It’s been a while since we had a post with design decisions and the main reason for that is simply that we haven’t had much to talk about! I’ve been busy making stuff for the desert town while Teddy has been implementing all of the stuff me and Fred made for Arcadia. Recently we sat down to talk about two things though, and the subjects of those talks can be found in the title…

First up the Arcadia version of the Farm. Our first idea was that this place would be a place where you could get taming items and capture the same enemies that you can currently catch in Story Mode, which will then start living in the pasture outside the farm (or inside town if you decide to leave the gate open).

After some discussion we thought this would be a little underwhelming though, seeing as you don’t bring along your pets here as you do in story mode. So instead, our goal is that you’ll be able to tame not only all of the enemies, but also that you’ll be able to capture several of the same species, and decide yourself how many of each or which of the animals you want to display in the farm. To do this we’ll add an interface showing how many of each animal you currently own and how many are currently outside in the pasture.

To catch these animals you’ll use bait in the same way as you do in Story Mode, but you’ll be able to buy more from Oak in order to capture more of the same kind. Chickens will be the main exception to this. They will instead be acquired through eggs that you can purchase from Chika, who will also be present in the Arcadian farm. The eggs can be placed in nests inside the farm building, and take a set amount of ingame time before they hatch.

At the moment you’ll only be able to capture the animals available as pets in Story Mode, but our goal is to be able to tame and keep each type of enemy in the pasture.

Meanwhile, Haddock’s role in Story Mode has been quite underwhelming outside of him giving you a fishing rod early on. To remedy this, we’re having him give you quests, where the rewards are aquariums for your housing house. Each aquarium has enough space for a set number of fishes (which you select yourself from the ones you keep in your inventory). There will be a variety of sizes available and each come with different styles of inside decoration. As for the quests, they will be centered around fishing and presenting Haddock with different fishes.

Now, time for some mixed Arcadia fixes! I know we’re not completely done with the Desert Town, but I needed to go back to Arcadia to fix these things so Teddy can continue implementing ’em. First up, we decided to change the name of: the slightly more ominous:

Our reasoning here was that a ‘challenge’ sounds like something it’s possible to overcome, while the idea of these insane runs is more a case of seeing how far you can get before the inevitable end.

Speaking of insane runs, the boss practice in the Arena needed a new interface where you get a ranking ranging from S to D on your encounter with said boss. Points will be deduced if you take hits or take very long to finish:

Next up, here’s a little reminder of what Master Ji’s dojo looked like when I was done with it:

…and the reason I’m showing it is so you can compare it to this smaller version:

We decided to make it smaller to make better room for the camera and just limit the space in general: there’s really no reason to run around to much when your main goal is to shield the enemies!

Next, another reminder, this time of the farm:

As mentioned, you’ll be able to hatch chickens from (enormous) eggs, so I went ahead and made the nests where these will be placed:

Investigating an egg will give you a hint of how much time remains before the egg is ready to hatch (though in rather vague terms ranging from ‘not in a while’ to ‘soon’, hah! The actual amount of time it’ll take will be decided on as we continue testing.

Next up, some small interface things, namely a button for selecting shield training and ‘shop title’ windows for when you talk to Master Ji, Muffin or Candy respectively:

We’re not completely done with Arcadia yet, and with our new ideas for the farm, it’s time for me to put together some basic interfaces for the new features.

First, an interface for deciding how many animals of each kind you want roaming around the pasture/full map:

The numbers are placeholder for now but are supposed to be how many animals are currently outside vs how many you have in total. The % will be a / in the final version, I just quickly used the % here to make sure there was enough room for everything:

Next, an interface for equipping taming items. We’ve decided that you’ll only be able to carry one taming item with you on your arcade run, to avoid cheese strats where you carry an infinite amount and tame all the difficult enemies rather than battle them. On the flip side of this we also decided that you’ll be able to use the same taming item until you’ve successfully tamed an enemy, rather than having to buy a new one every time.

In the interface, you’ll see the taming item on the left, and what enemy it tames to the right:

Of course, in order to get to this portion of the menu, a button is needed. We considered using the regular Buy button, but since this doesn’t work the same way the regular shop interface does, we made a new one for buying Taming Items:

Meanwhile, the eggs Chika sells will be available in a regular shop, which means it needs a shop title box, as seen below:

Next we have another portrait! This is the second armwrestler, the opponent of the one shown last week. A quick reminder of the sprite version:

The one is actually a young lady, but not much more is known about her for now. Most of these Saloon NPCs will probably mainly be background characters that won’t get much of a story of their own, but never say never! It’s always good to have a number of spare characters for upcoming quest ideas.

Progress and finished portrait:

Fred continues to take requests on animations given by Teddy as he fleshes out the revamped Arcade Mode. Most recently, we needed a receptionist for the Aquarium which will house your collected fishes. Since we have but one master of the fishing rod, we decided to put him on duty here as well, and in doing so give him an animation from the side:

Next, a little something to help enhance Master Ji’s shield training! This shield will appear whole or break, depending on whether you win or lose his current challenge:

Here’s a little sneak peek of what it currently looks like, though we’ll likely change a few details:

As for the pet business, we thought there should be a slightly bigger fanfare to capturing the pets now that they very clearly get sent down to Arcadia rather than go with you (perhaps we should add this effect to story mode as pets get sent to the farm as well):

Finally, another inhabitant of the desert town, a guy who might just have spent a little too long in the sun (or perhaps should have removed his sunglasses first):

This week it’s time to start work on the upper right corner of the desert town, featuring the market area! In this first video, I’ll be making the first market stand which will serve as a base for the rest. The first one here belongs to someone selling jars: how exciting. …Or maybe not!

In the second part of the Marketplace, I’m making a bigger stand featuring three different sellers: one who sells weapons, one who sells potions and one who sells shields. A little more useful for the player, compared to the previous one, perhaps :)

Before continuing on with the market, have a portrait! This one is of one of the armwrestlers from two weeks ago:

The WIP:

…and finished sprite:

The final part of the marketplace means making three new stands, one for carpets, one double for hats/accessories and one for souvenirs! Also changed the color of the jar stand to further separate the stands from one another:

Meanwhile, this week Fred has worked on a bunch of NPCs! Not only will there be an autumn fae bandit leader in the Saloon, you’ll also get to see a couple of old friends(?), who may or may not be too excited about running into you again:

In the desert town more NPCs are appearing as well, and here’s one of them, a swimmer enjoying the clear water:

As Teddy continues to implement Arcadia Rework stuff, one or two new animations were requested as well. Here’s an animation featuring the gate to the farm, which can be either open or closed. If it’s open, the animals you keep at the farm will be able to roam around the entire map, while if it’s closed they’ll be kept inside the pasture:

Time to make Grindeas first set of boats! Starting with a small and rather simple one, there will be several more before we’re done. This is actually the first time I’m drawing boats, so bear with me and expect several stages of improving and adding details to these as we continue on.

Without further ado, the first one:

The second boat is actually more of a ship! There will be another similar one of these nearby, too. As you can see in the WIP video below, at first the sail was down, but as it was pointed out to me you don’t keep sails down while in port… I changed it (I know absolutely nothing of ships but it was a pretty dumb thing to not realize sooner! I’m sorry!)

WIP and finished thing:

Time for the third “boat”, which also is no regular boat, but a houseboat! I’m not 100% this is the color scheme we’ll go for in the end, but for now it’s a green, red and brown quirky kind of deal:

The final boat post this week and the final boat in the port: another smaller vessel this time, filled with cargo! Maybe it has come in from a bigger ship docked outside the harbor area?

As for Fred, this week he continues to make NPCs for the Saloon! As mentioned last week, there will be a lot of different characters here, and not all are human… Below is another selection of people visiting or working at this place: a bartender cleaning a glass, a caveling using a slot machine, someone at the bar, and a pianist for entertainment!

…and yes, Teddy is still working on implementing all the new Arcadia systems! Keep in mind there’s a lot of new mechanics to add, so it’s taking a little while. He’s aaaalmost done and ready to let us inhouse test before handing it over to you guys though! Stay with us just a couple of more weeks~

With the desert town progress underway, we decided to make a few changes on the right side of the map before I start rendering those houses. Here’s the original sketch (please excuse the house on the left side which I forgot to remove before saving this):

We decided to change the bottom left house in the picture below to one big two-story house instead, and add a large crate on the right house with a jump down, as well as another jump down on the lower level of the left house. This will make the houses stand out a bit more from the rest, and will look more interesting overall.

We also decided to add an entrance to the topmost house and move the marketplace a bit accordingly. We found that it having no entrance looked a bit empty, and the market place will probably only look better if it’s a little more pushed together:

On to the Ice cream parlor, which as I mentioned had a problem with the mirrored windows. I fixed this and added some silhouettes showing through the glass:

And now, since we have done a bit of work on the lower left side of the map, I decided to tie things together a bit by adding the remaining houses and some decorative stuff. I also replaced the church’s weaponry with Grindea-related imagery:

Now, the desert town creation continues with two new houses, a pair of buildings linked together by a rather thin pair of planks! The one on the left is supposed to be the living quarters of someone, while the one on the right is thought to be a warehouse of sorts. Not sure if both will be open or if we’ll close the doors on the warehouse until we can figure out a cool quest or something to happen in there.

For now, here’s the progress of the exterior:

Next we have the harbor, a rather big undertaking that will have to be divided in multiple parts! First up, the core of it all, the bridges:

These bridges will lead to a number of boats of different sizes, which will be what I focus on next. There will be crates and NPCs unloading cargo and strange items here as well, which is why this part is quite big compared to the rest of the town. By the time everything is finished we hope it’ll be all bustling with activity!

And now, time for another desert portrait! This time it’s the grandpa of the gardener family, the father of the mother who keeps pulling out poor baby carrots. His sprite, made by Fred, was posted a couple of weeks ago first:

This week Fred has been working on a bunch of NPCs, these too for the desert area. First up is several iterations of the NPC responsible for the jumping vegetable enemies posted before! This guy is an old gardener who has become a little.. unhinged in later years… I will say no more than that! Here’s a bunch of iterations, with the final version inside the green circle:

Next up, it’s time to fill the Saloon with people! While the interior of the Saloon hasn’t been made yet, there will be a ton of people there, so Fred has already begun working on a bunch of them!

First, there are two people in the midst of arm wrestling, and a trio playing cards:

There will be more like these coming, as we hope to create a feeling of the Saloon being bustling with activity, card games and entertainment :)

Another week and more desert progress! This week it’s time to begin making those houses that will appear in the desert town. First up is the church, where a certain follower of Grindea will appear:

In the beginning we thought it’d be fun to have a sword at the top of the building, kind of emulating the way churches here in the west have crosses up there, but we’ll probably replace this to something more associated with Grindea later on, such as a bigger version of Essence or something along those lines. For now though, here’s what it looks like:

Next building is the Ice Cream parlor! A place where you’ll be able to get a yummy snack. In the final image below, the window got mirrored so the light on it comes in opposite directions. I will fix this in the final version and possibly put silhouettes of ice creams through the glass as well.

Here’s the WIP:

And the next part of town I’ll focus on is the beach! A place where people go to relax and enjoy the pleasant weather around this area. Maybe play some beach volleyball or take a swim in the water:

The water around the area looks a little lacking right now, but I plan on asking Fred to make some animations for waves coming onto the shoreline, ans well as the usual water decorations:

Now, another portrait! Continuing on with the family of gardeners, it’s time to make a portrait of the father, the guy with the pot of unknown liquid:

And here’s the WIP:

As the Arcadia rework is well on its way, Fred has moved on to make a couple of things needed for it, in this case a sprite of Candy that isn’t hidden behind her giant cauldron, and a cute little familiar we decided to add that tags along with her:

How cute! Wouldn’t you like to have one of those familiars of your own? ….Well, maybe you will. Maybe you will.

Another week, and work on the desert continues! Before I start sketching the town layout, I wanted to get a feeling of how the houses would look like, so I began to sketch a bunch of alternatives for random basic buildings. Like the house in one of the desert maps, these have a slightly different design compared to the rest of the houses in the game, much like the buildings in Tai Ming:

Once I was done with the sketches, I added a character sprite and quickly realized they were much bigger than they would be in game, so I resized them to fit better:

In order to truly grasp what they look like, I decided to make a few of them in the actual artstyle too. This will give a better feel for color and shape, and I’ll be able to use these houses in the game, or at least parts of them, depending on what the final town design ends up being.

Here’s the WIP:

Alright, time to start looking at the desert town! …Neither the desert nor the desert town has been named yet, I guess we’ll have to fix that sooner or later… But anyway! As mentioned, we had already decided on a bunch of major things we wanted to include in the town, among those a church, an ice cream parlor, a marketplace, a beach and a harbor area with ships. With this in mind I began making a sketch of what I imagined the area to look like, with the list of features in mind:

As always with these sketches, we added it as a flat background to the game and ran around in it, imagining it the way it’d look when everything is done. It led us to a bunch of changes:

* Adding more water to the bottom and left, making sure the camera doesn’t stop scrolling when you near the edge of the land. This makes it more pleasant to the eye and helps give a feeling that the sea is more vast.

* The bridge near the harbor area would be increased in size, both in regards to width as well as length. We plan on adding a bunch of NPCs to make it seem bustling enough. We also added more ships, to increase the sense of it being a lively port.

* We reduced to overall size of the entire thing (but just slightly), with the exception of the beach which we found to be of adequate size.

* We made the north entrance a bit more fancy looking, having space for a couple of guards rather than palm trees being the very first thing you run into. We also moved the fountain near the northern entrance to a more central position.

Here’s the upgraded version, and what we’ll use as a base for the city:

And as Fred keeps making NPCs, I get to make more portrait. This time it’s for the lady gardener, struggling to get the vegetables growing (maybe if she stopped pulling them up and let them grow it’d go better, but who am I to judge). Here’s the sprite, for those who forgot:

And here’ the WIP and final (for now) portrait:

A quick break to fix some Arcadia things that popped up! To begin with, Bishop’s challenges of course needs a interface of its own:

The basic design is pretty much the same as Master Ji’s shield training, but instead of having either a star or nothing, this interface will show you what floor you reached on your best run during a challenge! Completing a whole run will give you a gold star, though to be honest we don’t expect a lot of people to manage that:

A slight adjustment has been made to the inventory title box in Arcadia as well… For as you can see, the original version includes bag:

…and since bag is not included in Arcade Mode, we simply replaced him with trunk instead:

The health pot also won’t be available from Remedi’s potions in Arcadia. It’s possible we’ll include an Arcade-only potion, but until we come up with one or in case we don’t, we made a special icon showing that the health pot is unavailable in this mode:

Teddy’s working on implementing each of the new buildings, and while working on Muffin’s Treats we realized we need to edit how the item frame(s) look:

As you can see the item frames are a bit too big for the treat icons, so I made a slightly edited version of the fancy one in the description box that will be used for these! As I took the opportunity to upgrade the overall look of it, we decided to update the regular item frames in the rest of the game to look more like it as well:

As for the selection frames, they will be using the treat/curse frames seen in the bottom UI instead, but at the time of the screenshot, they hadn’t been implemented just yet.

Next, we forgot that you of course need to browse to Treats, Curses and Challenges in a popup window (same as when you select buy or talk in shops), so they needed icons as well:

Finally, a minor edit: we decided to change name of Trunk of Tricks to Trunk of Tips:

This way it’ll feel slightly more different from Bag of Tricks :)

As for Fred, this time around he has animated the cacti I made a while ago! As mentioned, these won’t be destructible but will only wiggle a little when you hit ’em:

Some of them will be able to get frozen though, and those you’ll be able to destroy to make your way slightly quicker through the first desert area:

In Arcadia, a cage being built to house NPCs that you’ll be able to release during your runs after defeating a mini-boss!

Of course, it also needs an animation for when you successfully save a captured NPC and let them go:

Time to start (continue) working on the desert for real! Since the sketch is all done, it’s time to start bringing the fourth desert area to life, and we’ll start with the Saloon:

There are still a few things to do with this place, but I feel it’s best to iterate things rather than make the whole thing in one go – the best ideas usually come when you have the basics down and let it rest for a day. Instead, I’ll continue working on the basic skeleton of the area: getting the walls and general decorations down, before continuing adding props on a more detailed level!

For now, here’s what the Saloon looks like right now:

And now, time for the rest of the area! As mentioned, this is best done in several parts, starting with the basics:

The entrance to the harbor town will be in the lower parts of this area, which will be indicated by a wall of sorts, much like the wall around Evergrind City:

Next up, I’m adding a bunch of props using the editor, mainly cacti and bushes, and then, the path leading to the town and Saloon:

Then, some texture decorations of the sand and a bunch of pots:

Now it’s time to get down to detail level, adding stuff to give this area a little bit personality. First up, a few wanted posters along the way to the Saloon:

The Saloon will be a hangout for a bunch of shady characters, which will be foreshadowed by the posters above. As for the Saloon itself, there are some details left that I want to get down:

Finally, I’m adding some more stuff to the rest of the area using the editor: crates, barrels, jars, and a few bushes. In the end, here’s the area for now, more or less completed:

In the portrait area, we’re not done with the archaeologists just yet! Here’s the portrait of another one, the pink haired one shown a few weeks ago:

And the WIP:

In Fred’s department, his vegetables are now fully animated, bouncing around ready to be implemented as actual enemies:

And the female gardener from last week gets a husband who’s inside the house stirring.. a pot of water? A bland soup? Who can tell!

What we do know though, is that her father is keeping an eye on him, making sure everything is done correctly:

New week, new interfaces! This time it’s the last couple of interfaces for Arcade Mode, featuring how to build new houses and a notification window for when new NPCs are added to town:

Above is the first quick sketch of the notification box mentioned. We wanted to notify players of when new characters appear in town so they know what/who to look for. Instead of One-Handed it will say “A New Face in Town”, and instead of Defense, it’ll say the character’s name. We used to placeholder text to get a feeling for how big the fonts are.

Here’s the progress of taking the box from the sketch version to the actual one we’ll use in the game:

And the final window in its context:

Next up, building houses. When you inspect a signpost you’ll be presented with a window where Trunk informs you of what will appear in that area and how much it’ll cost. Extremely(!) detailed sketch below:

Again, bringing it from sketch to final box:

Once more we’ve used a placeholder text to get a feeling of how big text will appear inside the box. Instead of One-Handed it’ll say the name of the building, and instead of Candy’s line from Pumpkin Woods there will be a description of the house and what can be done there. The coin box to the bottom left of the window will tell you how much it costs to unlock this building, while the checkmark and x will confirm or cancel. The x will be selected by default to avoid accidentally building things you wouldn’t want.

Final version below:

Next up, a bunch of icons, featuring both curses and Bishop challenges:

This first batch are all Bishop challenges. The first one is the one where you race against time to complete each room in a specific time or get instakilled, the second represents the only elites challenge, the third is for the challenge where you’re blinded the whole time. The fourth is for the runs when you can’t level up, and the fifth and final icon is for the combined no leveling / only elites challenge:

Next up, the next bunch of curses:

The first one being where the floors turn to ice, the second where you’re surrounded by flames, the third being the curse which allows higher level enemies to spawn on lower level floors, the fourth is a curse that makes you take double damage.

The fifth is the curse which makes enemies leave something harmful behind when they die (poison clouds, acid, etc), and the last one is a slightly modified version of the bishop challenge above, for the curse which either blinds you temporarily at the start of each room, or has blinding mushrooms spread across the floor. If we go for the mushroom idea, we’ll likely change the icon, but for now this is the placeholder until we’ve tried the two modes out:

Now, in preparation to move from Arcadia to the desert, here’s some small Arcadia fixes to conclude my work there (for now):

Above is a screen of Trunk talking to Bishop, during which we realized his portrait is a little too big and feels too close to the text. First mission: make it smaller!

Second mission, giving him a proper expression for a special moment where he gets a little surprised to say the least:

This is approximately what Arcadia will look like when you first arrive, but there’s a little something missing here:

What’s that? A ruined bridge, of course! We realized it’s kind of weird that some things have already been set up on the other side of the water without any indication of how people got over, and it looks a little more interesting to have it there:

Okay, so time to move to the desert. Here we have a pathway that’s supposed to be blocked, so you have to move around the area before unlocking a way to pass through here:

And what’s stopping you? More cacti! Bigger ones, this time. Time to make a bunch:

And here they are, in their rather huge glory! We’ll probably add a bunch of these here and there to keep you from being able to destroy everything (most other decorations – the smaller cacti – can be cut down by the player, while these cannot):

Next up, another place that will be blocked until you’re actually supposed to get here:

Here, we want the stairway to be blocked by a couple of archaeologists who have made interesting findings in the area. This serves both as an introduction to the fact that there will be archaeologists here, as well as a temporary way of blocking your progress until you’re ready for the desert storyline:

(Of course I couldn’t leave the stairs looking as empty as they did, or you wouldn’t really buy why the archaeologists are interested in it..)

And with the new, more epic looking staircase, this one looks rather boring in comparison:

Time to fix the problem:

Next up, another portrait! As Fred keeps making new NPCs needed for the upcoming quests, I make the portraits to match. This time it’s another archaeologist, consulting a map. Sprite below:

And here’s the WIP:

As for Fred, this week he has been working on finishing up the vegetable lineup from last week! Here they are, in all directions:

Needless to say, these fellow will of course be animated as well, bouncing around in a cute way:

And where’s there vegetables, there’s a garden, right? Here’s a gardener, pulling up some rather small and sad looking vegetables in comparison to the lively one above:

As usual there’s a lot of planning and designing going on in between our actual graphic/programming jobs, and with Arcadia there’s been a ton of it. Here’s a couple new things:

Intro Pacing: For new players, Arcadia can be a bit much to grasp in the beginning, and that will be even more true after the rework is complete. There’s a ton of empty plots ready to be purchased by you, new characters and quirks that are unlocked from the beginning or will appear as you play (such as Candy and Muffin who were scheduled to appear after you’ve reached a certain floor or when you’ve died x times respectively).

To pace things a little better, we’ve decided that the first time you spawn in Arcadia, there won’t be any signs near the empty plots describing what they’ll do. Instead, there will be a cutscene where your new partner in crime introduces himself (Trunk), and you’re off on your adventure. The ability to purchase things will only become available after your first death, at which point you’ll actually have some money for the first time: and to further invite people to aim for a plot purchase, a NPC will provide a quest with a gold reward.

A couple of deaths after that, Muffin will appear to help you out with treats, and after a while (or after you’ve reached a certain score and/or floor), he in turn will have a quest for you, which is to bring back Candy who has gotten lost somewhere. Finishing this quest will unlock Curses.

And so instead of everything hitting the player at once (or just randomly), we feel this step by step introduction will be easier to grasp for new Arcade Mode players and sets things up more nicely.

A new type of room: or perhaps, rather, another thing that can happen in event rooms! In some event rooms in the future, there might be a captures NPC tied to a pole or shut in a cage, which upon inspection will trigger a mini boss battle. Winning against this mini boss will unlock the captured NPC in your town, where they might just be another friendly face (with a reward?!) or provide new quests in the future.

More Curses:
* Each room’s edges are burning
* The floor is ice
* Defeated enemies leave aoe effects where they fell (such as blind, poison gas, acid, etc)
* Temporary blindness upon entering a new room/Blinding shrooms appear in rooms (haven’t decided on which of these variations yet)
* Enemies from the higher areas appear in lower floors
* Player takes double damage

Bishop’s Special Runs: Since some people (ourselves included) have expressed a wish to be able to replay certain extreme challenges, such as Bishop’s “no leveling, all elites” run, we’ve decided to add the option! At Bishop you’ll be able to select these special formats in a list once you completed the original quest(s) where these rules first applied. Next to each special condition you’ll see a mini hiscore list of how far you got (what floor you reached), encouraging you to aim higher next time.

For these special runs you won’t be able to use neither curses nor treats, and the highscore gain remains as if you played the game normally. It’s basically just for fun wacky ways of playing the game, and some of the special modes include:

* No leveling
* All enemies are elites
* Both the above at the same time
* 24/7 blind effect
* Clear the rooms in S-rank speed or insta-die

While some of these could be curses instead/as well, we decided to keep these crazier versions separate as the game isn’t designed to be played this way; you’re basically not really meant to be able to finish the game with one of these adjustments on, and as such we thought it’d be more interesting to give them their own highscore board where you can see how far you got, rather than an arbitrary score increase.

Exciting times!

Now, time for a bunch of random stuff! Starting off with a sneak peek at one of the challenge rooms in Tai Ming, dodging the Mimic:

Of course, it’s probably best if he has a platform of his own….:

Next, in order to make it more clear what’s going on with Muffin who has his stand all built and ready but isn’t at home in the beginning of a new Arcade game, we added a small signpost (that will be animated), which will let you know where he’s gone if you inspect it:

Playing around with the background of Arcadia, we had two options, either keep it static or introduce parallax scrolling:

Since we all thought the second one looked better, we’re gonna make some adjustments to the background allowing us to properly use parallax scrolling for all the pillars (as well as add some more to increase the effect).

As you might notice at the edge of one of those gifs there are some strange flying fishes near the entrance… And as much as it’d be super cool to have the surrealism of flying fishes in Arcadia, we’ll probably remove these soon! They’re actually just temporary tests where Teddy is trying out their movement patterns:

As you might remember, you’re supposed to be able to change time in Arcadia, at least between day and night. Since no nighttime scenery is complete without a starlit sky, it’s time to make a secondary version of the background:

And this is how it looks as night falls in town:

Finally, a slight adjustment to the Reward box in the game over screen (original version pictured below):

Since you’ll be awarded gold and actually get to keep the gold you’ve collected during your run, it might be a good idea to actually have a spot for the gold to appear in said reward box, which has been added in the version below:

Okay, one of the last interfaces I need to make belongs to Master Ji’s shield training dojo where he challenges you to perfect guard various enemies! Because we haven’t discussed this in detail though, we needed to have a talk and finalize some things.

The basic idea with Master Ji’s dojo is that you won’t be able to deal damage on enemies without having perfect guarded them first: after which they’ll die after just one hit. You yourself on the other hand will just need to take a single hit before losing the challenge!

The first time you talk to Master Ji he’ll give you a trial run where you have to perfect guard twice: once where you hit the enemy regularly after the guard, and once where you’ll use a skill (in order to quickly showcase how your attacks and skills become better by perfect guarding). Once you’ve done this you’ll be able to select a bunch of challenges through his interface.

Each area has their own challenge where you’ll be presented with either one or multiple of the same enemy one at a time until you’ve perfect guarded your way through all the enemies of that area. After that you have to perfect guard against each of the previous enemies at the same time. Complete this without taking damage and you’ll have cleared the challenge. Clear five challenges and you’ll get the first “belt” (a headband of a specific color), ten to get the next and so on (actual numbers might differ depending on how many challenges we have in the final version).

Aside from the basic floor challenges there will also be special challenges with interesting enemies, such as perfect guarding against each of Marino’s special attack combo attacks, or being stuck on a platform with Lantern Jacks shooting fire at you.

As for availability, the relevant challenges will be unlocked as you reach each area, so you’ll have to have gotten to the Evergrind floors in Arcade before you unlock perfect guard training against those enemies, for instance. However, you can clear the challenges in whatever order you want.

In order to make retrying challenges less annoying you’ll get the option to retry (yes/no) after you fail a challenge, where selecting no will simply bring you back to regular Arcadia and yes restarts the challenge.

And now, on to actually making the interface!

Since this place is all about training with your shield, we decided to simply call it “Master Ji’s Shield Training”, and use shields as decoration:

As mentioned before, if you have cleared a challenge, it will get a star on the right side, while if you haven’t unlocked it yet, its icon will remain black and white with a lock on top. In the info box you’ll get information on how to/when you’ll be able to unlock it:

As such, not one but two sets of icons are needed for each challenge, one in color and one black and white:

In Fred’s department, this week has been focused on more desert stuff, the place where I will end up very soon as well!

First up, another, new archaeologist with animation:

Another important feature in the desert is the ability to destroy cacti! The cacti will be the main destructible item/container in the desert so naturally there needs to be a bunch of them, animated and all:

There will be a couple additional enemies as well, though these little guys will only appear in a side quest that we’re working on that will be added along with the desert. Seeing how cute they are though, we might wanna squeeze them in somewhere else in the game too, we’ll see!

The ones in the top right are the final versions, the rest are various stages of sketches or other variations we decided not to go for. Hope you’re excited to see where you’ll end up meeting this crew!

With the new year coming, it’s time to plan new things. For us that means it’s time to start thinking about the harbor town, a place which has been planned for a long time but never sketched and never discussed in greater detail. So that’s what we’ve done now!

Basically, we’ve had a huge brainstorming session where we just talked about what we’d like to see in the harbor town, what would be cool and a little how things would look. Here’s our list:

The Harbor – Obviously a harbor town needs a harbor or it’s not much of a harbor town, right? So we’ve planned a long dock, next to which there are a bunch of ships. Some will look like regular ships, others might have special themes: a viking ship perhaps, seeing as we’re Swedes and all?

“Loading Area” – An area next to the dock with a lot of strange crates and sailor carrying stuff and loading stuff onto carts and such.

Market Place – A pretty big area with lots of market stands: some where you can buy the usual stuff and gear, some that carry exotic items or fruit for show, to give the area a bit of flavor.

The Beach – A small beach with touristy things such as sunbeds and blankets. Tourists walking around enjoying the sand, water and hot weather!

Ice Cream Parlor – Probably next to the beach? But who knows! Anyway, an ice cream parlor filled with tons of ice cream! Probably some tables outside where people can sit and enjoy their treat.

A Church – With Grindea’s statue inside and one of those creepy priests!

Houseboat(s) – One or a few, for a more interesting way of living.

Regular Houses – A few where NPCs live, one of which will be an author which you’ll help complete the final part of her best selling series! We’ll also add this author character earlier in the game, once the library is implemented. We’d like her to have a book signing there in the beginning of the game, up until the festival (or so), for added recognition once you get to the harbor town (where she’s forced to live away from all of her fans so she can finally complete the next book)!

Wells and Fountains – The town is in the desert so they better have water available for the heat!

Now we (or well, I) just need to mix all of these things together and make a proper sketch of what the town could look like with all these ingredients included. First though, time for some icons and small interface fixes! All related to Arcadia, of course. First up, making a new version of Bag of Tricks, featuring Trunk instead of Bag:

And speaking of Bag, that guy’s actually the inventory icon… not very fitting for Arcade Mode where he doesn’t even exist. Time to replace him with Trunk:

Next, true icon galore as it’s time to make icons for the Treats & Curses we’ve come up with so far. In order of appearance: More Elites Curse, No Heal Curse, No Elites Treat, More Healing Treat, More Treasure Rooms Treat, and Time Crystal Treat (they will probably get better names later):

Finally, not exactly an icon, but cleaning up the background a little! Since it’ll move around as you run across the map (parallax wohoo), I needed to clean up holes of stuff I thought would be permanently hidden behind buildings (oops):

We’ve also been sketching and talking about the details surrounding two big upcoming things: the final desert map, and the interface at the Cinema in Arcadia!

Starting with the desert map, this is the sketch we showed a little while ago:

When I made this sketch I paid no heed to character sizes or what the distances between each section of the map would be in the game, as it was a sketch made on paper after all. Now that we need to translate the sketch into something we can actually use, we need to fix that.

In the above version of the sketch I’ve brought the whole thing into Photoshop and copy pasted a player character into each section, using it to determine distances and how big each thing is. The result is that certain parts of the sketch have been enlarged to better fit the character(s) that will run through the area. For instance, the part above the misspelled fight area has been a bit enlarged on both sides, and there’s a longer corridor coming towards the Saloon from the top right.

Once this was done, we brought the map into the game to run through it and try it out for ourselves (it’s a much different thing actually playing through the map compared to looking at a static character in the midst of it):

Again, we felt some areas were too small, so we made the corridor before the Saloon even larger and added a small space where you can more easily battle enemies there. The area before the (still misspelled) fight area was made larger as well, with the option to add a cave (can’t have too many caves and potential extra maps). Finally we actually made the Fight area slightly smaller to give the user interface in the top of the screen more room without it having to completely cut off the walls.

As mentioned, we also talked about the Cinema, how it would work, and how best to make an interface for it. We decided that when you open the cinema interface you’ll be presented with six options: Personal Best, Most Recent, Favorites, Friends, Public and Sharing.

In the “Personal Best” section, you’ll be presented with a list of your top best runs, automatically saved for your rewatching pleasure! Same thing with “Most Recent”, but with your most recent runs rather than the best. In “Favorites” any runs you’ve saved as a favorite will be available, both your own and those of your friends or strangers: which brings us to “Friends”, where your friends top runs will be available: each friend having one entry each. In Public, you’ll see the runs with the highest scores, and in Sharing you decide whether you want your runs to be shown only to yourself, you and your friends, or if you want them to be public to anyone (i.e if you end up on the high score).

Here’s a very early sketch showing what the selection of a replay could look like, featuring your character’s face (+ parts of the poncho and hat), the top two skills you used, what score you got and which floor you reached:

Continuing on with the cinema interface, though, the first thing we need to design is the header:

I went with a bag of popcorn and film strip to decorate the sides as this felt like two iconic references to the movies! Keeping with that spirit, I designed the movie info boxes to resemble film strips as well (as seen on the sketch earlier):

Also as mentioned earlier the info shown will be part of your character, it’s name (or the first 10 letters of it), the two highest leveled skills, the score (in the brown box), and the floor reached (golden shape at the end). In the final version below, I added a star to indicate someone having added that particular strip to favorites:

Speaking of which, this interface needs quite a few new buttons as well, in order to select everything! Without further ado:

From top to bottom: Play Clip, Most Recent, Favorite(s), Friends, Public, and Settings. The last one will lead to this rather simple popup menu, where you can select who can view your replays by moving left or right (the options being only you, only friends, or public):

Finally, let’s take a look at another portrait. This guy is designed after one of the archaeologists Fred made a while ago:

Like most NPCs made recently, you will run into this guy in the desert, where he’ll be busy excavating some new findings (and in doing so, unfortunately blocking your way for a while)!

Next week we’ll discuss and continue designing the final interfaces for the Arcadia Rework: the one for Master Ji’s shield challenges, and the UI that shows information about each building you can build. After that there’s mostly some smaller detail stuff for me to do before I believe I’m done with all Arcadia Rework things! Exciting times.