Things have been all over the place the last few months, up until my trip to Japan in March-April I had been running around getting builds ready for publishers, trying to fix bugs and tidy things up in order to make a good impression. The trip to Japan was both wonderful, and a bit tiring, and so it’s not until the last month or so that I’ve been able to sit back down and focus on Hokko Life again.
So let’s have a look and see what got done during May and June!
I had come to the realization a little while back that the game was a bit light on things to do, and so I got around to adding two new features that I think both compliment the existing ones and add to the whole game experience.
The simplest of these new additions is the bug-catching gameplay. At different times of day and in different locations butterflies and other insects can be seen around the world. Equipped with a net you can catch these little critters if your timing is right and can either sell them, or donate them to the town scientist to help them with their research observations.
A little more advanced gameplay feature that went in recently too is farming. Right now this is in its most basic form, and the plan is to make the feature deeper at a later date. You can till the soil, plant seeds and have them grow into produce you can sell. You’ll need to make sure you water the plants regularly as they grow otherwise they’ll wither and die.
I updated the weather system to give me more flexibility and customization over how the world will look. This weather changes daily and will affect what insects and fish are about in the world (if it’s raining it’ll save you the job of having to water your plants too!)
To test the new system I added both a rainy and cloudy weather type to the game. This new system hooks into my vegetation shader too to allow me to make some really blustery looking days!
One thing I noticed when watching people play the game, and when testing it myself, was that it was very tedious to change the equipment you had in your hands. You’d have to go into the backpack screen and pick the new equipment to begin using it. I decided to add a key that will cycle what equipment you have in your backpack, allowing you to quickly switch back and forth when working on your town.
You can also click the equipment icon on the screen to open up a menu of everything in your backpack you can equip and select from there.
A whole new world
I came to the recent conclusion that the world in Hokko Life felt a bit small. There was essentially one main area, where all shops, houses, fishing areas etc were located and once you’d run around this area you felt pretty much like you’d seen everything, and to be honest, it was pretty boring. I decided then this month to split the world up into a bunch of levels, each with their own activities and feel. There’s a dedicated town center for all your shopping needs, a lovely beach for night time strolls (and a spot of fishing) some pleasant riverside walks and of course the mine and forest are still there too.
Just running around the world now feels a lot better and a lot more exciting. Of course, each of these areas can have houses placed in them, and be customized how you like which means you can now create peaceful little retreats for your villagers or give them a beach-side hut to live in.
I started doing a almost-hopefully-fingerscrossed-final version of the UI that will be in the game. I’ve had some pretty fun and fancy ideas over development for what would be cool for a UI, and at the end of the day I’ve decided to go for something that’s simple and easy to work that will allow me to get the game finished, and still maintain a high level of polish.
With the new UI direction decided I started fixing up existing areas to use it, starting with the backpack. The layout still is a bit boring, so it’ll get some work in the future, but you can see the direction it’s going in.
Over development the backpack menu has evolved to include a whole bunch of other bits of information, including villager request, crafting recipes and you collection book for all the fish and insects you catch. While working on updating the UI I’ve been going through and updating all of these other menus too.
While fixing up the menus etc to use the new style I got the chance to rework crafting in the game too. Previously one would have a series of “slots” that they would add ingredients to, and if you had the correct amounts when clicking the craft button you’d craft an item. This was a bit confusing, and meant the player would go in and out of their recipes list to check what ingredients they needed all the time. This was tedious, and not at all fun when trying to craft things. There was also no way of crafting more than one of each item, so you’d be stuck clicking the craft button 20 times if you wanted 20 cushions, for example.
With the update to the menu, I moved a craft button onto each item in the list, and so if you have the right ingredients you can simply click craft, select how many you’d like to make, and bam! a whole bunch of new materials!
As you can see, things like buttons and other things are missing textures yet, but you get the general idea of where things are going!
So there you have it! That’s all of the big things that got into Hokko over the last 6 weeks or so.
Things have been a bit chaotic for me recently, and it’s only really the last two weeks or so I’ve been able to actually fully focus on getting Hokko Life further towards completion. Now that I have the gameplay features in I’m going to start wrapping things up towards an Early Access release. My current plan is to even do a “Too-Early-Access” release for really early players to help fix bugs and get feedback before I do the proper Early Access release.
These early releases will contain all initial features, but will be a bit light on content (things like haircuts, potted plants, fish, wallpapers etc) As I update the game over the Early Access period I’ll be adding more and more to this content, building the game up into a fuller experience. I think it’s important for me to get something out to players soon; to get feedback on what’s been made and iterate on that over during Early Access.
I see Hokko Life as a long-living game that continually gets updated with new content, even after release, and with that in mind I’m keen to get players playing as soon as possible, so that their input can help shape the game into something for the community.
Thanks for reading!
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