Welcome to another edition of Developer Diaries! This week we spoke to two of the team members behind the upcoming deck-building RPG, Moonstone Island
WHY NOT START OFF BY INTRODUCING YOURSELVES?
My name is Sandy, and I am the game director/designer for Moonstone Island.
I'm Stan, or 'dop2000' on the forums. I'm a self-taught programmer, and I've been making games since 2011. It started as a hobby, but now I work full time as a game developer. In 2016 I discovered Construct and it became my #1 development tool.
TELL US ABOUT MOONSTONE ISLAND AND THE INSPIRATION BEHIND IT.
Sandy: Growing up, I played a lot of RPGs like Pokemon, Final Fantasy, and Chrono Trigger and I always thought it was funny that the hero would just leave their home behind to go on an adventure when there were all these monsters and other evil guys runnin’ around. “Shouldn’t someone stay behind and protect these people?” is something I found myself thinking.
Then one day I got Harvest Moon for Christmas and I absolutely loved it. It was amazing to me that these mundane tasks like pulling weeds, growing crops, and speaking to the locals could make you feel so connected to the world and so satisfied with even the tiniest bit of progress. It really blew my mind.
Over time, I started to see ways that I could mix these two genres to create an experience that gives you that sense of connection to a community alongside the thrill of an adventure, and those ideas coalesced into Moonstone Island, a game where you play as “A hero with a home”.
Moonstone Island is an open-world deckbuilding RPG set in a procedurally generated world with creatures to collect, items to craft, dungeons to explore, and secrets to discover. You play as a young alchemist who has set out to find a new home where they can settle down and help the locals prosper using the teachings of their Alchemy training.
As you play the game you will explore the world collecting resources, running dungeons, crafting items, and battling/collecting nature Spirits, each of which comes with a set of cards. Each card is an attack or a skill that you will be dealt during battle and as you level up your Spirits, you’ll be able to upgrade and manage their deck of cards.
By crafting more efficient modes of transportation, increasing the power of your crops, and optimizing your Spirits cards, you will be able to venture into the distant biomes where a dark secret is kept, and the future of Moonstone Island will be decided.
HOW HAS IT BEEN BUILDING UP SUPERSOFT AROUND YOU TO CREATE MOONSTONE ISLAND?
Sandy: I got really lucky when it came to finding people to help build the game and the studio.
I was trying to make the game alone and I was doing a terrible job, so I ended up posting to the Construct help forums pretty much every day with some new issue. I started to notice that my questions were being answered by the same person almost every time so eventually, I reached out to him and asked if he wanted to help me make this game. That person is Stan, and he has been incredible to work with ever since.
His work was so good that I started to feel confident that we could actually bring this game to life and that’s when I began looking for artists. I came across Cocefi’s work and instantly fell in love so I thought I might email him and see if he was available. It turned out he had just finished a big project right as I emailed him and he liked the concept of the game, so he agreed to join as well. It kind of felt like throwing two darts out into the void of the internet and hitting a bullseye with both.
Most of the game has been created by the three of us, with me doing the design/project management, Stan doing the programming and Cocefi doing the art. However, I also work with other contractors that I have met on Twitter and Fiverr who help with the sound, animation, and larger pixel scenes.
WHAT MADE YOU CHOOSE CONSTRUCT FOR THIS PROJECT?
Sandy: As I mentioned previously, I wanted to build this game alone, but I am an awful programmer. I had heard that Construct lets you make games without writing code and so I thought I’d give it a whirl and I immediately fell in love with it. It was intuitive and simple, but I could tell it was powerful and I really liked that I could export to HTML5 and just let people try out what I had made right in their browser without downloading anything.
It really made good on its promise of being a no-code engine and I was able to get some of the game up and running all by myself. But as soon as I started trying to prototype the deckbuilding mechanics, I realized it was going to be too much for me and that’s when I reached out to Stan.
HOW HAVE YOU FOUND NOT ONLY CREATING A DECKBUILDING GAME, WHICH IS A MAMMOTH TASK ON ITS OWN, BUT CREATING IT IN CONSTRUCT?
Stan: Making a game of this scope in C3 is challenging, but possible. We are heavily utilizing the JSON object - pretty much everything in the game is saved in JSON files. The built-in array and dictionary editors in Construct have also been hugely helpful.
Sandy: Stan has made things really straightforward for me. All the cards are kept in an array, each card is a row, and each column is an attribute like cost, multiplier, a condition it might apply, etc. So, I can tweak and create a lot of the cards straight through the array without having to touch any of the code, it’s great.
WHAT'S BEEN YOUR BIGGEST DEVELOPMENT HURDLE SO FAR?
Stan: Developing very large (almost open world) maps is going to be a difficult task in any engine. For Moonstone Island, we are procedurally generating a huge map with hundreds of thousands of objects. Players should be able to seamlessly travel between islands, interact with these objects, and any changes in the world need to be saved.
With C3, performance can start to drop when you have too many objects, so we had to be inventive. The most tiresome task for me is creating the UI. Personally, I wish Construct had native tools for building menus, dialog windows etc.
DO YOU HAVE ANY ADVICE FOR PEOPLE DOING THEIR OWN GAME PROJECTS? EITHER FROM A DEV OR PRODUCTION VIEW?
Stan: Learn from the best - study the templates included in C3, they contain hundreds of useful game mechanics and best practices. And the forum is the best place to receive advice.
Sandy: Make the game that you want to make. Just keep in mind that there are some incredible games being released right now and the bar for good gameplay, beautiful art and great game-feel is very high so you can’t compromise on any of them.
WHERE CAN PEOPLE FIND OUT MORE ABOUT YOU GUYS AND THE GAME?
Sandy: You can wishlist Moonstone Island on Steam and our page there has more info and screenshots of the game. You can also follow us on Twitter @Moonstone_game where we post videos of the game and any updates we might have.
ANY FINAL THOUGHTS?
Sandy: Construct is such an amazing tool and I hope it continues to grow and get even better! And thanks to everyone for reading our post. We hope you like what you've seen of Moonstone Island!