So last week our goal was to each come up with one or a few design ideas for the first floor in the final dungeon, after which we’d go through each of our suggestions and pick our favourites, building our dungeon one floor at a time.

As we mentioned, our guidelines were to remind people of the journey they’ve made throughout the game, bringing back “old classic” events and mechanics. Some of our ideas for the first floor, representing the very beginning of the game, ranged from battling your own sword and shield, a bullet hell with wooden swords, bees circulating around you and attacking you one by one, or an arena where you battle a block puzzle that comes alive.

In the end we decided to combine a few elements of the early parts of the game, namely the arena trials, finding your shield and sword to proceed and battling the Black Ferrets on the bridge. Our main idea is that you’ll start on a Pillar Mountains looking area (perhaps even a pillar), where you have to find your sword and shield by fishing and solving a block puzzle while the Arena commentator Mr Plott comments on what you’re doing, and you’ll only be able to proceed after handing your items to Grandpa Joe who blocks a bridge over which you’ll battle an ever increasing amount of Teddy & Freddy, culminating in a battle against Vilya herself before you’ll be able to progress to the second floor, a floor which will be centered around the Pumpkin Woods.

We also decided on some details around the dungeon. Previously, we’ve decided that the thing that turns the dungeon into what it is is an ancient artefact mirror, which transforms the tower into challenges to stop you from reaching the top. As such, we want to incorporate various mirror effects here and there (like for instance, Grandpa Joe shattering into glass pieces when you show him your sword and shield, enemies spawning by appearing through mirror glass and such). We also reiterated that we want the main focus for each floor to be something iconic to each part of the game, focusing on the story beats and ‘feel’ of certain areas.

Next up, the Pumpkin Woods floor! For the this we felt the key component was the curse of the woods, making you unable to progress, and the hunt for each of the items needed to clear the curse. To capture this, our idea is to create a set of rooms with a ‘lost woods’ feel where you’ll end up back in the first room by taking the ‘wrong’ exit, and having you battle five mini bosses in a room each.

The mini bosses we have in mind here are Pumpking and Helloweed from Arcade Mode, plus a similarly difficult mini boss based around Jack o’ Lantern which will also appear as an Arcade Mode floor boss later on! We’ll also design a challenge based around the Jumpkins and Ghostys.

For the Jumpkins this will most likely involve a living-vegetable like mayhem room with loads of jumpkins, while the Ghosty challenge idea we have so far is more about finding and defeating the correct one out of a bunch that will surround you – though our ideas here are still very much up in the air. For now, our main focus around this floor is the feel of having to cleanse the wood once more, this time by collecting the items from more difficult enemies than simple elites like you had to the first time around. We’ll dice into more specific design details once we get to this floor, our overall idea holds regardless of how we design the challenges.

Once you’ve defeated all of these mini bosses and collected their key item, you’ll be able to cleanse the curse with the aid of a Grindea statue, just like in the original Pumpkin Woods, complete with a minor appearance from Bishop; after that, it’s onto the next floor, featuring the Flying Fortress! :)

Now, you’ve seen a bunch of Bishop’s attack animations made by Fred, but now that we have a basic sketch for the arena, it’s time to start some prototyping of the fight!

At the moment, Bishop has three distinct attacks/patterns, but we have plans to add more as we go along. For now it’s a sword-throwing attack, a giant scythe attack and an attack where a bunch of Bishops emerge from the ground with spears:

We know Bishop disappears a bit into the dark background when he’s towards the top of the fight area, but we have plans on making him more visible by adding a shader that makes a subtle aura or outline around him when he’s against the dark parts. Other than that, what do you guys think so far?

In Arcade Mode, it’s high time we get a proper map through which you can track your progress! As such we’ve been talking about various ways to illustrate this, ending up with illustrating them as isles:

Now, the layout of these isles isn’t in it’s finished version here, the idea is that we want to illustrate how you move upwards a bit more, so we’ll play around with how we place the isles as we move on; and as such might change the design of these isles a bit as well.

On top of that, there are two more isles missing – that of the room where you get your reward for finishing Arcade Mode, and the bonus floor you get to only if you’re strong enough! These will only be added once they’ve been made in their proper forms in the game, though, so I know exactly how to design their isles.

In Fred’s department meanwhile, it’s all about Bishop and giving him more animations! Let’s have a look:

So we’re drawing ever nearer to that final dungeon, and now that we’ve had some time to think about it, we’ve discussed taking a different approach to it!

We’ve gone through several iterations already, although none of them have actually left the sketching board as of yet. At first we wanted the dungeon to have one floor representing each major area in the game, then we considered mixing various themes together and at some point we wanted fewer floors but more of a mishmash of everything…. The only thing we’ve really always agreed upon throughout all this has been that it shouldn’t be super long – often we feel like when players get close to the end of a game, there’s always a risk of getting fatigued and running out of steam just before the final boss, an effect that is often made worse by overly long and complex final dungeons and boss fights.

Our latest idea is to have several shorter floors – some or possibly most just a single room’s worth, and each floor will touch upon something you’ve seen or experienced in the game, but in a sort of strange way – imagine something like the creepy version of Startington, but decidedly less creepy and with more gameplay elements!

Our mission for this week game design wise will be to come up with a bunch of room ideas for the first stretch of the game, up until Flying Fortress, and present our ideas on Friday. Which events throughout the game do you find most iconic and would be something you’d expect to see represented in a dungeon like this? And how do you feel about the length of final dungeons? Do you expect a super long finale, or do you prefer it to be a little shorter?

Now, time for a bunch of mixed things: a bunk bed in Trick & Treat’s house, some new better looking graphics for some of the ambience box sounds, and a new item based on a backer’s request! :)

Another thing I’ve been working on recently has been sketching a couple of the last bunch of maps needed for Story Mode, one which is the room where your card collection is shown and which will grant you a special reward once you’ve collected all of them:

This room will be in Mount Bloom, in front of where the dragon carving on the floor used to be. In this initial sketch, it doesn’t look very mountain-y, but that will be remedied in the final version, which will probably look slightly different in the end, but the concept will remain the same: slots for cards on the wall, and some similar looking decorations across the room to make it look more interesting.

The other room I’ve been sketching has been the strange realm where you’ll battle Bishop! In the beginning we wanted this battle to take place in a surreal dream world governed by Grindea, but after some thought we changed our mind; while Grindea is light, we feel that Bishop is more of a dark creature, and having his battle be in a proper Bishop-y realm would be best.
As such, my design for the room is a bit more grim looking that our initial plan:

Again, it will likely look slightly different in the end, especially once the proper graphics are made, but you get the overall concept and colour scheme!

Time to start working on the background for the card cave! As you can see, the Mount Bloom mountain walls make it feel a lot more like a cave than in the sketch:

I haven’t made the slots for the cards yet, as they will need to be animated with glowing lights and such I thought it best to leave that up to Fred for now so the size of them will work out!

In Fred’s department, it’s been all about figuring out the look for one of the most important characters in the game that hasn’t yet appeared in the game in her physical form…. That is, of course, Grindea! She’ll appear as part of the ending, so we’ve been figuring out how to illustrate her form by having Fred make a ton of sketches!

Here you can see the progress of how it’s evolved:

Originally, we envisioned her as more of an ordinary character, but in the end we went for a bit more shapeless approach, and so these last two are our current favourites! What do you guys think?

Good evening everyone!

Have you had great holidays despite the strange year we left behind? We’ve been taking it easy, not meeting to many people – in fact, me and Fred and Fred’s brother (whom he lives with) decided we wouldn’t go anywhere and risk getting or spreading the virus, so we celebrated christmas and new years together on the island instead!

Today we got back to work, and the first thing we decided on doing is having a meeting to discuss our upcoming patches!

There are three big patches left, one featuring the final story mode stuff (except for the ending bit), where we’ll add the last bunch of backer items, some arena stuff (making you able to rebattle bosses in the arena + some bonus challenges), adding a fight with bishop and the cave where you can track your progress on how many cards you’ve found (as well as getting a special item once you’ve collected them all).

The second patch will involve Arcade Mode, where we’ll be reworking the challenge rooms to make them a bit more fun and varied, add a proper map so you can track your progress, adding a proper room to end your runs as well as a final boss battle featuring none other than the goddess herself, Grindea! We’re also gonna make sure we feel each run is varied enough and possibly add more types of rooms to make sure each new run won’t get too repetitive.

The third and final patch before proper release is the Main Story ending patch, where we’ll add the final dungeon, both endings and both final bosses (the version of the battle you face will depend on whether it’s the default or true ending path you’re on)! It’s possible we’ll save the final battle of Arcade Mode to this patch as well, so both endings come out at the same time.

We’re aiming for the first patch to be done by the end of March – however we’re not sure whether this is actually realistic or if we’re just being hyped after having some time off for two weeks! Regardless, we’ll do our best to make it happen :)

Stay tuned for our continued progress as we head into this new year together!

So the first thing for me to do is a proper house for the Trick & Treat twins. We might postpone any optional boss battle they might have been part in, but they still get a house of their own!

The first floor was made ages ago when we still had big plans for those guys, so I decided to add a bit more detail to it:

This place will also be the home of another smaller character (in more than one way) – the evil mandarine I made a portrait of quite a while ago (still remember him?)

Next up, we’re working on adding that stuff to the arena! As part of that, you’ll be able to select difficulty for the boss rebattles, and so I was tasked with making an interface for said difficulty setting:

As you can see, there will be three settings available, and they will be Default (the way the boss was when you first encountered it), Scaled (which means we scale its difficulty to your current level), and Overpowered (which will be a much more difficult version, overpowered for your current level)! I haven’t added the texts to the buttons here as they will the rendered directly in the game engine:

Working on this interface again makes me feel like it looks a little bit bland, so I feel like I might improve on its general look in the near future as well…. :)

(You know what, said and done, time to touch up these old UI graphics a little bit:)

Meanwhile in Fred’s department, it’s all about giving Bishop some more weaponry! Scared yet?

This post is extremely late, but things have been a bit hectic right before the holidays, so many apologies for that!

Right before we went on some christmas holidays (which will continue once more after this post: the blog should be back around the 11th of January) however, we managed to finish up another patch for frontline, featuring a bunch of new side content for Story Mode! If you haven’t checked it out already, go ahead and do so – to see the full patch notes, check here!

Now, let’s start this week’s recap with more portraits, featuring a bunch of collectors you’ll find in the conference room of the HQ! Here’s the first:

and here’s the second:

The next patch is drawing ever nearer, so here’s a bunch of small fixes and addition from me, featuring a vine bridge and some new drop appearances:

So, in the next patch, which will be available any day now (and is already if you’re on the Meatshield version of the beta – that is, the version that gets the super early, barely tested stuff), there will be a bunch of different new stuff, but among my favourites is this new mini game!

Turns out that Fark, our sound designer, has moved in to the north of Port Monnaie, and here he’ll be offering you a mini game where you have to guess which sound effect belongs to which creature!

Get it right, and a green check mark will appear, after which the next sound will play…

…get it wrong, though, and you’ll have to start from the beginning!

The first time you succeed in this challenge, you’ll be rewarded with a housing item that plays various sounds in the background! After you’ve unlocked the item, you are able to do the challenge any number of times you’d like, just for fun. Will you be able to guess all of the sounds? :o

Finally, you can take a look at these new additions by Fred, giving you a sneak peek of something epic that will appear in an upcoming update:

Merry Christmas! ;3

This week we’ll start off with another portrait, featuring the sleepy collector Fred made last week:

Next, a new ghostlike figure! This one actually has ties to your family, and can be found on the ghost ship in the near future!

As mentioned before, we’re transforming the Memory room where you could battle previous bosses into a conference room where people are making decisions on the upcoming quests and plans for the Collectors!

So, time to take care of the background:

Next up, another background change! In place of the puzzle tower, which we’re putting on hold for now, there will be… a strange slime altar? How peculiar..!

In Fred’s department, he’s finishing up a bunch of stuff for the next bunch of quest stuff, mainly the Slime Altar one, but also some sound devices you’ll get as a reward for a fun new mini-game we’ll take a look at next week:

So, some more items from the list of things we’d like to include before the full release!

First off, the house in the top right corner of Evergrind City! Remember that house on the little island in the water? It used to be all broken down, then it got cleaned up, and then we have like 50 different ideas for how to use it, until we recently simply decided to move a pretty regular family into the house, which will provide you with some background story for one of the quests we’ll include in the Pumpkin Woods.

Collectors in the Fields, we’ve mentioned this before, but we really do like the idea of including more Collector NPCs out in the world, doing everyday collector stuff such as hunting items, inspecting loot, or just talking about their adventures. At the moment the collectors are pretty much only visible in Evergrind City, so we feel like adding a bunch of additional ones around the world would help flesh out the collectors as an organization.

An easter egg ending for the storyline featuring Pine & Tannie, we know a lot of you want to be able to reunite them, so we’ll make sure you’re able to do just that, if you keep your eyes out!

More treasure maps around the world (pretty self explanatory).

Plant enemies dropping seeds so you can grow them in your own house~

A mini game featuring a sound made by our sound designer NPC Fark, after which you have to guess which sound it belongs to!

So, let’s jump straight into that stuff, starting with the interior of the house on the top right isle in Evergrind City:

Next up, one of the inhabitants of the previously made house, a mother living in Evergrind City with her husband and child(ren)!

And now, another mixed bag of stuff, some expressions, a new decor for one of the rocky parts in the Dragonbone Dunes, a new icon for the arena boss rebattles, and a couple new drops:

Fred, meanwhile, has continued working on a bunch of NPC animations, some of which can be seen here:

So to start off this week, we decided to change some things around, so instead of having the previous portrait I made for the scarecrow girl’s human form, I made this new one which matches the original scarecrow portrait a bit better:

As mentioned a while ago, we decided to take a look at the list of things remaining and make a sort of priority list of the things we still want to add to the game. We’ve thrown out some more things that will slow down the last bit of production, and for now the next bunch of major things we’ll focus on is this:

The Backer Items

As you may know, early in development we had some more expensive tiers over at the preorder page of our site, where you could opt into having an item of your choice (or such things) added to the game. A lot of the that purchased that tier have now messaged us back letting us know what sort of items they want added, so one of our top priorities is sorting those out! We’ve already begun with quite a few, but there are still more to come!

Trick & Treat

These guys will be sorted out properly, although not in the way you’d think. We’re replacing our original idea with their house (which was a several floor long gauntlet pretty much), and replacing it with an ordinary home (well, it might still be a creepy home, but just a home for now). If we end up doing something more major with Trick & Treat, we’ll do it post release as a Halloween update, since we don’t feel it’s vital for the game to be finished and we sort of like the idea of adding some seasonal stuff post release to keep people invested in the game :)

The Card Collection Room

As mentioned before, one of the keys to getting the true ending will be collecting all the cards, and as such I’ll need to make the hall where you’ll receive your reward for finishing up your collection.

Lin Mei the Ninja will be added to a house in Port Monnaie, where she’ll end up giving you one of the backer items.

The Arena will be sorted out in the way we mentioned last week, and the Memory Room will be transformed into a conference room.

There will be Books added to the library and across the world, where you can read about a variety of things.

We’ll revamp Trophies, removing some old trophies and adding more interesting ones. We’ll also add some kind of progress bar so you can tell how far you’ve gotten on each trophy!

….and some other things we’ll hopefully get to (which I’ll talk more about another day)! These are sort of in order of importance now, so the higher up the more likely it is we’ll go about adding it.

Now, as part of one of our backer items, we’re creating a balloon stand during the festival, where a NPC will sell a bunch of balloons you can put in your home! As part of that, a bunch of drop sprites were needed:

And now, yet another mixed bag of additions, featuring another expression, the shop title for the balloon stand, and some drop appearances for new items:

In Fred’s department, there’s a couple new weapons, the transformation of the scarecrow back to a human, and some weird contraption for which you’ll find an use in a later quest! ;) Stay tuned for more!

This week, we’ll continue with some portraits, starting with a strange mandarine you’ll find in the Pumpkin Woods!

Next up, some improvements to the ship that I made previously! Adding a bunch of details and redesigning its look somewhat so make it look even more different from the other ship in the harbour:

As we’ve continued to discuss where to go from here, we’ve made some changes in our priorities for the remaining tasks. One such thing that we’ve discussed back and forth since almost the start of our process of making this game is the Memory Room, where you battle bosses you’ve previously defeated in Story Mode. We’ve never really decided on whether to keep the room around or not, but now in this hopefully ‘final’ discussion, we’ve decided on some changes that will affect it, and more specifically, the arena.

Right now, there are two categories in the arena, regular challenges and VS, though we haven’t added any modes for the later. In the future, there will still be two categories in the arena, but we’re changing it around so there will be regular challenges and boss battles instead. As such, if you go to the boss battle section, you’ll get a list of all the previous bosses you’ve defeated, and will have the option to battle them again, as you would in the memory room. The regular challenges section will remain largely unchanged, though we’re playing around with the idea of having the challenges scale to your character’s strength.

Because of this move, there will be an empty room to the left in the HQ, where the previous memory room used to be. This room will instead be changed into a sort of planning/conference room, where a few older collectors will hang around with a blackboard, planning the future quests for the collectors!

What will end up happening with the rest of the HQ will be decided in the near future, as we continue arranging these final tasks in order of importance! Stay tuned :)

Now, some additional expressions and portraits for the crew involved in the harbor quest in Port Monnaie, as well as some final fixes of the ship!

Now, in Fred’s department, he’s been busy making all sorts of characters and details, some of which include Trunk (which you’ll stumble upon as a cameo character in Story Mode):

Some sails for the ship in the harbour, as it heads off as part of the quest we’re working on:

The sprite for Fark, who will be creating a variety of sounds:

And the balloon seller, which will appear in Evergrind City during the festival:

When we came back from our week off, we quickly decided it’s time to make some more fixed plans on how to proceed with the game in the near future! As you know, we’re currently working on finishing up Story Mode and we have a long list of things we’d like to add, but we don’t want it to go on forever so our next mission will be to prioritize among the list and see what it’s possible to cut and what we definitely want to add to the game.

One such super important thing we’ve been talking about it the true ending. We’ve known for a very long time that you’ll be able to do the final battle in two different ways, one which leads to a less ideal ending and one that is the true ending, which can only be unlocked after achieving certain things within the game. We haven’t been too sure what these parameters would be before, but after our discussions today we feel fairly certain that you’ll need to do these three things:

* Read a letter from your mother, that will help flesh out the ending a bit.

* Do a Boss battle against Bishop (a fight we’ve been brainstorming on and off for quite a while, which we’re quite excited about! We actually already have the background music for this fight as well..)

* Collect all Cards!

Previously, we wanted the true ending to be quite easy to get, but with the addition of the card requirement, it’ll obviously be a lot more difficult, however, we feel that with all things considered, this will be better suited to the game (I mean, we make jokes about it all the time, but it’s still called Secrets of Grindea, right? ;))

Hopefully by next week we’ll have a more updated list of what exactly we’ll add and what things are in the risk zone of being cut in an effort to finally finish things up properly!

Now, time for a bag of mixed stuff! Some portraits, some item sprites, and a remake of the grave outside the caves in Seasonne!

Next up, a new boat appears in the desert town! Using the previous one as a base, I made some changes to its shape and colours! This ship will be in Port Monnaie temporarily, until you solve a little quest :)

Next, the portrait of one of the guys working in the docks, which will hand you a quest relating to that final quest of Steve’s:

There’s no way we could finish Steve’s story arc without yet another encounter with mushrooms, right? Well, here we go… :)

We’re back in action, and with our batteries fully recharged! To celebrate, I decided to remake the portrait of the old math genius fascinated with the number 3, making him slightly older and with his signature 3 on his clothing:

Another portrait we decided to remake is that of the ninja (again), since we decided to change the quest/secret to getting her ninja outfit! Quite interesting getting back to a bunch of remakes, but that’s because we’ve been having a bunch of talks about the future of the game and moving things around a bit (more on that later on). For now though, here’s the ninja remake in her “regular” clothes:

And of course, she also needs a version with the ninja outfit in question, the portrait which will replace the current old one. Thanks to these minor changes we’ll be able to keep the sprite itself looking as is, so less rework for Fred!

Now, since we’re on the topic of new portraits, it’s also time to introduce this little fae, who will have the very important job of polishing the ice of the frozen fae in Santa Fae!

Finally, some of the things Fred has made for the areas we’ve been working on currently, including the obstacle in Temple of Seasons that can only be removed by turning the room into spring, the ninja in her sad version after failing the trials, and the ghost haunting Seasonne!