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Designing Friendship

Today we thought we’d take a look at the friendship system in Sunshine Days. We always knew the game was going to need a system where the player could befriend the characters who live in the Valley, but it took us a few iterations to land on a system which we were really happy with.

Friendship was always going to be a key theme of the game, because it’s the glue communities are made of. Our world is designed to be one where ultimately real, lasting friendships can be formed - and in that respect, having the idea of “friendship” being part of the world as the theme for one of our main game mechanics felt inevitable.

In the final version of the core system, every character in the game has a “friendship level”, which you can raise by giving them gifts, making furniture for them, doing design tasks, and helping them out with daily tasks. Rewards include clothing, furniture, and crafting recipes and machines.

Some of the models for the friendship system which we explored before setting on the final one were far more complex and involved. This was very much one of those journeys where the more time we spent with the idea, and the more we prototyped it, the more we came to realize that less is more. Some earlier versions had you completing complex quests, performing complex crafting challenges, going on hikes in the wilderness, reading long stories… But in the end, a simple system where helping NPCs raises your friendship level with those NPCs worked the best and that’s the version we decided to go with.

The really important insight is that friendship with NPCs isn’t really the point of Sunshine Days - that’s the relationships you form with other players. The NPC friendship system just needs to give you something fun and thematically-relevant to focus on.

That doesn’t mean there isn’t more we want to do with the system - in future we’re planning some improvements to make the NPCs feel a bit more alive. When you’re good friends with an NPC, they might send you the occasional gift, or invite you to a picnic, or you might unlock little narrative sidequests which let you learn about their character and their backstory. Keep an eye on the app over the coming weeks and months if that sounds like something you’d enjoy!