So in the last devlog I went through everything that happened with the project up until GDC. This post will cover the changes I have decided to make to the game, and the direction it is heading in now.
As I mentioned previously, I had built a set of features, or systems, but hadn't really thought about what the game itself was. I took a few days to disconnect myself from everything and sit and think about what I wanted most from the game.
I thought about what I really wanted to feel when playing the game; that I wanted players to feel a connection to their world, to the residents in it; and that every resident should feel unique. I wanted to maintain the building aspect of the game, as having a world that you've created makes you cherish it more. With this in mind I decided to scrap the idea of having multiple towns, and focus on having just one town that the player built and customised. I felt that spreading focus out across several locations would mean the player would care less about each of them. With only one town, there's no need for trains so trains have now gone too, which is crazy considering the project started off as a train game! (I'm still going to have a train in the game, but that'll be a surprise!)
With building and the residents being the main areas of the game, I wanted to make the residents more integral to the game itself, so that they weren't just characters that turned up and lived in the town but things you actually wanted to have, or even collect. It has always been my intention to have each of them be a unique character, with unique dialog; and this will remain so, but I decided to have the residents as something you unlocked through building and customising your town. For example, if you build a library, the studious professor character would become a resident; a hair salon would bring a hairdresser and so on. I felt this would make the player appreciate them more, and they would feel more like a reward for playing the game. If you really want to put an end goal on the game, one could say collecting all the residents is that.
To enable players to build different types of building I decided to let them decorate the interior of each building also (previously players would only have fine control over exterior objects, or the exterior appearance of buildings) This leads into the above point about creating specific types of building. My intention is that the player chooses a building base, and then based on what they place inside, they create a different type of building. For example: take a shop base, put tables and chairs in it and a coffee machine, and you've got yourself a cafe! A large hall with chairs, tables, book cases, globes: A library! This way players form buildings into the types that they want, and get rewarded by receiving a new villager.
By unlocking different villagers the player will also gain access to new types of furniture and building parts that can be placed, slowly increasing the types of buildings available, and further the types of villagers in the town, as the game progresses.
So there you go, a rough outline of how the game has changed.
- Build a building base (shop, house, etc)
- Customise the exterior (windows, roof, wall type, etc)
- Decorate the interior (place paintings, chairs, bookshelves etc)
- Place the right combination of furniture and you create a type of building (cafe, library, hair salon etc)
- A new resident arrives in your town based on the building you built
- That resident brings new construction options
- The resident has it's own personality and dialog
- Build and customise the town; unlock the villagers
I want to keep the experience small in its fundamentals, and I hope by boiling the game down into very few parts I can focus on making it feel great to play, and fill it with enough content to allow players to customise their town how they would like. I'm also looking very much forward to creating a whole bunch of unique and interesting villagers that you'll enjoy interacting with!
Well, that was a lot of text! Next progress post I'll talk a bit about art style, where it was, and the direction that I'm aiming towards. It will have pictures, I promise!