So, with the final dungeon drawing ever closer and closer, we’ve been sitting down and going through a whole bunch of the floor designs we made a couple months back. As you know from before, this has lead to a couple of very basic sketches for the first couple floors, which I’m about to define even more in the coming weeks.

But we’ve also been going through the dungeon as a whole, or at least the first half of it or so, and we’ve come to a design decision I think will make this dungeon better than our original idea. In our old plans, we had a lot of “filler” rooms with various smaller challenges that were only partly designed. Now, our focus will be on slimming down the floors and mainly keeping the main challenges, such as the boss fights. The reason for this is that we feel it’s likely that the final dungeon will feel strong enough without a lot of filler content, and that the ones that weren’t there for story or pacing reasons, or are simple not designed enough, could be added afterwards if we feel we need more rooms. This way we can focus on the strong parts, and easily add more stuff later on, instead of starting out with a lot of rooms that fill no real purpose and may end up getting cut anyway.

As such, the flying fortress floor for instance will go from having one dodging challenge, a phase shift challenge and a boss fight with two phase men and gun-d4m, to now only having the fight with two phasemen and gun-d4m. This might seem like a downgrade to some, but given the fact that each area is represented with its own floor, we do think that this dungeon will feel long enough anyway! And keep in mind that if we feel more rooms are needed, we can always add them back in when the rest is done.

After making these changes we already feel like the dungeon feels stronger as a whole design wise. Of course, we’re also making an effort to keep in the things that give the game personality, such as the cameos from characters you’ve met throughout the game.

With this in mind, we’re now more excited than ever to continue designing this final part of Story Mode, which will tie it all together :)

This week we continue doing some archery challenge backgrounds as well! Let’s have a look at three more floors:

And here we have the last bunch:

Next up we have backgrounds for the archery challenges as well! These backgrounds are a lot of fun and a bit weird to make since I need to mimic a child’s style of painting to the best of my ability..:

In Fred’s department, he’s been busy making a ton of archery targets! Have a look at these:

Whew! That’s a lot of archery related stuff!

Now, thanks to finally being vaccinated and not having had much proper time off this 1½ year or so that we’ve been dealing with the pandemic, I’m gonna go ahead and treat myself to two weeks off to enjoy life for a little bit! The blog will be back up and running on the 16th of August after I’ve been back at the office for a full week, so stay tuned for more stuff then :)

Until then, have a nice couple weeks, I will for sure!

Moving on with the interface improvements, we’re not gonna take a look at the options menu! This one is the most basic one, but also the one in the most need of a slight upgrade in my opinion:

A bit more clear? We’ll continue working with this a little bit more… So in the same vein, the controls menu:

Next in our quest to make things a bit more clear and easily read, we decided to make a version of the options menu featuring screenshots (not that the ones provided below are samples to showcase the general design):

This way you’ll more readily see how your various settings affect the game without having to close the menu and trying them out for yourself!

With us deciding to go for the icons rather than the text versions, it’s time to make some slight adjustments to the designs of the journal section, where the icons will only be in a single row:

Note also the changes in the Trophies section, where we’ve decided to do away with the title part, making it fit the other designs a bit more!

Meanwhile in Fred’s department, we have some more sneak peeks of what to come: more grindea fighting and some desert fishes for the aquarium!

Next up, we’re playing around with some other types of icons for the Talent & Skill menu, with a magic orb as the magic indicator and a star for the utility icon. We’re also considering a third option for the magic icon, with an old diagonal wizard staff. What do you guys think?

Now, time to give some more of those icons a colour wash! Here they are in their before and after states:

And now, time for the next menu to be redesigned: the quest info pages! Let’s have a look:

With the text menu being replaced by icons, we wanted to make a more easily read headline available on the left side for each category, so it’ll be quicker to learn which one does what. Currently, we’ve only had a headline for the main category, such as ‘Journal’, with the character box beneath it and another info box below that – however we feel like it’s very rare for people to even pay attention to what’s beneath the character box, and so moving things around might make the menu a bit more easier to understand. Hence:

I wouldn’t say it looks quite as nice graphically, but I do agree that this way it’ll definitely be easier to see and understand what category you’re on. What do you guys think?

Meanwhile, in Fred & Teddy’s corner, Fred’s been continuing on with Grindea animations! Here’s another sneak peek of that, featuring a running animation:

Teddy has also been hard at work, and besides more Arcade Mode stuff, he’s been spending some time optimizing the loading times of the game! Take a look at this before and after:





With these optimizations, we hope a lot of loading times will be removed, giving you a much more smooth experience while playing the game :)

Over on the very small super early betas, the next update is already up and running now, featuring the new books! One thing we decided to add is proper book fronts, which look something like this:

Sample of the actual text in the game:

And here we have some of the text with some of the color variations:

We’ll be adding more book covers as well! By the time the game is finished, I would like to have more variations, but for now the main difference will be the color:

Next, we’ll be upgrading the look of the map interface, seeing as we’ve been adding a bunch of new maps recently! Let’s take a look:

This is a bit more streamlined, and allows you to see more maps on each page!

We’re also adding a different way of showing the maps, namely a pop out function which shows you the map on a piece of paper! This is what it’ll look like:

Give it more of a map-y feel, doesn’t it? :)

Now it’s time to upgrade another interface! Let’s take a look at the good old quest part of the journal and see how we can improve it:

With this new setup, active and completed quests only need one menu, and whether a quest is active or finished will depend on whether they’re gold or silver colored, just like in the Trophy section! I also upgraded each of the quest indicator images while I was at it. What do you guys think? :)

In Fred’s (and Teddy’s) department, we’re playing around with some light effects for that Grindea sprite! Below you can see some tests, as well as a palette swap – it won’t be used the way it looks there, but it shows how we pretty easily can swap her colours around if we need to during the fight, for effect purposes :)

First up this week, editing that enemy info page a bit, allowing for larger numbers in each of the categories:

Another seed is on the way, through which you can grow a very strange plant indeed… Let’s take a look:

After some consideration of the previous version, we decided to swap it around:

And now, for the seed:

And all of the usual interface bits needed for you to grow this thing:

And now, something that’s been a long time coming: new haircuts! Remember the locked ones? Well they won’t be locked much longer, as we intend to fill up the remaining haircut slots – or at least add a bunch more of them. Here’s the first batch:

Remember how started improving the inventory menu a while back, preparing for the categories to be icons rather than text? Well, it’s finally time to start making those icons!

In this first test, I went for a monochrome look, but we’re not sure whether it’s the best way to go – perhaps it’s better to bring in a bit more colour to the menu, giving each icon a colour of its own. What do you guys think?

And here we have another option, the icons in colour! Which one do you prefer?

I personally feel a bit torn, since the monochrome one looks a bit less messy and more stylish, but it’s also nice to bring in more colour to the menu! It’s possible we’ll keep on iterating these options, or go for a mix of some sort, perhaps having the category you’re currently on show in colour. We’ll see!

Meanwhile, Fred has been doing some more work on Grindea! Here’s some of his WIP sketches:

…And Teddy’s been adding my personal favourite feature in a long time! Lizards in your house!! How cute isn’t this?

On to the next mission, making drop appearances for each of the potted plants! First batch here:


And here’s the second batch:


And now it’s time to take a look at the new interface where you’ll be able to choose which of your seeds to plant! Going for a pretty minimalistic and streamlined design here, this interface will only show the seed, how much it costs to pot it, what sort of pot and plant it’ll result in and how much money you have!

I made two versions of this interface, one with static colours which you can see above, and one where the colours are different for each seed, seen here below:

And here’s the rest of the colours, in case we decide to go for the second version:

Which one do you prefer?

Next we have another portrait, of another of the veteran collectors we’re adding:



As for Fred, he’s been busy potting a lot of plants! Here you can see a whole bunch of them in their housing forms, including a jumpkin for which I haven’t made a proper pot yet:

Now, time to get back to work and what better way to start off a new work week after a week’s holiday than to make the first pieces of a whole new system? These seeds (appropriately enough, since it’s spring time over here and I just spent pretty much the entire vacation outside managing the garden) will drop from all the greenery inspired enemies in the game, letting you plant them in your own home! Let’s take a look:

I’ve also made all the preparations for the first such plant, namely the Power Flower, whose seed you can already get after defeating it in Story Mode:

Of course, we also needed some drop appearance, both for the potted and the ..unpotted versions:

Next up, time to make some more potted plants! Without further ado:

And here we have the full lineup, both with and without the actual plants:

We’ll also add some kind of sprout to these for when you’ve planted a seed and it’s starting to grow, at which point examining it will give you an estimate of how far off it is from turning into an actual plant!

And now, back to doing something I haven’t done in a little while, which is a new portrait! This is for one of the new older generation collectors you’ll find in the HQ at some point:

Meanwhile in Fred’s department, we see a sneak peek of a couple new things for the stable update: a couple shields, a sprout, and an idle animation for one of the veteran collectors:

Now that we’ve been back a while and gotten back into the groove of working, we thought it was high time to have a meeting about what we’re gonna do the next bunch of weeks! As you know, the frontline patch has been released and we’re currently working on stuff for the stable version of the same. As such we went over what things will be added, and had a few unexpected ones added to the list as well!

First up, as mentioned before, we’ll add a book series by Penn Wrythe, that you’ll find parts of throughout the game. The final part will only be written after you’ve answered a couple questions asked by the writer herself, meaning you’ll determine the ending. We haven’t yet started working on this, but it’ll be done in one of the coming weeks.

We’re also finally adding the final bunch of haircuts, giving you a bunch of new selections! We’ll also make it possible to choose from the opposite gender’s haircut pool.

A redesign of the enemy codex is gonna happen – to be honest, we’ll probably redesign most of the menu, parts of which you’ve already seen, but for now the enemy codex redesign is the only one we’re certain will make it into the stable update. Our aim here is making it look a bit more pleasing visually as well as adding a few more things, such as the plant enemy seeds! We haven’t yet decided if the seeds are gonna function like a normal drop in the codex, or if there will be a plant icon somewhere indicating that this is an enemy type that drops seeds. Both these options come with their own pros and cons, and as of yet we haven’t really made any final decision on how to handle it – but it’ll get ironed out in a meeting at a later date.

Other than these things we still have the other things mentioned previously such as the seed system and the basement beneath the church in Port Monnaie, most of which has already been finished!

Now, on to more work, got a lot left to do this week :D

Today we’ve had a meeting talking about various improvements for the game as a whole. One such thing we’ve been meaning to add for a while is a proper loading screen before the game starts up: on some computers the game can take a little bit to start (we’re working on making this quicker as well!) and so it’s really nice to be able to get confirmation that you actually pressed the button in the first place.

As such, we’ve decided to add a little splash screen followed by the customary Pixel Ferrets logo (as well as our sound design teams logos) before a (hopefully) short load screen will appear until the game has properly loaded. Adding the splash picture and the logos should give the game most of the time it needs to start up everything it needs, so adding those will likely come with the added benefit of the game feeling like it’s starting up a bit quicker than it actually does as well (haha..)

We’ve also made the decision to upgrade some more menus: you already saw our work on the Trophies menu redesign last week, and we’ll continue to work on giving most of the in-game menus an upgraded look that fits better with the game’s overall aesthetic as well as work better overall – some just haven’t been streamlined enough, or have issues with the game’s various translations. More on that later!

Another thing we’ve been discussing but won’t be added until later on, if at all, is lobby systems, where you can host your game in a public listing, allowing strangers to join you from the game menu itself. While this is a neat feature for players who don’t have friends playing the game and who do not want to join a community in finding players in a similar ping distance, we feel like people are managing just fine for now and that adding it would be better left to after release, if it’s even needed then. We’ll see!

Now, let’s start work on some of the smaller menu improvements. In this post, I’ll mainly be looking at adding some flavour to the box on the left, where you can read a description of the part of the menu you’re currently in. With this new addition, you’ll get a more proper headline than the one in use right now, which is just more of the same boring white text.

We’re also adding a reward box to the trophies menu on the info box to the right, where you can easily see what you’ll get for finishing up the achievement in question. While this wasn’t totally needed, we felt it’s nice for people to be able to know the reward, so they can decide if they wanna pursue a specific trophy over the rest.

In that same box, we’re also adding another proper headline – although we’re not entirely sure it’ll look in this exact way yet, since it takes up a lot of space and we might need all we can get in order to fit the lengthier descriptions.

As a bonus, while I’m in the world of interface, here’s a little GIF featuring a battle indicator used for Bishop’s boss battle:

Okay, so time for us to take a look at that loading screen I mentioned previously! First of all, here we have the splash art that will appear before anything else. This won’t have the ‘windowed’ look, but will simply appear for a short while before the actual game window pops up:

Once the game window starts, you’ll be greeted with the familiar Pixel Ferrets logo, as mentioned before:

Followed by the three teams that have helped us bring the world of Grindea together in terms of sound effects and music:

Once that is out of the way, you’ll be greeted with the actual load screen. It’ll start like this, completely covered in clouds, but once the game finishes loading, the clouds will part ways and the pre-game menu will be revealed. To the left in this load screen, we’ll also have a random backer’s names show up as thanks for helping us get this far:

A gif showing how it all plays out once the actual game window starts can be seen here (although my computer already properly loaded the game, so there’s not much of a load screen going on here haha):

Now, some of these things are a bit placeholder-y, one of them being the fonts and overall design of the texts used. For example, I’m not too fond of the readability in the sound design teams part of the load screen, with it being on two rows and a bit hard to read overall:

So I made a couple suggestions making it look a bit more streamlined and less in your face:

For the cloudy load screen part, there was a bit of a font issue as well. Here’s what it looked like before:

And here are some suggested improvements, with this first one being my personal favourite (although we haven’t made any final decisions regarding which one we’ll pick yet):

Finally, with this new load screen appearing, I felt like the old in-game load screen between areas look a bit lame (it was one of the very first things we added to the game, after all!) so I made a little mockup of what a new version could look like, tying back to the pre-game load screen we’re implementing right now:

The text on the left will be replaced by the usual gameplay tips, I just didn’t have them on hand so I picked a random rat fact for now! The idea is that the clouds will be floating slowly across the sky, with possibly the occasional bird flying across – although hopefully the game won’t load for so long between areas that you’ll have to spend any longer amounts of time looking at it haha!

