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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Hello guys! This post is one day late due to the easter holidays, so apologies for that. Hope you’ve had a great time :D

Now, last week was quite interesting in terms of game design discussions. Our original idea for the ghost ship was for you to battle the Captain two times, where the second encounter would be harder and more bullet hell-y as he’d be using some high tech equipment found on the ship. However, after a lot of discussions back and forth we’ve decided to try out new ideas for the second boss battle. The reason behind this is that we simply didn’t feel too excited about the attacks and patterns we’d come up with for the boss, and we kind of felt like something completely different might fit better gameplay wise.

So, because of this, we’ll start looking into a different type of boss, something that has more of a pattern since there will be enough bullet hell-y elements as is in this dungeon. Our most recent idea is to go with the theme of eyes that has been quite prominent in the ghost world so far, and use some sort of giant eye as a boss – more on that later after we got some prototypes up and running!

Because Teddy has been having some bonus time while he’s waiting for graphics, he’s been starting work on some Arcade Mode stuff; specifically a new type of challenge (or mode if you will) where everything is more randomized!

Specifically, this means when doing this challenge thing, you won’t level up normally, but you’ll get your skills and upgrades through chests and as drops from enemies:

Upon completing a floor you’ll get to choose from three upgrades as well, giving you some options on how to proceed with your build (keep in mind the graphics are still placeholder, we’ll come up with some fancier way of illustrating this):

We’re not yet sure when this mode/challenge will unlock, or when we’ll get to finish it, but the foundation is there now anyway! How do you guys feel about it? Excited for some more randomized factor in Arcadia, or do you think you’ll stick to the regular mode?

Continuing with the Arcade Mode intermission, it’s time to make some more of those rooms! To spice things up a bit in the desert floor(s), we’ll be having some cave rooms as well as those outdoor ones. They will not be as frequent as the others though, so I’m only making two different sizes for these!

For the foundation of the rooms, I’ll be using one of the math caves as a base:

And then, since these rooms will almost always lead back outside, I made a special exit that show the outside rather than darkness:

And here we have the two room sizes:

Now, for that new boss prototype I mentioned earlier! Teddy has put together something quickly with the help of some very basic placeholder art from Fred:

So one of the things with this eye boss is that it automatically forces you into the ghost world, where you’ll have to deal with all sorts of obstacles. After a while you’ll be able to swap back into the regular world – but only for a short while, so you better time it well!

The next thing it does is that it will spawn other eyes with different eye colors, which you have to eliminate in a certain order. Fail to do so (or do it too slowly) and you’ll get punished and take some damage:

Right now the eye simply tells you the order, but in the finished version you’ll get a different sort of hint, probably through the eye changing color or something like that:

Back in Arcade Mode it’s time to make a set of decorations for the different rooms that can be mixed and matched to create a lot of different room graphics. Our strategy for this is that I’ll make 3 different sets of decorations for each corner of every room size, which can then be mixed and match with the other corners, creating a ton of different combinations for each room.

As always, I use the editor to do these things, so that Teddy can easily add each of them into the engine:

Remember this room from last week= One of the doors that lead out of this room will be hidden until you complete the puzzle, so to hide it and give the room a bit more character I’ve been making a couple of shelves and decorations for them!

Once you complete the puzzle, the shelf on the right will slide across the floor and reveal the door behind it!

The next step is of course to ghostify the world, something we’ve been doing for a lot of rooms by now, so the process is pretty straight forward:

Next up, there’s the room that’s waiting inside the one we just finished. This is a room with some maps and notes, and also a key that will lead you to the next floor!

And the next step – of course! More ghostifying! This spirit world version is much like the other spirit world version rooms across the ship, bringing in the snake, spiders and bones:

Another thing we’ve been working on lately is a special encounter / mini boss type of deal featuring…. a fridge! Previously, we talked about the kitchen area of the ship being a bullet hell challenge, but seeing as the boss already uses a lot of bullet hell mechanics we thought we’d spice things up a bit by doing something slightly different.

