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!

Alright, so as you might know, one of the boss battles you’ll be dealing with in the desert is the return of Marino, who wants a second shot at beating you up! This time around, he’s leveled up and uses some crazy clone action to make this battle even harder.

As part of the prototyping process we’ve played around with a number of different patterns and types of attack. Here’s an early version of one such attack:

We want to play around with Marino and his clones moving across the playfield quickly, meaning you have to mind where you stand, or even move around in order to avoid damage:

We have multiple patterns like this, which will become more and more difficult as the fight progresses. Of course, there’s a lot of placeholder graphics here, but the overall idea is the same: there will be some sort of visual indicator for where Marino and his clones will move next, which fades away once they make that move.

Marino being Marino, he’s also learned the noble art of taunting his opponent, but be careful to attack him blindly, or you might come to regret it:

Now, time to continue working on the second room in those desert ruins! As mentioned before, it’s time to start working on the top part of this map, where some forgotten, ancient treasures will be….

 

In this final part we add more detail, but also that fancy mirror and the pedestal holding a very special crystal which might be directly linked to the boss battle in this ruin:

 

Our first portrait this week is a miner working in the desert! Like the other miners in our game, she wears the typical mining uniform, including the miner hat. The miner hat I use has already been made previously, so I only added it after the rest of the portrait was done:

The second portrait features one of the characters I forgot making a portrait for, which in this case is rather silly seeing as I made his shop stand and everything! This is the jewelry (accessory) salesman, selling items in the desert town’s market area:

Warning! This blog contains spoilers for the upcoming parts of the game, if you wish to be surprised, stop reading here!

The ghost ship plans continue to unfold, and the next big things we’ve decided on is to take the player on a strange dream, caused by the ghostly presences on the ship. In this dream, you’ll find yourself back in Startington (?!), but it’s a quiet, somewhat “wrong” version of itself. Here you need to solve four different challenges in order to find your way back to the ghost ship and continue on your journey.

There will be things in this dream referencing events that have happened in the game this far, with each building in Startington holding its own challenge. In one, you’ll need to battle a ton of slimes searching for that one card, in another you’ll be pressured to show your skill with the shield. A third urges you to remember you friends, and a forth the dreams you had for the future.

Needless to say, this will be a slightly very surreal world, and we’ll be hard pressed to make sure things have just the right amount of eeriness. We’ve had a ton of crazy, creepy ideas for this part, but our intention isn’t to turn into a psychological horror game – we just want approximately 5% of that feeling!

Right now we’re still undecided exactly how this place will look graphically – we’ve got ideas ranging from having it be just regular Startington (without the people – and probably without the song, making it a too quiet, too still version of itself) all the way to going full sepia-toned, dark, with shadows and mists lurking around the edges of the screen. We’ll see where it all ends up, and here I think we’ll need a lot of help from you guys as you test it out in Frontline.

After the Tai Ming storyline, things have taken a turn for the darker already, but as I said, we don’t want it to go full horror. It’ll be very interesting to get this right, but I think and hope we will!

Now, more places implemented means more places that need fixes! Here’s a bunch of changes we’ve decided to make since the desert started getting into place.

First up, closing off one of the caves. Previously we wanted it to look open, but since there will be a map change between them, we felt it’s more consistent to use the regular cave doors:

Second, we realized if you manage to get out of the cave exit to the right on this map, you’d be stuck on this plateau forever (there’s a jump-down inside the cave, so you’re unable to go back that way… oops):

Some detail changes to the wall here, making it more consistent with how it looks inside the city. Keep in mind most of the wall will be offscreen:

Same thing here, I’ve changed the texture of the wall and made it more consistent with the size inside town. Also edited the path to align better after you change screen:

We’ve also added a slight bit of decoration outside the number cave, which will have magical flames as well once Fred has used some of his animation magic:

Finally, as we were looking around the NPC folders while implementing the desert NPCs, we realized we made a collector’s outfit for Sally a long, long time ago, but forgot to add it. We’ll remedy this in time, and in preparation for that I made a recolored version of her sprite, featuring her Collector uniform:

And now it’s time to start the second room of those Desert Ruins! There’s been a lot of talk about the Ghost Ship so it’s easy to forget we’re still not done with the desert, haha. This place is where you’ll battle the Solem Boss, and have an Indiana Jones-y cutscene! Let’s take a look:

 

 

It’s all pretty bare so far, but the video got long enough already. In the next part, we’ll continue working on the upper part of this map, where a treasure lies waiting!

