Another new week, which we’ll begin with some mixed fixes and additions! First up, a new version of the headless chef portrait, where his head has been replaced with… oh my… a tomato?

First of all we needed to decide which size this new tomato head would have, and to start off with we were unsure of whether we wanted a regular size or giant size tomato for the job – in the end we decided to go with the smaller one, and after playing around a bit with the sizing of the thing we got to this conclusion:

Now, how you get to put that tomato head on to a ghost’s body is something you’ll have to figure out for yourself!

Next up, a special type of door that will lead you in to the new Flying Fortress room I made last week:

We’re not yet sure exactly where this door will appear in the fortress, so for now I made the door in a random room – it will move to another location once we know where we want to put the room!

And so finally, some smaller additions to the Pillar Mountains improvements I did so far; more to come:

Now I thought we’d take a little look at how it’s going on with the Ghost Ship progress!

Teddy has been working hard to implement all of the stuff me and Fred made for him, which includes a bunch of cutscenes with the captain and some ghosts:

There’s the ghost ‘recruitment’ system, which allows you to present items to ghosts in order to bring back the memories of their past selves:

As well as that fancy eye boss, which has another attack featuring epic laser redirection:

There’s still a bunch of cutscenes and a bunch of puzzles to add, but the final floor is coming together slowly but surely. Soon we only have the final boss of the ship to deal with, which in itself will be an interesting but very exciting task…

Meanwhile in the portrait department it’s time for one more ghostlike portrait! While the Chef now has a portrait without his head and one with a tomato instead of his head, his actual head needs a portrait of its own, now doesn’t it? So, here we go:

Recognize this guy? Last time we saw him was in the past, in Tai Ming! But now he’s back in a slightly less… living state. Whatever happened to him? Soon it’ll be time for you to find out!

Finally this week, the boss progress continues and Fred has been busy making more and more attacks for giant eye you will be facing off against!

Now, for something we haven’t touched in a very very long time… The Flying Fortress! As part of the Ghost Ship update we want a certain people to.. come back from the dead, as it were, and in order to make them remember who they are it’s time to add a room in the Flying Fortress where they used to work, where you’ll be able to find something to remind them of their long forgotten past!

The character in question may or may not be one you have encountered before… Can you figure out whom?

Next up in the batch of portraits is the Bartender’s assistant, which is one of the ghosts that will play a part in the main story! Can you find them on the ship and bring them back to their work in the bar?

No bar or fancy dining place is complete without someone to keep everything and everyone in check, and so this ship’s bar has it’s very own bouncer whom you’ll need to bring back on duty as well! Looks like he’s kept on working out even after death…

We’ll do one more portrait this week, just to finish up the portraits needed for the time being! This time it’s the ghostly fae’s turn to get their portrait done, like so:

And now, time for something we haven’t done in a long time – a video! This one featuring a bunch of the drops you’ll find around the Ghost Ship:


New week and a new cabin redesign! This cabin belongs to a fashion designer from Tai Ming, who fled their home to start a new life in the Merchant Isles after the great cataclysm started by Zhamla:

After that, it’s time for a quick break from the Ghost Ship to make another one of the Pillar Mountains improvements! Because this cave will have some significance later on, we wanted its entrance to look a bit more fancy:

What you’ll find inside? Well… You’ll see!

For now it’s time for some more ghost like portraits, starting with the headless chef:

Quite an.. eh.. Interesting portrait, no? First time drawing a portrait without an actual head!

And next up, the bartender, who will have an important part to play in the players quest to get through this dungeon:

With the ghost ship ghost quest inclusion, it’s time to do something we haven’t done in a long time – add another interface!

In your quest to help the ghosts, you will need to bring items to them that will remind them of who they are. To do this, you’ll have to first speak with a confused ghost, bringing up an interface featuring all items you’re able to present to the ghosts (mainly misc and key items). Upon selecting an item, the ghost will then let you know if it’s what they’re looking for (which will clear up their confusion), or if it’s not.

We wanted this interface to be quite straight forward with lots of space for items so you don’t have to scroll too far looking for the item you want to give each ghost. We also wanted a box where you can view the item’s name before giving it.

Here’s my early sketch:

And the progress:

We’ll start off this new week with adding a slight puzzle or bonus thing to the corridor thing, featuring a pushable piece of staircase!

Our goal is to include a bunch of these optional things for the players to do while making their way through the ghost ship, as well as the side quests with the ghosts that we’ll be adding likely at a later date.

For now though, let’s take a look at how I move things around and create this rather simple puzzle thing:

As we come up with more of the ghosts that you’ll meet in the ghost ship, a couple of the rooms need to change a little to properly house them. This cabin for instance, which was left rather bland while we decided which ghost we wanted to stay in it, has now been turned into a singing diva ghost’s cabin:

And of course, with the addition of all of these ghosts, it’s time to start making portraits for them as well! Starting today with the pianist:

The next spirit portrait is that of an old lady! Sometime during the many years since the ship left harbour, she got separated from her husband. Will you be able to reunite them again?

In Fred’s animation department, there’s a bunch of more enemy details being worked on! The eerie painting can now spin around like a madma-… err madspirit, and there are some creepy eyeballs rolling around (ew):

For one of the puzzles there will be torches to light, and ghosts holding them up:

And also, a couple more friendly(ish) ghosts to live on the ship:

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!

Good news everyone! In case you missed it, on Frontline we now have a bunch of new quests, items, craftables, and so on! Also, sound effects!!

So basically, this patch is what we intend as a release for Stable once all the bugs have been ironed out. As always, we’re super interested in hearing your feedback on these new additions, so please go ahead and share your thoughts!

I’d say the main thing we added aside from a bunch of quests are the memory orbs, of which there are five in total. Can you find them all?

These next few days Teddy will be busy with bug fixing (unless through some miracles there’s none to be fixed), while me and Fred will get back to the ghost ship. First though, here’s a few additional things you’ll be able to find in the game now that I didn’t show before:

We also decided to change the name and shop title for the potion salesman, which was previously simply ‘The Potion’ and is now what you see below:

Lastly, after testing a bunch of quests in the desert each of us got quite annoyed with the fact that there’s no teleport plate in Port Monnaie, so as a bonus for people who have a lot of extra gold to spend, we’ll include a salesman selling a teleport plate that will activate for Port Monnaie once you purchase it.

As such, this NPC salesman need not only a sprite, but also a portrait, both which can be seen below:

Now, however, it’s time for more ghost ship backgrounds! In this second smaller room, we’re introducing the first giant hole in a floor on the ghost ship. On the first floor, we kind of wanted to embrace the fact that we’re on a half-ruined ship by having areas filled with water, but on these upper floors we want dark holes here and there instead, which we intend to fill with blinking eyes and other spooky things when you’re in the ghost world:

And here’s the corridor which will connect the two smaller rooms showed previously. For this room, we’ve made some special decorations; cannons and cannon balls!

We’ll probably place these cannon balls here and there on the first floor to serve as ‘ammo’ for the wizard’s telekinesis attack: after all, what better thing to hurl at the hero but a cannon ball? That should do some damage… :)

Next it’s time to slowly begin with the third floor! Here we’ll have a slightly different floor type, and the decorations will be a bit more fancy seeing as we’re moving up to some fancy people’s living quarters. As such I’ve put two busts in this room, and further, similar decorations will be added; though right now I’m a little unsure of how much I can put in this room since I don’t know if it’ll be used for fighting yet.

I think after this room I’ll go back over the rooms I’ve already made and add some creepy decorations for their spirit world counterparts, where everything gets an added dose creepiness! Stay tuned~

We’re drawing closer to the stable patch, and in doing so we’re in need of a few more items! Here we have the creation of a vest, a pair of shoes, a full card album (could it be real?!), a pair of earrings and a new hat: the fez!

 

Since we decided that the shield salesman will be dealing with armor as well, I figured I’d put a random armor among his many shields to illustrate that fact as well:

And here’s a bunch of items that weren’t recorded, featuring a shoulder strap, a battery, a camera lens, a …seven.. three drop appearances for cutouts that will become available as housing items and a ton of weapon sprites for all the weapons Fred has been working on. Phew!

Next up, the background for the professor Pine and Tannie cutscene needed a bunch of new (and old) stuff, and for some reason I decided to make a short video of that process:

 

We’re also introducing a pair of friendly faces in the town of Port Monnaie. Remember where these guys are from?

Perhaps this cutout will serve as an additional reminder:

The girl has been animated by Fred as well:

Next, the shop titles for all of the shop! We’ve been so busy making things for them to sell that we actually managed to forget they need graphics for the shop’s interfaces…. Oh well, that’s an easy fix:

All of the shops in Port Monnaie will carry new unique items, though some will also sell things available earlier in the game. The Potion shop will work just like Remedi’s Alchemy and will allow you to change your potions; which, by the way, will be an added function to the potion shop in Tai Ming as well (though if you’ve played so far as to reach the desert, I’m afraid you won’t be able to access the Tai Ming shop anymore).

The Jar, Souvenir and Carpet shops will all be focused on housing items, while the others will carry new gear; Helmut & Headgear carries hats, Topaz’ accessories, Shield + Guard armors and shields, and Blade and Arms sell, unsurprisingly, weapons.

Another thing that remained was making these expressions for Professor Pine and Tannie in the flashback orb showing their work on stopping Zhamla:

And now, finally, with the addition of this final piece..:

..(which is the graphic for the desert fishing achievement), I think (for like the 5th time) I’m officially done with everything needed for the stable patch. Let’s hope I’m right this time :D

Now, there’s a lot more Ghost Ship backgrounds to do, so let’s jump straight back into it! First up is a bunk room of sorts, where the sailors used to sleep when they were still working on the ship and they weren’t ghosts:

Here you will battle enemies, and once a prototype for the kitchen is ready, I will add the kitchen on the right side, one platform up but on the same screen (I will add a jumpdown back into this bunkroom from there). One idea we have for decorations here when toggling into the ghost world is that you’ll see skeletons of the sailors in their beds… But I’m not sure if this will be too macabre or not. What do you guys think?

Next, we have a set of rooms one next to the other, both of the smaller kind. There will be a corridor above these two rooms, where the path is blocked, so you have to pass through these two rooms to get to the other side. And here’s the first one:

Like with the bunk room, we have a few ideas for ghost world-only decorations here too. In this case, we want to make a spooky version of the painting on the right and possibly some spooky shine around the candles and lanterns on the tables.

Time to make some more portraits for the flashback orbs you’ll be able to find throughout the world in that upcoming stable patch (and the frontline patch that naturally will precede it). Perhaps you’ll be able to recognize this silly young girl, and imagine what awesome trio will be featured in the next orb we’re making:

Any guesses? ;)

Next up, unsurprisingly… Two young gangsters in the making, and now I think you most certainly can start to guess who will be the subject of this flashback orb:

However, there’s one more character involved in the events that will be portrayed…

Hold your horses. Mandrake. Out of all characters, why Mandrake? What did he do in his young days to warrant a portrayal in a flashback orb? What’s his connection to the Black Ferrets? Has he really always looked this ridiculous?!

I guess y’all better find this memory orb and find out (once it’s been implemented) :D

Alright, so previously I’ve mentioned three flashback orbs that will be available, dealing with Zhamla finding his first card, Young Dad meeting equally young Ivy and Charlotte, and Charlotte speaking to the winter elder after saving Santa Fae from the legendary Goblin King.

Since then we’ve decided to add two more such orbs, one that details how the Black Ferrets gang came to be (which yes, weirdly enough involves professor Mandrake!), and one that features Professor Pine and Tannie working on the weapons they used when trying to defeat Zhamla.

The portraits for the mentioned events have been made, but now they all need expressions to fit what’s going on:

Meanwhile, a different piece remaining before the desert is fully ready for the stable patch is a set of treasure maps. These will be given to you by the archaeologist Finder, who is busy doing other things and cannot dig at so many places at the same time. So it’s up to you to find and bring back these ancient treasures to the archaeologist’s collection:

Perhaps by doing so, you might even get some sort of reward?!

As for the maps themselves, they too need to be made. And since you’re here and have read this far, you can have a look at them before anyone else:

Can you figure out where to look for the treasure? :)

And now an update from the programming and animation department! Teddy and Fred have been working hard on adding the remaining Flashback Orbs, which which means there’s a ton of new sprites and animations needed. First one of young Zhamla casting a spell:

Vilya beating someone up:

Young mandrake’s design and animations of him walking threateningly and running away from something scary (wonder what that could be):

And a bunch of designs for an ancient piece of weaponry, once meant for Phaseman. Unfortunately (?) for the player, the piece ended up sold and shipped off on a certain ship instead. The first time we’ll see this ancient relic is in the flashback orb with Tannie and Professor Pine, but I have a feeling you’ll see it again, somewhere…

Since we’re adding a bunch of quests, drops and a few craftables, there’a also a bunch of items to be made. Here we have the given #1 favorite weapon for all classes, a book:

And the #1 favorite housing item for every player in the world, the cat food bowl in action:

Who can’t wait to fill their house with cats?!

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! :)

Once again, thanks for all the feedback surrounding the desert patch! Now it’s a new week with new adventures, and for now we’ll focus more on upcoming stuff!

So while the actual room-by-room design of the upper floors of the ghost ship haven’t been decided, we know what types of rooms we want, and one such room is the cabin. Or cabins, really. We’d like the player to battle their way through a set of cabins on the second or third floor, so naturally we need to make a bunch of items that can be seen in these cabins. As such, I made a random design of what one such room could look like, and made a bunch of random props to put in it.

I know I mentioned we’d continue on adding things for the desert’s stable release, but I’ll have plenty of time to do that while throwing in a ghost ship background or two… :)

Let’s take a look:

 

 

Next, another portrait from past times: this time featuring young dad!!

At this time in his life, he recently got accepted as a Collector after passing the trials, along with Charlotte (your mom) and Ivy, who went on to become the grandmaster of the Collectors.

And now, what I believe to be the last in a series of the younger version portraits: Ivy, from a time before she became the leader for the Collectors!

Who is this mysterious person, and what was her relationship with Dad and Charlotte like in the past? All questions that may soon be answered through those memory orbs…

Next up, another card… There are still a few left, after all! This is the Orange Slime card, featuring an orange slime used as a saw by the desert’s own carpenter, Mallet:

 

 

Meanwhile, after having made a ton of NPCs for the desert, it’s finally time for Fred to start working on the Ghost Ship enemies!!

The first enemy he’s making is a skeleton ghost, which will come in two versions: one that wields a sword, and one that uses magic to buff and debuff the surrounding players and enemies! As usual, he’s made a lot of sketches featuring different versions of the enemy below (starting with the sword-wielding one), with the one in the green circle representing the one he’s decided to work with for the first couple of animations.

The magic user version will likely have a different color scarf and a slightly changed hat:

Exciting times! Can’t wait to start prototyping and testing these guys out, it’s gonna be so nice to move on to a different area after so many months working on the desert! As always, it’s great to be an indie dev cause as soon as you get tired of one thing, everything changes and you need to start working on something else!