There’s a new demo coming to town. It’s nicknamed Pumpkin Pie and it’s releasing on later today (November 30th.)
It’s silly for me to keep saying things like “this is the biggest and most full featured demo yet!” After all, if I’m making forward progress then by definition each demo will be bigger than the one before it.
And yet… this is seriously the biggest and most full featured demo yet. It contains tons of new things and improves loads of existing things, but more than that it’s finally representative of the kind of game you can expect next spring.
Here’s some of the headlining changes.
The fishing hobby has changed – again – but this time it’s final. I promise!
You dash to hook the fish before it escapes. You then mash to reel it in as fast as possible. And when the fish fights back, you clash for victory.
Grab your fishing rod and head to any body of water to test it out.
A new hobby has been added to the game: Mushroom Gardening.
Mushrooms are grown from spores you can purchase from the general store. Once planted they require very little effort and will happily grow by themselves. Grown mushrooms can be harvested and then sold, eaten, or cooked.
To get started check out the mushroom plots over in the Agrarian Acres. Check out the book “Mad for Mushrooms” in the library for more info.
Another new hobby has been added to the game: Cooking.
Of all the hobbies this one is the least finished (you can only cook basic soups for now), but future releases will add to your cookbook.
To get started, visit the kitchen in Overflow and interact with the cooking pot you see there.
You are no longer stuck at the inn! The shack east of town has been put up for sale and the deed can be purchased from the general store.
Keep in mind it’s not cheap – even this basic plot of land costs 10,000 Skull Silver. You’ll need to find a way to make some money; catching and selling fish and critters is a good place to start.
A new “effects engine” has been added to the game. You’ve always been able to quaff potions, but this is an entirely new system with complex interactions and features.
Many items now bestow different effects when used or eaten:
Eat a Snowberry Shroom and you’ll become chilled to the bone.
Stay up too long without sleeping and you’ll become exhausted and unable to run – though you can eat food to offset these penalties.
Drink a Potion of Fast Feet and you’ll zoom around the map.
Check the player page of your journal to see which effects you’re under.
Up All Night
Your unfair curfew has finally ended.
Instead of teleporting back to bed in the middle of the night you can stay up indefinitely. To balance things out you now have an energy meter that ticks down throughout the day.
Running out of energy makes you exhausted which has a bunch of negative impacts, so you’ll want to keep it up by sleeping or eating food.
You can sleep at any time from a bed you own. Sleeping will also quickly advance time.
Many interiors – including villager homes, the village inn, and general store – have been improved. Enjoy new furniture, cozier layouts, and more personality in each building.
This marks the first demo where Windows, Mac, and Linux versions will release simultaneously!
Dialogue took a backseat with this release, though this is because its systems are largely finalized.
One big change is how villagers talk before and after you become friends. Villagers may at first come across as rude or distant, while others might be overly formal or reserved. On the other hand, you may witness complete personality changes in some villagers as they warm up to you and become close friends.
Note that you won’t be able to see these changes in the demo as they happen over the long term.
Quality of Life
As always a host of quality of life changes have been added to the game. Here’s a handful of them:
The passage of time has been further slowed to make the game more relaxing
“Helper Text” has been added to even objects in the game
Doors now tell you where they lead
Items for sale now display their name
Many interactable objects now can only be interacted with when facing a specific direction. This prevents a lot of accidental interactions
You can now sell multiple items at once to the merchant
Inventory and System menus have been combined into an improved Journal
Many UI elements have been cleaned up and improved
New & improved fonts
And Lots More
There’s way more changes than I can document in this post. More accurately there’s more than I want to document. But here’s a few more things you can expect:
New weather types and tileset for fall.
Trees and vegetation have been improved.
You can flush a toilet.
Lighting has been tweaked.
Loads of new furniture and decorations have been added to each home.
Bonfires and torches now extinguish in heavy rain.
Pishky bought a new hat.
Building a Village, 11/24/2018 – Clash of the Cods
There’s no way to actually prove this, but I’m pretty sure more people have played fishing mini-games than have actually gone fishing.
You can fish in Zelda, in Nier, in Red Dead Redemption 2, in Pokemon, in Deadly Premonition, in Torchlight, in Yakuza. You can hardly walk into a Gamestop without tripping over a pile of rods and tackle boxes.
