Hello guys! Another week has gone by at the office, and we’re drawing ever closer to finishing Tai Ming’s third zone (slowly but steadily, as you know…) :)

While Teddy and Fred are busy prototyping the two remaining boss battles (one which actually has a working prototype that we’ve been testing already), I began working on the card appearances and some housing items. Housing will very likely be implemented once Tai Ming is done, so it’s time to get a bunch of items ready.

Anyway! First up, the Thorn-Worm card.

My notes on this card from our design meeting (feels like it happened 100 years ago now), was to have two worms kissing, creating a heart shape. I think we might have decided on this design before the Thorn-Worms were actually made, cause having two of them create a heart shape when they’re so short and fat is kind of heard. I decided to slim ’em down and paint a heart in the middle for clarity.

02

Maybe not the best design out there, but possibly the most gross?

03

Next, the Plantae Hostilis card!

My notes for this said: The enemy sprite surrounded by its spawn. Alright then, that’s kind of straight forward? So, it’s what I did. Lots of greens and flowers. I kind of get a very strong RO vibe from this enemy, and I’m not sure why, but I really like it. Kudos to Fred who designed it!

wip

Finished card sprite below:

planate

So, Housing! It’s a subject we touch upon every now and then, but as we get closer to finishing Tai Ming, we also get closer to implementing the dang system (finally)! A while ago, Teddy mentioned we changed the dimensions of the grid we use as a base for the housing system. It used to be much more square, and now it looks like this:

01

Basically this meant that every single item made before this change needed to be checked and edited or discarded/completely remade depending on how hard it’d be to fit it into the new grid. So I had a very fun (not really haha) day this week where I added all of those housing items to the Housing master document and manually changed and changed each and every one of them.

02

Some, like the plant above, had to change shape, but could still be used. The red lines indicate the end of its two designated slots, so everything going over those had to be cut.

Others, like the wine barrel below, had to be discarded, and will be remade later. In this case the barrel would become too small if fit into one slow, and it’d be much too big if we edited it to fit it into two/four. So, I’ll redesign the thing later and make a design that works better with the grid size!

03

There were also some placeholder items Teddy made to test the system out. These were mostly surfaces (tables and the like) and made quickly by copy-pasting other tables in the game. After checking the other items, I went over those and touched ’em up until they resembled actual game sprites more, and made some color variations:

04

05

06

Now we’re finally able to start making batches of new housing items!! I actually went ahead and made a few silly Halloween items on a whim, just to celebrate that we can actually start pumping out housing items for reals:

As you can see in the video, the cauldron is actually a slightly edited version of Fred’s cauldron design for Candy (the witch in Pumpkin Woods). The others were (also as you can see) made from scratch.

housing

A while ago we decided to have a batch of purchasable housing items unlock every time you enter or finish a new area, so it’s very possible these items will unlock once you enter (or complete) Pumpkin Woods. SO I’ll definitely make more items on the theme, and probably a set of basic stuff (like desks and chairs) in suitable colors to match the wallpaper/floor coloring. Also stuff for every other area you unlock… Gonna be a lot of housing items in the future! :)

ALSO, this week was AGDQ and during the event there was an Arcade Mode speedrun! Check it out here:

Happy New Year (and we’re back)!! Have you had a nice holiday? We took about a week off to recharge our batteries, but as of last week we’ve all returned to the office to get back to work.

Remember before christmas, when I (Vilya) started working on the final room of Tai Ming’s third zone? Well, over Christmas I went ahead and finished it!

One big focus of this room is the shelf doors! Since the shelves will hold a bunch of different items, many of which aren’t books, I thought it would be cool to add doors and make them look a bit cooler. Plus, variations and all. So I made four different sets of doors: two types of glass doors (one long and one short) plus two types of wooden doors (one long and one short).

01

02

In the end the smaller wooden door didn’t get used, but who knows, maybe it’ll turn up in the future somewhere!

03-library_001

After creating the doors, I began adding a bunch of random props, some which have been used before in various places, as well as some edited stuff:

03-library_002

Next up, painting a bunch of unique props to spice things up a bit:

Some of these items are inspired by various items from other media. Can you figure out which ones and what they have been inspired by? :D

Finally, here’s the finished past version of this room! Whew:

library003

Now, all great things must come to an end (or so they say), and that includes fancy storage room! Forgotten by all, it has decayed and turned into a mess. Main part of turning this room from past to present state involved creating a ton of holes in the carpets. I also threw some random trash on the ground to make the room feel more messy:

presentwip

In the end, here’s the rather bleak main version of this room (you’ll actually only spot the past version through a flashback orb):

present

Now, before Christmas break we had some majord design talks which I may have mentioned in a previous thread. One thing we talked a lot about was Arcade Mode. And there’s some pretty huge changes coming…!

There’s no secret we want to add a bunch of new room types and challenges to Arcade Mode. We have a ton of ideas and it’s likely we’ll begin implementing some of them once we’re done with Tai Ming. However, there are more radical changes coming (though I’m not sure how soon)!

First up, the town will get a lot bigger with many new kinds of special buildings, and you’ll be able to choose which ones will appear first as opposed to the way things are now, where the town slowly updates depending on your total score. This will likely be handled by putting up a bunch of indicators for what will appear where on the map (like signs or character explaining what will appear if you if you ‘choose’ that one in particular).

We’re also reworking how you gain Essence! We’d like to reward everyone more evenly/steadily rather than giving almost no Essence to some and a TON of it to others, depending on how well you do on a run. So if you’re one of those who don’t typically get a lot of essence, you’ll likely get more, and if you tend to get more essence than you can handle, you’ll probably get less.

There MIGHT also be another currency, or rather a rework of an old one: gold! If we implement this, you’ll keep any gold you get on your run + a bonus at the end of each run depending on how things go or how far you get (kind of the way essence works now, but gold won’t be as important so we’re more OK with the pro’s getting more of it). The gold would then be used to unlock the hats and similar items previously exchanged for Essence by the Bishop (he will keep trading perks for essence, but his other shop functions will be moved to one or several other unlockable shops which use gold), as well as other new features.

So basically, Essence is used to unlock perks and town features where you can spend your gold (if the gold part gets implemented)! Whether gold gets added or not kind of depends on whether we feel there are enough cool things to spend your gold on, or if we’d prefer to keep most of it free of charge and use Essence for the rest.

——–

Typically this is where we’d have a bunch of Fred’s animations, but since he’s still working on some upcoming and very spoilerific cutscenes and fights… We’ll keep those to ourselves for a while yet. Hang in there! ;)

Hey guys, Vilya here! This week it’s time for us Swedes to celebrate christmas!

Teddy is already back at his hometown catching up with friends and family and Fred will leave later this week, so it’s time for a little break to recharge our batteries. Before that though, there’s one more weekly recap!

Since we live on the island where our gamedev education was held, every year there’s a couple of fun events for us alumni to attend. Last week was one of them: the Alumni Days!

The Alumni Days consist of 2-3 days where people who graduated come back to school to hold lectures on what it’s like out there ‘in the industry’, answer questions at a panel, plus attend some parties and dinner(s)!

alumnidays

This year was an absolute blast, and there were a lot of great lectures, all of which will eventually be uploaded on this YouTube channel (some are already there). Go check it out if you’re an aspiring dev – there’s already a ton of lectures from previous years too :)

This year’s edition went on from Thursday to Saturday, so there were three days of lectures and hanging out with other devs from our old class (among others)! While living on this isolated island can be quite trying sometimes (everything else is sooo far away), it’s great to be able to meet up with everyone like this and get inspired by other developers.

And now, the present version of the room from last week! Time to break some stuff :3

01gif

As with the previous battle room, I added a bunch of random stuff to the floor to make it look more interesting. The pure water has become a sickly green, and the tree has turned a more sinister shade (if there is such a thing as a sinister shade)… :)

02

Next, time to start working on the final room of the shrine in Tai Ming’s third zone! And it’s quite a large one…

03gif

So, this room is a kind of storage/library room where a lot of artifact and treasures will be housed. Because painting all these items will take a lot of time, I decided to split this post in 2-4 parts (depending on how much stuff I end up recording/creating GIFs of).

In this first part, it’s all about the basic stuff, creating the backbone of the room: floors, walls, bookcases/shelves that will contain the items. In the next 1-2 parts I’ll be making a bunch of GIFs of the items and shelf-doors, etc, being added! And of course, after that we need to make a present version of the room as well :)

After step 1, here’s what we got:

04

Some of you might remember Professor Pine, the guys behind the “diary entries” of Flying Fortress? Well, time to meet the guy!

05

Actually, you won’t exactly meet him… But you WILL watch him do some talking many years ago, through a flashback orb! What could he be doing in Tai Ming?

06

With my parts of Tai Ming almost being finished, it’s time to start looking ahead and think about what’s coming next. First up, we’re gonna update Arcade Mode, adding the Mt. Bloom and Tai Ming floors (and after that likely spend some time adding bonus things – Housing for example). Once I complete the final things for Tai Ming (the final room + cards) that means I’ll be focusing on Arcade Mode backgrounds and a TON of furniture, which will be a lot of fun!

After that, it’s finally time to start with the next area… I’ve already completed most of the art for the desert, which is supposed to come after Tai Ming, so for me that means I’ll begin playing around with the harbor town that comes after it. Then there’s only two temples/dungeons left! I can’t believe we’ve actually come this far, haha. Though it’s been 5 years already it feels like we began working on Grindea yesterday. Time flies when you have fun, and working on this game has definitely been a blast from the start!

Definitely looking forward to another year of fun gamedev, and I hope you’ll all stay with us through our journey! After all, without you guys there would be no game. So thank you for the support, and I hope you have a happy holiday/merry christmas/just a wonderful time :D

07

See you next year!!

This week we uploaded another patch to the frontline beta, featuring a bunch of smaller updates! The biggest changes, from the patch notes:

World Map Completion: Based on a suggestion on our forums, we’ve added completion tracking for the World Map! It tells you how many cards, drops, fishes, quests and secrets you have yet to find in any given area. This should help people figure out what it is they’re missing for that juicy 100 % completion! Note that the Achievements and Crafting completion is still tracked via their own menus.

Damage Numbers: The new default setting for displaying damage numbers is “Composite”, which turns your damage into one big number per enemy instead of many small numbers. We did this change mainly because some builds dish out so many hits that the old damage numbers cluttered everything, and in multiplayer this happened pretty much regardless of builds. It also makes damage over time a bit more readable, as well as how much damage a flamethrower or blade flurry cast actually does in the end! For people unhappy with this change, there’s a “Classic” option that mimics the old style, as well as an even more streamlined option called “Minimalistic”, and of course… an option to turn off damage numbers completely!

HP Bars: Enemies now have HP bars above their heads by default. These appear after an enemy has taken damage, and fade away after a while if no new damage is taken! Also, low HP allies in multiplayer also have their HP displayed above their heads. Both of these types of HP bars can be disabled, or set to always appear if an enemy or player is below full HP.

There’s also the accessory shop, among other things (which we already began preparing in last week’s post), and a bunch of new characters!

Joining his sister in the store will be this young fellow! Yes, it’s a guy, you know the drill, Vilya can’t draw guys… though I think they do look a bit manlier now…maybe (ignoring the braids)??

01-wip

Anyway! Being the heir to their father’s business, he’s sick and tired of the boring stuff and would like nothing more than to become a collector. Perhaps there’s some way you can help him? We actually haven’t decided on any quests surrounding this family but it would be pretty cool :)

02-sprite

There’s also the father of the accessory store’s shop keeper and her brother! This is one famous merchant, visiting to check up on his daughter who has moved abroad to open up a shop of her own:

01-wip

As mentioned before, he’d like nothing more than for one of his children to take over his business, but with the daughter setting up a store of her own and his son’s lacking interest… Whatever will become of it?!

02-sprite

Now, remember the person entertaining a bunch of artifacts in the first part of Tai Ming?

01

Well, they’re back! Only this time in the second zone! Some of the artifacts have been replaced, and this Helmet appears instead!

02-wip

Not much is currently known about Helmet, but I’m quite sure Teddy has come up with some awesome dialogue for this guy (or girl). I mean, life has to be kind of cool as a helmet, right?

03-sprite

…Right?

Now, as always before a patch, there’s a bunch of smaller things to be edited or fixed!

First up, the accessory-siblings. We adjusted the skin tone of the brother slightly to make him fit in better with the rest of his family, and changed the hair color of the shop owner girl for the same reason:

accessorybrother

accessorysister

We also played around with the Accessory shop title, which previously was called “Accessory & Co” but is “Ruby’s Rubies”. Our current favorite (and the one who made it to the patch) is the middle one:

accessorytitle

Next up, we wanted the Accessory shop to stand out a bit more, so I was tasked with changing its colors! Below is the previous version as well as two color alternatives for the shop. We’ll probably go for the standard wall color, though in the future I might go back and edit the houses in Evergrind City in general.. Who knows what colors the walls will end up having then?

Before:

accext01

After, version 1 and version 2:

accext02

The ruins in the west needed their own title to appear as you enter the area as well as a name! We settled for Ancient Ruins for now, subject to change if we come up with something else… :)

ancientruins

Some of you noticed the chest closing in the present after you opened it and the water is low. Fear not, it has been solved – the chest will now remain open. Though where did the plants go? :o

chestinrubble

Then, since a flashback scene with Mana and the children (Zhamla and Tessen) has been added, so I got to make a bunch of new expressions for our favorite nanny! :)

mana

Finally……. Back to the third Tai Ming map and that old shrine!!

01

Aside from being a place to battle enemies in the present, this room will also hold another flashback orb, with the people of Tai Ming enlisting the help of the Flying Fortress crew to deal with a certain threat.

Since I don’t know exactly how much of the room will be shown in the flashback orb yet, I’m keeping the past version quite bare for now. I’ll probably add more decorations once I know where and how the cutscene will play out :)

02

Next week we’ll continue working on the third part of Tai Ming, and since the holidays are coming up and we’ll spend some time apart we’ve begun having more design meeting so everyone knows what’s coming next in the game! For those cases when we want to work but can’t get a hold of the others to ask questions, you know. Therefore, I expect the next two posts (or so) will contain more design talk and mentions of upcoming features…. But we’ll see :)

This week we continue to prepare things for a mini-patch adding the new features we talked about last week (new damage numbers etc)!

Remember the Accessory shop from the last recap? Well, someone has to run it! Time for another portrait~

01-wip

This girl comes from the Merchant Isles and has moved to Evergrind City to open her Accessory shop! Her father and brother will be visiting as well, checking out her new business, so they will be upcoming portraits later on :)

02-sprite

Last week I also mentioned adding some stuff to the world map. A big thanks to Own who came up with the great idea in this thread :)

So, for a long time now we’ve wanted to add some things to the world map in order to give more clarity for people wishing to 100% the game and as a general incentive to explore each area a bit more thoroughly (if you see how many secrets you have left you feel more inclined to find the rest, right?)

map01

So anyway! We have two sets of additions. First, a bunch of icons on the left side, indicating (in order) Enemy drops, Cards, Quests, Fishes and Secrets. Next to these icons will be a counter showing how many you’ve got vs how many there are (for example 06/10). These numbers are map specific and will change depending on which part of the map you’re hovering over.

The second part is the pet and map counter in the lower right corner of the map, indicating how many pets and maps you’ve found vs hos many there are. These are global and will show the same number regardless of which area you’ve currently selected.

We also plan on adding a percentage next to each area name, so in the case above, it would say “Evergrind City 48%” indicating I have achieved 48% completion of said area. As some things get added in patches or you unlock new quests as you progress through the story, it will be possible to get 100% on one area, only to have it revert back to say 70% as new content gets unlocked. When this happens you’ll get a notice letting you know your map has been updated, and there will be a “New” sign above each part of the map with new stuff to do/find :)

Now, with the world map expanding and new areas being added, it’s time to rebuild and add to the world map :D

First of all, it’s time to rebuild some of the puzzle pieces that make up the world map. These will be changed further as we go along and add the desert map & the maps past it. But first things first! This time, it’s the upper left corner that has been adjusted.

Before:

puzzlepiece01a

After:

puzzlepiece01b

Next, time to take a look at what happens beneath those puzzle pieces… Previously, we hadn’t added the ancient ruins above the western Evergrind fields, so there was no need to include it on the world map. Now that it’s been implemented, no more excuses!

We also expanded the size of the winter area a bit in the process, filling out some empty spaces and making sure the ruins don’t look too big compared to their size in the game.

Before:

mapadd01

After:

mapadd02

But what about Tai Ming, you ask? Of course, the old town needs some kind of indicator as well! We’ve solved that by adding a speech bubble indicating the city’s past or present state (depending on how far along the story you are) once you enter the town for the first time:

taiming

Finally, I made the stars which will indicate when you’ve achieved 100% completion of an area. I thought my 200+ hour character Masken who I use to bug test things would have a ton of these stars, but turns around I’m a terrible Collector – no stars for me :(

stars

How many will you get once this gets uploaded to the beta? :D

Finally, a brief return to the third Tai Ming zone! The exit/meeting room in it’s present state:

exit01

It’s always fun painting broken glass and vases, so I got to have some fun with this! Also had to split the table in two, so the flashback orb can be placed in the middle, showing everyone around the table!

exit02

Also, no enemies in this room so no problem having a bunch of props lying around :)

Hello guys!! This weekly recap will be a little different, to say the least! I (Vilya) had to go home to my hometown for a funeral last week, so I haven’t prepared anything to show on the blog. But rest easy, things have kept moving on in the Pixel Ferrets office anyway!

While Fred continues to prepare a ton of cutscene animations for the third zone, Teddy has set his sight on fixing and adding a bunch of things we’ve wanted to include in the game for quite a long time!

First up, and perhaps most importantly – new damage numbers! We’ve totally revamped the way these work. Take a look below for the old version:

damage_old

And now, the new version:

damage_new

So a bunch of things have happened here! First up, there will be tiny numbers showing how much damage you make with each hit, and a big number showing how much damage you’ve done in total within a limited amount of time! So long as you continuously damage an enemy this number will continue to increase. When you crit, the damage text flashes and there are pretty stars flying about! We also have plans to have the damage number increase in size the longer/bigger your combo is, and add some smaller stars to the crit-effect as well. But all in good time…

Another thing you might notice in the above GIF is – yes – Health bars above the enemies! Wohoo! I’m personally very happy about this update, as it makes hitting enemies much more satisfying when you can see their hp dwindle. True, you could do so before by checking the lower right corner, but it’s just not as effective (at least, I kept taking damage while doing that) or as satisfying. The health bar will appear once you hit an enemy and disappears after a while after you quit dealing damage to it.

And YES, this means health bars in Multiplayer will be a thing! You’ll be able to see the health bar of your friends when they go under a certain amount of HP, so now you’ll know who really deserved that health orb, and who was the petty thief!

Teddy also added The Western Ruins to the game, so there’s one more “Sorry this area ain’t implemented yet” notice gone. You can’t actually do anything here yet, except look at the scenery and battle a few slimes, but hey! At least it’s not an annoying invisible wall:

ruins

Also, we’ve finally added the Buy Back feature, which we’ve talked about for a loooong time. Shady Merchant is now officially your go-to guy for buying back anything you’ve sold in the game, and the Accessory Shop has moved into a building of its own:

shady

accessory

Ok, ok. One more thing. In order to make it clearer when a quest has been updated, we’re adding this new feature:

questupdate

This is still an early work in progress, but the idea is that whenever a quest gets updated in some way, you’ll get a notice saying ‘Update’ above your head, after which the corresponding quest window will flash in the upper right corner. If you’re currently tracking another quest, it’ll fade back to that one after some time, and if you don’t track any quest at all it’ll simply fade away. This is all to make it a bit easier knowing when you’ve done something that change the objectives of a quest, or if you’re tracking another quest and ‘accidentally’ make progress in another, so you know what’s going on.

We also plan on doing a ton of improvements on the in-game map before Fred is fully done with all the animations needed to implement the scenes in Tai Ming’s third zone! There will be a ton of helpful trackers there, showing you exactly how much you’ve got left to do before achieving 100% on each area. But that’s for another post!

Before saying bye-bye today, here’s one of the few non-spoiler animations Fred is able to show you guys. Behold, a bunch of praying priests:

praying

Stay tuned! :)

Time to move into the sacred shrine! What could be hidden in here?

The first room is planned to be a room where you’ll do some fighting and… well, not much else really! Now, we haven’t even planned on adding a flashback orb to this place, which means that technically, this room will only be viewed in the present (there will be no time rifts in this third part of Tai Ming).

02-gif

Because of this, I could have chosen to jump into doing the old and ruined stuff from the beginning, and completely skipped this step of making a past version. However, because we’re known to change our minds a lot, and since it’s a lot easier to start from something whole and ruin it after, than to start with something broken and paint it whole, I decided to make this version anyway!

Below is the finished result! Again, it’s possible you won’t even get to see this in the game, so I guess you could see it as a true behind-the-scenes treat ;)

03

Next up, making the ruined version, which might even show up in the game!!

As usual, this is typically a matter of dulling down color and painting a bunch of cracks and holes in everything.

For this room, I also added a bunch of thrash in the corner which may serve as a spawning point for monkeys when you fight (it looks much better if they appear from behind somewhere, rather than just fade into existence)!

02-gif-1

Since you’ll mainly be fighting in here, there’s not a lot of stuff on the floor (as usual). In the end the room will hopefully look lively enough one there’s a bunch of enemies roaming about!

03-1

From the first to the last room: time to take a look at the Shrine’s exit/meeting room…

01

In this room, there will be a quite important flashback orb, showing you the priests trying to deal with certain horrible things that have happened in Tai Ming since your last time jump!

02

They will be in meeting by this long table, discussing… Things ;) There’s also a scheduled guest appearance of an Arcade Mode character! Can you guess who?

Now, we’ve also been making some slight changes and improvements that will be added to the second zone in a later update!

First up, the crown of Zhamla! In the first version, which we decided to change a little. It’s still the same crown, but he wears it differently, in a way we thought felt ‘cooler’, basically. The old version is on the left, the new is on the right:

farma_grown_crownb

We also made a chewing/munching portrait for the girl who eats noodles in the inn! Honestly I’m not sure this portrait will actually appear in the game (we kind of made it for fun), but we’ll see:

mountaingirl-2

Next, we added some more decorations around the entrance to Puzzle World, indicating that something is being built here. It still looked a little bare with just the sign:

puzzleworldentrance

Finally, just some slight extra decoration of the first Puzzle World room, in the shape of a half-installed button and a hammer:

statuepuzzle

Those of you who have tried the new Tai Ming areas on Frontline have probably noticed a bunch of sound effects missing…

And that’s because we haven’t ordered them yet! So, the other day we decided to make a big list of all the sound effects we could possibly want, by playing the areas and writing down any sound effects that seemed to be missing.

After that, we went through the list and decided whether:

A) We should request a new sound effect
B) We already have a sound effect that could fit
C) It doesn’t really need a sound effect after all

To make the list easier to read, we color coded the sound effects, as you can see here:

sounds

Red means we felt a sound effect was unnecessary, Orange means we’ll use a previously made sound, and Blue means we’ll ask for a new sound effect.

While we want to have a lot of sound effects in the game to make everything feel alive, sometimes it can get a little too much. Such as in the inn, where we at first had a ‘eating noodles’-sound, a ‘drinking’-sound, some ambience, and a ‘sighing’-sound (for Faita). Playing all of those would likely make the inn a bit too noisy, so we decided against requesting all of them.

As we continue working on the third part of Tai Ming we definitely look forward to adding these sound effects! It’s gonna make a huge difference to actually hear things as they happen, and we’re very happy to work with amazing people who help us bring the world of Grindea to life through sound effects and music! A very important aspect of gamedev that should not be forgotten :)

And so, it’s time to begin making the Third Tai Ming zone for real. I (Vilya) can’t believe we’re finally starting on the last stretch of this dungeon… It’s taken a looong while for sure :D

In this post, I’ll be making the basics of the first map, which features the entrance to the sacred shrine where the artifact you’re after sleeps. There’s a lot to add – walls, grass, the platform and the building on top of it. Some things can be reused from previous maps (parts of the architecture and the cave walls), others have to be made from scratch (such as the platform and it’s decoration):

01

After all of that’s been made, I add trees, bushes and rock with our editor tool. Finally, it’s back to Photoshop to add flowers and grass decorations! Once all of that’s done, we’re left with the basic version of the area:

02

Now it’s time to think about the various ways we can spice this up and make it look more unique! Let’s begin by adding some banners around the platform. Too much stone texture never made anyone happy, after all, so let’s break it up with some cloth:

03

The cutscene you’ll see here is all about celebration (which may or may not end in a strange way… but more on that later), so I added some pennants hanging from the roof as well:

04

There has to be some kind of light source around here, and what better than some lanterns? I add a bunch of them between the decorative cloth around the platform:

05

Next, the most fun part. Painting some bells! They felt like a nice addition to the sacred shrine, and may or may not begin to chime as the celebrations proceed (we haven’t discussed it in detail yet):

06

To make the parts of the shrine building that’s behind the entrance look a little more interesting, I decided to remove the middle window and add a couple of statues instead, as well as some crates with flowers to decorate this holy place:

07

Finally, some additional flower decoration, to make the statue look less out of place against the floor, and add to the festive feeling:

08

And now, here’s the map after all the decorations have been added! Looks a little more interesting now, I’d say:

09

But let’s not stop there! As the years go by, even this sacred shrine is forgotten and doomed to fall into disrepair.

Working on this was pretty much a case of “how much of this can I ruin?” and then setting to work. The lanterns are broken or have fallen down, some of the pillars have fallen, there’s some vines growing, the bells have fallen, statues have broken, cloth have ripped, and sometime in the past people began to move a lot of storage stuff outside of the shrine, leaving broken crates, jars and barrel there now.

02-gif

There’s still a lot of fun things I’d like to add, but at some point I had to stop myself, or I’d keep going on this for days! Maybe I’ll go back and add some more stuff before everything gets implemented though :)

Feel free to share ideas on how to add further destruction to this map (so long as the building itself remains intact)!

01-outdoor-entrance

Aside from beginning on the third and final part of Tai Ming, we’ve also continued improving the second zone, polishing the area up a bit. One of the major improvements we’ve added is a ton of water effects, since the water was quite stiff earlier! Here’s a preview GIF of what it’ll look like once it’s been patched into Frontline:

vatteneffekter

Hello guys, Vilya here! The first week since the second part of Tai Ming was uploaded to Frontline has now gone past, and we’ve spent eagerly listening to your feedback (and fixing bugs)! Thank you to everyone who left comments and suggestions, we’ll add and improve a bunch of things before we consider this part properly done.

Some of you have already noticed that after finishing the first zone, it’s possible to get stuck, with the time warp portals disappearing. While this isn’t quite working as intended, the truth is that once you’ve finished an area, you’ll only be able to return to it in the present time.

We have a couple of reasons for this, and it wasn’t an easy choice to make. I mean, of course it would have been great if you could always go back to finish any puzzles or secrets you might have missed. On the other hand, we felt like the area would have a bigger impact once you realize that when you’ve seen all there is to the story here, you can’t go back to talk to the people again. They have passed on already and belong only in a distant past which you shouldn’t have had access to in the first place.

We also didn’t want the player to feel frustrated because they can’t go back to, say, the first zone, and simply try to convince Zhamla or Sizou to change their ways once you realize how events in that zone turned Zhamla from a young, optimistic boy into a serious and rather obsessed young man.

We could have just simply not mentioned the fact, or thrown in a line about not changing past events, but again, this way felt like it’d have more of an impact.

Now, obviously you’re not supposed to get stuck anywhere in the present. So how are we gonna solve the fact that there are a ton of blockades that you need time travel to get past?

Cue this guy:

pratrutan

This fellow is a traveling adventurer (with dreams of becoming a Collector, perhaps?) who you’ll meet many times on your journey. Once you’ve finished the first part of Tai Ming, he’ll arrive to move things out of the way and create a passage that you can use as well. Once you’re done with the second zone, he’ll move on and do the same there.

adventurera

So what about all the treasures you might have missed on your first play through? Worry not, you’ll be able to get them later in the game, one way or another (we have a bunch of ideas), so missing an item in Tai Ming won’t affect your 100% completion if you manage to find it somewhere else later.

adventurerb

After all, hundreds of years have passed since the time when Tai Ming was a bustling town, and it’s not unlikely that once you stop messing around with the time jumps, someone simply moved the items somewhere else.

adventurerc

With this new information, it might be worth going through Tai Ming one more time to see if you missed any secrets, would you say? Head out and collect! The 100% completion awaits you!

Next up, in celebration of having completed my part of Tai Ming’s second zone, I decided to take a quick break from the asian theme and move back to Evergrind City and its surrounding fields!

This map here is in fact the one that can be found north of the farm, in the western Evergrind Fields! It’ll be the key to opening the final dungeon, but until you figure out how to do that it’s just a bunch of resting ruins in the middle of the woods.

For this area, I began with a very simple sketch just to get a feel of the layout. Then I added a bunch of the surrounding props (trees, and the like) with our editor, before creating the new stuff:

03

Then, it’s on to making the actual ruins:

gif01

gif02

gif03

gif04

gif05

gif06

And finally, adding all the details to bring the place together:

ruins_081

While this map likely won’t be implemented until all three zones of Tai Ming are completed, it’s been on my mind for a long time, and I’m sure the “this way is blocked until we implement temple x” notice has bothered a lot of you guys as well! This way, at least you’ll be able to move around almost everywhere (with the exception of the desert and onwards, which hasn’t been added yet of course) without annoying notices!

And now, time to start working on Zone03. We’ve already begun prototyping most of the area, with the exception of the final two rooms (one which will house the Mimic boss, and one which will feature… something else).

00a

Our very first prototype consists of extremely simple black & white sketches, where I just draw whatever I think would look cool. I mainly freestyle the size of each map, but try to keep in mind certain things like whether there will be battles taking place, or where the camera will pause in cutscenes and such.

00d

Once I’ve sketched whatever I feel is important to size-check or run by the others, I give the sketches to Teddy who adds them to the game engine. He won’t add any colliders or anything at this point, but often he’ll make sure the doors work in cases like this where we need to run through more than one map connected to one another.

02

Then, me, Teddy and Fred run through the maps in multiplayer, talking about what we think as we go along. Are the rooms big enough? Will there be enough room to fight? Does the camera position well?

03

Often I’ve come up with ideas for what should happen in the rooms, either before or while I make the sketches, and in this multiplayer test we tend to brainstorm a lot as well. We’ll ask ourselves things like “wouldn’t it be cool if this happened here”, or “wouldn’t it be nice to have a painting of x there”, among other things.

05

In the case above, I made a design with 2 tables, but as we talked about what the flashback orb will show in this room, we decided it’d be better to have it take place at one long table instead. We talked about how long the table should be, and two of us had to act as indicators so I could take a screenshot and add a table approx. the size the characters show (plus some more decorations):

fix02

After going through each of the rooms in a similar way, with us talking about the sketches and me editing them as per what we decide, we’ve got a decent “whitebox” version of the place. There are no final graphics, but since we’re satisfied with the size, it’s possible to start adding colliders as well as prototyping enemy encounters.

Since this zone is only four rooms, two outdoor areas and a boss fight, we certainly hope finishing this place will be faster than zone02. There will be a lot of epic things happening here though, so I guess we’ll have to wait and see how many super difficult animations Fred will have to make before we’re satisfied…. Stay tuned ;)

Finally, the second zone’s on Frontline! It only took about 4 months guys!! ;) However, if my (Vilya’s) playthrough of the area is any indication (1 hour 20 minutes), it’s a decent amount of playtime for that amount of work, at least compared to our previous areas.

I know it’s hard to believe, but our workspeed per playtime has actually increased with this dungeon, though it’s pretty huge and ends up taking a long time to finish anyway ;P

Anyway! We’d love to hear how long it takes you to play the area, if you got stuck anywhere, what you liked/disliked and, of course, any bugs you found! Please spam away, we’d love to hear everything (and feel free to link us any cool Let’s Plays of the area, as seeing how people think and try to interact is extra important in this area).

Here’s a bunch of the stuff we made for the second zone, before we released it this weekend:

First up, the final room of Puzzle World! Part of this area will be looking over the sea, with the Pillar Mountains (among other things) in the background. Because of how incredibly long it took to paint the backdrop, the video I recorded got super long, so I decided to divide it in parts:

This first part is all about the actual area your character will be able to move around in. It consists of the same type of environmental decorations as the Mount Bloom outskirts, with the addition of some rocks and details from Evergrind Fields and Tai Ming.

Second part of this scene is all about the backdrop! And what else would it contain, but your old home, the Pillar Mountains?

Painting this took a long while, much longer than I’d hoped, seeing as it’s mostly water and a few islands! But since I’m used to painting smaller props rather than distant backgrounds, it took some time to get used to the change :)

Once this was finished, we added a bunch of birds and some clouds floating in the background as well:

outside02

I mentioned before that I was gonna make standing versions of the old and worn statues. This is pretty much to make it easier on us, as we don’t want to worry about where to put which statue if two would fall on top of each other. Instead, they’ll remain upright:

01-presentstatuesv2

One key part of the puzzle is to deal with the glass box somehow, and so I had to make a version of it that’s completely smashed as well! Some pretty fun stuff, lots of glass pieces :)

02-glass

This grave has a bunch of flowers that stand out from the rest, and it’s for good reason, relating to a quest:

03-daisya

This room felt a little too clean, so I went back to it and added a bunch of planks and the remains of the poor old flowers. Likely nothing would remain of the plant this long since it died, but as long as it looks better this way, I’m all for it ;)

10-governmenta

I also added a bunch of rocks surrounding a box in the water next to what we call “Granny’s house”. This is to signify that you cannot move this box (while you can move a bunch of others):

05-boxa

The current box also looked a bit too fresh and clean for the present version, so I made another version of the box(es) to suit the time jump better:

06-boxa

There’s a strange puzzle in the upper parts of this map (which isn’t completely shown in this picture), and one part to the puzzle is that you cannot move things around in the present. As such, I made a version of the puzzle block that wasn’t able to withstand the test of time, and has crumbled too much for you to be able to push it around (video game logic)!

07-puzzlea

Seeing as the alcoholic beverage hidden in this room was turned into an ale rather than a wine, the color was changed to better suit the drink in question!

08-wine-vs-brandy

While Bag has made do with the same faces for a long, long time, it was finally time to add another couple of expression! Well, in fact, we just needed the one, but due to some miscommunication I misunderstood the mood asked for, and we ended up with two instead! Maybe the other one will have some use in the future… :)

13-bag

This lady isn’t too happy about her daughter being interested in the strange Flying Fortress people visiting town, so she had to get a more displeased expression as well:

14-mountainlady

We also realized we needed to block the way south in the Path Puzzle’s past state! This was done by adding a bunch of boxes:

boxes

Whatever happened to this guard’s hat?! I guess you’ll have to find out by playing through the zone! In either case, he needed a portrait without the hat, so I made one:

guardportrait

Due to a slight rewrite, we decided to open up the door to the Puzzle World WIP, and add a small sign letting you know that something is ahead:

sign

Previously for the Monkey mini game we used a placeholder key, which was actually a much smaller one that was resized in Photoshop. Good thing we remembered to swap it out for this new sprite:

monkeykey

A line of rocks were added to show you where you cannot push certain blocks that can be found on the lower level of this zone. You can (and should) still run past the rocks yourself though:

stoneedge

Due to some grim times up ahead in Tai Ming, we decided it was time to increase the number of tombstones in the cemetery greatly, too… Whatever could be happening? The answer awaits you in the third zone!

graves

Finally, two new zone titles: one for the second zone and one for the third (which I, as I write this post, have actually started working on already! Wohoo!)

16-zonetitles

…Actually, there was another portrait added, as well! :)

This is Nolea, a character that’s a homage to the main character of CrossCode:

nolea

While being based on Lea visually, this character is quite different from her CrossCode counterpart. In fact, she’s a cyborg built built by the Flying Fortress crew with multiple personality and vocabulary settings. How advanced!

She’ll be hanging out with the other Flying Fortress guys in zone02, demonstrating the newly invented Phase Shift techniques.

sprite

For Nolea, I had to make two different expressions, but as I was creating them I had a hard time picking between a couple of variations, so I ended up making 4 instead. I’m still not sure which 2 actually appears in the game, as I told Teddy decide as he implemented them, and I haven’t talked to in-game Nolea since then…

expressions

lea
This week, we’ll likely take care of any bugs that appear through the frontline testing, as well as add another bunch of polish. I’ll also continue working on the third zone of Tai Ming, which will conclude your adventures in this mountain. How exciting!

Until next week! :)