Saturday, June 2, 2012

Yasuhiro Wada Working on "Project Happiness", Nobody Cares But Mogs


As you know, I am a man who enjoys a Harvest Moon game as others enjoy a vintage wine or a fine cigar, and as you might also know, I understand I am in the minority on this.  Granted, the games sell, which is why they keep getting made, but they don't sell a lot, nor do I suspect they're properly enjoyed or appreciated by the gaming 'mainstream' as a whole.  Sometimes I think they're looked upon with the same amount of scorn that is gazed upon the Dynasty Warriors games and similar titles (yet never on yearly Sports releases), and that's honestly a real shame because the games have a little bit of a magic to them if you give them a chance.  Well....most of them at least.  Okay, yeah, even Innocent Life, yes, I went there and you all know that I'm telling the truth.  At least, anybody who has spent at least a little bit of time with a Harvest Moon game can understand the pull it has, and that's something that you can't fake, nor industrialize; you have to just give it that little bit of a spark to let it come naturally.

I say all this because the man behind it all, the man who started Harvest Moon as an attempt to create the happiness and fulfillment of a good clean day of work in a video game, has announced that he's working on a new series appropriately codenamed "Project Happiness".  And....that's about all the information that there is on it.  No announcement of what consoles it'll be on, when to expect it or even what kind of game it'll actually be.  Just that it's coming out in Japan, Europe and North America thanks to a partnership between his new company, TOYBOX, Rising Star Games and Natsume.  And you know what?  (Wait for iiiit......wait for iiiiiiit....) That's all I need.  I won't have to worry about the localization, so that pretty much lays it down that there is a good chance that I will be able to pick up this game, no matter what it ends up being on.

And I am going to get it.  No matter if it's a friggin' Wii U launch title, no matter if it's about getting stuck in a traffic jam with -wacky hijinks- ensuing, no matter if it's download-only.  (Okay, this one might be a deal-breaker depending, but I'm just saying)  I think we all get excited for games for entirely different reasons, whether we're excited because it's going to pit this character in this situation and it's so different than the norm, or because it just looks like it's going to press all of your good buttons, and I am certainly excited for whatever this project will be, because I am almost guaranteed that it will be a wholly unique experience.  It's a dangerous thing to say, I realize, but with the amount of time I've spent on Harvest Moon games of all types, the enjoyment I've gotten from them, I think it's safe to say that Wada has enough clout to expect forty to sixty of my dollars for whatever he wants to put out there.

And that's what it comes down to here for anyone else, I imagine, is just what -type- of game it's going to be, and what we can expect going into it.  The press release simply states that it's "Filled with adventure, discovery, and wonder" which could mean any number of things in all honesty, especially when you consider how willing Wada is to create a completely non-traditional game.  The answer is 'very willing', if you haven't guessed by now, and I think that in itself should be applauded, even if you don't really 'get' the Harvest Moon games.  I just have to surmise that, when it guarantees "Project Happiness will warm the hearts of gamers both young and old!", I'm inclined to believe that such a thing is possible.  Though, I suppose that I might be biased because I might just think that Wada can make anything possible in a video game and that it'll be magical and wonderful and include rainbows and such.  I dunno, I kind of get that impression reading this back and I don't really mean to come off that way.

For my own part, I don't know if I 'expect' anything from Project Happiness in terms of just what it's going to be.  However, I do know what I would like it to be, though I'm not so sure how possible it'll be, nor if I'll even be close to what's going to happen here. I seem to recall that Harvest Moon was created because Wada simply wanted to make a video game that made the person playing it Happy, and he eventually came across the idea that a game that allowed a person to play out a day in the life of an everyman would do that.  In fact, if I'm recalling correctly, the farming aspect of the game didn't come into play until he realized that players would want something 'tangible' to attach to, and literally went with something that the players could cultivate, to 'rate' themselves after in the vegetables that grew and the animals they raised and, eventually, the profit they made from the tasks.  I have to wonder just what would've happened if he hadn't added that in, because I really doubt the game would've been nearly as successful without that.

With that said, the climate of gaming is much, much different nowadays, and it's that much harder to gauge just what can or can't be successful, considering that it takes more than a good idea, hell, a good game, to get that success.  But given that Wada's apparently going to try to recreate that feeling, that hope of instilling Happiness in a player (at least, that's what I gather from the codename), I'm hoping for another type of life simulator.  Maybe not a farming one, but perhaps something a little closer to The Sims, where you just pursue happiness for both yourself in playing the game how you want and your character who is directly affected by what you chose to do with them.  Something a little more modern than out-in-the-country-farming-things, but not futuristic, nor overly 'urban'.  I harbor no illusions that the game will intend to be 'action-packed' or anything like that and in fact hope it won't be.  Even Rune Factory levels of 'action' might dampen my excitement a bit.  But not too much.

Certainly, if I'm completely off-base, I don't think I'll be too disappointed because even just this, the anticipation I feel for whatever the game could be, is good enough for now.  More news will come during or after E3 (as it will be shown behind closed doors during), so hopefully we get a few nice tidbits of information for me to gorge upon.  I'm not even sure I'm 'hoping' for anything, though if I am, it's certainly my idea of a Life Simulator, as Harvest Moon is, alongside Farming mechanics, though hopefully without the farming mechanics...or without them being the focus on the game.  Really, something as open as life 'can be', where it's just "make money to get by" with all sorts of avenues to do that would be nice.  But I'm getting a little esoteric in my thoughts, so I'll just reign them in before I go a little too crazy.  We'll just have to see just what's coming from the mind of Wada next, and you know I'll probably be the first to tell you.  (Or the second, if Chance brings it up first, being in Super-E3 mode as he is.)

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