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:


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:


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 :)


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


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 ;)


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):


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:


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)!


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!


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… :)


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:


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:


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:


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:


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:


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:


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!


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!)


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

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


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.


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…


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! :)

We’re finally getting closer to getting the second zone up and running in Frontline! As such, we’ve all been very busy adding the final touches to the zone and bug testing the heck out of it all.

We have some exciting preview GIFs to show you, but first, some more expressions!

The third batch of expressions features a varied crew of characters. There’s the father of the guards, three collectors and a somewhat familiar face: that of Montbel, the famous chef and bartender of Tai Ming:


The fourth and final (for now) batch of expressions features an accessory saleswoman, Faita from zone one, who you could say has fallen on hard times – at least if you go by her expressions, a male priest, the greedy owner of Puzzle World, the visitors from Flying Fortress and the gardener from zone one, who is still tending to the gardens, only this time in zone two!


So, these last few days we got to do something awesome: we actually play tested Tai Ming’s second zone!! It’s true, after many months of working on this place, Teddy put enough together that it was possible for us to run through the entire thing!


For me (Vilya) the zone took 1 hour and 20 minutes to complete, but then I tried to talk with most people (gotta double check that dialogue) and had a slightly underleveled character. On the other hand, I knew exactly where to go and what to do, seeing as I’ve been part of designing everything. It’ll be interesting to hear how long it’ll take for you guys!


After running through the entire thing each of us took notes on things we liked and things we wanted to change, as well as any bugs we found. Luckily, we were mostly in agreement that very little needs to change – in truth we rather feel like Evergrind City needs to change, since this town is much more vibrant and alive compared to the capital… I guess we managed to overdo things as usual.


Among the things we’ve yet to add, there’s 2-3 flashback orbs, with cutscenes that haven’t been made yet. In these orbs more of Zhamlas story will be revealed. Who is this strange child/young man anyway, and how come he’s so important to the story?!


We also made a list of graphical assets for me and Fred to add. My list mainly consists of increasing the number of decorative sprites and more expressions. There’s also a ton of “minor” fixes, like making sure some of the portraits don’t go outside the dialogue box, like below:


This week will be all about last minute fixes, as we hope to be able to upload the second zone to Frontline next weekend! Not 100% sure we’ll actually make it, but that’s our aim at this moment. Here’s to hoping everything continues to go smoothly :)


See you next week – hopefully with a new patch uploaded!

Hey guys!! It’s been another week, and it’s me, Vilya, back to bring you another recap of what’s been going on in the Pixel Ferrets office!

Last week I made the past version of the final Puzzle World room – this week it’s time to transform it into its present version! Since this is the last room before you manage to get outside again, I got to add some vines again! Long time no see:


I also got to paint a lot of cracks on the huge glass thing, which also is something I love doing. Nothing is more soothing than listening to music (or an audiobook) and just painting crack after crack… Well, since we wanted what’s inside to be somewhat visible I decided not to go too crazy with it. Not sure how it’ll turn out in the end though, maybe I can add a few more before calling it a day… :)


Next up, I should start making the statues you’ll use for this room’s puzzle! First, a video showing the progress of making the past versions:


Since the progression from standing to fallen statues happen as you time travel, there’s no need for animations. As such, I was also able to make the present, crumbled ones:

To make it easier seeing where any given statue needs to go, we decided to keep their boxes on the floor (who also got slightly different dimensions since the last post) in the present, in various states of decay. The alternative would have been to have the statues fall with base and all, but we believe this makes it easier to read which statue is where on the puzzle floor.

There’s still two things I need to make for this room. First we need standing, decayed version of the statues for present times, as the statues won’t fall if they’re standing next to a statue that would block the direction it would have fallen in. This is mostly to make it easier for us – instead of having to figure out how to stack the statues on top of one another, they just won’t break as severely if it means they would have fallen on top of another statue.

I also need to make a broken version of the glass box in the lower left corner, so it’s possible to let out the statu– whatever’s in there. But, that’s for another day!


Next up, as Teddy has been working on the cutscenes in Tai Ming’s second zone I decided to go over the dialogue and start making a bunch of expressions so that can be properly finished!

First up is Tessen, the little girl from the first zone who has grown up to become a young priestess of Grindea:


She’s both happy to see you, and has some serious worries on her mind. Wonder what those are about..

Next up, Zhamla:


Since his adoptive father’s speech about being strong, Zhamlas life has taken quite a serious turn, and unfortunately there’s not a lot of room for positive emotions in his life nowadays.

Speaking of adoptive fathers, Zisou’s life has actually become a bit more lax these days, so he can afford a smile or two – but there’s still room for some quite serious expressions in there as well:


The second batch of expressions features four different characters:


First, the dam manager, who has quite a bunch of expressions, as you can see! He has both a serious(ly annoyed) and goofy side, and quite a peculiar quest to bring these expressions out!

The ancient Quest Master, Quinton’s ancestor(?), has a few more expressions than his present day counterpart. He has added both surprise and happiness to his range of emotions!

Mana, the lady with the dog in the first zone, has become older and grayer, but is still quite the happy person, while young mister Go, still is quite miserable in his adult form. He was the kid who lost the key in the first zone, remember? Poor Verment, he has had quite the tough life!

Finally, some Caveling animations from Fred! What are they up to in Tai Ming?!


Another week, and more Puzzle World!

Now, the battle room! As you might guess from the name, this is where a bunch of battles will take place, likely an encounter with several waves (though we haven’t decided on any specifics yet):


For this room, I kind of wanted to add a mascot of some sort. A lot of theme parks use mascots here and there for decoration, and I thought this place shouldn’t be no different. And what better shape than a puzzle piece? Perhaps I should add some more, maybe of different shapes and colors, to other rooms!

The floor is kind of bare in this room, as it’s a fighting room and we don’t want you to run into a bunch of colliders as you battle (cause that’s super annoying). I did add some boxes to the corners though, since I didn’t want the room to look completely empty. Since this place was never really finished, I think it makes sense that boxes with supplies for the continued development of the theme park still remain here and there.


Next room is the monkey challenge room, which has been previewed in a previous post. Here, the player will try to steal back a key from a gang of annoying monkeys, intent on keeping the key to themselves!


As with the fighting room, the key to this room is to keep the floor as clean (from colliders) as possible, since you’ll spend your time in here trying to beat up and chasing enemies back and forth. Since we had a prototype for this room already, I kept the same size as in the test. It worked well enough when we tried it, so no point changing a size that already works!

I did shorten the distance to the exit though: such a long corridor didn’t make a lot of sense, and would – in my opinion – only look visually worse than the shorter distance :)


And now, the final Puzzle World room!! This one is the Path Puzzle room, where you have to move a set of statues around in the past so that they are at the right place in present day…

While a lot of these graphics were already made and reused from previous rooms, I had to do some pretty cool new stuff for this one! For one, this room needed two levels, which meant I had to make a railing of sorts to make it easier to tell the levels apart:


I also had to make that big glass thingy, containing something you need to figure out how to get out of there! And it was a lot of fun: shiny things are the best to make!


Now, as the third zone of Tai Ming – and the final challenge(s) of the dungeon – draws near, we decided it was time to have a meeting to flesh out the final boss of the dungeon: an ancient Mimic!

Pretty much since we started developing Grindea, we’ve known we wanted a boss mimic somewhere in the world, and once we knew the third “temple” would be an ancient town where time travel is the focus, we couldn’t think of a better place for our Mimic!

The time travel aspect of this place helped us come up with one of the key features of this boss battle: it will be divided into three phases, where each phase ends with a time shift, during which the Mimic gains strenght. Basically, you start the battle in the past, and once you’re close to defeating the first, young, version of the mimic, you’ll get sent forward in time, where a bunch of years have passed. The mimic, unaffected by your time jumping, will have grown in size and power over the years, and poses a bigger challenge…


During the first phase, the mimic is little more than a jumpkin – but in the shape of a chest. It will have one or two special attacks, but this is definitely the easiest stage, and should be over pretty quickly.

In the second phase, the mimic has grown to the size of Giga Slime (roughly). The battle will remind you of that boss as well, as the mimic jumps around the battlefield, doing damage with its massive body. It also has a series of special attacks where it spits a ton of coins on the ground in different patterns – which may hurt you as they land – and goes to eat them up straight away, dealing damage to anyone in its path. Sometimes, it will spit out a powerup of some sort as well – and if you fail to destroy it before the Mimic eats it up again, it will gain a powerboost against you. Like Giga Slime, the Mimic will also have an attack resembling the hammer-attack of Giga Slime; basically a regular attack it can pull if you stand too close to it for too long. Only instead of producing a slime hammer, it will use any of the weapons inside of it (or its tongue)!

In the third phase, the boss has grown to a massive size, and is now static. It will attack you using any of its many hatches to send out weapons of various kinds against you. It also has a special attack where it blows you to the opposite end of the screen and sends out a ton of things from its inside! These things might be enemies (from anywhere in the game), barrels, crates, items, money – basically anything you can think of.

This is one ancient mimic, and it’s been stuffed with things over the years!


Since the boss is divided into three different phases, we haven’t given each phase too many attacks. As we start prototyping this battle, it’s possible we’ll add more, but I think this is one of those bosses where the battle might be challenging enough even without 500x different attack patterns! I guess we’ll see – either case I’m very excited to see this in the game.

No game set in a fantasy world is complete without a mimic, right? :)

Hello guys! It’s been another week, and now I (Vilya) am back with another recap of the big things we’ve been working on :D

This week, the work on Puzzle World continues! Next step is to transform the Statue Room into it’s sorry present state. Since this will be the first room to be turned into a present version, it’s extra important to get everything right since a bunch of the props, such as the planks, will be reused in upcoming rooms.

Here’s a GIF showing the process:


As usual with transforming rooms or environments from past (fresh & new) to present (old and worn), most of it is changing colors. But just turning a bright yellow into a dull brown won’t cut it in many cases, such as the door: as wood grows old, it will get worn down and cracks may appear. Therefore I added more lines in the wood, as well as holes here and there, where I imagine the wood has been broken over time:


Next room is a little different! It’s been sponsored by the Flying Fortress crew, and so it has been decorated to look like a room in Flying Fortress – only with wallpapers and a fake floor… :)

When creating this room, I had two options. Either I use the already-made texture of the Flying Fortress walls & floor, or I make a new one. It’s likely people wouldn’t be able to tell the difference, since it was so long since you went through the Flying Fortress in the main story – but I still opted to make new graphics.

I did this for two reasons: one, it gave me the opportunity to make the texture look even more like a wallpaper texture – instead of looking exactly like it does in Flying Fortress (which is built of what’s at least supposed to be real rocks), I could make a softer texture which would be easier to pass off as wallpaper. Second, the Flying Fortress graphics are very old at this point, and I worried that adding such an old texture among all the new stuff would look jarring – I’ve developed a lot as an artist since that time, so the difference in quality and style is quite big.

The smaller screen to the right will hold a message about the room being sponsored by the Flying Fortress – the big one to the right will either have something cool animated by Fred, or a graphic representation of the flying Fortress made by me. Or maybe a graphic representation of the Flying Fortress made by Fred or something cool (non-animated) made by me – who knows! :)


Since this room is already quite gloomy to begin with, it was a bit of a challenge to darken and dull the colors down without everything becoming too dark for the present version. Instead of going too crazy with the darkening effects, I decided to ruin more of the wallpaper around the areas where you’ll run around, having the real wall show through:


After finishing the past version, I added a pair of boxes that block the exit to the right. In this version however, the boxes are moved (since you enter the room in this timeline) and instead block your path to the top part of the room. To get there, you’ll need to complete the phase shift puzzle!


And yes, for those who noticed the difference between the Past and Present version: we decided to change the design of the left platform a little, as the previous version was a little hard to read for some people. The previous version is to the left, the new version to the right:


Next, after Fred finished adding some NPCs to the inn (left), I took over and added some props that I thought would suit them:


The girl on the right is a bit underage, so instead of drinking she’s having a meal while studying hard to become a Collector like her sister (which will also be added to the table later on). Faita, the sword teacher from the first zone, is kind of drowning her disbelief at being second best at everything with a glass of unnamed alcohol (or is it soda?) ;)

Meanwhile, instead of cleaning up the bar, Montbel the owner (who isn’t present in the picture) has left all kinds of bottles and bowls on it for visual effect. ‘Aint he nice?

Speaking of NPCs, Fred has kept working on adding more of them to Tai Ming’s second zone, so here’s another bunch:


Finally, let’s end the week with a portrait! I actually forgot I still had two more to make for the second Tai Ming zone. Guess I got a little bit too excited about starting to make backgrounds for Puzzle World!


This guy is a hat salesman, having his shop set up outside the ancient Collector’s HQ. Like the hat salesman in Evergrind City, he has a kind of elegance to him! I guess it comes with the job, huh?