Last week me and Teddy had full focus on getting the house building tools up and running, and I’m happy to say the patch is ready and has been uploaded!! Finally you’ll be able to be more creative with your house, adding new rooms and editing their shape or size in more detail.

The full patch notes can be seen here, and as always, we’d LOVE to hear your feedback on these new tools, anything that may be confusing with them, improvements to be made etc. Let us know! You can comment either here or in the thread above (or make a new suggestions post on the forums).

Last week, Fred was also gone on vacation, and since he returns tonight and the build tools are done (aside from some polishing and anything we learn from your feedback), our next move will be to get together and discuss the support skills! Yes, finally! We’ve put them off for so long, but with the game drawing ever closer to a finished state I guess it’s best we finally get to adding them before there’s no reason to use them anymore, right?!

We’d like to thank all of you for your input and suggestions in regards to them up to this point, and we’ll consider each of them as we move on to iron out in which direction we want to take these spells. Again, though, it’s unlikely there will be any kind of healing skills, but most of you are used to the thought of that by now! It’s a cool skill to have, but we’ve made the decision it won’t be available in Grindea (unless you’re a certain NPC) for a variety of reasons I don’t think we need to rehash once more.

What we DO end up implementing we’ll only know after tomorrow’s meeting, and will be disclosed in a future post!

Since I don’t get to do much for the support spells (it’s mainly Teddy implementing mechanics and Fred doing animations for them), I’ll return to focusing on the Arcadia rework and its new floors until the skills are properly decided and I can make icons for them (likely after some prototyping as been made). We’ll keep you updated!

FOR NOW THOUGH, let’s take a look at last week and the path to creating the tools you now have in your game:

In the first screenshot (above), we added a very simple way of being able to drag each wall tile down however far you need. At the point of this screen, it’s a very basic way of handling things: the darkness above each wall tile looks very square and unpolished, and the black outlines have actually been added manually in Photoshop as a visual test.

Since we don’t want the outlines to be completely black in the final game – it will look jarring next to some of the wallpapers – what we’ll do is have me make a 1 pixel wide line for each wallpaper, using a much darker version of its own color. This way we can also manually account for the lower part of the wallpaper being a different color. For the particular wallpaper above, this would mean the outline will be dark gray and dark red.

As a next step, we polished the darkness, and added a way to pull wall tiles upwards as well, as seen below:

If you’ve an eye for details, you’ll notice the corners aren’t as rounded as in the previous screen. The reason for this is that rooms with multiple extra corners (such as the one above) looked super weird with the smooth corners attached everywhere – it looked less like a house, and more like an organic shape. Even now, the edges might look a little bit too rounded, but I think this is a lot better, and I feel completely square corners would end up looking too flat.

Next step: attaching doors that connect your rooms. Each wallpaper will have its own door, and unfortunately as of now you won’t be able to mix and match between them.

When making the doors, we had two options regarding sizing: either making them 40 pixels wide, equaling 2 floor tiles – which honestly is rather small compared to most doors in the game – or going for 60 pixels / 3 floor tiles, which is rather huge compared to most doors in the game.

SO, I made a bunch of suggestions, the left ones being 40 pixels / 2 floor tiles and the bigger ones on the right equaling 3 floor tiles of width:

In the end, we decided to go for the smaller doors, as they don’t look quite as gigantic and it seems easier to fit in doors that are 2 tiles wide inside your house. It’s going to be a challenge keeping each door this tiny, but that’s what makes it fun too, right? Continuing on, I made one door for each wallpaper, both facing upwards and to the sides:

And now that those are out of the way, it’s time to return to something we haven’t touched in a rather long while… User interfaces! First, we need to get some stuff together so you can purchase the lumber that allows you to extend the size of your house and rooms!

And it all begins with a basic item sprite (you will be carrying the lumber in your inventory, after all), and a modified version for the shop menu:

Next, we begin sketching what the lumber purchasing interface could look like. Since lumber is a very different item compared to furniture, we wanted to keep them separate. Therefore, rather than being part of the regular sales, lumber purchasing will have a special interface, loosely based on the Nurse in Arcade Mode:

The main things of importance in this interface is how much lumber you wish to purchase (and how much it costs), how much gold you have, and how much each lumber costs at this level. We decided that after you’ve purchased a number of lumber, the overall price per lumber will go up. This way it’ll take some extra work (or rather gold), to get those huge mansion type buildings!

Once we were satisfied with the sketch I went ahead and made the rendered version, also featuring how much lumber you currently own, which we realized might be interesting to see as well:

Next up, the build tools menu! Gotta access those tool some way, right?

Every menu we design starts with a basic sketch, and in this case a messier one than usual! In the above screen, we were discussing various ways of making the tools available to the player, sketching as we went on. Our first idea was to merge the build tools with the hand tool, but we quickly changed it to be its own focused menu in the settings tab, where we could fit all of them – including the light settings, which would be slightly out of place otherwise.

Similarly to the shop menus, this menu will use buttons that allow you to enter each tool. In the above screen, I added some of the already made shop menu buttons to see what it’d look like if we used them as a base for the new bunch. Since the size in length fits well with the background and it’s edited to fit all font types in height, we decided to stick with these and just swap out the icons to represent each tool.

Next I began editing the background to make the buttons stand out more, as well as making room for the menu title (which as of now will be”Room”). The icons on each side of the band (on which the title text will be) will move with the text, so no matter the length of the title they will be a pixel or two away. We made it this way to make sure it’ll look as good as possible in the translations:

Then it’s all about making those icons, and doing our best to come up with images that fit with the tool and make them easier to understand. Can you guess what each tool means below?

The correct answer is, from top to bottom: Add New (room), Resize, Reshape, Light Settings, Clear and Delete!

Add room will create a ready room with a door that you’ll be able to place on the wall in the room you’re currently in. Resize will replace the current resize system and allows you to pull at any of the walls, making the room longer in that direction. In Reshape you can pull down (or up) walls to change the shape of the room, and Light Settings will replace the current light setting – after you press the button, it’ll allow you to change the percentage. Clear will clear all furniture from the room, and Delete will, naturally, delete it.

Since this will be the new settings menu, you might wonder what will happen to the Save and Load options. They will remain in their own box, beneath the above Room settings (you might have to scroll down to access them). These are designed much in the same way, and will work just like the Light Settings button: after you press their buttons you’ll be able to edit which slot you want to save/load into, just like before:

And now, some work in progress gifs showing the early stages of the build tools:

First up, the add new (room) tool, seen above! The cost of the room will be shown in the middle, and you use the arrow keys to decide where to place the entrance.

Below, you can see the prototype for the resize tool, where you use arrows to first select which wall you want to make bigger, and then keep pressing the arrow key in the direction you want it to increase. As you do this, the amount of lumber needed to complete the action is shown. Right now it displays with a minus sign, while the add new room does not, but in the end they’ll both use the same format.

You’ll be able to pull at the walls however long you wish even if you cannot afford it, but you won’t be able to confirm your edit unless you have enough lumber. The reason for this is so that you can try making the room the size you want it and see how much lumber you’d need to make it that big before you go purchase more at the Carpenter.

Finally, there’s the reshape tool, where you can edit the inside of the room. Pulling down (or up) these walls don’t cost anything, so you can redesign the shape of your room freely!

In case you missed it, the housing patch is now up and running, so if you haven’t tried that yet, go ahead and test it!

The initial feedback seems very positive, and I’m actually surprised to see how many of you seem to really enjoy building your houses! The interiors that have been posted all look great and so creative, I didn’t even know you could make such cool layouts with the things we made so far. Thank you for that all of you! We’re still going to introduce a ton of new pieces of furniture, of course, and we’ve already gotten a ton of cool ideas based on your suggestions! If you have any more ideas for housing and what to do with it, please go ahead and let us know by commenting or posting on our forums!

Now, we’ve decided that we do want to further improve the housing system – specifically the layout – and we’d rather do it now while it’s fresh in our minds rather than sometime in the future. Since we estimate the development time will be more or less the same between creating pre-designed layouts or having you guys make those layouts yourselves, we’ve also decided to go for the the later, allowing you more freedom in your house building endeavors.

This of course means a whole new set of design decision that needs to be ironed out before things can be implemented properly. For one, we need some kind of build tool where you can edit the walls, pull them down or up and change the size of each individual room. This will be a challenge in itself, but will have to wait until the system runs properly (Teddy has already started working on this).

Second, we had to discuss whether increasing your house size would be completely free or something you pay gold to do. The idea we came up with is that each tile/square in the house represents a number of “Lumber” (might change the name later). This means that as you expand your house you’ll use up lumber, but should you make it smaller again, you’ll regain them. You will be able to purchase the lumber at the carpenter store for gold, though we haven’t decided how expensive it will be yet.

As now, there will be a minimum number of tiles each room can be, but you’ll have a lot of options in terms of the shape, since you’ll be able to move each wall tile up or down. While this system will need a lot of fine tuning, I think it’ll be great in the end!

As for the general feedback we’ve received since the housing launch, two requests stood out above the rest: bookcases facing sideways and chairs facing upwards!

The reason we didn’t include sideways-facing bookcases was, honestly, because we thought it looked boring and we thought nobody would be interested in that anyway. After listening to your feedback, we know we were wrong, and agree that there’s definitely uses for them – and so they will be added in an upcoming patch!

Along with the bookcase update, there will also be chairs facing upwards, so you can put chairs in all directions. We always intended to include these, but for some reason, we kept forgetting to actually make them. Oops!

As per request, there will also be a style for the female statue without the moss, as pictured below:

As you can see, there’s also a bunch of beds in that picture, and you might wonder why. Well, we’ve had a discussion about the perspective in the game and whether some items look better in their correct form or not.

You see, the vertical beds that are currently in the game are wrong according to the perspective – they are much smaller than they should be, compared to the horizontal version – and Teddy suggested we should correct it since it was something that bothered him as he was flipping between the two.

When I took the above screen, I had started fixing the vertical beds, but something felt kind of off. I asked Teddy to upload the Pumpkin Woods bed so we could test it and compare it to the old, smaller version.

Turns out we ended up preferring the smaller one, even though it’s technically wrong. For some reason, the beds end up feeling huge when they’re in their correct size, and it actually felt a lot worse than flipping between the original ones. I will still fix two that felt a little too small, but the rest will be kept the same, and the “fixed” versions will go to the trashcan!

Another thing that will be added is the !-mark seen above. It will appear above important notices, and serves as a warning of sorts. Or just to make the boxes a little more interesting-looking, if you will!

We also decided to do a bunch of fixes to items that didn’t properly fit within their tiles/squares, making placing them in a house rather awkward. First up, the beer keg, which has been changed to a bigger version. In the original, left version, it was simply too small and left a lot of space on each side. Making it even smaller (to fit a single square) wasn’t an option, so instead we decided to make it a lot bigger. It now takes up 4 squares, and while there’s still some space remaining, there’s not nearly as much of it:

Next up, some of the Temple of Seasons bushes, which used to take up about 1.5 squares, also making them very annoying to place within your house. For these, we decided to make them smaller instead:

This flower crate also got a smaller version, which now fits a single square as well:

The Pumpkin Woods bench and chair, which weren’t pictured above:

We’ve also started working on a new object, which is a weapon stand where you can place your 1- or 2-handed weapons to show off within your house. In the top left corners of the below picture, you can see two of our iterations for the 1h version. In the end, it’ll be something closer to the right one, as it shows off the weapon better and feels more balanced:

In semi-related news, another thing that will be included in the next patch is the long-awaited feature of being able to skip quests you previously finished in a multiplayer session! Before this patch airs, you’ve had to redo every single quest in single player, regardless of how far you got with your friends (unless you were the one hosting). Now, you’ll get a notification about having completed any given quest in a previous multiplayer run, and the option to skip to the end of it:

As for Fred, his focus has been more enemy animations, as well as laying the groundwork graphically for those weapon stands that will feature any weapon of your choosing as a housing item!

In order to make the weapon stands work, Fred selected a frame from one of the attack animations featuring each sword and edited it to fit the weapon stand sprite. He also had to add a hilt to each of the ones that needed one, since he never made on for the animations: the main character’s hand typically covers where it would have been.

And as for the enemy animations, things are moving forward with the desert enemies and in particular with the Mrs Bird enemy:

Finally, there’s another portrait for the upcoming desert town! A winter fae, to boot – Talk about getting out of ones element!

This poor guy has been dragged along to the desert by a summer fae friend. How cruel! He doesn’t particularly seem to enjoy the heat, does he?

This week was a very special week, since the annual GGC was hosted (and also the week where we launched housing on frontline – go check it out)!

GGC is short for Gotland Game Conference, which is basically a game expo where the students at the game design education showcase their game and a bunch of people from the industry is invited as judges to give feedback and select which ones did the best. It all culminates in an award ceremony with an after-party where we all get a chance to hang out together and share experiences with other game developers. So basically, it’s great!

For those of you wanting a glimpse of all the game presented at the conference, check out this video:

One of the showfloor favorites, and clear winner of many of the awards at the award ceremony was this little gem called Pump the Frog, made by a bunch of first year students:

Totally charming and so well polished. It was hard to imagine they only had 8 weeks from start to finish, incredibly impressive work! It’s also nominated for several SGA (Swedish Game Awards) categories, so its success might continue on to other venues as well!

If you want to know more about the conference or would like to see some cool pictures from the showfloor and presentations, head over to the conference website!

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Now as I mentioned, this week we also launched the housing system, which is now playable on frontline! So, when we weren’t at GGC judging games and hanging out with fellow game developers, this week was all about some last minute housing polish, finishing up the remaining details and the graphics needed for them!

First up, we realized there were some more forgotten things we needed to take care of!

Some miniatures for the carpets from before, for example:

And then, a couple of items some of you have likely had in your inventory for quite some time! The red slime carpet and the green slime bad:

Hopefully that’s the last of our forgotten objects, and we can now focus on just adding new ones in the future :)

As for the housing system itself, the way you get the house, for now, is that once you’ve completed Flying Fortress, the scientist Kim will appear in Evergrind City next to your currently not-yet-built house, explaining one or two things about the science behind the houses in the game (and your own)!

She also wonders if you’d like to help test out some new systems, and upon agreeing to do so you’ll be able to purchase the house from the carpenter, who will build it for you. After this is done we plan to move Kim back to the lab in the HQ where she’ll continue doing other experiments (gotta keep busy, you know)!

As for the house, once it’s been finished (this happens once you change screens once), you’ll get a very short and basic explanation of how to use it upon entering the building.

We’ve continued working on the icons that illustrate what tool you’re currently using, and here they are in action:

First up, the style icon (seen above). After some thinking we’ve decided the arrows for each of the icons need to be remade, and it’s also missing a proper outline and an animation at this point.

Next, the carpet tool’s “carpet version”:

For this one we’re actually considering using the old version (seen below) after all, to make it stand out a bit more from the carpets you’re editing.

Finally, a GIF showcasing both the stack and the move tool:

The stack tool (as well as the carpet tool) don’t use the correct freeze frames in these GIFs which means the animation isn’t paced exactly right (it’s supposed to pause for longer on each stack), but it gives you an idea of what it’ll look like. The move tool is missing an animation in these GIFs as well, but it has since been added to the game. Finally, we added outlines to all the icons, which made them stand out a bit more against the background. This can also be viewed in the game.

We did have a discussion regarding whether or not to use a more simplistic style for each of these (like the old version of the carpet tool), but decided against it in the end. This way there will be a little more color, and hopefully each icon will stand out enough on their own once the outlines and proper animations have been added!

As for Fred, his main focus has been getting all those housing icon moving. Here are the finished icons he worked on:

We didn’t talk about the hand tool much in the previous post on housing, but the hand tool is a very basic tool accessible from the housing menu that allows you to move around your house and select any furniture piece you want (which in turn brings you into the other tools). The hand tool is also connected to your skin color in-game, and matches that of your character.

Here’s the new and improved move tool! We changed the arrows quite a bit, both in shape and color, plus it now moves and has an outline. It works a lot better than the old version, to say the least!

There’s also this new and improved version of the carpet tool icon (above), and the stack tool which you’ve already seen, below:

And here’s the style tool, a little bit interesting now that the brush is moving about:

Finally, Kim got a slight redesign to better resemble her portrait as well as an additional animation. In her regular one, she’s doing some chemistry stuff, mixing a liquid of some sort. While she’s outdoors telling you about the housing science, we thought we’d give her a different animation to better suit the theme (as well as one that doesn’t make sounds every few seconds):

We currently haven’t decided whether she’ll pick her chemistry set back up once she returns inside, or if she’ll continue using her newfound tablet instead!

Now, if you haven’t tried out the housing system yet, go ahead and let us know what you think! We’re eagerly awaiting your feedback :)

Hello guys and sorry for the late recap! Apparently, someone (me) forgot to hit ‘publish’ after finishing the post and nobody noticed until now… Ooops!

Oh well, ready for some new Housing info?

Our basic prototype is more or less done: the items that have been made so far have all been implemented, and most of the ones that will move in some way have their proper animations. Teddy is currently working on two things, the light settings (which are coming along rather nicely so far), and the rather complicated systems behind being able to add more rooms and change the layout of your house.

You see, previously we decided that you’d be able to select between a bunch of pre-designed layouts for your house, which could be unlocked at the proper salesman or through your housing menu (not fully decided). As our conversation went on, though, we started thinking it’d be really cool if you could design your house however you wanted, adding new rooms and change their sizes freely.

Before we fully commit to that can of worms, our current goal is to upload what we have to Frontline (any day now, possibly even tonight!) and let you guys try it out. We’re still a little torn between having pre-designed layouts or having you design the house more freely, as the latter definitely would add a ton more work and I’m sure most of you would like to see the game finished sooner rather than later.

So for now, we’ll upload what we have: a single layout, and the current housing items. The shop and house will be placeholder, with more finalized look for each of them coming later on, as we’ll use the Arcadia redesign versions as a base for the story mode versions after they’re finished.

With your feedback we hope to be able to gauge how much more work (and polish!) will be needed before the housing system can truly be complete, and as such will give us a better idea of which of our options to pick.

There’s also a third option here, where if people are satisfied with the basic version of the house, we might just stay off multiple layouts altogether as that would save a lot of time and would mean we could add the proper housing system much sooner. Anyway, your feedback will decide! Stay tuned for that :)

And now, time to make some walls for Tai Ming’s arcade mode!

“Walls?” you might ask. “Isn’t that quite straight forward?” Oh yes, my friend! Typically walls are the least of my worries when I make Arcade floors, as they’re just a very basic edge signifying the end of the battle area. In other floors, they’re a bunch of random generated trees, or a basic stone wall.

As mentioned in last week’s post, however, Tai Ming will be different. We’ll mix and match various ways to block off the battle area, ranging from streams of water, fences and even cave walls. And while creating each of those is a rather simple task in itself, they also need to be able to connect with each other and different types of walls – and they all need to work together!

Above you can see the size of the battle area we decided to work with for these rooms. It’ll be slightly bigger or smaller depending on which walls are used in the room, but most will be of approximately the same size.

So, first of all, let’s take a look at what we have to work with. In order of appearance: wall, mountain, stream and fence:

In a coming post, we’ll also take a look at houses that will serve as walls, and maybe one or two variations of these that account for other town-like features. After all, we want to convey the feeling that this is town, in whatever ways we can while keeping the Arcade feel!

For now though, let’s look at how we can use these pieces together to create a variety of different room types:

…and so on! Of course, not all of the rooms will have streams or mountain walls, though I suspect many will and they do make for more interesting looking rooms so far (at least until we’ve added some houses)!

There’s still a way to go, but the basics are down and I think this will end up quite interesting once it’s all done.

And now, some housing icons to indicate which tool you’re currently using! …Cause there are quite a few tools, actually. First up, the carpet tool:

This tool is used to edit the size of the carpets. You’ll be able to change the size of many of our carpets freely, and this icon will help indicate what you’re currently doing. The upper version is Fred’s basic version, but we’ll also make one featuring the carpet design beneath to see which one we like the best.

Next up, the move tool, which is rather straight forward:

Select a piece of furniture with the hand tool, and move it around to wherever you wanna put it. We’ll probably add some kind of animation to the arrows, as most of the tool indicators will be animated in some basic way (much like the carpet tool)

Next, the stack tool:

This “tool” appears when you try to select a square that has multiple objects stacked on it, and helps you select which parts of it you want to edit or move. Do you only want to select the top object, the topmost two or the whole stack?

Below’s a test animation I did to make the indicator easier to understand, and beneath it is Fred’s finished version:

Finally, the style tool, which allows you to change the basic appearance of an object. This is indicated by a painter’s brush and palette. The first version had a rather crude version of the brush, so it was quickly changed:

And now, another portrait!

Not much is known about this guy yet, I’m afraid! Other than the fact he’ll be staying in the desert, of course. I’ve been watching a couple of documentaries on Versailles in general and the era of Louis XIV in particular, which I guess shows through the design?

These portraits are a lot of fun to make, and I’m itching to remake the earlier ones to bring ’em all together style wise. That should probably wait, though :D

Finally, some animations! This week, Fred has been busy with the enemies, bringing the Cacute and Mrs. Bird to life~

First up, we have Mrs. Bird’s idle animations, and her laying one of those annoying eggs that will either spawn a new bird or slow you down if you decide to break it:

The annoying and OMG-SO-CUTE egg in question:

And next up, the Cacute! If you decide to be really evil, this is what it looks like when you kill it:

Though why you’d wanna do that when this is how cute it looks in its idle and movement animations, is beyond me:

Now that most of the Housing stuff has been animated, Fred will continue to work with the enemies to ensure that Teddy can just dive in and prototype them once he is done with his part of the housing. The less he has to wait on new animations, the more focused he can be when the prototyping phase starts!

For now though, both he and I will continue to be stuck for a while with housing and Arcadia stuff, as that’s our main missions before we can move on to the desert and rejoin Fred on that venture!

Sometimes, it’s easy to forget that being a gamedev involves more than simply making games and managing the community surrounding it. Today (when this gets posted, a while ago) we had our “annual meeting”, which is a formal thing we need to do to review the year and how the company has fared through it.

This year we also formalized and signed contracts surrounding Secrets of Grindea and its IP, protecting it and us in the unlikely case we no longer get along. While we trust each other 100% it’s so much easier making these contracts while there are no issues, rather than try to solve any such issues as they arise in a not-so-likely future. In fact, we should have done this years ago, before we even started selling the game.

If you’re an aspiring gamedev, I very strongly advise you look into getting a contract outlining exactly what each of you will be doing for the company and what happens in the case where one or several of you want out. You might think there will never be any problems ahead, but you never know, and it’s better to be protected than to wish you had been. Also, money can easily change people, and I’ve seen countless horror stories out there where devs no longer get along once they start selling their game as opposed to it being a dream.

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Now, some time has passed since we started the poll regarding which of the Tai Ming Arcade floor designs you’d prefer – backtrack through time or random time jumps. At the moment of writing this, it seems you guys are as divided as we are, so for the time being we’re leaning slightly towards the backtracking idea.

This means each of the rooms have to be made available in both a past and a present version. And speaking of the floor visuals, how would we even go about designing an Arcade floor of an area that’s more of a town than any of the previous areas you’ve progressed through?

To sort this out, I had a long meeting with Teddy where we sketched and discussed the various ways we could handle this.

In conclusion, we’ve decided to make the floors in a very different way compared to the others. For the other floors, each room background is either very designed by me, with variations to give the user an impression of there being more rooms than there actually is (Flying Fortress, Mount Bloom etc), or they are fully generated by the engine that puts a bunch of trees in a circle on top of a basic background (Evergrind Fields, Seasonne, etc). For Tai Ming, we’re going to do a mix of the two.

We decided that each outdoor room of Tai Ming will consist of a plain grass background, upon which we’ll put various things that will serve to block the screen so that you can’t move further than the square where you’ll be fighting. These things will include various fences, mountain walls, streams of water and houses, either ones you will enter or closed ones that will only serve to block your way forward.

Each of these items will be generated into the game by the engine, but they will have to be handmade by me to fit into each situation. For instance, there needs to be a way for a horizontal and vertical fence/stream/mountain wall to connect, and they need to be able to work with each other – a fence must be able to connect to the mountain wall, for instance.

To make these floors coherent we’ll frame them with the mountain, meaning the the bottom, far right/left and topmost floors will have a corresponding mountain wall – it will be in the upper parts of the topmost floors, signifying that you cannot go further north than this. We believe this will give the floors a sense of you progressing through Tai Ming much like it works in Story Mode, you’re passing through a town that’s inside the mountain. Because there’s a lot of water in Tai Ming’s second zone and we thought it would make the rooms a more interesting look, there will be streams here and there that you can pass over (in some rooms) by bridges, that will also be made by me but generated into the game by the engine as it creates each floor.

So basically, instead of painting whole rooms, I will spend a lot of time making and piecing together many, many small parts, that need to work both on their own and be able to connect with others as they get generated by the game!

As for the indoor rooms, they will (for now) be single room living areas in a bunch of variations, but with entrances and exits in the same place: if you enter a house from the south you’ll exit it in the north, and if you enter a house from the right you’ll exit it to the left. Since we’ve already dealing with quite complex backgrounds we thought we’d keep the indoor houses simple. This way we don’t have to make a ton of variations of the house sprites (the outodoor ones) that would have to look different if the house is L-shaped or longer than one room. Now we can focus on giving each of the exits variations through color and design rather than the shape, which would also end up affecting the other pieces made for the outdoor areas.

Creating these floors properly will definitely be a challenge, and more on the technical side than what we normally do, but we believe this will make these floors look the best they can. Our other options would be to make a ton of pre-rendered rooms (a bunch with the mountain wall to the bottom, a bunch with the wall to the left, etc) or lose the coherency of where the mountain floors and walls connect, and we all agree that just wouldn’t be as nice.

In other words, expect a post or two full with tiny parts and ways of connecting them! ;)

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And now, for something else! Among these other things I’ve also started working on the proper Arcadia graphics now that the design is settled! Here’s a video featuring the first part, Candy’s Curses:

And here’s the whole map! I thought I’d post this after every new step, to show you the town slowly taking shape:

One I’ve made all the finished buildings, I’ll make the flat version with signposts where the buildings will be. The reason I’m starting with the finished buildings is so that each plot will be big enough: it’s a little hard to tell exactly how big a building will end up being before I’ve painted it and it’s surroundings, and I want to be able to adjust the paths and greenery to fit the built versions :)

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Back to housing! We’ve had multiple discussions regarding table cloths and how to apply them to various tables. Finally, we’ve come to a decision!

Basically, we had two options. Either we’d make a ton of basic table cloths that had to fit each of the tables, or we’d make unique styles for each table, with table cloths (and other decorations) specifically made for that object.

In the end, we decided to go with the second option, for multiple reasons. For one, the tables aren’t all exactly as big, which means it’ll be quite a challenge to make sure every table cloth fits each and every table. Second, it’s more fun for us to design table cloths to go with each table, rather than have to design around all tables with the limitation of size as mentioned. It also makes each table you buy a little more interesting, as it comes with its own unique styles.

And without further ado, here’s a bunch of the table cloths we’ve made so far:

…With more to come!

And while we’re on the subject of housing, have another bunch of Fred’s animated housing items:

This week was a little different, as it was very special week indeed! In fact, last week (Tuesday to be precise) Teddy turned 30! To celebrate this, we left our isolated island for the Swedish mainland to celebrate him with his family. We were gone from Thursday last week and only got back a short while ago, so this weekly recap will be a bit shorter than usual!

To make up for that, we’ll be taking a look at what Fred has been busy with recently! We haven’t posted a lot of his animations on the main blog for a while, so there’s a bunch of stuff that’s been going on behind the scenes.

First of all, the desert enemy designs! We already talked about their gameplay design earlier, but since then Fred has been busy iterating their visual appearances:

This is typically what it looks like when we try to figure out what something should look like in the game. Make a bunch of variations and then pick whichever one is the best. In this case, we stuck with the ones in the red circle, bottom right. We’re all very excited to finally start working on the next area, although me and Teddy have a ton of housing and arcade mode stuff to finish first!

Speaking of housing, that’s another thing we’ve continued working on. Below you can see a basic test of a different light setting and a bunch of iterations for the visual appearance of the hand icon which allows you to select and edit furniture:

Our current favorite is the version that points straight down, with the selected square beneath it. We’ve also started working on our options regarding multiple room layouts and it’s coming along, though it’s gonna need a lot of testing since there’s a bunch of design problems occurring from having several rooms that need to be solved and reiterated.

Meanwhile, Fred has been making animations for a ton of the housing items that will move in various ways:

With many more to come! :)

And now, another of those desert town portraits! As I mentioned before, gotta start early and all, right?

Though the stories of the characters I design now aren’t fully established, the basic idea of this one is that she’s a merchant from Merchant Isles, come to trade in the harbor town.

In the future, I imagine I’ll make more merchants and sailors from there, as well as people from many other places. Our idea is that the desert town is a point of trade that attracts lots of people from all across the world, so there might even be one of two fae visiting, or perhaps a caveling? I guess we’ll see what the future holds for this town!

NOW; those of you not wanting to know what things will unlock where in the new version of Arcadia should probably steer clear of the rest of the post!

After confirming a bunch of things on another meeting, discussing which Arcadia houses should be approximately how far from the entrance/exit to your arcade runs, I went ahead and started designing the layout and basic looks of each of the houses you’ll be able to unlock in Arcadia!

For those of you who don’t want to know exactly what will get unlocked and where, I wouldn’t look too closely at this picture:

The color overlays show three different areas, each of which you will have to pay gold to unlock, while the white area will be available from start (though the Candy & Muffin stands will be the only ones built when you first start – the rest you’ll have to build with gold and time).

We ran around this background in-game with our characters and feel satisfied with the overall feel, though some sizes and distances will end up slightly different once the actual buildings and items have been made. For this area we’ll also be making new special trees and vegetation to further cement Arcadia as a place of its own, disconnected from the rest of Grindea (though connected in a mysterious way~).

I gotta say I’m really excited to start working on this and get the new improved Arcadia up and running, especially creating some of the more creative looking houses and make everything fit together :)

Finally, after many twists and turns (and a ton of housing items), we’ve managed to make a somewhat playable test build of the housing system, which we’ve started testing within the team!

Without further ado, here’s a bunch of GIFs, featuring the most basic features (changing wallpaper/floor texture, adding basic furniture, creating carpets, changing the style of an item, and placing items on top of each other):

And here are some of our (not very creative) test houses:

Since this is the very first steps on creating a fully functional housing system, there were a ton of things we needed to discuss, and a bunch of changes we definitely have to make!

In order to plan all of that, we decided to have a looong meeting at our favorite fast food place (as usual). Immediately there were a bunch of things we decided had to change (or be added), and here’s some of them:

* More house layouts, and varying sizes. From the beginning we thought it’d be enough to use this one layout, but we quickly felt not only did it feel a bit big, it’s also a little boring to only be able to work with a single open space room. We also felt it was a little big. So, there will be an option to change between a set of house layouts, with a smaller room and multiple rooms available.

* A character who creates duplicates of unique housing items you already own. For obvious reasons! Unlike the items you buy in the store (where you can buy as many items as you like), there are unique items out there which you’ll only be able to find one of. In order to be able to place more of these in your house, you’ll be able to make duplicates of them – either at the regular store guy or through another NPC.

* We’ll look into making the area around your house a little bigger so there can be some kind of decorations surrounding it rather than it being placed in the middle of nowhere (well, in the middle of Evergrind) just like that.

* A furniture section should probably be added to your character’s inventory menu.

* The hand tool (which is used to move furniture around or delete it), is currently a long basic line/beam, and will be replaced with a pointing hand.

* The option to flip an item horizontally will be added to items where that feature makes sense, such as the pick-axe

* A mini-icon for furniture items that have more than one style. Styles are various skins of an object, and can be a color change or detail change in some way. For example, a bookcase might have different sets of shelves or stacks of items you can pick between.In order to make it more clear which items have more than one style, we’d like to add one of those tiny icons (like the 1H/2H/housing item icons in the main menu), only visible in the housing menu.

* When you place an item you have more than one copy of, you’re able to keep placing more of it until you run out of that particular item. Currently, what happens after you’ve placed your final item of that kind is that you’ll get automatically moved back to the menu again.

This, we quickly realized, felt a bit jarring, so next we’ll try adding a sound indicating you’ve run out of the item when you try to place another one, forcing you to cancel back into the menu rather than automatically getting there. This might seem counter productive, as it means you’ll have to press an extra button before being able to select your next piece of furniture, but we believe it’ll be less annoying then the jarring feeling of going from moving objects around to changing between new objects in the menu.

* Visual- and sound effects for placing and deleting objects in your house. An outline around the currently selected object. A better icon for the wallpaper section, which currently can be mistaken for a floor texture. Sound effect and visual feedback when you try to delete an item you currently can’t remove (for instance if it has other items on top of it).

* The currently not used star menu will be replaced with a settings menu, where you’ll be able to save your current house, change between different lightning settings and house layouts and other things we might think of.

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…Aaand a bunch of other small things. As you can tell, when we add a new system things are far from perfect the first time around, and the only way of getting to that polished state is to change and add things until it feels nice :)

Once these things have been added we’ll try the system out again and reevaluate!

Speaking of housing, when we planned the housing batches and I made them, there was one thing we had completely forgotten about: carpets! Now that I’m done with each of the batches up to the point of the game where we’re currently at, we decided it was time to go back and add something to stick on the floor for most of the areas (we felt it wasn’t necessary to include in each and every one, and Temple of Seasons already have a bunch of floor decorations!)

In the Pumpkin Woods batch, there will be two carpets, one that has a static size with moons, and one that you can change the size of to fit your needs (second one from the right).

In the Flying Fortress batch, there won’t be a carpet, but a “big item” that you can put on the ground where you can see the sky below.

In Seasonne, there’s a red christmas-y carpet matching the tablecloths of the batch, which you’re also able to change the size of.

Mount Bloom will have a static sized moss carpet, and in Tai Ming, there’s the red and beige carpet that you’re used to seeing inside the houses, but with a slightly adjusted pattern so it’s possible to change the size of it:

And to end this week, something more simple and straight forward: new portraits!

You might wonder where we could possible need more people right now, but aside from pretty much everywhere (or at least everywhere in Evergrind City!), the answer lies in the desert town you’ll soon be heading towards.

I figured it’s better to start making portraits now and make a few every week, than to do everything else until I end up having to spend weeks doing nothing but portraits when it’s time to finally add them! Makes for more varied blog posts, anyway.

So, first up, here’s a tourist girl, enjoying the nice weather of the yet-unnamed harbor town:

And her companion: a tourist boy!

Finally(!) we are happy to announce that Stable has received the long awaited update, introducing Tai Ming in its entirety to those of you who haven’t opted into the frontline updates! A quick rundown of what to expect in this patch can be found here.

Naturally, since we’ve spent most of our time last week preparing for the update, those of you who have played it might have already seen the following things. For some new housing items and a design question we’d like your input on, scroll to the bottom of this post!

First up though: when we talked about adding new items to the shops, we totally forgot about one pretty important store: the hat salesman! Because of this I went ahead and made a bunch of random hats for him:

We hadn’t really discussed exactly what hats would be available in this store, so it’s possible we’ll move things around and have some (or all?) of these somewhere else before the game is done. There are a bunch of hats available that haven’t been placed somewhere in the game yet, so if we feel any of them fit better we’ll just swap them out. In either case, there can never be too many hats, right?

Next up, the final Merchant Isles visitor to join the group in Tai Ming:

This guy has traveled far in hopes of selling things in Tai Ming, however since he won’t be let into the town itself (several years waiting time and all that), he’ll have to settle for something else…

As we draw close to releasing the stable version of Tai Ming, there’s – as usual – a bunch of tiny fixes needed as well.

First up: as you might remember, we talked about whether you’d be able to move a puzzle block to solve a puzzle in the middle of the Mimic battle. After our first discussion, we said it’d be possible to solve it mid-battle, but later on we changed our mind. For reference, here’s the final stage of the boss room, the way it looked before:

And here’s our solution: a bunch of wood that blocks the solution, so you can’t solve it while the battle is raging:

Instead, you’ll have to wait until after the battle, where some of the fire the Mimic spits out cause the wood on the map to burn:

Next, there were some sprites missing for the weapons in the area, which are now properly added, both in their proper animated form and as menu sprites:

Third, we decided to give that newly added Merchant Isles Merchant a couple expressions where he’s a bit bothered by the fact he is not allowed to sell his wares inside Tai Ming:

And finally, we decided that each of these Tai Ming housing paintings will be their own object, purchased separately, and so I made miniatures for them as well:

And now, time for a bigger batch of Tai Ming housing item miniatures!

These are the wall decor items, and there’s quite a few of them as you can see! I’m not sure if these will all be unlocked as part of the Tai Ming batch yet, or if we’ll move things around a bit to even it out between the batches. The three rectangular paintings to the lower right only have one display miniature for now, since I wasn’t sure if they were going to be objects of their own or various styles/skins of the same item:

And finally, something we’d like to ask our players regarding the Tai Ming floors of Arcade Mode!

The Tai Ming Arcade floors poses an interesting challenge that none of the other floors do. After all, Tai Ming is a town, and a town you can explore both in the past and present, so how do we properly convey that over a set of not-overly-decorated rooms where you battle a ton of monsters?

The first thing we decided was that there would have to be enemies in both past and present state rooms: we definitely want to include the time travel aspect in some way, and keeping the past rooms enemy-free (as they are in Story Mode) just isn’t an option.

As for the layout of the floors, we have two options.

Option #1 is to have the Tai Ming floors be about half as long as a regular Arcade Mode floor. That means there will be half the amount of rooms, and your goal is to find a specific room which contains a time rift that allows you to travel forward in time, passing through the rooms once more in another time!

For example, say you begin in past. You battle your way through a set of different rooms, all decorated in Tai Ming’s past style with cherry trees, statues and whatnot. Then you reach a big room, which is empty. This is the boss room, but you’re not yet able to battle the boss because you’re in the wrong time. You go back and find another room containing a time rift which you pass through. Now on your mini map the empty room gets the boss icon, and you start making your way back there.

Now that you’re in a different time, all of the rooms have transformed into Tai Ming’s present state instead, with the statues broken and cherry trees bare. In each room you pass, new enemies will spawn: you essentially battle your way from the portal room back to the boss room you found before. Once you reach the boss room again, you can finally battle the boss and get to the next floor.

There will of course be cases where you find the time rift before you reach the boss room, and in those cases the floor will be shorter than normal, since you don’t have to backtrack through as many rooms.

The upside to this version is that you’ll get to see each room you already went through in its past and present state, and that it makes these floors a bit more unique compared to the other floors of Arcade Mode. The downside is the backtracking, which might not feel as interesting as going through a unique set of rooms, and the fact that you have to find a specific room (the rift room) before you can progress through the floor as usual, which might feel annoying to some people.

Option #2 is a bit more straight forward. This idea is simply that certain rooms have a time rift you pass through as you go between one room and another, so some rooms will be past and some will be present. This means the floor will be the same length as and work in the same way as the other Arcade floors (when you find the boss room, it will always be in the correct timeline and you can battle the boss at once). What rooms will appear and whether they are past or present rooms will be randomly generated by the map rather than you going through a set of past rooms first, which then transform into present rooms.

Perhaps not as interesting mechanically, but might be more so visually (more unique rooms rather than two versions of the same, shorter floor).

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Since we can’t really decide which one we prefer, we’d like to hear what you guys think. Would you prefer Option #1 or Option #2? This game is designed to be enjoyed by our players, so we’re very interested to hear which one of these you’d like to see!

In order to collect your votes, I have made a topic with a poll on our forums! Please cast your vote in THIS THREAD to let us know what you prefer. Thank you :D

As you might expect from the title of this blog, this week we’ll take a look at the desert enemies, mainly designed by our animator Fred~

First up, the Cacute, a basic enemy that mostly minds it own business, jumping around the map. Everytime it makes a jump one or more of its needles shoot out from its body as projectiles, damaging things in its path, so you better keep track of where it’s at!

Next, a much rarer but also way more powerful enemy: the Solem! This sand golem has multiple attacks, one where it slams its fists in front of it, causing shockwaves to do damage, and one charge which works as a combined boar/halloweed charge: it sets its target and moves toward it at great speed underground. Once it reaches its target it grabs him or her and knocks them away!

The third enemy works more like an upgrades Bee enemy, it’s Mrs. Bird:

Much like the bee, this enemy flies out of reach of your regular attacks, and swoops down to attack you every once in a while. Aside from this it has another, interesting mechanic though: it lays eggs! These eggs hatch after a short while, spawning new birds – unless you destroy them first. Destroying them leaves a sticky goo on the ground that slows you, though, so you might be careful what you decide to do with them!

Finally, an enemy that isn’t pictured yet: Orange Slimes! These slimes are more advanced than previous slimes, leaving fire in its wake and attacks by turning into a mini version of Giga Slime’s saw (though only for a short distance)!

And now, time to complete that sailor guy’s portrait:

He’s been charged with helping a merchant deliver goods to Tai Ming, and as you might be able to tell from his expression he’s not exactly thrilled to be forced from the sea!

And here’s the second sailor, helping the first unloading some crates filled with items to be sold in Tai Ming:

Not much to say here, same basic concept, different decorations on the hat. There will probably be a couple of these in Evergrind City at some point as well, plus a bunch in the harbor town that you’ll enter after you pass through the desert. Just to cement the fact that these people are sailors and they are a thing before you actually encounter any enemies with the similar design :)

Here’s fred take on them, unloading the crates in Tai Ming:

We’ll end this week with a second Tai Ming housing miniatures batch! A few left to go… :)

Not much to say here! A bunch of the ‘big items’ from the Tai Ming batch, the crate variations and two different weapon stands are skins you can select for the item when you place it in your house. And below them, the miniatures made in the video:

With the Arcade Mode rework drawing closer, we sat down to iron out more of the houses that will be available so I can begin work on the new Arcadia design. We also changed a few things around:

Candy and Muffin were said to have a house in the last Arcade Mode meeting. That has been changed into two vendor stands near the exit to the Arcade Mode run, in order to avoid having to load into a house every time you want to try out new treats or curses.

The Alchemist Remedi will also appear somewhere close to the exit, and like candy and Muffin he will be available without moving into a building, although the exact design of his spot hasn’t been fully decided yet. Remedi will allow you to select one (or multiple, not decided yet) potion(s) to bring with you on your arcade run, and it will work much like the potions in story mode after the rework has been implemented: battling enemies will slowly refill your bottle.

The Bank is something that isn’t available in story mode, so it’s an all-new thing. At the bank you’ll be able to trade in your essence for money, or money for essence!

Master Ji’s Dojo will make an appearance as well, and at this place you’ll be able to train your perfect guard by selecting enemies that will spawn in his training ground. We have plans on having perfect guard challenges here as well, where you have to complete a series of challenges using only your perfect guard and your reward will be headbands in different colors signifying which rank(s) you have passed. This feature might make an appearance in story mode as well!

The Cinema is another feature not available in story mode, and we’re not 100% it will make it to the game yet, although it would be pretty cool. Teddy has been working on a feature that allows you to save replays of your arcade runs, and our idea is that you will be able to load and watch your own and others replay in this building!

The Carpenter will have a shop that sells housing items! Each batch will be unlocked by reaching the corresponding floor in an Arcade Mode run.

Farmer Oak will appear with a petting zoo! He’ll have a set of quests and taming items that will bring animals to Arcadia. Our idea is that it’ll be optional whether the animals are gathered at the petting zoo or if you allow them to roam free in town.

There will also be a Clock Tower where you can change the time of day: initially between day and night but we might add support for dawn and evening as well.

Other than that we have a bunch of decorative slots planned that will help bring in new inhabitants and quests. Some of those ideas include a garden and a fae tree (but plenty of smaller ones as well). We also came up with a couple of quests, but I think we’d rather have you explore those on your own once they’re in the game, rather than have me tell you now what they will be all about!

Next up is some more housing miniatures! Since the Tai Ming-themed ones are sooo many, I’m going to divide them into groups depending on which item type they are. Some batches will be bigger, other smaller. This is one of the smaller batches, featuring the ‘small items’, or things you can stick on tables and other surfaces!

 

Finished sprites below:

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And now, some more design talk! As you might know by now, the next dungeon is going to be a ghost ship. What you might not know, though, is that the ghost ship will be populated with the possessed spirits of sailors from the Merchant Isles.

Since we want the enemies to have a cool design, we wanted the sailors from the Merchant Isles to have a particular look about them, so it’s easy to spot them. Our idea is that you’ll see some of these sailors throughout your travels, and be able to recognize the design when you meet the enemies in the ghost ship.

Fred had a design in mind, so he went on the make a bunch of suggestions:

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After seeing these designs, I made a quick sketch of a portrait version and wrote down a bunch of suggestions for common points among the sailors. The clothing style is basically a toned down version of the ones seen on characters from Merchant Isles that are already in the game: kind of 1700’s pirate/seafarer inspired clothing, only with the sailors it’s in earthy tones rather than the bright noble tones of the merchants we’ve already met.

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In the beginning, our first thought was that each sailor would have a different version of the hats Fred designed, and that the hats would be common among all the people from Merchant Isles, regardless of their occupation. In the end though, we decided against this, and selected a single hat type for all the sailors, as seen below.

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After deciding this, Fred made a bunch of different version of the new hat, as well as a couple edits of the characters clothing, to better fit with the clothing designs of my portrait. In the end, our favorite is the fourth hat from the left, which is likely to be the one we’ll use for all of the sailors.

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There will still be some clothing adjustments before we’re completely satisfied, but this is an example of how me and Fred sometimes work back-and-forth in creating designs, with all three of us coming with feedback and ideas along the way. Next up I’ll actually be making the proper portrait of this guy, who will be one of the additional NPCs added to Tai Ming’s first zone before the Stable Patch :)

This week got cut a little bit short due to Fred’s birthday and us taking a couple days off for easter to spend with friends and family. Next week, there will be¬†another design talk featuring¬†what the desert enemies will look like, and we get to see the finished Merchant Isles portraits (among other things). Stay tuned~