For those of you who have opted into Steam’s client beta, you’ll have noticed that there’s a new library style in the works, which calls for new and improved graphics to showcase each game. For starters, here’s what the header of each game looks like now, and more specifically what the default was and how we changed it around adding our own graphics:

Unfortunately for us, being a pixel game and all, the automatic resizing won’t do us many favours, but it could be worse!

You library has a more clean view featuring cover art as well, like so:

How do you guys find this new library update? Do you like it or not? I think the best bit is how more visually satisfying it is to browse your library, seeing all of the juicy cover art all lined up! And of course, it’ll only get better as more and more games add these new graphics :)

Next it’s time for a bunch of smaller graphic assets needed here and there throughout the game! Starting off with a super cute very scary chest:

And a skeleton key, because which ghost ship would be complete without them:

For this room, we added some spooky decorations on a wooden board to give the players a hint there might be something there if you swap over to the ghost world:

We also weren’t quite happy with how fresh and clean these shelves looked, so we wore them down a bit:

Finally, a couple expressions for the captain, to give the cutscenes a bit more oomph:

Speaking of expressions, here are some more, featuring the rest of the main story cast in the Ghost Ship:

And since we decided to put Pine in one of the cabins, we thought we’d put in a bunch of Flying Fortress decorations in there as well:

Finally, let’s take a look at some animations for the final boss of the dungeon… Our dear friend Luke!
First up a bunch of sketches for what he could look like in this boss version:

And the first batch of animations made for him combo’d together:

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!

New week, and it’s time to finish up the third floor (my part of it, anyway)! With the hub room finished, the third floor backgrounds are more or less completed, and all that remains now is to add those fancy border decorations:

…and apply the floor masks to make sure the effects all go in their proper places:

Now that the interior of the ship is mostly done, it’s time to start focusing on finishing up the exterior, where the last boss of this dungeon will take place. Looking back at the shape of the ship, I felt a bit displeased with the way it looked and so decided to improve on it a bit, starting with the front:

Slightly better, no? I’ll adjust the back a little bit as well I think, but after that the exterior should be more and less done as well – until we start testing out the boss battle and no doubt need to adjust certain things, at least!

Continuing on then, the back of the ship needed a slight upgrade as well shape wise, so here goes:

In the interior, a while ago we decided to change the direction in which you travel through the eastern part of the ship’s third floor, resulting in that I had to change which of the rooms contained the rope ladder and which contained the jumpdown:

We’ve also had quite a few discussions regarding what we want to happen on the ship’s third floors, and a lot of our talks have revolved around whether or not we’d like to include friendly ghosts on the ship. Early on we wanted to avoid this, but as time went on we became more and more enthusiastic about the idea of having some friendly ghosts to chat to that could also give you quests; so we decided to go for it. As such, the final part of the ship will involve some traditional questing where you need to bring some ghosts back to their senses in order to get to the final part of the ship. Of course, once this is done you’ll also be able to do other quests with ghosts on the ship, making it a semi bustling place of its own (hopefully). Don’t worry though, we won’t go overboard (ha) – we’ll try to keep the amount of NPCs on the ships to a decent amount (and not Tai Ming style 60+) :)

With this addition, we actually feel a lot more excited about the ship as a whole, so hopefully it’ll be something you guys enjoy as well!

And speaking of which, here’s a bunch of Fred’s tests for the ghost NPCs which he starting working on pretty much as soon as we decided this is the route we want to take (did I mention we are quite excited about this addition?):

The first completed ghost is the spirit of a pianist who once played at the grand soirĂ©es of the hub room, but now has forgotten who he is and floats around the ship looking for clues that will return his memories… How sad! Will you be able to help him?

New week, and it’s time to finish up that ghost shop room by turning it into it’s spirit world version! For me, that means more darkness and some changed up colours, but once Fred gets his hand on this room, he’ll be adding some floating ghosts and creepy things in those cages among other things :)

Next up we have a special room that will appear in two different version! The first version is this, which is a perfectly ordinary room, no?

Of course, even the regular version of this room needs a proper ghost world version in case the player decides to turn the spirit lens on:

Now, for the second version of this room… It’s certainly different! See, the first time you’ll enter this room, you won’t be able to see the door. Instead, you’ll come face to face with just an ordinary wall.

And what lies behind the wall if you pass into the spirit world?

A mysterious, never ending bridge….. Of course!

And naturally, I have to make the version with just the wall as well, so here goes:

So what’s this bridge? Where does it lead? Can a neverending bridge actually lead anywhere? What does any of this actually mean? Well… It’ll all become very clear soon enough! Soon…

We’re back with a new week, and it’s time for the ghost ship exterior to get more detail work! This time around it’s all about making it look old and worn, adding moss and decorations fit an old ship drifting the sea for quite a while:

Next up, it’s time to start working on the kitchen room, where we’ll have one of the mini boss encounters against that fridge which we’ve shown the prototype of previously.

For those of you that still remember, I did create some of these kitchen props ages ago (among the first things I made for the ghost ship), but now it’s finally time to put them in their actual context and make this room properly:

And here in this second part of the kitchen creation, I’ll add some bonus details to make the room come alive a bit more; more shelves and stuff like that.

In the open space between the desks we’ll put the fridge once Fred has finished making it:

Finally, it’s time to turn the kitchen into a haunted, horrible place for its spirit world version:

And now that the second floor is more or less completed, it’s time to add all of that detail work that we applied to the first floor before! Let’s take a look at the second floor’s before and after:

This week it’s time for the Ghost Ship Arcade backgrounds, made in pretty much the same way as the other rooms; I’ve been using some of the rooms as a base and then simply edited them to fit our Arcade Mode needs:

Quite simple for now, but some decorations will fix that right up! And the first step to decorating these rooms is the add the basic stuff; moss, vines and background decorations that don’t need colliders. Each room size will get three different versions of these decorations, and each time you enter a room it’ll be randomized which one you get:

And of course, each of these rooms need the corresponding decorations in their ghost world version as well:

Finally, using our editor, it’s time to start adding the props. As with the desert rooms, each room size will have three different decoration types for each corner, and the corners can be mixed and matched so that there will be different combinations each time you enter a room, all to ensure no two rooms are exactly the same during your run:

This week it’s time for some more trap prototyping! This time we’ve been working on those eyes we’re using in the ‘ghost bridge’ room, but here they serve as a ‘trap’ of sort in an ordinary fighting room.

In our first iteration, we used the eye in the same way we use it in the ghost bridge room; basically moving back and forth in a set speed. If you’re in the regular world, the beam from its eye will be slightly transparent and won’t deal damage, while in the ghost world it’s darker and will damage you quite a bit if you get hit by it.

For the second iteration, we wanted the eye to feel more ‘alive’, so we’ve given it a couple patterns. Either it will slowly open its eye and cast a beam straight forward, or it’ll look to the sides as in the example above for a little bit before closing up again. These patterns are then randomized so you never know which one it will do next; you’ll have to keep track of it to know how to dodge it.

We do prefer the second version so far, as it makes the eye feel more like a living thing rather than something that just ‘blindly’ (ha) looks back and forth forever. It also keeps the players on their toes a bit since they need to keep track of what it will do next, rather than just dodge the eye beam over and over.

And now, time for something much less exciting but still very needed… Some background masking! This is a technique we use when we want certain effects and such to only be visible on the floor and nowhere else. Basically, each part of the floor is painted with a color (in this case a pretty pink), which will be used as a guide in the game for where the effect can appear.

Starting out by applying this to the first floor rooms, since we want to finish up the first floor and get it all sorted out before we move on to the other floors:

Next up, the captain’s portrait! To make sure I’m getting his features right, I’m going to trace the boss sprite for this one, using it as a base for the portrait:

And here’s the finished thing:

As I mentioned before, we’re currently working on finishing up the first floor. That means going over each room and adding the remaining details that have been missing. For the very first room, that entails adding a ton of boxes and crates to give the room a bit more ‘storage room’-y feeling:

Quite a few boxes! We thought of blocking the path leading straight to the door, but ended up keeping it open as we felt like forcing the player to take the long way around might feel a bit overdesigned.

Meanwhile in the animation department, the enemies are finally being polished into their final forms, their animations cleaned up with further details added. Just look at this:

Time to go over the rooms one more time and make a bunch of fixes! First up, making the room we made most recently slightly smaller, just to give it a feeling of being more crowded:

Secondly, roughing up the edges of the water part of the first boss battle room, so it doesn’t look as purposefully made:

Next, because of the mechanic allowing the player to fall down from ghost bridges in this room, I had to change the side of the hole slightly to make sure the player can’t fall down into it:

Also remade part of this background so that as the bookcase slides to the left to reveal the door upon completing the puzzle hidden inside, the floor shows the path accordingly:

And finally, added some numbers to the cabin room entrances, just to give it the feel of actually being cabins:

Now, after talking about it some more, we actually decided to make the small map room even smaller, and by quite a lot:

I made a painting of the ghost ship in its regular as well as its ‘spirit world’ version:

And also made a portrait that will be used later on in the captain’s room, featuring the captain himself. This time I started with the spirit world version, and went on to make make the regular world/human version:

And next, something small from the port town of Port Monnaie, adding a path to the left side entrance to the mayor’s house. At first we tried with a carpet, but we ended up going with the path since we thought it just looked a little bit better in the end:

Next up, it’s time to add some of those decorations Fred were playing around with to the rooms! I’ll start by adding them to the first floor to begin with, since we want to get that floor as completed as possible before moving on. Our hope is to be able to play through the first floor in its proper form asap, so we finally can get a real feeling for what everything’s supposed to be like before moving on.

So, here goes:

I definitely feel these decoration help with giving the ship a more… ship-y feel? And also makes quite a big difference in the detail level of each room as well. What do you guys think?

Now, finally it’s time to get up close and personal with the final enemy in the ghost ship: the crabs! They’ve been ‘finished’ for quite a while, but after we tested them Teddy removed the prototype room so I couldn’t record any gifs showing ’em off!

Now though, let’s take a look at these beasts:

Our inspiration for these guys were pretty much the boars, straight up. Just a semi-tanky enemy that can rush in and annoy you while you’re minding your own business. They also have some regular attacks, but if you stay too far away from them, chances are higher they will run in to mess you up, as seen above.

Upon defeating them, they will fall onto their back and disappear in the usual puff of smoke!

Unlike the other enemies in the ghost ship, the crabs are the only ones that work the same regardless of whether you’re in the ghost world or regular world. So, where the ghosts might become invulnerable or invisible in the regular world and gain increasingly powerful attacks in the ghost world, these guys will continue on as usual.

Meanwhile, Fred’s been busy making all kinds of creepy animations for the ship, taking the props I made and making them even more creepy by having them move (or making completely new and creepy animation we’ll stick here and there across the ship):

Which one’s your favorite? I think mine’s the first, featuring the lovely bag!

New week, and time to finish up the Mess hall by turning its regular version into a spirit world version!

As always, this involves changing the colors around a bit on the moss and such, but for this room it also involves a couple new props, including turning a couple of carrots into a sad and shrunken version of themselves as well as killing a flower in a vase:

Here’s the full WIP:

And the finished thing:

The boss fight prototyping continues, and we’ve made a bunch of changes and additions! First of all, the actual background has been added, which gives the fight a slightly more serious feel, but we’ve also added the proper graphics for some attacks such as the water ball thing:

And we’ve also edited on of his skills slightly, namely the skulls he summons:

Previously these skulls were only visible in the spirit world, which meant you had to swap back into the regular world to avoid them. Now though, we’ve made sure some of the skulls are in the regular world as well, making avoiding them slightly harder!

We still want to improve this fight slightly, but now it’s more about patterns more than anything – we’re kind of happy with what he does, just not the timings for when and in what order. In this version of the prototype seen above, he tends to randomly summon things for you to avoid, but we have since then made him go into various phases instead, meaning he’ll have a period of simply attacking followed by a period of summoning things for you to avoid. The second part will then feature both the bullet hell elements as well as dodging his regular attacks at the same time .

I think we’re really making progress with this and hopefully the finalized boss fight will be done soon – it definitely feels a lot closer to it now, anyway!

Next, it’s time to go back to drawing those disgusting bridges! In the mess hall there needs to be a ton of them, so I better get a move on and make a bunch of variations for them. Here goes:

And here are the finished things:

Next on our prototyping spree, we have another of the challenge rooms in the rather strange version of Startington! In this room, you’ll be facing obsession, and it takes the shape of you killing a whole lot of slimes, which then turn into… yourself?! What could it all mean?

Obviously this segment still needs a lot of work, but we’re getting there, and I think what we do in this part of the game is pretty cool even if it might not be super clear to everyone. Next up we’ll deal with the final(?) challenge, concerning ‘deceit’…

We’ll end this week with a look at a new room, though! This room is the final room of the second floor, so once this is done the whole 2nd floor can be put into the game, yay!

As you can tell, I’ve yet to make a painting to go inside the frame, but I’m kind of thinking I’ll make a painting of the ship itself. What do you guys think?

Second to last cabin! This is the one that connects to its neighbor on the left. Again, nothing much interesting to say about this, I think!

Final cabin! This one you’ll reach from the room on the right, and will take you back to the corridor where you came from after you’ve completed everything on the right side (the challenge we haven’t 100% designed yet):

Time for something slightly different! This is one of the “challenges” we’re working on, which is basically a room where you have to move over a bunch of floating platforms – however, the bridges between them will only be visible in the ghost world!

Here you can see a rare glimpse of what it looks like with the colliders in place, as well as what happens if you’re on a bridge when you turn back to the regular world (you fall down):

I’ve been testing out some things in regards to what these bridges might look like, and here we have one of the suggestions, which I think will be the one we’ll go for:

And a small test of what it’d look like when the tables are floating the way they should (the eyes on the wall is another mechanic we’ll be playing with, something that will force you back into the regular world so it won’t be too easy to walk through this room):

 

Since we’re drawing nearer to completing the first boss fight somewhat, it’s time to start tying together the first floor! In doing so, I need to rework the first room a bit, as some things have changed in our design since we made it for the first time:

Basically, we’re adding another “floor”, though all entries and exits are on the first floor of the room. This is so we don’t have to add any level differences in the boss room, which will be the room connecting to this one on the left!

Here’s the new version:

Meanwhile, Fred keeps working on the crab – and look how cute it is! Those tiny legs, aww… I don’t know how I’ll be able to kill this?!