The History of Everafter Falls: A Conversation with SquareHusky

Everafter Falls

We’ve been watching the development of a cute little farming game called Everafter Falls for a little while now, which just launched a Kickstarter campaign.

We’re always excited to learn more about the game, so we got the Half-Glass Gaming crew together and came up with a bunch of questions that we wanted to ask SquareHusky, the game’s developer.

SquareHusky was gracious enough to answer all of our questions, and we learned a ton about Everafter Falls in the process.

The full interview is below, edited for clarity and flow.

Everafter Falls

Everafter Falls looks adorable, and a lot of us at Half-Glass Gaming are very excited to get our hands on it. What are your biggest inspirations for the game?

I loved games in my childhood and grew up loving them through my teenage years. But somewhere along the way, work and stress overtook my life and I rarely found myself enjoying games the way I used to. There was a period of about five years where I just gave up on gaming and was completely out of touch with the world of gaming.

That changed when I picked up a Nintendo Switch in early 2017, the first new gaming console I bought in over a decade. Stardew Valley was one of the first games I loaded up, not really knowing much about it except it was talked about a lot. It reminded me immediately of Harvest Moon — I had played Harvest Moon so long ago, I had completely forgotten just why it was so much fun. A lot of nostalgia came flooding back to me as if I suddenly remembered why I used to love video games as a child.

Stardew Valley drew me in, and I think I played it for about three days nonstop before learning it was created by a single developer, ConcernedApe. I decided then and there that I would do the same (although, at this stage, I hadn’t decided right away that it would be a farm RPG in the vein of Stardew Valley, this decision came after much deliberation).

Stardew, Harvest Moon, and Animal Crossing would be the biggest inspirations, with the dungeon portion of the game somewhat inspired by the original Diablo (it will have several distinct areas, each area consisting of a number of floors). I also have a mishmash of elements from several other games like sending your pet to town to sell off inventory (Torchlight), Card Progression (Slay the Spire), pixies harvesting resources (Warcraft III‘s wisps).

Everafter Falls

The ability to have your pet go back to town and sell your stuff in Torchlight was an incredible innovation for loot-heavy dungeon crawlers, and it’s really nice to see other developers taking notes.

Aside from the ones we’ve already talked about, what are some of your favorite games? These don’t have to be games that inspired you; just the ones you really, really love.

StarCraft, Shadow of the Colossus, and the Final Fantasy series. I still watch competitive StarCraft (both 1 and 2) matches to this day whenever I have some time off. I’m always in awe of the skill and dedication these players have.

Those are all good answers! Shadow of the Colossus is so, so good!

Stardew Valley used to be pretty alone in the old-school Harvest-Moon-like landscape, but it seems like that’s becoming a full-fledged genre at this point. What does Everafter Falls do to set itself apart?

I’ve done a lot to ensure that Everafter Falls feels like a new experience to fans of this genre. At its core, I’ve retained a lot of the fun and addictive mechanics found in Stardew Valley/Harvest Moon, but have incorporated a pet that has many useful skills, drones for farm automation and extra support in combat, pixies (that help harvest resources without consuming them), and local split-screen co-op (although that last one is no longer a unique feature, as Stardew Valley is implementing it as well).

I’ve also invested a lot of time on the story and characters, and think the premise and setting are unique. If you love story-rich games with strong character development, then I think you’re really going to enjoy playing Everafter Falls.

Everafter Falls

We’re very interested in the split-screen multiplayer feature. Can you tell us a bit about how this will work?

When selecting a new game, players have the option of starting a single-player mode or co-op. This cannot be changed at a later state. However, if you choose co-op, you don’t need to always have both players present to be able to play. You can continue with just one player while the other stays in bed.

You share many things in co-op mode. House/farm, gold, and quests are all shared. You can choose to do everything together, or focus on completely different things, like one player tending to the farm, while the other progresses in the dungeons.

Also, the neat thing about having the card-collecting progression system in this game is being able to swap cards in co-op mode. If you get a card that is more suited for the other player, then you can give it to them to eat instead.

Everafter Falls

The card-eating thing looks like so much fun! Can you tell us a bit more about it?

At the time I came up with it, I had only recently discovered Slay the Spire. I thought the character progression and deck-building in that game was brilliant; it was an extremely addictive game for me. I loosely translated those ideas across.

Being able to choose one of three cards has an element of randomness while also allowing you to feel in control of the direction you progress in –something I think players would enjoy. The “eating” idea came from my son always looking for cardboard to chew on during his teething stage (he’s stopped that habit now, thank goodness).

If you eat the same cards over again, you can level up the effects (except for unique cards, which can only be eaten once), and players may choose to max out certain cards to obtain some very rewarding effects.

I mentioned earlier that it wasn’t an immediate decision to create a farming RPG when I started all this. Slay the Spire‘s roguelike deck-building was extremely intriguing to me, and I stumbled across this game around the same time as I discovered Stardew Valley. I had a lengthy debate with myself about what kind of game I would create and the final decision was between a Stardew Valley-inspired farm sim, or a Slay the Spire-inspired deck-building roguelike. I ultimately chose to create Everafter Falls because I concluded that creating cards that were balanced and fun to play was not something that I felt I could do alone. I’m still really obsessed with that game though, so who knows, maybe someday I’ll revisit the idea.

Everafter Falls

Multiplayer seemed like it was kind of a sticking point for Stardew Valley back when that was in early development. Were there any challenges to implementing it in Everafter Falls? If so, how did you overcome those challenges?

Networked multiplayer is not something planned on release date; only local split-screen is supported. This makes things a lot simpler, but was still something that added a significant amount of time to development.

I was still a beginner programmer when I started, so for me, it was a huge challenge. Things that an experienced programmer could probably do easily took me a while to figure out, and I had doubts many times if it was worth the extra development time. But once I started to playtest parts of it with my fiancé, I knew then and there that this was the right move. Having her ask me constantly, “When can we play some more?” was a very reassuring thing, along with always bringing a smile to my face.

Everafter Falls

You recently brought on Tim Carlos as a composer. Having heard a select few tracks, it does sound like he was a perfect fit for Everafter Falls. How did you end up finding him, and at what point did you realize he was the guy for the project?

I originally set out to do everything myself when I first started this project, including the music. After my first attempt, I realized I was way over my head (if you see the first trailer, you’ll know what I mean). As a solo dev, it’s important to evaluate your options throughout all stages of development and be willing to concede at times that it may not be possible to do everything yourself.

I had a huge influx of composers contacting me to do music after initially announcing the game. I came across Tim while browsing the twitter accounts of some of those who reached out to me, and ended up stumbling on the track “A Village by the Sea”. After the first listen, I knew 100% this is the sound I wanted for the game. I could not be happier with the music he has produced so far, and I am thrilled to be working with him on the OST for the game.

“A Village by the Sea” is such a great track, and the mood does feel just right for the kind of game you’re making. It’s the perfect vibe for Everafter Falls.

So, you mentioned feeling like you were in over your head in the beginning of the development process. Are there any features that had to be cut due to time constraints, scope, or tech issues? If so, could you tell us a bit about those?

You know, when I was first brainstorming ideas, I thought I could put in everything that came into my head. But the reality as a solo dev is you have to manage scope well and know where and when to draw the line.

I planned to have three pet species with different skills where you could choose your starter pet (think Pokémon). After seeing how long it took me to do the design and animations for one pet, I had to scrap the idea of having more.

I also planned to have an in-depth bug and insect collecting system, and they would be displayed in the museum (you can catch bees, worms, and silkworms to help with honey, compost, and silk production respectively, but these have uses rather than as part of a display collection).

And the last feature I will mention — and I’m not 100% certain this will be cut because I think it’s something that would be really fun — is a competitive split-screen mode. In this mode, both players must be present to start a new day, and you will be competing with each other to earn the most amount of gold, in, say, a year in the game.

Everafter Falls

How else has the game changed in development? You said you’ve been working on this for two years now, correct?

In a couple months’ time, it will be three years since I started working on this.

I actually don’t think it has changed very much from what I envisioned, besides having to scope down some ideas so it becomes manageable as a solo developer. The development of the game happened gradually over time, and every time I hit a roadblock thinking, “I don’t have the skills to implement this feature,” I persisted and kept at it until I was able to solve the problem and implement it.

My mindset has since changed to “I will find a way to implement this feature.” By working alone, and ultimately doing things the way I want to, it somehow always ends up being the game I wanted to create, a game I enjoy playing. I hope other players will enjoy it too.

Everafter Falls

The game’s Kickstarter just launched, so you’ve got a pretty solid roadmap for the immediate and short-term future. What are your plans for the game beyond that point?

If the Kickstarter campaign is successful, it will provide me with enough funds to finish developing the game without having to continue freelancing on the side to support myself and other development costs.

After the planned PC and Switch release, I intend to continue implementing any sought-after features requested by the community, and I would love to work on some of the features I had to cut (like those mentioned earlier in this interview). I love working on the game, and want to continue working on it and making it the best it can be. 

Are there any shoutouts you’d like to give before we bring this interview to a close?

My fiancé has been incredibly supportive of me during all this, and my two-year-old son will perhaps one day read this and understand what his father was doing day in and day out in front of a computer. I spend as much time with him as I can when I’m not working on the game.

Also. to all the fans who have sent me words of support and encouragement, and shared with me their excitement for the game, thank you all so much!

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