Last week, I was given an opportunity to see a preview of Natsume’s latest entry in their long-running flagship franchise: Harvest Moon: One World. In this entry, Natsume seeks to revolutionize the farming genre by allowing you to move your farm to different parts of the world, explore five different environments and towns/villages, and replacing the general store with finding seeds out in the wild. Just based on my watching the preview, it is clear that Harvest Moon: One World wants players to spend their time exploring the world and experimenting with planting instead of following a rigorous daily farming cycle.
I spoke with Graham Markay (Vice President of Operations), Taka Maekawa (Producer), and Adam Fitch (Localization Editor). In Part Two of this two-part interview, we talk about the various areas to explore in Harvest Moon: One World, how Natsume is changing up the genre by having players find seeds out in the wild instead of buying them, how mutations work, and more.
Harvest Moon: One World is set for release on March 2, 2021.
You can read Part One of the interview here.
This interview was edited for content and clarity.
Operation Rainfall: There are a variety of eligible bachelors and bachelorettes in Harvest Moon: One World. For example, Ahina is a chef-in-training who loves coffee, Kirsi is a teacher and an archeologist, and Jamil is a man who loves caring for animals but who gets a bit lost in the bigger picture of things. How do you design and create the various dating options for Harvest Moon?
Graham Markay: Well, just like the world that we live in- there’s a variety of different people with different personalities, traits, and so on. And granted, it would be great to have thousands of different bachelors and bachelorettes in Harvest Moon. But unfortunately, that would just be too overwhelming. What we try to do is put a variety of different personalities and characteristics and looks in there, so that the individual player can find [someone]. If they like the abrasive person or they like the introvert or if they like someone that is superficial or whatever, there is that general characteristic from a variety of different bachelors and bachelorettes [available]. So just like in real life, they can find someone they might be attracted to.
“One thing we wanted to make sure, even though we were at home, was to still have that ability to look at the game and tweak it and ask ‘How can we make it better? Is it good?’
We didn’t want to, based on what happened, to rush it out and say ‘It is what it is.’”
Operation Rainfall: What other small quality of life improvements does Harvest Moon: One World have over its predecessor, Harvest Moon: Light of Hope?
GM: Other than the standard innovative features that are new to this game, I would have to say ‘depth’. Depth in terms of areas that you deal with, obviously, being the main thing of exploration in Harvest Moon: One World. But depth in other aspects of the game. Crafting- there’s a new fishing engine. This fishing engine is a little more ‘twitch’ based [and] a little bit more arcade-style. So it’s more interactive. And more depth in the mining system.
So more depth in all aspects of what you’ve seen in other Harvest Moon games. There’s more animals, but not more animals just to throw more animals in. The animals- there’s more of them, but they all serve a purpose since you’re dealing with an [entire] world. So you might find the tiger in one area versus a camel in another area.
So more importantly, because of what Taka came up with as that fundamental idea of that pseudo-open worldness aspect- when you’re talking ‘world’, you need more depth. You need more depth everywhere. So I think that this is what sets it apart from Light of Hope. And obviously, the story is that Harvest Moon: One World offers more depth because of that main focus of ‘worldly.’
OR: Harvest Moon: One World is scheduled for a March 2021 release. What are some preorder bonuses for this game? There are two different collector’s editions, one with NIS America and one with Limited Run Games. Our readers can read about the creation of the LRG one in my Natsume interview with Graham Markay about the Natsume/Limited Run Games partnership. But can you just tell us a little bit about both of these collector’s editions now?
GM: There’s actually three things going on. So the game launches on March 2nd in North and South America. Currently, if you preorder at GameStop, you can get a free five-inch chicken plush [of] the chicken that’s in the game. NIS is doing their own limited edition- we partnered with them on that. So NIS’s limited edition offers a music CD, which is great, because it has forty tracks from the game as well as some other items to go along with [it].
And then there is the collector’s edition, which we worked with Limited Run Games on. We wanted to offer something special to the die-hard fan base out there, and we’ve done plush for twenty-some-odd years. So we wanted to put something meaningful together and that’s where we came up with the musical diorama. And it offers our favorite- the majority of our favorite- section music from the game. And it allows for customization, very much like Harvest Moon: One World, where the animals and characters are magnetized, and you can move them around. It is battery operated- you turn it on and it plays the sound and the outer ring rotates.
So a little something special, if you’re not playing Harvest Moon: One World at the time, you can look at your diorama and play the music from the game.
OR: In a community post, Natsume admitted that the March 2021 release date “is a little later than we’d originally forecast” due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Can you tell us about how COVID has impacted Natsume in general and Harvest Moon: One World specifically? How far along were you in development before COVID happened?
GM: We were in development before COVID happened. Everyone was working together in an office building, the programmers were together, a lot of one-on-one face brainstorming conversations about the game, improvements, and this and that.
When COVID hit, everyone [started] working from home- including the development team. And it was a huge hurdle, just like how a lot of other companies have had to deal with. It’s easy for maybe myself to work at home on what my daily responsibilities are for Natsume. But when you’re talking about programming or art, and the systems they use and the assets they need or need access to, it was a huge hurdle at the beginning to get everyone set up at home.
Now, [it is] very different after a year later. I think everybody from Natsume’s side misses the chatting and talking with one another. Sitting over Adam’s shoulder as he’s playing something and commenting ‘Wouldn’t it be great to do this or that?’
Originally, Harvest Moon: One World was due out last year at the end of October. But due to COVID, it pushed it out from October to March. One thing we wanted to make sure, even though we were at home, was to still have that ability to look at the game and tweak it and ask ‘How can we make it better? Is it good?’
We didn’t want to, based on what happened, to rush it out and say ‘It is what it is.’ We wanted it to be the game that we wanted it to be, so it look a little longer and thus the March 2nd release date.
“Because if you’re making someone happy, you’re having long-lasting relationships, and that’s what’s important.”
OR: Are there any DLC plans for Harvest Moon: One World?
GM: Yes, there are. And we’ll just leave it at that. We kind of commented or hinted at it, but yes- there are some DLC plans that are currently in the works, but we will have more information about specific DLC plans and a timeframe next week.
[OR Note: Since this interview was completed, Natsume has announced four DLC packs that you can read more about here.]
OR: What platforms are Harvest Moon: One World coming out for, and will it also be coming to Game Pass?
GM: So, Harvest Moon: One World that is being published by Natsume will be released on March 2nd for Switch and PS4. And then it will be released for the Xbox One shortly thereafter. As soon as we have that date locked in, we will make an announcement.
In terms of Game Pass or PSN Now or things of that nature, that’s something we will visit at a later time.
OR: Natsume’s mission has always been ‘Make Everyone Happy’ for the past almost three decades. How does Harvest Moon: One World fit within that motto?
GM: It’s kind of the epitome of making everyone happy. Harvest Moon– Natsume has been working on Harvest Moon for, next year, twenty-five years. Fundamentally, the type of game it is- where the simple message of hard work gets rewarded and that gratification and that happy feeling you get when you plant a turnip seed, you water it, you care for it, you harvest it, and then you give it to somebody- that sets up an accomplishment. In a nutshell, that is the ‘Make Everyone Happy’ kind of game.
But fundamentally, our president and CEO, Hiro Maekawa, has lived and breathed this mission of ‘Make Everyone Happy’ forever [from] before I joined this company, before even when Adam joined, and I’m sure Taka has heard it his whole entire life. It’s not just make yourself happy or make that person sitting next to you happy, it extends out. It’s make the people you partner with happy, make the customer happy- whatever we can do so that people have a good experience. And in doing so, it kind of guides how Natsume does business.
Because if you’re making someone happy, you’re having long-lasting relationships, and that’s what’s important.
Truthfully, we hear it at least four times a year. It’s fundamentally engrained within everyone at Natsume. And don’t get me wrong, I don’t mean to make light of it, but it is intoxicating. It’s a simple, fundamental message. If you take a step out and you forget Natsume, and look at what’s going on in the world and different areas and things of that nature, people just need that fundamental message of ‘Make Your Neighbor Happy, Make Your Spouse Happy, Make Your In-Laws Happy, Make That Inner Circle Happy, Make That Barista At Starbucks Happy.’ And it’s contagious, because they’re happy and maybe we won’t have to watch all this stuff that we see on the news constantly. We need a little bit more happiness and love in our lives.
OR: Last question- to someone who may not have heard of Harvest Moon: One World until [now] and who is interested in the game, what do you have to say to them?
GM: Please give Harvest Moon: One World a try. If you’ve played Harvest Moon in the past, it will feel similar. But it’s got a lot more depth, and we’re sure you’ll enjoy it.
Taka Maekawa: Same as Graham- please give it a try. If you are a hardcore veteran Harvest Moon player, I am pretty sure it will give you the feeling that Harvest Moon has always given you. And to the new player, I believe it will give [you] not only a farm sim feeling-game, but [also] a game that gives you more story. So yeah, I wish if anyone is interested, please give this game a try.
Adam Fitch: Just to add onto that- as somebody who works in localization- I loved, from the moment I read the design document, the whole world aspect of the different areas. I think I might have mentioned this, but I have studied Russian for the past four years, and there are these minor characters- they go mining- and I was actually able to put some Russian and different languages in the game simply because of the ‘world’ aspect of it that I maybe wouldn’t be able to [otherwise].
So that was very fun for me. The world aspect is something brand-new for the series. And me, as the localization guy, was very excited. And I think it makes for a fun game and a more exciting game. So if you haven’t given a Harvest Moon game a try in awhile, I would try this one. And if you have, then I think you’ll be very pleasantly surprised and you’ll have a great time.
OR: Thank you very much.
Are you excited for Harvest Moon: One World? What areas are you hoping to explore?
Let us know in the comments below!