This week we’ll keep the post short! Fred is still away (he’ll be back later this week), so no animations yet. We do have a bunch of portraits though:

portraits_fae
portraits_evergrind

There’s still 30 portraits awaiting a remake, but that’s actually less than half! Phew!

Teddy is still fine-tuning the Toy Factory cutscenes, but once Fred is back it’s time for the final testing and polishing stage! If everything runs smoothly we just need a couple of additional animations from Fred before we can (finally) patch the factory into the beta for you to test.

Our next step will be to start sketching the layout and puzzles of the second temple. Stay tuned~

This post is a day late, because somehow we managed to forget that it was Monday yesterday and just kept working like it was any other day of the week… Gotta blame the crazy heat wave that’s been going on here, we Swedes can’t handle degrees over 25°C without going insane! ;)

Anyway! More Toy Factory this week. Most of it has been fleshed out by now – all that remains is polish and the boss fight, which Teddy is currently working on. Here’s a glimpse of another of the rooms, this one having a larger conveyor belt that provides a different type of obstacle for the player:

03 - Rullbandsrum

Vilya has been busy making additional expressions for some of the characters that will appear in the cutscenes, but she’s also had time to remake a bunch of old portraits to better suit the new style:

fae

people

Fred is currently having well-earned summer vacation with his family and friends, so there will probably be an absence of animations to show off these coming weeks. We hope he has a great time and enjoys his time off instead (the weather sure couldn’t be better)!

Even though this last week seemed to be the hottest in the history of Sweden, we have kept our sweat drenched focus on the Winterland. A while back we posted this out-of-control Christmas Gift Machine which was supposed to act as the boss of the Toy Factory.
IdleMachine

This design was from the time when the Toy Factory was supposed to be a smaller side quest with only a simple boss encounter within it. Back then the idea was that it would work very similar to the Sentry encounter in the Flying Fortress. A very simple “kill the boss while it spawns a ton of enemies attacking you”-encounter.

Since the area itself have gone through such massive changes since we came up with the initial gameplay design for the boss, we had to rethink it a bit to make it up to standard with the rest of the area.

We all still liked the concept of having an Enraged Gift Machine as the boss of the area so we stuck to it. We only made more of it!

Machine

As the animation hints about, the trains from last week will play a part in the boss battle. It will play out more as a combat/puzzle-hybrid compared to other bosses so far and it will hopefully keep things fresh and interesting for you players!

We’ve also worked on a bunch of pretty extravagant cutscenes in the Toy Factory featuring everyone’s favorite best friend in the whole wide world, Luke. Don’t let the blonde locks fool you, homeboy can fight!

LukeCombo

This week we’ve focused on completing the prototyping of the entire Toy Factory, as well as applying some polish to its first half. For posterity, we’ve saved all the different development stages of a challenge room, to show you what prototype iteration can look like!

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This was our first iteration. It’s pretty hard to see what’s going on since it’s all place holder graphics, but the idea was to have conveyor belts going in circles through the room (the fields with arrows), and the red dots were things you had to strike with your weapon when they appeared.

The challenge was designed so that you needed to use the speed boost from the conveyor belts to quickly move around the room in order to hit the different targets before they disappeared.

We implemented a prototype of the challenge, but quickly realized that it wasn’t up to par. The challenge was there, but it didn’t feel good. Sometimes, that last part is just lack of polish, but this time we felt it went beyond that. We decided to scrap it entirely.

rum04_old2

Back at the drawing board, we decided to experiment with a mechanic that was intended for the Toy Factory boss, namely toy trains. This idea was, in short, to have trains go around a track to provide dynamic area denial while having the players face a second challenge, which originally was going to be fighting enemies.

After brainstorming a bit, we decided against the enemies since it would be too similar to other encounters in the mini-dungeon, and instead came up with the idea of piling on a second type of area denial: falling bombs. For this, we moved things around a bit and came up with this layout:

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The playfield was divided into nine squares (term used loosely here). Bombs would fall inside randomly chosen squares, between which trains would zoom by on the rails. The challenge was to move between the squares, while simultaneously dodging trains. Each train crossing had a track switch, which changed at regular intervals, causing the train patterns to constantly differ.

