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Screenshots, articles, and a whole lot of nonsense from the development of Village Monsters
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There is only one week left to back the Village Monsters Kickstarter. Are you ready to join the village?
Have you ever wondered what goes on inside the world of an abandoned video game? What happens to all the NPCs and monsters after their game is powered off for that last time?
Village Monsters is a relaxing life sim set in one such world.
You play the role of someone booting up a forgotten game for the first time in decades only to find that it is nothing like you remember. All those monsters that were once enemies are now peacefully living in a village of their own making and stranger still, they're inviting you to join them.
I've been regularly posting new demos to indieDB since I began this project in January, and I'd love for you to take a peek and see if it interests you!
Once described as a faff about simulator, Village Monsters has found ample inspiration from the likes of Animal Crossing, Mother 3, and Undertale to create a carefree - yet monstrous - village life experience.
Between pursuing hobbies, furnishing your home, talking with whimsical monster villagers, and solving mysteries, there are no shortage of activities to pursue during your time in the village.
The world of Village Monsters may be digital, but that doesn't stop it from feeling alive.
From sunrise to sunset, you'll find a world that changes all around you. Sparrows fly overhead during the day while owls patrol the night. Villagers hang out at home while it it's raining and go shopping for new furniture after it clears.
Village Monsters is a one-person project, and I really need your help to finish making it! Please consider backing the Kickstarter if you're a fan of life simulation games, monsters, or bad jokes!
Click Here to Back Village Monsters!
The latest demo for Village Monsters, Alpha 1.05, is now out and ready to download.
This patch release contains many fixes and improvements received via feedback from the Kickstarter campaign. Additionally, it also contains a rough prototype for gardening, a new type of activity.
As always, you can grab the latest demo here. I also posted the patch notes at the bottom of this article. Have fun!
In addition to demo news, there are now less than 15 days until the Village Monsters Kickstarter ends! Time is running out if you want to get one of the exclusive Kickstarter rewards, including:
Adding your name or phrase to the game
Access to all future Alpha & Beta builds
Creating an original monster that can visit the village
Creating a set of furniture that players can buy for their homes
Many of these rewards are limited and won't be around forever, so what are you waiting for? Come join the village!
NEW: A new activity, Gardening, has been added to the game
Buy seeds at the General Store and plant them in the garden near your home
Don’t forget to water them!
NEW: Several ocean-specific fish have been added
NEW: Several new items have been added to the General Store
NEW: You may now specify a ‘return email address’ when submitting game feedback
IMPROVED: Removed item animations in the Inventory cards – they were too annoying
IMPROVED: You are now asked to confirm one last time before sending feedback via the mail system
IMPROVED: A funding tracker has been added near town hall, though it’s not live numbers (yet…)
IMPROVED: Shadows have been added to several notifications to make them pop a bit more from the background
IMPROVED: Many more tips and flavor text have been added to the end of day notice
FIXED: An issue that prevented ‘any key’ from working on the title screen has been fixed
Insert Simpsons Joke here
FIXED: A rare crash related to certain critters despawning has been fixed
FIXED: A rare fix related to moving quickly and diagonally has been fixed
FIXED: The town hall is now properly marked as ‘Inside’ and will no longer spawn critters or weather effects
I seriously can't believe it’s only been a week since I launched the Village Monsters Kickstarter. It’s been a tremendous experience, and though there’s a long way to go I couldn’t be happier with the support I’ve had. To all current and future backers - thank you!!!
As you might expect, development of the game itself has been impacted. However, I’m happy to report I’m still hard at work! Let’s take a look at what I’ve been doing.
Alpha 1.03 is out - Now with Linux support!
A new version of the Alpha demo is now live and ready to download. This includes a demo playable in Linux for the very first time.
You can grab it right here on my website.
Beyond Linix support, this demo also contains a number of crash fixes, some new items and dialog, and the new ability to switch to a female player character from your home.
Simulating your life
Speaking of female characters, many folks have recently asked me if it’s possible to customize your character’s gender and look.
The answer is a resounding yes. In the final game you’ll have total control over your character’s gender, skin color, hair, and much more.
I haven’t done the best job of mixing it up in my screenshots, but that’ll change from here out. Similarly, the next demo will contain some more options for customizing your look.
Did someone mention ‘variety’?
This past week I’ve also begun work on adding more variety to the game, even for things that are still in progress. This includes adding more personality and life to villager homes…
Adding text variations to places like this end-of-day message…
And a whole lot more. This is just the next step of many to ensure that the world of Village Monsters never feels stale no matter how much you play it.
it is a mystery
Late last week I wrote up a detailed post explaining how exactly Mysteries will work in Village Monsters.
This week I’ve begun to flesh out the system even more with the intention of letting you solve some of the very early mysteries in an upcoming demo. More info will be coming on that later, but I’m pretty excited by how things look now.
A new title screen
Finally, I want to talk about the very first thing you see in game - the title screen.
The current title screen was a first draft of an idea that I’ve grown increasingly unhappy with.
I’m now working on a new title that better matches the style of game I want in Village Monsters - colorful, bright, and inviting.
The below mockup shows the new look I’m going for. I hope to have it completed this week so I can begin the ‘rebranding’ process.
That’ll do it for now!
Hope everyone is having a great start to their fall - in my area it was like a switch was flipped, and we’ve had low 50s and rain all week long. It’s definitely putting me in the mood to start working on some autumnal aspects of the game
Today's the day! The Village Monsters Kickstarter has finally gone live, and you can start backing it right away!
Nearly 9 months to the day I quit my day job in order to work on Village Monsters full time, and it's been one wild ride. This Kickstarter represents my first chance to make this new life sustainable, and I couldn't be happier for this opportunity.
Thank you to everyone who has followed along from the beginning. I'm so glad to have you here, and this project would simply not exist without you!
The Kickstarter will last through October 12th, and because it just launched today there are still plenty of limited rewards still available.
So go take a look, and come help me build a village!
Hello monster friends!
It's the weekend, and that means another edition of the Village Monsters Dev Diary Digest (VMD3)
The marathon continues! This past week saw the release of the latest demo, and it was a big one.
I want to thank all the people who took the time to share feedback! You are making Village Monsters a better game. You can expect another release tomorrow that contains more features and bugfixes reported via feedback
The Kickstarter is coming soon. Real soon. As in, in the next 48 hours! I'm so pumped. And nervous. Mostly pumped!
As with last week I'm going to keep the text at a minimum and make this a screenshot blitz. Let's get to it
I did a fair amount of work on the last hobby prototype, Cooking. It's far from where I want it, but it'll improve over time
Remember the potion system? I went and combined it with food effects to open the door for all sorts of goofy fun. Snowberry Shrooms now properly chill you to the bone, while Spicy Shrooms put an extra kick in your step
A new area, the forest, has been implemented. This is also your first chance to investigate some of the glitches and faults ruining the world outside the village
The first of many quests have been added - meet all villagers in town! There's no reward for finding them all (yet...), but it's a good way to track your progress
Finally, more helper text has been added to Home Customizer mode. You also are automatically placed in this mode when placing a new piece of furniture
As 'promised', this week's edition of the VMD3 is late, and it'll be quite brief. I'm keeping descriptions to a minimum and instead focusing of a screenshot blitz.
First up, some usual housekeeping: September has begun, and with it begins the most important month of my entire life. Nearly a 9 months ago I quit my day job to pursue this dream of creating games, and this month will be my first attempt at making it a viable.
On September 6th I'm releasing the Alpha 1 demo of Village Monsters. This is an enormous release that builds upon everything I've done in the last 9 months.
A week later, on September 12th, I launch my Kickstarter campaign that'll run through September and into the appropriately spooky month of October. I'm very excited and anxious for you all to see what I have cooking.
Ok. Enough words. Onto the screenshot blitz.
More village changes have been enacted. The still-unnamed Treasure Chest merchant - run by Skunkworks, the Mimic - has been converted into furniture-only...
