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.