Alright! Time for what I *believe* will be the final batch of fixes (on my end, anyway) for the desert before the patch lands! There’s still a portrait or two left, but here’s a bunch of the minor additons I’ve been working on:

First up, a Merchant Isles’ sailor hat, that might become yours if you complete a certain quest! Another item that is involved in a quest is the below part of a statue:

This farmer is a character who you’ll meet in these new quests as well, so I’ve been making a couple of expressions for him:

Meanwhile, I wasn’t completely happy with the anatomy of the mayor’s portrait, so I’ve made a slight fix for it and also aged her slightly (old version first, then the new one):

There’s a couple new items as well, which means there’s need for more drop appearances! Among these are a bottle based on an animation made by Fred (you can see his sprite on the right in parts of this WIP-gif), as well as a tomato and an onion!

We also changed the layout of the mayor’s house a bit, adding more items and characters, making the place feel more like the art/history exhibition it has become (old version first):

Finally, I wanted to increase the amount of greenery in one of the caves, so I went back and added a bunch of plants and leaves here and there:

Previously, I remade the portrait of the Mayor, but another portrait we weren’t quite happy with was that of Wishi (who also happened to look oddly similar to the Mayor’s first portrait):

Only one way of fixing this, and it’s to throw together another portrait, this one giving a bit more of an attitude:

And the finished remake below:

As usual, you can’t have a boss battle (even if it’s a side battle not related to the main story) without a boss portrait. This portrait will be slightly different as it’s the first one that has a sprite in front of the textbox! We thought the tomato would look cute in front of it, rather than have all his vegetables hidden behind the box.

WIP and finished version below:

I’m working on the cards as well, and while they may not be included in the patch, they should be added shortly after! Here’s a video featuring the creation of the Sand Raven card, where one such annoying bird is preparing a meal:

 

Now, a couple weeks ago I estimated that by now the patch would arrive! However, as you’ve certainly noticed, no patch has been uploaded yet – so what has happened? Well the short version is that we wanted to make things more interesting (don’t we always), so the added work has pushed the patch forward by a couple of days.

In other words, we hope to release the patch in the beginning of this week instead (hopefully tomorrow)! Serves me right for making estimates, they just never end up being correct…

Anyway, in the meanwhile, have some sneak peeks of what you’ll see in the upcoming patch, starting with a couple of animations for the desert carpenter:

Two more items:

Due to something you may or may not do, there will be changes in the desert map:

A new type of halloweed?!

Aaand a ton of new expressions for people you’ll interact with:

Stay tuned, and let’s hope this estimate of the patch release will actually be right this time!!

Moving on to lesser priority NPCs that may or may not make it into the patch, we have a priest that will be available in the church in Port Monnaie! In the beginning we wanted the church to belong to Bishop, but in the end we decided to leave him in the desert instead, letting this church be a remnant of the ancient religion you saw once in the past of Tai Ming instead.

As such, she’ll wear the same style of hat as the priests back in the day wore, though her overall garb is inspired by modern day priest outfits rather than the ancient robes worn by the priests of Tai Ming’s past:

As for the Ghost Ship, since I made the only two rooms for the first floor that I can make before prototypes of the rest have been made, I’ve decided to move on to do things for the second and third floor instead.

While the design of these floors haven’t been properly established, there are a bunch of rooms we know we want to include. One such room is a kitchen, so in preparations for making the room, I’ve spent some time making a ton of props for the room. Perhaps not all of these will be used, and perhaps I’ll need to make some more once we actually design the room, but this is a good base to have – and in worst case, I’m sure we’ll be able to use some of these props in other parts of the ship (or, in other parts of the world)!

Here’s a video of the progress:

Aaand the props in their finished state:

One portrait we weren’t quite happy with was that of the mayor, which can be seen below:

Not only is the style a bit off compared to the other portraits in the game, we didn’t feel the overall quality of it was quite up to par, so we decided I should remake it. Using Fred’s newly made NPC sprite as the inspiration, I began the remake:

And here’s the new version! I know the anatomy of her head is a bit off – don’t worry, it’ll be fixed in an upcoming edit :)

Now, this week is rather portrait heavy, as more last minute characters are added! This boy is a receptionist in a building where the mayor’s husband exhibits his expensive collection of ancient findings – some which originate from the ancient Tai Ming!

As for Fred’s progress: remember those vegetable enemies Fred made a while ago? Wouldn’t be much of an enemy if there’s no way for them to appear, or to defeat them, so of course each of them need a spawn and death animation.

Are you ready to eat your vegetables?

A few weeks ago we had a discussion about whether we’d include these in the frontline patch or not, since you’ve been waiting so long and this is “merely” part of a side quest relating to the desert. However, because of the desert taking so long, we decided it’s more fun to include a couple of these side quests as well, since they won’t take that much extra time to add (we already prepared the graphics anyway).

Our estimate is to have the patch up and running either late this week or in the beginning of the next, so unless something unforeseen happens, get ready to battle these cuties very soon!

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

Next up, we have another boss portrait! This one of course featuring the Solem boss you’ll face off against inside the ruins:

Since he has a gem for a face, we thought what better name for this swell guy, than Sol-Gem? Said and done:

As always, there’s a ton of minor things to add and adjust right before an update, so here’s a very mixed set of things, starting with two new expressions for one of the characters in town:

A slight edit of the first desert ruin room, where we’ve removed one of the scriptures for a small note on the wall, carved by some ancient apprentice:

In the second room of the ruins, we’ve moved down the altar for the gem so there’s enough room for the giant rock to appear behind it, as well as a more broken version of the arc that will replace the previous one once the rock has rolled into it:

The scriptures around the desert have gotten some upgrades too (or should I say downgrades), since we didn’t want the text to be readable we’ve decided to make them look torn and broken enough to justify the text not being legible:

In the math puzzle cave, I also went ahead and added those number wizard statues I mentioned before, and have since decided to upgrade the look and feel of the first cave slightly as well (more on that later):

Now we have this week’s portrait, which features a giant of a man who works in the desert mine. His name is Big Brutus, and I have a feeling he’s not someone you want to mess around with:

Now, for those math puzzles… First up, I’ve made the other two caves in this system, which was pretty straight forward after everything was completed in the first cave:

But then I thought the first one looks just too simple, especially when there’s so much sand in it, so I decided to mix things up and make a slightly more interesting background for this one. So here we have the process:

And the final version of the first room, yay:

Alright, so there was one thing remaining to do in the desert ruins, and as most of the things have been implemented by now, it’s time to get going with these puzzle blocks!

These blocks are special in the sense that you need to place them correctly according to a creation myth found within the temple, so instead of just regular blocks, they have a slightly more interesting look:

 

 

And here’s the final blocks by the end of the video:

Progress on the desert continues! We’ve now started implementing things in those desert ruins, where you’ll face another boss battle. When I mentioned there was gonna be an Indiana Jones-y scene in here, some of you wondered of what kind… I think this GIF should answer that question for you:

WIP of course, this is but the first step of the iteration!

Speaking of iterations, we’re also working on the boss! This Solem is a very dangerous guy who likes to use his laser in creative ways. Good thing he also slams his fists in the ground, causing giant rocks to fall from the ceiling that can block such beams for you:

(One everything is implemented, the rock will look to be part of the ruin, rather than a random Mt:Bloom-esque boulder!)

He has another fierce laser attack as well, featuring multiple beams that follow you for a little while:

Aside from these, he’ll act like a regular, but amped-up Solem, chasing you around trying to hit you. He’ll also have one attack where he slams his fists in the ground causing shockwaves to appear all around him, which you’ll have to dodge.

Fred’s continuing to work on his animations, too, of course so here’s a more finalized version of what he’ll look like as he blasts those laser beams at you:

There are more caves in the making, as well! Those math puzzle caves had to be designed, and to mix things up I decided to go for a slightly different color scheme compared to the rest of the caves in the desert:

It looks a little bare right now, so we’ll probably add some more details, maybe in the form of statues of numbers, or perhaps even of the number wizard who made these challenges in the first time! For now though, here’s the first iteration of the first math puzzle cave:

Can’t have new bosses without new boss portraits, so here’s an upgraded version of Marino’s boss portrait, featuring his lovely shadow clones!

As you might remember, his last subtitle was The Ultimate Rival, however, as the story progresses some things change… Why an “ultimate friend” would fight you? I guess you’ll just have to play through the story and see!

I’ve mentioned this before, but the relationships between the characters haven’t been super fleshed out, a fact we are well aware of and will likely remedy slightly by adding more scenes to the story (once the rest of the game is done). This way we also hope to give an incentive to those of you who have played along chapter-by-chapter with every new update to play through the whole thing once more time, the way it’s supposed to be experienced in the end. In the end, we plan for the finished product to feature slightly more story as well as new side quests for most (if not all) parts of the game.

As for this week’s portrait, it features a pirate hanging out in the saloon! In fact, he’ll be one of the card players (whom I actually made a portrait of before – but his sprite got changed afterwards, so that old portrait will probably become a different NPC at some point instead):

Finally, Marino’s second boss battle has been finished and fully implemented, so now it’s time to spice up the little are where you face him! Previously, we’d left it pretty open, as we weren’t sure exactly how big his battle arena would be (we like to prototype the fight first and base the area on how much space we feel is needed).

Below you can see the old area, with the battle taking place inside the darkened frame:

In order to spice this up, I made a quick sketch of what it could look like instead, adding a level difference to act as the limitation downwards. Adding this, we had to increase the size of the map slightly downward as well, to make room for everything:

And then, it’s time to make the actual graphic adjustments for these changes:

And here’s the final version, featuring a much smaller battle area, and a slightly more interesting looking map overall:

Okay! Who’s ready for more desert fixes?! Seeing as we’ve named the desert Dragonbone Dunes, we wanted to add more dragon stuff to the area. First step is to make some dragon head statue pillars:

We also wanted to decorate those walls with some dragon wing plates:

But not all fixes on this map are of the dragon-decorative kind! There’s also a puzzle, which, as it’s now been properly designed, needs a more permanent background:

As part of the puzzle, we decided to add a bonus chest as well, so made a slight extension of one of the rocks to make room for that:

Behold the progress so far, almost done:

…actually, scratch that! Since the cave in the middle is a mushroom cacti cave, I thought it’d be fitting to put a bunch of them outside as well:

In the animation department, Fred has been hard at work with some cool environmental things that will appear in the desert! First up, we have the frozen cacti that will unlock a shortcut further into the desert, once you reach a certain season orb:

Second, a rope ladder! Since there’s a place where we really want the player to be able to move up and down quickly (though only after getting there the first time), we decided to introduce a rope ladder that you’ll be able to ‘activate’ after making your way to it.

No desert is complete without tumbleweed, so Fred has been experimenting with getting those up and running as well! Here’s a bunch of his WIP ideas:

He’s also making more NPCs, and here we have the progress sheet of the old scientist looking for ghosts! We’ve decided to name her Dr. Spengler as tribute to a special character in this sort of field. Who do you think that is?

As for something completely different: as I believe we have mentioned, once you complete Tai Ming, flashback orbs will activate throughout all of Grindea. While we haven’t added any just yet, these flashback orbs are set to give you insights into events that happened before you were around; stories of your parents, Zhamla, and other important events that have occurred throughout the world.

As part of the desert update, at least before it gets released on stable, we’ll include a set of these with more to be added in later updates.

The ones we’ll include in this update features memories that give some insight into your mother’s friendship with the fae, how your parents met, and how Zhamla found his first card! While they might not be vital to the story as a whole, we feel that each of these orbs will give some depth to the world and the people within it.

The dialogue for these have already been written, but we’ll return to actually implement them once the rest of the desert is done; likely while you guys are all busy beta testing those new enemies and boss fights!

In the end, once the game is done, we want to add plenty of these orbs, to give you a glimpse of many different things of the past. Are there any events or characters in particular you’d like to see? Let us know and we’ll see what we can do!

As or the portraits this week, the first one features the hat salesman of Port Monnaie, which we actually have decided to give quite a story. Because Helmut is a real life name that’s simply too good to pass up on, we decided to name this guy just that. However, seeing as we have a helmet called Helmit, we didn’t want to confuse people too much by having two characters with very similar names…. So we decided that Helmut and Helmit will be friends!

As such, you old acquaintance from Tai Ming will make a comeback in the desert town, where he’ll be hanging out with this swell fellow:

Finished sprite:

And you can’t have a beach town without tourists, so the second portrait this week will feature a guy shopping for souvenirs at the market place in Port Monnaie: currently, he’s very interested in a t-shirt!

Alright, so as you might know, one of the boss battles you’ll be dealing with in the desert is the return of Marino, who wants a second shot at beating you up! This time around, he’s leveled up and uses some crazy clone action to make this battle even harder.

As part of the prototyping process we’ve played around with a number of different patterns and types of attack. Here’s an early version of one such attack:

We want to play around with Marino and his clones moving across the playfield quickly, meaning you have to mind where you stand, or even move around in order to avoid damage:

We have multiple patterns like this, which will become more and more difficult as the fight progresses. Of course, there’s a lot of placeholder graphics here, but the overall idea is the same: there will be some sort of visual indicator for where Marino and his clones will move next, which fades away once they make that move.

Marino being Marino, he’s also learned the noble art of taunting his opponent, but be careful to attack him blindly, or you might come to regret it:

Now, time to continue working on the second room in those desert ruins! As mentioned before, it’s time to start working on the top part of this map, where some forgotten, ancient treasures will be….

 

In this final part we add more detail, but also that fancy mirror and the pedestal holding a very special crystal which might be directly linked to the boss battle in this ruin:

 

Our first portrait this week is a miner working in the desert! Like the other miners in our game, she wears the typical mining uniform, including the miner hat. The miner hat I use has already been made previously, so I only added it after the rest of the portrait was done:

The second portrait features one of the characters I forgot making a portrait for, which in this case is rather silly seeing as I made his shop stand and everything! This is the jewelry (accessory) salesman, selling items in the desert town’s market area:

Aaaand we return, slightly more well rested and ready to get back into the action!

Now that the desert and desert town is in place, it’s time to update the world map into a somewhat final version (there’s still the ghost ship remaining, but I’ll easily be able to add that later, as it’s in the midst of the water anyways)!!

Let’s take a look:

 

 

 

So basically, this is what the world map will look like after you’ve visited all of the areas (except the ghost ship):

So exciting! Only one more little ship to add, and then it’s all done. I’ve reworked the shadows that covers each area before you’ve explored it slightly as well, so you’ll notice things will look a bit different once this has been implemented. There will be 12 pieces to uncover in total, once the ghost ship has been added (13 if you count Tai Ming – but the Tai Ming piece of the map isn’t visible at all until you’ve actually been there). Right now I think there are a couple more than that since we wanted to make sure we had space for the areas we hadn’t designed yet, and their shapes look a little random. The water will be visible from the start, giving the map some more color from the beginning, as well.

Exciting times! This actually feels like such a huge milestone, even if the ghost ship is missing. I mean, even if the ship is missing – it looks complete on a whole different level compared to before. It’s been a long journey, but you can finally start to see it all coming together!

Speaking of the ghost ship, we’ve been making a ton of prototypes for various challenges and mechanics we’d like to include. First we have a challenge where you need to go between various platforms, and the only way of doing so is entering the spirit world. Only problem is, there’s an angry ghost attacking you if you enter his domain – so you can’t stay too long or you’ll take guaranteed damage.

We’re currently considering whether you’ll fall down if you leave the spirit world in the midst of a bridge. The other idea would be that you simply can’t leave until you’re on solid ground.

Next, a variation on the same theme. Here we have a prototype where you battle enemies in the ‘real’ world, in which you do less damage than you normally would on a similar enemy. Entering the spirit world, you do full damage, but you also get chased by the angry ghost from before! Decisions, decisions…

Finally, and old classic we’d like to include somehow: the good old phase shift puzzle – ghost version. Here, you need to swap between the spirit world and normal world on the fly (ha!), in order to make your way across.

As for the overall design of the place, we’ve decided on dividing the ship in three parts. The first part will be where you first meet the ghost captain, and where you’ll get the skill that allows you to enter the spirit world. This part of the ship will be mostly storage, so there will be rooms with lots of crates, barrels, buckets and other kinds of storage. The ship will have had lots of cool cargo, so hopefully we’ll be able to make this part look interesting.

The second part (and second floor) will house the living quarters for the sailors that ran the ship. Here we’ll have their sleeping quarters (great halls with many beds), a kitchen, dining hall, and such. There might also be one or two optional friendly ghosts here, who might give you a quest or two.

On the third floor will be a more luxe area: here they’ll have a grand entertainment hall with a bar and ghastly piano playing by itself, there will be huts for high paying passengers, and finally, the path to the captains own room…

We’ve also talked about adding another type of “enemy” (sketched above), which you actually won’t be able to kill! These things are in fact armors that were part of a shipment, which have now been possessed. So long as you’re in the regular world, they’ll just lie on the floor blocking your way – but once you enter the spirit world, the armors will come to life and float in to the air towards you. If they get too close, they’ll attack, but you won’t be able to damage them back. Instead, your only option is to leave the spirit world and have them fall back unto the ground – a mechanic that might also be helpful in certain puzzles…

On a similar note, during these talks we’ve decided that the long you are in the spirit world, the more ghostly it becomes. As such, spending a long time in the spirit world will cause shadowlike arms or spikes appear out of walls or even the floor, damaging and slow you as you go. If you’ve spent a long time in the spirit world, you might even begin to see hints of these things in the regular world as well…

Now, over to something else, such as this week’s portrait! This time it features the pianist, a guy who, as you may have guessed, plays the piano (in the saloon, the be specific). Since he’s in the saloon I went with the theme and made him sort of buff looking. Otherwise not much else to say about this guy for now!

WIP:

Finished sprite:

In the animation department, Fred continues with the desert stuff and has made a really cool death animation for the Solem, which kind of gets frozen in place before it disintegrates:

There’s also a lovely little salamander in progress, which we want running around the place here and there, as a purely decorative detail. Here’s a bunch of suggestions he made, with the one we ended up choosing the the red circle:

And of course, it needs a few animations as well, so here’s one where it’s sticking its tongue out, one where it runs off, and one where it escapes by digging its way into the sand – how cute!

Teddy has been hard at work implementing all of Fred’s NPCs, too, and for the fun of it he decided to put most of them in one screen, just to see what it’d look like. Have a peek:

And with that, back to work! See you next time~

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))

This week we’ve finally started planning the next dungeon in more detail! As mentioned previously, the final dungeon will be a ghost ship, with a skill that allows you to enter the spirit world, where you can see (and interact with) things you don’t normally see…

As most of you are probably aware by now, this blog is full of spoilers, but I thought I’d make another spoiler warning for the remainder of this post, as I’ll be going into more detail than usual.

So, what we’ve talked about recently is the main design on the dungeon, how things will start out once you enter the ship, and some of the mechanics we’re looking into using here.

To begin with, we’ll be adding another character that will make its first appearance earlier in the story than we are currently. While we’re not super excited to go back in time and add characters, hints and other things in areas most of you have likely played through already, I’m afraid it’s unavoidable when working on a game like this, chapter by chapter. We’d have to be geniuses or have thought out the game in much more specific detail before beginning any area to avoid this completely – and often you don’t realize what’s missing until you’ve had enough feedback from beta testers (or when it comes to story elements I guess you guys are more like beta readers). We already know we’ll add a bunch of extra scenes in the beginning to flesh out the story and relationships slightly, before the game is done. This will just be one more thing like that. Hopefully, this will give you all an incentive to play through the game once more at release, when all these additions and small changes are in place, to experience the story as we intend it to be experienced – in one go with all the proper story elements there from the beginning!

Anyway!! The character we’ll be adding is another scientist hanging out with Dad and the other scientists in the HQ lab. This character, however, will be focused on researching the spirit world, whether it truly exists, and how one would interact with it. Sometime into the story, he will have heard rumors of a ghost ship and will take off to investigate…

So, as you enter said ghost ship, you’ll meet with a flying weapon and someone hurling curses at you that you can’t see. Well, that’s a bit of a problem! Ignoring this threat, you continue onwards, battle some of our new enemies (more on those later), see a locked door, and eventually run into the scientist who will give you his spirit world machine that allows you to enter and interact with the spirits haunting the ship.

The gimmick of the ship will be to enter and exit the spirit world in order to solve puzzles and defeat enemies. Some enemies you’ll only be able to damage in the spirit world, but entering the spirit world will allow them to attack you with more attacks and deal more damage, as well. There will be enemies harassing you in the regular world, too, of course – so nowhere’s truly safe, but each world will have their own challenges. We’ll have our work cut out for us in making sure there is balance between the two and none you just stick to the entire dungeon. One of our ideas for this is having a meter limiting how long you can spend in the spirit world, since that’s the place you’ll be able to get rid of most of the enemies – and it’s a mechanic that helps increase the stakes in certain puzzles, when you can’t spend unlimited time solving them.

There’s a lot more discussion to be had, but for now I feel we have a good grasp on the early stages of the dungeon! For now, onwards with the desert and that final part of the desert ruins! This time we get into the details, adding those small things that tie everything together:

As you might have guessed, there will be a puzzle of some sort in the middle. While we know approximately what this will look like, we haven’t ironed out the specifics yet so for now it will remain empty.

Aside from that, here’s what it looks like in its completed state:

Since I’m finally running low on portraits to make, this week there will be just one! This guy is another oldtimer, made by Fred quite a while ago. He’s a gangster – or at least a gangster looking kind of guy (actually, you know, maybe he just likes to wear a suit.. who am I to judge?) – who hangs out in the saloon, playing cards:

Finished portrait:

You’d think we’d be finished with the desert graphics soon, but oh no, now that things are finally started to get implemented, there are a ton of edits that needs to be made – some things you just don’t realize need fixing before they have been properly added to the engine…

First up, we have the exterior of the desert ruin. Now that the ruins will be slightly bigger than we first though, we felt it needed to look just a little bigger on the outside too:

Then we have this area, which never got finished in the first place:

Earlier we actually thought we’d have some sort of desert storm challenge there, where you’d have to navigate your way through a desert storm, barely able to see anything. Since we didn’t have the details or layout for that ironed out yet, I just left that part of the desert empty. Since then, we changed things around and put the map with the saloon to the left instead, so now it was simply time to complete the map.

We’ve also decided to add a cave right before the season orb below, to give you a bit more of a challenge other than simply walking around to hit it (it will come as no surprise that you need to hit it to get across to the other side):

In this cave we’ll have a new type of puzzle, one we’re actually quite excited about! This one will be all about math, having you step on plates to make up a number shown inside the cave. Basic sketch below:

We plan on having three puzzles like this inside the cave, of varying difficulty (one will likely have 9 plates, another 20). One will also feature plates with enemies on them, which means you’ll essentially build your own encounter once you step out of the plates. Fun times!

Meanwhile, Fred has been working on the desert enemies. Here’s a zoomed in version of those birds that will attack you after hatching out of eggs, cause it’s simply too cute to pass up on showing:

We’ve also been working on the Solem laser! It’s now a lot brighter and more intense, clearly showing the difference between simply aiming and actually attacking you:

Fred has also been working on the puzzle plates we’ll use in those math puzzles mentioned. Here you can see the enemy plates as well, so cute:

In the end, it’s likely we’ll adjust the colors of this – but for now this is the basic idea of what they’ll look like!