Building a Village – Village Restoration Project

Building a Village – Village Restoration Project

Hello Villagers!

Phew, it’s been a while, huh? Seems like summer is already over.

In today’s dev diary, I’m going to talk about the most substantial update I’ve worked on so far: Village Monsters v80.0, aka the update that finally implements the long-awaited Village Restoration Project. And it’s releasing soon: September 8th!

But before I get into that, let’s address the elephant in the room.

Kept you waiting, huh?

Back in June I posted a roadmap for the updates I planned to do this summer. At the time, this particular update was scheduled for July. Well, it’s now the end of August… so… what happened?

The problem was twofold. First, I had far less work time this summer than anticipated. All the uncertainties with COVID (and my wife being a teacher) meant that we tried to cram as many chores and appointments as we could into the summer. It left little time for steady work.

But more importantly than that, the features I’ve been working on for this update are by far the most crucial aspects of the game. Seriously, I can’t afford to mess this one up. As such, I’ve been much more careful in both my design and testing. All this extra pressure has, predictably, resulted in a much slower work schedule.

(Re)building a Village

As mentioned up top, Village Monsters v80.0 is all about the Village Restoration Project. In the story, this refers to the community effort to revitalize a struggling town. However, it’s really just a catch-all term to describe all the features and systems that let you improve or upgrade different parts of the game.

I love town building in games, and when designing Village Monsters I was heavily inspired by the likes of SuikodenAnimal CrossingDark Cloud, and Xenoblade Chronicles. I’m a big believer in progression systems that constantly add new features or options to a game as you advance through them.

In fact, you could argue that the entire game loop of Village Monsters is designed around the core concept of improving your friendly monster village. Just take a look at this helpful  octopus chart for proof:

Every aspect of the game – whether it’s improving your friendships, donating items to the library, or even just upgrading your home – feeds back into your village rating. This means you’ll rarely need to go out of your way to contribute to the village – these are things you’d be doing anyways!

You’ll notice that several of the features in the above graph are actually already in the game. What Village Monsters v80.0 really focuses on is tying it all together and making your progress much more tangible. It’s no fun improving a village if it still looks and feels the same after you’re done, right?

Save our Library!

Let’s look at a more concrete example to help explain how progression works: the village library! 

The library, like every other part of the village, is at its lowest point when you first start the game. It begins as nothing more than a dusty ol’ collection of books in a rarely visited part of town

However, the library plays a very important role in the Village Restoration Project.The library’s main goal is to prove out the historical and ecological value of the town and surrounding area. In gameplay terms, it serves as the place to donate and display everything that you can collect (via hobbies or discovery) in the game.  

There are spots and exhibits for fish, critters, plants, history, treasure, and of course books.

As you donate new items, the library will expand with additional wings and exhibits. While it’s always fun to just admire your collection, you’ll also enjoy some real tangible benefits as the library ‘levels up’. 

For instance, any item you donate will sell for more silver in the general store (think of it like your items being properly appraised). At a certain level you’ll even start receiving weekly deposits of silver automatically – your share of the revenue that your contributions pull in.

The core ‘loop’ of the Village Restoration Project is as follows: level up a building, relationship, or other aspect of the game -> Receive rewards and new features that make leveling things up even faster -> Repeat!

Each area of town requires a slightly different method to level up. For example, some stores – like Pisky’s general store – simply require you to buy and sell items like you normally would. Over time, as the village becomes more prosperous, Pishky can expand his store with new items, new services, and much more.

Grading on a Curve

Your village is graded on a scale ranging from D to SSS. Each grade has a + version resulting in ten distinct levels you can be ranked at.

You can check your current grade any time by visiting the town hall. You can also learn a bit more about how to improve the village in case you want some clearer direction. 

Everything you do in the game contributes to the overall village grade, but not everything is graded equally. For example, improving your friendship with one villager will have a smaller impact than purchasing and completing an expensive community project.

This is where the village suggestion box (also called the Vox Monstrum, or “voice of the people”) can come in handy. The suggestion box provides you with more specific hints directly from the villagers on areas that lacking.

Multiple Choice

Your village grade serves one last major role: it dictates which of the 4 different endings you get. It’s way too early to talk about them in any sort of detail, so you’ll have to wait a bit longer to find out more about them.

Of course, I should put quotations around the word “ending” – this wouldn’t be much of an open world sandbox game if it ended after the credits roll! You’ll be able to continue playing the game for as long as you’d like, and that’ll include increasing your village rating to hit the max level.

That’s all for today! Village Monsters v80.0 releases on September 8th. I’m really looking forward to having you all play it!

Building a Village – The Opposite of Vacation

Building a Village – The Opposite of Vacation

Hello Villagers!

It’s now officially summer! Maybe for some of you it’s been summer for awhile already, but here in Seattle, summer always starts later than you’d hope.

This is a very important summer for me! These next three months will be spent on working as hard as I can on Village Monsters to prepare for the release of version 1.0 this fall.

With today’s dev diary I’d like to share the roadmap I’ve been working in preparation for what’s to come.


In case you missed it, June’s big update – the Foundations Update – released a few days ago. You can find the big ol’ list of changes here.

But we’re not here to talk about the past! Let’s look to the future.

The next major update to Village Monsters will be coming in July. This update will focus on four very related features.

First up are library exhibits – aka a place to finally record and display your marvelous finds & creations! Next are projects for restoring the village and improving your home. These features already exist, but they need to be added to, expanded, and connected with the story.

I’ll then wrap the month up by finally adding in player customization which is by far the most frequently requested feature (and rightfully so!)

August will be spent on wrapping up the two biggest remaining features: villager schedules (including movement and activities), and special events and holidays. Both of these things should go a long way to making the village feel less static and more alive.

New activities, part-time jobs and minigames will also be added in August – including villager hangouts. The common theme here is that I want there to be much more to do and see in a given day.

This will also be the month I finish implementing all the contributions from the very generous community of Kickstarter backers. This means new visitors, interactive furniture / items, holidays, and more.

It’s hard to forecast this far out accurately, but I anticipate September being entirely focused on release prep. This will be the month for any last minute additions, changes, and testing.

September will also be when I decide if I can hit a fall release. The last time I made a release prediction I was overly confident and stupidly naive. This time I want to be completely transparent – which is why I wanted to share my roadmap!

I am optimistic about releasing version 1.0 this fall, and I hope this roadmap shows you that this is a realistic goal. But many things are still up in the air, and I won’t know for sure until September.

October is the big boy month. There are two possible outcomes: me losing my mind with excitement and nervous energy as I prepare for my first-ever game launch, or me drowning my sorrows in a bucket of fun-sized Kit Kats while I attempt to figure out a new release date.


Future Release Freeze

I’ve been averaging a new major update every three weeks (with minor patch releases in between) and it’s been working really well.

However, once September hits I plan to put a freeze on new releases. This would mean no new (public) updates until I hit version 1.0.

There are a bunch of practical reasons for doing this. Getting together a new release takes a lot of time and energy, and it’s an enormous interruption to working on the game itself. I’m going to need all the focus I can get in September and October.

There’s also the issue of spoilers (both story and mechanics) that I really want to avoid. A freeze will let me to add the biggest, juiciest secrets to the game without having to worry about them leaking out before release.

Finally, I would very much like all players – existing and new – to experience the full game with fresh legs and enthusiasm. Village Monsters 1.0 should be an exciting and anticipated release, not just another patch.

It’s going to be a busy summer, but I am absolutely ready for it. Until next time!

New Patch: Early Access v0.75.2

New Patch: Early Access v0.75.2

Hello Villagers!

A big release is always a magnet for new bugs, and yesterday’s update was no different. Today’s patch is a hotfix to address all the bugs that were reported (mostly cutscene related) in the last 24 hours.

As always, a huge thank you to all the players who reported bugs via Discord and email!

