With the new year coming, it’s time to plan new things. For us that means it’s time to start thinking about the harbor town, a place which has been planned for a long time but never sketched and never discussed in greater detail. So that’s what we’ve done now!

Basically, we’ve had a huge brainstorming session where we just talked about what we’d like to see in the harbor town, what would be cool and a little how things would look. Here’s our list:

The Harbor – Obviously a harbor town needs a harbor or it’s not much of a harbor town, right? So we’ve planned a long dock, next to which there are a bunch of ships. Some will look like regular ships, others might have special themes: a viking ship perhaps, seeing as we’re Swedes and all?

“Loading Area” – An area next to the dock with a lot of strange crates and sailor carrying stuff and loading stuff onto carts and such.

Market Place – A pretty big area with lots of market stands: some where you can buy the usual stuff and gear, some that carry exotic items or fruit for show, to give the area a bit of flavor.

The Beach – A small beach with touristy things such as sunbeds and blankets. Tourists walking around enjoying the sand, water and hot weather!

Ice Cream Parlor – Probably next to the beach? But who knows! Anyway, an ice cream parlor filled with tons of ice cream! Probably some tables outside where people can sit and enjoy their treat.

A Church – With Grindea’s statue inside and one of those creepy priests!

Houseboat(s) – One or a few, for a more interesting way of living.

Regular Houses – A few where NPCs live, one of which will be an author which you’ll help complete the final part of her best selling series! We’ll also add this author character earlier in the game, once the library is implemented. We’d like her to have a book signing there in the beginning of the game, up until the festival (or so), for added recognition once you get to the harbor town (where she’s forced to live away from all of her fans so she can finally complete the next book)!

Wells and Fountains – The town is in the desert so they better have water available for the heat!

Now we (or well, I) just need to mix all of these things together and make a proper sketch of what the town could look like with all these ingredients included. First though, time for some icons and small interface fixes! All related to Arcadia, of course. First up, making a new version of Bag of Tricks, featuring Trunk instead of Bag:

And speaking of Bag, that guy’s actually the inventory icon… not very fitting for Arcade Mode where he doesn’t even exist. Time to replace him with Trunk:

Next, true icon galore as it’s time to make icons for the Treats & Curses we’ve come up with so far. In order of appearance: More Elites Curse, No Heal Curse, No Elites Treat, More Healing Treat, More Treasure Rooms Treat, and Time Crystal Treat (they will probably get better names later):

Finally, not exactly an icon, but cleaning up the background a little! Since it’ll move around as you run across the map (parallax wohoo), I needed to clean up holes of stuff I thought would be permanently hidden behind buildings (oops):

We’ve also been sketching and talking about the details surrounding two big upcoming things: the final desert map, and the interface at the Cinema in Arcadia!

Starting with the desert map, this is the sketch we showed a little while ago:

When I made this sketch I paid no heed to character sizes or what the distances between each section of the map would be in the game, as it was a sketch made on paper after all. Now that we need to translate the sketch into something we can actually use, we need to fix that.

In the above version of the sketch I’ve brought the whole thing into Photoshop and copy pasted a player character into each section, using it to determine distances and how big each thing is. The result is that certain parts of the sketch have been enlarged to better fit the character(s) that will run through the area. For instance, the part above the misspelled fight area has been a bit enlarged on both sides, and there’s a longer corridor coming towards the Saloon from the top right.

Once this was done, we brought the map into the game to run through it and try it out for ourselves (it’s a much different thing actually playing through the map compared to looking at a static character in the midst of it):

Again, we felt some areas were too small, so we made the corridor before the Saloon even larger and added a small space where you can more easily battle enemies there. The area before the (still misspelled) fight area was made larger as well, with the option to add a cave (can’t have too many caves and potential extra maps). Finally we actually made the Fight area slightly smaller to give the user interface in the top of the screen more room without it having to completely cut off the walls.

As mentioned, we also talked about the Cinema, how it would work, and how best to make an interface for it. We decided that when you open the cinema interface you’ll be presented with six options: Personal Best, Most Recent, Favorites, Friends, Public and Sharing.

In the “Personal Best” section, you’ll be presented with a list of your top best runs, automatically saved for your rewatching pleasure! Same thing with “Most Recent”, but with your most recent runs rather than the best. In “Favorites” any runs you’ve saved as a favorite will be available, both your own and those of your friends or strangers: which brings us to “Friends”, where your friends top runs will be available: each friend having one entry each. In Public, you’ll see the runs with the highest scores, and in Sharing you decide whether you want your runs to be shown only to yourself, you and your friends, or if you want them to be public to anyone (i.e if you end up on the high score).

Here’s a very early sketch showing what the selection of a replay could look like, featuring your character’s face (+ parts of the poncho and hat), the top two skills you used, what score you got and which floor you reached:

Continuing on with the cinema interface, though, the first thing we need to design is the header:

I went with a bag of popcorn and film strip to decorate the sides as this felt like two iconic references to the movies! Keeping with that spirit, I designed the movie info boxes to resemble film strips as well (as seen on the sketch earlier):

Also as mentioned earlier the info shown will be part of your character, it’s name (or the first 10 letters of it), the two highest leveled skills, the score (in the brown box), and the floor reached (golden shape at the end). In the final version below, I added a star to indicate someone having added that particular strip to favorites:

Speaking of which, this interface needs quite a few new buttons as well, in order to select everything! Without further ado:

From top to bottom: Play Clip, Most Recent, Favorite(s), Friends, Public, and Settings. The last one will lead to this rather simple popup menu, where you can select who can view your replays by moving left or right (the options being only you, only friends, or public):

Finally, let’s take a look at another portrait. This guy is designed after one of the archaeologists Fred made a while ago:

Like most NPCs made recently, you will run into this guy in the desert, where he’ll be busy excavating some new findings (and in doing so, unfortunately blocking your way for a while)!

Next week we’ll discuss and continue designing the final interfaces for the Arcadia Rework: the one for Master Ji’s shield challenges, and the UI that shows information about each building you can build. After that there’s mostly some smaller detail stuff for me to do before I believe I’m done with all Arcadia Rework things! Exciting times.

As mentioned last week there will be no weekly recap today, but we’d like to take this opportunity to wish you all a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!
Hope you have a wonderful time out there <3

See you next week for the usual recap! Until then~

Alright, back to business (ALSO SORRY THIS POST IS SO LATE! Scheduling got messed up again (I will set an alarm to check that it actually works, I promise)! As mentioned before, we’re at the point where we need to design a lot of interface stuff and decide how things will work together and unlock in terms of the new Arcadia rework features.

These include new interface indicator for gold, treats and curses when you’re running around inside Arcadia itself. Here we decided to combine Treats and Curses. Previously we said you could pick either Treats or Curses, and have three of each, but since then we have changed our minds: now, you’ll be able to pick and choose between Treats and Curses, but you can only pick 3 in total. It’s good to keep in mind that 3 isn’t a 100% fixed number at this point, we’ll have to try things out and see what feels good. The final number could be anywhere between 2-5 (is my guess, anyway).

We haven’t actually decided on which specific Treats or Curses to include yet, so if you have any cool ideas, feel free to share them with us! As a reminder, Treats are features that will make an Arcade run easier, but lowers your score, while Curses make your runs harder and increases your score!

Selecting Treats/Curses at their respective NPC will need a menu of its own too, as will the Cinema’s replay feature (where you’ll be able to view past runs), the Bank exchange service (where you can convert Essence to Gold and the other way around), and Master Ji’s challenge selection (where you pick which of his shield-focused challenges you want to try). We also need to come up with the challenges the latter will have.

The Arena will mainly use the interface from Story Mode, but we will also need a menu where you can select your last three characters that reached any boss in the game and have a go at the boss again. Here, we’ve decided to keep the Multiplayer mini-games, while the single player ones will be replaced by the boss-rebattle feature. Our reasoning here is that it might be fun to be able to challenge your friends to mini-games in the Arena without having to start Story Mode (since we have the arena anyway, you know), while the single player portion of the Arena doesn’t make as much sense to keep and works better in Story Mode alone.

There’s also another matter we need to discuss, and finalize: whether the build time of unlocked buildings will count IRL time, the time you play Arcade runs, or both. Last time we talked about this we could not decide, so now’s possibly your last chance: what would you prefer? To wait a short while regardless of what you do, to have to play arcade runs for the buildings to finish, or to be able to shorten the waiting time by playing arcade mode?

Let us know what you think!

So, time to get those new interfaces going! First up, the main interface as you run around Arcadia. Here’s the old version of the interface:

And here’s a basic suggestion with a new gold indicator and slots for Treats/Curses:

Now, the treats and curses will affect your score multiplier by a certain percentage each: either they’ll increase your score or they’ll reduce your score. More score equals more rewards (and a higher place on the high score list!), so we felt it was important to include this in the interface somehow. Here’s a quick sketch featuring the score multiplier increase both next to the score and next to the treats/curses:

While we liked the idea of having the percentage show next to the score counter (that way it can show all through your run as well), we weren’t sold on having an exact copy of it next to the treats/curses. Instead, we thought maybe we should separate them and show how much each of your curses or treats actually subtract or add to your score:

As of now, we still haven’t decided whether we want to include the above version or just keep the cleaned up score multiplier next to your score (as seen below). Do you think you’d prefer to see how much each score adds/subtracts, or is that unnecessary information that only clutters up the interface?

Next up, we’ll continue the interface business by taking a look at the interface of one of the more important new features: Treats and Curses!

For this interface the important part is having enough room for a bunch of treats/curses, with a text box featuring a description of each treat/curse, a title bar (so you know which interface you’re in), as well as some way of letting the player know when treats/curses don’t work together – for example if you have on treat that disables all elite enemies along with a curse that makes them more likely to spawn.

In the above sketch I used the potion interface as a base. There will be a few key differences though: for one, it won’t cost you money to change curses/treats, at least not the way it’s currently designed. If you’re currently hovering over a curse/treat that won’t work with the ones you have selected currently, a speech bubble popup will appear with a stop sign, showing you which ones are incompatible. Next to the curse/treat title in the text box will be how much score will be added or subtracted to your score, in percent.

Once you select a curse, a new interface will pop up where you can select which slot you want to add the curse/treat to:

In this interface there will also be a total score counter showing how much your total score will be with your selected curses/treats. In the sketch above there’s another stop sign next to the incompatible curse/treat, however this will likely not be added to the game: instead, if you try to select a curse or treat when you have others selected that wouldn’t work with it, there will be a prompt asking if you’d like to remove the ones that are incompatible with the one you’re trying to select. If you answer yes, the above interface will pop up with the incompatible curses/treats removed: if you answer no, you’ll remain in the curse/treat selection screen.

Now, time to freshen up the graphics a bit:

Here I’ve added some proper graphics to nearly everything: Muffin’s Treats has a title sprite, the pop-up speech bubble indicating which curses/treats are incompatible has been added, and the background is properly made as well. The text I haven’t touched though, as it will be added properly with the game engine.

Next, same thing but with Candy’s title sprite:

And finally, the screen where you select which slot to add your selected curse/treat to! Again, the stop sign will probably not be used the way we ended up designing things, but we hadn’t finalized that by the time I finished making the graphics:

Next, a quick portrait, with and without hat:

And Fred’s section of this post features a return to the desert and more of its inhabitants! Here’s a whole bunch of the iterations for four of the characters you’ll meet in the harbor town, with the final versions inside each green circle:

…And an animation for that poor winter fae, who has been lured into the desert by his friend! Poor thing is suffering from the less than ideal weather for a winter loving creature!

With only a few days left before Christmas, we’ll take a small break and will return on January 1st! No weekly recap next week, in other words, but we’ll make sure to post a happy holiday post to cheer you all on over the holidays :) In the meanwhile you can sneak a peek of what will be shown in the recap of Jan 1st over on my own workblog! Until then~

We’re in our new office!! Last Wednesday we finally made the move, but we had already started preparing the day before. Here’s the old office in our apartment’s guest room, as it used to be, and fully packed:

The saddest thing we’ll be leaving behind is the cats! It’s been so nice to be able to spend all day long with our lovely two cats, who will have to wait alone at home for us to return from the office every day now ;_;

Yesterday, the moving company knocked on our door at 8 am, ready to move our stuff. The whole thing took about an hour, plus another 30 minutes of putting everything together at the new office, here pictured empty:

After we were done, we went to have lunch and went by a couple stores to buy a few things to make our office more cozy: a few plants (fake, so they won’t die if we have to leave the office for a few days), a clothes hanger where we can put our coats, and a few decorations for the window (including a cute little christmas tree):

The whole place feels very cozy now, and we’re very happy with the space. At first we thought it might be a little on the small side, but we’re really satisfied with the amount of room we have and how comfy we could make it.

The only sad part, as mentioned, is leaving behind the cats – but the walks and ability to separate work and free time should be worth it! Already work feels much more focused and distraction-free, so that’s great :)

Now, let’s jump straight into continuing the interior spree of the Arcadia Rework! It’s time to take a look at the Cinema, another of those brand new buildings that don’t exist in Story Mode. Here, you’ll be able to watch replays of your previous Arcade runs, and even share them with your friends.

While most of this will take place in one of the ticket booths near the entrance, we couldn’t resist adding a bit of a cinema feel with a big screen and some seats for flavour. Perhaps some NPCs will be here, watching a short movie on screen? Maybe some of them will even offer a quest of two!

The second to last interior before all the interior designs of the new and improved Arcadia are completed, belongs to the Aquarium! This place will feature a set of fishes that you captured during your run, as well as the typical souvenirs:

In the sketch, I included a set of fish shaped balloons, but I think we’ll let Fred make those from start to finish since they will need to be animated to really have that proper balloon feel! For now, here’s what the Aquarium looks like, sans the proper fishes and mentioned balloons:

And now, the final part of the Arcadia rework (interior wise, anyway): the Dojo interior! This is another building that exists in Story Mode, and may have its old version replaced by this new Arcade version. It’s designed to have a big enough fighting area for you to prove yourself in a set of challenges, as well as a shield block training session we may include in the earlier parts of story mode: we’ll see!

Without further ado, the WIP video:

And the finished version! I thought it’d be cool to save some space at the bottom where Master Ji’s apprenticed can stand and watch/cheer for you as you do your challenges! In the section above, the master himself will spectate your progress:

As for Fred’s department…. It’s time to introduce a new character of quite some importance: the Trunk!

This little guys will be the equivalent of Bag, but for Arcade Mode. We didn’t have a character like this in Arcade Mode previously, but the more we thought about it, the more we felt it was lacking somehow. It kind of felt strange to have bag say random things when he isn’t even a character in this part of the game, and as we start to get to the point where we need to design how to unlock the new features, we felt a sidekick that can help you understand how to do that felt more interesting than random info boxes.

