April News Update

This might actually be a short devlog for once, guess we’ll see. Not that a lot hasn’t happened its just all centralized into one system this time around. The month of March was spent very wholly on the mines. I’ve been putting this off for a long time and I finally decided to tackle it this month. I spoke briefly about this in the March news, but now the system is far more concrete, so I can expound on things a bit.

If you’ve played Verdant Village for any significant amount of time you’ve probably been to the mines. In the live version of the game the interior of the mines are just several (I think around 6) static rooms. These rooms randomly generate ore nodes on the ground to give a slightly different feel each time and that’s it.

Originally, my plan for the mines was to simply make more of these static layouts. This is, generally speaking, what most games of this genre do. I was faced with two issues when I thought about this. The first was logistics. Because of how the areas in this game are laid out I essentially have a limited amount of space for new zones. I could expand this area, but it would threaten performance so I’d rather not. Not to mention in order to get to a reasonable number of layouts I’d probably have to make around 20 more or so.

The second issue was more an opinion I had. Personally, I didn’t like the idea that the mine levels were static. I did it originally because a lot of my when I started development many of my ideas for this game were just following trends from other games, Stardew for example.

However, mining can already feel tedious in a lot of ways. In short, it’s basically just, go to mines, hit rocks, get ore, repeat. While this works, there isn’t much to it. I feel it also doesn’t help that the mines feel like a good opportunity for a little more adventure. Take Minecraft for instance. A big part of its gameplay is going down into caves, digging around, and finding things you weren’t expecting, good or bad. It keeps the act of mining fresh because there is an element of discovery, danger, etc.

While I’m not crazy enough to implement 100% random terrain generation into this game, I did want to play on this. This month I’ve spent the majority of my time reworking the mines. The old static levels are gone. Instead, each level is randomly generated when you enter it. Once again, I’m not crazy enough to do complete random generation so instead this functions more on the principles of rogue likes, where the algorithm will piece together small chunks of pre made terrain in order to cobble a level together.

To explain, when you first enter a level the game spawns rooms. Imagine, if you would, a grid of squares. In the case of this game the grid is 5x4, so 20 squares. The first thing the game does is to cobble together a basic structure that can be any shape or size within this grid, consisting of different sized rooms. Then each room inserts sections of terrain to make a conglomerate piece of terrain, thus giving you a semi-random map to explore.

Of course, if all the mines consisted of were walls it would be pretty boring. Currently, in the live version, the mines contain ore nodes and large ore nodes. The other thing I wanted to do was lean more heavily into some random elements scattered about that you could stumble upon. To name a few, merchants, fishing ponds with unique fish, stockpiles of resources, etc. I’m still hashing out the details of what exactly I want to include, but the hope is that there will be a few things on each floor that will make you want to explore a little.

Adding to this idea of exploration is one other critical change. Currently you just mine ore nodes that are scattered on the ground. They are plentiful, and the abundance paired with the small levels means you don’t have to go far to find something usually.

The new mines are set up differently. Ore nodes are now much rarer. Some will still spawn here and there but not with nearly as much frequency. To compensate, there are now different objects called seams that spawn within the mines. For instance, a copper, iron, or gold seam. These will be your main source of minerals. They are built into the sides of walls and only one or two of them will spawn per floor so you’ll have to go looking for them. It should feed into the idea of wandering through the caverns to look for ore.

I think that once combat is added on top of all of this, you’ll have an experience that is altogether a little more treacherous and engaging as well as more rewarding. As I said before the hope is that this new set up will engage the player a little more and keep mining from feeling like a grind.

Sadly, a system this large means I really didn’t do much else this month. I recently completed another long-term project (not game related) that I’d had, which means more dev time, which always helps. I’ve allocated that extra time towards other smaller projects that need to be done aside from the mines. This time was only freed up a week ago so I only did a few small things and one thing of note. That thing was that I just finished adding a cocoa tree. I wanted a way for the player to get chocolate without having to buy it, so now you’ll be able to craft it using cocoa beans that you harvest like any other fruit.

One detail outside of in-game additions that you may have already noticed reading this. The Steam assets have been changed. In the past they were just stretched versions of the in-game title screen which looked really unprofessional in my opinion. As a result, I hired a concept artist briefly to render something a little more fitting.

Outside of that my artist is still working his tail off to catch up, and doing an admirable job I might add. Currently, he’s got a list of UIs to update and then I believe we are on to odds and ends before I set him off on the arduous task of making everything related to combat. Which for reference, this patch will not include combat. That stands to be the center point of the next big patch after this one.

As much as I’d love to give a date for when this patch will arrive I really can’t. Developing a game in your free time tends to slow things down quite a bit. Suffice to say, there isn’t a ton left to do for this patch. The continued updates to the mines are far and away the largest project. The good news is the code is mostly in place. I have a few bits and pieces to iron out, but once that is out of the way it mostly comes down to designing the smaller elements that are used to construct the random terrain. Something that is a bit tedious, but doesn’t take too long and certainly isn’t very hard.

As with every news update, I just want to say thanks for sticking with the development of the game. I appreciate people playing it, reviewing, posting bugs, whatever. While I don’t have a time frame, I can promise I’ll do what I can to make your purchase worth it. I’ve wanted to make a game like this since I was like 10 so rest assured, I’ll do whatever I can to make it the best it can be.