So what you see below is a prototype of this battle, using the good old living puzzle block as a base (when it’s finished it’ll be an actual fridge, rest assured):

So basically, the idea here is that it jumps around in the kitchen, where some fires spring up from vents in the floor (a normal feature for every decent kitchen, right?) and your goal is to make it land on the fire as it appears, so the flames will damage it. In this first prototype, we used shockwaves as the thing that damages the player, but since it’s a fridge, what we want from it is something closer to this:

Ice attacks! We’re already quite satisfied with this encounter as it is right now, so all we gotta do now is give it some proper graphics.

Time to start working on those colors! This is gonna take a while since the ship is super huge, so I’ll split it in two parts (or however many are needed). In the first part we’ll be dealing with the basic colors, getting them down somewhat in any case. Might change them around later but it’s good to start with a base:

Obviously it’s gonna get a lot more detailed than this, and the water will be animated as well. We’re also considering changing the size of the upper front and back of the boat, making them bigger since they look kind of small right now. Oh well, onwards we go!

Time to take a look at what’s happening with the skeletons and discuss a piece of their design!

So one thing we’ve been wanting to do with our skeleton enemies is to give them a quirk where their head will fall off and become an enemy of its own, sort of like the Jumpkin from Pumpkin Woods; a pretty easy enemy that you just whack over a couple of time to get rid of, but that serves as an interesting game play element.

Because of this, Fred has started working on the skulls and what they’ll look like when they fall off and are brought to life on their own, and as he did so, we realized the square shape they currently have isn’t exactly ideal for what we want to do; it’s maybe a bit blocky and simple:

So to remedy this, we’ve now made a different, more regular looking skull, that we feel fit better:

While we do love the idea of the square head, it being a bit more original and all, we think this looks better overall. How do you guys feel?

So these last bunch of days we’ve been playing around with a bunch of new puzzle ideas for the ghost ship – we really want to mix things up and get some interesting use out of these mechanics. So, first thing we’ve tried is using the spirit world mechanic to make a burning ghost light candles for you.

Here’s a GIF showing our super early prototype:

Basically, the ghost ignores you while you’re in the regular world, and will start chasing you once you enter the spirit world, so your goal is to position yourself so that the ghost will pass over the lanterns (currently the white squares) and set them alight. Completing this task will open a door for you.

If you’re too slow however, the candles will stop burning and you need to set them alight again.

These ghosts will appear in other areas of the game as well where they will simply serve as an enemy/obstacle – you won’t be able to kill them, and as soon as you enter the spirit world they will chase you. I believe I might have mentioned them before in relation to the room with all the creepy bridges, where you’ll have to avoid them while making your way to the other end of the room.

The second mechanic we’ve been playing around with has been something slightly different, yet reminding of something we’ve used before. In Tai Ming we had puzzles where you had to kill statues in the right spot, so that they pressed a button for you. In this dungeon, we’ll do something similar.

Below is the WIP gif:

We use statues as the placeholder graphic here, but they will more likely be some kind of floating armors or some such.

The idea is that these armors only live while in the spirit world, where they follow a set pattern of movement. If you go back into the normal world, they will fall to the ground and remain still. So, the trick here is to adjust the timing of their pattern by hitting them a few times, so that when you return to the regular world, they will each fall on a button if you time it right.

This will be a bit clunky in multiplayer, but we’ve decided on going down the path where it’s enough for one person to be in the spirit world to make them move around. In the GIF above, the adjustments are pretty slim as you hit them, but in the final version we want each hit to make a bigger difference so that you really notice something happens to their patterns when you interact with them.

How do you guys feel about these new puzzle ideas? If you have any others, feel free to share!

Next we’ll start making one of the remaining rooms we’ve yet to finish up; the Mess hall! We’ve showed this room a couple of times already – it’s the room with the creepy bridges. In this first part we’ll get all the basics down, the correct walls and floors as well as some basic decorations; ropes, vines, boxes and so on.

There will be a bunch of floating tables here as well, but those we’ll save for another time. For now, here goes:

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 fiancĂ©, 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 fiancĂ© 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: