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.