Schumi, come home, an upcoming narrative exploration game, will be featured on Jirard “The Completionist” Khalil’s IndieLand charity livestream to showcase his eponymous mushroom protagonist, Shumi. The charity event is scheduled to start tomorrow and run through Sunday 13th November. Currently in development by Noah Lone and known online as SomeHumbleOnion, the indie title features light puzzle-solving, platforming, real-world mycology with an emphasis on charming, adventure timeesque writing.
Lone is a fan of The Completionist and looking forward to giving Schumi a chance to shine, but he’s just as excited for the opportunity to introduce himself to his audience of cozy gaming fans. Game Rant spoke to Lone about the inspirations and influences that have shaped him Schumi, come homeand he also had plenty to share about trends in the cozy gaming market, including an important insight into the catalyst for the recent cozy gaming boom.
Nintendo Switch: The cozy gamer platform
Most developers seem to think that cozy and comfortable games are a reflection of current events – the world has become a scary place, so life simulations, exploration-based titles and non-combat adventures have become more attractive. But Lone believes the boom in cozy titles has come from another source: the Nintendo Switch.
“Most of these leisurely gamers play on the Switch. One of the biggest questions I get about my game is, ‘Oh, is it coming to Switch? Is it coming to the Switch?’ because my target audience is casual gamers and their target platform is mostly the Switch.”
While breakout hits like Stardew Valley, a short hike, and slime grower have helped spread cozy titles on the PC, The influence of Nintendo’s system should not be underestimated. Many current owners made their first experiences as gamers Animal Crossing: New Horizons, which became as much a social phenomenon as it was a game in the depths of the pandemic. The system’s portability, indie developer-friendly specs, and comparatively affordable price point have helped introduce legions of new fans to the hobby, and this new market has whetted a new appetite for what games can and should be.
A personal connection to indie developers
One thing Lone appreciates about developing indie games is the opportunity for developers to develop a personal connection with their audience. AAA game development often seems monolithic to consumers, and many developers experience a sense of anonymity in huge teams. Despite the tremendous challenges of single game development and the rising development costs of indie titles, Lone believes the ability to personally connect with his audience is something to appreciate:
“[T]That’s one thing I love about indie games. It’s a very personal connection between the player and the creator, and I’m trying to make that stronger with IndieLand.”
Solo development requires a communicative feedback loop between creator and audience. Systems like Early Access releases and Discord forums have made one-to-one communication between developers and players a common and often vital part of independent development. In addition to creating the game itself, indie developers must also act as community managers, creating a community and communicative ecosystem that supports their titles.
One could also argue that such communication is essential, especially for leisurely games. Knowing who a YouTuber is can help fans feel good about supporting them as individuals, especially for titles designed to serve as feel-good experiences. To cite just one example, ConcernedApe’s open discussions with fans in interviews and on Twitter helped foster a sense of community Stardew Valley early and has led to tremendous anticipation for his upcoming new title, Damn chocolatier.
A blind spot in AAA development
This need for a personal connection may be the main reason why AAA developers tend to focus on more traditional genres of games rather than short but sweet authoring experiences. That’s not to say cozy AAA games are unknown: Animal Crossing: New Horizons contributed to the success of the Switch and was recently dethroned Pokemon as Japan’s best-selling game. But Lone isn’t worried about AAA developers laying claim to the genre any time soon.
While leisurely gamers are an ever-growing crowd, there’s a much smaller audience for these experiences than more traditional genres of games. However, Lone isn’t against the idea of AAA developers getting into the genre, as he’s tackling the problem from a gamer’s perspective. More AAA competition may make it harder for indies to get noticed, but more great experiences are good for everyone.
Schumi, come home Coming to PC and Switch in 2023.
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https://gamerant.com/shumi-come-home-interview-cozy-indie-games-switch-development/ Noah Lone, developer of Shumi Come Home, talks about the growing popularity of cozy games