Let’s start off this week with some more maps! These ones belong to the desert, and again, there’s two of each kind:

“East of the broken pillar, amidst the desert dunes”

“Well, well, well! It’s been a long (and hot!) day, but good luck ever figuring out where I hid this treasure!”

Next up is the portrait of a character you might have seen a bunch of times throughout the game, but who has never had an opportunity to speak… until now! Excited? Let me present to you yet another talking artefact:

Some more fixes for the stable release! An improvement of the sword portrait, some new battle indicators and a broken window in Ivy’s office! Oh my…

Now it’s time to add some additional expressions to some by now well known faces! Dad, Quinton and Ivy are some that are getting a whole new range of emotion for the final cutscene of this stable patch! What do you think is gonna happen? :)

I know it’s been a long time now since you got any updates from the animation side of things, and let’s just say it’s because this final cutscene, animation heavy as it is, is also quite spoilery. Things will be revealed, and some things might never be the same again. So we’re keeping away as much of it as possible for now. We’ve made quite a bit of progress though, so at least it’s progressing as it should.

Here’s a little sneak peek of some of the non spoiler-y animations:

What do you think is gonna happen? :)

With the library finally added to the game, it’s been time for us to think about the books one might find in the game, and how we’d like to present them. One such option is displaying books as actual books, and I decided to experiment a little with such a presentation.

Here’s the outside:

…and the inside of a book, with some sample text:

Our dream is that a transition between the pages will be animated as well, so it’ll give you a feel of turning the pages of the book. While we haven’t confirmed how viable this look will be in the end (it might take a lot of work to fit the texts we have in mind into these book templates) this is what we’re aiming for right now! My dream is that small notes and such will be displayed on boxes that have the shape of paper scraps as well, rather than the usual brown box. But we’ll see!

And now that the last of the Ghost Ship stuff is finalized, it’s time to go back to doing improvements for the older areas! And this time, we’ll take a look at the southern entrance to Evergrind City:

We’ve also had another long meeting day, planning in what order to finish the remaining content. We had a discussion whether to finish up Arcade Mode before Story Mode, or to try to finish up as much as possible of it without giving it it’s proper ending (involving an unique Arcade boss and a couple of cutscenes!) until all of the story mode content has been added. For now, we’re aiming for the latter, with our next big priority after finishing everything related to Stable being the final boss designs.

There are four unique bosses left to make, three for Story Mode and one for Arcade Mode (that will be Arcade Mode unique). There’s also another, fourth ‘special’ boss for Story Mode that will draw on powers you’ve seen before during your journeys (basically it’s main power will be summoning previous bosses)!)

The reason why we want to focus on this once Fred has finished up things for the final cutscene of this update is that bosses usually take a very long time to get right, both in terms of design and then to finish up all the animations as well. By starting our design work on the bosses as soon as possible, it will give us a lot of time to fix any issues that might appear, and gives Teddy and Fred a chance to struggle with that while I work on backgrounds for the final dungeon!

Speaking of the final dungeon, we still need to get going with finalizing the design for it. We’re still aiming to have all or at least most areas and dungeons represented in rooms and challenges of their own, but we haven’t yet decided exactly how long to make each floor. We don’t want it to end up being too long; but long enough to provide an interesting and exciting experience.

Meanwhile, we’ve also received a massive sound batch, so we’re now in the process of choosing the sound effects from the options given us and implementing those! Exciting times indeed; we think you’ll be very happy with the sounds overall – we know we are! :)

Another thing we’re working on is turning those Ghost Ship floors into Arcade Mode rooms!

There will be four room sizes, and each of them will have 4×4 types of decorations. What that means is that there’s four different options for each corner in the room, much like in previous Arcade Floor designs. So essentially, the top left part (the left side of the wall) of each room can be 1 out of 4 options and combines with any of the 4 decoration options for the other parts of each room. Mix and matching this way will make the rooms more different from one another, and will hopefully reduce the repetitive feeling of going through the rooms.

Below is a bunch of options for the decorations combined together, with the top left picture being the room without any of the decorations at all. As always, each room won’t have doors in every direction; but I’ve kept them around now for clarity:

And here we have two more room sizes, also ready to be mixed and matched! Looking forward to battling your way through these floors yet? :D

It’s a new week, and if you’ve opted into the Frontline Beta, a new update! It’s finally time for you to try out a bunch of the additional content surrounding the ghost ship and good old Tai Ming! If you haven’t done so yet, go try it all out and let us know what you think :)

In the coming month we hope to have added the last bits needed as well as all of the sound effect and getting it all up and running on stable as well.

In the meanwhile, have a look at some of the stuff you now get to see in this update:

As you may have guessed from the new Flying Fortress building and what I wrote before, there is another phase shift challenge coming up! This one can give you a total of three different rewards, each one more challenging to get than the next. And naturally, it needs a background as well:

In this next step we’re adding a bit of detail to the phase shift course, creating a new block for it, and a shop title for the creepy ghost ship shop!

Next up, another ghost! This painter has been painting for a thousand years. Poor guy!

Drawing ever closer to finishing up the patch, there are still a bunch of expressions needed for our new ghost friends! Here’s another batch of them:

And finally, a bunch of animations from the animation department, featuring ghosts and new weapons available in the patch right now:

This week we’ll start with a bonus building added to the flying fortress! This building will replace the island on the right part of the fortress and will, though a quest unlocked after the ghost ship, give you an opportunity to do some more phase shifting (yay)!

Later on I’ll show you what the progress of creating the insides looks like… :)

But first, something about a long awaited addition! We know a lot of you have been asking for an easy way to change the controls, whether you use a keyboard or a controller. We’ve already implemented the mechanics for changing the controls on a keyboard, and while we want to add the feature for the controller as well, for now it’ll remain a WIP.

However, if you do have a controller plugged in, you’ll soon be able to see what each of the buttons do, with the help of this new graphic:

Without further ado:

To make it a bit more readable, we decided to move the second set of buttons behind the first ones, since that’s how it looks on most controllers – even if this makes the design of the controller graphics itself look a bit less nice. Also added the spaces where the function of each of the buttons will be described:

Next up, another character that will return in a ghostly form! Remember this collector from Tai Ming? She’ll return and feature a little side quest/secret of her own:

This old priest makes an appearance as well, drawn back to the haunting village of Tai Ming after his death:

Brandy will play a pretty big part in a quest/secret as well, are you looking forward to seeing him again?

Now it’s time to start building what will be the final dungeon of the game! Wohoo! Starting us off, let’s begin with some exterior (gotta enter the dungeon somehow, right?).

In this first part, I’ll get the basics down, and some of the decoration; to be fixed and expanded upon in the next:

And here in the second part we’ll improve on the perspective a little bit, add some more details, and a top for the tower! Each floor can be seamlessly put on top of another, so when the tower appears (it’ll come up out of the ground) we’ll stack the floors on top of each other to make the tower seem super tall!

Can’t forget those furniture pieces! With you reaching the ghost ship it’s time to unlock a bunch of furniture stuff for the housing system, so here’s the first batch of basic stuff (more to come!):

In part two we move on from the basic stuff such as beds and wallpapers to more random, specific stuff and decorations! How about having a cannon in your house? Who wouldn’t want that! All of these items appear somewhere in the ghost ship and have been modified in size and/or color to fit the housing system:

Still some portraits to make though, and here we have one featuring a ‘doctor’.. Of a sort! As you can tell from his ghastly shape, he’s one of the poor restless souls and can found in the Ghost Ship:

Another week and another planning meeting! This time around we’ve decided on more new items to be made, some relevant for the remaining quests, as well as some housing items you’ll be able to purchase! Among these will be a painting of the ghost ship (which you’ve already seen on the ship), an old book, a boat ticket, a skeleton fish you can hang on the wall, and the head of captain bones, which is a pretty crazy idea we’ve had where you can get his head to follow you around and do his magic to help you out… Not 100% it’ll actually make the cut yet but I know a couple of us would be quite excited if it did :)

We’ve also decided we’re gonna (finally!) add the library for this next update. The library has been made (and remade) a couple times already while never having been actually implemented for players to explore, but now that we’re drawing near the game’s finish and it’d serve as an useful location related to one of the quests we’re working on, it’s finally time to add it to the game.

Remember how we said we wanted to have finished making these assets before the end of the month? Well, because of these new additions (and the number of animations it turns out we needed for the final cutscene of the patch), it’s likely we’ll not make that deadline, so here’s one more example of how impossible it is to plan how long something’s gonna take when you don’t want to skim on the polish. Sure, we could have finished this patch without adding many animations to the final cutscene or kept that quest out of the library, but it simply wouldn’t have been as good!

Now, after all of our meetings discussing items, it’s time to create a batch! Here’s a little progress video featuring six of the items; a skull ring, a pirate captain’s hat, a spider trinket, a boat ticket, an old book, and the drop appearance for the painting of the ghost ship!

And now, back to some more ghostified portraits! First up, the guard:

Next, one of the collectors you met during your travels through Tai Ming:

…and another one of those:

In this week’s meeting, we’ve continued to discuss what manner of things need doing before a stable release. Among such things have been deciding on reward items for a variety of quests, as well as the last remaining chest items.

One such reward we’ve decided upon is another fancy trinket, which will summon spiders to appear around you, and a skull accessory that gives you a lot of bonus damage but will also cause you to take a lot more damage as well!

We also decided upon the proper places for each of the items (which item is rewarded for each quest, and which item can be found where), and that the ghastly salesman will be selling demonic-looking furniture for you house.

Perhaps most importantly, we went through the final cutscene, deciding exactly how it’s gonna play out so that Fred can start making animations for it – however, due to spoiler reasons, I’ll try to not say too much about that part for now.

What I can say though, is something completely unrelated, which is that in order to make more use of the give-an-item-to-an-NPC mechanic we’ve decided to add a new ‘system’, if you will, where some NPCs will be looking for something and you’ll be prompted to provide them with a suitable item. These won’t be actual quests as you don’t know exactly what you’re looking for (the NPCs may not even know themselves what it is they need), and the indicator for an NPC being in need of something will be that they’re talking to themselves or the player using speech bubbles – like Haddock as he gives you your fishing rod! The alternative would have been to use the blue exclamation mark, but we feel it doesn’t quite fit what we want, and the speech bubbles might also serve to make the towns and NPCs seem a bit more alive.

In relation to that, we’ll also be changing the ‘secret’ early on in the game with the tree stump where you can place carrots, giving it an examine button instead of the blue exclamation mark, and instead of having to collect 20 carrots you’ll need to figure out what item to put on it. To help the player figure out which item is needed we’ll probably make a carving of a carrot on the stump or some equal quite easy hint – it will be one of the first times the player comes across the system after all, and it will serve as a nice tutorial for it, we think!

We’re not completely sure whether these new additions will make it into the stable patch yet, but they’ll definitely be added before the release of the proper game.

While I now have a bunch of additional things to make for the stable patch, I have some spare time while Teddy and Fred is creating animations and ironing out bugs. I’ll make use of that time by making sketches and ideas for the next part of the improvement spree, now taking us all the way down to Pumpkin Woods:

Now though, it’s time to focus on getting those ghostly portraits out! There will be a bunch of ghosts for you to interact with in Tai Ming, and the girl with the ball is one of them:

The gardener tending to the zen garden of the first Tai Ming map is another:

And here we have Hikaru, the sword salesman of Tai Ming, stuck in her stand for all eternity… :/

More next week!

Happy New Year everyone! First of all, thank you so much for your encouraging comments on the patch! We’re happy you like it, and we’ll continue ironing out the bugs as you find them! Sounds are on their way as well, and that little bit of polish left before a stable release. Hope you’ve had a splendid start to the year; for us, it’s finally back into action so let’s jump right into it!

We’ll begin this new year with improving the Dojo exterior of Evergrind City, adding the version of the building that’s found in Arcadia (with a few edits), and upgrading the look of the fence and the practice dummies:

With all of us back in the office and a new year upon us, it seemed time to sit down and have a discussion of what’s next to come. This is the first in a series of meeting we’ll have over the coming days, the rest of which I’ll detail in the coming week(s), where we’ll try to make a plan for the coming year so it’ll be a bit more structured – and hopefully more efficient than the previous one.

Our first order of business is to sort out a plan for getting the stable update up and running, so today we made a list of what needs to be made:

* A few more sound effect requests videos, where we record what animations need sound and explain approximately what’s happening or what sort of effect we’re looking for. We’ve already requested most of the sound effects, which are currently in progress of being made by awesome Fark, but there are a few remaining one that we need from things added after we sent the first batch to him.

* Come up with and design the items found in the chests around the ships, a total of four different items. We had some ideas before but we’ll finalize it before making the actual items.

* Finish the ghost quest given by the bartender: aside from the three main quest ghosts, there will be a bunch of optional ghosts you can help regain their memories and gather in the main hall.

* A pet skull

* Effects for the cards; again, we have some ideas, but haven’t finalized them.

* A proper cutscene to end the stable version; there will be one more part of the story which will launch you on your quest to the final dungeon, after which the true ‘to be continued’ will appear.

* Make ghosts around the areas with graves such as the graveyard in pumpkin woods, the lonely grave in Seasonne and some proper ghost versions of the characters still remaining in Tai Ming.

* Add Pine’s office to Flying Fortress

Once these are all up and running we should be happy enough to release the update on stable – after some additional testing, of course. Our aim is to get this out around the end of the month, though some of the things will likely take a while to finish up due to their complex nature, such as the final cutscene of this patch. Fingers crossed!

First though, continuing on with the Evergrind fixes! This time around it’s time for the HQ to get a bit of a touch up:

And before we move on, time to go back and do some quick fixes to some of the things not yet quite ‘there’. First up, adding more carpets to the school, so now everyone gets one of their own:

Can’t have too many carpets, so added one outside the café as well:

This laundry has been hanging here to dry forever, so time to change things around and make both new poles and new laundry (hopefully these will dry quicker ;)):

In the hat shop we added another mirror:

As well as updated the target practice outside Robin’s house:

In the animation department, Fred’s working on getting a bunch of ghosts ready with their proper animations, making the torch puzzles more visually pleasing:

So with those in place, the torch puzzles now look a bit more like this:

For the last post of this year, we’re able to bring you some positive news: there’s a Frontline Update featuring the Ghost Ship!! That’s right, the Ghost Ship is finally live on the frontline version of the game, so please go check it out if you haven’t already! As always, we’d love to hear any and all of your feedback, please let us know what you think :)

With this out of the way, we’ve been taking a lot of time to look back at the year that has gone past and talked about what we’ve done, what should have been done, and what could have been done better. While we’ve never been truly satisfied with the amount of output for the game, 2019 has been especially poor. To be completely honest, none of us can believe we haven’t managed to properly release the ghost ship yet, and we’re far from happy with the time it’s taken.

A lot of things have happened during this year, both around work and for us personally, but it’s hard to make any excuses. At some points it kind of felt like we had started all over again, losing the ability to plan and design properly the way we did before, making the Ghost Ship a trial and error mess where we had to remake and redesign a lot of stuff before it got to the point where it is now.

While we’re incredibly happy with the dungeon now (I think we all agree it features two of our favourite bosses), we’re absolutely nowhere close to happy with the amount of time it’s taken us to get to this point. Our mistake with the way we initially designed the dungeon (randomly making rooms instead of making a complete whitebox version to run through featuring all of the elements), is partly to blame, partly indecision and poor boss ideas that didn’t turn out as well as we’d thought. In the end, we should have had a clearer vision of the dungeon from start to finish before we started making all of the assets for it.

I know a lot of you are getting impatient with us, and trust us, we understand and we see your comments; we know. We feel you. But, as much as I’m disappointed with the time it has taken for the dungeon to reach this point, I’m also happy we’ve taken the time to do it the right way instead of releasing something that isn’t up to our standards. Yes, the game could have been completed by now; it could probably have been completed years ago. But it wouldn’t have been the same game, and it wouldn’t have been something I could have stood behind a 100%. To quote Shigeru Miyamoto, one of the people who inspired me to become a dev in the first place: “A delayed game is eventually good, a rushed game is forever bad.” While this isn’t completely true in these days where a lot of games are digital releases that do a lot of post release patches (in no doubt we will do those too; if nothing else to add bonus content), it wouldn’t feel right to release something bad when we all feel it’s so far from the vision we had.

However, thanks to all of you who have supported us (thank you so much), we still have the funds to keep on working, and to keep making it better. We’re determined to make Grindea the best game it can be: we love this game and we don’t want to release it before it’s something we can honestly say we’re proud of. Obviously there will always be things that could be done better, and by saying this I don’t mean we’ll continue working indefinitely on improving things in a never ending cycle; I’m just saying that we want each part of the game to reach a certain treshold before we’ll call it done. The Ghost Ship has taken an unfortunate amount of time to reach that point, and for next year, we’re gonna do our very best to make sure not to fall into the same traps we did with this. Every mistake is a learning experience, and while the process of making this dungeon hasn’t been the best, we’ve thankfully learned a lot from it.

So, as the year is starting to draw to an end, I want to take this opportunity to thank all of you who still support us, whether it’s financially through buying the game or mentally by your encouraging and lovely comments. Thank you for being with us on this journey, and know that no matter what, even if it may take a while, we’re not gonna let you down. I’m sorry it’s been taking this long.

One more dungeon to go after this. Let’s do it!

Now, with all that out of the way, let’s take a look at some of the things we’ve been working on this week:

Last week you saw a sneak peek of the cutscene where Luke destroys one of the ship’s masts to use it as a barrier to keep the fighting area a decent size. Here are the assets and the work in progress of getting them to the state they’re in in the cutscene:

To make the ship feel a bit more old I got to make the railing a bit more worn down:

As one of the rooms got redesigned into a bigger version, I added some decorations to make it less empty:

There are now backgrounds for the character display and the enemy codex, featuring both the regular and spirit world versions of the ghost ship (not yet sure which version will be used or if they’ll both be used depending on whether you’re in the spirit world or not):

And finally… The addition of the ghost ship in the left corner of the world map:

A milestone if any… Can’t believe we’ve come this far! Each of the dungeons are now added to the map, except the last one. Which is, in a way, already there… Sort of :)

Of course, with Luke having a strange artefact in his possession (ha!), it’s only decent to give his portrait a bit of an upgrade and a ton more expressions! Not sure how many of these will be used but I wanted to give us plenty of options:

For comparison, here’s his default portrait:

Oof! Be kind to him, will you?

And finally, some animations from Fred and pieces of the cutscene where they row you to the ship:

And with that, merry christmas and a happy new year! The blog will be back again on the 13th of January, after we’ve been back at work for a week! :)

Today we’ve had an extremely long meeting detailing the very final bits of the Ghost Ship, namely a bunch of cutscenes and the things that will drop from the enemies!

There are three important cutscenes left to finish, and in order for Fred to be able to write down each animation he needs to make, we decided it was time to plan them out in detail. The first cutscene we discussed is the very first cutscene of the ship: when the Black Ferrets drop you off. This will be the last planned scene we have for the Black Ferrets, so we want them to go out with a bang (not a literal bang – don’t worry, you won’t have to fight them again). The second and third cutscenes are when you start your battle with Luke and what happens after you’ve (hopefully?) defeated him. To avoid spoiling too much, I won’t go into detail of how any of these cutscenes will unfold, but I think all three of them will be quite exciting!

As for the drops, here’s what we’ve come up with so far!

The skeletons will drop bones (no surprise there) and pieces of cloth (unique to each type of skeleton, so the warrior will have one piece of cloth drop and the mages another, each which you’ll be able to craft into their respective armours). The warrior skeletons will drop a two-handed scimitar and the mage skeletons will drop their own arms which can be used as a magic wand!

The Hauntie will drop purple ectoplasm, twilight core, fabric, and a new blindfold.

The crab will be a little different! It will drop a pincer (a one handed weapon), but aside from that it will only drop pieces of its armour; however, it will drop a lot of them! So whereas an enemy will usually only drop one of each item, the crabs will drop multiple of the same, which can then (once you have enough of them) be crafted into either an armour, a shield or a helmet!

Other than that, we’ve come up with a couple items to be found in the chests around the game: a skull housing item, a bottle of rum, and a pirate captain’s hat!

We’ve also jotted down some ideas for the enemy cards, and since we’ve more or less settled on the size of the area where you’ll battle Luke, it’s time for me to get back and do some more work on the ghost ship again! Exciting times :)

So, time to get on with the remaining ghost ship stuff! First up, getting that ship ready for battle! Aside from the changes seen in the gif below, we’ve also increased the ship’s size again by quite a bit from last time you saw it:

And now, some drop and equipment fiesta! First, the things that will get dropped by the skeleton enemies, plus a couple of Hauntie drops:

Next, some things dropped by the crab, a bottle of rum, a skull made for housing and the strange twilight core:

And finally, a bunch of equipment plus the appearance of the strange device that allows you to look into the ghost world!