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How the next Harvest Moon is making it easy for newcomers to play with virtual farm tools

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Harvest Moon: The Lost Valley wants to make harvesting more friendly to new players with easily upgradable, context-sensitive tools, developer Natsume Inc. announced today.

Context-based tools mean that specific items will automatically be selected for the player to use. Approaching a tree, for example, will trigger an axe to chop it down, rather than the player having to open the game's menus to find it. Upgrades are accomplished through a faster way as well; players can seek out in-game characters to water crops or collect lumber.

According to producer Taka Maekawa, the team wanted to maintain the "core value" of hard work ending with positive rewards.

"We took a long, hard look at the tool system and decided to go back to the drawing board," Maekawa said. "We came to the conclusion that gameplay should flow, so we made three core changes to the tool system."

The Lost Valley will also include storage for up to 255 of each item in a player's bag, meaning return trips to grab items won't be vital.

Harvest Moon: The Lost Valley is launching for Nintendo 3DS. Another entry in the long-running series, Story of Seasons, is expected to launch for 3DS this winter.

For more on how Maekawa wants hard-working players to be happy, check out our interview from E3 2014.