Alright! Time for what I *believe* will be the final batch of fixes (on my end, anyway) for the desert before the patch lands! There’s still a portrait or two left, but here’s a bunch of the minor additons I’ve been working on:

First up, a Merchant Isles’ sailor hat, that might become yours if you complete a certain quest! Another item that is involved in a quest is the below part of a statue:

This farmer is a character who you’ll meet in these new quests as well, so I’ve been making a couple of expressions for him:

Meanwhile, I wasn’t completely happy with the anatomy of the mayor’s portrait, so I’ve made a slight fix for it and also aged her slightly (old version first, then the new one):

There’s a couple new items as well, which means there’s need for more drop appearances! Among these are a bottle based on an animation made by Fred (you can see his sprite on the right in parts of this WIP-gif), as well as a tomato and an onion!

We also changed the layout of the mayor’s house a bit, adding more items and characters, making the place feel more like the art/history exhibition it has become (old version first):

Finally, I wanted to increase the amount of greenery in one of the caves, so I went back and added a bunch of plants and leaves here and there:

Previously, I remade the portrait of the Mayor, but another portrait we weren’t quite happy with was that of Wishi (who also happened to look oddly similar to the Mayor’s first portrait):

Only one way of fixing this, and it’s to throw together another portrait, this one giving a bit more of an attitude:

And the finished remake below:

As usual, you can’t have a boss battle (even if it’s a side battle not related to the main story) without a boss portrait. This portrait will be slightly different as it’s the first one that has a sprite in front of the textbox! We thought the tomato would look cute in front of it, rather than have all his vegetables hidden behind the box.

WIP and finished version below:

I’m working on the cards as well, and while they may not be included in the patch, they should be added shortly after! Here’s a video featuring the creation of the Sand Raven card, where one such annoying bird is preparing a meal:

 

Now, a couple weeks ago I estimated that by now the patch would arrive! However, as you’ve certainly noticed, no patch has been uploaded yet – so what has happened? Well the short version is that we wanted to make things more interesting (don’t we always), so the added work has pushed the patch forward by a couple of days.

In other words, we hope to release the patch in the beginning of this week instead (hopefully tomorrow)! Serves me right for making estimates, they just never end up being correct…

Anyway, in the meanwhile, have some sneak peeks of what you’ll see in the upcoming patch, starting with a couple of animations for the desert carpenter:

Two more items:

Due to something you may or may not do, there will be changes in the desert map:

A new type of halloweed?!

Aaand a ton of new expressions for people you’ll interact with:

Stay tuned, and let’s hope this estimate of the patch release will actually be right this time!!

Next up, we have another boss portrait! This one of course featuring the Solem boss you’ll face off against inside the ruins:

Since he has a gem for a face, we thought what better name for this swell guy, than Sol-Gem? Said and done:

As always, there’s a ton of minor things to add and adjust right before an update, so here’s a very mixed set of things, starting with two new expressions for one of the characters in town:

A slight edit of the first desert ruin room, where we’ve removed one of the scriptures for a small note on the wall, carved by some ancient apprentice:

In the second room of the ruins, we’ve moved down the altar for the gem so there’s enough room for the giant rock to appear behind it, as well as a more broken version of the arc that will replace the previous one once the rock has rolled into it:

The scriptures around the desert have gotten some upgrades too (or should I say downgrades), since we didn’t want the text to be readable we’ve decided to make them look torn and broken enough to justify the text not being legible:

In the math puzzle cave, I also went ahead and added those number wizard statues I mentioned before, and have since decided to upgrade the look and feel of the first cave slightly as well (more on that later):

Now we have this week’s portrait, which features a giant of a man who works in the desert mine. His name is Big Brutus, and I have a feeling he’s not someone you want to mess around with:

Now, for those math puzzles… First up, I’ve made the other two caves in this system, which was pretty straight forward after everything was completed in the first cave:

But then I thought the first one looks just too simple, especially when there’s so much sand in it, so I decided to mix things up and make a slightly more interesting background for this one. So here we have the process:

And the final version of the first room, yay:

Alright, so there was one thing remaining to do in the desert ruins, and as most of the things have been implemented by now, it’s time to get going with these puzzle blocks!

These blocks are special in the sense that you need to place them correctly according to a creation myth found within the temple, so instead of just regular blocks, they have a slightly more interesting look:

 

 

And here’s the final blocks by the end of the video:

Progress on the desert continues! We’ve now started implementing things in those desert ruins, where you’ll face another boss battle. When I mentioned there was gonna be an Indiana Jones-y scene in here, some of you wondered of what kind… I think this GIF should answer that question for you:

WIP of course, this is but the first step of the iteration!

Speaking of iterations, we’re also working on the boss! This Solem is a very dangerous guy who likes to use his laser in creative ways. Good thing he also slams his fists in the ground, causing giant rocks to fall from the ceiling that can block such beams for you:

(One everything is implemented, the rock will look to be part of the ruin, rather than a random Mt:Bloom-esque boulder!)

He has another fierce laser attack as well, featuring multiple beams that follow you for a little while:

Aside from these, he’ll act like a regular, but amped-up Solem, chasing you around trying to hit you. He’ll also have one attack where he slams his fists in the ground causing shockwaves to appear all around him, which you’ll have to dodge.

Fred’s continuing to work on his animations, too, of course so here’s a more finalized version of what he’ll look like as he blasts those laser beams at you:

There are more caves in the making, as well! Those math puzzle caves had to be designed, and to mix things up I decided to go for a slightly different color scheme compared to the rest of the caves in the desert:

It looks a little bare right now, so we’ll probably add some more details, maybe in the form of statues of numbers, or perhaps even of the number wizard who made these challenges in the first time! For now though, here’s the first iteration of the first math puzzle cave:

Can’t have new bosses without new boss portraits, so here’s an upgraded version of Marino’s boss portrait, featuring his lovely shadow clones!

As you might remember, his last subtitle was The Ultimate Rival, however, as the story progresses some things change… Why an “ultimate friend” would fight you? I guess you’ll just have to play through the story and see!

I’ve mentioned this before, but the relationships between the characters haven’t been super fleshed out, a fact we are well aware of and will likely remedy slightly by adding more scenes to the story (once the rest of the game is done). This way we also hope to give an incentive to those of you who have played along chapter-by-chapter with every new update to play through the whole thing once more time, the way it’s supposed to be experienced in the end. In the end, we plan for the finished product to feature slightly more story as well as new side quests for most (if not all) parts of the game.

As for this week’s portrait, it features a pirate hanging out in the saloon! In fact, he’ll be one of the card players (whom I actually made a portrait of before – but his sprite got changed afterwards, so that old portrait will probably become a different NPC at some point instead):

Finally, Marino’s second boss battle has been finished and fully implemented, so now it’s time to spice up the little are where you face him! Previously, we’d left it pretty open, as we weren’t sure exactly how big his battle arena would be (we like to prototype the fight first and base the area on how much space we feel is needed).

Below you can see the old area, with the battle taking place inside the darkened frame:

In order to spice this up, I made a quick sketch of what it could look like instead, adding a level difference to act as the limitation downwards. Adding this, we had to increase the size of the map slightly downward as well, to make room for everything:

And then, it’s time to make the actual graphic adjustments for these changes:

And here’s the final version, featuring a much smaller battle area, and a slightly more interesting looking map overall:

Alright, so as you might know, one of the boss battles you’ll be dealing with in the desert is the return of Marino, who wants a second shot at beating you up! This time around, he’s leveled up and uses some crazy clone action to make this battle even harder.

As part of the prototyping process we’ve played around with a number of different patterns and types of attack. Here’s an early version of one such attack:

We want to play around with Marino and his clones moving across the playfield quickly, meaning you have to mind where you stand, or even move around in order to avoid damage:

We have multiple patterns like this, which will become more and more difficult as the fight progresses. Of course, there’s a lot of placeholder graphics here, but the overall idea is the same: there will be some sort of visual indicator for where Marino and his clones will move next, which fades away once they make that move.

Marino being Marino, he’s also learned the noble art of taunting his opponent, but be careful to attack him blindly, or you might come to regret it:

Now, time to continue working on the second room in those desert ruins! As mentioned before, it’s time to start working on the top part of this map, where some forgotten, ancient treasures will be….

 

In this final part we add more detail, but also that fancy mirror and the pedestal holding a very special crystal which might be directly linked to the boss battle in this ruin:

 

Our first portrait this week is a miner working in the desert! Like the other miners in our game, she wears the typical mining uniform, including the miner hat. The miner hat I use has already been made previously, so I only added it after the rest of the portrait was done:

The second portrait features one of the characters I forgot making a portrait for, which in this case is rather silly seeing as I made his shop stand and everything! This is the jewelry (accessory) salesman, selling items in the desert town’s market area:

…..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 :)

Remember the Mimic boss? Improvements have been made, and the prototyping goes on!

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Since the last prototype we decided to keep the waves he spits out, but with mixed enemies, so there will be enemies from all around the world rather than from one area at a time. We also removed a couple of waves, since this fight likely is long enough as it is – this is stage 3 after all!

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Occasionally while you battle the wave(s) he spits out, the Mimic will launch random disables or damage dealing stuff as well. These can be anything from bombs, slime, rockets, fire – you name it! These will be random, but certain disables/attacks don’t unlock until you’ve progressed far enough in the fight.

Yet another step closer to finishing the map! Now there’s mainly a ton of animations and polish, polish, polish remaining!! :D

…And of course… The actual background for the fight!

Right now the prototype version of the boss room looks like below (which can also be seen in the GIFs above):

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After doing some thinking & talking, I made a sketch preview of what the finish thing could look like, and had it approved by Teddy and Fred before I began work:

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The most complicated thing in the room is probably the painting – which we, oh irony, have decided to swap out for another one yet to be made. For now, here’s this one, which will likely appear somewhere else in Tai Ming instead:

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And here’s the finished room for the first stage:

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As the fight progresses, you will jump through time and the room will change. And so… On to stage two! For this one, some time has passed and it’s time to break and demolish the props inside:

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As I made this I did not yet know the painting would get swapped out, and so it too got a ruined version, though I do not yet know if that will be in the game or not. Maybe this will be the only time you’ll ever be able to see it, so take a good look!! ;)

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For the next stage, we jump back to our own time, and this particular room of Tai Ming has seen some serious ruin compared to the rest. But first…. some more housing miniatures!

With Tai Ming and Mount Bloom’s housing items finished, it’s time to create their miniatures and add them to the game, and this time I thought we’d mix it up with a video!

Only the basic items for each batch in this one – the video would be way to long otherwise! More to follow in another post. For now, here’s the result from this vid:

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And the large versions for comparison:

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That’s all for this week! Next week the work on the boss room continues, and we begin piecing together the cutscenes one by one. Stay tuned!

With Tai Ming nearing completion, and a revamp of Arcade Mode in general and Arcadia in particular, it’s no wonder a lot of our recent talks have been about exactly what new Arcadia will look like. This meeting we dove in and decided on some more things:

Buying Houses for Arcadia
Basically, Arcadia will start as an area of wilderness! The place where you start will be small, with most of the map being covered with wood and other obstacles. As time progresses you will be able to ask various people for help clearing the area, and in doing so revealing a bunch of signposts indicating what could be build at the spot.

Clicking the sign will trigger a preview of what the building or decoration will look like, and what it will bring to Arcadia. For instance, aside from shops and buildings with gameplay features of various kinds, there will be decorative things that may not give you a new feature per say, but will bring people with quests to town.

Essence & Gold
Essence will be used to buy perks, as well as transmute decorative hats and other gear that carry over to Story Mode. Essence might also become the currency used to buy housing items in the Arcade Mode version of the feature.

Gold, meanwhile, will be used to unlock new buildings and decorations, and pretty much everything else.

Candy & Muffin
Muffin’s house from Seasonne will be available from start, though there will be nobody at home in the beginning. Once you’ve either died a number of time or gotten to a certain highscore, Candy or Muffin will start inhabiting the house.

If you’ve died x times, Muffin will appear and allow you to make Arcade Mode easier by giving you a number of treats (3 maximum, much like perks). Treats might include things such as health orbs healing more or there being no elite enemies. The downside to this is that you will get a much reduced highscore for using these treats.

If you gain x highscore, Candy will appear and allow you to activate certain curses (again 3 maximum, much the same as perks). These curses serve to make the game harder in various ways, such as doubling the amount of elites or removing health orbs altogether. With curses activated you will gain a higher score than during regular runs.

While it might sound tempting to do so, you can’t combine treats and curses: you’ll have to use one or the other.

The Arena
There will be an arena where you can practice boss fights once you’ve reached them through one of your Arcade Mode runs. In the arena you’ll also be able to run the same PvP challenges that will eventually become available in Story Mode, as well. It’s likely you’ll have to pay some gold to practice boss fights, while PvP will be free.

The Aquarium
One of the decorative spots, a house where you’ll see a collection of all the fishes you’ve caught during your Arcade Mode runs (one of each). This place will also attract NPCs with quests!

The Inn
…Will work much like it does now, only with more NPCs and more quests!

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And by the time we reached this point of our discussion, the hamburger place we were at were closing so we had to go back home to do regular work. More planning next time, and instead, let’s have some more text previews:

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While making these it’s really easy to start coming up with things for previous areas as well, as you remember other bookcases or signs where you’d like to have some kind of text but haven’t added one yet. All in good time though, we want to avoid backtracking too much while we still have quite a long way to go before the main story is done.

All in all there will be 35 optional flavor texts available throughout Tai Ming! Can you find them all? I guess we’ll see… :)

Now it’s time for the final batch of themed housing items for a while now! Tai Ming, bring it on~
You know, you’d think that with Tai Ming being a town and all, there would be plenty of ready made housing objects there, right? Not so. I’m not kidding, I had to remake almost every single item in some way!

Next time we make a town, I’ll make sure to follow the housing guidelines to begin with. Not that I could follow the guidelines before since we didn’t have any… But you know ;)

Anyway! The basic items, not much to say. A very basic batch, with things you’ve likely seen before (although remade in size or with additional versions for Housing):

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The surfaces here will have a different height than items in the rest of the housing batches, since people in Tai Ming prefer sitting on the floor rather than chairs!

Compared to the basic batch, the special item one is.. a bit overwhelming: so many items!! There were so many wall decorations I couldn’t even fit them all on one wall, but had to put one on the floor just to show you. There are also a bunch of variations for some of these objects (such as different versions of decorations on top of the crates in the upper right corner) that there was no room to show as well:

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I think it’s likely that not all of these will be unlocked as you enter Tai Ming: some of the more generic looking objects will likely become part of the first basic batch, and others will be granted as quest or chest rewards.

And now…. More Mimic boss stuff! This time of his third and giant phase~

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We’ve already gone through two prototypes for this version. Here is the first one, where the Mimic pretty much spits out random things all the time. We felt this version was a little too messy in the end, so it was scrapped.

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Cue prototype #2:

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This version has a more clear pattern: he begins by spitting out a bunch of Pillar Mountains and Evergrind Fields themed enemies, then spits out slime at random intervals while you either beat the enemies or him up. After you’ve damaged him enough he then moves on to Flying Fortress enemies, while spitting out rockets. After dealing even more damage on him, he’ll move on to Temple of Seasons enemies – and so on.

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We liked this version a bit more, but we didn’t particularly enjoy how much it felt like you were replaying the game, so we’ll probably do one more prototype where we mix the encounters up a bit more between areas but keep the intervals he spits them out at!

It’s been another week, and on the menu for this week’s recap we have MORE housing (it never ends!), some previews of the optional examination texts you’ll be able to find around Tai Ming, a bunch of portrait expressions for the upcoming third zone, and… some animations! Let’s begin with housing~

While the housing items made up to this point has been saved and await implementation, we still have two areas to go! First up: Mount Bloom~

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This area transformed to housing is quite straight forward – ROCKS! Above are the basic items that every batch will have: Floor & Wall textures, bed, tables, chairs, etc. And below, lots of random items, many of which you can already find in the mountain:

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Mushrooms, crystals, some more rocks, a statue, a… a Fluffyfeathers? and some of the greenery seen around the caves of Mount Bloom! These items have all been resized and recolored to fit with the housing system and the rest of the item batches. Except Fluffyfeathers. Cause he’s perfect the way he is. Right?

Now, it’s been our ambition to add more of these optional texts for a while now, and we’ll begin with Tai Ming and work our way back!
Some of you might have noticed magnifying glasses appearing here and there. They most often signify that you’re able to examine something, and sometimes it’s even relevant to the story. From the beginning we’ve wanted to add more of these flavor texts here and there throughout the world of Grindea, but it’s also something we’ve been very good at forgetting. No more, though!

Here are a few example texts from the first zone of Tai Ming (do excuse any spelling or grammar errors, as this is from my draft document):

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Since adding these will make the few actually story-relevant (or otherwise more important) ones less apparent, we’re considering making another version of the magnifying glass that’s bigger and more epic looking to signify this piece of information might be useful to you somehow. It’s also very likely the story-relevant hints will have their magnifying glass appear from further away, while you have to step quite close to see the ones that are only for flavor.

Hopefully you’ll enjoy this update once it launches. With any luck, these texts will help you feel more immersed in the game world!

With most of the cutscenes in Tai Ming’s third zone prototyped and ready, it’s also time to bring some flavor to those faces! I don’t know if we’ve mentioned it before, but the third zone will be all about the priests quarters, so naturally that’s why this first preview is filled with almost nothing but priests:

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With grave things happening around the ancient world of Tai Ming, I’m afraid there aren’t a lot of happy faces here, and it will remain so in any coming previews we might show as well!

Finally, have a couple of Fred’s animations, featuring the final stage of the Mimic boss:

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See you next week! :D

You’d think after finishing a bunch of sprites for housing, you’re all set, right? Nope! Time for step two in housing: making drop appearances/menu miniatures for everything!

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Honestly, if there’s one thing I wish I knew how to streamline better it’s finding the right folder for stuff and saving a ton of items as PNG. Maybe there’s a way I haven’t found yet (I have not exactly done much looking).

Regardless, it takes a tooon of time saving items once you’ve finished making them. Not only do you have to check it for flaws (one of my great skills is accidentally leaving empty pixels in objects, trying to catch that before adding items to the folders now), and actually save it with all that entails, in the case of housing you also need to make menu versions since the big ones are much too large to show properly in the interface!

Above you can see a bunch of examples of miniatures, with the bigger versions below. After making this many, we had a talk about how to display Temple of Seasons stuff (since they will be three versions at once), and I had for some reason assumed that meant I should make three versions of everything. Because that would entail a whole lot of extra coding, we decided to either make one version that were all three at once, or simply stick with one of them and put a special icon next to it showing it gets transformed by the seasons.

After trying out the first idea (see above, upper right), we decided to simply stick with one version, in this case the summer!

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And the madness continues! This time a bunch of surfaces and beds~

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See that stray pixel between the red tablecloth and the left vines? Yeah, that’s exactly the kind of thing I’m trying to avoid. And clearly failed to do so before uploading this image! Oh well, at least it won’t be in the game :D

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And now…. Time for some Mimic updates!

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To make this guy’s eat-attack look a little more interesting we decided to swap out coins of various colors for a different set of items. The mimic will still eat huge coins (which won’t do anything), but the items that cause various effects will be as follow:

Emblem – Causes shockwaves (not pictured yet)
Chili Pepper – Fire
Hourglass – Slows player character(s)
Box of Bombs – The mimic spews out a bunch of bombs!

Since Fred has a very hectic schedule right now with a ton of animations needed for next update, I stepped in to make temporary objects for him to eat (wip above). These will be upgraded and animated by Fred once he has a few spare minutes:

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Here’s a GIF showing how the mimic boss has improved since last time. AGAIN all GIFs in this post run slower than in the actual game. I’m looking for a different program to record GIFs in since FRAPS isn’t working anymore and cutting things in GIFcam is a bother. If anyone has any  suggestions they are very welcome! Anyway!! Instead of simply leaving fire on the ground, he now shoots out balls of flame that cause a fire to burn where they land. We also made an effect for the hourglass slow-down, to make it more clear when you get affected by it:

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In the third phase, the mimic will grow even bigger and become static. In order to harm the player, he will spew out a ton of random items and enemies.

In this part of the battle we have two options, and we have not quite decided which one to go for yet – either he’ll send the player far back (the room would then be a bit larger vertically) with some kind of pushing attack, then fill up the room with obstacles and enemies the player needs to get past in order to hit the Mimic again. The second option is to have the Mimic invincible, until he gets exhausted (triggered by you clearing enough waves of enemies/items), at which point he’ll reveal his tongue which you can hit do deal damage.

We’ve also discussed a special attack where the Mimic starts sucking all the items he spewed out towards him, causing damage to the player if you get sucked too close (due to spikes or something similar poking out of the chest), but we haven’t finalized that part yet so I cannot say if it will actually appear in the game.

Finally, let’s end this week with a quick look at the skill you’ll unlock in the fourth dungeon~

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So this skill has the codename “the ghost skill” because we haven’t come up with anything better yet. What it does is basically it shows you the spirit world, where things look a bit different.

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There are a ton of possibilities for this skill, including having enemies that can damage you in the real world by using real weapons, but you cannot hurt them unless you go into the spirit world. There’s also obstacles you can only pass in the spirit world, or hidden treasures only seen while in it.

With this skill you’ll also be able to talk to ghosts, which might help you on your journey or give you quests?! Who knows, this is just a very early prototype after all.

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What do you think? Too dark and scary? We’ll do our best to make sure nothing becomes too creepy, just the right amount!