Hokko life is an adorable town-building simulation game heavily inspired by Animal Crossing and created solely by developer Robert Tatnell. We previously posted about the most recent updates and changes made to the game which you can read about here. Robert Tatnell was kind enough to take some time out of his busy schedule to do an interview with myPotatoGames! We are truly excited to have sat down with yet another indie developer to talk about what matters most to us – adorable, fun, cute and exciting games!
We just can’t wait to dig into the game and start gardening, fishing, decorating our homes with crafted furnitures and more. Furthermore, much like Animal Crossing, you can befriend all of the fluffy villagers and have them move into your town. Who wouldn’t want to live in a town filled with cutsie animals?
Robert has recently put together a little Hokko life hub where you can check out some new screenshots and more to be added in the future (so we hope). Make sure to check back weekly, daily or (like us) hourly, in hopes to get some more news about the game. You can also follow him on Twitter to share your excitement and send some support his way!
While Robert was kind enough to share some exclusive early look at Hokko Life we know that the game is still in early development, and as excited as we are about this indie title, features, visuals, gameplay and everything else is not final and subject to change during the development cycle.
Q&A with Robert Tatnell – Creator of Hokko Life
[su_service title=”What made you decide to create a simulation game? What are some of the games you love to play or took inspiration from?” icon=”icon: star” icon_color=”#8300ff” size=”32″ class=””][/su_service]
The decision I suppose wasn’t really a decision in itself, I kind of naturally gravitated to this type of game. Hokko Life started very much as a hobby project in my spare time while I was working at Arrowhead; one that I continued after leaving the studio. I really enjoy more creative, relaxed simulation games. Personally, I sunk who knows how many hours into Rollercoaster Tycoon and The Sims and loved being able to create the park I wanted to in RCT, often planning layouts and ideas on paper before taking them into the game.
I suppose it goes without saying that Animal Crossing has been a big inspiration for Hokko Life; the cozy, “escaping to another home” feeling one gets with that game is something I think is very special, and something only games can deliver. I often play games as a means of escaping to another world and I wanted to bring that feeling into Hokko Life too. I have a whole bunch of other inspirations, it’s a long list, but those are the stand-outs.
[su_service title=”Can you talk about the process of getting new villagers to come to the town and move in?” icon=”icon: star” icon_color=”#8300ff” size=”32″ class=””][/su_service]
Villagers in Hokko Life start out as visitors, there may be one or two already living there when you move in, but the majority of the characters will start off coming to town on a day-trip. There’s a train station in town and at various times during the day characters will hop off the train. My intention is to have your town, and your achievements affect the animals that come by. After you’ve met a visitor a few times, helped them out with tasks they have, and become friends with them, you’ll open up the option to ask them to move to town. You’ll need to build somewhere for them to live, and once they’ve moved into their new home, it’s up to you to decorate it in a way they’d love.
[su_service title=”You had mentioned some characters will offer quests to accomplish. Will there also be an overall reaching storyline to complete or goals to progress the game?” icon=”icon: star” icon_color=”#8300ff” size=”32″ class=””][/su_service]
I wanted to keep Hokko Life pretty open and not really define a set storyline for the game. I want to let players be free, pretty much from the beginning, to decide what they want to do with their time. There’ll be a loose story tying things together, but don’t expect an epic story-driven “main quest” or anything like that! As you play you’ll be unlocking more features and upgrades based on what you’ve been doing, and these will often be book-ended with a small quest and story.
[su_service title=”Is there a backstory to our main character? How much character customization is there for the player?” icon=”icon: star” icon_color=”#8300ff” size=”32″ class=””][/su_service]
Similar to not locking the player to a set main story, I wanted to keep the player character pretty anonymous. Your avatar in game should be a representation of you the player, or a character you want to role play as. In this way your character is pretty much a blank slate for you to customize how you wish. Customization wise the obvious basics are available: hair style and color, skin color, clothing, shoes, hats, accessories etc. Clothing is non-gender-specific, so you’re free to wear whatever you want too. If I have time I’d really like to explore adding more options for body types.
[su_service title=”Since there will be a day-and-night cycle, weather, and seasons, will the calendar be in real-time or will the game have its own internal clock?” icon=”icon: star” icon_color=”#8300ff” size=”32″ class=””][/su_service]
I’ve toyed quite a bit with whether the game should be in real-time or not; it’s a tricky decision I think, as both options feel quite different and give different types of play. As I’m currently targeting PC & Mac I feel a real-time clock doesn’t quite fit with those players’ play styles. I think if you’re sitting at a computer or laptop you’re often playing for a reasonable amount of time, and you want to feel like things have progressed and that you’ve achieved a lot during your time there.
In my opinion a real-time clock lends itself better to more portable platforms, where you can come back several times during a day easily, and play as little or as much as you’d like; for me, if you’re sitting down on the PC, it’s a bit more of a dedicated session. To be honest though I’ve not settled 100% on my decision; I think it’ll be something that will remain quite up in the air until early testers get their hands on it and I can see how players approach it.
[su_service title=”Will you be creating special events for holidays? Will the town continue to change?” icon=”icon: star” icon_color=”#8300ff” size=”32″ class=””][/su_service]
I would absolutely love to do special events for holidays; they’re a lot of bespoke work, with each event needing its own unique content, which means unfortunately they might slip from first release and have to be added as an update later. We’ll see though; it might be a case that simpler events that happen more often are included initially with special events coming after; right now I can’t promise though! As for the town changing, that really centers on the player. Meaning, you’ll be the one placing buildings and other items to decorate your town how you want, so hopefully over time you’ll end up with a town that really represents you and your creativity.
[su_service title=”You can build items for not only inside the homes, but for the town on the outside. Will players or characters be able to interact with those items?” icon=”icon: star” icon_color=”#8300ff” size=”32″ class=””][/su_service]
Yep! When you start designing your own items, you’ll choose what base you’d like to start from; whether that is a chair, a table, etc, and it’s from this base that behaviors are applied to the furniture. This then defines what types of interactions are available to the player and to the villagers too.
[su_service title=”What are some of the shops we can expect for the town? What items will be purchasable?” icon=”icon: star” icon_color=”#8300ff” size=”32″ class=””][/su_service]
There’ll be a handful of places you can purchase items from in town. These will include a general store, selling furniture items, as well as things like backpack upgrades, and some resources you’ll need when crafting. There will also be other stores selling clothing and customization options; as well home decoration items like roofing, wallpapers, flooring etc.
[su_service title=”How can we make money in the game besides fishing and mining?” icon=”icon: star” icon_color=”#8300ff” size=”32″ class=””][/su_service]
There’ll be a few ways of making money in the game. As well as fishing and mining, villagers will often come to you with requests for items or custom furniture, and you’ll be rewarded when you help them out. Any materials you’ve crafted will also be able to sell. Over the coming weeks I’m going to be looking into what other activities to add to the game, a lot of these would provide other means of income too.
[su_service title=”How much freedom do we get for creating and placing furniture, buildings, etc?” icon=”icon: star” icon_color=”#8300ff” size=”32″ class=””][/su_service]
Creating furniture is really open for you to design whatever you want. It’s designed around a simple but flexible “piece” system, where you combine different shaped pieces in any configuration to make an item. These pieces vary in material, can be rotated, scaled, painted etc. It’s pretty exciting, and I’m really looking forward to seeing what players create! As for placing furniture and buildings, well, I’m trying to go with the mentality of “if there’s space, it can be placed there”. Generally, I think it should be up to the player to place things wherever they want.
[su_service title=”We had previously mentioned that there will be an online aspect to the game. Will players be able to buy items from other players?” icon=”icon: star” icon_color=”#8300ff” size=”32″ class=””][/su_service]
I want to let players upload and share their creations with one another online; as such a big part of the game is letting players create what they want I think it would be a terrible shame if creators weren’t able to share what they’ve made with others. At this stage nothing’s really fleshed out, I have a few prototypes up and running and some pretty grand plans for what I’d love to do, but nothing concrete right now. As for players buying items from others I’m not sure how well that would play out. I think the whole community atmosphere would shift, you’d end up with an online economy of sorts; I think things get messy when money gets involved, even if it’s virtual. I’d much rather build a friendly and open platform for creators.
[su_service title=”What are the next aspects of the game that you will be working on?” icon=”icon: star” icon_color=”#8300ff” size=”32″ class=””][/su_service]
Right now I’m in a bit of a direction phase, where I sit down and try and figure out the direction for certain parts of the game. There’s a whole bunch of design questions, as well as art direction that’s been a bit floaty up until now that I’m looking to dedicate some time to figuring out. I was recently away on vacation, and getting some distance from the project really helps you come back to it with fresh eyes. When I’m done with planning and direction stuff I’ll most likely be focused on getting some new activities in the game to give the player even more fun things to do in town.
It seems we will have a great deal of freedom to create furniture and customize our own avatar and village! The art style is also shaping up and looking real crisp with beautiful colors. The game is still in development but we’ll be sure to let our fellow Potatoes know as soon as there is a firm release date for PC and Mac as the first platforms.
Big thanks to Robert for sharing some exciting insights with myPotatoGames on Hokko Life – we can’t wait to get playing! We wish Robert all the best.