New week, new interfaces! This time it’s the last couple of interfaces for Arcade Mode, featuring how to build new houses and a notification window for when new NPCs are added to town:

Above is the first quick sketch of the notification box mentioned. We wanted to notify players of when new characters appear in town so they know what/who to look for. Instead of One-Handed it will say “A New Face in Town”, and instead of Defense, it’ll say the character’s name. We used to placeholder text to get a feeling for how big the fonts are.

Here’s the progress of taking the box from the sketch version to the actual one we’ll use in the game:

And the final window in its context:

Next up, building houses. When you inspect a signpost you’ll be presented with a window where Trunk informs you of what will appear in that area and how much it’ll cost. Extremely(!) detailed sketch below:

Again, bringing it from sketch to final box:

Once more we’ve used a placeholder text to get a feeling of how big text will appear inside the box. Instead of One-Handed it’ll say the name of the building, and instead of Candy’s line from Pumpkin Woods there will be a description of the house and what can be done there. The coin box to the bottom left of the window will tell you how much it costs to unlock this building, while the checkmark and x will confirm or cancel. The x will be selected by default to avoid accidentally building things you wouldn’t want.

Final version below:

Next up, a bunch of icons, featuring both curses and Bishop challenges:

This first batch are all Bishop challenges. The first one is the one where you race against time to complete each room in a specific time or get instakilled, the second represents the only elites challenge, the third is for the challenge where you’re blinded the whole time. The fourth is for the runs when you can’t level up, and the fifth and final icon is for the combined no leveling / only elites challenge:

Next up, the next bunch of curses:

The first one being where the floors turn to ice, the second where you’re surrounded by flames, the third being the curse which allows higher level enemies to spawn on lower level floors, the fourth is a curse that makes you take double damage.

The fifth is the curse which makes enemies leave something harmful behind when they die (poison clouds, acid, etc), and the last one is a slightly modified version of the bishop challenge above, for the curse which either blinds you temporarily at the start of each room, or has blinding mushrooms spread across the floor. If we go for the mushroom idea, we’ll likely change the icon, but for now this is the placeholder until we’ve tried the two modes out:

Now, in preparation to move from Arcadia to the desert, here’s some small Arcadia fixes to conclude my work there (for now):

Above is a screen of Trunk talking to Bishop, during which we realized his portrait is a little too big and feels too close to the text. First mission: make it smaller!

Second mission, giving him a proper expression for a special moment where he gets a little surprised to say the least:

This is approximately what Arcadia will look like when you first arrive, but there’s a little something missing here:

What’s that? A ruined bridge, of course! We realized it’s kind of weird that some things have already been set up on the other side of the water without any indication of how people got over, and it looks a little more interesting to have it there:

Okay, so time to move to the desert. Here we have a pathway that’s supposed to be blocked, so you have to move around the area before unlocking a way to pass through here:

And what’s stopping you? More cacti! Bigger ones, this time. Time to make a bunch:

And here they are, in their rather huge glory! We’ll probably add a bunch of these here and there to keep you from being able to destroy everything (most other decorations – the smaller cacti – can be cut down by the player, while these cannot):

Next up, another place that will be blocked until you’re actually supposed to get here:

Here, we want the stairway to be blocked by a couple of archaeologists who have made interesting findings in the area. This serves both as an introduction to the fact that there will be archaeologists here, as well as a temporary way of blocking your progress until you’re ready for the desert storyline:

(Of course I couldn’t leave the stairs looking as empty as they did, or you wouldn’t really buy why the archaeologists are interested in it..)

And with the new, more epic looking staircase, this one looks rather boring in comparison:

Time to fix the problem:

Next up, another portrait! As Fred keeps making new NPCs needed for the upcoming quests, I make the portraits to match. This time it’s another archaeologist, consulting a map. Sprite below:

And here’s the WIP:

As for Fred, this week he has been working on finishing up the vegetable lineup from last week! Here they are, in all directions:

Needless to say, these fellow will of course be animated as well, bouncing around in a cute way:

And where’s there vegetables, there’s a garden, right? Here’s a gardener, pulling up some rather small and sad looking vegetables in comparison to the lively one above:

As usual there’s a lot of planning and designing going on in between our actual graphic/programming jobs, and with Arcadia there’s been a ton of it. Here’s a couple new things:

Intro Pacing: For new players, Arcadia can be a bit much to grasp in the beginning, and that will be even more true after the rework is complete. There’s a ton of empty plots ready to be purchased by you, new characters and quirks that are unlocked from the beginning or will appear as you play (such as Candy and Muffin who were scheduled to appear after you’ve reached a certain floor or when you’ve died x times respectively).

To pace things a little better, we’ve decided that the first time you spawn in Arcadia, there won’t be any signs near the empty plots describing what they’ll do. Instead, there will be a cutscene where your new partner in crime introduces himself (Trunk), and you’re off on your adventure. The ability to purchase things will only become available after your first death, at which point you’ll actually have some money for the first time: and to further invite people to aim for a plot purchase, a NPC will provide a quest with a gold reward.

A couple of deaths after that, Muffin will appear to help you out with treats, and after a while (or after you’ve reached a certain score and/or floor), he in turn will have a quest for you, which is to bring back Candy who has gotten lost somewhere. Finishing this quest will unlock Curses.

And so instead of everything hitting the player at once (or just randomly), we feel this step by step introduction will be easier to grasp for new Arcade Mode players and sets things up more nicely.

