How Wild Season Is Attempting To Be A More Mature Take On Harvest Moon

By Eugene . April 7, 2014 . 5:31pm

Last December, Phillipines-basedQuickfire Games ran a pitch on Kickstarter for a grittier, more mature kind of Harvest Moon-style farming-sim called Wild Season. They were pretty successful with it, raising just under £27,000 for their bid.


Siliconera got in touch with founder and game designer Sharan Balani about what makes a game with same-sex marriages, crazy exes, and the ability to run a town with a “dark secret” tick.


First, could you give us an update on the game so farm for those who haven’t backed it but are interested in its development?


Sharan Balani, Founder of Quickfire Games and Game Designer: Development is coming along great! We’ve successfully got it running on the Ouya, and we hope to have a demo based on final game code by Casual Connect Asia (Fingers Crossed!)


One of the major claims here is that Wild Season wants to be grittier and more mature with its deeper characters and relatable problems. Why the choice to go down this “dark” path with options listed such as “drinking problems and crisis of consciences” to set it apart from Harvest Moon?


Well it’s just one of the things I felt was missing from the genre. While the game will still be fun and light hearted, I wanted to extend the spectrum of the experiences and emotions. As I get older one of the things that frustrates me now about certain games is the simplicity of it all, so we want to give more depth to the world, and the characters; and I felt by doing that, we had to bring in some real world negative influences, just to make it a little more relatable, especially by the older audiences.


However while we’re not aiming for as young as an audience as Harvest Moon, we still want to capture the “middle” audience, so we’ve had to find a balance between the two.


Is the option of same-sex marriages and romance going to be done for the sake of being “mature”? How will it be approached for audiences of all sorts?


This is a challenging one. By no means did we do this for the “sake of being mature”. The decision was made because I felt that there was a large part of the audience that would appreciate us exploring this angle. Especially since there are a lot of players that just like to play a female or male character and go after the same sex, and we felt it was worth exploring.


Tell us more then about the Friendzone Engine and its contextual abilities, and why you chose to make options such as stalking, crazy exes and so on. And could you also tell us more about how the name of that engine came about as well as how much effort has to be put into it to make conversations feel “real”?


Well, this is a habit I’ve noticed of most social RPGs, wherein there is a set formula that you can rinse and repeat, with little variation day after day, to achieve your goals. Relationships are not like that. They are unpredictable, prone to emotional bouts, and by no means repetitive (lest you get labelled a stalker, or be broken up with). As such we’re doing our best to break out of that mould, and try to bring as much variety as we can to the relationship building process.


We want to replicate the challenges and unpredictability of real life. We’re doing our best to make the best engine we can, but it’s especially complicated, especially when taking into consideration the number of lines that need to be written! (We love our writer very much for the work she’s putting into all this. :D)


The game itself hints at a dark secret in the town, has references to mystic sacrifices, and an ominous looking altar in its screenshots. Are we expecting players to be able to partake in some form of combat with their hoes and pitchforks, or can players complete Wild Season entirely with talk? Can players even completely ignore this side of the story if they choose to turn a blind eye?


At this point there will not be battles. It’s something we have considered, but considering everything else we have to do, to build the engine, we would rather “violent” events be handled as part of stories and cutscenes, rather than make a half-baked fighting system because we were rushed or over worked. We don’t expect this to be the last Wild Season, as we have many ideas for alternative stories, approaches, and whatnot, that we hope to explore in future titles, battle being one of them.


With all this talk about dark and mature, why the cheery, cutesy art style? How is humor intended to be handled?


Well at the end of the day, it is a farming game. The objective we have is that we want to extend the range of emotions and experiences in the game. Thus, that does not mean that the entire game needs to be dark and gritty. On the same note, neither should it be all joyful, cutesy and so forth.


We felt that sticking with this art style matched best with the farming and relationship building aspects of the game, but did not detract from the darker gritter parts of the game, lending themselves quite well to fitting the range of experiences we have in mind.


If you’re interested in picking up the game, you can still pledge via Paypal over on their Kickstarter page here.

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  • Son of a Smooosh

    Mysterious person: “Soon, the world will collide and the inevitable will come to pass. Will you stop it?”

    Protag: =^D

    • Rose Spinoza

      *laughs* Yeah, I noticed that in the screenshot too. Protag is PUMPED for the world ending!

      Ahahaha, that aside, game looks pretty nifty. I’ll be interested in checking it out when it releases.

    • Pinkemon

      He finally can fullfill his dream of being Link. Better grab that sword and ocarina.

    • God

      The Majora’s Mask… i can feel it…

  • Tetris

    This…sounds very awesome. Though I admit my face did something like ‘O_O’ when I read the stalking part.

  • Alt-Encephalon

    I am so pumped for this

  • Mugiwara

    This seems interesting… :P

  • Zer0faith

    Dark Harvest Moon?!
    Well damn I would have pledged sooner if I had known about this.

  • Lumi

    Good thing they aren’t trying to add battle into it, they already have enough features as it is, it’s better to use the money to flesh out the systems they advertised

  • Overlord Val

    Dark and mature theme do sound interesting but I can’t help but feel that they try too hard to put all ideas in there…so It doesn’t seem like this project is heading anywhere..,An example event would be nice. As for same-sex relationship, eh…A bit of Yuri & Trap here & there would be nice. Well those or just give me a Harem route that never happens in any HM/RF game.

    • Lumi

      Harem route FTW. Hope the devs make it. Or add yandereness/jealousy if the PC attempt a harem XD

  • I don’t think they can entirely claim to be darker/more mature than HM ever has been, especially since one bachelorette in particular (and her family) exhibit extreme drinking issues (and it was not handled cutely).

    But it’s true that HM has been very casual/soft lately, which I like, but it’s nice to see the void filled. They’re basically picking up where a number of the older titles left off, which is refreshing~.

    • M’iau M’iaut

      Oh Karen, you little lush. Falling into a wine vat and needing rescued.

      And then there were the hints she did more than serve whiskey at nights in that bar.

      • I’m not sure I got those hints, but I could totally feel that. Those games were wild once upon a time.

        • M’iau M’iaut

          Let’s just say the vibe I got when talking to some of the patrons at night was that they were ‘familiar’ or ‘friendly’ with her.

          And they were E FOR EVERYONE :P.

          • Yeah, that’s true. I kind of felt it was like everyone was a bit overly familiar with her family in general; but because of their reputation lol.

    • arkane9

      In the latest HM games everything is all happy happy sunshine, and everything is perfect.

      But one of the best things about Back to Nature/Friends of Mineral Town is that so many of the characters suffer/have suffered hardships. It adds a sense of depth, realism and heart sorely missing in the games that have been made since then.

      • I mean, I like all the happiness and everything, and I think it’d have been better for both those games and the newer once to be balanced.

        Once you realize those games are dark, they just feel outright somber. And while I love how bright the new titles are, they could do for a bit more toning and balance. I think the last dark title was A(n)WL. Ugh. That nearly took the cake too.

  • Shane Guidaboni

    I think I remember seeing this in Steam Greenlight and leaving a comment that the happy music in the trailer didn’t fit the tone of the game at all. I hope he ended up changing that.

  • Rocco

    I am expecting a horror survival route a la Silent Hill.

    “Your hoe hit something hard. You dig around it. It turned out to be the head of the girl next door. What do you do now?”

    A. Bury it back
    B. Call the cops
    C. Examine it and look for the murderer
    D. Cook it with vegetables from your farm and distribute it to the neighbors

    • God

      A. (Bravery -5)
      B. (Lawfulness +5)
      C. (Curiosity + 5)

    • Lumi

      D would be “Ahh, just the right state of decomposition. I timed it perfectly in time for the Harvest Festival potluck!”

  • Masa

    looks amazing!!! Harvest Moon needs a little new direction as i find the games have got a little boring.

  • notentirelythere

    I’m a little worried about the vocabulary being thrown around (DARK, GRITTY, FRIEND ZONE)… but it looks like the wants the game’s trying to fulfill won’t be complete adolescent, overgrim nonsense. Too, the Friend Zone Engine’s namesake seems less a promise for MRAs and “that feel when no gf” memers than used as a loosely applied, attention-grabbing buzzword.
    Or at least, I hope. There’s definitely a balancing act to be had… I’m strongly hoping against this turning into an Elfen Lied-level tragedy-turned-comedy with caricatured, ridiculously unceasing misery.
    Though I can’t say I’m above the latter, aha…

    • You pretty much stated everything i was worried about, and very eloquently. x’D

      • God

        Hey. are you guys gonna publish something when this game comes out?

        • I’m going to guess that there would be a review, but I’m not high enough in the hierarchy to know really. x’D

          • God

            lol. Then i’ll just keep track of the kickstarter campaign to know when the game is out and ready.

          • Haha, alrighty. Here’s to hoping we see a review though!

    • God

      I really like the idea of a Friend Zone Engine, i can already see those buthurted faces the players are gona make :’D.

  • RajaNaga

    I am still absolutely astounded at how many people are bothered by the idea of same-sex relationships in games where it makes the most sense for them to be common-place. It’s a game about relationships. Of course many players who are gay or bisexual themselves would want to go after the same sex instead of being forced to go hetero like most games like this make you. I think it’s great that more indie developers are catering to this very simple desire we’re never going to get out of an actual Harvest Moon game.

    I’m a little more excited for Stardew Valley which is about the same concept as this but looks less like an RPGMaker game, but I’ll definitely play both. I love the idea of a Harvest Moon game with more depth to it.

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