Let’s start off this week with some more maps! These ones belong to the desert, and again, there’s two of each kind:

“East of the broken pillar, amidst the desert dunes”

“Well, well, well! It’s been a long (and hot!) day, but good luck ever figuring out where I hid this treasure!”

Next up is the portrait of a character you might have seen a bunch of times throughout the game, but who has never had an opportunity to speak… until now! Excited? Let me present to you yet another talking artefact:

Some more fixes for the stable release! An improvement of the sword portrait, some new battle indicators and a broken window in Ivy’s office! Oh my…

Now it’s time to add some additional expressions to some by now well known faces! Dad, Quinton and Ivy are some that are getting a whole new range of emotion for the final cutscene of this stable patch! What do you think is gonna happen? :)

I know it’s been a long time now since you got any updates from the animation side of things, and let’s just say it’s because this final cutscene, animation heavy as it is, is also quite spoilery. Things will be revealed, and some things might never be the same again. So we’re keeping away as much of it as possible for now. We’ve made quite a bit of progress though, so at least it’s progressing as it should.

Here’s a little sneak peek of some of the non spoiler-y animations:

What do you think is gonna happen? :)

So as a lot of you may have noticed, our world is currently facing a new kind of illness that is spreading rapidly as we speak. This illness, Covid-19, is now found in every part of Sweden, including the island where we live. The government is keeping us updated daily with the changes they’re making and how they rally the fight against it, with big changes is happening fast.

In order to help slow down and limit the spread, a lot of companies are suggesting their employees work from home if they’re able. This isn’t a recommendation from our government as of yet, though it’s been implemented in other countries and a lot of companies make their own recommendations. Now we’re making that same move ourselves.

We’re only a small studio with three people, but because our office is part of an office hotel where a lot of other companies work as well, we’ve decided to move our work stations home for the time being. While we love our office and the opportunities it gives us to see other people (or just the exercise of walking or cycling to it), we’ve decided that if through working from home for a bit we can help slow down the spread, it’s what we’ll do. For the company, this means little change except out discussions will be held over voice or video chats instead of in person. Technically, it’s possible for us to work from anywhere with little hassle.

In other words, hopefully we’ll be able to continue on as normal. We hope that all of you are staying safe and remember to wash your hands! Let’s not panic but do what we can to protect those around us who are in risk of being seriously affected by this virus :)

Now, we’re starting off this week with a random surprise addition to the stable update, the ability to view Trick & Treat (the strange twins in Pumpkin Woods) true form if you talk to them in the spirit world! We do still have plans for these twins, but now it’s likely they will have to wait until post release. However, this little secret will do no harm in the game in the meanwhile :)

As part of the final cutscene before stable ends, Ivy will be briefly unveiled, so a new portrait had to be made! There will be a bunch of expressions going on here as well, but we’ll get to that once the cutscene is closer to completion.

Without further ado:

Next, when I was looking to add more maps to the desert, I quickly realized there’s a big lack of treasure maps featured in Mount Bloom and Tai Ming as well! In order to solve this, I went straight ahead and made a bunch, starting with Mount Bloom:

“[…] that cave long forgotten, beneath the dragon’s jaw.”

I buried my treasure
So none be aware
And took great measure
That none could compare
To guard these great riches
I asked Mother fair
And that little one
Whose teeth you beware
Between them my precious
Now has its lair

And another batch, for Tai Ming this time:

“Buried with these pink daisies
I leave with you my [item]”

—-

“By the entrance to our holy shrine
Beneath the bell forever silenced
Cracked with time and dust
I lie my hope and dreams to rest”

Can you guess where they all are?

Hello everyone! We’ve been talking a lot about the last remaining things and in what order to do them. We have a very long (about 30 pages!) document featuring ideas we’d like to implement at some point, and last week we decided to go through a bunch of those things and sort them into categories being: Included in 1.0, Added Post-Release, Unsure, and Scrapped.

The things that go into the “Included in 1.0” list are things we’ll start making as soon as possible, at least before we start work on the final dungeon. At first we were thinking of making the dungeon first, but thinking about it we’d rather get all the other bits and pieces done first, so that once the final dungeon, and with it, the finale to Story Mode gets added to the game people can start (re)playing the game from start to finish without worrying about missing out on content that will be added afterwards.

Some of the things currently set to be added before the final dungeon:

* Progress bar for trophies – to give you an idea of how much you’ve got left to do before unlocking them!

* In the card album, make the enemy icons grayed out for enemies you’ve encountered but haven’t gotten the card of yet – just a minor graphic upgrade to make things look more clean and gives you a better idea of what cards you’re missing.

* Adding more collectors, a lot of whom will appear out in the fields and areas. We don’t want the player to feel like all of the collectors are just being lazy at home in Evergrind City! A lot of them are out there adventuring, just like you.

* More treasure maps; a lot have already been made but haven’t yet been implemented. Make new ones for the desert.

* Add some basic PVPing to the arena.

* Add some basic shield training to the Dojo in Evergrind City

* Decide what to do about the cut off house in Evergrind; either add a bridge from the beginning or a quest in which it gets added/fixed.

* Finish up loose quest lines (such as Remedi’s and Grandpa Joe & Miss Pidgy)

* An archaeologist that will be investigating the ancient ruins to the north of the farm

* The fertilizers that will make the sprouts grow and allow you to climb them. These will be found here and there throughout the game, with the last one being given to you after you beat the boss for the first time.

* A system where Quinton will rate your collection and give you a proper Collector rank depending on how much you’ve managed to collect this far.

* The Mansion in Evergrind South! About time you get to see what it’s like in there and who lives there, isn’t it?

* Reveal Trick & Treat’s true forms if you talk to them in the spirit world…

* A quest to resolve the mysterious scarecrow’s plight.

* The spring room in the Temple of Season’s lobby

* A satisfying ending to Steve’s journey to escape mushrooms

* Some sort of quest relating to the giant tree in the desert (not yet decided upon)

We also have a list of quests that we may or may not implement before 1.0 depending on how it all ends up feeling once the above things have been added. If we don’t add them now, they’ll likely be added later on, in a post release update. We’ve already started thinking about a couple such updates, among them two seasonal ones adding stuff for Halloween and Christmas in their respective areas (Pumpkin Woods & Seasonne).

We’ve also decided that Griddle’s card game (which is yet to be designed), the Puzzle Tower outside of Mount Bloom, the mandatory chicken boss you only get to meet after beating the chickens a bazillion times, and a New Game+ mode will be added after 1.0.

There’s still a lot of details to iron out, and a lot of meetings to have regarding some of the remaining systems we need to fix (such as a new and improved pet system), but for now we’ve actually gone through most of the list for Story Mode, although there’s a bunch of suggestions left to pick for Arcade Mode.

And with us having decided to add a bunch of random collectors, I’ll waste no time getting to those portraits as they’re needed for Fred to make the sprites! I also don’t want there to get to a point where I have to make only portraits for a long while to catch up, so let’s get to it; the first collector of a whole bunch:

…and her brother:

It’s a new week, and if you’ve opted into the Frontline Beta, a new update! It’s finally time for you to try out a bunch of the additional content surrounding the ghost ship and good old Tai Ming! If you haven’t done so yet, go try it all out and let us know what you think :)

In the coming month we hope to have added the last bits needed as well as all of the sound effect and getting it all up and running on stable as well.

In the meanwhile, have a look at some of the stuff you now get to see in this update:

As you may have guessed from the new Flying Fortress building and what I wrote before, there is another phase shift challenge coming up! This one can give you a total of three different rewards, each one more challenging to get than the next. And naturally, it needs a background as well:

In this next step we’re adding a bit of detail to the phase shift course, creating a new block for it, and a shop title for the creepy ghost ship shop!

Next up, another ghost! This painter has been painting for a thousand years. Poor guy!

Drawing ever closer to finishing up the patch, there are still a bunch of expressions needed for our new ghost friends! Here’s another batch of them:

And finally, a bunch of animations from the animation department, featuring ghosts and new weapons available in the patch right now:

This week we’ll start with a bonus building added to the flying fortress! This building will replace the island on the right part of the fortress and will, though a quest unlocked after the ghost ship, give you an opportunity to do some more phase shifting (yay)!

Later on I’ll show you what the progress of creating the insides looks like… :)

But first, something about a long awaited addition! We know a lot of you have been asking for an easy way to change the controls, whether you use a keyboard or a controller. We’ve already implemented the mechanics for changing the controls on a keyboard, and while we want to add the feature for the controller as well, for now it’ll remain a WIP.

However, if you do have a controller plugged in, you’ll soon be able to see what each of the buttons do, with the help of this new graphic:

Without further ado:

To make it a bit more readable, we decided to move the second set of buttons behind the first ones, since that’s how it looks on most controllers – even if this makes the design of the controller graphics itself look a bit less nice. Also added the spaces where the function of each of the buttons will be described:

Next up, another character that will return in a ghostly form! Remember this collector from Tai Ming? She’ll return and feature a little side quest/secret of her own:

This old priest makes an appearance as well, drawn back to the haunting village of Tai Ming after his death:

Brandy will play a pretty big part in a quest/secret as well, are you looking forward to seeing him again?

Now it’s time to start building what will be the final dungeon of the game! Wohoo! Starting us off, let’s begin with some exterior (gotta enter the dungeon somehow, right?).

In this first part, I’ll get the basics down, and some of the decoration; to be fixed and expanded upon in the next:

And here in the second part we’ll improve on the perspective a little bit, add some more details, and a top for the tower! Each floor can be seamlessly put on top of another, so when the tower appears (it’ll come up out of the ground) we’ll stack the floors on top of each other to make the tower seem super tall!

Can’t forget those furniture pieces! With you reaching the ghost ship it’s time to unlock a bunch of furniture stuff for the housing system, so here’s the first batch of basic stuff (more to come!):

In part two we move on from the basic stuff such as beds and wallpapers to more random, specific stuff and decorations! How about having a cannon in your house? Who wouldn’t want that! All of these items appear somewhere in the ghost ship and have been modified in size and/or color to fit the housing system:

Still some portraits to make though, and here we have one featuring a ‘doctor’.. Of a sort! As you can tell from his ghastly shape, he’s one of the poor restless souls and can found in the Ghost Ship:

Another week and another planning meeting! This time around we’ve decided on more new items to be made, some relevant for the remaining quests, as well as some housing items you’ll be able to purchase! Among these will be a painting of the ghost ship (which you’ve already seen on the ship), an old book, a boat ticket, a skeleton fish you can hang on the wall, and the head of captain bones, which is a pretty crazy idea we’ve had where you can get his head to follow you around and do his magic to help you out… Not 100% it’ll actually make the cut yet but I know a couple of us would be quite excited if it did :)

We’ve also decided we’re gonna (finally!) add the library for this next update. The library has been made (and remade) a couple times already while never having been actually implemented for players to explore, but now that we’re drawing near the game’s finish and it’d serve as an useful location related to one of the quests we’re working on, it’s finally time to add it to the game.

Remember how we said we wanted to have finished making these assets before the end of the month? Well, because of these new additions (and the number of animations it turns out we needed for the final cutscene of the patch), it’s likely we’ll not make that deadline, so here’s one more example of how impossible it is to plan how long something’s gonna take when you don’t want to skim on the polish. Sure, we could have finished this patch without adding many animations to the final cutscene or kept that quest out of the library, but it simply wouldn’t have been as good!

Now, after all of our meetings discussing items, it’s time to create a batch! Here’s a little progress video featuring six of the items; a skull ring, a pirate captain’s hat, a spider trinket, a boat ticket, an old book, and the drop appearance for the painting of the ghost ship!

And now, back to some more ghostified portraits! First up, the guard:

Next, one of the collectors you met during your travels through Tai Ming:

…and another one of those:

In this week’s meeting, we’ve continued to discuss what manner of things need doing before a stable release. Among such things have been deciding on reward items for a variety of quests, as well as the last remaining chest items.

