Guys! I’m back~~ I (Vilya) took a few days off last week to spend with my family and recharge my batteries. It’s been great, and now I’m so pumped to get back to work! So pumped in fact, I got back one day early just to be able to write this post ;)

Unfortunately I haven’t prepared anything to show on the blog this time aside from having updated the FAQ on the main site with a bunch of new reoccuring questions + the removal of some old ones.

But don’t worry! Fred is cooking up animations like always, and while waiting for some graphics Teddy has taken the opportunity to do a little more work on the Housing (yes, it’s a feature that lives still!!)

He actually wrote a pretty long guest post about it over at my work blog, but to keep things brief in the recap, here’s how it currently looks:

We plan to release the housing into the game sometime after Tai Ming has been finished up.

Now, on to Fred’s animations – one of the last sets from the big worm battle!





Are you excited for this battle yet?! I know I am! Just gotta finish the rest of the Tai Ming 2nd zone backgrounds first, so I guess that’s what I’ll dive right back into now! See you next week~ :D

Over the course of the development of Secrets of Grindea, which has gone on for five (5!) years now, we’ve had many different ways of keeping track of decisions made in the past and where to head in the future.

Unfortunately they’ve varied in usefulness – turns out, simply talking about something in the group and then expecting everyone to remember the outcome of that conversation doesn’t work quite that well. In fact, more than once we’ve had the exact same conversation several times, with different outcomes, where people have changed their opinion over time, or we simply don’t remember which idea we thought was best.

To solve this we’ve used a variety of documentation methods – we’ve kept our meetings documented physically through a notebook I’ve (Vilya) brought to them, and sometimes we’ve used our “agenda” document (basically a to-talk-about list for each upcoming meeting) to document what we talked about and what it resulted in. There’s also been attempts to have a Upcoming Quests document, an Arcade Mode document (with future arcade mode mechanics), and a Story Mode document with random bits and pieces about the game written down randomly.

After trying to navigate through these documents for a while, searching for the answer to another one of our eternal “what did we say about subject x?” questions, I decided it was time to clean things up.

So, over the last few days I’ve been merging all of our documentation – the quest documents, the contents of my notebook, the Story Mode- and Arcade Mode- documents and ordered them properly in a single Google Docs document:


In order to keep things easy to find, we decided to sort this new all-powerful list area by area in chronological order, starting with a “General” section for things affecting general gameplay (such as visible healthbars for co-op), and ending with all things Arcade Mode. Thanks to their “new” (at least, I hadn’t seen it before) outline feature, it became very easy to navigate through the content once I was done, but if the feature wasn’t available I’d probably created something similar in a regular text document, adding a table of contents in the beginning.

We’re very glad to have this new documentation method, which hopefully will save us some time when looking up what exactly we decided after having discussions, and why we came to that conclusion. It is likely we’ll still have to talk about some things again, of course, as we do tend to change our minds around – but at least now we don’t have to take it all from the beginning again!

Now, this week hasn’t been all about documentation, of course. We’ve also continued work on Tai Ming’s second zone (which is drawing closer and closer to completion, art asset wise anyway). In order to prepare for the Giant Thorn-worm battle, we’ve made a battle-worn version of the HQ outdoors:


We also continued on the government/administration building from last week, creating it’s present state as well:



..and finally, yet another character joins the fray! When I made this guy (yes, it’s a he – or it’s supposed to be, anyway), I had some a vision of some kind of mix between Remedi the alchemist in Evergrind City, and a vampire. Yeah I know, don’t ask where these ideas come from. I have no idea! Anyway, he’s supposed to sell potion in Tai Ming’s second zone, and here he is:



That’s all for this week! Next week will most likely be an animation special, as I’ll be taking a couple days off (first vacation days this year!! wohoo) and probably won’t be around to write the next post :)

See you!

Last week I vaguely mentioned that we’ve been doing some puzzle prototyping! In fact, we’ve done quite a lot of it, and here’s the first sneak peek of our in-house testing of two of the puzzles in the upcoming puzzle cave you’ll have to make your way through!

The first one is the phase shift challenge, where you’ll phase through time to reach your goal. For this puzzle, you have to move mirror blocks around both in the past and the present! When we make the correct graphics for this, we’ll have to make some kind of indicator for where the time rift is on the puzzle (currently simple blue u-shapes in this sketch version):


This is actually already the second iteration of this phase puzzle. The first one turned out to be more complicated than we first thought, even though the solution itself really wasn’t. The problem was that going back and forth in time really confused our brains (and, I admit, mine was the worst – I just panicked trying to figure out what to do, without finding a solution at all – ha)! So, we had to make the puzzle a bit easier. I guess we’ll save the mind-warping ones for an optional puzzle somewhere :)

Next up – the statue puzzle. Here you have to push some statues around, trying to figure our which one to move where. The only way of doing this is to cross check between the past and the present: where do I need to move statue x in order for it to hit button y as it falls? There’s also a hole that needs filling, and a cage of some sort holding a statue that needs to be released (currently illustrated by a barrel, hehe):


I’m currently very positive about these puzzles – they make you think a little, but they’re not too hard to solve once you know what to do! Definitely looking forward to completing this puzzle cave and give it some proper artwork :)

Speaking of prototyping, Teddy has been hard at work creating the water transitions in Tai Ming’s second map! To celebrate his success, he made a guest post about it on my blog, but I’ll post it here as well:


In game development, sometimes you encounter things that are so annoying to implement that you need to vent on someone else’s blog. This is one of those times.


Task: make a short transition between low water and high water, to be played when you close or open the dam in Tai Ming. Easy enough, right? Well, yes, but sometimes it’s the easy things that end up melting your mind!

Here are the assets involved (excluding the background) in creating the transition above:


The stuff in the pink square (top left) are overlays needed to preserve the illusion of depth. These had to be placed at heights intertwined with the stuff in the light blue square (bottom left), to make sure the right mass of water is behind and in front the right rock piece. Oh, and the rock pieces had to be cut out of the background with pixel perfect precision! The piece of grass was needed to hide the edge of the water on the left side.

In the dark blue section (top middle) are all the waterfall animations that Fred had to make! Each of them was a small puzzle of their own. The top four sprite sheets were pieces that can be used to create waterfalls of any height, needed for when the waterfall rises. This custom made waterfall must appear and disappear the correct way to fit with the “appear” and “disappear” animations. Note on the bottom spritesheet how the foam does not despawn until frame 5, meaning it must keep playing until then!

In the green square (middle bottom) you find Fred’s favorite pastime: animated water edges. These appear when the water has reached the top, hiding seams and creating some nice motion. Due to the uneven edges of the rock walls, however, these things don’t look proper at all while the water is moving! Something else was needed to hide the water’s edge during this period.

To this end, Fred made ten tiny particles, to be placed along the water’s edges! These are found in the red square (upper right). I had to be careful that these particles didn’t behave nonsensically, for example making sure that the water drops always flew away from the walls, to avoid water ripples on the vertical parts of the background.

After a few decades of fine tuning positions, timings, particle abundance and fading, we finally arrived at the point you see in the gif. I should’ve never quit law school!

Note: In reality, Teddy loves even the dreary parts of his job, and is quite happy he quit law school!


Next on our interior list, we have the government/administration building (we just keep calling it random things), where your goal is to get a citizenship-emblem in order to progress the story. Since you’re not from Tai Ming, and have only spent a very short while in this town, this might prove harder to get than you’d first hope.

After all, with a several year long wait list to even visit the city, getting citizenship here must be quite hard indeed. But I guess, if you could find another way into the building, there’s a chance you might accidentally happen upon one of those citizenship emblems, and nobody would blame you for keeping it, right?



And finally, there’s this new character – another collector! Since Tai Ming has a Collector’s HQ, it’s only logical that there are a few collectors running around doing collector-y stuff:



Where exactly this guy will appear and what he’ll do hasn’t been decided yet, but it’s likely he’ll be near the Collector’s HQ in map 2 :)

It’s been yet another week, and work on Tai Ming’s second zone continues!

Vilya has been making more interiors and characters, more boss testing has been made, there’s been some playing around with future puzzles… Lots of stuff! Let’s take a look at our more important new graphics:

First up, some new interiors. Moving below stairs in the Inn, it’s time to take a look at the inn’s storage room! Here the innkeeper stores whatever things he does not need, and it also houses something you need to progress the story:





The next house belongs to Tessen, the young girl you met in the first map of Tai Ming. She has now grown up to be a young lady, living in her own house in the second zone:



When making this map, we wanted it to resemble her grandfather’s home in the first zone, so we made sure to bring some of those items over in order to give the player a sense of recognition (hopefully)!

There’s also another character, with another portrait! This guy is another one of those “silly” portraits, featuring the villager in charge of Tai Ming’s dam. He’s kind of a slob and loves drinking, plus he tends to fall asleep on the job. Oh well, good thing you can take charge of raising and lowering Tai Ming’s water levels for him (and in doing so, reach some new places on the map)!



Meanwhile, Fred has been cleaning up the boss animations, turning them from sketchy versions with stray pixels going wild here and there, to smooth and crisp finished animations! Take a look at these before and after versions of its dig- and tail wiggle animations:



This week we’ve continued working on the interior of Tai Ming’s second zone. Vilya started with the Inn, making a Past and Present version of its first floor:


This past version of the floor will in time be filled with NPCs relaxing after a long day’s work, enjoying food and/or a drink! The present version, meanwhile..



…will house a fight! Which is the reason why we’ve removed some of the furniture, and made the tables lie on the floor (it’s usually better having less stuff blocking your way when you’re busy fighting).

We’ve also added another character, a scientist assistant whom you’ll meet in the Monkey lab:



Plus, some fixes here and there across the map:




Last but not least, Teddy and Fred have continued working on the worm boss, which is nearing a completed state gameplay-wise! Most of the graphics are still WIP, but here’s a taste of what our current inhouse prototype of this boss looks like:




And to end this post, here’s a few complimentary animations of the above boss, made by Fred: