Now, as I mentioned last week we’re doing a bit of an archery challenge in Arcade Mode, and as such I was tasked with making a mobile version of the archery challenge!

For now, this style will appear on each of the floors, but I have a crazy idea of making a special background and use different bush cutouts for each floor, if I manage to find the spare time for it!

Next up, some additions and changes to the transmutation GUI! For starters, the mechanic needed a proper ‘shop title’ splash, and a button for activating the transmutation service to begin with, as seen below:

We also decided to make a few changes to the UI itself, adding a couple of maracas, removing the title bar (it seemed unnecessary), and changing the colours of the gems in the interface to better represent the rest of the UI colours here.

And now, some mixed stuff, starting with some improvements on the readability of the shop title splash I just showed:

An open door in the HQ leading into said transmutation room:

And some of our progress on a different part of the game, namely the Bishop’s battle! Here you can see some more of our iteration process, ranging from climbing the pillar itself to how the encounter with Bishop himself evolved from the placeholder version to what’s currently in the game! If you look closely, you’ll see that the background has changed slightly from the previous finished version I showed some time back: we’ve moved the bushes slightly out of the way to make sure they don’t distract from the battle:

 

 

 

Next, back to story mode, as we’ve been working on a redesign for the trophies menu! As mentioned before, we’re gonna change the trophies themselves around a bit as well, and in doing so we’ll upgrade the whole look of this part of the menu to better match the other newer menus, basically by adding more and better graphics:

Finally we’re looking at a bunch of effects he’s been working on for the card cave, shown here as videos!

The first video shows our very first iteration of how the cavities in the wall light up depending on how many cards you’ve collected. The second video show what happens once you’ve collected all of the cards, revealing a secret catalyst, and in the third video we have adjusted the colour of the flames and added some bonus effects to when the cards merge together into the catalyst:

We’ve long been talking about revamping the challenges a bit, removing the long and slow paced ones and adding more quick and quirky challenges that you complete quickly, all with the intention of making them feel a bit more action packed. Now that we’re nearing completion of the upcoming story mode patch, it’s time to take a look at Arcade Mode, including these new challenge types!

To start off with, there will be two types of challenge rooms now – one where you’ll just solve strange challenges without risking any damage, and one for all the more dangerous challenges where you might accidentally take a hit – such as the kill in order challenge already implemented. Other ideas for these types of challenges include mini boss battles, kill quickly challenges, or take no damage challenges. Of course, due to the more dangerous nature of these challenges, it’ll be properly marked on the map so you know you’re risking your health if you enter – and also the reward will obviously be greater than in the ordinary challenge rooms!

For the regular challenge rooms meanwhile, we’re probably removing the bigger chicken challenges as well as fishing (but don’t quote me on that just yet). Some new ideas we have include:

An archery challenge, where you’ll spawn into a “fake”/prop version of Robin’s archery challenge from story mode, and you’ll have to hit enough targets or get a minimum amount of points.

A music challenge where you’ll have to mimic the order in which the musical faes from story mode play a song on a set of bells of your own.

And an animal taming challenge, where you’ll have to successfully tame a pet to get the reward!

…and we’re currently in the process of designing more! Do you have any cool challenge ideas you’d like to see in Arcade Mode? Let us know in the comments :)

Now, back to story mode for a little bit, as I make a bunch of adjustments to the Card Room in Mount Bloom, moving things around a bit and making more subtle frames for each of the cards:

In the end, we opted for an even more subtle frame (but don’t worry, it should look fancy enough once you’ve found some cards):

Now, back to Arcade Mode and its floating isle final room! In this next part I make a proper stand for the chest you’ll get for reaching this far:

And finally, the other floating isles in the distance:

Meanwhile, Fred’s been hard at work finishing up all of the animation sketches for Bishop and a couple new ones (including the one below where he brushes off some dust after you’ve successfully defeated him):

He’s also been working on a bunch of light effects for the Mount Bloom card room which we hope to show you within the upcoming couple weeks! Stay tuned for that… :)

New week, new improvements! We wanted to make the Bishop boss portrait look a bit more creepy, so I did a bit of an paintover to adjust just that:

We’ve also made some additions around the card room, adding frames for each card to the wall, as well a a proper entrance (bye bye dragon floor and puzzle stuff):

With us finally deciding the visuals for the floating isle that will be the final Arcade Mode room, it was high time to add that and Arcadia itself to the world map (proper layout of the isles yet to be decided):

And speaking of the floating isle in question, I’ve started working on that as well! Here’s as far as I’ve gotten as of yet, more work to come:

Finally, Fred makes some progress with cleaning up the Bishop’s animations (have a little sneak peek), as well as adding some light effects to the cards in the card cave, which will illustrate how many cards you’ve collected thus far:

This week we’ve been talking about the fifth floor on your journey to the top of the tower! This floor will be all about the Temple of Seasons, and will begin in a wintery area in the woods, where you’ll walk through a corridor of trees that part and walk off to the sides to reveal a path before you, all while fae dart back and forth (just to set the tone a bit). This path will eventually lead you to the Temple of Seasons entrance, where the actual floor will begin.

You’ll enter a Temple of Seasons room that’s currently winter, but thankfully, Naniva appears and helps you by turning the room into spring, allowing you to enter one of three doors. This door leads to a fight or puzzle room yet to be decided, where you end up rescuing Autumn. Once you return to the first room, she will then turn it into autumn, revealing a second door leading to another fight/puzzle room where your goal is to rescue Summer. If you succeed in this and return to the first room he will turn the room into its summer version, allowing you to pass through the final door.

In this final room, you’ll battle an enraged version of the Hydra, summoned by the mirror guardian of the tower. This version of the Hydra has one more head, representing spring, thus you’ll have to battle the four seasons all at once! We haven’t decided exactly what the spring head will do yet, but one suggestion is that it’ll cause loads of bushes to grow in the area, serving either as an obstacle for you or something that will deal damage as well (by the addition of thorns). Another suggestion for a super move the hydra can make here is to turn the room into all seasons at once, using all of their powers for a short while… >:)

As for the puzzle/battle rooms, we haven’t made any fixed plans, but we’re playing around with the idea of having a special enemy in the shape of a rainbow orb, that will appear and turn the room into all seasons – only once you defeat the orb it’ll go back to normal, so until you do the rest of the enemies will be in their elite versions. We don’t want these rooms to be too complex, seeing as there’s still a ton of rooms to go through, but I think so far we have a good balance. Let’s see where the next floors take us :)

In Arcade Mode, we need a room you’ll get to once you finish the Ghost Ship, where you’ll get some sort of reward – and, if you’re powerful enough, you’ll get the chance to transcend into one final floor where an epic final boss battle awaits!

So, I’ve been making a couple of suggestions for what this room could look like, and this first one is inspired by what I’d like the final floor to look like – otherworldly, up in the sky, on floating isles with other floating isles in the distance having statues or parts of statues of Grindea on them:

The second idea is a throwback to Bishop’s realm where you’ll be battling him in Story Mode, a grim and dark realm.. In this version, the doors of the temple will open either to an intense glowing light or straight up to the sky, if you should have enough power to get there… :)

While I was sketching that room, I also went ahead and made some suggestions for the average room design in case we’d end up making regular rooms in that final floor you’ll only get to with the right power level, looking something like this:

We’ve also been talking a lot about what the final tower dungeon would look like for those that aren’t under the mirror’s influence, so I’ve been playing around with ideas for that as well. Here’s one such suggestion, featuring a lot of mirrors on an otherwise gray tower setting:

There’s a big possibility we’ll redesign or at least change the colours of the tower exterior now that we have a better idea of what the inside involves, but we’ll figure that out once we’ve completely decided on a design for the interior :)

Now, one of the many things Teddy has been working on recently has been adding a bunch of smaller cutscenes and fixes for the various new quests. One such thing is having Bishop appear during the Ghost Ship quest for a short while, and to make his appearance look as good as possible we went through a bunch of iterations. Here you can see our progress, going from pretty crude, to working our way to a more polished version:

Most things we implement go through a bunch of iterations like these, which goes to show implementing the first idea you have just the way you imagine it isn’t always the best bet :)

Meanwhile, Fred has been working on not only Bishop but Grindea herself as well:

The next thing we’ve been discussing and designing for the final dungeon is the Flying Fortress floor. In the beginning we wanted this to be quite phase shift heavy, but as we though more about it we felt the essence of Flying Fortress is more about bullet hells, so we started leaning more towards that. However, we’ve had a ton a random ideas, among others a phase shift puzzle where you need to collect items within a certain time and a bullet hell with guardians that block parts of the room with their laser beams…

In the end however, we settled for three rooms (for now, this might change), first one of those corridor where a number of orbs pass through and you have to run left and right so you pass through the orbs in the slot where one of the orbs is missing – I’m not great at explaining this in words, but you’ve already passed through such a corridor in Flying Fortress already, and this one will be pretty much the same – although we have some ideas for beams and such to make it a bit more difficult and high paced.

The second room will have a number of small platforms, 4 or more, which will get hit by a ton of missiles. The goal in this room is to phase shift to the one platform that won’t get hit by missiles and as such avoid damage. Once the timer runs out you’ll be able to proceed to the final room…

…which is all about bosses, namely Phase man – and not only one, but two of them(!), ending with a little burst of Gun-D4m. We’re pretty excited about this combo and hope you will be too!

For Seasonne, we all felt like the core of the area is the Toy Factory, but we also wanted a little dash of the regular snow area, and an appearance of Marino, since he’s a pretty big character and having Amalet stolen from you after Flying Fortress is a pretty important part of the game, after all.

As such, you’ll begin this floor by appearing in a small Seasonne-esque area with the usual Seasonne enemies minding their own business. At the end of the area is the Toy Factory building, which you enter, and find yourself in a room with a locked door, a blocked path and a chest. In the chest is a key for the locked door, but before you have a chance to unlock it Marino appears and steals it from you, dashing through the blocked path, breaking the things that blocked your path before.

The next room will be one of two challenge rooms, but we haven’t yet decided which one of these it’ll be! In one, you think you’ll have to solve a block puzzle, only for each and every block and piece of it to come alive so you have to defeat it literally by force. The second would be a lot more like the room where you battle a ton of gift boxes, only with more kinds of gift boxes with new abilities!

After that, you’ll end up in a room with a conveyor belt where you’ll chase Marino for a bit before ending up in a room where you’ll battle him along with having to dodge falling bombs and trains, much like in the later rooms of the Toy Factory!

Next, time for some mixed stuff! Your mother’s grave in Startington, some new items made for an additional part of the ghost remembrance quest in the Ghost Ship, as well as an expression for the newly added ghost you’ll find there soon:

And here’s some more new stuff, featuring bigger versions of the catalysts, new backgrounds for the temple of seasons character and enemy codex, a new set of stairs in the Port Monnaie church, and a slight edit of the Startington grave:

Meanwhile, Fred’s been working on more Bishop stuff and some new player animations, one which can be seen here:

So last week our goal was to each come up with one or a few design ideas for the first floor in the final dungeon, after which we’d go through each of our suggestions and pick our favourites, building our dungeon one floor at a time.

As we mentioned, our guidelines were to remind people of the journey they’ve made throughout the game, bringing back “old classic” events and mechanics. Some of our ideas for the first floor, representing the very beginning of the game, ranged from battling your own sword and shield, a bullet hell with wooden swords, bees circulating around you and attacking you one by one, or an arena where you battle a block puzzle that comes alive.

In the end we decided to combine a few elements of the early parts of the game, namely the arena trials, finding your shield and sword to proceed and battling the Black Ferrets on the bridge. Our main idea is that you’ll start on a Pillar Mountains looking area (perhaps even a pillar), where you have to find your sword and shield by fishing and solving a block puzzle while the Arena commentator Mr Plott comments on what you’re doing, and you’ll only be able to proceed after handing your items to Grandpa Joe who blocks a bridge over which you’ll battle an ever increasing amount of Teddy & Freddy, culminating in a battle against Vilya herself before you’ll be able to progress to the second floor, a floor which will be centered around the Pumpkin Woods.

We also decided on some details around the dungeon. Previously, we’ve decided that the thing that turns the dungeon into what it is is an ancient artefact mirror, which transforms the tower into challenges to stop you from reaching the top. As such, we want to incorporate various mirror effects here and there (like for instance, Grandpa Joe shattering into glass pieces when you show him your sword and shield, enemies spawning by appearing through mirror glass and such). We also reiterated that we want the main focus for each floor to be something iconic to each part of the game, focusing on the story beats and ‘feel’ of certain areas.

Next up, the Pumpkin Woods floor! For the this we felt the key component was the curse of the woods, making you unable to progress, and the hunt for each of the items needed to clear the curse. To capture this, our idea is to create a set of rooms with a ‘lost woods’ feel where you’ll end up back in the first room by taking the ‘wrong’ exit, and having you battle five mini bosses in a room each.

The mini bosses we have in mind here are Pumpking and Helloweed from Arcade Mode, plus a similarly difficult mini boss based around Jack o’ Lantern which will also appear as an Arcade Mode floor boss later on! We’ll also design a challenge based around the Jumpkins and Ghostys.

For the Jumpkins this will most likely involve a living-vegetable like mayhem room with loads of jumpkins, while the Ghosty challenge idea we have so far is more about finding and defeating the correct one out of a bunch that will surround you – though our ideas here are still very much up in the air. For now, our main focus around this floor is the feel of having to cleanse the wood once more, this time by collecting the items from more difficult enemies than simple elites like you had to the first time around. We’ll dice into more specific design details once we get to this floor, our overall idea holds regardless of how we design the challenges.

Once you’ve defeated all of these mini bosses and collected their key item, you’ll be able to cleanse the curse with the aid of a Grindea statue, just like in the original Pumpkin Woods, complete with a minor appearance from Bishop; after that, it’s onto the next floor, featuring the Flying Fortress! :)

Now, you’ve seen a bunch of Bishop’s attack animations made by Fred, but now that we have a basic sketch for the arena, it’s time to start some prototyping of the fight!

At the moment, Bishop has three distinct attacks/patterns, but we have plans to add more as we go along. For now it’s a sword-throwing attack, a giant scythe attack and an attack where a bunch of Bishops emerge from the ground with spears:

We know Bishop disappears a bit into the dark background when he’s towards the top of the fight area, but we have plans on making him more visible by adding a shader that makes a subtle aura or outline around him when he’s against the dark parts. Other than that, what do you guys think so far?

In Arcade Mode, it’s high time we get a proper map through which you can track your progress! As such we’ve been talking about various ways to illustrate this, ending up with illustrating them as isles:

Now, the layout of these isles isn’t in it’s finished version here, the idea is that we want to illustrate how you move upwards a bit more, so we’ll play around with how we place the isles as we move on; and as such might change the design of these isles a bit as well.

On top of that, there are two more isles missing – that of the room where you get your reward for finishing Arcade Mode, and the bonus floor you get to only if you’re strong enough! These will only be added once they’ve been made in their proper forms in the game, though, so I know exactly how to design their isles.

In Fred’s department meanwhile, it’s all about Bishop and giving him more animations! Let’s have a look:

So we’re drawing ever nearer to that final dungeon, and now that we’ve had some time to think about it, we’ve discussed taking a different approach to it!

We’ve gone through several iterations already, although none of them have actually left the sketching board as of yet. At first we wanted the dungeon to have one floor representing each major area in the game, then we considered mixing various themes together and at some point we wanted fewer floors but more of a mishmash of everything…. The only thing we’ve really always agreed upon throughout all this has been that it shouldn’t be super long – often we feel like when players get close to the end of a game, there’s always a risk of getting fatigued and running out of steam just before the final boss, an effect that is often made worse by overly long and complex final dungeons and boss fights.

Our latest idea is to have several shorter floors – some or possibly most just a single room’s worth, and each floor will touch upon something you’ve seen or experienced in the game, but in a sort of strange way – imagine something like the creepy version of Startington, but decidedly less creepy and with more gameplay elements!

Our mission for this week game design wise will be to come up with a bunch of room ideas for the first stretch of the game, up until Flying Fortress, and present our ideas on Friday. Which events throughout the game do you find most iconic and would be something you’d expect to see represented in a dungeon like this? And how do you feel about the length of final dungeons? Do you expect a super long finale, or do you prefer it to be a little shorter?

Now, time for a bunch of mixed things: a bunk bed in Trick & Treat’s house, some new better looking graphics for some of the ambience box sounds, and a new item based on a backer’s request! :)

Another thing I’ve been working on recently has been sketching a couple of the last bunch of maps needed for Story Mode, one which is the room where your card collection is shown and which will grant you a special reward once you’ve collected all of them:

This room will be in Mount Bloom, in front of where the dragon carving on the floor used to be. In this initial sketch, it doesn’t look very mountain-y, but that will be remedied in the final version, which will probably look slightly different in the end, but the concept will remain the same: slots for cards on the wall, and some similar looking decorations across the room to make it look more interesting.

The other room I’ve been sketching has been the strange realm where you’ll battle Bishop! In the beginning we wanted this battle to take place in a surreal dream world governed by Grindea, but after some thought we changed our mind; while Grindea is light, we feel that Bishop is more of a dark creature, and having his battle be in a proper Bishop-y realm would be best.
As such, my design for the room is a bit more grim looking that our initial plan:

Again, it will likely look slightly different in the end, especially once the proper graphics are made, but you get the overall concept and colour scheme!

Time to start working on the background for the card cave! As you can see, the Mount Bloom mountain walls make it feel a lot more like a cave than in the sketch:

I haven’t made the slots for the cards yet, as they will need to be animated with glowing lights and such I thought it best to leave that up to Fred for now so the size of them will work out!

In Fred’s department, it’s been all about figuring out the look for one of the most important characters in the game that hasn’t yet appeared in the game in her physical form…. That is, of course, Grindea! She’ll appear as part of the ending, so we’ve been figuring out how to illustrate her form by having Fred make a ton of sketches!

Here you can see the progress of how it’s evolved:

Originally, we envisioned her as more of an ordinary character, but in the end we went for a bit more shapeless approach, and so these last two are our current favourites! What do you guys think?

This week we’ll start off with another portrait, featuring the sleepy collector Fred made last week:

Next, a new ghostlike figure! This one actually has ties to your family, and can be found on the ghost ship in the near future!

As mentioned before, we’re transforming the Memory room where you could battle previous bosses into a conference room where people are making decisions on the upcoming quests and plans for the Collectors!

So, time to take care of the background:

Next up, another background change! In place of the puzzle tower, which we’re putting on hold for now, there will be… a strange slime altar? How peculiar..!

In Fred’s department, he’s finishing up a bunch of stuff for the next bunch of quest stuff, mainly the Slime Altar one, but also some sound devices you’ll get as a reward for a fun new mini-game we’ll take a look at next week:

So, some more items from the list of things we’d like to include before the full release!

First off, the house in the top right corner of Evergrind City! Remember that house on the little island in the water? It used to be all broken down, then it got cleaned up, and then we have like 50 different ideas for how to use it, until we recently simply decided to move a pretty regular family into the house, which will provide you with some background story for one of the quests we’ll include in the Pumpkin Woods.

Collectors in the Fields, we’ve mentioned this before, but we really do like the idea of including more Collector NPCs out in the world, doing everyday collector stuff such as hunting items, inspecting loot, or just talking about their adventures. At the moment the collectors are pretty much only visible in Evergrind City, so we feel like adding a bunch of additional ones around the world would help flesh out the collectors as an organization.

An easter egg ending for the storyline featuring Pine & Tannie, we know a lot of you want to be able to reunite them, so we’ll make sure you’re able to do just that, if you keep your eyes out!

More treasure maps around the world (pretty self explanatory).

Plant enemies dropping seeds so you can grow them in your own house~

A mini game featuring a sound made by our sound designer NPC Fark, after which you have to guess which sound it belongs to!

So, let’s jump straight into that stuff, starting with the interior of the house on the top right isle in Evergrind City:

Next up, one of the inhabitants of the previously made house, a mother living in Evergrind City with her husband and child(ren)!

And now, another mixed bag of stuff, some expressions, a new decor for one of the rocky parts in the Dragonbone Dunes, a new icon for the arena boss rebattles, and a couple new drops:

Fred, meanwhile, has continued working on a bunch of NPC animations, some of which can be seen here:

This week, we’ll continue with some portraits, starting with a strange mandarine you’ll find in the Pumpkin Woods!

Next up, some improvements to the ship that I made previously! Adding a bunch of details and redesigning its look somewhat so make it look even more different from the other ship in the harbour:

As we’ve continued to discuss where to go from here, we’ve made some changes in our priorities for the remaining tasks. One such thing that we’ve discussed back and forth since almost the start of our process of making this game is the Memory Room, where you battle bosses you’ve previously defeated in Story Mode. We’ve never really decided on whether to keep the room around or not, but now in this hopefully ‘final’ discussion, we’ve decided on some changes that will affect it, and more specifically, the arena.

Right now, there are two categories in the arena, regular challenges and VS, though we haven’t added any modes for the later. In the future, there will still be two categories in the arena, but we’re changing it around so there will be regular challenges and boss battles instead. As such, if you go to the boss battle section, you’ll get a list of all the previous bosses you’ve defeated, and will have the option to battle them again, as you would in the memory room. The regular challenges section will remain largely unchanged, though we’re playing around with the idea of having the challenges scale to your character’s strength.

Because of this move, there will be an empty room to the left in the HQ, where the previous memory room used to be. This room will instead be changed into a sort of planning/conference room, where a few older collectors will hang around with a blackboard, planning the future quests for the collectors!

What will end up happening with the rest of the HQ will be decided in the near future, as we continue arranging these final tasks in order of importance! Stay tuned :)

Now, some additional expressions and portraits for the crew involved in the harbor quest in Port Monnaie, as well as some final fixes of the ship!

Now, in Fred’s department, he’s been busy making all sorts of characters and details, some of which include Trunk (which you’ll stumble upon as a cameo character in Story Mode):

Some sails for the ship in the harbour, as it heads off as part of the quest we’re working on:

The sprite for Fark, who will be creating a variety of sounds:

And the balloon seller, which will appear in Evergrind City during the festival: