With the new year coming, it’s time to plan new things. For us that means it’s time to start thinking about the harbor town, a place which has been planned for a long time but never sketched and never discussed in greater detail. So that’s what we’ve done now!

Basically, we’ve had a huge brainstorming session where we just talked about what we’d like to see in the harbor town, what would be cool and a little how things would look. Here’s our list:

The Harbor – Obviously a harbor town needs a harbor or it’s not much of a harbor town, right? So we’ve planned a long dock, next to which there are a bunch of ships. Some will look like regular ships, others might have special themes: a viking ship perhaps, seeing as we’re Swedes and all?

“Loading Area” – An area next to the dock with a lot of strange crates and sailor carrying stuff and loading stuff onto carts and such.

Market Place – A pretty big area with lots of market stands: some where you can buy the usual stuff and gear, some that carry exotic items or fruit for show, to give the area a bit of flavor.

The Beach – A small beach with touristy things such as sunbeds and blankets. Tourists walking around enjoying the sand, water and hot weather!

Ice Cream Parlor – Probably next to the beach? But who knows! Anyway, an ice cream parlor filled with tons of ice cream! Probably some tables outside where people can sit and enjoy their treat.

A Church – With Grindea’s statue inside and one of those creepy priests!

Houseboat(s) – One or a few, for a more interesting way of living.

Regular Houses – A few where NPCs live, one of which will be an author which you’ll help complete the final part of her best selling series! We’ll also add this author character earlier in the game, once the library is implemented. We’d like her to have a book signing there in the beginning of the game, up until the festival (or so), for added recognition once you get to the harbor town (where she’s forced to live away from all of her fans so she can finally complete the next book)!

Wells and Fountains – The town is in the desert so they better have water available for the heat!

Now we (or well, I) just need to mix all of these things together and make a proper sketch of what the town could look like with all these ingredients included. First though, time for some icons and small interface fixes! All related to Arcadia, of course. First up, making a new version of Bag of Tricks, featuring Trunk instead of Bag:

And speaking of Bag, that guy’s actually the inventory icon… not very fitting for Arcade Mode where he doesn’t even exist. Time to replace him with Trunk:

Next, true icon galore as it’s time to make icons for the Treats & Curses we’ve come up with so far. In order of appearance: More Elites Curse, No Heal Curse, No Elites Treat, More Healing Treat, More Treasure Rooms Treat, and Time Crystal Treat (they will probably get better names later):

Finally, not exactly an icon, but cleaning up the background a little! Since it’ll move around as you run across the map (parallax wohoo), I needed to clean up holes of stuff I thought would be permanently hidden behind buildings (oops):

We’ve also been sketching and talking about the details surrounding two big upcoming things: the final desert map, and the interface at the Cinema in Arcadia!

Starting with the desert map, this is the sketch we showed a little while ago:

When I made this sketch I paid no heed to character sizes or what the distances between each section of the map would be in the game, as it was a sketch made on paper after all. Now that we need to translate the sketch into something we can actually use, we need to fix that.

In the above version of the sketch I’ve brought the whole thing into Photoshop and copy pasted a player character into each section, using it to determine distances and how big each thing is. The result is that certain parts of the sketch have been enlarged to better fit the character(s) that will run through the area. For instance, the part above the misspelled fight area has been a bit enlarged on both sides, and there’s a longer corridor coming towards the Saloon from the top right.

Once this was done, we brought the map into the game to run through it and try it out for ourselves (it’s a much different thing actually playing through the map compared to looking at a static character in the midst of it):

Again, we felt some areas were too small, so we made the corridor before the Saloon even larger and added a small space where you can more easily battle enemies there. The area before the (still misspelled) fight area was made larger as well, with the option to add a cave (can’t have too many caves and potential extra maps). Finally we actually made the Fight area slightly smaller to give the user interface in the top of the screen more room without it having to completely cut off the walls.

As mentioned, we also talked about the Cinema, how it would work, and how best to make an interface for it. We decided that when you open the cinema interface you’ll be presented with six options: Personal Best, Most Recent, Favorites, Friends, Public and Sharing.

In the “Personal Best” section, you’ll be presented with a list of your top best runs, automatically saved for your rewatching pleasure! Same thing with “Most Recent”, but with your most recent runs rather than the best. In “Favorites” any runs you’ve saved as a favorite will be available, both your own and those of your friends or strangers: which brings us to “Friends”, where your friends top runs will be available: each friend having one entry each. In Public, you’ll see the runs with the highest scores, and in Sharing you decide whether you want your runs to be shown only to yourself, you and your friends, or if you want them to be public to anyone (i.e if you end up on the high score).

Here’s a very early sketch showing what the selection of a replay could look like, featuring your character’s face (+ parts of the poncho and hat), the top two skills you used, what score you got and which floor you reached:

Continuing on with the cinema interface, though, the first thing we need to design is the header:

I went with a bag of popcorn and film strip to decorate the sides as this felt like two iconic references to the movies! Keeping with that spirit, I designed the movie info boxes to resemble film strips as well (as seen on the sketch earlier):

Also as mentioned earlier the info shown will be part of your character, it’s name (or the first 10 letters of it), the two highest leveled skills, the score (in the brown box), and the floor reached (golden shape at the end). In the final version below, I added a star to indicate someone having added that particular strip to favorites:

Speaking of which, this interface needs quite a few new buttons as well, in order to select everything! Without further ado:

From top to bottom: Play Clip, Most Recent, Favorite(s), Friends, Public, and Settings. The last one will lead to this rather simple popup menu, where you can select who can view your replays by moving left or right (the options being only you, only friends, or public):

Finally, let’s take a look at another portrait. This guy is designed after one of the archaeologists Fred made a while ago:

Like most NPCs made recently, you will run into this guy in the desert, where he’ll be busy excavating some new findings (and in doing so, unfortunately blocking your way for a while)!

Next week we’ll discuss and continue designing the final interfaces for the Arcadia Rework: the one for Master Ji’s shield challenges, and the UI that shows information about each building you can build. After that there’s mostly some smaller detail stuff for me to do before I believe I’m done with all Arcadia Rework things! Exciting times.

We’re back! Hope you guys have had a great holiday, a merry christmas and a happy new year! Now it’s 2018, and as we continue working on and implementing Arcadia rework, it’s only natural that our weekly meeting has a lot to do with establishing the smaller details of how everything will work!

