This year marks some firsts for Natsume’s Harvest Moon line, a series of original farming games inspired by the Story of Seasons (Bokujou Monogatari) games the company used to publish. The company is currently developing and publishing Harvest Moon: Light of Hope for the Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4, and PC. This will be the first time the game appears on all three platforms. To get an idea of what people can expect from this installment, Siliconera spoke with Taka Maekawa, the Producer of Harvest Moon: Light of Hope.
The story begins with a shipwrecked protagonist whose goal is to rebuild a lighthouse. How did you come up with this story and what themes did you want to explore?
When I first started thinking about Harvest Moon: Light of Hope, I had in my mind that the game would take place on an island with a symbol that would have a deep meaning within the story. From there, I started brainstorming and got to an old lighthouse that has a lot of history and mystery behind it.
Once I had the image of the lighthouse, I then tied it to "Repairing", which is one of the new features that I had in my mind for the game, and then came up with the story of repairing the lighthouse, to which in the end will lead to repairing the island and bringing people to the island.
While this is the underlying story that will drive the player, Harvest Moon: Light of Hope is, at its core, a traditional Harvest Moon game, meaning that it’s a life simulation where the player will try to build a life for themselves by taking care of a farm with crops and animals, by making friends, and eventually finding that special someone to start a family with.
Natsume has been making tweaks to make the farming interface smoother with each game. What did you change in Harvest Moon: Light of Hope and how has crop mutation changed?
I think the biggest addition for Light of Hope is the "Farming Friend", which is a balloon that pops up above on the player’s head when you face where a crop or flower is planted. If it is one you have already harvested, an icon of the crop or flower will show up, and if it is something new, a question mark will show up. In this way, you can instantly tell whether something you’re growing is something new (including mutated crops) or not.
This sounds like a small change, but as you start playing the game, it becomes a really user friendly function that will help player keep track of what is planted, and also work as motivation for exploring the new crops.
We didn’t really change the mutation aspect, however we did modify how fertilizers work.
Fertilizers not only increase the chance of growing higher quality crops, but they also help grow crops which are out of season. This has a higher chance of mutation. Also, there are unique fertilizers that can accelerate growth!
We’re going to see returning characters from Harvest Moon: Skytree Village and Harvest Moon: The Lost Valley appear as bachelors and bachelorettes. How have these characters changed in Light of Hope?
Some of the NPCs have small changes, (i.e. Jeannie is not only an herbal doctor, but also the lighthouse keeper) and have a more robust history. Also, like in past Harvest Moon games, we wanted to expand on the personalities of the characters, and have fans get to know them better.
In another Q&A it was mentioned the game had stronger social interactions with characters. Could you tell us more about that?
Since repairing the lighthouse is everyone’s hope, events throughout the game don’t progress between just you and the key NPCs, but they involve everyone. Also, there are events where NPCs interact with other NPCs, which lets you learn interesting facts or the relationship between the other characters as well.
What new events can players experience and could you give us a hint about the new festival mentioned on the Q&A?
The Harvest Moon Festival and the Dog Race are the two new events that were added.
When I talked to some fans at last year’s E3, I knew I had to put the Dog Race into Harvest Moon: Light of Hope. In addition to the festivals, we enhanced the request system to give the player short term goals in the hopes of breaking up the repetitive daily routine.
Harvest Moon: Light of Hope comes out for Steam pretty soon with the console versions coming next year. Will there be any differences for the PS4 and or Switch versions?
Not at this point of time. Our main focus is to make Switch and PS4 versions available as soon as possible.
Will the Steam version support mods?
Unfortunately, not at this point of time. Our main focus is to get the Steam version released and then finish up the Switch and PS4 versions. Once the development team is done with that, we can revisit the idea of mod support.
Harvest Moon has blossomed for 20 years. What do you want to do for the next 2 years?
We tried some new things in Harvest Moon: The Lost Valley and then re-visited the roots with Light of Hope.
What I’m thinking now is to keep on experimenting, because I believe the potential of this title is limitless, and at the same time keeping what’s important for the series. I already have some ideas that I really want to make come true.
Harvest Moon: Light of Hope will come to the PC on November 14, 2017. It is in development for the Nintendo Switch and PlayStation 4.