Combat, shields, stuns, & my approach

Hey everyone,

Thanks so much for all the kind words about the announcement last week. It’s been a lot of fun to see everyone’s reaction after working on this for over a year, in secret. Now I am back into the “grind” of making the game (which I enjoy).

I plan on using this blog in a casual way, to write about what I’m up to and to share tidbits about Haunted Chocolatier. I probably won’t stick to any defined schedule, but instead just post things when it feels right.

One thing I want to mention is the combat.

Haunted Chocolatier has a greater focus on combat, so it needs to be very fun, satisfying, and engaging, while also appropriately fitting into the big picture. You can rest assured that I’m not “copying and pasting” Stardew’s combat. On the contrary, almost everything in Haunted Chocolatier, including the combat, is completely coded (and drawn) from scratch.

Here’s an example (unmute if you want to hear the sound):

You may have noticed this from the earlier video footage, but there are shields in this game. Many attacks can be blocked with a shield, and in most cases, blocking an attack causes the enemy to become “stunned”. While an enemy is stunned, you can attack them much faster, as seen above.

The shield/stun mechanic rewards more cautious, patient players who wait for a window of opportunity. But you don’t have to play like this, you could just as well charge in aggressively, and if you can pull it off, you’ll defeat enemies more quickly that way. There will be other off-hand items besides shields that will compliment different play styles.

You might also notice that the sword swing animation looks different than it did in the original footage. That’s because I’m still working on everything, and it’s all a work in progress. Everything seen so far could still change before the game is finished. If you followed the development of Stardew Valley, this will be familiar.

Also, if you followed Stardew’s development, you might know that I like to keep my cards close to my chest. I prefer to leave many things to be discovered by players. I think it’s more fun that way. I want to surprise and delight people. But if they already know everything in the game, that takes a certain element out of the final experience.

The bottom line, is that I won’t rest, or release this game, until I am personally satisfied that it’s very fun and compelling, in every aspect. If it never gets there, I’ll just never release it. But don’t worry, I have 100% faith that I’ll get it there. Everything is on the right track so far, I have the complete vision for the game in my head, and it’s just a matter of “grinding it out”, which is what I’m doing every day! Thanks for reading all this.

alright, I’m going back to work

-Ape

Announcing my new Game

Hey everyone,

After dedicating 10 years of my life to Stardew Valley (and counting), the time has finally come to announce my next game.

It’s called “ConcernedApe’s Haunted Chocolatier”.

Why chocolate? I’m not sure. It just kind of came to me. I think sometimes the best ideas just appear in a flash, instead of being cleverly thought out. That’s how I like to work, anyway. What’s important is the execution. And after 10 years of practice, I feel more confident than ever in being able to bring an idea to life.

Regardless, I think a lot of people like chocolate.

In Stardew Valley, the focus was more humble: living off the land, growing food, and connecting to the people and nature around you. However, with my next game, I wanted to explore more fantastical possibilities… experiences that take you beyond the ordinary. That’s where magical haunted ghost chocolate comes in.

Chocolate represents that which is delightful. The haunted castle represents the allure of the unknown. The ghosts represent the imprint of the past. All of these things are important. However, don’t think for a moment that, because this game features ghosts in a haunted castle, it is an evil or negative game. On the contrary, I intend for this game to be positive, uplifting and life-affirming. However, if Stardew Valley mostly channeled the energy of the sun, Haunted Chocolatier channels the energy of the moon. Both are vital.

More important than all that, I just want to make a fun game.

Now, you might be scratching your head, wondering exactly what type of game this is. I’m not sure how best to describe it. It’s evolving organically as I develop it, so I’m not sure where it will go. But at its core, the gameplay loop involves gathering ingredients, making chocolate, and running a chocolate shop. Of course, there’s a lot more to the game than that, but I don’t want to get too deep into at this early stage, partly because I don’t want to be tied down to any particular concept of what the game is.

So far, I’ve been having fun working on this game. There are so many possibilities. With Stardew Valley, I felt somewhat constrained, because I was working within an established tradition. I don’t regret that at all, but there’s always been a part of me that wanted to go “unleashed”. I believe this will be a good opportunity, but I haven’t even gotten to the good stuff yet. I’ve been mostly working on the “meat and potatoes” of the game so far. But what really brings a game to life is the spice, the sauce. And I haven’t really gotten to the sauce yet. That’s coming.

Anyway, this is all largely talk at this point. While the video I put together may look like the game is at an advanced stage of development, there is still a ton of stuff to do. And the way I work, things often don’t come together until the final moments. I tend to work with a “vertical slice” approach, and so it’s easy to put together some video that looks like a finished game. But there is a ton of content I still need to make. So, please understand that it will be a while before this game is done. I’m going to be working on it as much as I can, though.

Thanks for reading all this,

-Ape