One such reward we’ve decided upon is another fancy trinket, which will summon spiders to appear around you, and a skull accessory that gives you a lot of bonus damage but will also cause you to take a lot more damage as well!

We also decided upon the proper places for each of the items (which item is rewarded for each quest, and which item can be found where), and that the ghastly salesman will be selling demonic-looking furniture for you house.

Perhaps most importantly, we went through the final cutscene, deciding exactly how it’s gonna play out so that Fred can start making animations for it – however, due to spoiler reasons, I’ll try to not say too much about that part for now.

What I can say though, is something completely unrelated, which is that in order to make more use of the give-an-item-to-an-NPC mechanic we’ve decided to add a new ‘system’, if you will, where some NPCs will be looking for something and you’ll be prompted to provide them with a suitable item. These won’t be actual quests as you don’t know exactly what you’re looking for (the NPCs may not even know themselves what it is they need), and the indicator for an NPC being in need of something will be that they’re talking to themselves or the player using speech bubbles – like Haddock as he gives you your fishing rod! The alternative would have been to use the blue exclamation mark, but we feel it doesn’t quite fit what we want, and the speech bubbles might also serve to make the towns and NPCs seem a bit more alive.

In relation to that, we’ll also be changing the ‘secret’ early on in the game with the tree stump where you can place carrots, giving it an examine button instead of the blue exclamation mark, and instead of having to collect 20 carrots you’ll need to figure out what item to put on it. To help the player figure out which item is needed we’ll probably make a carving of a carrot on the stump or some equal quite easy hint – it will be one of the first times the player comes across the system after all, and it will serve as a nice tutorial for it, we think!

We’re not completely sure whether these new additions will make it into the stable patch yet, but they’ll definitely be added before the release of the proper game.

While I now have a bunch of additional things to make for the stable patch, I have some spare time while Teddy and Fred is creating animations and ironing out bugs. I’ll make use of that time by making sketches and ideas for the next part of the improvement spree, now taking us all the way down to Pumpkin Woods:

Now though, it’s time to focus on getting those ghostly portraits out! There will be a bunch of ghosts for you to interact with in Tai Ming, and the girl with the ball is one of them:

The gardener tending to the zen garden of the first Tai Ming map is another:

And here we have Hikaru, the sword salesman of Tai Ming, stuck in her stand for all eternity… :/

More next week!

For the last post of this year, we’re able to bring you some positive news: there’s a Frontline Update featuring the Ghost Ship!! That’s right, the Ghost Ship is finally live on the frontline version of the game, so please go check it out if you haven’t already! As always, we’d love to hear any and all of your feedback, please let us know what you think :)

With this out of the way, we’ve been taking a lot of time to look back at the year that has gone past and talked about what we’ve done, what should have been done, and what could have been done better. While we’ve never been truly satisfied with the amount of output for the game, 2019 has been especially poor. To be completely honest, none of us can believe we haven’t managed to properly release the ghost ship yet, and we’re far from happy with the time it’s taken.

A lot of things have happened during this year, both around work and for us personally, but it’s hard to make any excuses. At some points it kind of felt like we had started all over again, losing the ability to plan and design properly the way we did before, making the Ghost Ship a trial and error mess where we had to remake and redesign a lot of stuff before it got to the point where it is now.

While we’re incredibly happy with the dungeon now (I think we all agree it features two of our favourite bosses), we’re absolutely nowhere close to happy with the amount of time it’s taken us to get to this point. Our mistake with the way we initially designed the dungeon (randomly making rooms instead of making a complete whitebox version to run through featuring all of the elements), is partly to blame, partly indecision and poor boss ideas that didn’t turn out as well as we’d thought. In the end, we should have had a clearer vision of the dungeon from start to finish before we started making all of the assets for it.

I know a lot of you are getting impatient with us, and trust us, we understand and we see your comments; we know. We feel you. But, as much as I’m disappointed with the time it has taken for the dungeon to reach this point, I’m also happy we’ve taken the time to do it the right way instead of releasing something that isn’t up to our standards. Yes, the game could have been completed by now; it could probably have been completed years ago. But it wouldn’t have been the same game, and it wouldn’t have been something I could have stood behind a 100%. To quote Shigeru Miyamoto, one of the people who inspired me to become a dev in the first place: “A delayed game is eventually good, a rushed game is forever bad.” While this isn’t completely true in these days where a lot of games are digital releases that do a lot of post release patches (in no doubt we will do those too; if nothing else to add bonus content), it wouldn’t feel right to release something bad when we all feel it’s so far from the vision we had.

However, thanks to all of you who have supported us (thank you so much), we still have the funds to keep on working, and to keep making it better. We’re determined to make Grindea the best game it can be: we love this game and we don’t want to release it before it’s something we can honestly say we’re proud of. Obviously there will always be things that could be done better, and by saying this I don’t mean we’ll continue working indefinitely on improving things in a never ending cycle; I’m just saying that we want each part of the game to reach a certain treshold before we’ll call it done. The Ghost Ship has taken an unfortunate amount of time to reach that point, and for next year, we’re gonna do our very best to make sure not to fall into the same traps we did with this. Every mistake is a learning experience, and while the process of making this dungeon hasn’t been the best, we’ve thankfully learned a lot from it.

So, as the year is starting to draw to an end, I want to take this opportunity to thank all of you who still support us, whether it’s financially through buying the game or mentally by your encouraging and lovely comments. Thank you for being with us on this journey, and know that no matter what, even if it may take a while, we’re not gonna let you down. I’m sorry it’s been taking this long.

One more dungeon to go after this. Let’s do it!

Now, with all that out of the way, let’s take a look at some of the things we’ve been working on this week:

Last week you saw a sneak peek of the cutscene where Luke destroys one of the ship’s masts to use it as a barrier to keep the fighting area a decent size. Here are the assets and the work in progress of getting them to the state they’re in in the cutscene:

To make the ship feel a bit more old I got to make the railing a bit more worn down:

As one of the rooms got redesigned into a bigger version, I added some decorations to make it less empty:

There are now backgrounds for the character display and the enemy codex, featuring both the regular and spirit world versions of the ghost ship (not yet sure which version will be used or if they’ll both be used depending on whether you’re in the spirit world or not):

And finally… The addition of the ghost ship in the left corner of the world map:

A milestone if any… Can’t believe we’ve come this far! Each of the dungeons are now added to the map, except the last one. Which is, in a way, already there… Sort of :)

Of course, with Luke having a strange artefact in his possession (ha!), it’s only decent to give his portrait a bit of an upgrade and a ton more expressions! Not sure how many of these will be used but I wanted to give us plenty of options:

For comparison, here’s his default portrait:

Oof! Be kind to him, will you?

And finally, some animations from Fred and pieces of the cutscene where they row you to the ship:

And with that, merry christmas and a happy new year! The blog will be back again on the 13th of January, after we’ve been back at work for a week! :)

Next up, the plushie collector’s house! I’m adding a couple more plushies, but the rest I think we’ll add as they get added into the game: so whatever plushies you give her will appear in the house after you’ve handed them over. In other words, I’ll return to this house later on, once all of the plushies have been made :)

And now, the area surrounding the smithy! This time I’ll be focusing on the space around the smithy building, saving the laundry and adding some decorations to the café upper floor later on:

Time for the alchemist’s shop to get a bit of an upgrade as well! I decided to keep the worn out look of some of the props here, to make the house feel a bit old and worn out. Also added a bunch of more things to make the place seem a bit more cluttered, and some bonus carpets and vines for a touch of color:

The café looks rather drab and boring as well, so it’s time to spice it up a bit! More colors, better rendered props, a touch of mint (the color), and some new things on the walls:

Didn’t take too long, it’s already time to look back on the ghost ship a little bit! Some minor changes and addition have been added here and there, starting with making the globe resemble the world map a slight bit more:

As well as settling for a zone name, which we decided would be The Lost Ship:

Also been working on a few upgrades to the Luke portrait, featuring a shirt that now more closely resemble his sprite, some anatomy fixes and a bit thicker outline here and there!