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Release: Beta 1 Demo is now Available

Release: Beta 1 Demo is now Available

Welcome to Beta, Village Monsters! Three months of tremendous work has lead to this being one of the biggest and most interesting updates so far.

Toward the start I maintained a detailed list of patch notes, but as it grew and grew I realized that it was simply becoming too much – no one would want to read it!

As such, here are some abridged notes on some of the most important features.

Please note that some features were truncated or made “dark” (eg., they exist but cannot be accessed) due to some scheduling problems (and by that, I mean my son was born). They will be addressed in future patches to this demo.

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Building a Village, 03/25/2018

Building a Village, 03/25/2018

Welcome to another edition of Building a Village, the weekly dev log for Village Monsters.

It’s wrap up time here at Village Monsters HQ. There’s an astronomically large demo coming down the pipeline this month, so I’ve been hard at work putting the finishing touches on it.

Let’s take a look!

Journal Improvements

The journal is a very important tool in the game. It tracks everything – from your collection progress, to areas you’ve explored, quests you’ve done, and so on.

Until now it’s languished as just a secondary feature, but this week I began to give some much needed love to the journal.

Improving UI isn’t the sexiest of work – especially when I do it – but it’s an important one. There’s certainly a ways to go before it becomes your trusty sidekick, but it’s getting closer every day.

Improving Villager Interactions

There are a lot of villagers for you to meet and befriend in the game, so if it seems like I’m constantly working on personalities, dialogue and interactions, it’s because I am!

This week I worked on improving interactions with some of the merchants of the village. Let’s met a couple.

Koma is the innkeeper at Overflow, the town’s one and only tavern and inn. He’s a grandfatherly figure in the village, and you’ll find it easy to make friends with him and receive all sorts of sagely advice.

Piroshky is a merchant cat who once traveled the world peddling his wares – until the Glitchwood took over his home in Yonder Yellowgrass, that is. He was forced to flee, and eventually found the village where he’s set up a permanent shop.

Bug Fixes & Stability

The last demo I released earlier this year had a number of embarrassing bugs in it. There were a few reasons for this – most notably making major changes just days before the release – but there’s really no excuse for such shoddy work.

Well, the lesson was learned, and while I can’t in good faith promise that the Beta demo will be bug-free, it should at least avoid crashing on you at the most inopportune time. Much of this week will continue to be spent on simply testing and polishing the demo.

This will likely be the final dev log for Beta 1. My son is due to be born any day now, and the original plan was to compile a release whenever that was so I wouldn’t need to worry about it after his birth.

However, I plan to get a release out by the 31st no matter what, so one way or another the demo will be in your hands this week.

Building a Village, 03/18/2018

Building a Village, 03/18/2018

It’s been too long, villagers, and that’s entirely my fault.

I mentioned last month that I was being unusually productive, and that has continued into March. This is, of course, a good thing!

However, the downside with being a one man operation is that when you’re productive in one area you tend to the let the others stagnate.

I’ve tried (and failed) at many different approaches to balance dev and social since the Kickstarter completed, and it’s time to admit it’s just never worked. So! I’m going back to the old style that I know worked for me and for you: weekly updates that focus on the three most interesting things I worked on that week.

Enough preamble! Let’s get back to it.

Areas of Exploration

The area outside the village has been receiving several design passes in an attempt to make it more diverse and interesting to explore. Let’s take a mini world tour to look at some of the areas you’ll be able to visit.

Here we have the Memorial Meadows, a somber area that houses grave stones, memorials, and other monuments to death. Parts of it are carpeted in flowers and overgrowth, and it’s overall a very peaceful place… albeit a disquieting one.

These are the Agrarian Acres, a large plot of arable land just outside the village. The farm provides food for everyone, and as you establish your reputation in the village they’ll allow you to use some of these fertile fields to your own benefit.

The Acres will also be an key area for folks that are interested in critter catching, collecting, and training. More on that later!

The forest outside of the village has been expanded. It is now known as Firetree Forest, and it stretches far to the north and south. Northern Firetree is currently inaccessible due to a bridge that burned down, but perhaps there’s another way…?

Personality & Flavor

A great many things have been locked down in the last month: the areas you can explore, villagers you can meet, activities to do, and so on.

Now that the world is a bit more concrete it’s allowed me greater flexibility in adding flavor and personality.

Many villager homes are now properly furnished and decorated. This’ll still change continuously as I add more furniture and decor to the game, but it’s already a large improvement over the mostly empty homes they’ve had to endure in the past.

The effort to write villager dialog has been going splendidly, especially as it relates to contextual dialog. You can expect villagers to comment on the weather, time of day, holidays, recent events and exploits, and much more.

The village has enjoyed addition levels of polish and detail to each of its districts. Here we can see the civics district, home to the town hall, event plaza, traveling merchants & visitors, and much more.

A Novella of Dialog

Sometime toward the end of February the Village Monsters script reached 18,000 words. I’ve since stopped counting because at some point the answer is the same: there’s a lot of words here.

Not all of it is implemented into the game, and most of it won’t be encountered by folks just playing the demo.

Still, this is a major part of the work left to do on the game, and I’m thrilled with the amount of progress I’ve made on it.

At the risk of promising too much, I think you’ll be extremely happy with how dialogue is handled in Village Monsters compared to other life sim games. I’m going to great lengths to ensure dialog comes across as natural, immersive, and avoids common pitfalls such as coming across as repetitive or generic.

I’m very happy to go back to these weekly updates, so I’ll see you all next time <3

Building a Village, February 2018

Building a Village, February 2018

Hello villagers!

Development of Village Monsters has really hit its stride in these early days of 2018.

January was perhaps the most productive month of my entire life; it’s no exaggeration to say the game has changed more in last month than the previous 3 months before it combined.

In today’s update we’re going to take a look at many of these changes.

Look Who’s Talking

Toward the start of the month I created a new dialogue tool to assist me with writing all the text in the game – and boy howdy, there sure is a lot of text to write!

There are many monsters to meet and befriend in this village, and I want to ensure each of them has something to new and relevant to say every time you talk to them. It’s a big effort, but it’s also a rewarding one.

it really does

Part of this process has included making “character sheets” for each villager in order to better break down their personality traits, goals, and relationships with each other. This has already become one of my favorite parts of creating this game, and I plan on making some of this info available in your in-game journal.

saley only rolls natural 20s

Beyond new text I’ve also made major improvements to the dialog box itself. Some elements have been rearranged or expanded on, and the box now appears at the bottom after a little slide animation.

But perhaps the biggest change is the inclusion of “villager flair” – each villager will now have their own slightly modified dialog box. This is yet another way of allowing their personalities to shine through.

seriously, don't mention the shirt

Progressing in Progression

A sense of progression is a major appeal of playing life sim games like Village Monsters: think of how rewarding it is to expand your home in Animal Crossing, or how vital day-to-day progress and improvement is to the flow of Stardew Valley.

Thankfully, this past month has allowed to make big changes to the progression elements of Village Monsters.

For example, the relationship system for befriending your monster pals is now up and running. It’s still in its most basic form, but you’ll be able to track your friendship with a monster based on the number of filled arts below their portraits.

Each villager has 3 hearts, but each heart has multiple "levels"

For more tangible progress, you no longer start the game with a house of your own. Instead, you enter the town as an outsider, and you’ll spend your first few days renting a room at the local inn.

A few villagers also live at the inn, but you'll probably want a house ASAP

Save up enough money and you can move out into your own place with your own furniture, but, well…it’s still a bit of a fixer-upper.

it meets none of your requirements other than that you can afford it

Fixing, improving, and upgrading your homestead will be a major part of your daily life in Village Monsters, but this loop goes beyond your own small slice of the world.

The village is facing some hard times when you first arrive, and many villagers have suddenly gone missing while exploring the world outside the village walls. It’s up to you to help fund repairs, place decorations, and find lost villagers out in the world.

This may be a village of monsters, but it’s your home too, and I hope you’ll find the time and effort to make it a better place.

Village Tour

In the last update I mentioned that big changes were coming to the village and surrounding outskirts. Like with progression I definitely want you all to experience these changes yourself when you explore the village in the Beta release in March or the final version at the end of this year.

Still, I can’t leave this post without giving you something! Here are a few shots of some of the new and improved areas around the village.

he's a real business shark
the night is dark and full of gerbils
of course the dark dwarven bros live in a dark dwarven fortress!
reflecting on the day

That’ll do it for this update. Until next time!

Planning Out Beta 1

Planning Out Beta 1

It’s a new year. People are coming up with (and perhaps already abandoning) new years resolutions, so what better time to talk about what Q1 of 2018 looks like for Village Monsters?

Earlier this week the last Alpha demo was released into the wild. In contrast to the Pre-Alpha demos before it, the Alpha series has been the first time the game has started to look, feel, and smell like an actual, real-life video game.

So what does Beta look like? Well, it’s a pretty big deal! There are just 2 more major releases between now and release, so it’s important to really nail both of them. By the time Beta releases, Village Monsters should undeniably be a video game that can be played for several hours.

Today I’m just going to be talking about the goals for the first 3 months of the year, all of which culminate into the first Beta release – Beta 1!

A Game Loop

There’s no beating around the bush here – Village Monsters lacks a traditional game loop. That’s a problem.

Some of this is by design. After all, my primary goal is to create a faff about simulator, and that means a game in which you have freedom to interact with the game as much or as little as you please.

But it lacks connective tissues between it’s many systems and activities. There’s really no “main thread”, and as a result things feel disjointed; the whole experience lacks cohesion.

Worse, there’s very little motivation to go and explore things on your own. You can catch critters, but why would you? You can head down to the lake, but why would you? You can talk with villagers, but why would you?

Village Monsters needs an economy. It needs routines. It needs motivations to engage with its systems. It needs to do better at explaining things to you, the player.


  • The economy should serve as the main driver for engaging with the game
  • The player should start with very little in way of currency or possessions
  • The player should start with a room in Overflow (the town’s pub / inn) and have to earn a home
  • Items – especially furniture – should have actual costs and sell rates
  • Rare items should be valuable and exciting to find
  • There should be interesting ways to spend money outside of items, furniture, and upgrades

Daily Routine / Activities

  • The natural cycle of the day should be a key part of game loop
  • There should be activities you naturally do in the morning, in the afternoon, etc.
  • Activities should change depending on the time of day you do them
  • Villagers should also have routines / do activities, and they should talk about them

Your Journal

  • The journal should do a better job at surfacing details about the the world
    • A list of critters should contain their habitats and when they spawn
    • A list of fish should contain where they can be caught and any tips to catch them
    • A proper mini-map and a proper world map would do wonders
  • The collection section should be completely overhauled and be designed to encourage its completion
  • The journal should contain hints / tips for what you can do in a given day
  • The journal should contain more help information that it currently does


  • Each hobby should have clearly defined ‘daily goals’ and ‘long-term goals’
  • The controls and objectives of each hobby should be better surfaced to the player
  • Hobbies should have skill levels with proper rewards / bonuses for becoming skilled with them
  • It should be easier to identify the rarity of an item you catch or create
  • You should be able to display the products of your hobbies in your home
  • You should be able to gift certain products of hobbies to villagers

Odd Jobs & Mysteries

  • Villagers should be able to assign basic, mostly procedural generated jobs
    • Fetch Item X from Villager Y
    • Find lost item
  • Odd jobs should reward the player with money, furniture, and rare items
  • The mystery system should be fleshed out and implemented

The Historical Society

  • The historical society should be nuked from orbit and rebuilt
  • A ‘flow’ of the donation process should be considered and implemented
  • The historical society must have strong in-game motivations to complete it
    • This includes ‘set bonuses’ for completing sub-sections of your collection
  • It’d be neat if the historical society played a more active role in your collection – perhaps by giving you jobs / requests for items?

A Livelier World

While the game is already chock full of things both big and small to make it feel alive, there one major issue: the big things are mostly disconnected from each other.

It’s a similar problem to the one I described above for the game loop. It lacks a basic cohesion, and when things are disconnected they run the risk of feeling tacked or meaningless.

A good example of what I’m talking about is the weather. It might be interesting to look at, but it doesn’t have any appreciable effects on the villagers, critters or fish, the village, or anything else.

That’s not good design. In order for the world to truly feel alive, the world’s systems must feel connected to one another. They must influence one another. They must be interesting to observe.


  • Villagers should have complete schedulers
    • These should reflect their situation or personality
    • They should differ day-to-day or week-to-week
  • Villagers should react to the world around them, especially for obvious things (like weather or holidays)
  • They should try to perform the same hobbies as the player
  • They should have some autonomy in choosing what to do each day
  • Villagers should actually walk around and move between areas as they follow schedules
  • Visitors should stop by the village – and leave after a period of time
  • Villagers should become friends or rivals with the player. Their interactions should reflect this relationship

The Village

  • The village should be split into several districts
    • Each district should have its own look and feel
    • Districts should feel connected, with perhaps multiple ways to “get there from here”
    • A district should strive to have several purposes, and overall I should avoid having the player ‘pinball’ between them
  • The village’s overall feel should change throughout the day
    • Houses should be locked at night
    • Merchants shouldn’t be open every day
    • Windows should be lit orange / yellow at night
    • Smoke from chimneys
  • The village’s overall feel should also change with the weather
    • Fewer people should be outside if the weather is poor
    • Shops could put on special rainy day sales
  • Villagers should have homes that are more obviously theirs
    • Interiors – but also exteriors – should reflect their personalities
    • Homes should feel lived in, and contain furniture / decor initially unavailable to the player

Critters & Fish

  • Overall critter spawn rates should be greatly reduced
  • Each critter should have a specific window – time of day, weather, month, etc. – when it spawns
  • All critters should have proper movement behaviors and animations
  • Certain critters should have special spawning capabilities – eg., spawning in herds instead of individually
  • Creatures should interact with other entities more
    • Predator / Prey relationships would be interesting
    • Critters should interact with villagers in fun ways

Time & Weather

  • There should be different music to accompany specific weather patterns
  • Time transitions should be more gradual
  • Each season should have a specific look and feel that goes beyond a new tileset
  • Major holidays should completely change the village in terms of decor and function

Intelligent RNG

  • True randomness should be reduced and replaced by algorithms with logical, describable rules
  • The game needs to better tailor its RNG in response to the player
  • Whenever possible, the game should be able to identify ‘interesting’ results of RNG and surface those to the player

Content Milestones

The Beta release needs a lot more content. To ensure I stay on track and strike the right balance of content, I’ve created the below milestones for me to reach before release.

  • 32 villagers to meet in the village
  • 20 unique sets of dialogue for each villager
  • 50 critters to collect
  • 30 fish to catch
  • 12 crops to grow
  • 24 recipes to cook
  • 40 archaeological items to discover
  • 3 mysteries to solve
  • 80 pieces of furniture to decorate your house with
  • 60 items to buy at the general store

Anything Else?

Oh yes. There’s still a lot to do between now and October, and I haven’t even touched on entire parts of the game – house upgrades, player customization, exploration, holidays, etc.

There are also plenty of behind-the-scenes changes I plan on making – there’s technical debt to pay off, a bunch of cleaning up to do, and so on. I also will continue to iterate over the various art assets and other graphics to improve the look of the game.

Just because an item isn’t on the above list doesn’t mean it won’t be addressed in the Beta 1 release. If past releases are any indication my attention will wander, and things will no doubt changes in the 3 months between now and release.

I’m very existed for what 2018 means for Village Monsters. This’ll be the biggest year yet for me, and it all culminates in a release at the end of the year.