Bug Fixes

  • Fixed major crash when a cutscene is triggered during a room transition. The cutscene will now wait until a room transition is completed before triggering
  • Fixed a major issue where a cutscene would freeze or crash during the cleanup phase
  • Fixed major issue causing some cutscenes to have enormously large pauses between actions
  • Fixed major issue that was corrupting gardens and resulting in unpredictable behavior, including crashes
  • Corrupted plants are lost forever, but they’ve been replaced by a mutated Uhoh Plant that you can sell for a high price as way of apology
  • Fixed a potentially major issue that could result in stabled critters from also being corrupted. There were no reports of this, but this should prevent it from happening in the future
  • Fixed a number of collision issues (including getting stuck) when fishing against objects
  • Fixed a number of embarrassing typos. Story of my life
The Foundations Update (v0.75)

The Foundations Update (v0.75)

Hello Villagers!

Welcome to Village Monsters v0.75!

This is a major update to Village Monsters – it’s so big that I decided to call it The Foundations Update. This is because v0.75 lays the foundation (get it?!) for some of the biggest parts of the game: story cutscenes, Heart-to-Heart events, player abilities, village restoration, and more.




Story and Cutscenes

Several new story moments, dialogue, and cutscenes have been added to the game. These new story features will provide some much needed context about the world of Village Monsters and your overall goals.

While these cutscenes are primarily meant for new games, I’ve retroactively added them to existing save games so that you don’t need to start a brand new game to view them.

You may also chance upon new items called Celestial Texts that you may find buried in areas outside the village. These reveal pieces of the meta-story of Village Monsters.

Heart-to-Heart Events

There are 32 monster pals in Village Monsters that you can befriend, but there hasn’t been much of a benefit to friendship beyond watching their little heart icons fill up. Well, this update changes all that!

As you deepen your friendship with a villager you may sometimes trigger special events called Heart-to-Heart conversations. These are unique cutscenes with each villager where they open up to you about a problem they have or a goal they’re working on.

Most Heart-to-Hearts take the form of a short story arc for that character, and no two events are ever the same.

Please note that the bulk of my work for this release was laying the foundation to support Heart-to-Heart events. This means that of the nearly 100+ planned Heart-to-Hearts events, only a handful of them are included in this particular update.

However, many more Heart-to-Hearts will be added throughout Early Access.

Player Abilities

Access the new Abilities section of your journal to purchase several new abilities to make your life in the village even better.

Most abilities are tied to hobbies and can be purchased with Ability Points that are gained as you level them up. Other abilities may be granted in special situations.

The majority of time for this update was spent on laying the foundation for Abilities. As such, only a few have been implemented in the game. New abilities will be added throughout Early Access.

Full Patch Notes

Story & Cutscenes

  • A large number of new story cutscenes have been added to the game
  • New Cutscene: Introducing the arbiter and the fate of the villager
  • New Cutscene: The introduction to the Town Restoration Project
  • New Cutscene: Meeting AAAAAA and learning how to clear corruption
  • Cutscenes can now trigger in a variety of situations, like entering a certain room, the clock striking a certain hour on a certain day, and so forth
  • Some cutscenes may be temporarily delayed via a dialogue option if you don’t wish to view it yet
  • Added a large number of new story dialogue to villagers. Consider talking with villagers after major events
  • In general, a cutscene will not trigger until you are ready (eg., it will wait until you are done fishing, finished speaking with a villager, etc.)
  • New abilities can now be granted after viewing specific cutscenes
  • If two or more cutscenes are scheduled to fire at the same time, only one will be selected. The rest will be “punted” until later
  • The time / date of new games have been adjusted for story purposes
  • Added a major new story character, the Arbiter
  • Missing a scheduled cutscene for any reason will simply delay it by a day
  • Intro story events will trigger retroactively for ongoing save files

Heart-to-Heart Events

  • Added the concept of Heart-to-Hearts, special events between you and a villager as you build bonds
  • Not all villagers have Heart-to-Hearts implemented yet, and many storylines are unfinished. New Heart-to-Hearts will be added throughout Early Access
  • Heart-to-Heart events should trigger retroactively for ongoing save files
  • A special icon (known as a Lockheart) will be displayed on their their heart level to indicate a new heart-to-heart is ready to be viewed
  • Your relationship level with a villager will not advance while a Lockheart is in place
  • Your relationship does continue to grow behind the scenes, and once a Lockheart is removed it will “catch up” to your progress

Skills & Abilities

  • Added Abilities to the game. Abilities unlock new features, improve existing actions, etc.
  • Leveling up a hobby now grants Ability Points. Spend these to unlock new Abilities
  • Changed how the hobby leveling process works. You now level faster, but the level cap is higher
  • Some abilities are granted via story events
  • Improved the look and functionality of the Abilities page in your journal
  • Removed WIP / placeholder abilities from the Abilities page
  • Additional abilities will be added throughout Early Access
  • You will retroactively gain Ability Points after this update

New & Improved Features

  • Added a new Stash object outside of the player’s home (when purchased)
  • Use the stash to store items out of your inventory that you want to keep for later
  • Added the concept of NPC side stories. These are unique daily stories that involve multiple villagers. You can explore these stories by talking with the involved villagers
  • Made the day length slightly faster
  • The frequency and type of visitors now depends on the village rating
  • Added a new type of rare treasure called Celestial Texts
  • Interact with Celestial Texts from your inventory to read them
  • Added new wings to the Library, though they are still under construction
  • Improved the number of existing cutscenes
  • Made several improvements the forecast service on TV
  • Several relationship values have been rebalanced
  • Made interacting with / picking up small objects easier
  • Changed interaction text on a number of objects to reflect story changes
  • The jackrabbit is now available as a catchable critter
  • Added support for a Price Table to rapidly re-balance the economy through Early Access
  • Rebalanced the buy and sell prices for a number of objects
  • Added an ETA for the next major version to the title screen

New & Improved Graphics / UI

  • Added a number of new directional sprites for several villagers
  • Improved the look & feel of friendship hearts
  • Added a progress bar to the clock so you can see how close you are to a time change
  • When available, villagers will now turn and look at you when speaking
  • Improved the look and feel of thunderstorms
  • Improved the look of a number of job and minigame locations
  • Improved the look of the area notification element
  • The Abilities page of your journal is now much more useful
  • Toned down the lighting for Early Morning and all interior lighting at night
  • Made it more obvious when there are multiple pages to browse in the journal + added UI icons to show you how
  • Added a short description when using certain items from your inventory (like trap packs and books) to make their effects more obvious
  • Improved the black space / buffer in interiors to prevent villagers / furniture from being hard to see
  • Improved the layering of many loose items to prevent strange overlapping issues

Bug Fixes

  • Fixed major crash (and other weirdness) related to sending letters. If you’ve noticed odd crashes or issues when trying to go to bed then this bug was likely to blame
  • Fixed rare crash when going to bed early and there’s a visitor coming to town
  • Fixed crash from pruning certain plants
  • Fixed major issue where players could move while some menus are open
  • Fixed major issue where a buried item would be impossible to dig up
  • Fixed major issue in which visitors were arriving every day, often in a row
  • Fixed major issue that could “corrupt” your garden and result in bizarre outcomes
  • Fixed multiple issues with critters getting stuck by temporarily eliminating critter collision checks
  • Fixed the camera getting stuck when fishing in some situations
  • Fixed bug where all food in the critter food bucket would be emptied out regardless of how many critters you had
  • Fixed music overlapping in Memorial Meadows
  • Fixed bug that was causing some village buildings to “level up” into unfinished assets
  • Fixed collision issue when talking to certain villagers while moving
  • Fixed bug that caused you to get stuck between a rock and a hard place the the Agrarian Acres pond
  • Fixed journal rotation issues
  • Fixed bug that caused Mayor Ludo to repeat his intro dialogue
  • Fixed a number of tile issues with the non-Spring tilesets
  • Fixed the “Low Energy” effect not being removed when going to bed early (ironic)
  • Further fixed collision around a number of exterior and interior objects
  • Fixed collision issues in Dio’s home
  • Fixed “jittery” collision when moving during dialogue
  • Fixed a number of slight graphical issues with buildings in the village
  • Fixed incorrect text wrapping on a number of journal pages
  • Fixed placeholder abilities from being displayed (they would show up as “-1”)
  • Fixed incorrectly formatted text when attempting to go to bed
  • Fixed the Transparency effect being incorrectly dismissed on area transition
  • Fixed dialogue text from starting before the dialog box is fully displayed
  • Fixed odd collision issue with the stairs in Vara’s house
  • Fixed a number of collision issues in Memorial Meadows
  • Fixed hotkeys from opening menus when filling out feedback via the Send Feedback main menu option
  • Fixed icons getting cut off in some lists
  • Fixed the long-standing typo where “Lakeweed” was erroneously displayed as “Lake”
  • Fixed rare sprite issue in the intro cutscene
  • Fixed a number of typos in item names and descriptions
Building a Village – Heart to Heart

Building a Village – Heart to Heart

Hello Villagers!

Let’s talk friendship.

There are 32 monster pals in Village Monsters that you can befriend, but until now there hasn’t been much of a benefit beyond watching their little heart icons fill up.

That’s about to change.

Today’s dev diary is going to feature one of the biggest and most exciting new additions coming in Village Monsters v0.75: Heart-to-Hearts events!


As you deepen your friendship with a villager you may sometimes trigger special events called Heart-to-Heart conversations. These are unique cutscenes with each villager where they open up to you about a problem they have or a goal they’re working on.

Most Heart-to-Hearts take the form of a short story arc for that character, and no two events are ever the same – they depend heavily on the villager themselves.

Bugs needs your help in hunting down a rare (and very deadly) critter. Mayor Sudo wants you to “volunteer” as campaign manager for his reelection. Golbrick is trying to find ways to deal with his pessimism. Oponna has a lead on where to find the lost treasure of Pine Tar Percy.

Heart-to-Heart conversations can also result in the personal growth of the villager which can change many things: their personality, their daily schedules, even their involvement in story events. This feature didn’t make it into v0.75, but it’s something that I should be able to finish in the next big update.

I don’t want to get too into ~spoiler territory~, but you can expect multiple Heart-to-Heart events with every single villager. Yep, all 32 of them! It’s quite the undertaking, and the initial release will only include a small handful. New events will be added throughout Early Access (including retroactively).

I expect that for many players, unlocking and enjoying Heart-to-Heart conversations will comprise the bulk of their playtime.


While talking with a villager you may notice that they have some sort of “lock” placed on their heart icons.

These are called Lockhearts, and they represent a blocker that stops villagers from further opening up their hearts to you. You’ll be unable to progress your friendship any further until it’s cleared.

Don’t fret! It’s not a bad thing, it just means the villager is busy processing their own personal situation. In fact, Lockhearts almost always indicate that a new Heart-to-Heart event is ready to be viewed. These events let villagers address their problems and deepen their friendships with you

However, there are other situations where a Lockheart must be cleared via another method. Some villagers may just need a little extra time to pass, others may require you to first reach a specific friendship level with another villager, while some may even require a special item, village upgrade, or something else entirely.

From a game design perspective, Lockhearts allow me to make villager relationships more natural and meaningful. More Lockheart features will be added in later updates.


I’ve promised you monster romance. You’re going to get monster romance.

But not yet.

Dating villagers will use a very similar system as normal Heart-to-Hearts, but I’m not quite ready to reveal this in a public release. You’ll have to wait just a little longer.

But you won’t need to wait very long for everything else I’ve described. Village Monsters v0.75 is releasing this Thursday, June 25th.

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