Story of Seasons: Friends of Mineral Town is a gateway game in many ways. The original Game Boy Advance title might have been someone’s first exposure to the series years ago, this is the first mainline entry on the Nintendo Switch, and it is the first time a mainline entry is appearing on PCs. To help learn more about the remake and what went into its development, Siliconera spoke with Director Hikaru Nakano. Nakano previously worked on entries like Harvest Moon 64 and Harvest Moon: Island of Happiness, and went over everything involved with bringing this remake to new audiences.
Jenni Lada, Siliconera: How long was Story of Seasons: Friends of Mineral Town in development, and what made it the “right” one to remake?
Hikaru Nakano, Director: If we use the Japanese version as reference, it took about two years from conception to release. We released the title on a new console, the Nintendo Switch, and wanted the people who have never played a Bokujou Monogatari game to experience its charm for the first time through a remake of Friends of Mineral Town.
This title was originally on the Gameboy Advance, and it is a culmination of the early works of the Bokujou Monogatari series that begins with Bokujou 2, and we thought that it would be ideal for new players to be able to get a basic idea of what the series is about. I was a developer for Bokujou Monogatari 2, so I have a special connection with the characters, and that may have also been a reason why we chose this title.
Story of Seasons: Friends of Mineral Town is very clear about stamina levels. What led to all of that being displayed in the UI?
Nakano, Director: It was a result of wanting to make the game extremely easy to digest.
If you work, your stamina drops, and if you eat, your stamina rises. You can increase your maximum stamina by eating a Power Berry. Having the stamina be more visible and being able to literally see the stamina rise and fall would help make that system simple to understand, and we wanted this to be something that was clear.
How long did it take to create the new love interests Jennifer and Brandon, and what goals were there for each one during development? Was one more challenging to work into the story than the other, and why?
Nakano, Director: Jennifer and Brandon are new characters that were added into this title.
It was already decided that we would be adding new characters to the remake of Friends of Mineral Town, so the question was what kind of characters we wanted to create. Our first thought was to create characters that are largely different from the bachelors/bachelorettes. The residents of Mineral Town all have great individuality and are all unique in their own way. If we take Rick, Doctor, and Elli, for example, they are all well-established in the town, are living honest lives, and find their relationships with other residents to be important. In that sense, Mineral Town is accomplished in itself and I thought that having a character with a strong personality could inspire it.
In both a good and bad sense, these two characters are assertive and prioritize their own feelings. They definitely have some clear flaws, but I’m not too concerned with that. They have a strong sense of “this is how I live!” I thought that characters like this could impact Mineral Town in a positive way. Their individuality made it quite simple to create their stories as well.
Story of Seasons: Friends of Mineral Town allows relationships between characters regardless of gender. What led to this decision and what feedback have you received?
Nakano, Director: Harvest Moon DS: Cute had “Best Friend Ceremonies.” This was only available to specific characters, but it allowed two women to have a wedding ceremony. Although it was integrated as a hidden element of the game, we had positive feedback from the fans, and some specific requests to bring it back. If given the chance, it was one of the things that I wanted to include.
One of the running themes for the series is the freedom of choice. We want players to have the freedom to do whatever they please, so regardless of which protagonist is chosen, we want them to be able to partner with their favorite character. With this remake, we wanted to allow players to be able to have a relationship with any of the bachelors/bachelorettes, regardless of what protagonist they choose to play.
As for the response we’ve received, this is basically a first for the Bokujou series, and we’ve received a lot of feedback during development from our peers and from our fans after launch. I will not be going into details, but personally, I would like to think of ways to improve the romance portion of the series so that fans can further enjoy their life within the game.
A PC version is available worldwide alongside the Switch release. How long was it in development?
Nakano, Director: I wasn’t sure if a PC release would actually be possible, but it was something that I had wanted to do from the start, so it was being developed with a PC release in mind from the beginning.
When putting together the Friends of Mineral Town PC version, what did you feel was most important to include?
Nakano, Director: This is the first time we are releasing a Bokujou Monogatari game on the PC, so we wanted it to function exactly the same as the Switch version.
When preparing the PC version of Friends of Mineral Town, was mod support ever considered? What is your stance on fans potentially attempting to add new events or content?
Nakano, Director: Modding sounds like a lot of fun.
I think that a lot of people enjoy modding because they feel that it is interesting and fun. Personally, I would like for it to be supported, and to create a game that fans would want to mod.
What element of the Story of Seasons series do you value most and how do you feel that influences each entry’s direction?
Nakano, Director: There is no single way to play the game.
There is a basic structure to the game, where players create their own farm and enjoy their life raising animals, but please keep in mind that the game does not guide you into only doing those things. If fishing is fun, then you can continue to fish the whole time, the same with mining, and the same with creating relationships with the other residents. I aim to let our fans choose what they want to do and enjoy the game in their own way. Because of this, I always work hard to balance each portion of the game.
So many farming and life sims have been influenced by Story of Seasons. Have any of these spin-offs had original elements that have inspired and influenced development of Story of Seasons games?
Nakano, Director: Not sure if those games are influenced by Bokujou Monogatari, but within the same genre, there’re “Animal Crossing” and “Stardew Valley” come to my mind as games that are very high quality, and it’s exciting to see the genre expand.
However, when designing the game, I feel that I’ve been largely influenced by multi-player games such as Ultima Online and the Diablo series. Farmville is another game that left a strong impression on me, that is a little bit closer to the same genre. Seeing the amount of people that you can connect with quickly expand is something that felt unique to this game. In addition, this title allows you to customize your land however you please and allows you to share your creation with others. This isn’t something that is directly translated into the Bokujou series, but the idea behind this game is something that I have been largely influenced by.
Which animal or crop have you always wanted to implement in a Story of Seasons game, but technical limitations or other issues kept it from happening?
Nakano, Director: I don’t think that there is anything in particular when it comes to plants or animals.
For things that I’ve always wanted to implement but couldn’t, I’ve always wanted to give the animals personality types. Calm or wild, animals are supposed to have their own personalities, but expressing this properly while staying on schedule with development is difficult.
Story of Seasons: Friends of Mineral Town is available for the Nintendo Switch and PC.