A new type of room: or perhaps, rather, another thing that can happen in event rooms! In some event rooms in the future, there might be a captures NPC tied to a pole or shut in a cage, which upon inspection will trigger a mini boss battle. Winning against this mini boss will unlock the captured NPC in your town, where they might just be another friendly face (with a reward?!) or provide new quests in the future.

More Curses:
* Each room’s edges are burning
* The floor is ice
* Defeated enemies leave aoe effects where they fell (such as blind, poison gas, acid, etc)
* Temporary blindness upon entering a new room/Blinding shrooms appear in rooms (haven’t decided on which of these variations yet)
* Enemies from the higher areas appear in lower floors
* Player takes double damage

Bishop’s Special Runs: Since some people (ourselves included) have expressed a wish to be able to replay certain extreme challenges, such as Bishop’s “no leveling, all elites” run, we’ve decided to add the option! At Bishop you’ll be able to select these special formats in a list once you completed the original quest(s) where these rules first applied. Next to each special condition you’ll see a mini hiscore list of how far you got (what floor you reached), encouraging you to aim higher next time.

For these special runs you won’t be able to use neither curses nor treats, and the highscore gain remains as if you played the game normally. It’s basically just for fun wacky ways of playing the game, and some of the special modes include:

* No leveling
* All enemies are elites
* Both the above at the same time
* 24/7 blind effect
* Clear the rooms in S-rank speed or insta-die

While some of these could be curses instead/as well, we decided to keep these crazier versions separate as the game isn’t designed to be played this way; you’re basically not really meant to be able to finish the game with one of these adjustments on, and as such we thought it’d be more interesting to give them their own highscore board where you can see how far you got, rather than an arbitrary score increase.

Exciting times!

Now, time for a bunch of random stuff! Starting off with a sneak peek at one of the challenge rooms in Tai Ming, dodging the Mimic:

Of course, it’s probably best if he has a platform of his own….:

Next, in order to make it more clear what’s going on with Muffin who has his stand all built and ready but isn’t at home in the beginning of a new Arcade game, we added a small signpost (that will be animated), which will let you know where he’s gone if you inspect it:

Playing around with the background of Arcadia, we had two options, either keep it static or introduce parallax scrolling:

Since we all thought the second one looked better, we’re gonna make some adjustments to the background allowing us to properly use parallax scrolling for all the pillars (as well as add some more to increase the effect).

As you might notice at the edge of one of those gifs there are some strange flying fishes near the entrance… And as much as it’d be super cool to have the surrealism of flying fishes in Arcadia, we’ll probably remove these soon! They’re actually just temporary tests where Teddy is trying out their movement patterns:

As you might remember, you’re supposed to be able to change time in Arcadia, at least between day and night. Since no nighttime scenery is complete without a starlit sky, it’s time to make a secondary version of the background:

And this is how it looks as night falls in town:

Finally, a slight adjustment to the Reward box in the game over screen (original version pictured below):

Since you’ll be awarded gold and actually get to keep the gold you’ve collected during your run, it might be a good idea to actually have a spot for the gold to appear in said reward box, which has been added in the version below:

Okay, one of the last interfaces I need to make belongs to Master Ji’s shield training dojo where he challenges you to perfect guard various enemies! Because we haven’t discussed this in detail though, we needed to have a talk and finalize some things.

The basic idea with Master Ji’s dojo is that you won’t be able to deal damage on enemies without having perfect guarded them first: after which they’ll die after just one hit. You yourself on the other hand will just need to take a single hit before losing the challenge!

The first time you talk to Master Ji he’ll give you a trial run where you have to perfect guard twice: once where you hit the enemy regularly after the guard, and once where you’ll use a skill (in order to quickly showcase how your attacks and skills become better by perfect guarding). Once you’ve done this you’ll be able to select a bunch of challenges through his interface.

Each area has their own challenge where you’ll be presented with either one or multiple of the same enemy one at a time until you’ve perfect guarded your way through all the enemies of that area. After that you have to perfect guard against each of the previous enemies at the same time. Complete this without taking damage and you’ll have cleared the challenge. Clear five challenges and you’ll get the first “belt” (a headband of a specific color), ten to get the next and so on (actual numbers might differ depending on how many challenges we have in the final version).

Aside from the basic floor challenges there will also be special challenges with interesting enemies, such as perfect guarding against each of Marino’s special attack combo attacks, or being stuck on a platform with Lantern Jacks shooting fire at you.

As for availability, the relevant challenges will be unlocked as you reach each area, so you’ll have to have gotten to the Evergrind floors in Arcade before you unlock perfect guard training against those enemies, for instance. However, you can clear the challenges in whatever order you want.

In order to make retrying challenges less annoying you’ll get the option to retry (yes/no) after you fail a challenge, where selecting no will simply bring you back to regular Arcadia and yes restarts the challenge.

And now, on to actually making the interface!

Since this place is all about training with your shield, we decided to simply call it “Master Ji’s Shield Training”, and use shields as decoration:

As mentioned before, if you have cleared a challenge, it will get a star on the right side, while if you haven’t unlocked it yet, its icon will remain black and white with a lock on top. In the info box you’ll get information on how to/when you’ll be able to unlock it:

As such, not one but two sets of icons are needed for each challenge, one in color and one black and white:

In Fred’s department, this week has been focused on more desert stuff, the place where I will end up very soon as well!

First up, another, new archaeologist with animation:

Another important feature in the desert is the ability to destroy cacti! The cacti will be the main destructible item/container in the desert so naturally there needs to be a bunch of them, animated and all:

There will be a couple additional enemies as well, though these little guys will only appear in a side quest that we’re working on that will be added along with the desert. Seeing how cute they are though, we might wanna squeeze them in somewhere else in the game too, we’ll see!