Aside from being your sidekick in the Arcade Mode portion of the game, bag and trunk have very little in common, though! This little fellow is cheerful and happy, excited to be a part of your adventures. (Well, maybe Bag is too, but he doesn’t show it half as well as this one!)

Stay tuned for more information about this new character and how you’ll interact in Arcade Mode!

So a really long time ago by now, we started working on the Tai Ming floors. Or rather, I made a bunch of graphics for them and awaited a chance for Teddy to add them to the game for testing. Now, a hundred years later when we finally finished a ton of other important stuff, it’s time to dive back into the actual Arcade floors again, and it begins with fixing a bunch of errors.

To start off, the first thing we noticed when adding things to the engine was that I had somehow failed making the openings in the two types of fences the same width, which creates a bunch of zoning problems….

….and secondly, all of us had completely forgotten how much space the interface takes in in Arcade Mode compared to Story Mode. If you take a look at the screen below, you can see a lot of the fighting area is covered by the map and score board:

Not exactly ideal… SO, two kind of major things for me to fix: one, make sure the fence openings are equally wide, and make the fight areas smaller so they won’t get covered by interface (we certainly don’t want anyone losing precious score because an enemy was hiding behind the map):

The above changes may not look like much but it makes all the difference in the engine! As you may notice, the exits are no longer in the middle of the fence, but further towards the top. This is to save Teddy a ton of work, as he had already implemented the zoning for each of this exits, and would have to manually change them after the fence resize. As such, we decided keep them slightly higher and save the work. It may not look 100% ideal but I think in the heat of battle nobody will really think much of it.

Now, here are a few more screens showing what things look like in the engine so far (using my still not fixed graphics at this point):

As you can see, there’s a lot of stuff missing still, but the core is getting there (it’s basically playable, just not polished graphically at all). Next up I’ll be making a bunch of decorations for the area around the “room”s: grass decorations, randomized trees and rocks, etc. Once everything is added I think this will actually look quite nice!

But before moving on to more Tai Ming floor stuff, I wanted to finish a rather important boss room for Mount Bloom’s arcade floors: the one where you’ll battle the Black Ferrets (the awesomest trio in the game, am I right?!)

As you may know, this battle initially takes place inside the HQ, but will now be in Mount Bloom, as it’s where you’ll be at Arcadia wise. As such, we extracted the vital points of the map (the actual size of the fight area, so Teddy does not have to make new boundaries for it):

…And the proceed to make a new version of the area, set in Mount Bloom instead!

It’s kind of amazing how much smaller the fight area looks when it’s surrounded by water rather than more of the HQ, but it’s the exact same size! Teddy and Freddy will each be on the opposite end, hurling their blades at the unsuspecting player(s), just like in story mode:

Okay, back to the Tai Ming floor decoration stuff! First up, adding a ton of floor decorations around the battle area (inside the battle area it’ll be randomized, so it won’t look so similar each time):

Now, we need to make sure the flowers won’t get cut off when we add water or mountain walls, as seen below (fixed by moving the flowers slightly away from the border):

In order to make the edges of the water look more decorated, we put a bunch of the flowers directly on its sprite:

And now, the most important stuff: making a bunch of variations for trees, rocks and other decorations that will appear around the fences when there is no water or mountain to cover ’em up. I’ve made 6 variation of each side: three for when there’s an exit in that directions, and three for when it’s closed (as seen in the two examples below):

When a horizontal fence connects with a vertical one, there also needs to be a number of corner decorations, so I made three of those for each corner as well, two of which can be seen below:

Mixing and matching these decorations along with water, mountain walls and the buildings I made earlier will surely make this area look a whole lot different each time you play it! I think as far as Arcade floors go, these will probably look the most epic in that way, as each time you get there will truly be a new experience graphics wise.

Now I just need to make a bunch of interiors (you’ll battle through buildings as well), and turn everything into its past version for when it’s time for the time warp!

As for Fred’s work this week:

Even more fishies! When all this is said and done we’ll be able to make a fishing game… Wouldn’t that be exciting?! (Maybe not…)

So while these fishes take a lot of time to complete, we hope that once they’re all available in the aquarium it’ll be worth all the effort! Plus, who knows what else we can come up with now that we have a ton of animated fishes.

If you have any ideas, feel free to share your crazy fish dreams!

Another week has passed, during which Fred has been busy finishing up the Solem…

.., and starting work on his part of the whole potion business! This includes a sprite and animation for a new character who will stand outside the potion shop with a signpost. This way we hope people will easily come across him and learn how to get a bottle on their way to the Pumpkin Woods and Flying Fortress:

Next up will be more potion stuff, as we’ve decided to change some things around with Remedi’s quest, and add another one where you’ll get the second bottle. A sneak peek of what’s going to happen:

Excited? We sure are! In fact, most of this week has been about potions in their various forms as we’ve prototyped, tested, made changes, and tested some more! In the beginning of the week we had a meeting where Teddy showed us his basic prototype of the system and wanted to discuss it with us.

To refresh your memory, the potion rework is about giving you three bottles that you can fill with one potion each. After you drink a potion, the bottle will refill slowly as you battle enemies. This was the basic prototype added by Teddy, but unfortunately he did not feel it was very fun, and after trying it out as well, me and Fred agreed – to an extent.

In fact, for a while we talked about scrapping the potion rework altogether!

However, after playing around with the system (Teddy also included settings which allowed us the change the speed of which a potion recharges, their duration, as well how big of an effect they have), we found that we’d been looking at it the wrong way, making it too difficult to recharge the potions.

Basically, in our first iteration, you got quite a large effect but refilling the bottles (done only by battling enemies) took forever, and felt more like a chore. So instead, we decided to reduce the effect quite significantly, but have the recharge process be much faster. We also decided to add a passive refill that slowly refills the bottles for you even when you’re not in battle. This way it doesn’t feel like you’re losing out on refill time when you move from one group of enemies to the next.

We’ve also decided on what potions we want to have, which so far is a lineup of nine:

* Health Potion – refills a tiny portion of your health
* EP Potion – restores your EP
* DMG Potion – Increases the damage you do for a short duration
* Crit Potion – Increases crit chance for a short duration
* Gold Potion – Increases gold droprate for a short duration
* Arrow Potion – Increases the number of arrow that drops
* Loot Potion – Increases drop rate of items
* Speed Potion – Increases your cast and attack speed

And finally, the most important one:

* Chicken Potion – Turns the player into a chicken!

Yes, we’re serious about that one. Might not be very useful (or will it?), but fun at the very least!

Okay, time for the next step in our potion-centric week! Starting with the basic UI where you assign which potions you want to carry with you on your journey. To my help with this I had a little sketch we made over at our meeting where we discussed these things:

Using the buff- and Frosty Friend interface arrows as a base, I made a version that will feature the potions. These arrows will not only appear in the Assign Potion interface, but will also appear around the character in the same way as when you command Frosty Friend or buff a friend with your utility skills:

After selecting which of your potion slots you want to change, you’re brought down to a shop-like list where all the potions will be displayed. Right now there are prices beneath the potions, but in the version we’re aiming for, swapping potions will be free of charge and can be done anytime (all of the potions will be unlocked from the beginning).

Also the menu may not look exactly like this when it’s done, but it’s close to what we’re aiming for:

Next up, the portrait of that new character! So the guy outside the potion shop is the nephew of Remedi the Alchemist. As mentined, he will appear in Evergrind City carrying a signpost directing you to his uncle’s shop. He’s also the one to notify you about Remedi giving out a free bottle to adventurers! What a nice kid, huh?

Next, time to get some more interface done. This time we’ll take a look at what the player will see more often, i.e. the interface that will appear as you drink your potions. Using the arrows from before, here’s what they will look like in action:

And now, it’s time for an indicator showing how long you have left before your potion(s) have been refilled:

These bottles will appear filled when ready to use, or will refill in real time as you battle enemies or just wait around. In the finished version we’ll try making the top row of pixels a little darker to make it more clear how much recharge time is left:

Now, as for the potions, I will remake all of them in a fresh new style, using our talent icon as base, but making it smaller so it better fits inside the UI arrows:

Each potion will have their own color, and as they appear in the arrow another icon will indicate their effect, making it easier to distinguish between the different potions even when they are of similar color:

The Speed and Loot potions aren’t pictured here because as I was making these, we hadn’t decided they would be included yet! They will appear in next week’s post instead, so stay tuned for that~

This week we return our focus to the Arcadia Rework! Starting with the usual reminder of where we left things off last:

The first thing on my new fixlist was to make the shape of the arena more rounded:

Then, it was painting paths all day! So many paths! Even with a lot of copy & pasting, this took forever, haha:

After the paths were done, it’s time to add water and the edges around town:

…and the background, kind of bringing everything together! Now all that’s left is a ton of trees, flower, smaller decorations – and to make the version of town that hasn’t been built upon yet! The goal of new Arcadia will be for you to unlock all of this, after all.

So here we go, time to add the last pieces. For instance, the bridge that will connect the right land mass to the left, once you unlock it:

And then……. Trees and flowers!!! So many! With this step, the fully unlocked version of Arcadia is done (aside from any other minor fixes we might decide to add). Of course, in this version there are no animation or NPCs added yet, but that will happen in the game engine:

Now it’s time to demolish everything and make the not unlocked version of each of the plots you can purchase on your journey! Starting off with Remedi’s wagon, which will be nothing but a pile of dirt to begin with:

Each of the plots you’ll be able to unlock/purchase will have their own signpost, so I decided to make a new version of the extremely old sprite we’ve been using so far. Should probably replace the one in Story Mode with this one later on, though it might stand out next to the old background graphics, I suppose:

As for the grand fae tree, it too will start off rather small… as a sapling:

There will be more tiny details added here and there in this version, where nothing has been unlocked yet, plus there will be wood covering certain areas you’ll have to unlock as well. For now, this is what things look if you’ve unlocked all the areas (except the bridge) but not bought any plots yet:

Now, as we decided a while back, only a small part of Arcadia will be available from the beginning, and the remaining three parts will have to be unlocked: one by building a bridge, and the other two by clearing out trees. As such, this is actually what the town will look like from the beginning:

And below are two versions where just one of the remaining areas have been unlocked by clearing out the woods:

Now, in order to make things look a little more interesting around some of the unbuilt plots, we decided to put in some random props, pieces of wood, boxes and the like, to help signify that these areas are a work in progress until you’ve purchased them. So below it’s decorating time, starting with the Farm, moving on to the Aquarium, the Bank, and finally the Arena:

And now, here’s the version of the map where all the plots are visible but none has been bought:

And with this, I believe the outdoors of the Arcadia rework is more or less complete! Wohoo!! Of course, we still need to make a bunch of interiors, but still :)

So to finish this week, I’m throwing in another portrait for the desert crew today, once more playing around with rendering techniques for the final (small) version of the portrait:

Next week will be all about potions and the potion rework! Stay tuned :)

This week more interesting things are happening with the combat system and its skills! For one, we’ve upgraded the graphics of Blade Flurry, making the skill faster to use. Being rooted while casting a skill isn’t exactly ideal, and Blade Flurry (especially at Gold Charge) has felt rather clunky to use as a result of that. Let’s take a look at what the old version looked like:

And now, the new version:

As you can see, in the latter version your character finishes casting the skill almost immediately and is free to move after only a very short time of being rooted. Definitely feels a lot more nice!

We’ve also been playing around with Titan’s Throw, which hasn’t seen a lot of use very likely due to the fact that you throw your weapon away and won’t be able to use it until you pick it up again! As mentioned in a previous post, we’re adding the ability to get your sword back by holding the skill button for a short while (seen above).

We’ve also added a little bit of AoE damage if you do decide to pick it up manually, in order to make it more worthwhile doing so:

We also talked about adding an orb to magic weapons that deal a lower amount of damage but allows casters to stay further away from enemies. It’s been implemented as well, and works quite well for those of us who prefer to keep our distance:

Again, if you’re close enough to hit the enemy with your want, it won’t unleash the orb but your want will do a bit more damage than the orb itself would. So whether you’re into close combat or battling ’em from far away, there’s pro’s and cons to both options!

Finally, a closer look at a bunch of Fred’s animations for these things (and some others):

So, initially we kind of had hopes of having the patch up and running already. The skill changes have all been made and are fully functional, but we realized there are some more things we want to test and some things that need to be fixed before we’re satisfied enough to hand over rest of the testing to you guys!

First of all, Teddy is now working on improving the player experience when playing games with high ping as we realized some of the changes we made to the combat made things desync more than we’d like in high ping situations. Of course, it won’t be possible to make it 100% awesome if you happen to play with someone really far away or with a bad internet connection, as some desync in those cases simply can’t be avoided. However, there are things we can do to improve the experience and make it feel more smooth to play, even when it’s having difficulties.

Second, we really need to get down and dirty with the numbers, balancing each skill so it doesn’t feel too OP or too crap compared to the others. To help us with this we’ve created a document which documents exactly how much damage each skill does at different levels, and how much that is per second, per EP, etc:

In other words, this needs quite extensive research and several playthroughs with different sets of skills, to make sure it’s as balanced as possible. We also need to consider what gear is available and how strong the enemies are, and make adjustments accordingly. Already, we’ve noticed some not-particularly hard to get items give the player quite the boost with these new edits, so we’ll have to nerf a few of those to make up for the increased strength of the skills.

It’s hard to tell how long these tests will take, but hopefully we’ll have the new patch up and running within another week or two! Until then, I’ll focus on more Arcadia stuff and testing these things out!

Speaking of Arcadia, we continue with adding new buildings to its rework! Here’s another that weren’t available in the old version of the town: the Aquarium. This place will help bring more inhabitants to your town, as well as housing a display of the fishes you’ve caught on your travels inside.

Using the Aquarium as a base, I made another new building that hasn’t been available in Arcadia before: The Bank. Here you’ll be able to trade Essence for gold, or the other way around, something which might be useful in your quest to fully expand your town or get all unlockables:

And now the time has come to add another exciting building we’re all looking forward to: the Arena! In this building you’ll not only be able to battle your friends in a set of mini-games and challenges, you’ll also be able to do practice runs against bosses and other cool things:

And here’s where we’re at after these buildings have been added! As mentioned before, details and paths will be added later, but for now we’re more than halfway done with each of the unlockable buildings:

As mentioned before, our next main goal is to do a complete rebalancing of the skills in the game. This includes making bigger changes to some of our old darlings, such as Smash.

Smash has been kind of difficult to use since hitting the first enemy does not do a lot of damage: it’s smashing it onto others that’s the main source of epic damage. However, in some cases this isn’t exactly easy to do. In fact, most of the time it probably isn’t for most people, unless they’re in a very crowded area. If you’re facing few enemies, it might be hard to aim where the first one will go, making it near impossible to optimize the damage. Against bosses, the skill has been more or less useless.

So, how do we change this? I’d lie if I said we haven’t considered replacing the skill completely, and I suppose it might still happen. However, our first try will be to improve aiming and giving you something to use against bosses or in those cases where there simply isn’t enough enemies.

SO: the next time you charge your Smash skill (once the patch airs), a magical ball will appear in front of the player. You can hit this ball instead of an enemy, smashing it into approaching foes (or bosses) for maximum damage. To make aiming easier we’ve played around with a couple ideas as well:

In the first one, a set of dots appear behind the ball, indicating where it’s going, including how it would bounce off walls and the like.

Below, there’s a second version, using a more cone-like shape. It’s important to remember that both of these indicators use placeholder graphics, and that in the end, regardless of which one we pick, it’ll look more fitting to the game.

As it is, we feel the second one has better potential of having a clean look, so it’s probably the one we’ll go for. Hopefully these additions to the skill will make it a little more fun and useful. Otherwise, it’s probably back to the drawing board for this skill!

So, now you’ve already seen some of our work on improving the skills, but as mentioned we have plans to improve or make tiny adjustments to almost every single skill in the game. This is all part of our rebalancing effort, which hopefully will end up with the game being a more fun and stable experience regardless of which sets of skills you pick. Here’s the complete rundown:

1-Handed Skills

Dodging Strike will get increased damage, and synergy with Reaper’s Blade (the new utility skill). A Gold Charge Dodging Strike will now automatically cast Reaper’s Blade on the target in front of you: level one by default, but if you put more points in the skill it will automatically use the level you have it at.

Piercing Dash will have its damage improved slightly.

Shadow Clone will be automatically nerfed as we lower the damage one 1-handed normal attacks, but it’s likely we’ll lower the base damage of this skill even further.

2-Handed Skills

Smash will be changed, as you’ve already seen. A ball will spawn when charging the skill, giving you something to hit enemies with for maximum damage.

For Titan’s Throw, we’ll add the option to get your sword back by channeling for a short while at bronze level. Right now, you have to pick the sword up manually until you get the gold charge, but we felt this has been limiting this skill a great deal. So instead, you’ll now be able to get your sword back from the beginning, though it won’t deal damage to enemies on its way back until gold charge.

Magic Skills

The Fireball will have increased speed, a graphic update (part of which has already been shown), and a more polished on-hit effect.

For the Meteor, we’ll increase the damage, and add more aoe.

You will no longer be able to damage enemies while moving, using the Flamethrower. If you start moving, the flames will die down until you stand still again.

Frosty Friend will have a cap of how many enemies can attack him. On the first level this will be a single enemy, but with each charge level he’ll be able to occupy one more enemy. This is to make sure he won’t be a complete meat shield, distracting all the enemies at all times. Instead, he won’t be able to die when shielding.

The Ice Spikes and Ice Nova will get a damage increase. As mentioned last week, you’ll also become able to chill and freeze all enemies (including bosses) with these skills.

Summon Plant‘s melee plants will have increased range, while the ranged plants will have less range.

Chain Lightning will get increased damage, possibly decreased range.

Static Touch will likely remain unchanged, but we are discussing whether to make a change so that you collect the cubes by battling, and by keeping on battling enemies they will get more and more charged. With this change you’d either be able to unleash the cubes upon a single enemy by using the skill again, or they’d be unleashed automatically when they’ve reached max charge level. Again, we haven’t decided whether to actually make this change yet, though.

There may be more changes than the ones listed above, but these are the ones we’ve discussed so far. As each skill gets its makeover we might have to adjust the others more.

Meanwhile, in the Arcadia Rework we finally get to the part with the Player house! This is especially important since we want to use what we make here in Evergrind City (for Story Mode) as well! In this first part I’ll begin with the house itself, and make another, shorter video later featuring the immediate surroundings.

 

The colors I selected were based on the Collector color scheme, which is blue and yellow. Seeing as the technology behind the house is designed, developed and used by collectors, we though these were fitting colors. Next, it’s time to add some much-needed decorations around the area!

 

Short video, but it makes a lot of difference for the house. The fence surrounding the house is based on the fence around the gardens in Evergrind City, as we intend to move the place more or less as-is to Evergrind, with some minor adjustments.

And here’s the full version of the town, with this added plot of land! Getting there, one step at a time:

Finally, in the desert, we need a few more Sailors – it is a port town after all. So here’s another sailor from the Merchant Isles, to help fix that problem:

It’s another Monday, and work on the Utility skills is in full progress!

As Teddy continues to prototype, I thought it would be fun to take a look at these very early stages of each of the skills! First up, we have the Defensive utility skills, three skills that are bound to change the game play slightly for at least some of you:

First among them, we have the blink (as seen above). As mentioned in the earlier rundown of the utility skills, it auto-targets some distance away as you tap the button, but you can also move the target around (if you have the time).

It’ll have a base cost of some energy, with a 20 more energy increase each time you spam it. If you stop using it for about 3 seconds currently, it will reset to the base cost. These costs will be lowered slightly for each silver point you spend on the skill, culminating in being able to use the first blink for free. The exact numbers are subject to change with further testing.