As Teddy has started implementing NPCs, both me and Fred were in for a surprise. Not only were there NPC sprites made by Fred that I forgot to make portraits for, there were portraits of NPCs that Fred forgot to make sprites for as well… Silly things happen when you work on multiple parts of the game at once!

In other words, it’s time to start mashing out a couple more portraits, so for a while there will be two presented every week once more.

This guy here is someone selling souvenirs in the Desert Town, though by the looks of his outfit, I wouldn’t be surprised if his real job was to be a Collector:

And finally, we have the ghost scientist I think I mentioned before – this person will appear in the lab in Evergrind City in the beginning of the game, where she’s investigating the spirit world. Later on, she’ll play a part in your ghost ship journey:

Aaaand we return, slightly more well rested and ready to get back into the action!

Now that the desert and desert town is in place, it’s time to update the world map into a somewhat final version (there’s still the ghost ship remaining, but I’ll easily be able to add that later, as it’s in the midst of the water anyways)!!

Let’s take a look:

 

 

 

So basically, this is what the world map will look like after you’ve visited all of the areas (except the ghost ship):

So exciting! Only one more little ship to add, and then it’s all done. I’ve reworked the shadows that covers each area before you’ve explored it slightly as well, so you’ll notice things will look a bit different once this has been implemented. There will be 12 pieces to uncover in total, once the ghost ship has been added (13 if you count Tai Ming – but the Tai Ming piece of the map isn’t visible at all until you’ve actually been there). Right now I think there are a couple more than that since we wanted to make sure we had space for the areas we hadn’t designed yet, and their shapes look a little random. The water will be visible from the start, giving the map some more color from the beginning, as well.

Exciting times! This actually feels like such a huge milestone, even if the ghost ship is missing. I mean, even if the ship is missing – it looks complete on a whole different level compared to before. It’s been a long journey, but you can finally start to see it all coming together!

Speaking of the ghost ship, we’ve been making a ton of prototypes for various challenges and mechanics we’d like to include. First we have a challenge where you need to go between various platforms, and the only way of doing so is entering the spirit world. Only problem is, there’s an angry ghost attacking you if you enter his domain – so you can’t stay too long or you’ll take guaranteed damage.

We’re currently considering whether you’ll fall down if you leave the spirit world in the midst of a bridge. The other idea would be that you simply can’t leave until you’re on solid ground.

Next, a variation on the same theme. Here we have a prototype where you battle enemies in the ‘real’ world, in which you do less damage than you normally would on a similar enemy. Entering the spirit world, you do full damage, but you also get chased by the angry ghost from before! Decisions, decisions…

Finally, and old classic we’d like to include somehow: the good old phase shift puzzle – ghost version. Here, you need to swap between the spirit world and normal world on the fly (ha!), in order to make your way across.

As for the overall design of the place, we’ve decided on dividing the ship in three parts. The first part will be where you first meet the ghost captain, and where you’ll get the skill that allows you to enter the spirit world. This part of the ship will be mostly storage, so there will be rooms with lots of crates, barrels, buckets and other kinds of storage. The ship will have had lots of cool cargo, so hopefully we’ll be able to make this part look interesting.

The second part (and second floor) will house the living quarters for the sailors that ran the ship. Here we’ll have their sleeping quarters (great halls with many beds), a kitchen, dining hall, and such. There might also be one or two optional friendly ghosts here, who might give you a quest or two.

On the third floor will be a more luxe area: here they’ll have a grand entertainment hall with a bar and ghastly piano playing by itself, there will be huts for high paying passengers, and finally, the path to the captains own room…

We’ve also talked about adding another type of “enemy” (sketched above), which you actually won’t be able to kill! These things are in fact armors that were part of a shipment, which have now been possessed. So long as you’re in the regular world, they’ll just lie on the floor blocking your way – but once you enter the spirit world, the armors will come to life and float in to the air towards you. If they get too close, they’ll attack, but you won’t be able to damage them back. Instead, your only option is to leave the spirit world and have them fall back unto the ground – a mechanic that might also be helpful in certain puzzles…

On a similar note, during these talks we’ve decided that the long you are in the spirit world, the more ghostly it becomes. As such, spending a long time in the spirit world will cause shadowlike arms or spikes appear out of walls or even the floor, damaging and slow you as you go. If you’ve spent a long time in the spirit world, you might even begin to see hints of these things in the regular world as well…

Now, over to something else, such as this week’s portrait! This time it features the pianist, a guy who, as you may have guessed, plays the piano (in the saloon, the be specific). Since he’s in the saloon I went with the theme and made him sort of buff looking. Otherwise not much else to say about this guy for now!

WIP:

Finished sprite:

In the animation department, Fred continues with the desert stuff and has made a really cool death animation for the Solem, which kind of gets frozen in place before it disintegrates:

There’s also a lovely little salamander in progress, which we want running around the place here and there, as a purely decorative detail. Here’s a bunch of suggestions he made, with the one we ended up choosing the the red circle:

And of course, it needs a few animations as well, so here’s one where it’s sticking its tongue out, one where it runs off, and one where it escapes by digging its way into the sand – how cute!

Teddy has been hard at work implementing all of Fred’s NPCs, too, and for the fun of it he decided to put most of them in one screen, just to see what it’d look like. Have a peek:

And with that, back to work! See you next time~

Moving on with the Ghost Ship plans, we have a bunch of enemy ideas we’d like to see in this final ‘true’ dungeon. Some have been planned for a long time – remember the sailors from Merchant Isles with strange hats? They were designed that way specifically so you’d recognize their ghost forms on the ship.

So basically, we knew we wanted Merchant Isles sailors in some shape. What we’ll likely do is have weapons (likely swords and such) floating around the rooms in the ‘regular world’. These can attack you, but you won’t be able to defeat them – at best you’ll be able to disable the weapon for a short time – unless you enter the spirit world. In the spirit world, you’ll notice they are in fact skeleton ghosts holding the weapons, and these fellows you can attack normally.

There will be two versions of the sailor enemies – one that does regular attacks and one magician type that buffs enemies or debuffs the players. The buffs/debuffs include making an enemy elite, or cursing the player with Reaper’s Blade (the utility skill also found in the player skill tree).

As mentioned, you’ll be able to make the regular attack ghosts lose their weapons a while into combat. If this happens, they will get a skill in which they can dislocate their own skeleton arm and throw at (boomerang-style) at the player, before picking up their weapon again.

We also wanted a new and more dangerous version of the Ghosties from Pumpkin Woods, only these more dangerous Haunties drip ectoplasm which drains SP while you walk in it – and might also drain the ghost meter which allows you to stay in the spirit world (if we decide to include the meter in the final spirit world design).

Finally, since it’s an old ship that has taken in some water here and there, we wanted to include a sea creature of some sort, and right now we’re leaning towards a pretty straight forward hermit crab that will serve as a tanky kind of enemy in the group.

Since we’re still in the middle of the desert, these will probably not be implemented in the near future, and as such it’s possible we’ll change these designs in some ways. At the moment though, we think we’re headed in the right direction, and hopefully it means starting work on the ghost ship enemies will go smoothly once we’re done with the desert areas!

Speaking of the desert, things are still not quite done over there, so over the next couple of days (and lets face it – probably weeks) we’ll work on editing and adding details to improve the overall feel.

First up, making sure the maps line up properly! Outside the walls on the right side of the town, a lot of grass grows around the exit. In order to make the transition between the maps less jarring, we realized we needed to make sure there was grass on this side in town, as well:

Next, a pretty major change in mechanic when it comes to going from what we call Map03 of the desert, to Map04 where the Saloon and entry to the desert town is. Previously, we wanted the player to use a season orb only accessible through a cave in Map02 in order to get past the water. Since we already used the season orbs once in the area, though, we decided that’s enough, and removed the water altogether!

Now your goal is to get there and push a wagon forward and out of the way instead! Which gives an added bonus of being able to go directly to the left into Map04 without having to walk around through Map02 once again!

Speakin of Map02, we realized that we had put the entry to the puzzle cave you need to pass through to get to the area above, sliightly too high on the map, which meant the interface was blocking parts of it as you enter. In order to fix this, we simply moved it further down:

Finally, for the season orb we decided to keep, we wanted to make a snow effect to show very clearly what part of the area gets affected by the winter magic:

Next, let’s decide on the names for these new couple of areas!

As you might guess, Dragonbone Dunes is the name of the desert, while Port Monnaie is the name of the port town (thanks to Chocodemon for the awesome suggestion). Now, Dragonbone Dunes gets its name from the dragon bones and dragon decorations from Map01, but we will add more dragon decorations here and there in the map to make sure the name ties in well to what you actually see, even if you’re not on the first map anymore.

Anyway, since we’re about to implement this area properly, it was time to make backgrounds for the enemy codex and the player sprite in the main menu respectively:

We also realized the path from Map03 to Map04 of the desert didn’t line up quite as well as they could have when zoning from one into the other, so we decided to slightly edit the exit from Map03 to better align with how it looks in Map04.

In the GIF below you can see what it looks like when I put the entrance to Map04 next to the exit of Map03:

As you can see, there’s a path in Map04 as well, so I added the beginnings of one in Map03 to match it:

Finally, we decided to amp up the entrance to the math puzzle cave a little, adding some decorative numbers (and colors) as decoration:

There are still a few portraits left, and this guy seems like he’s relaxing by a table near the beach. What a lovely idea in this hot weather (we’re in the midst of the Swedish summer over here)!

Work on the math puzzle continues as well, with Fred having made activation animations for each of the numbers and enemy buttons:

Teddy has started prototyping the puzzle as well, with a few edits compared to what we initially wanted. In our first design, we wanted the player to be able to make any path they wanted, however, as we play tested this it felt boring and, honestly, extremely easy. So instead, we made the redesign you can see below – where each of the buttons start inactivated except one, and as you step on it, 1-3 new buttons will activate depending on where you are in the puzzle and which buttons you activated previously. This made for a much more challenging version of the puzzle which we appreciated a lot more!

In the GIF below you need to start the puzzle on the block with a 0 and end with the block on the opposite end that’s also a 0. The second 0 is a placeholder for a = sign button which hadn’t been made when this prototype was added:

In this second prototype, you can see a basic version of the puzzle where enemy buttons create an encounter once you’re done with the puzzle. The same rules apply here, you need to match the number with the target number (which in the future will be illustrated with magic flames rather than simple text next to the puzzle ;)), but on your path you will also cross a number of enemy buttons that will activate upon puzzle completion:

As you can tell, there’s a lot of graphics missing here – such as, you know, the actual caves these puzzles will be in(!) but now that we have a working prototype we can at least be certain that we do like this type of puzzle even outside of the theoretical design (you’d be surprised how many ideas sound great on paper that don’t translate well at all when they’re actually put to the test).

Now, next week we’ll actually take a short break to recharge our batteries while the sunlight’s still with us, so the blog will be paused briefly, with new posts returning as usual on Monday the 30th!

Hope you guys also enjoy your summer, wherever you are, and see you soon! …And should you miss us too much, feel free to join our Discord where we hang out pretty much daily even during the vacation (even if we don’t always write, we watch over you always! 8))

This week we’ve finally started planning the next dungeon in more detail! As mentioned previously, the final dungeon will be a ghost ship, with a skill that allows you to enter the spirit world, where you can see (and interact with) things you don’t normally see…

As most of you are probably aware by now, this blog is full of spoilers, but I thought I’d make another spoiler warning for the remainder of this post, as I’ll be going into more detail than usual.

So, what we’ve talked about recently is the main design on the dungeon, how things will start out once you enter the ship, and some of the mechanics we’re looking into using here.

To begin with, we’ll be adding another character that will make its first appearance earlier in the story than we are currently. While we’re not super excited to go back in time and add characters, hints and other things in areas most of you have likely played through already, I’m afraid it’s unavoidable when working on a game like this, chapter by chapter. We’d have to be geniuses or have thought out the game in much more specific detail before beginning any area to avoid this completely – and often you don’t realize what’s missing until you’ve had enough feedback from beta testers (or when it comes to story elements I guess you guys are more like beta readers). We already know we’ll add a bunch of extra scenes in the beginning to flesh out the story and relationships slightly, before the game is done. This will just be one more thing like that. Hopefully, this will give you all an incentive to play through the game once more at release, when all these additions and small changes are in place, to experience the story as we intend it to be experienced – in one go with all the proper story elements there from the beginning!

Anyway!! The character we’ll be adding is another scientist hanging out with Dad and the other scientists in the HQ lab. This character, however, will be focused on researching the spirit world, whether it truly exists, and how one would interact with it. Sometime into the story, he will have heard rumors of a ghost ship and will take off to investigate…

So, as you enter said ghost ship, you’ll meet with a flying weapon and someone hurling curses at you that you can’t see. Well, that’s a bit of a problem! Ignoring this threat, you continue onwards, battle some of our new enemies (more on those later), see a locked door, and eventually run into the scientist who will give you his spirit world machine that allows you to enter and interact with the spirits haunting the ship.

The gimmick of the ship will be to enter and exit the spirit world in order to solve puzzles and defeat enemies. Some enemies you’ll only be able to damage in the spirit world, but entering the spirit world will allow them to attack you with more attacks and deal more damage, as well. There will be enemies harassing you in the regular world, too, of course – so nowhere’s truly safe, but each world will have their own challenges. We’ll have our work cut out for us in making sure there is balance between the two and none you just stick to the entire dungeon. One of our ideas for this is having a meter limiting how long you can spend in the spirit world, since that’s the place you’ll be able to get rid of most of the enemies – and it’s a mechanic that helps increase the stakes in certain puzzles, when you can’t spend unlimited time solving them.

There’s a lot more discussion to be had, but for now I feel we have a good grasp on the early stages of the dungeon! For now, onwards with the desert and that final part of the desert ruins! This time we get into the details, adding those small things that tie everything together:

As you might have guessed, there will be a puzzle of some sort in the middle. While we know approximately what this will look like, we haven’t ironed out the specifics yet so for now it will remain empty.

Aside from that, here’s what it looks like in its completed state:

Since I’m finally running low on portraits to make, this week there will be just one! This guy is another oldtimer, made by Fred quite a while ago. He’s a gangster – or at least a gangster looking kind of guy (actually, you know, maybe he just likes to wear a suit.. who am I to judge?) – who hangs out in the saloon, playing cards:

Finished portrait:

You’d think we’d be finished with the desert graphics soon, but oh no, now that things are finally started to get implemented, there are a ton of edits that needs to be made – some things you just don’t realize need fixing before they have been properly added to the engine…

First up, we have the exterior of the desert ruin. Now that the ruins will be slightly bigger than we first though, we felt it needed to look just a little bigger on the outside too:

Then we have this area, which never got finished in the first place:

Earlier we actually thought we’d have some sort of desert storm challenge there, where you’d have to navigate your way through a desert storm, barely able to see anything. Since we didn’t have the details or layout for that ironed out yet, I just left that part of the desert empty. Since then, we changed things around and put the map with the saloon to the left instead, so now it was simply time to complete the map.

We’ve also decided to add a cave right before the season orb below, to give you a bit more of a challenge other than simply walking around to hit it (it will come as no surprise that you need to hit it to get across to the other side):

In this cave we’ll have a new type of puzzle, one we’re actually quite excited about! This one will be all about math, having you step on plates to make up a number shown inside the cave. Basic sketch below:

We plan on having three puzzles like this inside the cave, of varying difficulty (one will likely have 9 plates, another 20). One will also feature plates with enemies on them, which means you’ll essentially build your own encounter once you step out of the plates. Fun times!

Meanwhile, Fred has been working on the desert enemies. Here’s a zoomed in version of those birds that will attack you after hatching out of eggs, cause it’s simply too cute to pass up on showing:

We’ve also been working on the Solem laser! It’s now a lot brighter and more intense, clearly showing the difference between simply aiming and actually attacking you:

Fred has also been working on the puzzle plates we’ll use in those math puzzles mentioned. Here you can see the enemy plates as well, so cute:

In the end, it’s likely we’ll adjust the colors of this – but for now this is the basic idea of what they’ll look like!

Now that we’re done with the Arcadia rework for now, things are happening fast in terms of the desert enemies! Teddy has been making a ton of prototyping and it’s now possible for us to play around with the basic enemy compositions.

First, here’s a very early look of the Cacute enemy, jumping around, minding its own business:

As mentioned before, our plan for these guys is that they won’t focus on the player in particular, but will be dangerous just by existing – as you can see, they launch a bunch of needles with each jump!

The new slime and bird enemies have been added as well, the slime becoming a saw Giga-Slime style as it attacks, while the bird is pretty much an egg-laying bee!


In order to mix this up a bit, we’re playing around with having the bird lay eggs closer to the ground, so you can actually hit it while it lays them. Our original idea was to have each egg spawn another bird unless you break it in time, but we’re also playing around with having it lay different kinds of eggs, each with a hazard of its own. However, it might end up too similar to the mimic which you just fought, so we might play around with some other ideas as well.

We’ll need to play around with it a bit more before we know exactly how these will work in the end. Also, the Solem has not been made yet, and it might mix things up a lot once it joins these compositions!

The first portrait this week is that of one of the ice cream sellers shown last week! She owns the shop with her fiancé, and we have some plans to include these in a quest featuring another duo interested in sweets… Actually making that quest will probably wait ’til the rest of the desert and the quests we planned earlier are finished, though :)

The second ice cream seller is the fiancé of the previous one! I’m sure he’s happy to be able to own such a sweet (ha) business with the love of his life – who wouldn’t be?!

Right now we haven’t decided on any actual use for the ice creams, though it would certainly be fun to be able to buy some. Feel free to share any ideas you might have on potential uses for them! Is there a consumable type you feel is missing? Want more pet food? Let’s hear your ideas!


Finished portrait:

Next, I’ve been working on the fundamentals of a new kind of interior, the one you’ll find in the desert ruins! I wanted to make something special for it, since it was a while since I made something a bit more ‘out there’ – the town interiors generally follow the same basics, so I wanted to make something different this time.

What I’ve done here is I’ve played around with walls and floor textures, and made some basic decorative things. I’m not 100% sure about the colors yet, I might tint them a bit yellow to make sure they fit the overall desert aesthetics, but once that’s done I’m ready to use these things as a base for the remaining interiors I need to make.

The desert ruins aren’t huge – only 2 (rather big) rooms are planned, but I wanted to make sure they feel special, hence the extra effort spent on getting a feel for it.

Video showing the progress here:

In Freds department, the NPCs and their animations continue to be made! First, we have the author:

When we’re done with the rest of story mode, we actually have plans to add her to the library in Evergrind City early in the game, when she’s there temporarily for a signing. We’d like to tie together the whole world of Grindea, and having her (and maybe one or two other desert characters) appear in Evergrind early in the game is a step to make the player feel recognition when you run into them later in the game.

Next up, an animation for the forgotten farmer, living in the depths of the caves beneath the desert (more to come):

Finally, the most exciting news…. The very first sketches of the Captain, who will be the boss in the next dungeon: the ghost ship. We have a really cool idea for this dungeon, and this guy plays a key part in it… Stay tuned for more!!