Homestead Arcana interview: “Game Pass has allowed us to reach a wider audience”

by on May 22, 2023

If farming and spellcasting gets you excited, then you could do a lot worse than Homestead Arcana. This magical adventure is set in a world overrun by Miasma, and features a custom hero trying to push back the purple fumes with the power of gardening. Farming games don’t always click with me, so the idea of saving the day with spells and exploring a dark and desolate world definitely appealed to me.

Although it turned out that Homestead Arcana wasn’t entirely my jam, plenty of others have played the game at this point thanks to it being on Game Pass. I was lucky enough to get the opportunity to talk to Zhenghua Yang (the founder and executive director of Serenity Forge) about working with Microsoft, getting voice actor Yuri Lowenthal to voice a character and a whole lot more recently, so take a look at his wonderful answers below in our exclusive interview.

A screenshot of Homestead Arcana

There are a lot of farming games on the market currently. How did you aim to make Homestead Arcana different from the rest?

Homestead Arcana sets itself apart from other farming games by introducing a post-apocalyptic world filled with magic and mystery. The game combines the familiar elements of farming and survival with a unique narrative-driven experience. Players take on the role of a Witch who must restore the corrupted land by using spellcraft, tending to plants and homestead, and uncovering the secrets behind the Miasma. By blending farming mechanics with an atmospheric and emotionally impactful narrative, Homestead Arcana offers a distinct and captivating gameplay experience.

Were there any other farming Sims that inspired you to make Homestead Arcana?

We drew inspiration from a variety of games while creating Homestead Arcana. Games like My Time at Portia and Stardew Valley inspired us to create an immersive home-building experience. Shadow of the Colossus influenced the mysterious and isolated atmosphere of our game, while Don’t Starve helped us strike a balance between gameplay mechanics and a sense of danger and exploration. By taking cues from these games, we aimed to create a unique and engaging farming adventure in Homestead Arcana.

What were some of the biggest challenges you faced when developing the game?

Throughout the development of Homestead Arcana, we faced various challenges that pushed us to innovate and overcome obstacles. One of the biggest challenges was striking the right balance between the farming and survival mechanics, while also weaving a compelling narrative into the gameplay. We wanted to create an immersive world filled with emotional depth, and achieving that required meticulous attention to detail and careful design decisions. Additionally, crafting an atmospheric experience that truly captured the post-apocalyptic setting and integrating it seamlessly with the gameplay was a significant undertaking. Despite these challenges, we remained committed to creating a meaningful and emotionally impactful game, and we’re proud of the final result we’ve achieved in Homestead Arcana.

A screenshot of Homestead Arcana

The visuals of Homestead Arcana are wonderful. What made the team decide on the colourful aesthetic for the game?

The decision to infuse Homestead Arcana with a colorful aesthetic stemmed from our vision of creating a visually captivating and immersive world. We drew inspiration from a diverse range of sources, including WPA posters, woodblock prints, and films such as Miyazaki’s Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind. We aimed to capture the grandeur of landscapes in the classic imagination of Americana while also drawing inspiration from the contrast between lush, beautiful nature and the overgrown, enigmatic aspects found in works like Made in Abyss and Annihilation. By embracing a vibrant and colorful aesthetic, we sought to heighten the atmospheric experience, enveloping players in a visually stunning journey through the enchanting world of Homestead Arcana.

Huckleberry the Cat is a great character who’s always by your side in Homestead Arcana. When did you make the decision to have the main character’s familiar play such a big part in the game?

We made the decision early on in the development of Homestead Arcana to have the main character’s familiar, Huckleberry, play a significant role in the game. Huckleberry, voiced by Yuri Lowenthal, serves as a constant companion, always by the player’s side throughout their journey. We wanted to create a deep connection between the player and their familiar, allowing them to form a bond and experience the adventure together. Huck’s presence not only adds a sense of companionship but also contributes to the game’s narrative and gameplay mechanics. As players delve deeper into the story, they discover that Huck holds secrets and that their bond goes beyond what initially meets the eye. This decision to incorporate a prominent familiar character was driven by our desire to enhance the emotional depth and create a unique dynamic within Homestead Arcana.

A screenshot of Homestead Arcana

The voice acting of Huck by Yuri Lowenthal is fantastic too. What was it like working with such a high profile voice actor?

Working with Yuri Lowenthal was an absolute honour and a dream come true. Yuri’s exceptional voice acting brought the whole character to life, infusing Huckleberry with personality, charm, and depth. It was truly a remarkable experience to collaborate with someone who has such incredible talent and versatility.

Additionally, Yuri Lowenthal holds a special place in my heart, as his portrayal of Simon in the anime Gurren Lagann played a major role in my life. During my teenage years, I faced a near-fatal illness, and Gurren Lagann became a source of inspiration and strength for me during that challenging time. Having the opportunity to work with my hero was a tremendous honour, and Yuri’s presence became a huge inspiration for the entire team.

Yuri’s dedication and ability to breathe life into characters have been invaluable to the development of Homestead Arcana. Through his voice acting, he brought Huckleberry to life, capturing the essence of the character and enriching the emotional depth of the game. We are grateful for Yuri’s immense talent and the positive impact he has had on our project.

A screenshot of Homestead Arcana

Homestead Arcana launched day one on Xbox Game Pass. What was your experience like working with Microsoft to make this happen?

We greatly appreciate the support from the Xbox Game Pass team in launching Homestead Arcana on day one. Microsoft has been an invaluable partner throughout the years to Serenity Forge, consistently demonstrating their commitment to promoting indie games and fostering a diverse gaming community. The collaboration with Xbox Game Pass has allowed us to reach a wider audience and share the unique world of Homestead Arcana. Their unwavering support and belief in our project throughout development have been instrumental, and we are honoured to continue working alongside Microsoft on future endeavours.

Finally, do you have any plans for the future of Homestead Arcana?

Homestead Arcana is a large game made by a small team, meaning that there still will need to be some patches to fix up some issues we didn’t find until the game launched. Looking ahead, we are dedicated to addressing any bugs, releasing updates, and enhancing the gaming experience based on player suggestions. Our goal is to create an even more enchanting and enjoyable world in Homestead Arcana, and we are thrilled to embark on this journey together with our dedicated community.

Homestead Arcana is available now for PC and Xbox consoles (via Game Pass).