...while a new General Store (run by Bottes) has been constructed to sell food, potions, and other sundries
Nearly a month ago I renamed all the months of the in-game calendar, but until now that has only existed in an Excel doc, not the game. That has changed
New interiors have been added to all new home. That has also prompted me to add more furniture, floor and wall types
This includes new homes + portraits and dialogue for the new villagers introduced last week.
These WIP icons for tools are still ugly, but I added numbers to each to make it a bit easier to keep track of. You can also press the number on your keyboard to quickly bring it up instead of rotating to find it
There's so much I can and want to show you, but some stuff I gotta keep under the hat for now. Here's a short clip from the upcoming Kickstarter trailer. It'll be strikingly similar to my first trailer, but like everything else it's been heavily iterated and updated. Hope you're looking forward to seeing it!
That'll do it for this week. With any luck I'll be back on a more regular schedule this week, but things are going to be pretty crazy for awhile.
Hello monster friends!
It’s the weekend, and that means another edition of the Village Monsters Dev Diary Digest (VMD3)
Today’s update is both late and briefer than usual, but I hope i have a good excuse: with PAX being this week and the Alpha 1 release next week, I’m already pretty dang busy. But then last week, I had to make another major announcement…
Village Monsters will be coming to Kickstarter on September 12th. That’s less than 3 weeks away! I’m psyched. I’m nervous. I’m excited. I’m nervous. I can’t wait for you to see what I’m cooking up
Well, that’s enough preamble - let’s just get onto it!
The majority of my time last week was spent on improving the village in some pretty major ways.
First, I created and furnished four new homes for monsters to live in (though they’re still pretty sparse for now). I also converted that strange skull in town into a proper home for Saley & Stapes, the two skeletal guards.
Overflow - the town’s tavern and a major hangout spot for locals - was also completely revamped…in the sense that before the revamp, the exterior was unfinished and the interior didn’t exist. Both outside and inside are now in a much better place.
Beyond new buildings, I also began moving things around to accommodate new ideas. I now have enough buildings to actually have something close to ‘districts’ in our little village - the town hall, church, and historical society fill out the Civic District, a new general store and existing furniture merchant have made something like a Commercial District, and of course the houses make up the Residential District
Here’s a neat GIF showing how the village has changed and evolved in the last 8 months:
Finally, I also created 3 additional villagers and revamped a 4th. Meet Bavarian the Chef Blob, Lucy the Artistic Golem, Rainboy the Elemental, and Serin the…uh…tree.
It seems at least once a month I get bogged down by some obnoxious camera bug that comes out of nowhere, and this month was no different.
However, this time my solution ended up turning into a feature - a dynamic camera. There’s probably a better name for this, but what I mean is that the camera smoothly follows the player at its own speed as opposed to always keeping the player dead-center on screen.
This fits better with the relaxed style of game I’m making, and also looks a lot better in motion. It’s hard to capture via a GIF, so you’ll need to trust me that it looks better.
Sometimes I sit down to do one thing and end up feeling motivated to do something else entirely. That was the case this week, and it’s why I ended up creating four new critters to find and collect.
I won’t share them so they can remain a bit of a secret, but here’s the Capricious Cumulus, a cloud-based critter that oscillates between feelings of timidness and aggression.
That’ll do this for this week. Next week is likely to be just as sparse and late, but things are going very well and you’ll have a chance to see for yourself on September 6th when Alpha 1 releases.
Don’t forget that the Kickstarter starts a week later on September 12th. It’s going to be a hectic month, but this fall is shaping up to be a hell of a good time.
It’s the weekend, and that means another edition of the Village Monsters Dev Diary Digest (VMD3)
This edition is an extra-large one. I typically try to pick out the 3 most important things I worked on to share, but I was a real whirling dervish of productivity this week, and just 3 things ain’t going to cut it. Enough talk, let’s dig in.
A Preview of Seasons
Up until now, every screenshot I shared has been from ‘Spring’, but it’s been somewhat misleading as Village Monsters is a game of many seasons and colors.
This week, I wanted to experiment with what different seasonal tilesets might look like, so I whipped up the above to test them out.
It’ll likely change a few times between now and the final release, but I’m pretty happy with the colors and mood of each season.
