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TIGSource ForumsCommunityDevLogsVillage Monsters - A Monstrous Life Sim Game!
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Author Topic: Village Monsters - A Monstrous Life Sim Game!  (Read 9013 times)
Josh Bossie
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« on: July 14, 2017, 04:25:48 PM »


Trailer




Quick Info
Release: October 2018 for PC / Mac / Linux
Genre: Life Sim
Alpha Demo: http://warpdogs.com/were-release/
Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/VillageMonsters
Good Vibes?: Yes
Monsters?: Absolutely


Summary
Have you ever wondered what happens inside the world of an abandoned video game? All those NPCs with their artificial lives...what do they do after the game is turned off for that final time?

Village Monsters is a relaxing life sim game set in one such world.

You play as someone booting up the game for the first time in decades only to discover that it is nothing like you remember.

The monsters that were once enemies have thrown away their weapons and have settled down in a peaceful village that they created.

Stranger still, they're inviting you to come join them.


  • Personalize your very own home with furniture, decorations, and upgrades. Plant a garden! Install a secret room! Sit on a golden throne you found in the woods!
  • Get to know dozens of whimsical monster neighbors, each with their own personalities, activities, and problems to solve.
  • Pick up a new hobby, like fishing, botany, critter collecting, archaeology, or cooking, then donate your findings and creations to the Historical Society of Monsters.
  • Leave your mark on the village by unlocking new buildings and influencing its development over time.
  • Fill out your daily routine with activities like shopping, talking with villagers, watching TV, hunting for mushrooms, and so much more.






  • An immersive day / night cycle where everything has a schedule to keep - the villagers, the birds, and even the flowers.
  • Dynamic weather changes including dozens of distinct weather types ranging from clear skies to thundersnow.
  • The world changes with the seasons, and you can expect activities, items, creatures, and even music unique to each season.
  • A packed calendar full of holidays ensures that every week brings something new. Enjoy events like the monthly Critter Safari, the springtime Good Egg Day Feast, and the Pumpkin Patch Bash.






  • Explore a digital land that’s been transformed by its abandonment.
  • Experience a unique story told through unusual methods such as via item descriptions, overheard conversations, and anomoly research.
  • Help unravel the unknown by investigating and solving Mysteries, a unique type of quest system.
  • Complete a massive compendium that logs your journey through the game. Use it to track Mysteries, collectibles, secrets, and triumphs.



« Last Edit: July 23, 2018, 02:28:03 PM by Josh Bossie » Logged

breakfastbat
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« Reply #1 on: July 14, 2017, 11:51:18 PM »

I'm here for the monsterfriends and the bug catchies

Your game's come a really long way for how short of a time you've been working on it so far man, great job.
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« Reply #2 on: July 15, 2017, 01:16:11 AM »

Omigosh YES! Let's just say #monsterlove and #respect!

Good luck with it, and I wanna see some more of the monsters! Looks like you have a nice variety so far (not just typical skeletons and dragons) - I like that! Especially the potted plant one with big red arms. Wink
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« Reply #3 on: July 15, 2017, 11:06:41 AM »

Looks really cool! I really like the concept for this game - the idea of people finding peace in an abandoned game really appeals to me for some reason Tongue.
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Josh Bossie
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« Reply #4 on: July 15, 2017, 11:18:38 AM »

Phew, checking this topic again on my laptop has revealed a whole bunch of tragic malformations in the topic post. Hopefully I cleaned it all up

Thanks for the kind words, folks!

Also, that plant monster is a pitcher plant, of which I have 5 sitting on my windowsill by my desk. Thankfully he only eats bugs, not humans
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« Reply #5 on: July 15, 2017, 12:31:40 PM »

Out of curiousity - what features set Village Monsters apart from Animal Crossing? I had a look through the feature list, and apart from the story & art style, I'm not seeing many differences. Not saying that's necessarily a bad thing (I love AC games), just curious if you're trying anything new Smiley.
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« Reply #6 on: July 15, 2017, 01:52:06 PM »

Love the idea! And we need more non-violent games, hope this will be fun Smiley
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« Reply #7 on: July 16, 2017, 03:14:37 AM »

I've always loved Animal Crossing.

Throw in an "Earthbound-like" art style, and you just won me over completely.

I'm also curious; what features might differ from Animal Crossing? What do you think is strictly unique to Village Monsters?

Either way, I'm so excited :D

(Just followed you on Twitter, as well. I'll be sure to say hello!)

EDIT: P.S. - I forgot to mention that I love the acoustic guitar-based music in the trailer. It suits the game's ambiance quite well! Did you make the music as well?!
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Josh Bossie
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« Reply #8 on: July 16, 2017, 09:56:46 AM »

I'm also curious; what features might differ from Animal Crossing? What do you think is strictly unique to Village Monsters?

Out of curiousity - what features set Village Monsters apart from Animal Crossing? I had a look through the feature list, and apart from the story & art style, I'm not seeing many differences. Not saying that's necessarily a bad thing (I love AC games), just curious if you're trying anything new Smiley.

Glad you guys asked - there's a fine line between "inspired by" and "a clone of". I have three differentiating points I've been focusing on:


1. The most meaningful difference is that the village and villagers are handcrafted. This in turn greatly impacts the feel and features of the game: Villagers have distinct personalities, schedules, and personal stories to explore via quests. The village itself feels 'lived in', and it'll change over time both with and without player involvement

This extends to the world and its lore itself, and it'll be a much more story focused game


2. Village Monsters is very 'systems' focused. Paired with the conceit of being set in an abandoned video game, this means I can give players sandbox-like features to play with.

If it's raining and you find a way to make it colder - it'll snow. Trying to catch a rare fish during a thunderstorm? Make it easier by slowing down time.


3. Finally, and to be blunt, it'll have features that AC should have had years ago. You'll be able to have pets. You can spend time outside the village with villager friends, including special 'road trip' events. Collections you complete will give you special bonuses. House upgrades don't just increase floor space but also include things like a fenced yard and secret rooms.


Overall it's an answer I have to practice at, as I have a vision in my head that I can't quite articulate yet, but hopefully what I have now makes sense
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« Reply #9 on: July 16, 2017, 01:11:48 PM »

Sounds like a well thought out answer to me! I'll definitely be following this one as it develops Smiley. Feel free to hit me up if you need playtesters!
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Josh Bossie
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« Reply #10 on: July 16, 2017, 04:11:35 PM »

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

Since I released the demo on Sunday I've been working on experimental prototyping; not all of it will survive, but it's a fun excursion.

Potions
The most successful prototype has been a 'potion' system. The idea of Village Monsters is that it's set inside an old video game, so I'm always thinking of things that could be 'artifacts' from the original game. Potions seemed like a neat way to have that + add all sorts of fun and unexpected ways to play with the systems in the game


Potions will range from useful to the bizarre. You can control time, change your look and other attributes, and even do things you wouldn't - like control the weather. Like I said, it'll get pretty weird!

The system I made for potions allows me to whip up new effects in only a few minutes, so expect to see a lot of them.

Item Cards
Work on potions lead to improve the amount of item info I give players on items, so I began to prototype the idea of item cards


But I also want to use item descriptions as a way to tell stories. This is something other games have certainly done (Souls and Nier come to mind), but I've yet to see it done in a life-sim game where your items aren't swords and shields but rather furniture, decorations, and collectibles

I want a chair that you earn via a quest or hard-to-do challenge to be more meaningful and interesting then one you bought at the store; stories are one way I'm hoping to do this.


All items with stories can have their item cards 'flipped over' to view a short snippet related to it


(text and graphics are all placeholders btw)

While messing with item-related stuff I went ahead and crossed off some of the smaller features on list: selling items, an expanded inventory, and basic dialog choices.

Critter Behavior & Pets
Finally, I had something of an incidental inspiration that I'm really happy about!

I worked a lot of critter behaviors this week - things like patroling around, running away from humans and other predators, and so on.
I ended up using the player house to test things instead of a debug room, and after I was done I left the little guy there and went to do other things. Each time I came back to the house I saw him running around, and it hit me - wouldn't it be cool to allow critters to become pets?


You were always going to have a dog, cat and guinea pig as pet choices, but the idea of letting other critters be 'domesticated' into a pet really struck a chord with me. It also makes catching critters a bit more interesting after you donate them, and gives a valid path beyond just selling them

I worried a bit about feature creep, but I have the systems there to hook it up pretty easily and I dunno, if I keep it lightweight enough I think it could be really cool! Pets are definitely something games like Animal Crossing really lack in
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« Reply #11 on: July 16, 2017, 05:59:28 PM »

LIFE AFTER RPG...

I love when games take a twisted perspective in their design (ie: tell things from a villains perspective) design. Hope this gets the attention it deserves.
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« Reply #12 on: July 17, 2017, 12:36:12 AM »

Oh, I really like that idea!

Actually, I think you can take this concept even further: this could be a fun take on a common criticism of traditional gaming systems, namely that in many situations the game mechanics force you to apply violent solutions. In a first person shooter, the only solution is to kill everyone (or in some cases stealth around it).

So the idea of an entire game world rejecting the originally intended gameplay and figuring out a different creative use for all kinds of game mechanics is like trying to find non-violent escape routes out of endless cycles of violence. Except, you know, not as heavy-handed as that sentence makes it look like.

Or maybe this was the whole idea you were going for to begin with? Either way, looking forward to where you'll take this!
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Josh Bossie
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« Reply #13 on: July 17, 2017, 04:39:54 PM »

Or maybe this was the whole idea you were going for to begin with? Either way, looking forward to where you'll take this!

The original design of the game featured this type of thing more heavily, but I could never get it working right. Probably my own weakness as a designer.

There's definitely going to be a lot of repurposed elements from the 'original RPG' the game is based on, but it's mostly going to be in UI design and the village overall. There's also going to be some secret stuff that I'm keeping under wraps for now.
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Josh Bossie
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« Reply #14 on: July 19, 2017, 12:14:39 PM »

Hey guys. Thanks to eidobunny I was able to nail down a pair of pretty easily reproduced crashes in the latest demo. I went ahead and fixed it up and put the new build on my site (and also itch.io and everywhere else)

http://warpdogs.com/were-release/

It's identical to the previous build otherwise, so if you got your fill of it then don't worry about diving back in
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« Reply #15 on: July 19, 2017, 03:45:07 PM »

Lovely concept! Been in the mood lately for AC-like games, and this seems like a really interesting take on it. Will be checking the demo out!
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Josh Bossie
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« Reply #16 on: July 22, 2017, 09:57:33 AM »

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!


BIRD SONG

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!
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Josh Bossie
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« Reply #17 on: July 30, 2017, 02:51:38 PM »

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 Prototyping
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 Revamp
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!
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« Reply #18 on: July 31, 2017, 04:57:10 PM »

I just read the feature your game got on Rock, Paper, Shotgun and I just wanted to come by to say your game looks absolutely charming!

I might not find the time to play it right away but I'll certainly be subscribing to this thread because your devlog is <i>also</i> charming!
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« Reply #19 on: August 01, 2017, 06:14:18 AM »

I dont have much of a history playing games in this genre, but the idea of it all being set within a long abandoned rpg is pretty interesting.

That feeling of coming back to your old save for a game that you haven't played in years is a weird one, and the idea that the npcs have got tired of waiting and moved on with their lives is really appealing.

I'll look forward to seeing the game develop, it looks great so far.
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