The ones in the top right are the final versions, the rest are various stages of sketches or other variations we decided not to go for. Hope you’re excited to see where you’ll end up meeting this crew!

We’re back! Hope you guys have had a great holiday, a merry christmas and a happy new year! Now it’s 2018, and as we continue working on and implementing Arcadia rework, it’s only natural that our weekly meeting has a lot to do with establishing the smaller details of how everything will work!

Early Gold Quests
In order to quickly get your first building(s) up and running, we’ll add a couple early quests with gold rewards to speed things up and get your into the whole building thing as soon as possible! Some will probably be reused from old Arcadia, while a couple will be brand new.

Balancing Gold Rewards for Slow Builds
How much gold you get per run/room will be balanced is a tough one, because we don’t solely want it to depend on how quickly you clear rooms (even if they will play into it too, of course). Using only speed as an indicator would mean that certain builds, such as anything involving Insect Swarm for instance, would get a lot less gold vs the builds with faster clear times. To counter this, we’ll award extra gold depending on how long your active time on a run is, meaning if you play for a long while with a slower build, you’ll still get the proper gold reward that quicker builds get.

Build Time for Unlocked Buildings

Remember how I mentioned a build time that would count either IRL time or Arcade run time (or a mix of the two where time passes faster if you play Arcade Mode)? After some discussions, our current stance is that we’ll probably skip build times altogether.

This was a kind of difficult decision because we wanted to give players another incentive to play more Arcade Mode (play the game to unlock your building/unlock it faster)! However, you’ve already played Arcade Mode to gain the gold used to unlock the building, so it felt a little unfair that now you have to play the game more before it actually spawns, even though you already paid for it. Instead, we’ll probably use a fade to black effect with some building sounds before you return in front of your fully built property.

We’re still not 100% sure about this, and each of us actually have our own preferred version with the fade to black being the compromise. What would you guys prefer? Would build time be a nice or annoying thing?

A couple of Treats & Curses
We’ve only just begun planning for these, but here are the ones we’ve come up with so far:

Curse – Increased Elite spawn rate
Curse – No/Reduced healing (or both as two separate curses)

Treat – No Elites spawn at all
Treat – More HP from HP orbs
Treat – You start your run with a Time Crystal that rewinds time to when you first entered the floor if you should die. Meaning you get a chance to play through the floor again and fix your mistakes!
Treat – Increased chance of getting treasure rooms

Keep sharing your best ideas and we’ll see where we end up with all of these!

And now, time for more interface design, this time featuring the Arena! As a reminder, here’s what it looks like in Story Mode:

There are two categories, Challenges and VS. Challenges won’t be available in Arcade Mode, but there will be something else:

Boss practice! For those of you who have troubles with bosses, we know it’s really difficult and annoying to get chances of practicing against them as you have to survive a whole lot of regular enemies first. To give players a chance to polish their skill against these more difficult bad guys (as well as a way of learning their patterns), the Arcadia Arena will let you pick and choose among the bosses you’ve reached so far (no skipping ahead). When designing this interface, I presented two options: one featuring three bosses per page (with a scrollbar), and their name next to them:

..and another, featuring just the boss images, with their title and description shown only in the text box instead:

It’s likely we’ll go for this second version as it has room for a lot more enemies and the text box won’t be used much anyway!

Once you’ve selected the boss you want to practice against, you’ll be presented with three character slots, featuring the last three characters who reached that specific boss, with their equipped weapon and main skill of choice shown beneath them:

This is so that you’ll have approximately the right level and equipment for the boss fight (as your current Arcadia character is level 0 with no gear what so ever)! It gives an accurate representation of the fight, as it reflects how you got there last time, and allows you to try out the fight with possibly different builds (if you change playstyle between runs).

Once you’ve selected which of your old characters you want to rebattle the boss as, you’ll be transported directly to the boss room for another go at the battle! Currently, none of these will cost gold or any other value, so you can practice as much as you like :)

The next interface up on the design table belongs to the Bank and involves trading essence for gold, and gold for essence! For this interface we’ll use the Quantum Lumber interface from Housing as a base:

The main difference between the Lumber interface and the Bank’s interface is that instead of Lumber we’ll deal with Essence (obviously), and that you’ll be able to either buy Essence by handing in gold, or sell Essence and get gold back for it.

From the beginning we thought we’d deal with both in the same interface (calling it exchange instead), where you’d scroll right to get more Essence and less gold, and scroll left to get more Gold but less Essence (with a symbol for the respective currency on either side). However, we felt it’s probably easier to understand if we just call it Buy/Sell Essence and keep them separated.

Here’s our first try at a modified version of the Lumber interface:

Here, the Lumbers have each been replaced by an Essence statue. The top box will contain a number indicating how many Essence you want to buy (or sell), the number next to the big coin will let you know how much that will cost you (or how much you’ll get back for selling your precious Essence), and the number next to the Essence-with-a-coin indicates the current exchange rate (which don’t change the way things are designed now, but we thought it might be interesting to know).

The small gold coin is next to your current gold total, and the Essence-with-a-bag shows how many Essence you currently own. Pretty much like it is in the Lumber interface, in other words!

