Happy New Year everyone! First of all, thank you so much for your encouraging comments on the patch! We’re happy you like it, and we’ll continue ironing out the bugs as you find them! Sounds are on their way as well, and that little bit of polish left before a stable release. Hope you’ve had a splendid start to the year; for us, it’s finally back into action so let’s jump right into it!

We’ll begin this new year with improving the Dojo exterior of Evergrind City, adding the version of the building that’s found in Arcadia (with a few edits), and upgrading the look of the fence and the practice dummies:

With all of us back in the office and a new year upon us, it seemed time to sit down and have a discussion of what’s next to come. This is the first in a series of meeting we’ll have over the coming days, the rest of which I’ll detail in the coming week(s), where we’ll try to make a plan for the coming year so it’ll be a bit more structured – and hopefully more efficient than the previous one.

Our first order of business is to sort out a plan for getting the stable update up and running, so today we made a list of what needs to be made:

* A few more sound effect requests videos, where we record what animations need sound and explain approximately what’s happening or what sort of effect we’re looking for. We’ve already requested most of the sound effects, which are currently in progress of being made by awesome Fark, but there are a few remaining one that we need from things added after we sent the first batch to him.

* Come up with and design the items found in the chests around the ships, a total of four different items. We had some ideas before but we’ll finalize it before making the actual items.

* Finish the ghost quest given by the bartender: aside from the three main quest ghosts, there will be a bunch of optional ghosts you can help regain their memories and gather in the main hall.

* A pet skull

* Effects for the cards; again, we have some ideas, but haven’t finalized them.

* A proper cutscene to end the stable version; there will be one more part of the story which will launch you on your quest to the final dungeon, after which the true ‘to be continued’ will appear.

* Make ghosts around the areas with graves such as the graveyard in pumpkin woods, the lonely grave in Seasonne and some proper ghost versions of the characters still remaining in Tai Ming.

* Add Pine’s office to Flying Fortress

Once these are all up and running we should be happy enough to release the update on stable – after some additional testing, of course. Our aim is to get this out around the end of the month, though some of the things will likely take a while to finish up due to their complex nature, such as the final cutscene of this patch. Fingers crossed!

First though, continuing on with the Evergrind fixes! This time around it’s time for the HQ to get a bit of a touch up:

And before we move on, time to go back and do some quick fixes to some of the things not yet quite ‘there’. First up, adding more carpets to the school, so now everyone gets one of their own:

Can’t have too many carpets, so added one outside the café as well:

This laundry has been hanging here to dry forever, so time to change things around and make both new poles and new laundry (hopefully these will dry quicker ;)):

In the hat shop we added another mirror:

As well as updated the target practice outside Robin’s house:

In the animation department, Fred’s working on getting a bunch of ghosts ready with their proper animations, making the torch puzzles more visually pleasing:

So with those in place, the torch puzzles now look a bit more like this:

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! :)

Today we’ve had an extremely long meeting detailing the very final bits of the Ghost Ship, namely a bunch of cutscenes and the things that will drop from the enemies!

There are three important cutscenes left to finish, and in order for Fred to be able to write down each animation he needs to make, we decided it was time to plan them out in detail. The first cutscene we discussed is the very first cutscene of the ship: when the Black Ferrets drop you off. This will be the last planned scene we have for the Black Ferrets, so we want them to go out with a bang (not a literal bang – don’t worry, you won’t have to fight them again). The second and third cutscenes are when you start your battle with Luke and what happens after you’ve (hopefully?) defeated him. To avoid spoiling too much, I won’t go into detail of how any of these cutscenes will unfold, but I think all three of them will be quite exciting!

As for the drops, here’s what we’ve come up with so far!

The skeletons will drop bones (no surprise there) and pieces of cloth (unique to each type of skeleton, so the warrior will have one piece of cloth drop and the mages another, each which you’ll be able to craft into their respective armours). The warrior skeletons will drop a two-handed scimitar and the mage skeletons will drop their own arms which can be used as a magic wand!

The Hauntie will drop purple ectoplasm, twilight core, fabric, and a new blindfold.

The crab will be a little different! It will drop a pincer (a one handed weapon), but aside from that it will only drop pieces of its armour; however, it will drop a lot of them! So whereas an enemy will usually only drop one of each item, the crabs will drop multiple of the same, which can then (once you have enough of them) be crafted into either an armour, a shield or a helmet!

Other than that, we’ve come up with a couple items to be found in the chests around the game: a skull housing item, a bottle of rum, and a pirate captain’s hat!

We’ve also jotted down some ideas for the enemy cards, and since we’ve more or less settled on the size of the area where you’ll battle Luke, it’s time for me to get back and do some more work on the ghost ship again! Exciting times :)

So, time to get on with the remaining ghost ship stuff! First up, getting that ship ready for battle! Aside from the changes seen in the gif below, we’ve also increased the ship’s size again by quite a bit from last time you saw it:

And now, some drop and equipment fiesta! First, the things that will get dropped by the skeleton enemies, plus a couple of Hauntie drops:

Next, some things dropped by the crab, a bottle of rum, a skull made for housing and the strange twilight core:

And finally, a bunch of equipment plus the appearance of the strange device that allows you to look into the ghost world!

The final building to improve in on the previous batch is the Blacksmith’s, which has been in dire need of some graphics updates for quite a while! Without further ado:

And with that batch out of the way, what’s next? Another one, of course! Slowly finishing up Evergrind itself, it’s time to start looking at the places surrounding it, such as Evergrind South and West!

When it comes to the farmer’s shop itself, we’ll do what we’ll do for the Arena reception room and the Dojo in Evergrind – swap it out for its arcade version:

Because I’ve been doing a lot of work in Evergrind already, I thought it might be refeshing to take a break from it all and go to a place a bit further south! Time to make some improvements to Robin’s house:

Evergrind West is getting a ton or more greenery as well! While I didn’t make any new unique props for this upgrade so far, I still think the difference between the original version and the improved one is pretty massive! The old one looks pretty bare and unfinished in comparison, in my opinion anyway:

Next up in the improvement spree: the school! This place needed a bit more detail (what sort of school is this where every single desk is empty?) and some fresh new furniture! Take a look:

Next up, some more Evergrind Improvement plans! Another batch of these things, mainly wanting to upgrade the overall graphics for each of these areas but also add some stuff and spice things up:

Meanwhile, these two buildings will be fully replaced by their Arcadia versions, which were made much later on and feature much better art:

So, first up in this new batch of improvements we have the waiting room in the arena! To start with, this room felt a bit too big and empty, so we’re making it smaller and more compact, adding more benches for people to sit at and some things added to the walls for their reading pleasure as they eagerly await the next match. Other than that, the graphics have been touched up overall, so the room feels as fresh as the newer parts of the game:

Next, the hat shop! This place needs a bit more color, some updated graphics and just some more details. I might go back and change some of the colours of this house further on so it’s colour scheme isn’t as close to the cafes, but we’ll see!

And now, the garden and its surrounding area! Here I wanted to add some more flowers, update the fountain graphics and the fence behind the alchemist’s house, as well as some details. The benches have also been updated as well to fit the more clean style of the later parts of the game:

Fred, meanwhile, has been working on some new animations for Captain Bones, where he seems awfully… Distraught? Whatever could be happening to him?

We also started making a test for the weather effect we’d like for the battle with Luke, adding some rain to give the battle a more epic feel (plus we haven’t really had any weather effects before, so about time!):

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!

Time to plan out some more of the improvements needed for the Evergrind part of the game! Of course, the houses that use the old version of the Startington furniture needs to get the upgraded versions of that:

The area around the Smithy looks rather dull and the laundry hanging to dry could definitely be drawn better:

The entire café looks pretty outdated, so gonna have to do some revamping there as well:

And same for the alchemist’s house, where I’d like to add even more clutter, some wild plants and other things to liven things up a bit and make it seem less drab and abandoned, and more like the colorful abode of a crazy alchemist:

So starting off with the first improvement batch, time to upgrade this little house, the first you see as you enter Evergrind City:

We’ve also had another meeting discussing the final dungeon! We have a bunch of ideas for specific challenges and rooms now. Some of the new ideas are as follows:

* A phase shift puzzle where you have to catch x number of items in a certain amount of time. Sort of inspired by the torch puzzle we’ll have in the ghost ship where you need to light a certain number of torches in a short amount of time; here you need to get a hold of x pieces of a key (or something like that) in order to unlock the next room.

* A slime encounter where you get to battle every type of slime in the game! When you’ve killed them all, the goo they left behind will merge together into 4 bigger slimes, which will provide more of a challenge. After defeating these slimes, they will merge together into a rainbow giga slime, which will be a much more difficult version of the giga slime fight!

* A room surrounded by a ghostly essence that comes to life when you enter the ghost world (which you must in order to kill a number of ghost guardians) – for ever second you’re in the ghost world, the ghostly essence will grow bigger and bigger and will hinder your movement and will end up damaging you

* An encounter with enemies from across the game and a master wizard that will turn them all into elites

* A room where you’ll be trapped within 4 guardians that are connected with their laser beams; their movements will determine the size and shape of the space where you can move. Meanwhile you have to dodge a bullet hell, possibly summoned by phaseman!

* A challenge room with either Gifts of Presents (or both), which will eat a key and it’s your goal to find and defeat the one who ate it.

* An overgrown room in which you’ll battle every plant enemy in the game, ending with a short guest appearance from the power flower

… and more! Needless to say, we’re getting more excited about this final dungeon by the minute. Hope you are too! :)

Now it’s time for another look at Luke’s boss battle! It’s coming together quickly now, with a bunch of his attacks being mixed and match to create an interesting pattern for the first stages of his fight that will be unique every time:

Some of the effect graphics have been improved since the last time as well, and I feel like it already looks pretty good (with the exception of the placeholder background, hehe – I’ll get to that eventually)!

 

What we want now is to amp up the second part of the fight. We already know he will enter berserk mode at a certain point, but aside from that we want to mix it up a bit so it’s not just the same (random) mix and match combo patterns for the entirety of the fight. We have a couple of ideas for ‘bigger’ attacks that we’ll try out in the near future though, so we’ll see how that ends up!

And here we have a closer look at a bunch of those fancy Luke animations:

Exciting times!

So, new week and new Monday, which brings with it another meeting! This time around we’ve talked a lot about the near future, basically where we’re heading from here and what’s the most important on our to-do lists.

For Teddy and Fred, this mainly means the Luke battle and the cutscenes directly after and a final one leading up to where Frontline will end this time.

For me, there’s a lot more improvements to the earlier stages of the game, particularly around Evergrind City and the like.

And for all of us, it’s still the quest for the perfect final dungeon. We’ve already had a bunch of meetings discussion a variety of ideas, but seeing as we want a lot of floors, there’s still some work to be done and more floor ideas to shape – and eventually, actual floors to design. This week our homework is the sit down for 20 minutes to an hour here and there and create those ideas, so that next week we have even more of them to discuss. This will continue on while we finish up the rest of the ship until we have enough ideas, and eventually, proper designs, that we can make a whitebox sketch version of the final dungeon which we can run through and try out without the mechanics being implemented yet.

The main thing we want to avoid is one of the pitfalls that made work on the Ghost Ship such a struggle; in every other previous case where we designed an area or a dungeon, we had a clear design in mind before we actually started making the proper graphics. With the Ghost Ship, we did a whole ton of just winging it and designing as we went on, and it’s fair to say that designing a dungeon like that didn’t work out as well for us as the other way at all. So – no more of that, and more pre-design like we did before! With some luck, we won’t struggle as much this time, and it won’t be as long before an update hits ever again (touch wood) :)

Now, while I’m quite done with Ghost Ship stuff for now, there’s one ghost I have a feeling we’ll get to see at some point so I thought I might as well ghostify her portrait now while I’m kind of in the zone with the ghost stuff!

Who? Tannie of course!

Of course, I have no proof we’ll actually ever use this portrait, I suppose it depends on where we decide to take certain quests or side quests, but we’ve been talking so much about it that the chance seems pretty darn high she will appear in some shape, at some time…

Now, with all of the other Startington houses having new and fresh graphics, it’s beyond time that the player’s own house get a bit of an upgrade as well! Without further ado:

Next up, another part of the player’s house in Startington we can’t forget about; your own room! Like the rest of Startington, it’s about time it gets the appropriate visual upgrade:

In Luke’s boss fight, we’re working on the level of destruction that will take place as he slams into the ship with his unparalleled strength! We’re currently choosing between three options – one where the cracks disappear quickly:

One where they remain a little while:

And one where they could potentially remain forever:

Right now we’re leaning towards the middle option. What do you guys think? :)

So, time for some Spookington fixes! First up, a couple new expressions for some of the characters you’ll meet there, namely Jonathan (cured of his cough!) and Luke’s mom (who is a little concerned):

The pathway up to Spookington felt a little claustrophobic so we’re turning it into utter darkness, as far as the eye can see:

And as part of the mechanics on this town, we’ll be using a couple globes, which in this version were what we’d like to call programmer art, now replaced with the real deal:

Finally, adding some more stuff to your childhood home in this Spookington version, making it a bit more messy:

Next up on my list of things is putting someone in that ghostlike shop to manage business there! It took a while for us to decide on a design for this guy; should he be human, a ghost, or something else entirely? In the end though we decided to go for something of a shadowlike demonic creature, just to mix things up a bit lore wise (plus it would be cool to design an actual creature based off of the darkness we’ve introduced this far in the ghost ship).

Without further ado:

Some minor adjustments to the Startington Spooky version, featuring more clutter, stacks of books, and a mysterious night sky:

Next up, what I now honestly believe will be my final contribution to the Ghost Ship for now (or at at least until we finalize the boss battle and I’ll have to make any changes to the boss area and such): Luke’s boss portrait!

And now it’s time to take a look at what’s cooking with the Luke battle! The prototyping stage is in full swing, and we’re currently experimenting with a set of attacks and combos for him to throw at you:

No Grindea battle is complete without a bit of dodging as well, so naturally what other skill would Luke master than Smash:

So far so good, we’re feeling quite excited about this battle and hope you guys will too… :)

This week, we’ll start with making a new statue, featuring your mom Charlotte! This statue will be part of one of the spooky Startington challenges and will contain one of the objects needed to progress:

Some more fixes in preparation for the spooky Startington bit, starting with a mysterious hole in the floor of this room:

This hole is there for the perfect guard challenge, making it clear for the player that they are not able to wander off during the challenge.

Next, some minor adjustments to the statue from before, editing her outfit to match what we’ve previously shown Charlotte wearing:

There are also a couple more Ghost portraits to be made, with the first one being a spooky Tai Ming seamstress :

Next, an old man looking for his wife, lost somewhere on the ship:

Finally, as part of the new creepy Startington, Fred has been working on some old NPCs that will be returning:

Exciting times! Slowly but surely, this part of the dungeon comes together as well :)