And of course fishing is especially prominent in life sim games like Animal Crossing, Harvest Moon, and Stardew Valley. Village Monsters is no different – fishing was one of the first hobbies I added to the game.
There’s a lot to draw inspiration from, and if it seems the tone of this post is overly negative it isn’t because I don’t like fishing mini-games… it’s because of how intimidating they are! With so many different standards and expectations there are almost too many options, and this left me feeling paralyzed when designing the system for my game.
The good news is I’ve finally settled on a system, and I’m super excited to talk about it.
But first let’s talk about how bad of a designer I am.
I prototype every feature – often before I even analyze or document it – and fishing was no different. In a lot of ways prototypes are ‘meant’ to fail (seeing what doesn’t work is more valuable sometimes than seeing what does), but my fishing prototypes took the word ‘failure’ to a whole new level.
My very first prototype was similar to what you find in Breath of Fire. You’d be presented with a side view of the body of water you’re fishing in and your goal was to guide your hook to a fish and reel it back to shore.
It was… fine. It was certainly unique compared to my contemporaries, but the more I played with it the more I realized this wasn’t necessarily a good thing. It was equal parts clunky and boring, and I scrapped it shortly before the Kickstarter.
The prototypes that followed were all over the place. I experimented with “fish HP” and “rod HP”, I put in timed button challenges, I tried out things like line strength and fish stamina and generated all sorts of random numbers.
I wanted to capture the full cycle of fishing – the relaxation of waiting, the excitement of hooking, the struggle of reeling in a big one – but nothing I tried was working. You might even say I was floundering… heh… heh… ugh.
Then one day inspiration struck. Perhaps it was Poseidon himself that whispered in my ear, or perhaps it was that 4th Monster energy I just drank. Whatever the case was, the outline of fishing should look like revealed itself before me anchored by three words…
Dash, Mash & Clash
Fishing in Village Monsters can be broken up into three distinct phases which I lovingly call Dash, Mash, and Clash.
After casting your line in a body of water the music dims and you can let your mind wander as the outside world fades into the periphery – that is, until a fish bites. That’s the Dash, referring to how you must quickly hook the fish before it gets away.
After hooking the fish it’s time to Mash, which is exactly what it sounds like. Your job is to reel in the fish as fast as possible. There’s no subtlety required, so mash that reel button as hard as you can. A little fishing meter tracks your progress.
Of course, most fish won’t be too pleased about the hook in their mouth and they’ll often try to fight back. This leads to our next stage, Clash, which finds you being challenged with a series of button prompts as the fish attempts to get away.
If you miss a prompt then you’ll start losing the progress you made reeling the fish in. Miss too many and the slippery fish will make their escape..
However! If you manage to get a “Perfect” during this stage then the fish’s defenses are shattered which makes it much easier to reel in. This gives the clash stage a high risk / high reward component and acts as a test of skill compared to the previous test of stamina.
These two stages cycle back and forth until the fish is caught or gets away. How often they cycle and for how long depends on the fish. Easier or smaller fish need less reeling in while legendary fish require several clashes before they submit.
And there you have it! Fishing is finalized in forthcoming folly, Fillage Fonsters.
Finalizing any gameplay mechanic is sorta like writing the 1st draft of a story – it’s a great feeling of accomplishment, but there’s lot of editing and polish to do.
Now that I have all these levers and nobs to play with it’s time to give each fish a “personality” – heavy fish that are hard to reel in, fish with extremely quick ‘hook windows’, and so on.
There’s also an entire range of possibilities for upgrades: lures that attract fish faster or rods that make reeling in easier. Then I can start looping back into other parts of the game, like a potion that slows down the clash stage, or a mushroom that attracts rare fish when used as bait.
You’ll be able to play with the new fishing system yourself once the latest Village Monsters demo hits later this month.
Building a Village, 11/05/2018 – Mushroom Gardener
About a year ago I revealed what was then a new in-game hobby – Gardening. As I worked on the design I realized that while I knew what I didn’t want – I didn’t want it to be like Harvest Moon, and I didn’t want it to be just a mini-game – I couldn’t nail down what I did want.
With no clear vision the work on Gardening unsurprisingly stalled. Later this year it fizzled out completely and I considered just cutting it altogether.
