Video Games

Havendock’s Calm Oceanic City Building Belies Its Ambitious Community Development

I don’t know about you, but I’ve been stumbling around looking for a lot of things. in the meantime game of the year. Tears of the Kingdom has clearly been a big part of my life over the past month. And recently I was in Los Angeles for Summer Game Fest. Earlier this year, I was playing Kirby, and when I got home, humanity was waiting. But all those games were a little too high stakes to just hang around for the whole year. Lately, I needed something slower and more immersive. And lately, I’ve found myself immersing myself in a little game called Havendock.

Heavendock is a city builder. The goals are presented, but the risks are low, so you don’t have to frantically organize your civilization while the population is collapsing in your arms. It takes place in the middle of the ocean rather than on land, starting with a small deserted island and building a series of interconnected wooden docks. Build more docks to create more space for more houses, more people, more facilities, and make life a little easier. Drinking water is the first concern, followed by food, then shelter. We ended up on the dance floor and chicken coop. The material floats leisurely in waves, lending an element of delightful randomness and surprise to the work. More recently, he created a dance floor and a prayer center so residents could expect to dance. This is a literal game mechanic, not my lip service.

Drifters can get hungry and tired, but their needs build up so slowly and are easily fulfilled that their presence is stressful, at least for the first few hours I’ve played. was almost never. Havendoc is interspersed with moments of humor such as when she discovers that hamburgers can be grown in her garden, and when she sees the very human and silly name of her NPC who arrives to assist me, giving her a sense of civilization. It’s largely a pleasant way to slow down while building. . Havendock is full of this idiosyncratic goofiness that quickly speaks to a game intent on pleasing its growing community through Early Access.

Creator Yeo Ying Zhi, aka YYZ, started developing Flash games as a teenager and eventually took several classes to get started learning 3D engines like Unity. He has worked on a bit of a personal tower defense game project and he has also released his 2D idle RPG game called Enchanted Heroes with some success. Havendock is YYZ’s first attempt at a 3D game on a large scale, and although he’s been fascinated by his 3D animation and game design for some time, it just doesn’t happen to give him the boost he needs. I needed a restless night.

“I was lying in bed and couldn’t sleep,” he says. “It was around 3am. So I had this idea of ​​being in this peaceful place in the middle of the ocean. And from there I made some concepts. It was just a concept I had in my head, so it popped into my head, and after a while I decided, ‘Okay, let’s make this a game.’ bottom.”

The idea came to me to be in this peaceful place in the middle of the ocean. And from there I made some concepts.


YYZ is perfect for his job, not only in his transition from 2D to 3D animation, but also in his goal of creating a decent multiplayer experience. I haven’t tried this feature myself yet, but he advertises it as “highly experimental” in his early access version of Havendock. His explanation makes it easy to see why.

“Whenever a character deposits an item in a building, we need to link it to all the players, all the buildings, the items in it, and the character itself on top of it. It actually makes it very difficult to get the game really smooth, which is why we have so many issues with multiplayer right now that we’re trying to fix.”

Some people may be hesitant to play something that is clearly not finished, but open development like this is important to YYZ. He frequently blogs about the development process, taking into account feedback from the community. Be as transparent as possible about relevant issues Even on the simpler side, like having NPCs drink fruit juice or alcohol at the bar. He was also open from the beginning and told me that about 6-8 weeks after starting the project he released an early version of Havendock to the public.

“It’s very scary,” he says. “If you’re scared to let it go, that’s probably the right feeling. If you’re ready, it might already be a little too late… When I tested it, I thought it was fine, but players are going through all sorts of It does things and there’s a sandbox element, which means you can generally break things in the early stages because the way people play the game was unpredictable to me, so there’s a lot to learn from that. But I’m actually glad we got it out early because it took a lot longer to get the project out to the public and a lot more time to build stuff than it did when it worked. I didn’t know what it would be like if that was what people wanted.”

Despite the struggles, YYZ says that releasing Havendock in such an early access environment has allowed it to develop at a much faster and more efficient pace than previous projects. At the time we speak, he states that there are around 2,400 members of his Discord community. This is quite a scale. This help is especially appreciated as he works mostly solo on the game and is still working part-time to pay his bills.

I was out for the day and had a problem with the game… so all day I couldn’t wait to get home and go to my computer.


“I think this approach is totally different from what a normal developer would do,” he thinks. “So I think it’s a big learning point as well, and for me it’s also a step out of my comfort zone… I had this one day. I remember being out for just one day, but apparently I posted an update. There seems to be a problem with the game because I did it.” The day before, I didn’t have access to my computer for the whole day, so I went home, went to my computer, immediately found out what the problem was, and kind of pushed couldn’t wait. The day was quite stressful. So I think that’s some of the things I should be more careful about. ”

It’s clear that YYZ is deeply invested in the project, but when asked what it takes to consider Havendock a success, his answer is humble.

“If enough people knew about this, they might ask their friends, ‘Hey, have you heard of my game?’ There is.” something like that. I think it will become common enough to be recognized. I don’t know if that sounds like a success, I just think it’s cool. ”

Rebekah Valentine is IGN’s Senior Reporter. you can find her on her twitter @duck valentine.

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