Dev Diary : Prototype Post Mortem

Hey everyone,

I'm Torri and I'll be writing a bit about the idea behind Moonlight Garden and tid-bits about the development process so far in our very first post. Camille and I are currently a team of two, and I'll be talking about our process for developing this prototype together.

Making a Game in 7 Days

As you might have noticed, the garden is a bit quiet at the moment - and that is all part of the design (for now). Nekomatata executed what you see now in 7 days. When it comes to making something in such a short time we think about the heart of the idea first, and we grow on the idea as development progresses. So how did the idea start?

The Idea

The idea for a game about a witch who is tending to a magic garden has been trapped in our imaginations for a while now. Lately I've been thinking about games like Harvest Moon - imagining an interactive world with secret things to grow, cook up, and discover. We discussed many possibilities and fun interactions - things that we would love to see and experience in an exploration game. In summary, the big picture idea is considerably large in scope and will take some time to put together. So where do we start? Well, we use a game jam to simplify and build a foundation.

The Game Jam

Joinging the jam
It was day 1 of the game jam, and I didn't initially join. Being the main artist, I had opened up a model of an old character and started tweaking it around to make a character for this game idea that we have. Some hours later, I had a 3D scene with a rigged witch. I was already jamming, so i decided to officially join the Weekly Game Jam that had just started.

Fitting the Theme
The theme for the jam was 'Mirror', and it felt out of line with what we actually wanted to build for this game at first. I didn't want the story or the entire game to revolve around mirrors and I felt very restricted. But after some thinking, we figured that mirrors and portals have a ton of potential for magic interactions and decided that a mini-game intro would be nice. One simple idea stuck: mirrors tell the truth. So in this mini game, there are hidden things in the world that the mirror reveals. Our witch has to find these hidden objects.

The Main Mechanic
I had not built a mirror in our game engine before and I had a feeling that it wouldn't be simple - I was right. I stuck with the challenge though, and in the end I had this test scene:

Setting the Scene
Now that we had the main mechanic ready, I had to find a nice story that would work well with the jam theme while sticking to the core of the long-term game idea. Our witch is mostly alone in a garden that she has sentimental ties to and is contemplatively celebrating a festivity with her owl friend Hodgepodge. This ended up adding some richness to the situation and was a beautiful intro to this world's setting.

Character Controller
I only allowed a day of work for the character controller and movement animations. So expect way better walk, jog and run animations in the future. For reference, I looked back to the character controller for Ocrina of Time and marveled at how easy and intuitive the controls for this game truly were for the time. It's not an exact reconstruction - and that's on purpose - this game has a different atmosphere and so has different controls.

The Finish Line
The last few days were spent building the remaining assets for the mini game and completing the game flow.  Sounds simple enough, but it was pretty hard work. Fortunately it paid off and we delivered the prototype in a time-frame that we were happy with.

What's Next?

Save Profile
We'll be thinking about how to save player progression next. This will give return players an easy way to see what's new without replaying the game loop.

Revisit Animations
I'll be revisiting some animations.

Living Environment
We'll be breathing a bit more life into the environment by adding moving grass.

Contributor Goal Update

We're half way there already! I'm flexin' my hands to prepare a nice warm cabin for our witch. Sincerely, thank you for all of your contributions so far.  We are trying something new and hope that the community for this game continues to grow as Nekomatata adds more features and content.

Thanks for tuning in. We hope you enjoy this first version in all its simplicity.

Team Nekomatata

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Hey this look's really cool!

Thank you!