Meanwhile, Fred is working on adding and animating some new NPCs, namely the priest and apprentice that will appear in the church in Port Monnaie, as well as giving Bokus the ability to read and turn the pages of his book:

New week, new improvements! We wanted to make the Bishop boss portrait look a bit more creepy, so I did a bit of an paintover to adjust just that:

We’ve also made some additions around the card room, adding frames for each card to the wall, as well a a proper entrance (bye bye dragon floor and puzzle stuff):

With us finally deciding the visuals for the floating isle that will be the final Arcade Mode room, it was high time to add that and Arcadia itself to the world map (proper layout of the isles yet to be decided):

And speaking of the floating isle in question, I’ve started working on that as well! Here’s as far as I’ve gotten as of yet, more work to come:

Finally, Fred makes some progress with cleaning up the Bishop’s animations (have a little sneak peek), as well as adding some light effects to the cards in the card cave, which will illustrate how many cards you’ve collected thus far:

This week we’ve been talking about the fifth floor on your journey to the top of the tower! This floor will be all about the Temple of Seasons, and will begin in a wintery area in the woods, where you’ll walk through a corridor of trees that part and walk off to the sides to reveal a path before you, all while fae dart back and forth (just to set the tone a bit). This path will eventually lead you to the Temple of Seasons entrance, where the actual floor will begin.

You’ll enter a Temple of Seasons room that’s currently winter, but thankfully, Naniva appears and helps you by turning the room into spring, allowing you to enter one of three doors. This door leads to a fight or puzzle room yet to be decided, where you end up rescuing Autumn. Once you return to the first room, she will then turn it into autumn, revealing a second door leading to another fight/puzzle room where your goal is to rescue Summer. If you succeed in this and return to the first room he will turn the room into its summer version, allowing you to pass through the final door.

In this final room, you’ll battle an enraged version of the Hydra, summoned by the mirror guardian of the tower. This version of the Hydra has one more head, representing spring, thus you’ll have to battle the four seasons all at once! We haven’t decided exactly what the spring head will do yet, but one suggestion is that it’ll cause loads of bushes to grow in the area, serving either as an obstacle for you or something that will deal damage as well (by the addition of thorns). Another suggestion for a super move the hydra can make here is to turn the room into all seasons at once, using all of their powers for a short while… >:)

As for the puzzle/battle rooms, we haven’t made any fixed plans, but we’re playing around with the idea of having a special enemy in the shape of a rainbow orb, that will appear and turn the room into all seasons – only once you defeat the orb it’ll go back to normal, so until you do the rest of the enemies will be in their elite versions. We don’t want these rooms to be too complex, seeing as there’s still a ton of rooms to go through, but I think so far we have a good balance. Let’s see where the next floors take us :)

In Arcade Mode, we need a room you’ll get to once you finish the Ghost Ship, where you’ll get some sort of reward – and, if you’re powerful enough, you’ll get the chance to transcend into one final floor where an epic final boss battle awaits!

So, I’ve been making a couple of suggestions for what this room could look like, and this first one is inspired by what I’d like the final floor to look like – otherworldly, up in the sky, on floating isles with other floating isles in the distance having statues or parts of statues of Grindea on them:

The second idea is a throwback to Bishop’s realm where you’ll be battling him in Story Mode, a grim and dark realm.. In this version, the doors of the temple will open either to an intense glowing light or straight up to the sky, if you should have enough power to get there… :)

While I was sketching that room, I also went ahead and made some suggestions for the average room design in case we’d end up making regular rooms in that final floor you’ll only get to with the right power level, looking something like this:

We’ve also been talking a lot about what the final tower dungeon would look like for those that aren’t under the mirror’s influence, so I’ve been playing around with ideas for that as well. Here’s one such suggestion, featuring a lot of mirrors on an otherwise gray tower setting:

There’s a big possibility we’ll redesign or at least change the colours of the tower exterior now that we have a better idea of what the inside involves, but we’ll figure that out once we’ve completely decided on a design for the interior :)

Now, one of the many things Teddy has been working on recently has been adding a bunch of smaller cutscenes and fixes for the various new quests. One such thing is having Bishop appear during the Ghost Ship quest for a short while, and to make his appearance look as good as possible we went through a bunch of iterations. Here you can see our progress, going from pretty crude, to working our way to a more polished version:

Most things we implement go through a bunch of iterations like these, which goes to show implementing the first idea you have just the way you imagine it isn’t always the best bet :)

Meanwhile, Fred has been working on not only Bishop but Grindea herself as well: