One of the most unexpected controversies leading up to E3 had nothing to do with Sony, Microsoft, Apple, or Android.

Instead, it was a battle set in the normally peaceful world of Harvest Moon.

Xseed Games announced that it would publish the previously announced Harvest Moon game in North America as Story of Seasons, while Natsume announced shortly thereafter that it'd release Harvest Moon: The Lost Valley - an internally developed, entirely new Harvest Moon game.

We sat down with Natsume's president and CEO Hiro Maekawa, game producer Taka Maekawa, and vice president Graham Markay to get some inside information on Harvest Moon: The Lost Valley and what fans can expect from it.

Toil sport

"Hard work leads to success," CEO Hiro began - and that's one aspect of The Lost Valley that remains unchanged.

Whether you grow a radish from a seed, work to become closer to your livestock, or court an NPC to marry, rolling up your sleeves and putting in some honest effort will lead to the greatest rewards.

But what familiar Harvest Moon elements have changed in The Lost Valley? In short, pretty much all of them.

Explained as more "evolutions" than changes, the enhancements in The Lost Valley were all introduced to make the game more enjoyable to long-time fans and newcomers alike.

For starters, you won't just have a small field to play with. Instead, the entirety of The Lost Valley is yours to shape - and in any direction you want.

A comparison can be drawn to the likes of Minecraft here, as you can build up hills on normally flat fields or dig moats around your barn if you so choose.

These changes are all persistent, Natsume explained, but they can be undone if you feel the hill in the middle of your valley isn't nearly as cool as you thought it was.

Unfortunately, the "hard work leads to success" motto applies here too as there's no quick undo feature.

So if you want to tear a hill down, you'll need to take a shovel to the soil and set your mind to it.

Long-time fans will be happy to read that all tools will now be stored in your rucksack, and will work automatically when you need them.

Thus, there's no need to run back and grab your axe if you want to chop down a tree. Just walk up to it, tap the A button, and your ax will magically materialize in your hands.

While we were told that familiar Harvest Moon systems like fishing, cooking, animal raising, and crop growing would all receive similar enhancements, but Natsume was a bit coy about how exactly these would change.

We were told, however, that there'd be regular updates between now and the game's release.

Seasons of fun

Before E3, we learned that the overall goal of The Lost Valley would be the restoration of the seasons to a land stuck in perpetual winter.

Having played enough games in our time, we assumed that doing so would bring us to a cute cutscene and the ending credits - but Natsume assured us that restoring the seasons is really only the beginning of the challenges you'll face as a farmer.

What's more, Natsume has a lot of content planned for The Lost Valley - even after the release of the game.

This added content will come in the form of both free and paid DLC, both of which will introduce new content for players to enjoy - and they'll both provide The Lost Valley with a new longevity.

If this sounds like the sort of Harvest Moon game you'd like to play, there's good news on this front - Natsume has plenty of ideas for follow-up titles after The Lost Valley launches.

When asked how and why Natsume is poised to carry on the Harvest Moon torch, Hiro was quick to point out that his team has a vested interest in the series' future.

"We have 17 years of experience over 30 Harvest Moon games," Maekawa began.

"It is our mission to take care of our customers and players and to make them happy through Harvest Moon games," he concluded.

So, in short - Harvest Moon: The Lost Valley will go back to the series' roots and innovate on the familiar Harvest Moon premise - all while introducing a broad world for you to shape to your liking.

Suffice it to say that we're interested to find our way to this one when it launches.