Hello guys! This post is one day late due to the easter holidays, so apologies for that. Hope you’ve had a great time :D

Now, last week was quite interesting in terms of game design discussions. Our original idea for the ghost ship was for you to battle the Captain two times, where the second encounter would be harder and more bullet hell-y as he’d be using some high tech equipment found on the ship. However, after a lot of discussions back and forth we’ve decided to try out new ideas for the second boss battle. The reason behind this is that we simply didn’t feel too excited about the attacks and patterns we’d come up with for the boss, and we kind of felt like something completely different might fit better gameplay wise.

So, because of this, we’ll start looking into a different type of boss, something that has more of a pattern since there will be enough bullet hell-y elements as is in this dungeon. Our most recent idea is to go with the theme of eyes that has been quite prominent in the ghost world so far, and use some sort of giant eye as a boss – more on that later after we got some prototypes up and running!

Because Teddy has been having some bonus time while he’s waiting for graphics, he’s been starting work on some Arcade Mode stuff; specifically a new type of challenge (or mode if you will) where everything is more randomized!

Specifically, this means when doing this challenge thing, you won’t level up normally, but you’ll get your skills and upgrades through chests and as drops from enemies:

Upon completing a floor you’ll get to choose from three upgrades as well, giving you some options on how to proceed with your build (keep in mind the graphics are still placeholder, we’ll come up with some fancier way of illustrating this):

We’re not yet sure when this mode/challenge will unlock, or when we’ll get to finish it, but the foundation is there now anyway! How do you guys feel about it? Excited for some more randomized factor in Arcadia, or do you think you’ll stick to the regular mode?

Continuing with the Arcade Mode intermission, it’s time to make some more of those rooms! To spice things up a bit in the desert floor(s), we’ll be having some cave rooms as well as those outdoor ones. They will not be as frequent as the others though, so I’m only making two different sizes for these!

For the foundation of the rooms, I’ll be using one of the math caves as a base:

And then, since these rooms will almost always lead back outside, I made a special exit that show the outside rather than darkness:

And here we have the two room sizes:

Now, for that new boss prototype I mentioned earlier! Teddy has put together something quickly with the help of some very basic placeholder art from Fred:

So one of the things with this eye boss is that it automatically forces you into the ghost world, where you’ll have to deal with all sorts of obstacles. After a while you’ll be able to swap back into the regular world – but only for a short while, so you better time it well!

The next thing it does is that it will spawn other eyes with different eye colors, which you have to eliminate in a certain order. Fail to do so (or do it too slowly) and you’ll get punished and take some damage:

Right now the eye simply tells you the order, but in the finished version you’ll get a different sort of hint, probably through the eye changing color or something like that:

Back in Arcade Mode it’s time to make a set of decorations for the different rooms that can be mixed and matched to create a lot of different room graphics. Our strategy for this is that I’ll make 3 different sets of decorations for each corner of every room size, which can then be mixed and match with the other corners, creating a ton of different combinations for each room.

As always, I use the editor to do these things, so that Teddy can easily add each of them into the engine:

This week it’s time for some more trap prototyping! This time we’ve been working on those eyes we’re using in the ‘ghost bridge’ room, but here they serve as a ‘trap’ of sort in an ordinary fighting room.

In our first iteration, we used the eye in the same way we use it in the ghost bridge room; basically moving back and forth in a set speed. If you’re in the regular world, the beam from its eye will be slightly transparent and won’t deal damage, while in the ghost world it’s darker and will damage you quite a bit if you get hit by it.

For the second iteration, we wanted the eye to feel more ‘alive’, so we’ve given it a couple patterns. Either it will slowly open its eye and cast a beam straight forward, or it’ll look to the sides as in the example above for a little bit before closing up again. These patterns are then randomized so you never know which one it will do next; you’ll have to keep track of it to know how to dodge it.

We do prefer the second version so far, as it makes the eye feel more like a living thing rather than something that just ‘blindly’ (ha) looks back and forth forever. It also keeps the players on their toes a bit since they need to keep track of what it will do next, rather than just dodge the eye beam over and over.

And now, time for something much less exciting but still very needed… Some background masking! This is a technique we use when we want certain effects and such to only be visible on the floor and nowhere else. Basically, each part of the floor is painted with a color (in this case a pretty pink), which will be used as a guide in the game for where the effect can appear.

Starting out by applying this to the first floor rooms, since we want to finish up the first floor and get it all sorted out before we move on to the other floors:

Next up, the captain’s portrait! To make sure I’m getting his features right, I’m going to trace the boss sprite for this one, using it as a base for the portrait:

And here’s the finished thing:

As I mentioned before, we’re currently working on finishing up the first floor. That means going over each room and adding the remaining details that have been missing. For the very first room, that entails adding a ton of boxes and crates to give the room a bit more ‘storage room’-y feeling:

Quite a few boxes! We thought of blocking the path leading straight to the door, but ended up keeping it open as we felt like forcing the player to take the long way around might feel a bit overdesigned.

Meanwhile in the animation department, the enemies are finally being polished into their final forms, their animations cleaned up with further details added. Just look at this:

Time to go over the rooms one more time and make a bunch of fixes! First up, making the room we made most recently slightly smaller, just to give it a feeling of being more crowded:

Secondly, roughing up the edges of the water part of the first boss battle room, so it doesn’t look as purposefully made:

Next, because of the mechanic allowing the player to fall down from ghost bridges in this room, I had to change the side of the hole slightly to make sure the player can’t fall down into it:

Also remade part of this background so that as the bookcase slides to the left to reveal the door upon completing the puzzle hidden inside, the floor shows the path accordingly:

And finally, added some numbers to the cabin room entrances, just to give it the feel of actually being cabins:

Now, after talking about it some more, we actually decided to make the small map room even smaller, and by quite a lot:

I made a painting of the ghost ship in its regular as well as its ‘spirit world’ version:

And also made a portrait that will be used later on in the captain’s room, featuring the captain himself. This time I started with the spirit world version, and went on to make make the regular world/human version:

And next, something small from the port town of Port Monnaie, adding a path to the left side entrance to the mayor’s house. At first we tried with a carpet, but we ended up going with the path since we thought it just looked a little bit better in the end:

Next up, it’s time to add some of those decorations Fred were playing around with to the rooms! I’ll start by adding them to the first floor to begin with, since we want to get that floor as completed as possible before moving on. Our hope is to be able to play through the first floor in its proper form asap, so we finally can get a real feeling for what everything’s supposed to be like before moving on.

So, here goes:

I definitely feel these decoration help with giving the ship a more… ship-y feel? And also makes quite a big difference in the detail level of each room as well. What do you guys think?

Now, finally it’s time to get up close and personal with the final enemy in the ghost ship: the crabs! They’ve been ‘finished’ for quite a while, but after we tested them Teddy removed the prototype room so I couldn’t record any gifs showing ’em off!

Now though, let’s take a look at these beasts:

Our inspiration for these guys were pretty much the boars, straight up. Just a semi-tanky enemy that can rush in and annoy you while you’re minding your own business. They also have some regular attacks, but if you stay too far away from them, chances are higher they will run in to mess you up, as seen above.

Upon defeating them, they will fall onto their back and disappear in the usual puff of smoke!

Unlike the other enemies in the ghost ship, the crabs are the only ones that work the same regardless of whether you’re in the ghost world or regular world. So, where the ghosts might become invulnerable or invisible in the regular world and gain increasingly powerful attacks in the ghost world, these guys will continue on as usual.

Meanwhile, Fred’s been busy making all kinds of creepy animations for the ship, taking the props I made and making them even more creepy by having them move (or making completely new and creepy animation we’ll stick here and there across the ship):

Which one’s your favorite? I think mine’s the first, featuring the lovely bag!

Remember this room from last week= One of the doors that lead out of this room will be hidden until you complete the puzzle, so to hide it and give the room a bit more character I’ve been making a couple of shelves and decorations for them!

Once you complete the puzzle, the shelf on the right will slide across the floor and reveal the door behind it!

The next step is of course to ghostify the world, something we’ve been doing for a lot of rooms by now, so the process is pretty straight forward:

Next up, there’s the room that’s waiting inside the one we just finished. This is a room with some maps and notes, and also a key that will lead you to the next floor!

And the next step – of course! More ghostifying! This spirit world version is much like the other spirit world version rooms across the ship, bringing in the snake, spiders and bones:

Another thing we’ve been working on lately is a special encounter / mini boss type of deal featuring…. a fridge! Previously, we talked about the kitchen area of the ship being a bullet hell challenge, but seeing as the boss already uses a lot of bullet hell mechanics we thought we’d spice things up a bit by doing something slightly different.

So what you see below is a prototype of this battle, using the good old living puzzle block as a base (when it’s finished it’ll be an actual fridge, rest assured):

So basically, the idea here is that it jumps around in the kitchen, where some fires spring up from vents in the floor (a normal feature for every decent kitchen, right?) and your goal is to make it land on the fire as it appears, so the flames will damage it. In this first prototype, we used shockwaves as the thing that damages the player, but since it’s a fridge, what we want from it is something closer to this:

Ice attacks! We’re already quite satisfied with this encounter as it is right now, so all we gotta do now is give it some proper graphics.

This week we’ll start off with ghostifying that room from before! Adding some tentacles, bones, spiders and other creepy stuff, let’s go, you know the drill by now:

And now, time for a bunch of details to be added here and there, things we’ve forgotten or decided to add. First up, a big hole in the mess hall, separating the room into two parts:

Second, a stairway leading upward from the room we finished yesterday (not super happy about how it looks right now so might come back to it later):

And thirdly, making the first room slightly bigger, as we discussed a while back. I’ll probably come back to this room as well at a later point and add more boxes and decorations, seeings as you won’t be fighting in this room:

Fred’s been working on a bunch of things, and one of those are the obstacles you’ll face throughout the dungeon. A while back ago we showed a prototype of eyes that open and blast you to death if you’re still in the ghost world when they look at you, and some graphic tests for that has been made:

He’s also been working on some prototypes for the flying masks that will deal damage to you in the ghost world (although we haven’t exactly decided 100% if they should be masks in the end, it’s nice to be able to have some actual graphics for it temporarily compared to the very temporary art made my Teddy):

We’ve also decided to spice things up a bit in terms of the overall decorations of the ship, making it feel a bit more like a ship (hopefully) compared to other areas. So we’ve made some borders, rounding out the entrances/exits between rooms, and we’ll continue playing around with further wall decorations as seen in the examples below:

Next up we have another room! Still a few left before the ghost ship is completed, but not that many. This room is part of the first floor and contains a puzzle that can only be solved after you get hold of the skill that allows you to pass into the spirit world:

Finally, here’s another bunch of stuff Fred’s been working on! Skulls, jumping bones and what have you, all coming together nicely for the boss fight:

New week, and time to finish up the Mess hall by turning its regular version into a spirit world version!

As always, this involves changing the colors around a bit on the moss and such, but for this room it also involves a couple new props, including turning a couple of carrots into a sad and shrunken version of themselves as well as killing a flower in a vase:

Here’s the full WIP:

And the finished thing:

The boss fight prototyping continues, and we’ve made a bunch of changes and additions! First of all, the actual background has been added, which gives the fight a slightly more serious feel, but we’ve also added the proper graphics for some attacks such as the water ball thing:

And we’ve also edited on of his skills slightly, namely the skulls he summons:

Previously these skulls were only visible in the spirit world, which meant you had to swap back into the regular world to avoid them. Now though, we’ve made sure some of the skulls are in the regular world as well, making avoiding them slightly harder!

We still want to improve this fight slightly, but now it’s more about patterns more than anything – we’re kind of happy with what he does, just not the timings for when and in what order. In this version of the prototype seen above, he tends to randomly summon things for you to avoid, but we have since then made him go into various phases instead, meaning he’ll have a period of simply attacking followed by a period of summoning things for you to avoid. The second part will then feature both the bullet hell elements as well as dodging his regular attacks at the same time .

I think we’re really making progress with this and hopefully the finalized boss fight will be done soon – it definitely feels a lot closer to it now, anyway!

Next, it’s time to go back to drawing those disgusting bridges! In the mess hall there needs to be a ton of them, so I better get a move on and make a bunch of variations for them. Here goes:

And here are the finished things:

Next on our prototyping spree, we have another of the challenge rooms in the rather strange version of Startington! In this room, you’ll be facing obsession, and it takes the shape of you killing a whole lot of slimes, which then turn into… yourself?! What could it all mean?

Obviously this segment still needs a lot of work, but we’re getting there, and I think what we do in this part of the game is pretty cool even if it might not be super clear to everyone. Next up we’ll deal with the final(?) challenge, concerning ‘deceit’…

We’ll end this week with a look at a new room, though! This room is the final room of the second floor, so once this is done the whole 2nd floor can be put into the game, yay!

As you can tell, I’ve yet to make a painting to go inside the frame, but I’m kind of thinking I’ll make a painting of the ship itself. What do you guys think?

Time to start working on those colors! This is gonna take a while since the ship is super huge, so I’ll split it in two parts (or however many are needed). In the first part we’ll be dealing with the basic colors, getting them down somewhat in any case. Might change them around later but it’s good to start with a base:

Obviously it’s gonna get a lot more detailed than this, and the water will be animated as well. We’re also considering changing the size of the upper front and back of the boat, making them bigger since they look kind of small right now. Oh well, onwards we go!

Time to take a look at what’s happening with the skeletons and discuss a piece of their design!

So one thing we’ve been wanting to do with our skeleton enemies is to give them a quirk where their head will fall off and become an enemy of its own, sort of like the Jumpkin from Pumpkin Woods; a pretty easy enemy that you just whack over a couple of time to get rid of, but that serves as an interesting game play element.

Because of this, Fred has started working on the skulls and what they’ll look like when they fall off and are brought to life on their own, and as he did so, we realized the square shape they currently have isn’t exactly ideal for what we want to do; it’s maybe a bit blocky and simple:

So to remedy this, we’ve now made a different, more regular looking skull, that we feel fit better:

While we do love the idea of the square head, it being a bit more original and all, we think this looks better overall. How do you guys feel?

So these last bunch of days we’ve been playing around with a bunch of new puzzle ideas for the ghost ship – we really want to mix things up and get some interesting use out of these mechanics. So, first thing we’ve tried is using the spirit world mechanic to make a burning ghost light candles for you.

Here’s a GIF showing our super early prototype:

Basically, the ghost ignores you while you’re in the regular world, and will start chasing you once you enter the spirit world, so your goal is to position yourself so that the ghost will pass over the lanterns (currently the white squares) and set them alight. Completing this task will open a door for you.

If you’re too slow however, the candles will stop burning and you need to set them alight again.

These ghosts will appear in other areas of the game as well where they will simply serve as an enemy/obstacle – you won’t be able to kill them, and as soon as you enter the spirit world they will chase you. I believe I might have mentioned them before in relation to the room with all the creepy bridges, where you’ll have to avoid them while making your way to the other end of the room.

The second mechanic we’ve been playing around with has been something slightly different, yet reminding of something we’ve used before. In Tai Ming we had puzzles where you had to kill statues in the right spot, so that they pressed a button for you. In this dungeon, we’ll do something similar.

Below is the WIP gif:

We use statues as the placeholder graphic here, but they will more likely be some kind of floating armors or some such.

The idea is that these armors only live while in the spirit world, where they follow a set pattern of movement. If you go back into the normal world, they will fall to the ground and remain still. So, the trick here is to adjust the timing of their pattern by hitting them a few times, so that when you return to the regular world, they will each fall on a button if you time it right.

This will be a bit clunky in multiplayer, but we’ve decided on going down the path where it’s enough for one person to be in the spirit world to make them move around. In the GIF above, the adjustments are pretty slim as you hit them, but in the final version we want each hit to make a bigger difference so that you really notice something happens to their patterns when you interact with them.

How do you guys feel about these new puzzle ideas? If you have any others, feel free to share!

Next we’ll start making one of the remaining rooms we’ve yet to finish up; the Mess hall! We’ve showed this room a couple of times already – it’s the room with the creepy bridges. In this first part we’ll get all the basics down, the correct walls and floors as well as some basic decorations; ropes, vines, boxes and so on.

There will be a bunch of floating tables here as well, but those we’ll save for another time. For now, here goes:

Second to last cabin! This is the one that connects to its neighbor on the left. Again, nothing much interesting to say about this, I think!

Final cabin! This one you’ll reach from the room on the right, and will take you back to the corridor where you came from after you’ve completed everything on the right side (the challenge we haven’t 100% designed yet):

Time for something slightly different! This is one of the “challenges” we’re working on, which is basically a room where you have to move over a bunch of floating platforms – however, the bridges between them will only be visible in the ghost world!

Here you can see a rare glimpse of what it looks like with the colliders in place, as well as what happens if you’re on a bridge when you turn back to the regular world (you fall down):

I’ve been testing out some things in regards to what these bridges might look like, and here we have one of the suggestions, which I think will be the one we’ll go for:

And a small test of what it’d look like when the tables are floating the way they should (the eyes on the wall is another mechanic we’ll be playing with, something that will force you back into the regular world so it won’t be too easy to walk through this room):

 

Since we’re drawing nearer to completing the first boss fight somewhat, it’s time to start tying together the first floor! In doing so, I need to rework the first room a bit, as some things have changed in our design since we made it for the first time:

Basically, we’re adding another “floor”, though all entries and exits are on the first floor of the room. This is so we don’t have to add any level differences in the boss room, which will be the room connecting to this one on the left!

Here’s the new version:

Meanwhile, Fred keeps working on the crab – and look how cute it is! Those tiny legs, aww… I don’t know how I’ll be able to kill this?!

Time to start working on those cabins! Six in total, and here’s the first one. Let’s go:

The next cabin is pretty much a mirror of the first one, but with some different decoration. You’ll reach it from the cabin to the left of it, and exiting it from the bottom door will get you back in the corridor below, but at a place you couldn’t reach before.

The third cabin has a platform leading to a higher level! How intriguing! The room on the right of this hasn’t been designed yet, but we have a few ideas for a sort of ‘puzzle’ (actually more like a challenge, I guess), where you’ll have to go back and forth into the spirit world to avoid some dangerous ghosts!

Now it’s time to start working on the three bottom cabins, starting with the one on the far left. As with the top two, this one will be connected to its neighbor. Other than that, not much to say about this one!

Of course, we’re not only working on backgrounds for the Ghost Ship. There’s still some enemy stuff to do, one of them being designing the last enemy! So let’s take a look at what Fred has been doing:

Congratulations, it’s a crab! We really wanted one enemy that would just be a “normal” kind of enemy without any fancy spirit world mechanics, and what better thing to put on a ghost ship than a killer crab? (don’t answer that)

As you might guess, the final design we went for is the one within the green circle. Stay tuned for all its fancy animations!

Meanwhile in the programming department, Teddy’s started working on the first boss battle! We’ve made a bunch of prototype attacks and patterns, some which can be seen below:

Here you can see the skull walls that force you out of the ghost world, which we’ve shown before in a regular enemy prototype. He also throws a bunch of cannonballs at you; has a dash attack and, of course, a regular whack with the sword.

In the second one you can see two other attacks we’ve been working on; one being some kind of menace that whirls around the room (though we’re not 100% sure about this one yet).

The other is a big rock that gets lifted out of water (it currently spawns from nothing, since the actual boss room with the water isn’t made yet), and as it gets thrown into a wall or some other such thing, it gets broken into a bunch of smaller pieces the player has to avoid. Right now the broken-up pieces use some old bullet hell-type graphic asset, but that won’t be so in the proper version, of course.

We’ve actually not sure whether we want it to be a rock or some sort of water-ball (or something like that). Another option we had was for it to be a ball of all kinds of stuff he pulls out of the water and merges together, but to be honest we kind of feel that one might be a bit too much work to get nice enough. The experiments continue!

New week, old adventures! Since I’ve been making a ton of random props for each of the rooms spirit world version now, I thought it would be a good idea to go over each room and cross-pollute them with props so that creepy spiders won’t only appear in just one room, and so on.

This is also a great moment to make sure all the moss is red and all the vines are sickly purple, as well. So, with all that considered, here we have it, the rooms so far in their creepy glory:

And this is all just the two first floors! One more to go!! :D

So, time to start working on that third floor, beginning with the room with the locked door and character busts that I made before. What better thing to add here than – you know it – more tentacles?!

Also some bones, spiders, and other things from the previous floors. Yum.

And now I think it’s time for a brand new room. This looks like a simple enough corridor with seven different doors, but in part 2, I think you’ll see that it’s not quite so!

The top and bottom doors will lead to cabins where the ship’s guests sleep. As you might remember I’ve already started working on some basic stuff for such rooms, so now it’s just a matter of making them with the correct exits.

Anyway, here’s the corridor WIP:

And the finished thing:

Next up, adding some more stuff to said corridor, and as it turns out, we’ll be moving some things around as well. So the basic idea here is that you have to pass through a bunch of these cabins to get where you want to go, so I have to block the path through in various ways.

By doing so, you’ll first have to go into the first bottom cabin, find a way from that one into the one on its right, go from that one to the first top cabin and exit it through it’s neighbor as well:

Lots of random stuff later, here’s what we end up with: