Let’s start this new week with some friendly faces! As memory orb progress is coming along, it’s time for a whole bunch of expressions for the main trio featured in one or a few of them, who so far only have one portrait expression.

First up, Charlotte, aka ‘mom’, who has expressions in three different skin tones depending on how you designed your character (her hair color will be changed by putting another sprite with just the hair on top of this one):

Next, we have Dad, for whom I made a couple of expressions I’m not even sure will be used, but it’s kind of hard to stop once you’re in the flow of making weird faces:

And finally, Ivy, who is somewhat more reserved and doesn’t have as many expressions as the others:

Now, out of nowhere, a new NPC for the desert appears! A long time ago, Fred secretly made an animation for a Merchant Isle NPC working in the docks, and now that I found it it’s of course time to make a portrait for him!

Since this NPC already has a sprite, he will likely appear in the stable patch when it goes live; I’m uncertain whether the priest and acolyte will make it since they haven’t gotten any Fred-made sprites yet. I guess we’ll see! :)

Next, the second to last card! This time a Solem, making a little sand castle in the dunes. Such a peaceful sight! Maybe he’s just angry you’re stepping all over the sand he uses for his castles?

WIP video:

 

 

And now, time for some combined bug testing with story developing and writing! Today I’ve taken some time to play through the entirety of the desert as well as Port Monnaie, finding areas to add flavor text through the magnifying glass-mechanic used here and there throughout the game.

As I’ve mentioned before, we’re keen on making the world of Grindea seem a vast and lively place, and one part of doing so is adding optional things to examine that might give you a tiny bit of flavor in terms of added information or simple commentary on what you see in the world.

In order to do this, I’ve played through each of the areas as we’ve finished them, writing down snippets here and there for things you can examine. Because it’s such a low priority thing, it hasn’t really been added to the game yet, though – at first it was something we neglected, and then as things progressed we thought it would be weird to suddenly start adding a ton of ‘inspectable’ (is that a word? haha!) things in the middle of the game without having added the previous ones, but adding all of the previous ones would take so long it simply isn’t a high enough priority at the moment (we want to finish the game, after all).

For now, it seems unlikely we’ll add these until the game is more or less done, when they will be one of the final things we add before the proper release (along with the bonus side quests and stuff we want to add in a true polish stage). Even so, it’s a nice opportunity to play through an area after completion and look at the world in a different light, where you try to imagine yourself in the role of someone exploring the game for the first time, trying to see what items might be interesting enough for closer examination.

Speaking of the future polish stage, I thought it’s time to take a look at what’s ahead of us. We’re actually very close to the end, believe it or not (though “very close” in this case likely means dev time for quite a while yet).

In terms of what we have left story wise, we’re talking one more regular dungeon (the ghost ship, which you’ve already seen a bit of), and then a special dungeon to tie it all together: a dungeon that will be a combination of all the previous dungeons made into one.

Our ideas for the final dungeon are varied, but one of the key parts is that we will be reusing previous enemies, but add a twist: they will be improved versions, not only stronger but likely also having one or more new attacks. There will also be mixed enemies from various parts of the game.

Our goal with this final dungeon is to bring all the parts of the game together, so there will be a little bit of everything, both in terms of enemies and areas, but also characters you’ve met and interacted with throughout the game. Because we’ll in part reuse enemies and area graphics, we hope it won’t take as crazily long to make compared to the other dungeons – but on the other hand a final dungeon needs a certain level of epicness, so, well…

But what about after this final dungeon, what then? As you know if you’ve been following this blog, we’ve talked a lot about adding things to each part of the game before we actually call it a day and release it as 1.0. That of course entrails more sidequests and the added story scenes I’ve been talking about before, but our “wishlist” for what we’d love to add is huge and it will probably be impossible to add everything – but one can hope.

Here’s a few things from our list (note that these are some things we wish to add; it doesn’t necessarily mean we will add them – it kind of depends on how long we think it’ll take and how we feel about these things at the end – and there are plenty more, as well):

We’d like to have more dialogues and other such things about the ‘gaming’ aspect of the world. In certain areas there’s already parts where scientists have investigated things such as card drops and the science behind some things in the game, but we’d like to add even more. We’re talking things such as people talking about them having leveled up or unlocked new skills, someone talking about a rare drop they found, people commenting on how OP some combos are, and so on.

Some random UI improvements:
* An indicator for when someone is typing in the chat (such as a speech bubble with a pen or something, simply to show people why you’re standing still but aren’t in the menu)
* Add an indicator on players with low health (such as a red circle beneath a character beneath a certain hp %)
* A progress bar for Trophies

We’d like to add Collector NPCs out in the fields as well – it can feel kind of empty right now, and it’d be cool to see Collectors out there doing what they do best: collecting things!

Lots of more arena challenges , including PVP.

More mini-games and other optional content, such as a quiz-like thing in the library (which also needs to get implemented, of course), a tower of block puzzles near Mount Bloom (you’ve probably already seen the exterior of the building).

Some kind of mechanic that gives you a Collector rank based on how many items you have, or something similar – basically give collecting some meaning! Right now the whole Collector thing isn’t really used much mechanics wise (or even story wise), and we’d like to improve on that.

Are there any such things you’d like to see in the game before the 1.0 release? Let us know and who knows what might make it into the game! :)

Alright, let’s get back to that ghost ship. It’s about time I started making a few backgrounds for the place, so to start things off I’m going to make the very first room of the dungeon!

We have a pretty detailed sketch of what the first floor will look like, but as there are a couple of question marks in regards to sizing (there’s a boss battle and a puzzle that’s yet to be designed), this and one more room will be the only ones I’ll be able to make for this floor before heading on to the upper levels of the ship!

As the entrance room, this will give you your very first view of this dungeon and what’s to come. It has two levels, and you can only access the upper once you’ve made your way there through the floor:

The second room will be a fight room! In other words, this is a room where you’ll battle a few of the ship’s enemies, and since it’s made just for that, the sizing isn’t hugely important – there will always be enemy setups that fit any sized room.

So, I went ahead with the mission to create a rather simple room where there won’t be a lot of things in the way for the players as they fight their way through:

And here we have the finished piece:

Once Fred finished his part of the desert, he’ll decorate the water and such as usual, so it’ll feel lively enough!

The portrait work continues as well, as there’s still a few needed. Now it’s time for the guards, which look similar to the previous guards in the game, but slightly edited to fit the desert. Sprite below:

In Evergrind city, the guards had large hats that covered most of their heads, while in Tai Ming they had very small hats. In the desert, they will have medium sized hats, and will go without their uniforms, sporting a bare upper body in order to deal with the heat:

The second portrait this week is that of a kid, living with her family in a hut in the desert.

The family has a bit of an issue with growing vegetables (it’s extremely difficult in the heat of the Dragonbone Dunes!), but luckily for her, her mother is an expert when it comes to growing carrots, which happens to be her favorite food.

Since I moved on to doing more and more Ghost Ship stuff, I’m sure a lot of you are wondering where the patch is. The answer to that is that Teddy and Fred are busy finishing up the possibly most time consuming part of each new update: the polish and cutscenes!

Because of this, the rest of the post is quite spoiler heavy, so beware! (also beware of the crappy GIF quality of some of these, haha)

Here’s a small collection of things they’ve been working on most recently, starting with a new cool effect for when you complete a math/enemy puzzle and the enemies spawn:

There’s an animation for when you complete another puzzle, causing the dragon to grab hold onto the globe and a door to open:

There’s this effect when the rock comes tumbling into the ancient decorations in the ruins:

And the spawning animation for one of the bosses, the Sol-Gem:

Each of these things have to be properly timed, have the right amount of effects (both in terms of animations and particle effects generated by the engine), and about a hundred other tweaks to make. For the Sol-Gem spawning alone, we’ve gone through about four different versions before settling for the version you see above!

Some might ask whether it’s worth all the time we spend on these details, but we’re all very convinced it is! I’d say these last percentages of the progress are the ones that matter the most, as the timing of a couple of animations alone can be what changes something from feeling lackluster to feeling polished and thought through!

Speaking of the patch timing, we finally have a rough estimate, where we hope it will be ready to be uploaded in 1-2 weeks! Let’s cross our fingers there are no more unforeseen delays happening until then :D

Moving on with the Ghost Ship plans, we have a bunch of enemy ideas we’d like to see in this final ‘true’ dungeon. Some have been planned for a long time – remember the sailors from Merchant Isles with strange hats? They were designed that way specifically so you’d recognize their ghost forms on the ship.

So basically, we knew we wanted Merchant Isles sailors in some shape. What we’ll likely do is have weapons (likely swords and such) floating around the rooms in the ‘regular world’. These can attack you, but you won’t be able to defeat them – at best you’ll be able to disable the weapon for a short time – unless you enter the spirit world. In the spirit world, you’ll notice they are in fact skeleton ghosts holding the weapons, and these fellows you can attack normally.

There will be two versions of the sailor enemies – one that does regular attacks and one magician type that buffs enemies or debuffs the players. The buffs/debuffs include making an enemy elite, or cursing the player with Reaper’s Blade (the utility skill also found in the player skill tree).

As mentioned, you’ll be able to make the regular attack ghosts lose their weapons a while into combat. If this happens, they will get a skill in which they can dislocate their own skeleton arm and throw at (boomerang-style) at the player, before picking up their weapon again.

We also wanted a new and more dangerous version of the Ghosties from Pumpkin Woods, only these more dangerous Haunties drip ectoplasm which drains SP while you walk in it – and might also drain the ghost meter which allows you to stay in the spirit world (if we decide to include the meter in the final spirit world design).

Finally, since it’s an old ship that has taken in some water here and there, we wanted to include a sea creature of some sort, and right now we’re leaning towards a pretty straight forward hermit crab that will serve as a tanky kind of enemy in the group.

Since we’re still in the middle of the desert, these will probably not be implemented in the near future, and as such it’s possible we’ll change these designs in some ways. At the moment though, we think we’re headed in the right direction, and hopefully it means starting work on the ghost ship enemies will go smoothly once we’re done with the desert areas!

Speaking of the desert, things are still not quite done over there, so over the next couple of days (and lets face it – probably weeks) we’ll work on editing and adding details to improve the overall feel.

First up, making sure the maps line up properly! Outside the walls on the right side of the town, a lot of grass grows around the exit. In order to make the transition between the maps less jarring, we realized we needed to make sure there was grass on this side in town, as well:

Next, a pretty major change in mechanic when it comes to going from what we call Map03 of the desert, to Map04 where the Saloon and entry to the desert town is. Previously, we wanted the player to use a season orb only accessible through a cave in Map02 in order to get past the water. Since we already used the season orbs once in the area, though, we decided that’s enough, and removed the water altogether!

Now your goal is to get there and push a wagon forward and out of the way instead! Which gives an added bonus of being able to go directly to the left into Map04 without having to walk around through Map02 once again!

Speakin of Map02, we realized that we had put the entry to the puzzle cave you need to pass through to get to the area above, sliightly too high on the map, which meant the interface was blocking parts of it as you enter. In order to fix this, we simply moved it further down:

Finally, for the season orb we decided to keep, we wanted to make a snow effect to show very clearly what part of the area gets affected by the winter magic:

Next, let’s decide on the names for these new couple of areas!

As you might guess, Dragonbone Dunes is the name of the desert, while Port Monnaie is the name of the port town (thanks to Chocodemon for the awesome suggestion). Now, Dragonbone Dunes gets its name from the dragon bones and dragon decorations from Map01, but we will add more dragon decorations here and there in the map to make sure the name ties in well to what you actually see, even if you’re not on the first map anymore.

Anyway, since we’re about to implement this area properly, it was time to make backgrounds for the enemy codex and the player sprite in the main menu respectively:

We also realized the path from Map03 to Map04 of the desert didn’t line up quite as well as they could have when zoning from one into the other, so we decided to slightly edit the exit from Map03 to better align with how it looks in Map04.

In the GIF below you can see what it looks like when I put the entrance to Map04 next to the exit of Map03:

As you can see, there’s a path in Map04 as well, so I added the beginnings of one in Map03 to match it:

Finally, we decided to amp up the entrance to the math puzzle cave a little, adding some decorative numbers (and colors) as decoration:

There are still a few portraits left, and this guy seems like he’s relaxing by a table near the beach. What a lovely idea in this hot weather (we’re in the midst of the Swedish summer over here)!

Work on the math puzzle continues as well, with Fred having made activation animations for each of the numbers and enemy buttons:

Teddy has started prototyping the puzzle as well, with a few edits compared to what we initially wanted. In our first design, we wanted the player to be able to make any path they wanted, however, as we play tested this it felt boring and, honestly, extremely easy. So instead, we made the redesign you can see below – where each of the buttons start inactivated except one, and as you step on it, 1-3 new buttons will activate depending on where you are in the puzzle and which buttons you activated previously. This made for a much more challenging version of the puzzle which we appreciated a lot more!

In the GIF below you need to start the puzzle on the block with a 0 and end with the block on the opposite end that’s also a 0. The second 0 is a placeholder for a = sign button which hadn’t been made when this prototype was added:

In this second prototype, you can see a basic version of the puzzle where enemy buttons create an encounter once you’re done with the puzzle. The same rules apply here, you need to match the number with the target number (which in the future will be illustrated with magic flames rather than simple text next to the puzzle ;)), but on your path you will also cross a number of enemy buttons that will activate upon puzzle completion:

As you can tell, there’s a lot of graphics missing here – such as, you know, the actual caves these puzzles will be in(!) but now that we have a working prototype we can at least be certain that we do like this type of puzzle even outside of the theoretical design (you’d be surprised how many ideas sound great on paper that don’t translate well at all when they’re actually put to the test).

Now, next week we’ll actually take a short break to recharge our batteries while the sunlight’s still with us, so the blog will be paused briefly, with new posts returning as usual on Monday the 30th!

Hope you guys also enjoy your summer, wherever you are, and see you soon! …And should you miss us too much, feel free to join our Discord where we hang out pretty much daily even during the vacation (even if we don’t always write, we watch over you always! 8))

Now that we’re done with the Arcadia rework for now, things are happening fast in terms of the desert enemies! Teddy has been making a ton of prototyping and it’s now possible for us to play around with the basic enemy compositions.

First, here’s a very early look of the Cacute enemy, jumping around, minding its own business:

As mentioned before, our plan for these guys is that they won’t focus on the player in particular, but will be dangerous just by existing – as you can see, they launch a bunch of needles with each jump!

The new slime and bird enemies have been added as well, the slime becoming a saw Giga-Slime style as it attacks, while the bird is pretty much an egg-laying bee!


In order to mix this up a bit, we’re playing around with having the bird lay eggs closer to the ground, so you can actually hit it while it lays them. Our original idea was to have each egg spawn another bird unless you break it in time, but we’re also playing around with having it lay different kinds of eggs, each with a hazard of its own. However, it might end up too similar to the mimic which you just fought, so we might play around with some other ideas as well.

We’ll need to play around with it a bit more before we know exactly how these will work in the end. Also, the Solem has not been made yet, and it might mix things up a lot once it joins these compositions!

The first portrait this week is that of one of the ice cream sellers shown last week! She owns the shop with her fiancé, and we have some plans to include these in a quest featuring another duo interested in sweets… Actually making that quest will probably wait ’til the rest of the desert and the quests we planned earlier are finished, though :)

The second ice cream seller is the fiancé of the previous one! I’m sure he’s happy to be able to own such a sweet (ha) business with the love of his life – who wouldn’t be?!

Right now we haven’t decided on any actual use for the ice creams, though it would certainly be fun to be able to buy some. Feel free to share any ideas you might have on potential uses for them! Is there a consumable type you feel is missing? Want more pet food? Let’s hear your ideas!


Finished portrait:

Next, I’ve been working on the fundamentals of a new kind of interior, the one you’ll find in the desert ruins! I wanted to make something special for it, since it was a while since I made something a bit more ‘out there’ – the town interiors generally follow the same basics, so I wanted to make something different this time.

What I’ve done here is I’ve played around with walls and floor textures, and made some basic decorative things. I’m not 100% sure about the colors yet, I might tint them a bit yellow to make sure they fit the overall desert aesthetics, but once that’s done I’m ready to use these things as a base for the remaining interiors I need to make.

The desert ruins aren’t huge – only 2 (rather big) rooms are planned, but I wanted to make sure they feel special, hence the extra effort spent on getting a feel for it.

Video showing the progress here:

In Freds department, the NPCs and their animations continue to be made! First, we have the author:

When we’re done with the rest of story mode, we actually have plans to add her to the library in Evergrind City early in the game, when she’s there temporarily for a signing. We’d like to tie together the whole world of Grindea, and having her (and maybe one or two other desert characters) appear in Evergrind early in the game is a step to make the player feel recognition when you run into them later in the game.

Next up, an animation for the forgotten farmer, living in the depths of the caves beneath the desert (more to come):

Finally, the most exciting news…. The very first sketches of the Captain, who will be the boss in the next dungeon: the ghost ship. We have a really cool idea for this dungeon, and this guy plays a key part in it… Stay tuned for more!!

With the the buildings and their corresponding mechanics fully implemented into the new, revamped Arcadia, it’s now time for the final few things we want to add before it’s time to get to testing! We’ve always planned to add more randomized event rooms, and with the rework we feel it’s a good time to add in a few of them.

Here’s the one we’ll add this time around:

Buff Shrines
A shrine that, upon approaching it, gives you a random buff for a limited time. The buffs we’ve got planned are the usual basic ones: increased attack (both magic and physical), increased cast & attack speed and increased EP regeneration. But we’ve also come up with a few less common: one that makes your shield much stronger, one that increases your movement speed, and one in which you won’t get knocked back. These last three will need to be tested to see whether they will actually be nice buffs to have in this setting, but we have our hopes up.

Grindea’s Blessings
A room with a Grindea statue that grants you permanent (as in they last until you end the run) blessings. These can be a level up, a gold skillpoint, a few talent orbs, gold, or a heal!

Shadier Merchant
A mysterious salesman who sells powerful items and skillpoints in exchange for a portion of your max HP. He’ll have three items on display each time this room appears, and depending on the item he’ll reduce your max HP by a certain number.

Little J
…will start appearing as well! First as a prisoner which you’ll need to save from a mean mini-boss, but once he’s released he’ll start appearing in shop rooms, allowing you to upgrade your bow as you progress through the floors.

We have more rooms planned as well, but for now we’ll just include the ones mentioned above (we gotta get that update out after all – we’ve been at it quite a while!) Once they are implemented we’ll only need to do some slight inhouse testing before pushing it out to frontline though, so stay tuned!

Now, with the new event rooms decided upon and fully designed, it’s time to get to making some new graphics. Or rather bringing in and adjusting some of our existing ones to fit the theme of these rooms.

First we have the Blessings of Grindea rooms, which will give permanent upgrades of various sorts (or just a simple heal). Our idea here is that the chest will open up and reveal the blessing as you receive it:

Next, Shadier merchant and his carpets. We might add some more props to this guy in the future, or maybe make him a different character entirely (a vampire, perhaps, seeing as he wants your life force ;)). For now though, he sits by a couple of torches, with each item displayed on a tiny carpet in front of him:

Finally, the buff shrines. Our idea here is that a buff icon will appear in the middle of the circle as you approach it. A strategy might be to avoid going close enough to activate the shrine until you find the boss room – but on the other hand, getting there without the buff might be hard enough! What will you do?

 

With these implemented, the Arcadia rework is more or less done (aside from some smaller polish things). Now all that remains is some inhouse testing to make sure things aren’t too buggy for the frontline users.

…and it’s a good thing we did! One of the first things we noticed was a hard to figure out bug that crashed the game every time we entered a specific type of event room. There’s also been a lot of other smaller but kind of obvious bugs that we’ve been able to clean out that definitely would impact the player experience.

Other than that though, our testing sessions have gone really well. Most things work and the main new feature (the building your town thing) feels pretty satisfying, to us at least! The whole of Arcade Mode has gotten some upgrades pacing wise, with things unlocking as you progress, which feels a lot more satisfying.

There’s still some bug hunting to do, and some smaller things to fix, but you should be able to expect the update around the 10-12th April, if things go as planned.

After several hours played we’ve far from unlocked everything, which is great. While I only get to the second floor of Evergrind and Fred gets to the later floors of the whole thing, we’ve unlocked things in approximately the same amount of time, which is as we intended.

The time it takes to get enough gold to unlock new buildings actually feels surprisingly well balanced in our opinion, but that might of course change once we upload everything to Frontline and hear more opinions!

As always when looking at something you haven’t touched for a while, there’s some eyesores. In between testing (when waiting for Teddy to upload patches with bug fixes), I went ahead and fixed a bunch of smaller things:

I forgot to draw an arrow from the old to the new money bags, but needless to say, the left one is the old and the right one is the new. The portraits have been slightly touched up. I still have a dream of going back and remaking a bunch of the older portraits one final time before we release the game properly, but for now these quick touchups will have to do :)

With this testing we’re getting closer to an actual estimate of when the Arcadia rework will go live on Frontline as well! If nothing unexpected happens, we aim to have it done around 10-12th April, basically somewhere early that week. There are still some small things we need to add or fix graphics wise, and we have a lot more systems to test as well, but this estimate includes the time we expect to spend on bug fixes.

Finally, let’s talk about one of the things Fred has been working on recently: Loods! In Arcadia, this is the name of a new feature, namely these cute little beings who appear randomly in rooms in Arcade Mode runs:

The Loods are mysterious creatures of unknown origins. Some say they are linked to the goddess Grindea in some way, but who can tell for sure? What we do know, though, is that there are several kinds of Loods in different colors, and that upon defeating a Lood, it will turn into treasure!

What kind of treasure the Lood turns into depends on what kind of Lood it is. Currently there are four known kinds who give gold, items, talent orbs and health pots respectively. Defeating them in itself won’t be too hard, since they don’t attack – the challenge lies in defeating them before they get bored and run off! As such, once a Lood spawns you have a very limited time in which you may try to defeat it to get the treasure. Fail, and it will simply leave!

Once the Lood is defeated it will turn into an idle form, which, upon room completion turns into a chest. We hope that the Loods will make Arcade runs even more interesting, as it adds a little random factor to the regular rooms. We have thoughts of including evil Loods that you need to defeat in order to be spared from something annoying as well, but we’ll see how things go with these friendly Loods first.

Can’t wait to hear your feedback on all of this once the patch goes live!

Back to the desert town! Now we’ll move on to making smaller fixes around pretty much everywhere, closing a door to one of the houses we don’t have any particular plans for yet, adding some decorations and making other things blend in better. Also a new version of palm tree!

And here’s where we are right now (except for not having replaced some of the palm trees with version two yet):

Next step on going over the whole desert map to add details is that ship! Gonna add some more personality to it by adding some small things. And yes, the steering thingy is still not fixed by the end of this video, but it is on our fixlist:

Next stop on the des(s)ert menu (ha!) is finishing up a bunch of smaller places found in or around the town! There are two cave systems, for one, that we need to design, as well as that saloon.

The first cave system is found on the first map of the desert. The room in which you enter is filled with mining equipment – seems that Mt Bloom company has some business in other parts of the lands as well. The cacti in here will have a peculiar, mushroom-like shape. I wonder what significance that will have on any potential side quests in this area?

From the first room you’ll be able to go right to an encounter room, after which you’ll be able to make your way upstairs where there’s another exit.

The second cave system is found on the second map of the desert. Much like the first cave system, this too leads to an exit one level above. It also has a dead end sort of deal, but seeing as there’s a jump down thingy leading away from it, maybe it’s possible to reach the other end of this map through some other way… I wonder. ;)

Finally, the Saloon. Fred has already made a bunch of NPCs for this place, so I placed them around the room to get a feel for the place. One of the card player tables will be replaced with the Black Ferret’s table, and there will be a couple of non-occupied slot machines rather than a caveling at each one of them, but you get the idea. We’ve also got plans to put a dancer or two on the small stage next to the bar:

My next mission will be to finish up these areas with, you know, actual graphics. Then there’s one final place to design, but once that’s done Teddy should be able to implement the whole desert area up to the town in one go, without having to wait for more graphics from me and Fred. Of course, there’s usually a bunch of stuff we forget, so it probably won’t go as smoothly as that, but here’s to hoping!

Now, I’m still way behind on portrait creation, so here’s another random guy form the saloon. Drinking the day away (but I’m sure it’s lemonade, so that’s ok, right?):

And with the Arcadia rework drawing ever closer to a finish, I better step up the portrait making speed to keep up with all the characters Fred is making! As such, here’s another one.

I know I’ve mostly been doing GIFs for new portraits but this time my initial reflex was to start recording the whole process so I just went with it! This here is the portrait is of Jar Jar Potter, the resident potter of the desert town:

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: