[KICKSTARTER: 80% FUNDED!] I'm making a video game: the Village Monsters Dev Diary

  • 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.

    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

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    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.

    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

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    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.

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

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    (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.

    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?

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    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

  • 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!

  • 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!

  • 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, 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.

    Introducing...the beach.

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    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.

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    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.

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    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...

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    ...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

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    Meeting villagers for the first time now produces a notification

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    The inventory now has context-sensitive prompts depending on the mode or item

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    Finally, I did an initial pass on an in-game version of the world map.

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    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

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  • 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

    Stalking Critters

    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

    Reworked Choices

    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!

  • Attention all Freemonsters & Humans

    BIG NEWS! Village Monsters is coming to Kickstarter on September 12th!

    You can of course expect continued news and updates from me in this topic, but if you want to be the first to know when the Kickstarter drops then I definitely recommend signing up for the Village Monsters newsletter

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  • 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, Alpha 1 release next week, and Kickstarter kicking off the week after that, I've been pretty dang busy.

    So no preamble this week - let's just get onto it!

    Under Construction

    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.

    Dynamic Camera

    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.

    New Critters?

    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.

  • 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.

    It's been a wild ride. I hope it never stops. Thanks for joining me on it! <3

  • Happy Full Moon, Y’all

    A new full moon means a new version of Village Monsters for you to enjoy. I’m happy to announce that the latest demo, Alpha 1, is now officially released.

    Go Download it Now!

    This is a big release, so I included the patch notes in a whole other post - go check them out if you're into that kind of thing!

    It's a great milestone, but with the Kickstarter coming up next week there's no rest for the wicked quite yet. My attention now shifts toward finishing up the loose ends in the Kickstarter.

    However, there is more good news - because I want to present the best possible demo for the Kickstarter (and for you, of course!), you can expect another release within the next week that contains even more features and polish based on feedback from this demo.

    Feel free to leave your feedback here, or send me an email at josh@warpdogs.com. Thanks guys!

  • Hello monster friends!

    It's the weekend, and that means another edition of the [B]Village Monsters Dev Diary Digest[/B] (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, [B]Cooking[/B]. 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

  • Oh, hello! Got some big news!

    Village Monsters is officially LIVE on Kickstarter!

    Help me build a village! Back Village Monsters on Kickstarter!



    There's also a new trailer!

    Youtube Video

    Later on today I'll also update the OP, though I'm a bit busy right now :)

  • I did back your game, hopefully everything works out well. Good luck with the Kickstarter!

  • Backed! :D Looks like a good time! I'll be checking out the demo soon as well, when time permits. :)

  • Thank you guys so much!!! <3 Love my fellow Allies.

    I still have to update the OP at some point - it's so old and...bad! Hopefully later today.

    Because man...what a whirlwind the last 36 hours have been. I'm not exactly sure how much sleep I've grabbed since this thing launched, but it's surely not a lot

    Hopefully I'm not being too annoying spamming this, but I'd be remiss not to include a link to the Kickstarter at the top of this post :)

    A few notes!

    • I am super insanely happy to report the game has reached the 20% funding mark! There's still plenty of campaign left, but I cannot even properly express how much gratitude I feel toward people that have backed already. Thank you!!!
    • A number of tiers have sold out already, but the Early Bird tier - where you can grab the game for $12 - still has ~60 slots
    • Today I also added an additional reward I'm calling Village Younger. The Village Elder tier - the reward that allowed you to design your own monster - sold out very quickly on the first day. This new tier is identical to Elder with one difference: the monster you design will be added to the game after launch. This is so that we have enough time to design and create a really cool monster without impacting the overall schedule of the game

    Things will most likely slow down from here on out if previous Kickstarters are any indication. I'm very ok with that, as I'll use the 'downtime' to resume working on the game. I'm hoping to get out several new releases between now and the end of the Kickstarter, though of course they'll be smaller in size than the previous bi-monthly demos.

    Thanks as always for following along!

  • Backed! Looking forward to see how the game grows and changes!

  • OP updated. Thank you to all the allies for your support!

  • The whirlwind rages on.

    It's stressful, sure, but there's also something fun about running around like your hair is on fire - it makes the days feel a lot more productive

    I'm foregoing the typical weekend digest this week because a) I don't have time, and b) I didn't really do a whole lot on the game this week/ Still, I do have a few things to chat about, so let's make like a gun and bullet.

    Oh, and again, I'd be silly to not link to the Kickstarter at the top of the post! If you like what you see in this topic and want to support me, then please consider sharing or making a pledge.

    Regarding Kickstarter...

    • Early this afternoon I crossed the 30% funded mark, which is a tremendous milestone. Thank you to everyone who has backed the campaign! Your support has given me so much motivation.
    • The Early Bird tier is just about sold out - as of writing this there's only ~15 slots left. Act fast if you want to get the game at the lowest possible price
    • The newly introduced Village Younger tier has slots left as well. If you're interested in a monster of your design being added to the cast of Village Monsters then please take a look
    • I've started posting longer looks at the various systems and features of Village Monsters on Kickstarter. The latest one is on the Mysteries system. They're view-able by anyone - no backing required

    [### Regarding the Game...

    • Another Alpha 1 released today. You can grab it right here. Alpha 1.03 brings with it some more bug fixes, but more importantly it's the first demo that includes Linux support! You'll see a separate link on the Downloads page for Linux. I haven't forgotten about you, Mac - it's just a lot harder to get you up and running on Virtual Box
    • Alpha 1.03 also re-implements the ability to swap your gender - a much requested feature
    • Finally, Alpha 1.03 makes it a bit easier to send feedback. It seems some people were having some issues, as my inbox has been full of feedback emails that look like the below. That should hopefully now be fixed :)


    Well, that'll do it for now. Hopefully this coming week is a bit slower, as I'll be able to get more done on the game - including more dev streams!

  • Imgur

    Last week I released a new demo for Village Monsters, and today the Kickstarter campaign crosses the 50% funded mark!

    Time is starting to run out if you want to grab an exclusive Kickstarter reward, 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?

    Click Here to Back Village Monsters!

    Click Here to Support our Thunderclap!


  • What seemed like a depressing longshot has turned into a possible victory in the 11th hour - uh, literally.

    An insanely generous user at another forum has breathed new life into this campaign, and it looks like it could actually make it

    Please consider backing my game on Kickstarter if this seems interesting to you!