To make it more clear whether you’re in buy or sell mode, we made two variations of the above interface, one with a plus next to the top Essence icon (indicating this is the buy interface), and one with a minus (indicating this is the sell interface). There’s also a corresponding plus and minus next to the coin, to show whether you’ll gain or lose gold on the affair:

Finally, the shop menu (where you select Buy/Sell or Talk) needed two new buttons for this, so here they are as well:

Remember Trunk, the sidekick who will fill the role of (a more cheerful and optimistic) Bag in Arcade Mode? In order to communicate with you properly, he of course needs to have his own portrait:

The final version, slightly cut off to fit the text box:

Finally, there’s a bunch of NPCs made by Fred! Some of these have portraits that have been showed before, but the two on the right are brand new archaeologists that will be inspecting the old ruins and skeletons found in the desert!

Whew, after close to one week in bed sniffing away with the flu, I’m actually feeling alive again and more than ready to get back to work! Unfortunately I cursed Teddy with the flu as well, so he’s been down and out for a while too… Fred seems to have remained immune this time around!

Because 2/3rds of the company has been unable to do much work the past week, there aren’t much in terms of news! We are drawing ever closer to being able to move into our new office space though, so that’s super exciting and we’re all looking forward to it (and have already begun planning how we’ll move everything and changes we need to make to make it all work for us).

As I mentioned last week, the office is actually already available to us (since Dec 1st), but we’re waiting to move in until the 6th (this Wednesday) when we’ll get helped by a moving company. Since we don’t have too much stuff to move but the items we do have are quite cumbersome to transport in the tiny car that’s available to us – in fact we don’t think the larger of the two desks will fit in it even if we unscrew the whole thing- we decided for our peace of mind it’s probably better to hire a couple guys to move it for us. Less risk of us dropping and breaking stuff, and having to solve how to transport a much too large table.. Carry it to the office by foot, a healthy 50 minute walk…? Hmm.

Now, I’ll be getting back to work properly today, and have already started off by sketching what the final desert map will look like (ignore my amazing misspelling of fight…):

The are three important areas in this map. First, the entrance to the city, indicated by the arrow pointing downwards. Second, the battle area in front of it, where you’ll battle a mini-boss and possibly some random enemy spawns. Third, the Saloon in the top part of the map, home of the shady people of the country. I want to make wanted posters in the surrounding area, featuring the gangsters you’ll meet in there. Maybe you’ll even run into a set of suspicious ferrets again…

The rest of this week will, however, be focused on finishing up the new Arcade Floors (some minor things remaining), and after that I’ll do the last interiors for the Arcadia town rework – just a few left! Once those are done we’ll start designing the new interfaces needed to get all the new systems up and running, and then test, test, test before we’re finally ready to release it all to the public! We’re very excited about the rework and though it’s a little while left before it’s 100% ready we hope you are too :D

So, time to finish up those Arcade floors! There’s a couple of pretty important maps missing from both the Tai Ming and the Mount Bloom floors that need to be added before they are truly complete: the score counting screens!

Whenever you finish a floor in Arcade Mode, you’ll run through a corridor of some sort while the game shows you your current score and how well you did in each room of the floor. These corridors are either connecting two floors of the same area, or serve to connect one type of floor with the next. The first corridor shown above is the corridor that will bridge the two Mount Bloom floors, while the second leads the way into the Tai Ming floors.

Below you have two types of the same corridor, one for past and one for present. Which one you’ll pass through depends on what boss you fought against. Meanwhile, when you transfer from Tai Ming to the desert maps, you’ll simply walk through a door from the Mimic room.

In order to have a proper exit from the above corridors, I had to extract and polish up the entrance/exit to the courtyard used in story mode and make a version of it in both timelines as well:

Finally, some minor changes to one of the boss rooms (the Arcade Mode version, that is):

Instead of having to limit ourselves to having this boss appear after going through a mountain wall, we decided to remove the lower mountain part and adjust how things were placed slightly, so we can put a regular fence there instead (and as such be able to place the boss map anywhere on the map rather than along a mountain). In order to do this we also had to repaint the lower parts of the vertical mountain wall, as can be seen in the second picture.

Now there’s just one more thing to do before these floors are fully complete (unless I’m forgetting something)!! And you guessed it, it’s turning all those polished and clean Past props into their present, ruined versions!!

Actually, since we decided each room will only be available in one of the timelines, I decided to not do exact replicas of some things, such as the buildings. With these I felt it’d be more interesting to bring in more designs to create more variations.

Here’s a few of the buildings that might appear on your run:

The fences were more straight forward, just make a ruined, old-looking version of each part:

And finally, the new (very old looking!) bridges to connect islands or help you cross over streams:

Okay, now that the new bunch of floors are properly completed, let’s celebrate by taking a quick break from Arcade Mode and make another portrait featuring yet another sailor (can’t have too many of those in a harbor town, right?):

And the finished portrait:

Meanwhile, Fred has moved on from fishes and started making a ton of NPCs for the desert! Here are some of the ones you’ll meet during your adventure:

Guys! I am afraid this weekly recap will be incredibly empty, which is a shame seeing as this is our 300th week of blogging about the creation of Secrets of Grindea!! :( However, I’ve actually been destroyed by a nasty flu from hell that decided to take a turn for the worse over 2½ weeks in (hello fever), meaning I haven’t been able to work or blog any during this week. To make matters worse, I brought Teddy down with me, so the only one well enough to do anything aside from sleep and cough this week has been Fred (hopefully he manages to escape the nasty clutches of this evil flu)!

BUT, we do have some news about our company!

As you may or may not know, for these last four years or so, we’ve had our office in a spare room (the guest room) in our apartment. It’s been pretty nice having your workspace so close, but it has also had its own challenges, such as being easily distracted by the pile of dirty dishes in the kitchen when you should be working, or simply not knowing where work ends and where free time begins (hint: it never really ends when you technically live in the office).

Last time we went to a semi-regular After Work event for the game design industry here on the island, we heard there were office spaces available where some of the other companies work, and the more we thought about it, the more we realized we might actually benefit from having a small office outside of our home. This way we’d be able to keep work and free time more separate, hopefully making each more focused, while actually getting outside more (enforced 2×10 minute walks through a world heritage city filled with ruins and amazing architecture to get to the office and back, sounds good to me) compared to leaving the apartment twice per week for groceries.

So two weeks ago we went to check on one of the spaces, and we kind of fell in love! It’s on the third floor, rather small (making it cheap!) but not much smaller than the space we’re currently in. It honestly didn’t take much thought before we decided to go for it!

It’ll be available to us from the 1st of December, so expect some exciting posts as we move into our new office and make it ours. I don’t have any pictures of it right now, but I’ll make sure to take plenty once we’re actually moving in. Unfortunately, this is all I have for this week, but next should be a regular recap with lots of juicy stuff! Stay tuned and have a great week until then :)

This week it’s time to move on to doing some interiors for the Tai Ming arcade floors! Since Tai Ming is a town, it would be kind of weird to not have any houses you can go into, so we decided to make a few variations!

First up, deciding on the sizes (paying extra attention to the user interface limitations this time):

Starting off with the wider of the rooms, I add some basic walls and floors to create a shell we can use to decorate these interiors in various ways:

First up this entails wall decorations! For this shape, we have three variations of what the walls can look like:

…and they in turn can be combined with three different floor layouts:

Using these six types of decorations, we can mix and mach and create quite different rooms, even though the shape is the same! As you can see, we also added another type of floor texture to mix things up even more:

And then, it’s just doing the same thing all over again, but with the smaller version of the room:

Now it’s time to make a bunch of rooms that go in the other direction (horizontally)! Starting off in the same way, deciding on size and adding the basics:

Then adding a bunch of wall and floor decorations:

And here are some mix and match examples of what these houses can look like:

While there isn’t a ton of variation, there also won’t be a lot of house interiors, and even if there were we think it’s probably not going to look too much the same (especially when you compare it to previous floors, which were all very basic and same-looking)!

As for the final part of interior creation for these floors, there’s of course turning everything into its present version, ruined and forgotten!

Some of you may remember a discussion we had about whether the player would pass through the same rooms, once in past and once in present, or whether enforced time warps between rooms would determine whether the next room is past or present (and as such only available in that state).

Back then we were more into the idea of reusing the same rooms and showcasing them in both past and present, but since then we’ve realized that having the rooms isolated in either a past or present state is more time efficient, and in the end, may be more straight forward for the player as well. In the earlier version it would mean there are two states of the map at the same time, with different room types in them (challenge rooms and the nurse, for instance, would only be available in one of the states and you’d have to travel back and forth if you wanted to return to them after changing time).

So, with that decision, it opened up the opportunity to make even more layouts for the present type rooms, allowing for even more variation!

Here’s some of the wall and floor decorations:

And here’s a bunch of mix and matching, showing all types of rooms:

One step closer to finishing these arcade floors, wohoo! :)

And now, moving on to boss rooms! Each of our bosses are in rather special places, so instead of just sticking them into random rooms, we decided to edit and adjust the areas they are in to fit the Arcade version instead.

Starting with the Mimic, it’s pretty isolated in it’s own room, so technically we could just have had it appear inside a random interior. However, since we want to show off that the Mimic is coming (in more ways than simply having the skull map indicator for those who are looking), we decided to bring in the entrance to his lair from the game:

Of course, a few adjustments were needed. For one, we didn’t want to use the whole map, so we extracted the building part, removed the door, and added ropes to keep you from going up the stairs:

Trying it out in photoshop, it doesn’t look too shabby when you connect it to the stone fence:

We also added some specific decorations for when this room appears, so that nothing will get cut off:

As for the Thorn Worm boss, its arena is pretty set in the middle of town:

…But we extracted the whole building and made it a map of its own, removing all the distracting surroundings and fixing things that got broken in the move. Here, too, we added a bunch of decorations surrounding the battlefield, and you’ll be able to exit to the next floor by going through the big door:

As for the third boss, the Priestess…

…we use pretty much the same method! Extract the whole area, remove things that are unnecessary to the fight and fix any things that need fixing. In this case there was no version of the building with an open door, and since we want the player to progress into the next floor through its interior, I had to repaint the area surrounding the door to make it open:

Now we just need to make a corridor that you will run through in either past or present state depending on which of the bosses you faced, in order to reach the next floor!

Meanwhile, there’s one more week of fishy updates, but this is the last one! With this post all the fishes have been animated and are ready to be added to the aquarium:

Now that those are out of the way, Fred can finally go back to creating NPCs for the desert, which is what we’ll be diving into as soon as we finish up our Arcade Mode business. There are still quite a backlog of portraits I’ve made over the months for random character that will live there, so he has his work cut out for him for a while!

This week we mainly continue our work on the Arcadia remake, but we also took some time to bring a bunch of printouts of the desert area to our favorite fast food place for a little chat! Our goal was to discuss more in detail exactly what’s going to happen as you journey through the desert towards the harbour town, and what side quests we aim to include as we add this to the game.

We took a ton of notes on each of the maps, filling them with sentences about what will happen, what things will look like, what caves will connect and what will be in them, etc. After we were done, the desert had gone from a pretty basic set of maps to one of the most well thought out areas so far, at least in my opinion!

We aim to include three bigger side quests when we add it to frontline/stable (not including quests we might come put with for the harbour town), but like most areas, we have more ideas for other quests to include at a later date when it’s time for an overall polish of the entire game. While it won’t have a big side area like the Tai Ming’s phase shift section, the main quest here will bring back a lot of old friends to the plot, and have you travel outside the desert as well.

With all this new information, there’s a ton of new maps (cave interiors, specifically) for me to do, and a few new enemy and mini-boss animations for Fred to deal with as well! It’s all gonna be a lot of fun, and we hope you’ll be as excited to finally explore this area as we are making it.

However, before we start focusing for real on the desert, there’s still something left to do: the Arcadia rework (as mentioned), including the Tai Ming and Mount Bloom floors which currently aren’t in the game. So while we’ve made sure to plan ahead for this, it’ll be a little while before we actually continue working on the desert stuff.

And the next Arcade Mode interior…. is the Inn! Or the tavern! Whatever you wish to call it. True, it does not have beds, but who’s to say there isn’t a hidden door somewhere that leads upstairs?

In either case, this is sort of an upgraded version of the old Tavern in Arcadia. Doesn’t look exactly the same, but I went for the same sort of feel and the overall layout. When everything is implemented this place will probably have more visitors than it currently does, more inhabitants looking to hand out quests!

Here’s the WIP video, using a lot of old housing items for this one:

And the finished version:

Next up, the arena!! Another interior that gets and upgrade, where we aren’t completely decided on whether this new upgraded version will replace the old one in Story Mode.

Like with the farm, I kind of went for the same layout and overall design, though in the original version there are statues of fighters which I opted out of in this version: I just didn’t feel it worked very well with this rather smaller and more compact version of the layout.

Instead, my hope is to have a few spectators chat in the reception area, maybe swooning at the champions (you guys) who are about to enter the fray!

Here’s the WIP video:

And the finished version:

And now, a completely new building, not previously available in any form: the Bank! How exciting! …Maybe.

So for this place we wanted the look of a waiting room, with a kind of office-y feel to it. People requesting loans and whatnot will be waiting for their turn, while the player can just waltz up to one of the desks and request an exchange of gold to essence (or the other way around)!

Aside from the desk where the bank workers will be, there’s a (heavily guarded!) vault, and a water cooler, cause waiting times for non-players can be quite extreme…

The WIP video:

Finished version:

And finally, a bunch of new fishes for the Aquarium, to end this week!

After some discussion we’ve decided to make all of the fishes available in the Aquarium, which means each of them needs to be animated. While Fred has made a bunch already, there’s still a ton left to do…

..and as such, here’s the second fish batch, ready to be put into an aquarium near you:

One thing we didn’t mention in last weeks posts are what will happen to your old potions. We aren’t so cruel as to simply remove or disable the pots you’ve bought so far – instead they will turn into pet food (which, honestly, is probably what most of you have used them for so far).

As such, we’ll be adding a new shop to the game: Oak’s Pet supplies, found at the farm in Evergrind West! At Oak’s Pet Supplies you’ll be able to buy dishes to feed your pet(s) with, each one boosting a different stat.

At first, we weren’t sure whether we wanted to keep these foods simple, calling them simple things (such as HP Food, Crit Food, etc) and having a very basic appearance (basic pet food cans in different colors and with different icons depending on what stat they boost). However, after some discussion we thought it’d be more fun to use ‘real’ dishes, with fancier names.

Sure, it does not make as much sense that Oak is selling outright food at his farm, but we’ll make that work later on. Maybe that’s why nobody is buying things at Belmont’s café? Oak is serving better stuff for cheaper! It’s food for pets but who cares so long as it’s tasty, right..?

Anyway, without further ado, introducing the dishes that have replaced your old potions:

Light Ceasar Salad – Nothing like a light salad to keep you up on our feet! This dish is replacing the old speed potions, and boost speed when fed to your pet.

Hearty Stew – A thick and warming stew to boost your health! Feed it to your pet and you’ll get a nice HP increase.

Spicy Prawn Soup – A hot soup that will help you land those crits after you feed it to your pet.

Grilled Rib Eye Steak – A grilled beef to keep your damage high. Replaces the old damage pots.

Sweet Sundae – Finally, a sweet dessert for your EP needs. Feed your pet this yummy dish and it will be sure to help you keep that EP up and running.

Here’s the final lineup:

And the title of the shop page! We decided to go for Pet Supplies rather than Pet food since we want to keep our options open: maybe Oak will end up selling other things as well! Such as new taming items…. We’ll see!

Now, time to get back to the Arcadia rework, and we begin with a quick update with some random improvements/additions! First up, I felt the Farm outdoors looked awfully empty, so I added a bunch of hay for your pets to eat, just to make it look a bit more special:

Second, way back we decided that the furniture salesman should have a little sign like all the other shops, so I went back and added it outside the player house:

Speaking of the player house, we also mentioned ages ago that the player house in Arcadia would be the one available in Evergrind as well, rather than the random run-of-the-mill house currently available. Said and done:

Finally, something not-Arcadia related! We’re considering adding a painting of the player’s mother in the lab, where you dad hangs out with the artifacts. Just a little reminder of why you’re collecting them in the first place~

Now, finally time to move indoors and start doing some cool house interiors (it’s been a while now)! Today, we’re starting off with the Clock Tower, featuring the world’s longest GIF. I should have just recorded a video of this whole thing but I’ve been doing GIFs so much now that I just completely forgot I also have a YouTube channel for these things. Oh well!

This place was actually quite a bit of a struggle! I’m working on my rendering technique for those pesky wall textures, trying to fins a nice balance between too plain and too much detail/colors.

The main part of this room is the bell, which will allow you to change the time of day, and the window which indicates what time of day it is. The window will be animated by Fred at some point, where the image will turn from night to day. At that point the background might look completely different depending on what’s easier to animate for him, but for now I just put a piece of the Arcadia background there instead of keeping it empty.

Finished version, for now:

Next up we continue the Arcadia rework, today starring the the farm interior! This place will have the same look and feel as the farm in Evergrind West, only with updated graphics and more stuff.

We’re actually considering replacing the old farm interior in Story Mode with this one, but we haven’t fully decided yet. On one hand it looks a lot better graphics wise, on the other it’s kind of nice to have the unlock in Arcadia be a bit more special. On the third hand (…let’s not get into anatomy…) many players will probably never play Arcade Mode or get to the point where they unlock the Farm, so it means a lot of people won’t get to see the better version, while most people likely will visit the farm in Story Mode at some point.

Ah, we’ll see.

Anyway, here’s the creation video:

And the finished version, missing Oak, of course:

And while I continue doing Arcadia stuff, Fred returns to the desert! Over the weeks I’ve made quite a bunch of portraits for people in the desert, and now it’s time for Fred to start making their sprites~

Here’s a bunch of the inhabitants you’ll be able to talk to in the upcoming desert town, also featuring their WIPs and various stages before the final versions were picked (the final selection are the one in the circle on top):

There’s also a bunch of fishes being made for the Aquarium that will be available in the Arcadia Rework! So exciting, look how cute they are:

Gotta catch ’em all… :D

And so, the potion patch is up! This patch includes the complete potion rework, a ton of new pots, a rework of Remedi and his first quest plus a brand new quest involving Remedi and his nephew (which will be available if you’ve finished his first quest and have started your journey in Mount Bloom).

As always, especially with new systems, we’re eager to hear your input on these changes to the potion system. There are a bunch of potions to test, and we’re interested to hear how you feel about the effects: are they powerful enough compared to the recharge time? Is it satisfying to recharge potions in battle? Are you more inclined to use potions now, or did you prefer the old system?

A lot of you have waited a long time for some kind of healing spell or health pot, and health potions are now available!! So let us know how you feel about that as well.

The full patch notes are available here, so be sure to check them out if you’re interested in the specifics! And do let us know how you feel about this new system (and the new quests), either on our forums or here in a comment. We look forward to hearing all of your feedback!

Now, let’s turn back time and take a look at what we’ve been up to last week:

So as we we’re drawing ever closer to finishing up the whole potion business, it’s time to pump out a bunch of new portraits to fit in with Remedi’s new questline which will grant you the empty bottles you need to use this new mechanic!

First up is his old man version, which will be the original form in which you meet him, rather than the kid-self you’re probably used to right now:

He won’t stay this way for long though, as that pesky accident with a stray potion has him transformed back to his ‘regular’ form. Unfortunately, with our tweaks to this storyline it seems he won’t stay very long in that shape either… ;)

Now, what in the world is this?! A portrait of a cave troll? What is it doing here? What part will it have in our story? For now, all I’ll say is that it’s related to the potion quests, and will appear in this patch!

Unfortunately I had to cut all of its back or it wouldn’t fit the text box without covering the letters! Oh well… :D

Finally, some finishing touches before I’m done with my parts for this patch! First up, the Speed and Loot potions mentioned before:

…which of course also were in need of proper interface icons:

I also made small versions of each of the icons, to serve as buff icons / timers for the potions that work over time (and whatever else we might need them for)!

Then, there’s another portrait for poor Remedi, who will go through quite a number of shapes in his quest to return to his original form. Here’s the pumpkin version:

Aaand a bunch of expressions for his Nephew, as well as an icon for refilling potions in Remedi’s workshop:

Like me and Teddy, Fred too has been busy doing potion stuff this week as well!

As Remedi got a new, older self, his first mission was to make the old man version of the sprite, to go with the new portrait. As usual, when deciding on a look for a new sprite, he made a whole bunch of iterations until we selected our favorite:

Which one do you like best?

Next, we need Remedi’s nephew to do some pretty advanced stuff in the upcoming new quest, so he needed a few new animations as well:

And finally, a ton of potion effects for when you drink those pots, signalling to the player what effect is about to happen:

Good news everyone: the Bow and Talent patch is officially live (and has been since Thursday afternoon)! Go try those things out and let us know what you think. To summarize, the patch includes 21 new talents, sound effects for the utility skills and the revamped bow including a bunch of upgrades! As always, the full patch notes can be found over here~

In Fred’s department, there has been three main things going on: making the bow upgrading NPC, continuing polishing the Solem animations and starting work on our next system upgrade, namely the potion rework. Once the rework is live your character will visually drink the potions, so that had to have a neat animation of its own. Here are some results from this week:

My main focus last week was also preparing stuff for the patch, starting with the final batch of talent icons! Final three General talents + the Melee talents:

Alchemist – Potions refill faster. Pretty self explanatory talent, and to make things even easier to understand visually I used the other potion talent icon as a base for this one.

Arrow Scavenger – Increases the number of arrows dropped by enemies. Featuring a bunch of arrows (or the ends of them anyway)!

Quickshot – Shoot arrows faster. For this icon I took one of the bow icons and put some effects behind it that I hope illustrates its increased speed!

Blood Thirst – Killing an enemy grants increased attack speed for a short duration. With a name like this I kind of wanted to make a blood thirsty animal or beast of some sort. Not super sold on the look, so might change it around in the future – we’ll see!

Combo Starter – After a normal attack, your melee skills have increased critchance for a short duration. Since we already have a ton of basic looking swords in the old talent icon, I went with a different kind of blade this time!

Knowledge is Power – MATK gives ATK. Using a book from another talent icon as a base, I changed its color around, making this icon’s color scheme a mix between magic colors and melee colors.

Riposte – Perfect guarding within x range of an enemy deals some damage to the enemy you guarded against. Bringing back the perfect guard icon to use it as a base once more, I changed the colors around to better work with the melee page.

Sudden Strike – After being out of combat for a short while, your next normal attack will have increased attackspeed. Here we have another regular-looking blade, but dropping from the sky this time!

Final lineup:

So in order for you to be able to upgrade your bow, we needed someone who can help you do that! While Robin, who first gives you the bow, might seem the obvious choice, we didn’t want him responsible for more than one mechanic – and as he’s currently in charge of the shooting mini-game, it seemed it’d be a better idea to make another character who can deal with bow upgrades.

Introducing Little J:

This guy will be carving bows outside Robin’s house. Once he has a new upgrade for your bow you’ll be able to purchase it for some gold!

After some feedback from my fellow Pixel Ferrets, I made a small adjustment of the eyes:

And next, it was time to actually make Little J feel at home next to Robin’s hut! In order to make it more obvious that there’s something for the player to gain by talking to this guy, we made a bunch of improvements to the surrounding area. Starting with some sketching:

First thing we’ll do is add a notice board of sorts, where the next bow upgrade available will be displayed. Here I’m using the notice board from the Arcadia rework as a base:

Now that the board is done, it’s time to bring in the bows and edit them all slightly so they merge better with the board. The very first bow won’t be on display since that will be the one you’ll have from the beginning (and the first upgrade will be available from the start):

Next, some ground decorations: a bunch of arrows, and a quiver next to Robin’s door:

Finally, Little J’s working table, where an old bow and some arrows lie forgotten:

And here’s Robin’s place after the added stuff! You can kind of see a difference in quality of the props made now compared to the old ones. Maybe someday (when the game is done), we’ll go back and touch up old areas, improving the overall graphics. For now, we’ll try to steer clear of doing too unnecessary improvements, as we want to finish this game within our lifetime:

As some of you have noticed, we also (finally) made a cover image for Secrets of Grindea on Twitch. It’s been on my to-do list for a while, but has been pushed back due to other things being more important – but with this bow upgrade being mostly out of the way, I decided to throw something together before moving back to Arcadia stuff.

So to make the cover image, we wanted to use graphics already available to us, at least for now. Maybe in the future we’ll do something more epic. Using the capsule image from Steam and a screenshot of the Arcadia rework, we pieced some graphics together and made a couple of mockups which can be viewed below (pretending to be Path of Exile).

We resized our mockups on top of other games in order to get a feel for what the image would actually look like in the end – you’re supposed to provide them with a quite large jpeg file, though for the most part its resized by Twitch as seen below. We felt the best way of trial and erroring this was playing around in Photoshop rather than uploading 500 versions of the image and trying it our in real time:

In the end, we decided to go with the third one. The big version can be seen below! Note that the logo has been resized into a bigger version in a rather crude way, which means it’s a little blurry. This is because we didn’t want to completely remake it and take more time from doing actual game stuff at this point. Since the image is mostly viewed in a much smaller version where the blur won’t be visible anyway, we felt this was OK for now:

With the Talent and Bow updates drawing to a close, it’s time to look ahead and start planning for the rest of the Arcadia Rework. I’m almost done with the rework of the outdoors, but after that there’s still some important stuff left: the indoors.

To make sure we’re on the same page, we got together to discuss exactly what will be available in each of the buildings, coming up with the list below:

Inside the Dojo there will be enough space for a small battle area, where your challenges will take place. Beyond it, Master Ji from story mode will sit, and it’s him you’ll have to talk to in order to activate the challenges. Once you activate a challenge, your character will be teleported to the battle area you just passed through.

In multiplayer, you’ll only be able to do these challenges solo. To make sure everyone can use the Dojo at the same time, characters who are currently partaking in the challenge will disappear from the map, meaning – unfortunately – that you can’t spectate other users as they do their challenges. In this case we felt it would be better for players to be able to take on the challenges at the same time rather than having to wait for someone currently doing one to finish.

The interior of the Farm will be pretty straight forward: hay, buckets and sacks of wheat. And enough space for your favorite farmer, Oak to give you new quests!

The Aquarium will feature a huge aquarium on the topside wall, around which painted decorations featuring seaweed and fishes will be added. We’re currently discussing what kind of fishes will be available in the aquarium, whether all of the fishes will be or just one or two from each area. We’re kind of into the idea of having one fish per area (meaning less animation work for Fred), each which you’ll be able to catch and keep during a quest given by the Aquarium owner.

The Bank will be decorated office style. Desks, water coolers, the occasional plant. A vault where the gold is kept!

The Cinema will look pretty much like a cinema, with a receptionist selling tickets near the entrance. This will be where you select which replay you want to watch.

The Inn will look much like it does now, some sitting areas and a bar. The Arena reception will look much like it does in Story Mode as well.

The Clock Tower will have a rather small, round, room, with a window on the opposite wall where you’ll be able to tell what time of day it is. You’ll change time by hitting a small bell in the middle of the room, which will – through magic – cause time to speed up. The big bell on top on the clock tower will chime as the scenery changes outside the window through an animation made by Fred.

And that’s that! Looking forward to diving into all of that soon~ :3