New Additions to the Town
Last week’s addition of the beach inspired me to do some further work to the village and surrounding areas.
The ‘civic district’ - such at that is - has seen some love. A new town plaza sits empty, but that won’t be for long. A graveyard was added to the church, though I’m not sure what the monsters are planning for it.
The ‘residential district’ has also seen a new house pop up seemingly overnight. That skull really sticks out like a sore thumb, and Stapes & Saley (you know, the skeletal warriors that guard the gates) have been told to do something about it. Maybe next week.
Finally, a new area has been spotted east of the Crossroads. It’s called the Overlook, and it’s one of the best ways to get a view of the land outside the village. As with the beach, this area is usually pretty quiet. Maybe one day it’ll make for a good gardening spot?
Compendium Vol. 2
The Compendium is a very important book that is much more than just a menu. It is a complete log of your adventures and exploits in the world. It tracks quests, villager profiles, critter and fish collections, a map, and much more.
The Compendium Vol. 2 does all these same things, but with a fresher coat of paint and some increased usability options.
I’m unsure at this stage how fleshed out the Compendium will be by Alpha 1’s release, but at minimum you can expect some light tutorializing to via quests to be handled by the Compendium
A Grab Bag of Other Goodies
By holding the ‘Swing Net’ action you can now enter stalk mode. You move much slower, but animals will almost never run away from you. Be sneaky, but still be quick about it!
A System-level menu
Escape no longer dumps you from the game instantly. It now brings up a menu
Choices in dialog now works a bit differently. You simply hold the direction of the answer you want to give
Well, that’ll do it for this week. Just a few more weeks before PAX, Alpha 1, and something pretty big. I’m pumped!
It's the weekend, and that means another edition of the Village Monsters Dev Diary Digest (VMD3)
There is now less than a month to go until the version I'm working on releases for you all to play with. This'll mark the very first Alpha version that I make public, and I'm pretty excited about it.
September is shaping up to be quite the month, and it's not just the Alpha release; stay tuned for more information on that very soon
A Day at the Beach
Due to the nature of the game it's not often that I get to create a new area, so it was a real nice change of pace to work on one this week.
The beach is just a short walk away from the village - just head south from the gate and keep going until you reach the surf.
Though you or I would consider such a trip to be a nice day out, it seems that monsters haven't really taken to the human notion of spending the day in the sun and sand. Unless there's a special event going on you're likely to find the area to be largely empty.
Still, you'll probably enjoy the solitude. You can catch fish, work on your tan, and nosh on some whoopie pies in peace.
Ancient Ruins of Soon
Longtime followers of the game know that I often try to slip in as many 'meta' elements as I can. After all, this is a game in which the conceit is that the NPCs have taken it over and the digital barrier between our worlds is thinner than ever - I'm hoping it gives me some artistic liberty
Alongside beaches I added another new area to visit, though this one won't make it to the final game. It's called the Ancient Ruins of Soon, and it's an area you can visit to consult stone tablets on prophecy...
...in other words? You can view my plans on future features and changes from the game instead of going to my website or elsewhere.
I tried to split it up by category, so if you want to know what the future holds for hobbies or story or your house then you can view just that information.
Even More UI Changes
This marks the 2nd week in a row in which UI changes made it to the top of my priority list. Here's a sampling of what I worked on this time.
Notifications have been slightly resized and now rotate so that the newest is always displayed at the bottom
Meeting villagers for the first time now produces a notification
The inventory now has context-sensitive prompts depending on the mode or item
Finally, I did an initial pass on an in-game version of the world map.
Ok, that'll do it for this week. Hope you're enjoying these dog days of summer, because I'm definitely not. I hate the heat. Autumn can't come fast enough!
Until next time
It's the weekend, and that means another edition of the Village Monsters Dev Diary Digest (VMD3)!
Like last week I have a bit of housekeeping to do before diving in. Longtime followers know that I've tried several different ways to present progress updates, but none of them have really 'stuck'. However, it seems this weekly format has really been working for me.
As such, I went ahead and created an archive for every Dev Diary Digest I've posted since I started doing them. If you missed earlier editions, or if you just want to see how far I've come, then please do take a look!
