Sometimes, it’s easy to forget that being a gamedev involves more than simply making games and managing the community surrounding it. Today (when this gets posted, a while ago) we had our “annual meeting”, which is a formal thing we need to do to review the year and how the company has fared through it.

This year we also formalized and signed contracts surrounding Secrets of Grindea and its IP, protecting it and us in the unlikely case we no longer get along. While we trust each other 100% it’s so much easier making these contracts while there are no issues, rather than try to solve any such issues as they arise in a not-so-likely future. In fact, we should have done this years ago, before we even started selling the game.

If you’re an aspiring gamedev, I very strongly advise you look into getting a contract outlining exactly what each of you will be doing for the company and what happens in the case where one or several of you want out. You might think there will never be any problems ahead, but you never know, and it’s better to be protected than to wish you had been. Also, money can easily change people, and I’ve seen countless horror stories out there where devs no longer get along once they start selling their game as opposed to it being a dream.

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Now, some time has passed since we started the poll regarding which of the Tai Ming Arcade floor designs you’d prefer – backtrack through time or random time jumps. At the moment of writing this, it seems you guys are as divided as we are, so for the time being we’re leaning slightly towards the backtracking idea.

This means each of the rooms have to be made available in both a past and a present version. And speaking of the floor visuals, how would we even go about designing an Arcade floor of an area that’s more of a town than any of the previous areas you’ve progressed through?

To sort this out, I had a long meeting with Teddy where we sketched and discussed the various ways we could handle this.

In conclusion, we’ve decided to make the floors in a very different way compared to the others. For the other floors, each room background is either very designed by me, with variations to give the user an impression of there being more rooms than there actually is (Flying Fortress, Mount Bloom etc), or they are fully generated by the engine that puts a bunch of trees in a circle on top of a basic background (Evergrind Fields, Seasonne, etc). For Tai Ming, we’re going to do a mix of the two.

We decided that each outdoor room of Tai Ming will consist of a plain grass background, upon which we’ll put various things that will serve to block the screen so that you can’t move further than the square where you’ll be fighting. These things will include various fences, mountain walls, streams of water and houses, either ones you will enter or closed ones that will only serve to block your way forward.

Each of these items will be generated into the game by the engine, but they will have to be handmade by me to fit into each situation. For instance, there needs to be a way for a horizontal and vertical fence/stream/mountain wall to connect, and they need to be able to work with each other – a fence must be able to connect to the mountain wall, for instance.

To make these floors coherent we’ll frame them with the mountain, meaning the the bottom, far right/left and topmost floors will have a corresponding mountain wall – it will be in the upper parts of the topmost floors, signifying that you cannot go further north than this. We believe this will give the floors a sense of you progressing through Tai Ming much like it works in Story Mode, you’re passing through a town that’s inside the mountain. Because there’s a lot of water in Tai Ming’s second zone and we thought it would make the rooms a more interesting look, there will be streams here and there that you can pass over (in some rooms) by bridges, that will also be made by me but generated into the game by the engine as it creates each floor.

So basically, instead of painting whole rooms, I will spend a lot of time making and piecing together many, many small parts, that need to work both on their own and be able to connect with others as they get generated by the game!

As for the indoor rooms, they will (for now) be single room living areas in a bunch of variations, but with entrances and exits in the same place: if you enter a house from the south you’ll exit it in the north, and if you enter a house from the right you’ll exit it to the left. Since we’ve already dealing with quite complex backgrounds we thought we’d keep the indoor houses simple. This way we don’t have to make a ton of variations of the house sprites (the outodoor ones) that would have to look different if the house is L-shaped or longer than one room. Now we can focus on giving each of the exits variations through color and design rather than the shape, which would also end up affecting the other pieces made for the outdoor areas.

Creating these floors properly will definitely be a challenge, and more on the technical side than what we normally do, but we believe this will make these floors look the best they can. Our other options would be to make a ton of pre-rendered rooms (a bunch with the mountain wall to the bottom, a bunch with the wall to the left, etc) or lose the coherency of where the mountain floors and walls connect, and we all agree that just wouldn’t be as nice.

In other words, expect a post or two full with tiny parts and ways of connecting them! ;)

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And now, for something else! Among these other things I’ve also started working on the proper Arcadia graphics now that the design is settled! Here’s a video featuring the first part, Candy’s Curses:

And here’s the whole map! I thought I’d post this after every new step, to show you the town slowly taking shape:

One I’ve made all the finished buildings, I’ll make the flat version with signposts where the buildings will be. The reason I’m starting with the finished buildings is so that each plot will be big enough: it’s a little hard to tell exactly how big a building will end up being before I’ve painted it and it’s surroundings, and I want to be able to adjust the paths and greenery to fit the built versions :)

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Back to housing! We’ve had multiple discussions regarding table cloths and how to apply them to various tables. Finally, we’ve come to a decision!

Basically, we had two options. Either we’d make a ton of basic table cloths that had to fit each of the tables, or we’d make unique styles for each table, with table cloths (and other decorations) specifically made for that object.

In the end, we decided to go with the second option, for multiple reasons. For one, the tables aren’t all exactly as big, which means it’ll be quite a challenge to make sure every table cloth fits each and every table. Second, it’s more fun for us to design table cloths to go with each table, rather than have to design around all tables with the limitation of size as mentioned. It also makes each table you buy a little more interesting, as it comes with its own unique styles.

And without further ado, here’s a bunch of the table cloths we’ve made so far:

…With more to come!

And while we’re on the subject of housing, have another bunch of Fred’s animated housing items:

This week was a little different, as it was very special week indeed! In fact, last week (Tuesday to be precise) Teddy turned 30! To celebrate this, we left our isolated island for the Swedish mainland to celebrate him with his family. We were gone from Thursday last week and only got back a short while ago, so this weekly recap will be a bit shorter than usual!

To make up for that, we’ll be taking a look at what Fred has been busy with recently! We haven’t posted a lot of his animations on the main blog for a while, so there’s a bunch of stuff that’s been going on behind the scenes.

First of all, the desert enemy designs! We already talked about their gameplay design earlier, but since then Fred has been busy iterating their visual appearances:

This is typically what it looks like when we try to figure out what something should look like in the game. Make a bunch of variations and then pick whichever one is the best. In this case, we stuck with the ones in the red circle, bottom right. We’re all very excited to finally start working on the next area, although me and Teddy have a ton of housing and arcade mode stuff to finish first!

Speaking of housing, that’s another thing we’ve continued working on. Below you can see a basic test of a different light setting and a bunch of iterations for the visual appearance of the hand icon which allows you to select and edit furniture:

Our current favorite is the version that points straight down, with the selected square beneath it. We’ve also started working on our options regarding multiple room layouts and it’s coming along, though it’s gonna need a lot of testing since there’s a bunch of design problems occurring from having several rooms that need to be solved and reiterated.

Meanwhile, Fred has been making animations for a ton of the housing items that will move in various ways:

With many more to come! :)

And now, another of those desert town portraits! As I mentioned before, gotta start early and all, right?

Though the stories of the characters I design now aren’t fully established, the basic idea of this one is that she’s a merchant from Merchant Isles, come to trade in the harbor town.

In the future, I imagine I’ll make more merchants and sailors from there, as well as people from many other places. Our idea is that the desert town is a point of trade that attracts lots of people from all across the world, so there might even be one of two fae visiting, or perhaps a caveling? I guess we’ll see what the future holds for this town!

NOW; those of you not wanting to know what things will unlock where in the new version of Arcadia should probably steer clear of the rest of the post!

After confirming a bunch of things on another meeting, discussing which Arcadia houses should be approximately how far from the entrance/exit to your arcade runs, I went ahead and started designing the layout and basic looks of each of the houses you’ll be able to unlock in Arcadia!

For those of you who don’t want to know exactly what will get unlocked and where, I wouldn’t look too closely at this picture:

The color overlays show three different areas, each of which you will have to pay gold to unlock, while the white area will be available from start (though the Candy & Muffin stands will be the only ones built when you first start – the rest you’ll have to build with gold and time).

We ran around this background in-game with our characters and feel satisfied with the overall feel, though some sizes and distances will end up slightly different once the actual buildings and items have been made. For this area we’ll also be making new special trees and vegetation to further cement Arcadia as a place of its own, disconnected from the rest of Grindea (though connected in a mysterious way~).

I gotta say I’m really excited to start working on this and get the new improved Arcadia up and running, especially creating some of the more creative looking houses and make everything fit together :)

Finally, after many twists and turns (and a ton of housing items), we’ve managed to make a somewhat playable test build of the housing system, which we’ve started testing within the team!

Without further ado, here’s a bunch of GIFs, featuring the most basic features (changing wallpaper/floor texture, adding basic furniture, creating carpets, changing the style of an item, and placing items on top of each other):

And here are some of our (not very creative) test houses:

Since this is the very first steps on creating a fully functional housing system, there were a ton of things we needed to discuss, and a bunch of changes we definitely have to make!

In order to plan all of that, we decided to have a looong meeting at our favorite fast food place (as usual). Immediately there were a bunch of things we decided had to change (or be added), and here’s some of them:

* More house layouts, and varying sizes. From the beginning we thought it’d be enough to use this one layout, but we quickly felt not only did it feel a bit big, it’s also a little boring to only be able to work with a single open space room. We also felt it was a little big. So, there will be an option to change between a set of house layouts, with a smaller room and multiple rooms available.

* A character who creates duplicates of unique housing items you already own. For obvious reasons! Unlike the items you buy in the store (where you can buy as many items as you like), there are unique items out there which you’ll only be able to find one of. In order to be able to place more of these in your house, you’ll be able to make duplicates of them – either at the regular store guy or through another NPC.

* We’ll look into making the area around your house a little bigger so there can be some kind of decorations surrounding it rather than it being placed in the middle of nowhere (well, in the middle of Evergrind) just like that.

* A furniture section should probably be added to your character’s inventory menu.

* The hand tool (which is used to move furniture around or delete it), is currently a long basic line/beam, and will be replaced with a pointing hand.

* The option to flip an item horizontally will be added to items where that feature makes sense, such as the pick-axe

* A mini-icon for furniture items that have more than one style. Styles are various skins of an object, and can be a color change or detail change in some way. For example, a bookcase might have different sets of shelves or stacks of items you can pick between.In order to make it more clear which items have more than one style, we’d like to add one of those tiny icons (like the 1H/2H/housing item icons in the main menu), only visible in the housing menu.

* When you place an item you have more than one copy of, you’re able to keep placing more of it until you run out of that particular item. Currently, what happens after you’ve placed your final item of that kind is that you’ll get automatically moved back to the menu again.

This, we quickly realized, felt a bit jarring, so next we’ll try adding a sound indicating you’ve run out of the item when you try to place another one, forcing you to cancel back into the menu rather than automatically getting there. This might seem counter productive, as it means you’ll have to press an extra button before being able to select your next piece of furniture, but we believe it’ll be less annoying then the jarring feeling of going from moving objects around to changing between new objects in the menu.

* Visual- and sound effects for placing and deleting objects in your house. An outline around the currently selected object. A better icon for the wallpaper section, which currently can be mistaken for a floor texture. Sound effect and visual feedback when you try to delete an item you currently can’t remove (for instance if it has other items on top of it).

* The currently not used star menu will be replaced with a settings menu, where you’ll be able to save your current house, change between different lightning settings and house layouts and other things we might think of.

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…Aaand a bunch of other small things. As you can tell, when we add a new system things are far from perfect the first time around, and the only way of getting to that polished state is to change and add things until it feels nice :)

Once these things have been added we’ll try the system out again and reevaluate!

Speaking of housing, when we planned the housing batches and I made them, there was one thing we had completely forgotten about: carpets! Now that I’m done with each of the batches up to the point of the game where we’re currently at, we decided it was time to go back and add something to stick on the floor for most of the areas (we felt it wasn’t necessary to include in each and every one, and Temple of Seasons already have a bunch of floor decorations!)

In the Pumpkin Woods batch, there will be two carpets, one that has a static size with moons, and one that you can change the size of to fit your needs (second one from the right).

In the Flying Fortress batch, there won’t be a carpet, but a “big item” that you can put on the ground where you can see the sky below.

In Seasonne, there’s a red christmas-y carpet matching the tablecloths of the batch, which you’re also able to change the size of.

Mount Bloom will have a static sized moss carpet, and in Tai Ming, there’s the red and beige carpet that you’re used to seeing inside the houses, but with a slightly adjusted pattern so it’s possible to change the size of it:

And to end this week, something more simple and straight forward: new portraits!

You might wonder where we could possible need more people right now, but aside from pretty much everywhere (or at least everywhere in Evergrind City!), the answer lies in the desert town you’ll soon be heading towards.

I figured it’s better to start making portraits now and make a few every week, than to do everything else until I end up having to spend weeks doing nothing but portraits when it’s time to finally add them! Makes for more varied blog posts, anyway.

So, first up, here’s a tourist girl, enjoying the nice weather of the yet-unnamed harbor town:

And her companion: a tourist boy!

Finally(!) we are happy to announce that Stable has received the long awaited update, introducing Tai Ming in its entirety to those of you who haven’t opted into the frontline updates! A quick rundown of what to expect in this patch can be found here.

Naturally, since we’ve spent most of our time last week preparing for the update, those of you who have played it might have already seen the following things. For some new housing items and a design question we’d like your input on, scroll to the bottom of this post!

First up though: when we talked about adding new items to the shops, we totally forgot about one pretty important store: the hat salesman! Because of this I went ahead and made a bunch of random hats for him:

We hadn’t really discussed exactly what hats would be available in this store, so it’s possible we’ll move things around and have some (or all?) of these somewhere else before the game is done. There are a bunch of hats available that haven’t been placed somewhere in the game yet, so if we feel any of them fit better we’ll just swap them out. In either case, there can never be too many hats, right?

Next up, the final Merchant Isles visitor to join the group in Tai Ming:

This guy has traveled far in hopes of selling things in Tai Ming, however since he won’t be let into the town itself (several years waiting time and all that), he’ll have to settle for something else…

As we draw close to releasing the stable version of Tai Ming, there’s – as usual – a bunch of tiny fixes needed as well.

First up: as you might remember, we talked about whether you’d be able to move a puzzle block to solve a puzzle in the middle of the Mimic battle. After our first discussion, we said it’d be possible to solve it mid-battle, but later on we changed our mind. For reference, here’s the final stage of the boss room, the way it looked before:

And here’s our solution: a bunch of wood that blocks the solution, so you can’t solve it while the battle is raging:

Instead, you’ll have to wait until after the battle, where some of the fire the Mimic spits out cause the wood on the map to burn:

Next, there were some sprites missing for the weapons in the area, which are now properly added, both in their proper animated form and as menu sprites:

Third, we decided to give that newly added Merchant Isles Merchant a couple expressions where he’s a bit bothered by the fact he is not allowed to sell his wares inside Tai Ming:

And finally, we decided that each of these Tai Ming housing paintings will be their own object, purchased separately, and so I made miniatures for them as well:

And now, time for a bigger batch of Tai Ming housing item miniatures!

These are the wall decor items, and there’s quite a few of them as you can see! I’m not sure if these will all be unlocked as part of the Tai Ming batch yet, or if we’ll move things around a bit to even it out between the batches. The three rectangular paintings to the lower right only have one display miniature for now, since I wasn’t sure if they were going to be objects of their own or various styles/skins of the same item:

And finally, something we’d like to ask our players regarding the Tai Ming floors of Arcade Mode!

The Tai Ming Arcade floors poses an interesting challenge that none of the other floors do. After all, Tai Ming is a town, and a town you can explore both in the past and present, so how do we properly convey that over a set of not-overly-decorated rooms where you battle a ton of monsters?

The first thing we decided was that there would have to be enemies in both past and present state rooms: we definitely want to include the time travel aspect in some way, and keeping the past rooms enemy-free (as they are in Story Mode) just isn’t an option.

As for the layout of the floors, we have two options.

Option #1 is to have the Tai Ming floors be about half as long as a regular Arcade Mode floor. That means there will be half the amount of rooms, and your goal is to find a specific room which contains a time rift that allows you to travel forward in time, passing through the rooms once more in another time!

For example, say you begin in past. You battle your way through a set of different rooms, all decorated in Tai Ming’s past style with cherry trees, statues and whatnot. Then you reach a big room, which is empty. This is the boss room, but you’re not yet able to battle the boss because you’re in the wrong time. You go back and find another room containing a time rift which you pass through. Now on your mini map the empty room gets the boss icon, and you start making your way back there.

Now that you’re in a different time, all of the rooms have transformed into Tai Ming’s present state instead, with the statues broken and cherry trees bare. In each room you pass, new enemies will spawn: you essentially battle your way from the portal room back to the boss room you found before. Once you reach the boss room again, you can finally battle the boss and get to the next floor.

There will of course be cases where you find the time rift before you reach the boss room, and in those cases the floor will be shorter than normal, since you don’t have to backtrack through as many rooms.

The upside to this version is that you’ll get to see each room you already went through in its past and present state, and that it makes these floors a bit more unique compared to the other floors of Arcade Mode. The downside is the backtracking, which might not feel as interesting as going through a unique set of rooms, and the fact that you have to find a specific room (the rift room) before you can progress through the floor as usual, which might feel annoying to some people.

Option #2 is a bit more straight forward. This idea is simply that certain rooms have a time rift you pass through as you go between one room and another, so some rooms will be past and some will be present. This means the floor will be the same length as and work in the same way as the other Arcade floors (when you find the boss room, it will always be in the correct timeline and you can battle the boss at once). What rooms will appear and whether they are past or present rooms will be randomly generated by the map rather than you going through a set of past rooms first, which then transform into present rooms.

Perhaps not as interesting mechanically, but might be more so visually (more unique rooms rather than two versions of the same, shorter floor).

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Since we can’t really decide which one we prefer, we’d like to hear what you guys think. Would you prefer Option #1 or Option #2? This game is designed to be enjoyed by our players, so we’re very interested to hear which one of these you’d like to see!

In order to collect your votes, I have made a topic with a poll on our forums! Please cast your vote in THIS THREAD to let us know what you prefer. Thank you :D

As you might expect from the title of this blog, this week we’ll take a look at the desert enemies, mainly designed by our animator Fred~

First up, the Cacute, a basic enemy that mostly minds it own business, jumping around the map. Everytime it makes a jump one or more of its needles shoot out from its body as projectiles, damaging things in its path, so you better keep track of where it’s at!

Next, a much rarer but also way more powerful enemy: the Solem! This sand golem has multiple attacks, one where it slams its fists in front of it, causing shockwaves to do damage, and one charge which works as a combined boar/halloweed charge: it sets its target and moves toward it at great speed underground. Once it reaches its target it grabs him or her and knocks them away!

The third enemy works more like an upgrades Bee enemy, it’s Mrs. Bird:

Much like the bee, this enemy flies out of reach of your regular attacks, and swoops down to attack you every once in a while. Aside from this it has another, interesting mechanic though: it lays eggs! These eggs hatch after a short while, spawning new birds – unless you destroy them first. Destroying them leaves a sticky goo on the ground that slows you, though, so you might be careful what you decide to do with them!

Finally, an enemy that isn’t pictured yet: Orange Slimes! These slimes are more advanced than previous slimes, leaving fire in its wake and attacks by turning into a mini version of Giga Slime’s saw (though only for a short distance)!

And now, time to complete that sailor guy’s portrait:

He’s been charged with helping a merchant deliver goods to Tai Ming, and as you might be able to tell from his expression he’s not exactly thrilled to be forced from the sea!

And here’s the second sailor, helping the first unloading some crates filled with items to be sold in Tai Ming:

Not much to say here, same basic concept, different decorations on the hat. There will probably be a couple of these in Evergrind City at some point as well, plus a bunch in the harbor town that you’ll enter after you pass through the desert. Just to cement the fact that these people are sailors and they are a thing before you actually encounter any enemies with the similar design :)

Here’s fred take on them, unloading the crates in Tai Ming:

We’ll end this week with a second Tai Ming housing miniatures batch! A few left to go… :)

Not much to say here! A bunch of the ‘big items’ from the Tai Ming batch, the crate variations and two different weapon stands are skins you can select for the item when you place it in your house. And below them, the miniatures made in the video:

With the Arcade Mode rework drawing closer, we sat down to iron out more of the houses that will be available so I can begin work on the new Arcadia design. We also changed a few things around:

Candy and Muffin were said to have a house in the last Arcade Mode meeting. That has been changed into two vendor stands near the exit to the Arcade Mode run, in order to avoid having to load into a house every time you want to try out new treats or curses.

The Alchemist Remedi will also appear somewhere close to the exit, and like candy and Muffin he will be available without moving into a building, although the exact design of his spot hasn’t been fully decided yet. Remedi will allow you to select one (or multiple, not decided yet) potion(s) to bring with you on your arcade run, and it will work much like the potions in story mode after the rework has been implemented: battling enemies will slowly refill your bottle.

The Bank is something that isn’t available in story mode, so it’s an all-new thing. At the bank you’ll be able to trade in your essence for money, or money for essence!

Master Ji’s Dojo will make an appearance as well, and at this place you’ll be able to train your perfect guard by selecting enemies that will spawn in his training ground. We have plans on having perfect guard challenges here as well, where you have to complete a series of challenges using only your perfect guard and your reward will be headbands in different colors signifying which rank(s) you have passed. This feature might make an appearance in story mode as well!

The Cinema is another feature not available in story mode, and we’re not 100% it will make it to the game yet, although it would be pretty cool. Teddy has been working on a feature that allows you to save replays of your arcade runs, and our idea is that you will be able to load and watch your own and others replay in this building!

The Carpenter will have a shop that sells housing items! Each batch will be unlocked by reaching the corresponding floor in an Arcade Mode run.

Farmer Oak will appear with a petting zoo! He’ll have a set of quests and taming items that will bring animals to Arcadia. Our idea is that it’ll be optional whether the animals are gathered at the petting zoo or if you allow them to roam free in town.

There will also be a Clock Tower where you can change the time of day: initially between day and night but we might add support for dawn and evening as well.

Other than that we have a bunch of decorative slots planned that will help bring in new inhabitants and quests. Some of those ideas include a garden and a fae tree (but plenty of smaller ones as well). We also came up with a couple of quests, but I think we’d rather have you explore those on your own once they’re in the game, rather than have me tell you now what they will be all about!

Next up is some more housing miniatures! Since the Tai Ming-themed ones are sooo many, I’m going to divide them into groups depending on which item type they are. Some batches will be bigger, other smaller. This is one of the smaller batches, featuring the ‘small items’, or things you can stick on tables and other surfaces!

 

Finished sprites below:

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And now, some more design talk! As you might know by now, the next dungeon is going to be a ghost ship. What you might not know, though, is that the ghost ship will be populated with the possessed spirits of sailors from the Merchant Isles.

Since we want the enemies to have a cool design, we wanted the sailors from the Merchant Isles to have a particular look about them, so it’s easy to spot them. Our idea is that you’ll see some of these sailors throughout your travels, and be able to recognize the design when you meet the enemies in the ghost ship.

Fred had a design in mind, so he went on the make a bunch of suggestions:

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After seeing these designs, I made a quick sketch of a portrait version and wrote down a bunch of suggestions for common points among the sailors. The clothing style is basically a toned down version of the ones seen on characters from Merchant Isles that are already in the game: kind of 1700’s pirate/seafarer inspired clothing, only with the sailors it’s in earthy tones rather than the bright noble tones of the merchants we’ve already met.

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In the beginning, our first thought was that each sailor would have a different version of the hats Fred designed, and that the hats would be common among all the people from Merchant Isles, regardless of their occupation. In the end though, we decided against this, and selected a single hat type for all the sailors, as seen below.

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After deciding this, Fred made a bunch of different version of the new hat, as well as a couple edits of the characters clothing, to better fit with the clothing designs of my portrait. In the end, our favorite is the fourth hat from the left, which is likely to be the one we’ll use for all of the sailors.

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There will still be some clothing adjustments before we’re completely satisfied, but this is an example of how me and Fred sometimes work back-and-forth in creating designs, with all three of us coming with feedback and ideas along the way. Next up I’ll actually be making the proper portrait of this guy, who will be one of the additional NPCs added to Tai Ming’s first zone before the Stable Patch :)

This week got cut a little bit short due to Fred’s birthday and us taking a couple days off for easter to spend with friends and family. Next week, there will be¬†another design talk featuring¬†what the desert enemies will look like, and we get to see the finished Merchant Isles portraits (among other things). Stay tuned~

So, Tai Ming has been fully added to frontline: what happens next? Once we’ve polished up Tai Ming for a stable release, there are a ton of things we want to add before moving on to the next area, and many of these will probably get their own Frontline and Stable releases:

1. Housing
We’ve talked about it a lot, and it’s finally on its way! Almost all basic batches are completed, although we’ll keep adding items as we come up with them. All that remains is polishing up the interface and for Teddy to implement like a hundred items…

2. Support Skills
Seeing as there’s only one area and two dungeons left of the game, it’s high time these got implemented. We still haven’t decided 100% which ones they’ll be, but we have a lot of nice ideas that we hope will make things interesting for support players as well. More on this later~

3. The Potion Rework
I mentioned it before, and we definitely want to implement this ASAP as well! Makes potions more interesting.

4. Rebalance
A rebalance of pretty much everything, including giving magic users a tiny bit of range for their normal attacks.

5. Arcade Mode Rework + New Floors
As we’ve talked about before on the blogs! This will likely happen after the above things, since the support skills, rebalance and potion rework will affect things in Arcade Mode, and a complete rework will probably increase the amount of players trying it out (which means it’s nice to already have those in the game at that point)

6. Quest Skipping After Multiplayer Completion
This has been on our feature list forever. Basically after you complete quests and stuff in a multiplayer session you’re supposed to get an option for skipping them when you go back to playing single player.

7. Season Orbs and ..Plant Nutrition..?
A lot of you have noticed tiny wiggly plants and areas where it looks like you should be able to cross the water somehow. Since these things have trolled you long enough, we feel it’s time to actually implement their ‘solutions’, namely Season Orbs for crossing water and ….some kind of plant nutrition to make the plants grow.

We’ve had various ideas about the nutrition either being available throughout the world or sold by Oak in the farm in Evergrind West. Still haven’t finalized that part but it’s likely we’ll finally implement it before the desert!

8. A Special Side Quest & Treasure Maps
More treasure maps because a bunch of them are already prepared, and the special side quest because the reward we have planned for it is something that might be interesting to use for players while they await the next patch.

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And then, it’s on to the desert! This will probably take a while to complete, but once it’s all implemented there isn’t a lot to add aside from more side activities (quests, arena challenges, boss rebattling, etc) which we’ll likely save for after the main story is done. How exciting to take another step closer to that point!

And to jumpstart all of that, let’s jump straight into the stable priority stuff! First up: shop upgrades for when you reach Tai Ming!

So yeah, we wanted to upgrade the shops with some new items once you reach the inner levels of Tai Ming, since most of the shop items have been around for a bit at that point. We decided to upgrade the three rings that are already in the game with a second tier, basically a stronger version of the previous one. We also wanted a new armor piece, and a bunch of new accessories:

We haven’t decided exactly what the accessories will do yet, just that we wanted a bunch of new ones. There are a ton of builds that need new items though (basically like all of them), so I’m sure we’ll come up with a number of alternatives before they get implemented~

Finished sprites:

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There are still a lot of miniatures / drop sprite versions of a bunch of items left to do as well, so here’s another video featuring the making of the Mount Bloom special items:

The first two mushrooms didn’t get recorded because I forgot to turn off Aero, so OBS recorded me painting on top of a grey screen instead, haha! Oh well :D

Finished sprites (in 300%, in case you’re wondering why they look bigger than the ones above):

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Since I’m waiting for Fred to complete the additional NPCs that will appear in Tai Ming’s first zone, here’s a preview of a couple more Mount Bloom room types for Arcade Mode!

Making these rooms are a little bit of a challenge: they can’t be too small with the Larvacid and Spinsects enemies ruling this section of the game, but with too large rooms there also won’t be much of a challenge!

Hopefully these slightly smaller rooms (compared to the last batch) are balanced enough to make it a fun challenge!

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I think I’ll make one more room type that is slightly more rounded, and then a few variations of some of the room with water decorations as seen in some of Mount Blooms early maps. After that we’ll hopefully have enough variations, given the many different decoration combos that can appear in each room!

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I keep worrying the difference between each of the rooms won’t be enough, but considering there isn’t much difference between most rooms throughout the other Arcade Mode floors it should probably be fine (especially with our new and improved mix-and-match system that mixes and matches various decoration setups for each of the corners).

Mostly I suppose people are too busy worrying about not dying to consider how closely two rooms resemble each other… :)

Next week we’ll continue to flesh out Tai Ming for a stable release, and the work on Arcade Mode and its rework continues~

With the third Tai Ming zone up and running, and the base of the dungeon essentially completed, it’s only natural to have a meeting to discuss the feedback we’ve gotten!

Before uploading the patch our inhouse testers had given us two point of views on the third zone: one said it was impossibly hard, the other said it’s too easy. The general consensus after uploading the patch seem to be it’s somewhere in between those two (yay), but we’ll keep monitoring your comments and make adjustments to the difficulty accordingly.

Aside from the usual bunch of bugs and a couple hotfixes, things seems to be sailing pretty smoothly and now all that remains is cleaning up the placeholders, await sound effects and polish things up for the stable release, which is our next goal!

So, for the next stable release, we’ll basically clean up Tai Ming to the best of our ability and launch the dungeon when it’s properly completed. We’ll also be adding a couple of things to the dungeon before patching as well, namely:

* A couple more NPCs in Tai Ming’s first zone
* A secret chest…somewhere I won’t say
* New shop items

We’ll also make a slight change to the Mimic battle so that the Mimic spits out the sword if you solve the puzzle mid-fight. It felt a bit unsatisfying to push the block onto it only to be rewarded with nothing until the battle’s done, so that had to be fixed!

Now, as for what happens after Tai Ming… Previously we had an idea that we’d do a vote for what you people would like to see added, but after discussing our options today we realized there are so many things we feel need to be added ASAP, that we’ll probably end up doing all of those and only save the super optional stuff for later. More on that later!

Some other things we’ve discussed recently:

What year is it?
Some of you might have asked this question already, with all the time jumps in the dungeon! We’ve had multiple discussions about whether or not to include years, either when you zone or/and added somewhere in your journal.

The obvious argument for is that it would hopefully make it easier to know how much time has passed between certain events. However, there’s also the risk of annoying people who forgot what the previous year was, and now gets another year presented. This happens to me a lot in movies: in the beginning they show the setting and present us with which year it is, and I go “oh okay so we’re in the 1600’s”, and promply forget what the last two numbers where. Then, a while later, there’s a jump and they show another year, also 1600’s, but since I didn’t remember the whole year I have no idea how many years have passed in either direction (is it a flashback?), until I get it based on the context. In those cases the years did nothing but annoy me, since I had to rely on the context to grasp how much time has passed anyway.

It is our hope that we’ve provided the player with enough such context that there isn’t a need to know the exact year. We haven’t completely thrown out the idea though – if it becomes too confusing, we might add them later.

The Desert
After Tai Ming comes the desert, and as such we had another talked and decided that before we update the Stable beta, we’ll add the bare minimum of the first desert map – most likely only the background and something blocking your way from continuing (so no enemies or NPCs or anything like that).

The reason? Those “this area is not in the game yet” notifications. Once we add the first desert map we actually won’t have any of those anymore, and I’m pretty sure you guys are just as annoyed by them as we are! Nothing throws you out of a game as much as a blatant reminder that you’re only playing the beta.

Temple of Seasons Story?
And now for something completely different. Did you know that we, from the beginning, intended to have picture carvings here and there in the Temple of Seasons, telling the story about the player character’s mother Charlotte and how she came to save the fae that one time? Don’t worry, we won’t add that right now, but we did have enough time during this meeting to reiterate that we will add it at some point. Likely after the main story is done.

Spirit World Objects
Finally, we talked a bit about the spirit world and what kind of objects should appear when using the skill. We want certain things to be able to appear in order to create puzzles and challenges – such as a bridge that only exists in the spirit world, and so on. During this discussion we talked about what they should look like graphic wise.

Right now we’re thinking that we should go full on horror style – having the objects be made of bones or dark goo or other creepy things you’d associate with ghosts. We’re still balancing on an edge where we’re not sure if it’s gonna be too creepy or not (the game hasn’t been that scary until that point, even if we begin to see some darker things in Tai Ming), but hopefully it’ll not feel too off in the end.

If you guys have any suggestions for what you’d like to see graphic wise in the spirit world, let us know in the comments! :)

Since we’re currently busy airing out the bugs that have been reported, adding sound effects and basically polishing up the graphics, which isn’t much to show visually in this blog, here’s a sneak peek of the Mount Bloom Arcade Mode floors instead!

To make these floors, we’ll be using a bunch of basic room backgrounds as base, and create variations by decorating them in different way. When creating the bases I make a standard background, add some basic decorations that don’t need colliders (basically floor and wall stuff, such as moss and vines), as well as four exits – one in each direction:

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The exits are on their own layer, and beneath is a solid wall, so you can simply apply the number of exits you need for the specific room. Some might only have one door, others might use all four.

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I then make a second and sometimes a third variation of the basic decorations, moving moss and wall decorations around so they aren’t all exactly the same:

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Next step is adding props that have colliders, which are added using our editor. In order to increase the sense of variation we divide each backgrounds into four parts, and create a minimum of two variations in how the props are placed within each corner.

Once that is done, the game engine will be able to mix and match each corner for the background, creating 16 possible variations per background, if each corner has 2 different layouts:

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The basic room shapes are the same, but thanks to different numbers of doors and decoration differences, they feel more different than they are. These are only the first two room types, next I’ll be making a bunch more to increase the sense of variation as you progress through this floor.

…..aaand as of yesterday, the frontline patch is finally up!! This includes the third and final part of Tai Ming (albeit without the proper sound effects and with some placeholder stuff). Patch notes can be found here!

Naturally this weekend has been spent crunching a bunch of stuff we wanted to include in this patch, so we’re all quite spent and now eagerly await your feedback. For me, a playthrough took about 40 minutes – how long did it take you? What did you think of the twists and turns? How was the balance? Please feel free to share anything and everything here in the comment section of on any of our forums!

For now, here’s a bunch of sneak peek GIFs of what you’ll be facing in the third and final part of this dungeon:

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Since you’ll be able to play through our progress this time, this blog post is kept rather short since I’m sure you all would much rather be playing! Please go ahead and do so, and let us know all of your feedback <3

Thanks! :D

Another week has passed, which has been another week filled with preparing for the final Tai Ming boss. Finally, we’ve completed the third and last stage of the Mimic boss room… Time to bring in some Mt. Bloom!

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So basically in this third stage you’re back to your own time, but we wanted this room to be more ruined than the rest in order for some health crystals to have grown in the room after this time jump! The boss battle is very long, after all, and being so close to Mount Bloom we thought this was a nice solution for including some health without forcing random health orbs.

The health crystals aren’t pictured in the finished version below, but they’ll be growing in the parts where the cave floor is peeking through:

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Another thing we’ve been focusing on lately is the cutscenes surrounding the Mimic fight. And with this one, we have a question for you guys!

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Above you can see one of the cutscenes we’ve been prototyping lately. Now the question is: when should the boss portrait appear? We have two suggestions:

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In this first alternative, the boss portrait (yes it’s a thorn-worm for now, since the real one hasn’t been made yet) appears as the Mimic sucks the crown into its chest.

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…And in this one it appears as its tongue is around the crown, pausing mid-animation.

What do you guys think? We’re currently torn, and while it might not seem like a huge decision, it’s always better to pick the version that the most people like better! When I asked this in my own work blog, the overwhelming result so far indicates the second one is better. Do you agree? Please comment with your preference! :D

Now, we can’t let the Mimic boss portrait remain a thorn-worm now, can we? Time to fix that!

We are actually not yet sure if this will be *the* boss portrait, or if we’ll have several, one for each state. So before making this one, I made some quick sketches to work out what size each of the iterations would have in their portrait versions, should we decide to add the other ones:

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For now though, we are gonna start with just the small one, and play around with adding the other two in a prototype, to get a sense of what it’d feel like to have them appear after you complete each iteration:

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What do you think? Would you like to have a new boss portrait appear every time you beat one version of the Mimic, or do you feel it would get too spammy, throwing you out of the mood of the battle? I guess it’s hard to imagine without actually trying out the fight, though.. Maybe we should include a way to try out the different versions in next frontline update, unless it would mean too much work for our poor overworked programmer!

And now, some mixed stuff!

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First up, fixing a graphical error shown above! Behind the door transparency the closed door peeked through, rather than the floor. It has now been fixed.

I also added a bunch of extra decorations for the second fighting room in zone 3. It just looked a bit empty, so I felt it needed a bit more polish:

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I also adjusted the garland you’ll unlock in the Seasonne batch of housing items, making sure it’s properly stackable. Previously, you had to put them next to each other like in the left version below, but by editing the size they will now stack seamlessly when you put two next to eachother:

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Finally, we’re swapping out the map painting in the Mimic boss room for a portrait of Grindea! Progress and finished versions below:

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Now, a lot of you have asked when frontline will be updated with the third Tai Ming area. Here’s our estimate: HOPEFULLY this weekend! We’ll do our very best to make that happen, at least :)