Then one day I happened to be working on the village currency. I figured that monsters would be unlikely to use gold – that has way too much human baggage, right? – so I went with silver. Seems appropriately monster-y.
It was then that it hit me. Monsters wouldn’t grow turnips or flowers as hobby. Ridiculous! They’d grow mushrooms!
In this week’s dev diary I’m going to talk about this newly overhauled hobby.
So you want to a Mushroom Gardener, huh?
Well first you’re going to need some spores. You could buy them, sure, but you can also forage mushrooms out in the wild and use them in your garden.
Spores must be planted in a designated mushroom plot, but apart from picking a soil type it’s pretty low maintenance. You won’t need to water them or pick any weeds.
Instead of focusing on the more mundane aspects of growing I wanted to free up your time to instead work on the fun stuff – things like cultivating hybrids, discovering bizarre mutations, and cooking up all sorts of interesting effects.
You’ve already seen many examples of effects in the form of potions, but I’ve since overhauled the system so that any item has the ability to create some kind of effect. Mushrooms are now the primary way to access these effects.
Having trouble catching a fast critter? Bait your traps with a Snowberry Shroom and you’ll chill (and slow) the critter that eats it. Use your mushrooms in Cooking to make a meal that restores energy, makes you move faster, and slows down time.
(How can a mushroom slow down time? Ask you parents.)
There’s a huge amount of effects to discover. Some are practical, others are just weird. Some break the game. They’ve been fun to program and test, so I really hope you can enjoy them!
I love the idea of making plant hybrids. It’s like playing mad scientist, only instead of frankenstein you can make a seedless watermelon that resists the cold.
In the world of Village Monsters mushrooms as highly malleable. This means that a talented mushroom gardener can create brand new species with just a bit of effort. All you need are two fully grown mushrooms in the same plot as an empty tile. Then you just let nature take it’s course…………. if you know what I mean.
The most practical benefit of growing hybrids is that the resulting new offspring can contain the attributes and effects of its parents. For example, a Spicy Shroom is a fast grower and it can pass down this benefit to its offspring.
There’s also breeding for aesthetics, like rare colors or glows effects. You can grow some pretty funky mushrooms, but some will require generations of hybrids to unlock.
Best of all you can usually process hybrids for their spores allowing you to plant your new strain indefinitely.
There’s one other thing that can happen to your growing gardening – mutations.
Mutations are similar to hybrids in that they create unique mushrooms, but mutations are more unique, more bizarre, and certainly more unpredictable. Mutations also don’t require a ‘parent’ mushroom and can occur to any mushroom that’s still growing.
You can influence mutations by the type of soil you use and some unique upgrades. Like hybrids you can usually grab the spores from your newly birthed creation to permanently add it to your garden journal.
I’m considering adding a touch of procedural generation to get some truly weird mushrooms that even I can’t predict, but that might have to wait for a future free update.
That’s enough mushrooms for now. You’ll be able to play with them yourself when the next demo releases later this month.
The next public demo for Village Monsters – which you might know as Candy Corn – needs to be bumped to November. The exact release date and eye-roll-worthy nickname will be announced a little later.
Last time I delayed a demo it was because I still had work to do. This time it’s sorta the opposite – I actually want to make the demo contain even more stuff.
I was reviewing my roadmap (and you can too!) and realized that this is the second-to-last demo. Demo feedback has always been immensely valuable to me, so I want to squeeze as much as I can into the release so you have more to play with so you can in turn give me more feedback.
Another (and less flattering) way to look at it is that I didn’t get nearly as much done as I hoped back when I scheduled this release in August. We won’t talk about that, though.
You could simply ask “why don’t you just release what you have now and make an extra demo later?”, and it’s a fair question, but the answer is that releasing a demo is a lot of work. Time is at a premium these days, so creating fewer (but bigger) demos just fits my schedule a lot better.
The power of ten thousand souls flows through me as I open GameMaker. A cursed scream escapes my throat as I watch my possessed fingers furiously writing lines of flawless (though haunted) code. A demonic entity bursts free from my chest in a ring of fire. His terrible visage turns toward me and whispers, “This walk cycle could use some work.”
All this can only mean one thing: it’s the officially month of monsters.