Anyway, onto the update
I may have shared this anecdote before, but the road to pets was a serendipitous one
A few weeks ago I was working on debugging critter behavior, and for whatever reason I was testing it in the player's house. As I kept going in and out of the house it occurred to me how much I actually liked having a critter there - it was sort of like having a pet! Wouldn't it be cool if that was an actual feature?
This week I was able to prototype this idea:
Here's how it works: first, you gotta catch a critter. Then, walk up to an special item (currently a pet bowl) and select the pet you want to tame. You can only tame one at a time, so choose wisely
At first, all critters start out as "Wild", and they'll act much like they did before you caught them. Over time, if you feed them and treat them well they'll increasingly become tame and more affectionate.
Tamed critters will also continue to behave similarly to their wild versions, and they'll retain any unique attributes. For example, if you catch a Snowflake Elemental he'll make your entire house cold; good during the summer, but not so good if you have a lot of fish on display...
Hail / Thunderboomers
I always enjoy working on weather systems, so I took a detour to add a new weather type - Hail
I had to improve the weather system to handle the little hail pellets, and these improvements should help with any 'ground based' weather effects in the future...leaf piles in the fall, snowdrifts, rain puddles, and so on.
I then went ahead and added more sound effects to the various weather types. I also added a minor feature where weather sounds can still be heard indoors at a lower volume. It's surprisingly atmospheric, especially during thunderstorms!
UI Improvements (Map, Inventory, Notices)
Finally, though I generally don't like it, I also spent a great deal of time on UI work. I've never enjoyed UI work, not even at my last job where functionality was preferred over looks, but I'm actually pretty happy with how things shook out this time.
First, I added a map for the village to the Compendium. It's very basic and just lays the foundation for future maps:
I then added movement to various notifications. I like it a lot better than the notices just appearing suddenly.
Finally, I completely blew up and reworked the inventory. I actually did this some time ago, but I added an extra layer of polish and usability this week. It's unquestionably better than the old inventory, but that's not saying much - the old one was really bad!
Anyway, that's it from me. As usual I also added a lot of minor things, quality of life improvements, and bugfixes, but nothing I need to call out. Have a good week!
It's the weekend, so that means I get to share everything I worked on last week in yet another edition of the Developer Diary Digest!
Before I begin, I wanted to quickly plug something. You might not know this, but I have a newsletter for Village Monsters, and I would absolutely love it if you signed up for it!
Newsletter Signup: https://tinyletter.com/Village-Monsters
I try to reserve the newsletter for only big ticket items, so you'll be the first to know of releases and other important news.
Anyway, back to the update!
I had a few really productive weeks this month, so I guess I was 'due' to have a slow one. I didn't get nearly as much done as I had hoped, and I ended up getting caught in a few technical quagmires; still, I have things to share, so let's get on with it!
Fleshing Out Hobbies
From day 1 of development I knew that hobbies were going to be a major feature of Village Monsters. When you aren't talking with villagers, improving your house or solving mysteries, you'll probably be progressing your skills (and making money) with one of the various hobbies
Critter Capturing was the first hobby I put in, followed by Fishing and Archaeology. I had a bunch of ideas for other hobbies to add to the mix, but I wasn't sure which ones would work best. Well, until now.
(icons are very much 1st draft)
Village Monsters will now contain five hobbies for you to enjoy: Cooking, Critter Capturing, Botany, Fishing, and Archaeology. This post details some new updates to two of them.
Botany is one of the new hobbies I've been working on, and it includes everything plant related.
The reason I'm going with Botany instead of something like Gardening is that you'll be able to do way more than grow a simple garden
This week, I played around with planting & watering trees, as well as managing growth as time progresses - assuming you make sure to water and care for them each day
Like all prototypes it's a big work-in-progress. However, thanks to feedback from a user at another site I've had some intriguing ideas that I'm keeping under my hat. Stay tuned next week, yeah?
Fishing was one of the first hobbies I implemented, but I haven't touched it since. It's in a sorry state as of the last demo, and I'm pretty embarrassed by how bad it is.
What began as a 'revamp' quickly turned into a 'refactor' which the became a total 'rewrite'. I tossed out all my old code and rewrote it from the ground up.
It was a slow process, but fishing is in a much better state in terms of stability and mechanics. Work will continue on this system this week as well.
I've always been dissatisfied with fishing minigames in other life-sim games, so I'm going in a different direction. You can expect a system that's much more inspired by JRPGs than any existing life-sim out there.
Quality of Life
To wrap up, I also included a grab bag of bug fixes and quality of life improvements that I received from demo feedback.
Trees should behave better and no longer give you a permanent hug. Birds fly a bit slower. The keyboard control scheme was reworked. Critters should hopefully not crash the game as much. Your bit (currency) balance is now shown when you add or subtract from it
And so on.
I also got a lot of writing in this week as well. Every item - every single item - has a unique description and flavor text. Some even have detailed backstories. Pretty nuts, right? Well it's been a ton of fun, so there's no stopping me now.
Until next time!
It's the weekend, so that means I get to share all I worked on last week in another edition of the Developer Diary Digest!
EVENT & HOLIDAY SYSTEM
It seems like I've been putting off a holiday / event system for at least the last 6 months. It's one of the systems I've been most anticipating, but it relied on too many other moving pieces to work on...well, until now!
At the dawn of each day, the game now checks if there's an event scheduled, and if so it fires off any scripts related to it. It's pretty robust, and the scripts can do things like create holiday-specific visitors, add new music or decorations, change dialog, and a lot more.
As I wrapped it up, I realized that I needed a way to inform the player about upcoming events and what they were all about. This naturally lead into the next thing I worked on...
A POSTAL SERVICE
You can now receive letters from villagers, visitors, and other friendly monsters in the game. The goal is to integrate the mail system into as many other parts of the game as I can. For example, you'll get a flyer the day before each holiday that explains it:
Letters you receive from villagers will reflect their personalities as well as their disposition toward you. Most will be helpful or friendly, but others, like Taswell,
probably won't be at first.
As I said above, I want mail to be integrated into as many other systems as I can. As I was browsing my list of features I got to "The ability to submit feedback from in-game" when I suddenly had an idea...
SENDING FEEDBACK VIA IN-GAME POSTAL SERVICE
...wouldn't it be cool if you could write letters to the developer from inside the game itself?
Now obviously there's a lot of things to consider here - security, spam protection, etc. - but the idea is so cool to me that I'll do whatever it takes to make it work.
It's hard enough to encourage users to submit feedback, so providing something in-game that's also contextualized via a system they're going to be using every day can only help!
Finally, I'll end this week sharing a new 'flavor' feature.
If you've played any of the demos you've likely seen birds flying about every so often. But unlike real life, they've been totally silent.
Well not anymore! Birds that fly overhead will now chirp and caw and sing. I obviously can't record sounds via gifs, so I tried my best to provide an alternative:
Well that'll do it for this week. Enjoy your weekend, y'all!
I'm very excited to announce that a new demo for Village Monsters is now available - and there's also a new trailer for you to enjoy right alongside it!
You can find the demo right here at my website, and the trailer below.
This release is still considered Pre-Alpha, which means that there are missing or incomplete features, placeholders, and bugs.
Still, this latest demo represents the most amount of work I've put into the game so far, and while it's still in a rough state, it is absolutely playable with many core features and fun things to experiment with.
Here's an sample of things you can find in the current demo:
Catch bugs and other critters, then donate them to the Historical Society
Experience a day/night cycle with dynamic weather
Talk with nearly 20 unique villagers with distinct personalities
Buy furniture, then decorate your house with your purchases
Shake trees and dig up half-buried items to discover treasures, money, and...food?
Discover all kinds of hidden secrets and easter eggs (be sure to check each mailbox!)
So go check it out, and be sure to follow me here at indieDB, on Twitter, and on Facebook.
Work has begun on the full Alpha demo which will be releasing sometime in September, so look forward to weekly Developer Diary Digests on my progress starting this weekend!
Enjoy your week, everyone!