Using the map above, we implemented a prototype of the trains themselves, as well as their switching. This time, it felt interesting right off the bat, and we decided to go forward with this idea and continue iterating.

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This is how the background looked after cleaning things up and measuring distances. At this point, we added the falling bombs to the prototype.

It felt pretty good, but oftentimes the trains would be too chaotic for player effort to actually be rewarded. You’d feel you had a good read on the situation, but then a switch changed and suddenly a train could still blindside you as you moved between the squares.

We decided that by making the pattern consistent, we could improve clarity and decrease frustration while still maintaining what made the challenge interesting.

ToyTrainChallengeTime to click!

In the end, this was the prototype we went for. The image above links to an animated GIF, so be sure to click on it! Note that this is still the prototype; there’s a whole bunch of polish left, as you can see, but the core gameplay is there.

This little story is a good example of how gameplay can (and will) change as you go along, and that you should never expect your initial idea to be perfect as-is.

It also conveys the issue of hidden/surprise development time – one of the biggest reasons it’s so damn hard to estimate how long things will take on a macro level. This is why young companies (ourselves included) so often are very optimistic in the beginning regarding how long time a game will take to make.

You can look at some other game that took years to make and go “hey, I could make a game like that in six months” and you might be right, but then you never take into account all systems, sub-systems, prototypes, sprites, models, textures and lines of code that had to be made and thrown away in order for that final game to grow into existence.

Some closing food-for-thought: almost every game you’ve ever played has gone through this at almost every stage of development. Even amazing triple A games has looked terrible and been a clunky mess to play at some point!

The outside of the Toy Factory Vilya put together last week went through the animation station! You’ll have to imagine the smoke puffs coming out of the chimneys, we’ll add those in game later on.

FactoryAnimation

 

It’s not only the outside that have been getting some animations up and running. The insides of the factory will be filled with moving parts and machinery. We’ve tried to keep the technology a bit more crude compared to the Flying Fortress-tech, to keep the two separate in terms of setting.


MaskinBlog

Steam

 

The Toy Factory will work as a middle stop before players can head into the second temple, much like the Ghost Hunt quest in the Pumpkin Woods.

Compared to other areas in the game so far, the Toy Factory will focus a lot on different environmental hazards, traps and other challenges instead of just pure combat encounters. It will not be the size of a full blown temple, but should keep players on their feet before they can venture into the next temple!

To sate the curiosity of all Rodney Hahoos out there, here are some updated sales stats:

Copies Sold: 8038
Hats Sold: 1903
Current Pace: 0.75 copies/h

An interesting thing to note here is that, even now, almost 20 % of those buying the game also get the pre-order hat! Our players know what’s important!

This figure was around 25 % at the start, and we thought it would go down significantly when our long time followers had shown their support, but the hats are still quite popular!

This week we’ve continued to push ahead! Right now we’re working on an odd factory in the midst of the snowy fields we’ve been talking about recently. Here’s what the exterior looks like right now:

toyfactory

The Christmas Present, an enemy we’ve shown a while back, will be one of the many challenges lurking around within the Factory. Instead of normal projectiles, we’ve gone with a more explosive approach!

Bomb

 

Aside from building the factory exterior, Vilya has also kept on remaking portraits. Here’s the latest batch of those, all inhabitants of the winter area:
portraits

 

With the latest Frontline update, the story is slowly but steadily starting to take a more central role. With that, some of the more important characters have been in need of some touch ups. Just like Marino, your friendly neighbor Luke has received a graphical update:

Luke

(Now, we know there are many more sprites that could use some touch-ups as well, but for now we’re only going to focus on characters that play some part in the main story. We want to keep pushing ahead, after all, and remaking too much would quickly turn into a time sink of black hole-ish proportions where we get better at drawing and remake graphics in a never-ending circle. Therefore we’ll try to save most touch-ups for the post-production, so bear with us until then!)

This week, we’ve managed to push out a new content update for the Frontline beta. The main focus of the update is the new Marino Encounter, as well as some new cut scenes setting up where the story is heading next.

The update is not massive in size but we are still very much interested in hearing feedback from you guys who are in the beta, especially about the Marino fight. Was it too hard, too easy, any suggestions how to make it more interesting?

The in house testing has been a bit all over the place ranging from it being “impossible” to “I’ve played this game so much I don’t even know if it’s hard”. We’ve set up a thread over at the forums where you can post any suggestions and thoughts you have about the fight, it would really help us a ton!

With this update out of the way, we are already hard at work with the next one. Below are the sprites for the rest of the Season Fae Elders, which all will play a crucial role during your visit in the Winterland!

FallIdle SummerIdle WinterIdle

The cutscenes have stayed in focus this week (to Teddys delight!) so Fred spent some quality time with the Master of the Collectors Headquarters which we showed last week, making her fit to enter the big stage!
MasterIdleMaster

Speaking of stage, of course the master has her own room in the HQ. What it looks like? We’re glad you asked! Here’s the place where you’ll find her:

Master Room

She certainly has interesting taste in interior design..!

Other than creating this room, Vilya has also been making some new portraits. These guys are a bunch of Collector Scientists, working in the HQ:

scientists

On a whole different note, both Fred and Vilya just handed in their final school assignment for this semester. Thanks to all of you who’ve supported us by pre-ordering the game, they won’t have to continue their studies for at least another year! This not only means a whole lot of less stress in their life but it also means all of us will be able to focus whole heartedly on the game for now, which in short feels amazing. 

A big bunch of love to all of you who’ve made this possible!

Last week, we all went back to school, but luckily not as students! Wednesday to Friday we attended the Gotland Game Conference as judges tasked with providing feedback to the student projects.

Here’s a showreel of the games:

 

There were lots of fun games present, and we truly had a blast playing them all! Hopefully our feedback was useful for the students as well.

Some of our favorites include Crocodile Chow-Down, which was an arcade game featuring a large crocodile head where you had to align different types of teeth in patterns provided on screen and then close the lid to “chew the food down” and increase your score. It looks pretty fun in the trailer, but actually playing it was a very nice experience! The game won the Pwnage Award (Best of Show) so apparently we weren’t the only ones in love with it!

 

Another game that we really liked was Defunct, a “racing” game where you zoomed through large landscapes in search for your long lost father! …to be honest, we don’t really know why you’re zooming through them, but whatever the reason the game had an awesome sense of speed and was a blast to play. Here’s a gameplay trailer:

 

Playing other people’s games isn’t the only thing we’ve done, although it honestly took up quite a bit of our time! Despite twisting his ankle really badly, Fred managed to churn out some cutscene animations, and Vilya made a couple of portraits! Among them the portrait for the friendly and definitely-not-shady leader of the Collectors:

master

 

And a remake of Wedge:

 

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Hello again folks! This week, we’ve been tinkering with the cutscenes around and after the little bonus Marino arc, where we’ll introduce a couple of new characters that will help move the story forward.

One of these is the Spring Fae, who’s still unnamed but we’re fairly certain it will be some sort of reference to the most famous of all sidekick fairies: Navi from Ocarina of Time!

fae_elderspring

While waiting for all flavor animations to be planned out, Fred went ahead and created the animations needed for a slightly… different puzzle block than people might be used to:

Blockmonster

This week, we’ll take a couple of days off in order to be judges at this year’s Gotland Game Conference, which is basically a pretty cool event where the students at the school we’ve studied at showcase the games they’ve made. Usually there are some really neat stuff to be found (as well as some really bad stuff, of course, but that’s also kind of fun).

Speaking about school, we won’t have to study next semester thanks to all the folks who’ve pre-ordered! Thanks again!

Some people have asked how the pre-orders are going right now, so here are the current numbers:

Copies Sold: 7098
Hats Sold: 1713
Current Pace: 1.3 copies/h

Despite the game having been available for quite some time now, we sometimes get sales bumps from when streamers and YouTubers showcase our game, so thanks for spreading the word!

Now the most interesting metric is probably our estimated survival time based on how the sales have gone! What we know for sure is that we could sustain production for about 10-12 months on the sales we’ve made to date. Some sales are still trickling in, and we’re likely to see increased sales after major patch releases. We’re pretty confident that, thanks to all your support, we’ll be able to keep soldiering on without student loans until the game is finished!