In this week’s Monday Meeting we spent a great deal of time discussing the final challenge in the creepy version of Startington (among other things)! As you might remember from a previous meeting post ages ago, there will be three challenges in this surrealistic and spooky version of Startington: one where you fight a ton of slimes which gives you a card called Obsession, and one where you do some tough shield training and gain a wooden shield called Expectations.

In our latest iterations of the third challenge, we’ve been working around the theme of Deceit. In this latest iteration of the challenge, there will be a block puzzle in which you move blocks with each of the artifacts to designated squares (rather than a key block puzzle).

Mechanically we have a couple of ideas for how to make this more fitting the strange world; one is that instead of moving the blocks, the room will move, the other that as you attempt to move on block, another of the blocks will move instead. We’re not entirely sure which of these we’ll go for, or if we’ll do something else entirely, but we’ll start off with making prototypes of these two ideas first and see whichever one feels the most cool.

Next up, it’s time for us to “creepify” the interiors of the Startington houses! Our idea is that the player will enter each house in its original form and complete a challenge in there, after which the building will deteriorate and become dark and gloomy:

The second house creepified:

And same thing for the third house:

And we’ll end this week with a bunch of gifs from the second boss fight of the dungeon: the Evil Eye or the Twilight Beholder, that has finally been finished! This boss uses a lot of lasers and creepy eyes to try to eliminate you, so you better keep your wits about you :)

We’ve already mentioned that during your stay in the Ghost Ship, you’ll be transported back to Startington, but things are not the way you remember them… One thing we’ll change in regards to this is your home, which will have a slightly different look… Or rather a few slightly different looks, of which the first one is a more idyllic version!

Take a look at the transformation here:

So, this Startington Home will have multiple versions, and it’s time to get going! First a reminder of the first version, and then each consecutively version as they will become available to you, culminating in a version where things have gone a bit… messy to say the least:

Going back to the overall Pillar Mountains improvements, it’s time to take a look at the area surrounding Mumrik’s tent! I felt this area felt a little bare, so decided to spice it up a bit with some more stuff:

Next up we’ll do something similar to the area surrounding the fisherman on the next map, and after that it’s time to continue scouting more areas to improve upon!

Without further ado: The fisherman’s area in lower Pillar Mountains! Getting some improvements, a little bit of everything:

In Fred’s animation department, we’re finishing up the eye boss..

…and moving on to more exciting things, namely the creepy things that will appear in that strange version of Startington that you’ll soon be visiting, starting with some slime that will cover the entirety of your character:

Another new week, which we’ll begin with some mixed fixes and additions! First up, a new version of the headless chef portrait, where his head has been replaced with… oh my… a tomato?

First of all we needed to decide which size this new tomato head would have, and to start off with we were unsure of whether we wanted a regular size or giant size tomato for the job – in the end we decided to go with the smaller one, and after playing around a bit with the sizing of the thing we got to this conclusion:

Now, how you get to put that tomato head on to a ghost’s body is something you’ll have to figure out for yourself!

Next up, a special type of door that will lead you in to the new Flying Fortress room I made last week:

We’re not yet sure exactly where this door will appear in the fortress, so for now I made the door in a random room – it will move to another location once we know where we want to put the room!

And so finally, some smaller additions to the Pillar Mountains improvements I did so far; more to come:

Now I thought we’d take a little look at how it’s going on with the Ghost Ship progress!

Teddy has been working hard to implement all of the stuff me and Fred made for him, which includes a bunch of cutscenes with the captain and some ghosts:

There’s the ghost ‘recruitment’ system, which allows you to present items to ghosts in order to bring back the memories of their past selves:

As well as that fancy eye boss, which has another attack featuring epic laser redirection:

There’s still a bunch of cutscenes and a bunch of puzzles to add, but the final floor is coming together slowly but surely. Soon we only have the final boss of the ship to deal with, which in itself will be an interesting but very exciting task…

Meanwhile in the portrait department it’s time for one more ghostlike portrait! While the Chef now has a portrait without his head and one with a tomato instead of his head, his actual head needs a portrait of its own, now doesn’t it? So, here we go:

Recognize this guy? Last time we saw him was in the past, in Tai Ming! But now he’s back in a slightly less… living state. Whatever happened to him? Soon it’ll be time for you to find out!

Finally this week, the boss progress continues and Fred has been busy making more and more attacks for giant eye you will be facing off against!

We’ll start off this new week with adding a slight puzzle or bonus thing to the corridor thing, featuring a pushable piece of staircase!

Our goal is to include a bunch of these optional things for the players to do while making their way through the ghost ship, as well as the side quests with the ghosts that we’ll be adding likely at a later date.

For now though, let’s take a look at how I move things around and create this rather simple puzzle thing:

As we come up with more of the ghosts that you’ll meet in the ghost ship, a couple of the rooms need to change a little to properly house them. This cabin for instance, which was left rather bland while we decided which ghost we wanted to stay in it, has now been turned into a singing diva ghost’s cabin:

And of course, with the addition of all of these ghosts, it’s time to start making portraits for them as well! Starting today with the pianist:

The next spirit portrait is that of an old lady! Sometime during the many years since the ship left harbour, she got separated from her husband. Will you be able to reunite them again?

In Fred’s animation department, there’s a bunch of more enemy details being worked on! The eerie painting can now spin around like a madma-… err madspirit, and there are some creepy eyeballs rolling around (ew):

For one of the puzzles there will be torches to light, and ghosts holding them up:

And also, a couple more friendly(ish) ghosts to live on the ship:

Hello guys! This post is one day late due to the easter holidays, so apologies for that. Hope you’ve had a great time :D

Now, last week was quite interesting in terms of game design discussions. Our original idea for the ghost ship was for you to battle the Captain two times, where the second encounter would be harder and more bullet hell-y as he’d be using some high tech equipment found on the ship. However, after a lot of discussions back and forth we’ve decided to try out new ideas for the second boss battle. The reason behind this is that we simply didn’t feel too excited about the attacks and patterns we’d come up with for the boss, and we kind of felt like something completely different might fit better gameplay wise.

So, because of this, we’ll start looking into a different type of boss, something that has more of a pattern since there will be enough bullet hell-y elements as is in this dungeon. Our most recent idea is to go with the theme of eyes that has been quite prominent in the ghost world so far, and use some sort of giant eye as a boss – more on that later after we got some prototypes up and running!

Because Teddy has been having some bonus time while he’s waiting for graphics, he’s been starting work on some Arcade Mode stuff; specifically a new type of challenge (or mode if you will) where everything is more randomized!

Specifically, this means when doing this challenge thing, you won’t level up normally, but you’ll get your skills and upgrades through chests and as drops from enemies:

Upon completing a floor you’ll get to choose from three upgrades as well, giving you some options on how to proceed with your build (keep in mind the graphics are still placeholder, we’ll come up with some fancier way of illustrating this):

We’re not yet sure when this mode/challenge will unlock, or when we’ll get to finish it, but the foundation is there now anyway! How do you guys feel about it? Excited for some more randomized factor in Arcadia, or do you think you’ll stick to the regular mode?

Continuing with the Arcade Mode intermission, it’s time to make some more of those rooms! To spice things up a bit in the desert floor(s), we’ll be having some cave rooms as well as those outdoor ones. They will not be as frequent as the others though, so I’m only making two different sizes for these!

For the foundation of the rooms, I’ll be using one of the math caves as a base:

And then, since these rooms will almost always lead back outside, I made a special exit that show the outside rather than darkness:

And here we have the two room sizes:

Now, for that new boss prototype I mentioned earlier! Teddy has put together something quickly with the help of some very basic placeholder art from Fred:

So one of the things with this eye boss is that it automatically forces you into the ghost world, where you’ll have to deal with all sorts of obstacles. After a while you’ll be able to swap back into the regular world – but only for a short while, so you better time it well!

The next thing it does is that it will spawn other eyes with different eye colors, which you have to eliminate in a certain order. Fail to do so (or do it too slowly) and you’ll get punished and take some damage:

Right now the eye simply tells you the order, but in the finished version you’ll get a different sort of hint, probably through the eye changing color or something like that:

Back in Arcade Mode it’s time to make a set of decorations for the different rooms that can be mixed and matched to create a lot of different room graphics. Our strategy for this is that I’ll make 3 different sets of decorations for each corner of every room size, which can then be mixed and match with the other corners, creating a ton of different combinations for each room.

As always, I use the editor to do these things, so that Teddy can easily add each of them into the engine:

Time to go over the rooms one more time and make a bunch of fixes! First up, making the room we made most recently slightly smaller, just to give it a feeling of being more crowded:

Secondly, roughing up the edges of the water part of the first boss battle room, so it doesn’t look as purposefully made:

Next, because of the mechanic allowing the player to fall down from ghost bridges in this room, I had to change the side of the hole slightly to make sure the player can’t fall down into it:

Also remade part of this background so that as the bookcase slides to the left to reveal the door upon completing the puzzle hidden inside, the floor shows the path accordingly:

And finally, added some numbers to the cabin room entrances, just to give it the feel of actually being cabins:

Now, after talking about it some more, we actually decided to make the small map room even smaller, and by quite a lot:

I made a painting of the ghost ship in its regular as well as its ‘spirit world’ version:

And also made a portrait that will be used later on in the captain’s room, featuring the captain himself. This time I started with the spirit world version, and went on to make make the regular world/human version:

And next, something small from the port town of Port Monnaie, adding a path to the left side entrance to the mayor’s house. At first we tried with a carpet, but we ended up going with the path since we thought it just looked a little bit better in the end:

Next up, it’s time to add some of those decorations Fred were playing around with to the rooms! I’ll start by adding them to the first floor to begin with, since we want to get that floor as completed as possible before moving on. Our hope is to be able to play through the first floor in its proper form asap, so we finally can get a real feeling for what everything’s supposed to be like before moving on.

So, here goes:

I definitely feel these decoration help with giving the ship a more… ship-y feel? And also makes quite a big difference in the detail level of each room as well. What do you guys think?

Now, finally it’s time to get up close and personal with the final enemy in the ghost ship: the crabs! They’ve been ‘finished’ for quite a while, but after we tested them Teddy removed the prototype room so I couldn’t record any gifs showing ’em off!

Now though, let’s take a look at these beasts:

Our inspiration for these guys were pretty much the boars, straight up. Just a semi-tanky enemy that can rush in and annoy you while you’re minding your own business. They also have some regular attacks, but if you stay too far away from them, chances are higher they will run in to mess you up, as seen above.

Upon defeating them, they will fall onto their back and disappear in the usual puff of smoke!

Unlike the other enemies in the ghost ship, the crabs are the only ones that work the same regardless of whether you’re in the ghost world or regular world. So, where the ghosts might become invulnerable or invisible in the regular world and gain increasingly powerful attacks in the ghost world, these guys will continue on as usual.

Meanwhile, Fred’s been busy making all kinds of creepy animations for the ship, taking the props I made and making them even more creepy by having them move (or making completely new and creepy animation we’ll stick here and there across the ship):

Which one’s your favorite? I think mine’s the first, featuring the lovely bag!

This week we’ll start off with ghostifying that room from before! Adding some tentacles, bones, spiders and other creepy stuff, let’s go, you know the drill by now:

And now, time for a bunch of details to be added here and there, things we’ve forgotten or decided to add. First up, a big hole in the mess hall, separating the room into two parts:

Second, a stairway leading upward from the room we finished yesterday (not super happy about how it looks right now so might come back to it later):

And thirdly, making the first room slightly bigger, as we discussed a while back. I’ll probably come back to this room as well at a later point and add more boxes and decorations, seeings as you won’t be fighting in this room:

Fred’s been working on a bunch of things, and one of those are the obstacles you’ll face throughout the dungeon. A while back ago we showed a prototype of eyes that open and blast you to death if you’re still in the ghost world when they look at you, and some graphic tests for that has been made:

He’s also been working on some prototypes for the flying masks that will deal damage to you in the ghost world (although we haven’t exactly decided 100% if they should be masks in the end, it’s nice to be able to have some actual graphics for it temporarily compared to the very temporary art made my Teddy):

We’ve also decided to spice things up a bit in terms of the overall decorations of the ship, making it feel a bit more like a ship (hopefully) compared to other areas. So we’ve made some borders, rounding out the entrances/exits between rooms, and we’ll continue playing around with further wall decorations as seen in the examples below:

Next up we have another room! Still a few left before the ghost ship is completed, but not that many. This room is part of the first floor and contains a puzzle that can only be solved after you get hold of the skill that allows you to pass into the spirit world:

Finally, here’s another bunch of stuff Fred’s been working on! Skulls, jumping bones and what have you, all coming together nicely for the boss fight:

Time to start working on those colors! This is gonna take a while since the ship is super huge, so I’ll split it in two parts (or however many are needed). In the first part we’ll be dealing with the basic colors, getting them down somewhat in any case. Might change them around later but it’s good to start with a base:

Obviously it’s gonna get a lot more detailed than this, and the water will be animated as well. We’re also considering changing the size of the upper front and back of the boat, making them bigger since they look kind of small right now. Oh well, onwards we go!

Time to take a look at what’s happening with the skeletons and discuss a piece of their design!

So one thing we’ve been wanting to do with our skeleton enemies is to give them a quirk where their head will fall off and become an enemy of its own, sort of like the Jumpkin from Pumpkin Woods; a pretty easy enemy that you just whack over a couple of time to get rid of, but that serves as an interesting game play element.

Because of this, Fred has started working on the skulls and what they’ll look like when they fall off and are brought to life on their own, and as he did so, we realized the square shape they currently have isn’t exactly ideal for what we want to do; it’s maybe a bit blocky and simple:

So to remedy this, we’ve now made a different, more regular looking skull, that we feel fit better:

While we do love the idea of the square head, it being a bit more original and all, we think this looks better overall. How do you guys feel?

So these last bunch of days we’ve been playing around with a bunch of new puzzle ideas for the ghost ship – we really want to mix things up and get some interesting use out of these mechanics. So, first thing we’ve tried is using the spirit world mechanic to make a burning ghost light candles for you.

Here’s a GIF showing our super early prototype:

Basically, the ghost ignores you while you’re in the regular world, and will start chasing you once you enter the spirit world, so your goal is to position yourself so that the ghost will pass over the lanterns (currently the white squares) and set them alight. Completing this task will open a door for you.

If you’re too slow however, the candles will stop burning and you need to set them alight again.

These ghosts will appear in other areas of the game as well where they will simply serve as an enemy/obstacle – you won’t be able to kill them, and as soon as you enter the spirit world they will chase you. I believe I might have mentioned them before in relation to the room with all the creepy bridges, where you’ll have to avoid them while making your way to the other end of the room.

The second mechanic we’ve been playing around with has been something slightly different, yet reminding of something we’ve used before. In Tai Ming we had puzzles where you had to kill statues in the right spot, so that they pressed a button for you. In this dungeon, we’ll do something similar.

Below is the WIP gif:

We use statues as the placeholder graphic here, but they will more likely be some kind of floating armors or some such.

The idea is that these armors only live while in the spirit world, where they follow a set pattern of movement. If you go back into the normal world, they will fall to the ground and remain still. So, the trick here is to adjust the timing of their pattern by hitting them a few times, so that when you return to the regular world, they will each fall on a button if you time it right.

This will be a bit clunky in multiplayer, but we’ve decided on going down the path where it’s enough for one person to be in the spirit world to make them move around. In the GIF above, the adjustments are pretty slim as you hit them, but in the final version we want each hit to make a bigger difference so that you really notice something happens to their patterns when you interact with them.

How do you guys feel about these new puzzle ideas? If you have any others, feel free to share!

Next we’ll start making one of the remaining rooms we’ve yet to finish up; the Mess hall! We’ve showed this room a couple of times already – it’s the room with the creepy bridges. In this first part we’ll get all the basics down, the correct walls and floors as well as some basic decorations; ropes, vines, boxes and so on.

There will be a bunch of floating tables here as well, but those we’ll save for another time. For now, here goes:

First of all after showing the lineart of the Ghost Ship exterior to Teddy and Fred and having some discussions, we’ve decided to change it in a couple ways. First, let’s take a look at what it looked like last:

First thing we wanted was to make the ship a bit higher, so with some quick editing here’s what we came up with:

Then we also wanted to make it longer, adding a broken mast to make sure the area you’ll be fighting in doesn’t get too big. Another sketch of that here:

So with these fixes in mind I went ahead and started with the reworks, also removing the door with the ladder and adding one from the left side instead:

And here’s the finished thing, ready to get colored (unless we decide on changing some more things):

Now, with the ghost ship progressing and most rooms actually already being finished, we’ve come to realize we’ve done something different with this dungeon that we haven’t done before, and we’re not sure it’s a good thing.

Usually we start off with sketches of every room and make sure we can run through each of them in a row, just like the dungeon would actually be, before we make the final art. This time however, because Teddy and Fred were so busy getting the last bits of the desert completed, we decided against that and had me work on making the completed rooms first thing. What that has lead to is that we have a lot of finished rooms, but we haven’t even had a possibility of running through the dungeon in its entirety yet as we usually do.

To remedy this, I’m going to take a break from the ghost ship exterior and focus on making quick sketches for the last bunch of rooms that haven’t been made yet, so that Teddy can put them all into the game and we can try it out and see what it feels like.

That was one of the things we discussed in today’s meeting. The other thing was that strange section I’ve mentioned before, where you’ll find yourself awaken back in Startington, but it’s a Startington that’s weird and kind of off. Previously, we wanted 4 mini “challenges” or events to take place here, but for now we’ve settled for three – each one representing obsession, expectations and deceit. These three elements are key to the story in various ways, and by adding these ‘challenges’ / cutscene things we’d like to put some emphasis on that. The deceit one is still in the sketching phase but will likely involve the artifacts you’ve been collecting in some way… Stay tuned for more on that ;)

…. and here they are! The fantastic sketches made for the remaining rooms of the ghost ship dungeon!

The puzzle one is very unclear right now since we haven’t decided exactly what kind of puzzle we want in there right now. Previously we wanted it to be one of those puzzles where you get chased by something in the ghost world, as I mentioned earlier, but now we’re kind of feeling like putting in a phase shift puzzle instead – can’t have enough of those, right?

The rest of the day we’ve been playing through the dungeon, each room now added by Teddy in a strange world with no colliders or enemies whatsoever, imagining what it’ll all be like when it’s finished. The short of it is that we kind of wish we had done this earlier, but alas, here we are. We got a ton of notes on things to fix now at least, which I’ll be talking about shortly.

Overall though, I think it’ll be fine – it’s a bit of a strange dungeon (but then again, so was Tai Ming), but thanks to the ghost world mechanic and the enemies I think it’ll be interesting.

So the first thing we decided to change when running through the dungeon was the size of the first room – always amazing when your first big change is in the first place you see, right? We felt this room was a bit small and didn’t give the proper introduction to the ship as a big and creepy place the way it should.

Same thing with one of the rooms on the third floor – previously we’ve been making a lot of too large rooms so I started making them a lot smaller since I always overestimated the sizes. Turns out I’ve gone too far the other way not instead, haha! Oh well, for this room it will be an easy fix since it hasn’t even been properly made yet.

Next, there’s a room where we thought we’d have some sort of bullet hell thing going on, but we’ve decided to change that for two reasons: one being that the boss already has a lot of bullet hell elements, and second, the room would be a nice opportunity to embrace the creepiness factor of the world instead. So, instead of an exciting bullet hell, there will be some creepy examining things in an abandoned ghastly kitchen, trying to figure out where a lost key is.

Other than that, there have mostly been minor edits and changes to make, such as more details in some rooms and added features in others, like a bookcase that will fire books at you, and possibly an encounter with a possessed refrigerator and oven – it depends on how further testing goes.

This whole dungeon is pretty strange right now as it’s very finished but also very unfinished, many of the rooms are ready but the encounters and puzzles are not. It’s possible we may need to redesign some parts if the puzzles we want to make don’t work out, but we’ll see! Needless to say, right now we’re doing a lot of discussing and testing back and forth, so we’ll see where things end up when all is said and done.

Meanwhile in Fred’s department, it’s time to finish up the crab enemy! We’ve designed this in a way that is kind of similar to the boar, which I think will become apparent once we start prototyping it. For now, here’s a bunch of its animations during battle:

So cute! I personally think this might be the cutest enemy of the game. Who agrees with me?!

Time to start working on those cabins! Six in total, and here’s the first one. Let’s go:

The next cabin is pretty much a mirror of the first one, but with some different decoration. You’ll reach it from the cabin to the left of it, and exiting it from the bottom door will get you back in the corridor below, but at a place you couldn’t reach before.

The third cabin has a platform leading to a higher level! How intriguing! The room on the right of this hasn’t been designed yet, but we have a few ideas for a sort of ‘puzzle’ (actually more like a challenge, I guess), where you’ll have to go back and forth into the spirit world to avoid some dangerous ghosts!

Now it’s time to start working on the three bottom cabins, starting with the one on the far left. As with the top two, this one will be connected to its neighbor. Other than that, not much to say about this one!

Of course, we’re not only working on backgrounds for the Ghost Ship. There’s still some enemy stuff to do, one of them being designing the last enemy! So let’s take a look at what Fred has been doing:

Congratulations, it’s a crab! We really wanted one enemy that would just be a “normal” kind of enemy without any fancy spirit world mechanics, and what better thing to put on a ghost ship than a killer crab? (don’t answer that)

As you might guess, the final design we went for is the one within the green circle. Stay tuned for all its fancy animations!

Meanwhile in the programming department, Teddy’s started working on the first boss battle! We’ve made a bunch of prototype attacks and patterns, some which can be seen below:

Here you can see the skull walls that force you out of the ghost world, which we’ve shown before in a regular enemy prototype. He also throws a bunch of cannonballs at you; has a dash attack and, of course, a regular whack with the sword.

In the second one you can see two other attacks we’ve been working on; one being some kind of menace that whirls around the room (though we’re not 100% sure about this one yet).

The other is a big rock that gets lifted out of water (it currently spawns from nothing, since the actual boss room with the water isn’t made yet), and as it gets thrown into a wall or some other such thing, it gets broken into a bunch of smaller pieces the player has to avoid. Right now the broken-up pieces use some old bullet hell-type graphic asset, but that won’t be so in the proper version, of course.

We’ve actually not sure whether we want it to be a rock or some sort of water-ball (or something like that). Another option we had was for it to be a ball of all kinds of stuff he pulls out of the water and merges together, but to be honest we kind of feel that one might be a bit too much work to get nice enough. The experiments continue!