Next, the shield/barrier! It has an amount of HP, much like your physical shield, based on a percentage of your own HP, which increased per level spent on the skill. It can take damage up to his amount, but will always break after 4 hits regardless of how much damage they do to your shield. If your barrier gets crushed, you’ll take the remaining damage from the attack (the amount it failed to shield you from) as regular damage and you won’t be able to recast the shield for a little while.

Finally, the meditation/focus skill. It regenerates your EP faster the more you’ve leveled it, and if you channel it for two seconds the next skill you use will be cast free of EP cost. The circle underneath the character indicates when that happens!

As for the Offense skills, we first have Death Mark!

This skill has a new targeting system, which can be seen above. It basically aims at whatever enemy is the closest to your target, which you can move around the screen so long as you hold down the spell button.

Everything you see here is prototype graphics, so it will likely look a lot different in the end, but the general gist of it is that as you do damage to a target with Death Mark, a meter of some sort (in this case it will probably be a sword) will start to fill up. Once a set amount of time has passed, the mark will trigger and deal bonus damage based on how much you’ve already damaged the target. The more you’ve filled the meter, the more damage it will do when it triggers – so you better try to get as much damage as possible on your target before that happens, to maximize the bonus damage. If the damage Death Mark will do is enough to kill the target, it will automatically trigger and execute the enemy for you before the timer runs out.

Taunt/Challenge lacks all of the relevant graphics, but works much as described earlier: you challenge an enemy by shouting some insults at it, causing the both of you to deal more damage against each other. Upon leveling the skill, you’ll be able to target more enemies. Of course,┬áin multiplayer, taunted enemies will prefer the taunting player when looking for things to attack, so your friends will be safe.

Sleep, or rather, Stasis is the skill we’ve come the furthest with graphics wise. The mechanics are fairly straight forward and as described previously: the targeted enemy gets put in a stasis from which it’s released either when a new enemy gets put under the effect, when you hit it, or simply when the timer (individual for each type of enemy) runs out.

Here’s the first prototype version, simply freezing the enemy in place:

In the second iteration, a flashing light was added to indicate when an enemy is about to come out of stasis:

Finally, some visual effects were added, and as it is, we’re already pretty satisfied with the way it looks right now – we might just add some small effect for when an enemy gets hit by the spell and otherwise keep it the way it is:

And, since the Utility skills will be implemented much sooner than the desert enemies, Fred has paused the creation of those beast and began work on the spell effects needed!

We felt Death Mark is the skill that’s perhaps the most reliant on the right graphics, and nearly impossible to really get a feel for without them: we want to be able to feel the urgency of trying to fill up that meter, and the satisfaction as it triggers and executes the enemy.

As such, Fred began sketching on multiple versions and ideas for what it could look like, with the guideline that we wanted it to be a sword:

He also began making the actual animations, first showing how the meter fills up:

And then the indications for when time is about to run out (the flashing outline):

He’s also begun work on the shield/barrier skill from the defense section, which will be a bubble of sorts, surrounding the character. We’re still working on tweaking the transparency levels and overall feel, but we think we’re getting there:

The rest of this week we’ll be testing all the billion ways each spell can break the game (which they do, a lot), by playing through the entire thing using each spell on every enemy in every possible way. While we won’t be able to find all of the bugs or problems this way, hopefully it’ll make them more or less fully functional before we hand it over to you guys in the Frontline beta! Multiplayer will need a whole lot of testing of its own, both to make sure the effects are syncing up between users, and to bug test the friendly targeting (as some of the Utility skills will be used as buffs which can be cast on anyone in your party).

At some point I will be called upon to make the proper skill icons for each of these, though I’m not sure if that will happen this week or later when we’re 500% sure these are the skills we’ll actually end up using (that is, once we’re certain none of them feel too boring as we try them out properly on our bug testing runs). Until then my art focus will be mainly on continuing the Arcadia Rework, as it’s what’s next on our to-do once the skills have been finished (and the occasional desert town portrait). Slow but steady!

Fred, meanwhile will be focusing this week on creating more of the Utility skill animations and Teddy will be put on major polish and bug hunting duty. At the moment, we don’t have an ETA for when the skills will be available on Frontline: it’s all very dependent on how broken they end up being on these playthroughs.

We’ve already had lots of talks about small edits we’d like to see on each of the abilities, so they’re not even in their finished form as it is right now! No major changes in terms of mechanics, but lots of tiny timing-things and such. For example, whether Death Mark should trigger automatically once the meter is full, or if it should still wait for the timer to run out. In this case we decided to keep the timer fairly short, and have it wait for it to run out before it triggers, even if you’ve done enough damage to fill the whole thing. Our reasoning for this is to make sure you can’t spam it too often, in multiplayer, for instance – as you’d be able to fill the meter a lot faster with four people who might all also have the ability (though we’ll try to balance this as well). Our goal is to make it fairly hard filling up the meter before the timer runs out, so it’ll be a bit of a fun challenge to try and fill it as much as you can when battling.

Hope you guys are enjoying your summer!