The final building to improve in on the previous batch is the Blacksmith’s, which has been in dire need of some graphics updates for quite a while! Without further ado:

And with that batch out of the way, what’s next? Another one, of course! Slowly finishing up Evergrind itself, it’s time to start looking at the places surrounding it, such as Evergrind South and West!

When it comes to the farmer’s shop itself, we’ll do what we’ll do for the Arena reception room and the Dojo in Evergrind – swap it out for its arcade version:

Because I’ve been doing a lot of work in Evergrind already, I thought it might be refeshing to take a break from it all and go to a place a bit further south! Time to make some improvements to Robin’s house:

Evergrind West is getting a ton or more greenery as well! While I didn’t make any new unique props for this upgrade so far, I still think the difference between the original version and the improved one is pretty massive! The old one looks pretty bare and unfinished in comparison, in my opinion anyway:

Next up in the improvement spree: the school! This place needed a bit more detail (what sort of school is this where every single desk is empty?) and some fresh new furniture! Take a look:

Next up, some more Evergrind Improvement plans! Another batch of these things, mainly wanting to upgrade the overall graphics for each of these areas but also add some stuff and spice things up:

Meanwhile, these two buildings will be fully replaced by their Arcadia versions, which were made much later on and feature much better art:

So, first up in this new batch of improvements we have the waiting room in the arena! To start with, this room felt a bit too big and empty, so we’re making it smaller and more compact, adding more benches for people to sit at and some things added to the walls for their reading pleasure as they eagerly await the next match. Other than that, the graphics have been touched up overall, so the room feels as fresh as the newer parts of the game:

Next, the hat shop! This place needs a bit more color, some updated graphics and just some more details. I might go back and change some of the colours of this house further on so it’s colour scheme isn’t as close to the cafes, but we’ll see!

And now, the garden and its surrounding area! Here I wanted to add some more flowers, update the fountain graphics and the fence behind the alchemist’s house, as well as some details. The benches have also been updated as well to fit the more clean style of the later parts of the game:

Fred, meanwhile, has been working on some new animations for Captain Bones, where he seems awfully… Distraught? Whatever could be happening to him?

We also started making a test for the weather effect we’d like for the battle with Luke, adding some rain to give the battle a more epic feel (plus we haven’t really had any weather effects before, so about time!):

Next up, the plushie collector’s house! I’m adding a couple more plushies, but the rest I think we’ll add as they get added into the game: so whatever plushies you give her will appear in the house after you’ve handed them over. In other words, I’ll return to this house later on, once all of the plushies have been made :)

And now, the area surrounding the smithy! This time I’ll be focusing on the space around the smithy building, saving the laundry and adding some decorations to the café upper floor later on:

Time for the alchemist’s shop to get a bit of an upgrade as well! I decided to keep the worn out look of some of the props here, to make the house feel a bit old and worn out. Also added a bunch of more things to make the place seem a bit more cluttered, and some bonus carpets and vines for a touch of color:

The café looks rather drab and boring as well, so it’s time to spice it up a bit! More colors, better rendered props, a touch of mint (the color), and some new things on the walls:

Didn’t take too long, it’s already time to look back on the ghost ship a little bit! Some minor changes and addition have been added here and there, starting with making the globe resemble the world map a slight bit more:

As well as settling for a zone name, which we decided would be The Lost Ship:

Also been working on a few upgrades to the Luke portrait, featuring a shirt that now more closely resemble his sprite, some anatomy fixes and a bit thicker outline here and there!

Time to plan out some more of the improvements needed for the Evergrind part of the game! Of course, the houses that use the old version of the Startington furniture needs to get the upgraded versions of that:

The area around the Smithy looks rather dull and the laundry hanging to dry could definitely be drawn better:

The entire café looks pretty outdated, so gonna have to do some revamping there as well:

And same for the alchemist’s house, where I’d like to add even more clutter, some wild plants and other things to liven things up a bit and make it seem less drab and abandoned, and more like the colorful abode of a crazy alchemist:

So starting off with the first improvement batch, time to upgrade this little house, the first you see as you enter Evergrind City:

We’ve also had another meeting discussing the final dungeon! We have a bunch of ideas for specific challenges and rooms now. Some of the new ideas are as follows:

* A phase shift puzzle where you have to catch x number of items in a certain amount of time. Sort of inspired by the torch puzzle we’ll have in the ghost ship where you need to light a certain number of torches in a short amount of time; here you need to get a hold of x pieces of a key (or something like that) in order to unlock the next room.

* A slime encounter where you get to battle every type of slime in the game! When you’ve killed them all, the goo they left behind will merge together into 4 bigger slimes, which will provide more of a challenge. After defeating these slimes, they will merge together into a rainbow giga slime, which will be a much more difficult version of the giga slime fight!

* A room surrounded by a ghostly essence that comes to life when you enter the ghost world (which you must in order to kill a number of ghost guardians) – for ever second you’re in the ghost world, the ghostly essence will grow bigger and bigger and will hinder your movement and will end up damaging you

* An encounter with enemies from across the game and a master wizard that will turn them all into elites

* A room where you’ll be trapped within 4 guardians that are connected with their laser beams; their movements will determine the size and shape of the space where you can move. Meanwhile you have to dodge a bullet hell, possibly summoned by phaseman!

* A challenge room with either Gifts of Presents (or both), which will eat a key and it’s your goal to find and defeat the one who ate it.

* An overgrown room in which you’ll battle every plant enemy in the game, ending with a short guest appearance from the power flower

… and more! Needless to say, we’re getting more excited about this final dungeon by the minute. Hope you are too! :)

Now it’s time for another look at Luke’s boss battle! It’s coming together quickly now, with a bunch of his attacks being mixed and match to create an interesting pattern for the first stages of his fight that will be unique every time:

Some of the effect graphics have been improved since the last time as well, and I feel like it already looks pretty good (with the exception of the placeholder background, hehe – I’ll get to that eventually)!

 

What we want now is to amp up the second part of the fight. We already know he will enter berserk mode at a certain point, but aside from that we want to mix it up a bit so it’s not just the same (random) mix and match combo patterns for the entirety of the fight. We have a couple of ideas for ‘bigger’ attacks that we’ll try out in the near future though, so we’ll see how that ends up!

And here we have a closer look at a bunch of those fancy Luke animations:

Exciting times!

So, new week and new Monday, which brings with it another meeting! This time around we’ve talked a lot about the near future, basically where we’re heading from here and what’s the most important on our to-do lists.

For Teddy and Fred, this mainly means the Luke battle and the cutscenes directly after and a final one leading up to where Frontline will end this time.

For me, there’s a lot more improvements to the earlier stages of the game, particularly around Evergrind City and the like.

And for all of us, it’s still the quest for the perfect final dungeon. We’ve already had a bunch of meetings discussion a variety of ideas, but seeing as we want a lot of floors, there’s still some work to be done and more floor ideas to shape – and eventually, actual floors to design. This week our homework is the sit down for 20 minutes to an hour here and there and create those ideas, so that next week we have even more of them to discuss. This will continue on while we finish up the rest of the ship until we have enough ideas, and eventually, proper designs, that we can make a whitebox sketch version of the final dungeon which we can run through and try out without the mechanics being implemented yet.

The main thing we want to avoid is one of the pitfalls that made work on the Ghost Ship such a struggle; in every other previous case where we designed an area or a dungeon, we had a clear design in mind before we actually started making the proper graphics. With the Ghost Ship, we did a whole ton of just winging it and designing as we went on, and it’s fair to say that designing a dungeon like that didn’t work out as well for us as the other way at all. So – no more of that, and more pre-design like we did before! With some luck, we won’t struggle as much this time, and it won’t be as long before an update hits ever again (touch wood) :)

Now, while I’m quite done with Ghost Ship stuff for now, there’s one ghost I have a feeling we’ll get to see at some point so I thought I might as well ghostify her portrait now while I’m kind of in the zone with the ghost stuff!

Who? Tannie of course!

Of course, I have no proof we’ll actually ever use this portrait, I suppose it depends on where we decide to take certain quests or side quests, but we’ve been talking so much about it that the chance seems pretty darn high she will appear in some shape, at some time…

Now, with all of the other Startington houses having new and fresh graphics, it’s beyond time that the player’s own house get a bit of an upgrade as well! Without further ado:

Next up, another part of the player’s house in Startington we can’t forget about; your own room! Like the rest of Startington, it’s about time it gets the appropriate visual upgrade:

In Luke’s boss fight, we’re working on the level of destruction that will take place as he slams into the ship with his unparalleled strength! We’re currently choosing between three options – one where the cracks disappear quickly:

One where they remain a little while:

And one where they could potentially remain forever:

Right now we’re leaning towards the middle option. What do you guys think? :)

So, time for some Spookington fixes! First up, a couple new expressions for some of the characters you’ll meet there, namely Jonathan (cured of his cough!) and Luke’s mom (who is a little concerned):

The pathway up to Spookington felt a little claustrophobic so we’re turning it into utter darkness, as far as the eye can see:

And as part of the mechanics on this town, we’ll be using a couple globes, which in this version were what we’d like to call programmer art, now replaced with the real deal:

Finally, adding some more stuff to your childhood home in this Spookington version, making it a bit more messy:

Next up on my list of things is putting someone in that ghostlike shop to manage business there! It took a while for us to decide on a design for this guy; should he be human, a ghost, or something else entirely? In the end though we decided to go for something of a shadowlike demonic creature, just to mix things up a bit lore wise (plus it would be cool to design an actual creature based off of the darkness we’ve introduced this far in the ghost ship).

Without further ado:

Some minor adjustments to the Startington Spooky version, featuring more clutter, stacks of books, and a mysterious night sky:

Next up, what I now honestly believe will be my final contribution to the Ghost Ship for now (or at at least until we finalize the boss battle and I’ll have to make any changes to the boss area and such): Luke’s boss portrait!

And now it’s time to take a look at what’s cooking with the Luke battle! The prototyping stage is in full swing, and we’re currently experimenting with a set of attacks and combos for him to throw at you:

No Grindea battle is complete without a bit of dodging as well, so naturally what other skill would Luke master than Smash:

So far so good, we’re feeling quite excited about this battle and hope you guys will too… :)

For those of you who have opted into Steam’s client beta, you’ll have noticed that there’s a new library style in the works, which calls for new and improved graphics to showcase each game. For starters, here’s what the header of each game looks like now, and more specifically what the default was and how we changed it around adding our own graphics:

Unfortunately for us, being a pixel game and all, the automatic resizing won’t do us many favours, but it could be worse!

You library has a more clean view featuring cover art as well, like so:

How do you guys find this new library update? Do you like it or not? I think the best bit is how more visually satisfying it is to browse your library, seeing all of the juicy cover art all lined up! And of course, it’ll only get better as more and more games add these new graphics :)

Next it’s time for a bunch of smaller graphic assets needed here and there throughout the game! Starting off with a super cute very scary chest:

And a skeleton key, because which ghost ship would be complete without them:

For this room, we added some spooky decorations on a wooden board to give the players a hint there might be something there if you swap over to the ghost world:

We also weren’t quite happy with how fresh and clean these shelves looked, so we wore them down a bit:

Finally, a couple expressions for the captain, to give the cutscenes a bit more oomph:

Speaking of expressions, here are some more, featuring the rest of the main story cast in the Ghost Ship:

And since we decided to put Pine in one of the cabins, we thought we’d put in a bunch of Flying Fortress decorations in there as well:

Finally, let’s take a look at some animations for the final boss of the dungeon… Our dear friend Luke!
First up a bunch of sketches for what he could look like in this boss version:

And the first batch of animations made for him combo’d together:

Another week has gone past and more plans have been made for the final dungeon! As homework over the week we decided that each of us had to come up with two ideas for things that could happen in the various floors of the dungeons. When we met up again it became clear that each of us was quite divided between two various ways of dealing with the dungeon: either as a pure gameplay mechanical experience, or one where old friends from the rest of the game return in various ways, allowing for more story focused floors.

One such thing we’d like to include is the ghost of Tessen, whom you met in Tai Ming, as well as Naniva helping you out with the Temple of Seasons floor. A couple weeks ago I mentioned a beast of some kind that will resummon bosses for you to fight – in one such idea we’d like a resummoned winter that wreacks havoc on the Seasonne floor, adding icy winds or spikes for you to deal with aside from fighting the regular enemies.

For Pillar Mountains, we have ideas of adding your mother in some way, and in the Ghost Ship floor reintroduce some other old ghosts from Tai Ming, namely those of Sizou and Mana. However, all of these are just in the idea stage at the moment – so we’ll see how many of them (if any) end up in the final design of the dungeon.

Gameplay wise we’re trying to spice up each of the floors a bit by adding elements or enemies from other areas of the game. One example of such an idea is to have a Phase Shift puzzle in the Flying Fortress floor, where you have to change the layout of the course by using season orbs that will change the various blocks; causing roots to overgrow some, while others are revealed.

We’ve also finally played through the Ghost Ship up to the very last portion of it (the creepy Startington and the last boss battle of the dungeon). This portion of the game takes us about 1 and a half hour to complete, and even though it’s taken us a very long time, we’re really happy with how the dungeon looks and feels at this point. It also has some of our top favourite boss fights, so we hope you’ll enjoy those as well!

Next up for us will be to complete the creepy Startington portion and boss fight, which are both now well under way before we can finally upload it all to Frontline. Hang in there guys! :)

Meanwhile, let’s take a look at the creation of one of the final rooms in the Ghost Ship – the Phase Puzzle room! Here’s where Kailan, the Flying Fortress engineer from ancient times, has set up a Phase Puzzle course for you that you need to pass to get to the eye boss!

We’re starting with the basics, following a sketched designed made by Teddy after he prototyped the puzzle:

Next we’re adding all of the Flying Fortress details, to give the room a more high tech feel to fit the Phase Puzzle course:

And after that, it’s time to make some Ghost Ship special phase shift blocks:

These blocks will only be visible in the ghost world, so better keep your wits about you when you try to phase through this challenge!

And, finally… Making the ghost world version of the room!

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 :)

Another week and more boss progress! There are so many things we could do with this boss that it’s difficult to choose which attacks and patterns we want to keep. One of the things we’ve done recently is working on tweaking one of the eye boss new attacks, featuring a barrage of eyes that will eventually explode! There are a bunch of sliders we can use to tweak this attack, and one of them is number of eyes:

..and also the shape of the explosion circles, below with a more circular shape:

The one above is probably closest to what we’re aiming for for now, but as with everything else this might be changed with more testing!

The latest iteration of the laser attack now also has proper lasers, and more eyes:

As you can see here, the trick is figuring out which eye colors are not present in the big eye, which will let you know which eyes won’t be firing the laser. To make this a little easier we’re also adding symbols to the eyes, making them easier to tell apart:

We haven’t decided exactly which of these symbols we’ll use yet, as we want to pick the ones that are the most clear from the side as well. Fred has already started playing around with what the eyes would look like from the side, but we’re not quite there just yet:

We know this boss (and the map in general) is taking ages to finish, but we’re determined to not let it go until each of us is fully satisfied with the fight, and we believe that once we’ve gotten to that point, it will all be worth it! Hopefully the third floor will be complete enough to run through and test very soon… :)

Meanwhile my work outside of the Ghost Ship continues with more improvements, and we’re slowly working out way down to Evergrind East; here’s a couple more of my sketches for more places we’ll improve upon:

And so we’ll start with the first two sketches, adding some more decorations first to the second Pillar Mountains map:

…and then we move to the area right before Evergrind City to spice up Evergrind East a little bit:

Next up, Evergrind City’s entrance itself, a slightly bigger job adding some decorations and making the wall more prominent: