer to that yet, so for now I’m just keeping my head down and grinding away at this hydra.

What’s the new schedule?

Release

Village Monsters will be releasing in 2019.

I’d like to release in Autumn (perhaps during the spookiest month of the year), but I’m refraining from making promises I can’t keep.

Post-Release Updates

Village Monsters will have substantial support after launch. You can expect new features, plenty of improvements, and as much community involvement as I can get.

I’m planning on a year’s worth of free updates, but it’s too hard to predict that far out. Instead, here are the first 3 months:

  • Month 1: Bugfixes, quality of life improvements, and any last minute features that missed the release
  • Month 2: “Town Hall” meetings to come up with ideas for new features + a vote on the next update
  • Month 3: Release of first major content update

Thanks for sticking with me so far! The end is in sight, so I’m going to make these next few months count.