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!

Finally the patch is up and running on Frontline!


After months of hard work, this update includes the desert Dragonbone Dunes and desert town Port Monnaie in all its glory, with a ton of new NPCs (the most NPC heavy area yet!), the continuation of the main quest, a bunch of side quests and a couple of boss battles!

As you might guess, there’s a lot of things that can go wrong when adding this amount of stuff at once, so even though the patch has been out for a while already and a lot of bugs have been fixed, you should be prepared to do some bug hunting and let us hear about all the wonky and broken things! As always, all feedback is highly encouraged and much appreciated, so let us hear what you think when you’ve finished this installment. You can leave a comment here, on our forums, or make a topic over at the Steam forums!

If you haven’t checked it out already, go ahead and take a look :D

Now we set our eyes on the next target: getting it all ready for stable! Aside from the bug fixes and some of your suggested improvements (as always, we’re very thankful for the feedback), there are a few things we’d like to add before feeling completely satisfied with the desert for now. There are two reasons for this, one being the obvious ‘of course the area will be better with more quests’, but the other is that it gives Fred (and to some extent, me) some time to get ahead with the Ghost Ship before we start prototyping that place for real.

You see, in order to get an idea of what the Ghost Ship will entail design wise, we need to get some enemy prototypes up and running, and the best way of doing that is to have Fred make a bunch of animated sketches we can use against my placeholder backgrounds. This will help us get a feel for the dungeon and to make sure our enemy combinations work as intended.

Therefore, the things we’ll add to the desert for stable mainly involves Teddy programming stuff, and me throwing together some minor graphics such as more item sprites for rewards and such. Once we’re done with that, Fred should have made enough enemy sketches that Teddy can begin prototyping their behavior, and I can continue making backgrounds while he does that.

So, before the desert is released on stable, we intend to add the following:

* Another (optional) challenge in the math cave.
* A side quest involving a cat of Port Monnaie…
* A side quest solving the troubles of the depressed drunkard in the Saloon (which also involves elite versions of the desert enemies, which haven’t been added thus far)!
* A questline with the photographer Cammy, who is working in Port Monnaie, using the mechanics from Arcadia where you take photographs of various places or things in the game.
* Each shop in the marketplace, with new items to buy (lots of housing items)!
* A bunch of memory orbs to show a few past events

and, finally:
* More treasure maps, which will be given to you by Finder the Archaeologist, who wants your help in retrieving some ancient treasures.

Like the other areas, more stuff will be added before release, but we think this is a good way to start. It’s also possible we’ll add a bunch of those season orbs across the world, which will help you reach a few of those chests that have been taunting you… We’ll see!

First though, there are still some cards to make, so here we have the Cacute card! Quite simple in its design, it features a Cacute relaxing in the sun with a drink. Remember to drink a lot when it’s hot outside (I recommend water, though)!

 

There’s also this portrait of another character that will appear in Port Monnaie but may not make it into the stable patch (we’ll see): an boy, who will help the priest out in the church! His outfit, like the priest’s, is inspired by real life priest robes.

Now, back to those flashback crystals/memory orbs where you’ll get to see certain events from the past… A few of these will include Charlotte, the player character’s mother, and because these events happen quite a few years ago, I got to make a younger version of her, which was super fun!

As with the grown up portrait in the game, this one will also change hair- and skin color based on how you designed your own character :)

Since the first version had quite a long neck, I decided to shorten it slightly in the finished version: the old one is shown first below, with the final version shown last:

Enjoy the patch and see you next week :D

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

And the finished remake below:

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

WIP and finished version below:

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

 

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

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

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

Two more items:

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

A new type of halloweed?!

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

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

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

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

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

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

Here’s a video of the progress:

Aaand the props in their finished state:

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

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

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

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

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

Are you ready to eat your vegetables?

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

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

Alright, let’s get back to that ghost ship. It’s about time I started making a few backgrounds for the place, so to start things off I’m going to make the very first room of the dungeon!

We have a pretty detailed sketch of what the first floor will look like, but as there are a couple of question marks in regards to sizing (there’s a boss battle and a puzzle that’s yet to be designed), this and one more room will be the only ones I’ll be able to make for this floor before heading on to the upper levels of the ship!

As the entrance room, this will give you your very first view of this dungeon and what’s to come. It has two levels, and you can only access the upper once you’ve made your way there through the floor:

The second room will be a fight room! In other words, this is a room where you’ll battle a few of the ship’s enemies, and since it’s made just for that, the sizing isn’t hugely important – there will always be enemy setups that fit any sized room.

So, I went ahead with the mission to create a rather simple room where there won’t be a lot of things in the way for the players as they fight their way through:

And here we have the finished piece:

Once Fred finished his part of the desert, he’ll decorate the water and such as usual, so it’ll feel lively enough!

The portrait work continues as well, as there’s still a few needed. Now it’s time for the guards, which look similar to the previous guards in the game, but slightly edited to fit the desert. Sprite below:

In Evergrind city, the guards had large hats that covered most of their heads, while in Tai Ming they had very small hats. In the desert, they will have medium sized hats, and will go without their uniforms, sporting a bare upper body in order to deal with the heat:

The second portrait this week is that of a kid, living with her family in a hut in the desert.

The family has a bit of an issue with growing vegetables (it’s extremely difficult in the heat of the Dragonbone Dunes!), but luckily for her, her mother is an expert when it comes to growing carrots, which happens to be her favorite food.

Since I moved on to doing more and more Ghost Ship stuff, I’m sure a lot of you are wondering where the patch is. The answer to that is that Teddy and Fred are busy finishing up the possibly most time consuming part of each new update: the polish and cutscenes!

Because of this, the rest of the post is quite spoiler heavy, so beware! (also beware of the crappy GIF quality of some of these, haha)

Here’s a small collection of things they’ve been working on most recently, starting with a new cool effect for when you complete a math/enemy puzzle and the enemies spawn:

There’s an animation for when you complete another puzzle, causing the dragon to grab hold onto the globe and a door to open:

There’s this effect when the rock comes tumbling into the ancient decorations in the ruins:

And the spawning animation for one of the bosses, the Sol-Gem:

Each of these things have to be properly timed, have the right amount of effects (both in terms of animations and particle effects generated by the engine), and about a hundred other tweaks to make. For the Sol-Gem spawning alone, we’ve gone through about four different versions before settling for the version you see above!

Some might ask whether it’s worth all the time we spend on these details, but we’re all very convinced it is! I’d say these last percentages of the progress are the ones that matter the most, as the timing of a couple of animations alone can be what changes something from feeling lackluster to feeling polished and thought through!

Speaking of the patch timing, we finally have a rough estimate, where we hope it will be ready to be uploaded in 1-2 weeks! Let’s cross our fingers there are no more unforeseen delays happening until then :D

Can’t have a desert with lots of enemies to beat without any rewards for actually beating them, right?! Time to get to those desert drops!

 

The first portrait this week features a carpet salesman, selling his wares in the Port Monnaie market area:

Not much to say about this guy, really. Here’s the finished sprite:

As we’re drawing closer to the patch and there’s still a lot of character portraits to be made, so there’s actually two more this week! This girl is an archaeologist who works in the desert – perhaps she has a tool or some book that might help you on your way?

So many characters in the desert!! Whew! This one is a carpenter, possibly the daughter of the carpenter in Evergrind City.

Unfortunately, she’s fallen asleep on the job, forgetting to mend a broken bridge– oh my.. Let’s hope you can wake her up so you don’t have to walk around the entire area to get where you wanna go!

And the closer we draw to the patch, the more tiny fixes we make! Here’s a bunch of them again, starting with adding more the rocks by this crossing, to make sure you as a player don’t get frustrated when you can’t walk over them (before it felt kind of ambiguous whether they were there to block your path or simply decorative):

Next, we decided to add a fancier door to the math caves rather than temporary spear blockades, giving the solving of a puzzle a slight more oomph as these will open:

We’ve added more decorations to the ruins as well. We wanted to give it the feel of having had a bunch of traps, many of which have already been sprung, and so we added the remnants of them:

Another portrait appears as well, this one of a caveling hanging out in the saloon:

…as well as some bonus expressions for one of the characters you’ll be talking to:

Finally, I decided to adjust the puzzle block colors slightly! Below you see the old version, which we felt were a bit too dark to properly fit with the desert background:

And here’s the new, which are much lighter and slightly more yellow, to make them blend in more:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

And the final version of the first room, yay:

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

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

 

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Behold the progress so far, almost done:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Finished sprite:

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