Early Gold Quests
In order to quickly get your first building(s) up and running, we’ll add a couple early quests with gold rewards to speed things up and get your into the whole building thing as soon as possible! Some will probably be reused from old Arcadia, while a couple will be brand new.

Balancing Gold Rewards for Slow Builds
How much gold you get per run/room will be balanced is a tough one, because we don’t solely want it to depend on how quickly you clear rooms (even if they will play into it too, of course). Using only speed as an indicator would mean that certain builds, such as anything involving Insect Swarm for instance, would get a lot less gold vs the builds with faster clear times. To counter this, we’ll award extra gold depending on how long your active time on a run is, meaning if you play for a long while with a slower build, you’ll still get the proper gold reward that quicker builds get.

Build Time for Unlocked Buildings

Remember how I mentioned a build time that would count either IRL time or Arcade run time (or a mix of the two where time passes faster if you play Arcade Mode)? After some discussions, our current stance is that we’ll probably skip build times altogether.

This was a kind of difficult decision because we wanted to give players another incentive to play more Arcade Mode (play the game to unlock your building/unlock it faster)! However, you’ve already played Arcade Mode to gain the gold used to unlock the building, so it felt a little unfair that now you have to play the game more before it actually spawns, even though you already paid for it. Instead, we’ll probably use a fade to black effect with some building sounds before you return in front of your fully built property.

We’re still not 100% sure about this, and each of us actually have our own preferred version with the fade to black being the compromise. What would you guys prefer? Would build time be a nice or annoying thing?

A couple of Treats & Curses
We’ve only just begun planning for these, but here are the ones we’ve come up with so far:

Curse – Increased Elite spawn rate
Curse – No/Reduced healing (or both as two separate curses)

Treat – No Elites spawn at all
Treat – More HP from HP orbs
Treat – You start your run with a Time Crystal that rewinds time to when you first entered the floor if you should die. Meaning you get a chance to play through the floor again and fix your mistakes!
Treat – Increased chance of getting treasure rooms

Keep sharing your best ideas and we’ll see where we end up with all of these!

And now, time for more interface design, this time featuring the Arena! As a reminder, here’s what it looks like in Story Mode:

There are two categories, Challenges and VS. Challenges won’t be available in Arcade Mode, but there will be something else:

Boss practice! For those of you who have troubles with bosses, we know it’s really difficult and annoying to get chances of practicing against them as you have to survive a whole lot of regular enemies first. To give players a chance to polish their skill against these more difficult bad guys (as well as a way of learning their patterns), the Arcadia Arena will let you pick and choose among the bosses you’ve reached so far (no skipping ahead). When designing this interface, I presented two options: one featuring three bosses per page (with a scrollbar), and their name next to them:

..and another, featuring just the boss images, with their title and description shown only in the text box instead:

It’s likely we’ll go for this second version as it has room for a lot more enemies and the text box won’t be used much anyway!

Once you’ve selected the boss you want to practice against, you’ll be presented with three character slots, featuring the last three characters who reached that specific boss, with their equipped weapon and main skill of choice shown beneath them:

This is so that you’ll have approximately the right level and equipment for the boss fight (as your current Arcadia character is level 0 with no gear what so ever)! It gives an accurate representation of the fight, as it reflects how you got there last time, and allows you to try out the fight with possibly different builds (if you change playstyle between runs).

Once you’ve selected which of your old characters you want to rebattle the boss as, you’ll be transported directly to the boss room for another go at the battle! Currently, none of these will cost gold or any other value, so you can practice as much as you like :)

The next interface up on the design table belongs to the Bank and involves trading essence for gold, and gold for essence! For this interface we’ll use the Quantum Lumber interface from Housing as a base:

The main difference between the Lumber interface and the Bank’s interface is that instead of Lumber we’ll deal with Essence (obviously), and that you’ll be able to either buy Essence by handing in gold, or sell Essence and get gold back for it.

From the beginning we thought we’d deal with both in the same interface (calling it exchange instead), where you’d scroll right to get more Essence and less gold, and scroll left to get more Gold but less Essence (with a symbol for the respective currency on either side). However, we felt it’s probably easier to understand if we just call it Buy/Sell Essence and keep them separated.

Here’s our first try at a modified version of the Lumber interface:

Here, the Lumbers have each been replaced by an Essence statue. The top box will contain a number indicating how many Essence you want to buy (or sell), the number next to the big coin will let you know how much that will cost you (or how much you’ll get back for selling your precious Essence), and the number next to the Essence-with-a-coin indicates the current exchange rate (which don’t change the way things are designed now, but we thought it might be interesting to know).

The small gold coin is next to your current gold total, and the Essence-with-a-bag shows how many Essence you currently own. Pretty much like it is in the Lumber interface, in other words!

To make it more clear whether you’re in buy or sell mode, we made two variations of the above interface, one with a plus next to the top Essence icon (indicating this is the buy interface), and one with a minus (indicating this is the sell interface). There’s also a corresponding plus and minus next to the coin, to show whether you’ll gain or lose gold on the affair:

Finally, the shop menu (where you select Buy/Sell or Talk) needed two new buttons for this, so here they are as well:

Remember Trunk, the sidekick who will fill the role of (a more cheerful and optimistic) Bag in Arcade Mode? In order to communicate with you properly, he of course needs to have his own portrait:

The final version, slightly cut off to fit the text box:

Finally, there’s a bunch of NPCs made by Fred! Some of these have portraits that have been showed before, but the two on the right are brand new archaeologists that will be inspecting the old ruins and skeletons found in the desert!

Alright, back to business (ALSO SORRY THIS POST IS SO LATE! Scheduling got messed up again (I will set an alarm to check that it actually works, I promise)! As mentioned before, we’re at the point where we need to design a lot of interface stuff and decide how things will work together and unlock in terms of the new Arcadia rework features.

These include new interface indicator for gold, treats and curses when you’re running around inside Arcadia itself. Here we decided to combine Treats and Curses. Previously we said you could pick either Treats or Curses, and have three of each, but since then we have changed our minds: now, you’ll be able to pick and choose between Treats and Curses, but you can only pick 3 in total. It’s good to keep in mind that 3 isn’t a 100% fixed number at this point, we’ll have to try things out and see what feels good. The final number could be anywhere between 2-5 (is my guess, anyway).

We haven’t actually decided on which specific Treats or Curses to include yet, so if you have any cool ideas, feel free to share them with us! As a reminder, Treats are features that will make an Arcade run easier, but lowers your score, while Curses make your runs harder and increases your score!

Selecting Treats/Curses at their respective NPC will need a menu of its own too, as will the Cinema’s replay feature (where you’ll be able to view past runs), the Bank exchange service (where you can convert Essence to Gold and the other way around), and Master Ji’s challenge selection (where you pick which of his shield-focused challenges you want to try). We also need to come up with the challenges the latter will have.

The Arena will mainly use the interface from Story Mode, but we will also need a menu where you can select your last three characters that reached any boss in the game and have a go at the boss again. Here, we’ve decided to keep the Multiplayer mini-games, while the single player ones will be replaced by the boss-rebattle feature. Our reasoning here is that it might be fun to be able to challenge your friends to mini-games in the Arena without having to start Story Mode (since we have the arena anyway, you know), while the single player portion of the Arena doesn’t make as much sense to keep and works better in Story Mode alone.

There’s also another matter we need to discuss, and finalize: whether the build time of unlocked buildings will count IRL time, the time you play Arcade runs, or both. Last time we talked about this we could not decide, so now’s possibly your last chance: what would you prefer? To wait a short while regardless of what you do, to have to play arcade runs for the buildings to finish, or to be able to shorten the waiting time by playing arcade mode?

Let us know what you think!

So, time to get those new interfaces going! First up, the main interface as you run around Arcadia. Here’s the old version of the interface:

And here’s a basic suggestion with a new gold indicator and slots for Treats/Curses:

Now, the treats and curses will affect your score multiplier by a certain percentage each: either they’ll increase your score or they’ll reduce your score. More score equals more rewards (and a higher place on the high score list!), so we felt it was important to include this in the interface somehow. Here’s a quick sketch featuring the score multiplier increase both next to the score and next to the treats/curses:

While we liked the idea of having the percentage show next to the score counter (that way it can show all through your run as well), we weren’t sold on having an exact copy of it next to the treats/curses. Instead, we thought maybe we should separate them and show how much each of your curses or treats actually subtract or add to your score:

As of now, we still haven’t decided whether we want to include the above version or just keep the cleaned up score multiplier next to your score (as seen below). Do you think you’d prefer to see how much each score adds/subtracts, or is that unnecessary information that only clutters up the interface?

Next up, we’ll continue the interface business by taking a look at the interface of one of the more important new features: Treats and Curses!

For this interface the important part is having enough room for a bunch of treats/curses, with a text box featuring a description of each treat/curse, a title bar (so you know which interface you’re in), as well as some way of letting the player know when treats/curses don’t work together – for example if you have on treat that disables all elite enemies along with a curse that makes them more likely to spawn.

In the above sketch I used the potion interface as a base. There will be a few key differences though: for one, it won’t cost you money to change curses/treats, at least not the way it’s currently designed. If you’re currently hovering over a curse/treat that won’t work with the ones you have selected currently, a speech bubble popup will appear with a stop sign, showing you which ones are incompatible. Next to the curse/treat title in the text box will be how much score will be added or subtracted to your score, in percent.

Once you select a curse, a new interface will pop up where you can select which slot you want to add the curse/treat to:

In this interface there will also be a total score counter showing how much your total score will be with your selected curses/treats. In the sketch above there’s another stop sign next to the incompatible curse/treat, however this will likely not be added to the game: instead, if you try to select a curse or treat when you have others selected that wouldn’t work with it, there will be a prompt asking if you’d like to remove the ones that are incompatible with the one you’re trying to select. If you answer yes, the above interface will pop up with the incompatible curses/treats removed: if you answer no, you’ll remain in the curse/treat selection screen.

Now, time to freshen up the graphics a bit:

Here I’ve added some proper graphics to nearly everything: Muffin’s Treats has a title sprite, the pop-up speech bubble indicating which curses/treats are incompatible has been added, and the background is properly made as well. The text I haven’t touched though, as it will be added properly with the game engine.

Next, same thing but with Candy’s title sprite:

And finally, the screen where you select which slot to add your selected curse/treat to! Again, the stop sign will probably not be used the way we ended up designing things, but we hadn’t finalized that by the time I finished making the graphics:

Next, a quick portrait, with and without hat:

And Fred’s section of this post features a return to the desert and more of its inhabitants! Here’s a whole bunch of the iterations for four of the characters you’ll meet in the harbor town, with the final versions inside each green circle:

…And an animation for that poor winter fae, who has been lured into the desert by his friend! Poor thing is suffering from the less than ideal weather for a winter loving creature!

With only a few days left before Christmas, we’ll take a small break and will return on January 1st! No weekly recap next week, in other words, but we’ll make sure to post a happy holiday post to cheer you all on over the holidays :) In the meanwhile you can sneak a peek of what will be shown in the recap of Jan 1st over on my own workblog! Until then~

And so, the potion patch is up! This patch includes the complete potion rework, a ton of new pots, a rework of Remedi and his first quest plus a brand new quest involving Remedi and his nephew (which will be available if you’ve finished his first quest and have started your journey in Mount Bloom).

As always, especially with new systems, we’re eager to hear your input on these changes to the potion system. There are a bunch of potions to test, and we’re interested to hear how you feel about the effects: are they powerful enough compared to the recharge time? Is it satisfying to recharge potions in battle? Are you more inclined to use potions now, or did you prefer the old system?

A lot of you have waited a long time for some kind of healing spell or health pot, and health potions are now available!! So let us know how you feel about that as well.

The full patch notes are available here, so be sure to check them out if you’re interested in the specifics! And do let us know how you feel about this new system (and the new quests), either on our forums or here in a comment. We look forward to hearing all of your feedback!

Now, let’s turn back time and take a look at what we’ve been up to last week:

So as we we’re drawing ever closer to finishing up the whole potion business, it’s time to pump out a bunch of new portraits to fit in with Remedi’s new questline which will grant you the empty bottles you need to use this new mechanic!

First up is his old man version, which will be the original form in which you meet him, rather than the kid-self you’re probably used to right now:

He won’t stay this way for long though, as that pesky accident with a stray potion has him transformed back to his ‘regular’ form. Unfortunately, with our tweaks to this storyline it seems he won’t stay very long in that shape either… ;)

Now, what in the world is this?! A portrait of a cave troll? What is it doing here? What part will it have in our story? For now, all I’ll say is that it’s related to the potion quests, and will appear in this patch!

Unfortunately I had to cut all of its back or it wouldn’t fit the text box without covering the letters! Oh well… :D

Finally, some finishing touches before I’m done with my parts for this patch! First up, the Speed and Loot potions mentioned before:

…which of course also were in need of proper interface icons:

I also made small versions of each of the icons, to serve as buff icons / timers for the potions that work over time (and whatever else we might need them for)!

Then, there’s another portrait for poor Remedi, who will go through quite a number of shapes in his quest to return to his original form. Here’s the pumpkin version:

Aaand a bunch of expressions for his Nephew, as well as an icon for refilling potions in Remedi’s workshop:

Like me and Teddy, Fred too has been busy doing potion stuff this week as well!

As Remedi got a new, older self, his first mission was to make the old man version of the sprite, to go with the new portrait. As usual, when deciding on a look for a new sprite, he made a whole bunch of iterations until we selected our favorite:

Which one do you like best?

Next, we need Remedi’s nephew to do some pretty advanced stuff in the upcoming new quest, so he needed a few new animations as well:

And finally, a ton of potion effects for when you drink those pots, signalling to the player what effect is about to happen:

Weeeee’re back! In fact, one whole week has passed since we got back to work and it’s time for a new weekly recap~

As you know, before taking this break, we launched a patch with the complete rework of our current skills in hope of making them more balanced (and fun). We’ve read all of the feedback coming in, and for now there aren’t any major changes we want to do (aside from a bunch of bug fixes that Teddy already has been working on). We will keep monitoring the feedback and possible change a few things, however: such as increasing the HP of certain enemies that have lost some of their tankyness due to the increased damage of most of the skills.

Now, to properly start the next step on our journey to actually completing this game, we had a meeting today discussing the additions of more talents! We have wanted to add a bunch for a while now, as mentioned before. For now, we’ve decided on adding 5 new Melee talents, 5 new Magic talents and 10 new General talents!

Starting with the Magic talents, some talents we discussed and confirmed will be added are:

Fast Talker – Increase Castspeed
Soul Siphon – Hitting an enemy with a wand projectile will grant the user some EP
Concentration – Increase resistance to having the (magic) spells channeling interrupted by enemy hits
Specialist – Increase damage depending on how many skillpoints you have in the same magic tree (as an example, the more fire skills you level, the stronger your fire skills will be overall)
Wand Master – Icreased damage from wand projectiles

As for the General talents, some you may expect there are:

Got You Covered – Increase buff duration
Metabolism – Increase EP regen
Health Insurance – Increase healing from health orbs
Lady Luck –  Introducing a low chance of enemy attacks missing your character
Utility Flow – Chaining Utility skills lower their EP cost (the more utility skills you use in a row the cheaper their cost in EP, up to a maximum percentage). A talent designed with the true support players in mind, who need more EP to buff a full team!
Kinetic Energy – Get EP from blocking attacks with your shield
Efficient Counter – Perfect Guarding lowering the EP cost of the next skill

And the Melee talents we’ve decided on so far:

Knowledge is Power – MATK gives ATK
Riposte – Perfect guarding within x range of an enemy deals some damage to the enemy you guarded against
Blood Thirst – Killing an enemy grants increased attack speed for a short duration
Combo Starter – After a normal attack, your melee skills have increased critchance for a short duration

We’re currently experimenting with a melee talent that increases the attackspeed of your next normal attack(s) when you’ve been out of combat for a short while. In the general tree, there will also be at least one talent relating to the bow.

We’re also considering increasing the number of talents in the general tree to 21 (as opposed to the planned total of 20). The reason for this is that we’d like to fit all talents in a single page, without the player having to scroll down. Our idea is to go for something like this (super early mockup WIP, obviously, we’ll have to adjust all of the graphics to make this work):

It’s a bit cluttered, but with a few adjustments we hope it won’t be too messy on the eye. We believe, at least, it will be better this way than to introduce scrolling. In the Magic and Melee talent sections, things won’t get as cluttered either, as they won’t have as many talents: at least for now, our max total is 15 each.

As for Arcadia, now that the first stage of the Arcadia is done – that is, the main buildings – it’s time to take a look at it and see where things can improve. As a reminder of what things looked like where we left off, take a peek below:

As you can see, not a lot of details or even finished pathways. The reason for this is that I wanted to be sure all the distances felt nice when actually inside the game, after the main buildings were properly made.

To check this, Teddy uploaded the background into the game and we could run around as if it were a real map, only without any colliders or the ability to actually go inside any of the buildings. While doing this, we did feel like the distances are fine, but we came up with a list of other changes which will be what I’ll be working on next:

* The map’s size will be increased in each direction. The reason for this is not so that there will be more room for the buildings, but rather so that more of the edges can be seen, such as the background that will be painted in the top part of the map, or the woods that will serve as the edge of the map.

* The Clock Tower will get another floor and I’ll remake the clock in its middle part to become a lot bigger and detailed enough that it will show a different time depending on if it’s daylight or nighttime.

* The Arena will be reworked: we’ll make it a lot bigger, to make it feel epic enough.

* The Aquarium and the Bank will both be moved slightly to the right, aligning the path to the bank with the path to the cinema. This to make a little more space between the farm and the Aquarium.

* The top, middle part of the roof of the Aquarium will be turned into a pool of water, where silhouettes of fish can be seen once you start catching some!

* The benches in the fountain/garden area will be moved a bit higher, to make more room for whatever characters might find themselves sitting there in the future!

Along the way I’ll also start making the proper paths and decorate the areas with flowers, fences and other small things. Already, we feel this place is a lot more vivid than the old Arcadia was, and by the end of it it’ll hopefully be a truly cool and polished place :)

Now, time to fix those things! First up, the clock tower:

As some of you mentioned, it’s a little short, so we’ll make it slightly longer (though honestly, not by much: we still want the bell on top to be clearly visible when you enter the building). We also wanted to make the clock bigger and more detailed, so that when you change what time of day it is, the clock will change as well. Also, some silly decorations, because why not:

Next up, some minor detail additions for the Cinema and Inn, adding some fences and decorations. Proper grass, flowers and further details will be added once this second iterations of town is completed:

Moving on to the Arena, we decided to make it larger (and in turn, more detailed) so we made the top part of it higher, and the whole thing wider. For decoration, we added a few posters showing upcoming challenges or fights to take place in the arena. I mean if they don’t advertise what kind of stuff goes on there, how will the NPCs of Arcadia ever get interested enough in going? Gotta sell those tickets!

And here’s the new and improved, slightly bigger arena:

We’re also preparing the Aquarium change(s)! First by moving it and the bank to align with the cinema, and next filling the top part of the Aquarium’s roof with water. In the water you’ll see fish silhouettes once it’s properly added to the actual game:

Finally, increasing the size of the map:

It is rather a lot bigger now, but most of the extra space will be covered in trees and only serve to not make it feel like the map is cut off too close to you. It does feel a little more epic if you can imagine the vast forest expanding around the town, after all!

And to end things this week, I’ll throw in a brand new portrait!

Since I got back I wanted to try a slightly different rendering style for the final sprite (particularly for the eyes), which I think turned out alright:

After A LOT of crazy testing, the skill rework patch is finally up and running for Frontline users!!

There are so many changes (to skills) in this patch that a lot of them aren’t even covered in the patch notes: it’d just turn out too long and detailed. Basically, pretty much every single skill has been adjusted in one way or another. Some have graphical improvements, some have new mechanics: most of them do more damage than before.

Because this is such a huge overhaul, we’re (as always) looking forward to your feedback. We have tried to balance things to the best of our ability, but of course there are sure to be things we have missed or situations that haven’t occurred to us where certain skills might end up too weak – or too good. So, as you play the game, please share any and all thoughts you have on the “new” skills, maybe especially those that have had their mechanics reworked, such as Smash, Titan’s Throw or Chain Lightning!

Aside from editing every skill, here are some of the other changes that goes live with this patch:

* Magical weapons (wands) now produce an orb that shoots in a straight line from the weapon if it does not hit an enemy directly. Longer range for magic user, yay!

* HP and Arrows refill upon reaching a boss fight

* All spells are now able to crit

* Refunding skillpoints is a lot cheaper, and the cost is based on storyline progress rather than character level (as it was before)

The full patch notes can be viewed here.

Now that this patch is up and running, we’ll await your feedback on things and take a much needed week off to recharge our batteries before the long and cold Swedish winter sets in! Because of this, there will be no blog updates (including the weekly recap), until we’re back on Sep 11th, upon which my workblog will resume as normal. The weekly recaps will returning on the 18th.

First thing we’ll do when we get back to the office is discuss all of the feedback we’ve received over the week (which we’ll keep monitoring in case of game breaking bugs), and decide if there are more changes that need to be made, and if so, which ones. So make sure to share your thoughts on the rebalance, so we can fix anything that may not be working as well as it should! Best place for that would be in a comment here or at the forums. We look forward to hearing your thoughts :)

But aside from the rebalance stuff, we also continue working on the Arcadia things, and the second to last plot of the Arcadia Rework houses the player statue! It’s been available in the original Arcadia for quite some time, and showcases a statue version of the character that has your highest score.

For the rework of the town, instead of having your statue standing rather randomly in the middle of things, it now has its very own plot with surrounding decorations, making it more of a centerpiece. The stand of the statue is also a lot bigger compared to the previous version as well, again to make it seem a little more epic on its own.

In the version below, the character is in full color – keep in mind it’s just a sample. The real statue will be…statue-colored, like it is in the game at this point.

And now, only one main piece left of the rework: the Fae tree! This tree will house a bunch of fae, which needless to say brings more NPCs to your town, in the shape of tiny colorful sprites. The fae will be animated and added once it’s in the game, but for now, here’s their home:

And here’s the finished thing! Of course, the map still lacks paths, a bridge and a ton of decorations among other things, but now all of the main pieces are made and it’s time to start phase two, polishing and moving things around if needed:

And finally, to celebrate having completed a rather large milestone in the Arcadia rework, here’s another desert portrait I made: It’s been a rather long break after all! This time we’ll make another sailor lad from the Merchant Isles:

Like most of these characters, his story is not fully fleshed out yet, but we’re drawing ever closer to putting the town together. Exciting times ahead!

Truly, last week was not so much about art or programming as it was testing. We really want to get the balance right this time, so we’ve decided to play through the game at least once per skill, giving each of them chance to be the main skill in a playthrough. It’s truly a challenge to tweak the numbers to make them mathematically balanced vs each other, without losing the soul of each skill.

Because the game is already quite a few hours long, and we want to make sure each skill scales well as the play progress through it all, it means A LOT of the work week has been spent “simply” playing the game over and over, taking notes on how each skill feels at various points of the game. To our aid, Teddy has made a number of shortcuts, i.e. we can now walk through walls to skip certain puzzles. That’s basically the only skip we use, though, as we still want the level and gear to be as true to a real playthrough as possible.

With each skill completed, we’re getting close to evening them all out, and right now most of them feel a lot more powerful than they did previously.

As we started playing the game using the new version of Blade Flurry (shown last week), we realized we weren’t quite satisfied with the way it looked now, so Fred took a small break from testing skills to make a third version, which is kind of a mix between the two earlier ones (note that this is currently a WIP and hasn’t been fully finished yet):

Chain Lightning will get a slight rework. Instead of seemingly randomly jumping to any enemy within a cone-shape before you, the skill will now favour the enemy you’re looking straight at (though if there isn’t one there, it will jump diagonally still). The main target will then take a bulk of the damage, leaving less damage for secondary targets the lightning then jump onwards to. We hope that by making this change, the skill will feel more satisfying to use, as you can select which target you want to kill first rather than doing rather underwhelming damage to a bunch of them.

The Flame Thrower might get reverted back to its original form, where you could move and damage enemies at the same time, although your movement speed while using the skill will be greatly reduced based on your cast speed. This will, at least, likely be true for Story Mode, where it no longer feels very strong compared to the other skills that got buffed. However, we have not tested these things out in Arcade Mode yet, so it remains to see how OP it feels there at the moment.

Balancing skills between Story Mode and Arcade Mode will probably be one of the biggest challenges during this rebalance period, as the modes are so vastly different from one another. In Story Mode, it’s rather unlikely you’ll ever be as tightly surrounded by enemies as you tend to be in Arcade Mode, which means some skills will work a lot better depending on which of the modes you’re playing. We’re trying our best to balance this without having to change any of the skills EP cost or damage in just one mode.

And in other news, we’ve decided to make respeccing a lot cheaper than it currently is. For a while we considered making it free, but we feel a low cost will give the player a bigger sense of impact as they level skills, compared to if you could just change things around free of charge at any time!

Hopefully, our great rebalance will draw to a close this week, as we all have looking forward to taking a week’s break from 4th and 8th September, just to recharge the batteries before the great long autumn and winter rolls over Sweden. Finishing the patch up just before then would be ideal, as we would be able to return a week later and go through all the accumulated feedback. Fingers crossed!

Now, as more stuff is added to the new revamped version of Arcadia, it’s time to create the Cinema! While we’re still not completely sure this will be available at the end (it kind of depends how well we can solve some of the issues with the mechanics), for now we’re fairly sure we want it there in some shape or form.

Inside the cinema, you’ll have the option to replay previous arcade runs and show them off to your friends. It won’t affect your current runs in any way, but we feel it would be interesting to be able to review a previous run and see where things may have gone wrong – or simply use it to brag of your achievements in front of your friends ;)

Some grasp the mechanics of Grindea almost immediately, others struggle to land a perfect guard for the whole of the game (so far). To help the latter ones along, and add a challenge to the ones who think they’ve mastered the fine art of the shield, we’re adding the Dojo!

In the Dojo, you’ll be able to practice perfect guarding against different sets of enemies, earning headbands in different colors to show at which level your perfect guarding technique is currently at. This mechanic might (likely) be added to Story Mode as well once it’s been implemented, making sure everyone has a chance to practice perfect guarding and becoming masters of the shield!

The theme of the left side of the map is more tranquil and nature-y than the rest, as we’ve decided to put most of the decorative spots in this part of the map. One of these is a small garden with a fountain, which serve to bring more people into town (and more people equals more quests)!

Like the other decorative slots, this plot in itself does not affect the mechanics of your arcade run, but the quest(s) you unlock with it might:

Only two plots left! Drawing close to the end:

This week, the skill rebalance and Arcadia Rework continues!

Fred and Teddy are both hard at work getting new and reworked effects and mechanics into the game, and one of the possibly bigger changes have been coming together over the last week: the new chill and freeze effects!

The ice skills, or rather the Ice Nova and Ice Spikes, will both be able to chill and freeze every enemy on the game! Previously this was reserved for regular enemies, but now they’ll affect bosses as well, drastically improving the skills which have been rather underwhelming against bosses before.

Because there was no way we could use the old effect on enemies as big as the bosses, we had to sit down and try to solve this issue by making an entirely new freeze shader instead. This was all done by Teddy and has had several steps of iteration, two of which can be seen below:

After some effects were added by Fred, we’re left with the result seen below:

The difference between a chilled and frozen enemy is pretty drastic. A chilled enemy will have a slightly altered hue, snowflakes appearing around them and frost beneath their feet. Every once in a while, an enemy might be frozen, which makes it completely unable to move. If an enemy is chilled first, the chance of this happening doubles.

Visually, a frozen enemy is tinted blue and becomes shiny, the frost and snowflakes remaining around it. There’s an increased chance of landing crits on frozen enemies, but they will only remain frozen for a short period of time or until you’ve hit it 3 times with regular-damage attacks or once if it’s a hit with bigger impact (such as the final hit of a gold-charge Heroic Slam).

Fred also wasted no time jumping into refining and reworking the effects of various other skills. One that’s getting a visual and mechanic change is the Flamethrower, which as mentioned earlier won’t deal damage as you move. This meant new smoke effects had to be used:

When we talked about this last, we decided that neither silver nor gold charge would deal damage when moving. However, upon seeing various players distress at the idea of making it that much less OP, we’ve decided to try to keep the damage-while-moving on the gold charge level (which also has new graphics, by the way!):

We’ll balance this with a damage reduction instead, and if we still feel it’s too OP we might still do the full nerf with no damage while moving. Our initial idea with Flamethrower was that positioning would be key to use it, and being able to move and do damage at the same time kind of takes away from that, which is the reason we wanted to make this change to begin with (aside from the skill being too OP, especially at silver level, compared to others).

Hopefully this compromise will keep the fun feel of the skill while not making it too crazy good. It’s always difficult nerfing skills in any game because when you’re used to a skill being really OP, it typically also feels really great using it. Using such a skill after a nerf will of course cause some disappointment, but hopefully the game will be better and more balanced overall after some of these have been made.

Next, there’s been some additional graphics added to the Smash and its new ball!

Each time you hit the ball it changes color and does more damage. After three hits it’ll disappear, so you have to summon it anew. We’re still fiddling around with the arrow indicating which way the ball will go, and the graphic is likely to be changed again, at least slightly.

We’re listening to all of your feedback on our changes thus far, and it’s no secret Smash is the source of a lot of discussion. We’ll continue on this path for now, finalizing this version of the skill and uploading it with the rest once they’re done. Once you can try all the rebalanced skills all at once we’ll see how things turn out! There’s still a possibility Smash might get scrapped altogether, it all depends on what you guys feel when it’s all patched and ready for testing.

Finally, here’s a bunch of the new and improved effects Fred has been working on:

Now, time to focus on Arcadia and its rework. There’s a lot of stuff left to do before it’s anywhere near complete, so it’s time to get a move on! Here’s the next part, featuring the Inn, which will house several characters that are able to give you quests, and will help in making Arcadia a more lively town with more inhabitants:

The clock tower is a brand new addition to Arcadia, by which you’ll be able to change the time of day from day to night (and possibly somewhere in between: we’ll see!). In this video I also add the Bishop, with a new and improved Grindea statue, and remake the old notice board:

Another addition to Arcadia which weren’t available before is the farm! This building will house a set of animals – once you catch them. You’ll have the option to either let the animals roam free in town or keep them inside the pasture surrounding the farm, where no doubt Oak will be working:

And with these new additions, here’s where we’re left:

Still some way to go, but it’s starting to come together. With this, all the houses in the starting area have been finished, only missing the proper paths and decorations. The farm is the first building on one of the unlockable plots, meaning technically I could finish up the first part and add it to the game. However, since we want to make sure all the distances and stuff work out, I’ll complete the rest and make adjustments accordingly, before finishing up the area with more decorations and pathways.

Next week, there will very likely be more of the same, as we continue to get the Skill- and Arcadia Reworks ready! Stay tuned :)

After a couple more weeks of designing, implementing, polishing and remaking, we have finally patched the frontline beta to include the new set of Utility skills! With the addition of these skills, we expect the game change a lot for some players, if not all – we suspect a lot of you have longed for something to use spare silver points on, and many of the Utility skills offer new paths of gameplay. In short, we can’t wait to see how you guys use them, and what the feedback will be.

While we hope it will be possible to balance all of this properly (we’ve done our best so far, but we’re always ready for your feedback on what’s broken and what may be too lame), we are aware that depending on your feedback, we might have to rethink certain things. For instance, if every single one of you hate a specific skill! Because of this, it’s important to let us know what bothers you (and what you like!) so we know how to proceed. As always, feel free to share your opinions on this patch and the skills here or on the forums!

And as always, to see the full patch notes, go to this forum thread. Now go ahead and try them out!! :D

.. and in the meanwhile, let’s take a look at what our previous workweek looked like, with the Utility skills coming together:

First up, some skill Icons, starting with the Focus skill (the very first frame of each WIP-animation shows our current placeholder icon made by Teddy, and the last frame is my reinterpretation):

Focus is the meditate skill which allows you to channel EP by holding the skill button, and allows you to cast a skill for free after a set amount of time. Since it’s EP focused, we decided to use a purple background (as the EP meter is purple).

Next, the Barrier, which in our game kind of looks like a bubble engulfing the character, and so I wanted to focus on that in its skill icon:

For the blink skill, we had a bit of a hard time coming up with something that would resemble the skill at all, in such a limited amount of space. The color of this skill was later changed to orange/yellow to avoid healing associations:

Next, Death Mark, or as it’s called now: Reaper’s Blade, fittingly using a skull (I modified the one used in the animation where boss-Vilya yells out insults at her minions in the second battle), and added some decorations based off of a sword behind it. Red, as it’s an offensive skill that will help you deal a lot more damage:

For the Stasis icon, I focused on the stasis effect, which grays out an enemy and disables them from combat. In this case I took a Rabby sprite, turned it black & white and painted some background patterns around it. In the final version of this, the whole thing is black and white, however, I added more color to the background later to make sure it stands out from when the skill is unavailable (at which point all skills are grayed out):

Finally, for Challenge (or as it’s called now: Provoke) I brought out boss-Vilyas insults once more! As you yell at the enemy you’re targeting, your own character will begin cursing at them in a similar way, so I thought it’d be nice to use the same graphic indicators for the insults:

And here’s the lineup:

In the end, we decided to divide the buffs into three, so they’re now divided into one that boosts you damage and crit, one improved version of haste (increased cast and attack speed) and a defense and shield boosting buff. The icons of these can be seen below, along with their “buff timer” counterparts:

Our reasoning is that separating attack/castspeed from the damage buff allows for more varied builds, and each of the buffs can be stronger than they could be if they buffed more things. With that in mind, we’ll likely cap each of the Utility skills at three silver points as well, with each level making a bigger difference.

Now that the buffs are in place, it’s time to implement the targeting system for them. As mentioned in a previous post, you’ll be able to buff your friends in multiplayer one at a time, with a system similar to what we use for the Frosty Friend: you start channeling the spell, and as you do so several arrows will appear showing your friends. Press in the direction of the friend you want to buff and the buff will land on them. To buff another friend, simply cast the spell again and press in another direction. In order to buff yourself, you’ll need to press upwards after channeling the spell – but only in multiplayer. In single player the buff will automatically target yourself.

Our first idea was to show each character’s face along with the arrows, but as Teddy started implementing this targeting system, he came up with a different plan: showing the entire characters, including what they’re doing:

While this wasn’t exactly what we had in mind from the beginning, it kind of grew on us as we tried it out. At the very least it makes it easier to know which direction you need to press for which friend, as you can check what they’re doing right now and compare it to what’s going on in the arrows, while our previous idea would make things a little confusing if you had several friends with the same face and hairstyle.

One might argue that this version is a lot more messy, and I supposed they’d be right: however, seeing as you’ll not bring up this interface a lot after confirming which direction your friends are in (most likely you’ll just quick-cast your buffs as seen below once you get a hang of it, anyway), we don’t view this as a too great drawback.

As can also be seen above, if you bring up the cast menu again after buffing everyone, you’ll see a timer counting down on top of each character. These timers show how much time is left before the buff runs out, which makes it easier saving up EP. Once the buffs run out an icon and text will appear above each character which indicating that this has happened (as seen below). This will only be visible to the one who cast the buff(s). You can always recast a buff before it runs out, so long as you have the EP to do so.

In the above GIFs, the arrows used are placeholder arrows (the Frosty Friend’s arrows, to be precise), with the character stuck randomly on top of them. Because we didn’t have any arrows that fit this purpose already, I made a bunch. The bottom image shows how we intend to place the characters on top of them, which is slightly different to how they’re standing on the Frosty Friend arrows as well:

The next step on our quest to implement the Utility skills was making the proper menu backgrounds for it! The old one was rather outdated, and in fact much older than the rest of the skill menu:

So the first thing we needed to decide was what kind of layout we want to use for these guys. Three in a row, or two next to each other with the buffs centered beneath them?

To avoid any confusion when jumping between the different levels, we decided to go three in a row, but make them slightly longer so they’d be more visually pleasing. Next, time for some decorations, beginning with a sword to don the offensive utility skill section:

For the defensive utility skills, I made an edited version of a shield that’s used in a different section of the menu (the talent area, to be precise):

Finally, for the buff section (which we haven’t given a proper name yet – might become something else entirely), some magic and glitter:

And in the end, here’s the new and improved utility skill section! At this point still missing the title texts and actual skill graphics, but that’s for Teddy to puzzle together with the engine:

In Fred’s department, the Utility skill stuff kept going on. First, the development of the blink:

From the beginning, what you see above is the effect we intended for the blink. However, because of how it looks when you’re not travelling in a straight line (for instance, if you blink diagonally), it became more of a hassle than we first anticipated. We could either rotate the effect in engine, which left us with a bunch of ugly artifacts, or we could have Fred make the effect in 8 directions – both options which weren’t too great.

So, we ditched the above design and decided to go for light globes spawning around the character instead instead:

In the newest iteration, the globes are a bit smaller than what is seen in the above GIF, but it sill gives a good idea of what it looks like.

For the Stasis skill, we still needed one more thing: an indicator of some sort above the enemies as you target them, before you unleash the skill. Fred came up with a bunch of suggestions based on our initial discussion, where we though it should either be a clock or an hour glass, indicating time stopping for the enemy in question:

In the end, we decided to go for the hourglass, and as an added bonus, Fred made a quick animation as you unleash the spell on an enemy: having the hourglass either turn of shatter as the skill lands. While we liked both ideas, the shattering hourglass is the one we’ll use in the game for this skill:

The Focus skill, which allows you to regenerate EP faster, got a new indicator appearing beneath the character:

The purple lines serve as a timer, of sorts. If you channel the spell until all four lines appear, you’ll be able to cast the next skill free of EP. We’ll also have a different channeling animation for this skill, possibly where the character is hovering above air – but at the time of writing this (which was before the patch) we’re still uncertain whether this will be available in the initial patch, or if it will be added in one of the many upcoming bug fixing patches once you start trying out (and breaking) these new skills!

Finally, a little sneak preview of the work in progress of that damage buff we’ve been talking about:

We’re not 100% it’ll look like this once it’s done (could be a little too big for a skill that will be cast rather frequently), but it’s just a bit too funny not to show!

Now, I hope you enjoy the patch and come back to us with lots of feedback. Actually finishing all the skills seem like a big step closer on our journey to finishing the game as well, wohoo :)

Last week was all about the Arcadia Rework for me, something which will continue to be the main focus for a long while to come. As you can tell, it’s coming along at a steady pace, one building at a time!

This week I will begin creating the underlying decorations, grass and paths between the various spaces. Since we’re also fairly sure about the Utility skills, I’ll also start creating their icons, while Teddy and Fred continue to deal with testing, testing, testing and skill graphics!

We’ve had two major discussions these last few days, both in regards to the new Utility skills. First, about the buffs: we are currently disagreeing whether it’s better to keep them as we originally planned (one buff for the offensive stats and one for the defensive stats), or to separate them further. Specifically, there’s an idea it’d be more interesting the have speed be it’s own buff, allowing the current Haste skill to remain (only balanced so it’s more useful). However, there are those of us who feel the “package” buff is a more interesting buff to use, even if it means the speed stat won’t be buffed as much as it could have been if it were its own buff.

Currently, we haven’t actually made up our minds about this! What do you think you guys would prefer? Two buffs: one for offense (damage, speed, crit) and one for defense (defense, shield reg, EP reg), or three: one for damage and crit, one for speed, and the defense buff left as is?

We’ve also talked about the amount of silver points spent on each Utility skill. We’re considering whether to have each skill have 5 levels (as was planned), or if it’s better to cap them at 3 each.

With 5 stages, the skills become more of an efficient silver point sink, but the skill improvement between each level will be rather small. With 3, each point spent on the skill will give a bigger upgrade, but you’ll also finish leveling the skills much sooner. Currently we’re leaning towards 3, as it seems more rewarding to the player that way, but we haven’t fully made up our minds yet.

If you have any ideas in regards to these discussion, feel free to share in the comments! We love to hear your input and what you think about decisions like these – after all, we want to do what’s best for the players :)

Now, last week we left Remedi with his wagon surroundings looking rather empty! Time to remedy (ha) that, and give him some fancy flowers for his collection:

The idea is that, before you’ve unlocked this plot of land, the wagon won’t be there at all, leaving only some dirt in a half circle. A sign describing what will appear there will be in the middle of it, and we’ll probably use some flavor text, such as describing how an alchemist might be lured there if you just get some interesting plants for the dirt (done automatically by paying the amount needed by the sign).

For now, this is what it looks like in its completed form:

As Arcadia continues to grow, it’s time to add that central piece of decoration, right below the mountain where you set your course for another arcade run:

It’s a well! And not just any well, but one of those visual plots that will help increase the number of people entering your town! Instead of being functional in the sense it adds a specific mechanic, it attracts NPCs that might give you a quest or two :)

And here’s the progress on the big map:

In the portrait department, it’s time for another kid roaming the streets of the desert/harbor town:

I have all kinds of ideas for this NPC, though I’m not entirely sure they will actually be realized, so I’ll keep quiet about them for now. All I can say is that Heero Yuy of Gundam Wing might have been an inspiration!

Finally, what Fred and Teddy has been up to: more skill work! The graphics for the Utility skills are coming together one by one, and here’s a few examples of the Barrier skill, tarting with it’s breaking due to a bee attack:

In the current iteration we’ve decided not to go with our original plan, which was that a barrier break like the one seen above would cause you to take the remaining damage (if any) after the last of your barrier hp is used up. Instead, it’ll now absorb the whole attack, keeping you safe from harm even as it’s close to breaking. Our reasoning for this is that it feels more satisfying being able to completely shield yourself from harm, especially against strong enemies which might be able to hit through the barrier with just one attack. We’ll balance this by lowering the amount of hits and hp the barrier can shield you from instead, but if it still ends up too OP we might bring back our original plan.

Of course, after a barrier break you won’t be able to recast the skill for a little while as well, as seen above.

Next, what it looks like as it expires due to the time limit:

After about 10 seconds it fades out, at which point you can recast it so long as it didn’t break due to taking too much damage. Finally, below, you can see the perfect guard effect as you bring it out in the right moment against a bee:

And here’s a closer look at the effects:

We’ve also begun implementing the Death Mark graphics seen in last week’s post! We are, however, considering changing it slightly, perhaps making the sword red and adding a skull, making it better fit its rather ominous name!

And to end this post, here’s a first iteration of the Challenge skill:

This, too, will be further improved. Below you can see an effect that will be added to the animation, to better indicate in which direction you aim your skill. Eventually there will be a speech bubble with curses thrown at the enemy as well:

Onwards we go! With some luck, these skills might be available as soon as this weekend for Frontline players, but it depends a lot of any more bugs that may surface as we continue to test these out. Fingers crossed!