Hello guys! The weeks rush by and we’re already at the end of January. This week Teddy finally got his screencap softare back up and running on his new setup, so here’s a fresh video featuring a very early prototype of Zhamla’s summoning phase:

None of these graphics are final, nor is the actual pattern. For one, we’re a bit underwhelmed with the cloud’s presence and are currently thinking of ways to spice it up a bit. One such idea is adding a special chain lightning attack to Zhamla’s cloud, an idea that was quickly illustrated by Fred here:

Nothing set in stone just yet though!

Otherwise, the animations continue on – Fred has finished up Zhamla’s base attack animations and done some more work on Frosty Foe:

This has been a busy week! Progress is coming along on the final cutscenes and battles (not much to show there due to spoilers, though), and I’ve finished up some more of those final bits and pieces, this time some season decoration for one of those last puzzle rooms (to make it more clear which season you’re in):

I’ve also started working a bit on that Secrets of Grindea Visual Novel we mentioned a long time ago. ‘Why in the world are they making a visual novel?’, you might ask. A Visual Novel is, after all, quite a leap from an action RPG!

So, what’s a visual novel?

If you’re unfamiliar with the genre, a Visual Novel is a game genre where most of the story is told through text or dialogue and where the player’s main interaction is choosing what to say or do in certain situations. In doing so, the player transforms the story and the fate of those involved in it depending on their choices.

A lot of Visual Novels involve romance, but not all.

Aviary Attorney, a visual novel and one of the best games in existence, if you ask me.

While it’s true that our main focus within Pixel Ferrets has been (and probably still will be) top-down Pixel Art games, this as of yet untitled Visual Novel won’t exactly be a Pixel Ferret game. In fact, that’s the reason why I’m making this – I’ve more or less finished all there is for me to do on Secrets of Grindea save bug testing and updating already existent graphic assets. Fred and Teddy, on the other hand, still have a number of things they need to finish and this leaves me with with quite a bit of time before we can start discussing our next project together.

And so, we’ve decided that instead of twiddling my thumbs I’ll start making this visual novel and we’ll see how far along I can come before they’re done. If I manage to finish it before we start the next project, it’ll be released as a companion piece to the Secrets of Grindea world, and if not, I’ll continue working on it on my free time until it is completed.

I picked the Visual Novel genre because it’s very heavily reliant on graphics and writing, which happen to be what I enjoy the most. It also doesn’t need as much programming knowledge as the more technically complex action RPG genre, and as such, I should be able to make most of this game on my own while Teddy and Fred finish up SoG.

I’m actually super excited to get started on this for real. That feeling when you start a new project is exhilarating to say the least; all those opportunities of where to go and what to do within each new story!

Well, what would you guys like to see from a Secrets of Grindea Visual Novel?

If you’d like to read more about the Visual Novel progress or read up on my other work (as well as get art/writing/gamedev tips & inspiration and pictures of the office cats and chickens (yes, we have 4 chickens now)), I’ve reopened my blog again – in fact, the above text is a copy-paste of a post from there.

We’re not sure whether any more Visual Novel progress will be shared here – after all, it’s quite a different game. What would you guys prefer?

Until next time :)

This week I’ve been finishing up the puzzle room – which first of all meant adding a couple smaller details, such as this wooden part that is whole in the past and broken in the present:

Speaking of past and present, the room background needed a proper broken down present version, so here’s that as well:

We’ve also been playing around with making the map indoor rather than outdoor:

Would you guys prefer it to be in the skies or inside a proper room?

Another thing we’ve been working on in regards to the puzzle room is the effect of clearing the rooms. Here’s some of the progress, where we went from a season change-like effect to something closer to the shattering of a mirror! Note that the proper graphics for this haven’t been made yet, but you’ll get an idea of the concept:

We’ve also been discussing the Ending Theme song(s), as it’s high time to send out sound and music requests to our awesome sound and music designers, giving them some time to work on this before release. I’m very interested to hear what they come up with, as I’m sure you are too! As a reminder, the sound effects are made by Fark and the music by Lucky Lion Studios, both awesome people we’re so happy to have along for this adventure!

The main focus this week continous to be endgame stuff, boss polish and cutscenes, but since the progress on those is a bit more abstract to show, let’s take a look at another one of the puzzle backgrounds instead:

This puzzle room features a whole lot of phase shifting mixed with twilight! You saw a prototype of this puzzle a few weeks ago, but now it finally has a proper background as well :)

Fred has also spent some time on the puzzles, creating a “mirror core” you need to crush in each of the puzzle rooms in order to progress further! Here’s the progress of that project, from early sketches to finished version:

 

Next week it’s time to reveal the background for the third and final puzzle! Stay tuned! :)

Another week and more ending related progress! This time, let’s have a look at one of the puzzle backgrounds, inspired by the early arena:

In this room you’ll deal with three classical block puzzles, one of which is the older, more difficult version of the one that appears in the arena! Those of you who have played the game way back may remember it – it was later replaced by an easier version that better fit those early parts of the game.

The main focus for Teddy and Fred is the cutscenes, so let’s have a little preview of one of the last cutscenes of Arcade Mode! First, an early prototype:

Then, adding some more details:

We weren’t entirely happy with how the hand looked, and felt the whole composition looked a little lame, so we played around with another setup:

Leading, finally, to this version:

This week we’ll continue working on the final backgrounds, the production booklet and the remaining cutscenes! Almost there :)

We’re back guys! Seriously, having a couple weeks off has been great and we’re now super excited to get back to work and finish this game up! Thank you for being so understanding and supporting us throughout these years – what a journey it’s been, and still is. Now as we’re drawing closer and closer to the end, it’s time to start taking a look at one of the final battles – the one with your own dad. We’ve been working on a bunch of attacks for him, so let’s have a peek:

No Grindea boss is ever really complete without having to dodge a bunch of stuff, am I right? So to start off, he’ll have one attack featuring Amalet and his annoying energy orbs, while you also have to dodge that annoying sword you just found out about.

Speaking of said sword, it’s sure out to get you, and has a bunch of attacks of it’s own – here with the aid of a Gaantlet teleport:

Some more dodging action:

And Gaantlet creating ice fields to make this battle even more difficult, oof:

The attack above looks a little wonky as it’s been recorded in 30 fps – don’t worry, it’s gonna look a lot better in the actual game with the actual graphics.

And here’s a little sequence featuring the attacks we have so far in various patterns, giving you a little preview of what parts of this fight might look like:

All WIP still, of course! In Fred’s department, he’s been busy making the proper animations for the attacks we’ve come up with this far, so here we have a couple of them:

Next up, I’ll be working on the final backgrounds, the last few puzzles and the last couple boss portraits! So close now :)

Work on the tower continues with a bunch more backgrounds. First, some new elevators for that barrage attack where enemies from various areas will appear at once!

These elevators will feature a Collector’s HQ setting as they’ll show the Black Ferrets, who you last fought over there:

Next, the top of the tower, allowing you to finally exit all of it:

Teddy’s been working on some more puzzle ideas, so here’s a little sneak peek of one we’re fairly certain will make it into the game as one of the three challenges:

I won’t go into the details of how it works as you’ll have to solve it for yourself… But we think it’s gonna be nice, involving time rifts and season swapping!

Speaking of season swapping, as work on the cutscenes continue we’ve utilized the season change effect to transform the Shadow Slime elevators into its Pumpkin Woods themed counterpart:

This is just one of the many small details we’ve been adding and working on in the cutscene department – those things take a lot of time. But hopefully, it’ll all be worth it and look super cool in the end!

Next week and the one after we’ll be taking a little bit of a summer break in order to spend some time with friends and family. Therefore, the next blog post will be available on July 18th, when we’re back in the office! Stay tuned until then :)

The next thing on our to-do list for the final dungeon is a little puzzle section. Yes, originally we said it’ll just be a boss rush, but for pacing’s sake and because a lot of your wanted some variation, we’ve decided to add just a little something – basically, you’ll end up on a floor where the mirror spawns three different rooms which you’ll have to complete in order for the elevator to continue moving. Of course, this means we’ve thought a lot about various puzzle ideas recently, and while none are completely set in stone yet we think we have a couple nice ingredients to make interesting puzzles.

One involves a clock of sorts that automatically changes what season is in a room in fixed intervals, so after being winter for a set time, it’ll change automatically to spring, and so on. This means you’ll need to time what you do before the season is changed again.

This could for instance work with a phase shift puzzle with obstacles that change depending on the season – for instance, a waterfall you can bounce off of when it’s frozen in winter or mirror blocks with large plants growing on top of them that wither and fall down to block the mirrors in autumn and winter.

Another idea, this one by Fred, involving winds and water:

We’d also like to have another puzzle like the one in Puzzle World back in Tai Ming, with statues in the past that you can move and that break and fall in different direction in the present.

Yet another idea is a puzzle with a Lost Ship type mask that flies in a circle with season orbs, and in order to solve the puzzle you need the mask to hit the season orbs in the right order by going back and forth into the spirit world.

And here’s another Phase shift idea, illustrated by Fred:

The puzzles are still in the idea stage, as you can see – so don’t hesitate to share any ideas you have for what you’d like to see in this final puzzle section of the game!

Now, these puzzles need proper backgrounds as well, and to start things off I’ll be making the “hub room” from which you’ll reach the three different puzzles:

In the version above, doors have been added by the Mirror through his magic! But in order for them to appear, we needed a version of the hub without them added as well, so here’s what the floor will look like before the mirror transforms it with his magic:

Steadily moving towards the top of the tower! Almost there now :D

Another week and more stuff keeps happening in the tower! Last week, we took a look at the boss summonings, which looked something like this:

However, after some discussions we decided to change the timings around a bit and add the elevator parts after the Mirror’s lines as opposed to before it, making it a bit more of a surprise which boss will appear next – so here’s the updated version:

To start with, we weren’t in agreement of which one was better, but in the end I think all of us have been convinced to go with this second version. Which one do you guys prefer?

Next up, we’ve been working on a bit of a mix sequence, where you’ll basically have to survive a barrage of attacks from various bosses throughout the game, making sure even more of them show up in this final part of the game. Let’s have a look at some of what we have so far:

Of course, the graphics are will a work in progress, the proper elevators, particularly for the Black Ferrets, will be added soon.

Speaking of new graphics though, there’s still a couple backgrounds left to make, so let’s have a look for the one that will feature in the Mimic battle:

Brings back old memories of Tai Ming, hopefully!

Fred’s busy making the proper glass-like graphics for each of the bosses and characters, so here’s a little sneak peek of two more:

And meanwhile, Teddy’s been busy with some programming that’s not exactly related to the game per se. As we may have mentioned ages ago, the game will not only release on Steam but will feature on GOG as well – so as we’re drawing ever close to completion, it’s time to start looking into implementing their stuff, making highscores and the like work on their platform as well. So, not much game progress – but still progress towards the release!

This week I thought we’d take a look at a bunch of the cutscenes we’ve been working on! Cutscenes are probably one of the most time consuming things for us to make, as it takes a lot of coordination between especially the programming and animation side of things, and there’s tons of small things that need to fit together to make them work.

In the final dungeon, there will be some minor cutscenes between each of the bosses, and here’s some of our WIPs this far!

We’ll start with taking a look at the intro of the boss himself, the mirror:

After that it’s time to summon the first boss, a shadow version of Giga Slime! Here we can take a proper look at the finished summoning animation as well:

Much the same happens for the next boss summoning, although here we’re thinking we want the grass to change rather than the elevators being replaced, so some changes might be in order:

Another fitting rhyme before your fight against two Phasemen:

Followed by a bit more epic appearance of the GUN-D4M!

In other exciting news, the sound effects have started to get added, courtesy of our lovely sound designer Fark! Here’s a little sneak peek of what things will sound like very soon:

And of course, a couple updates from Fred’s department. Here we have some shiny mirror versions of a bunch of enemies, and another animation featuring Zhamla:

Next week, it’s time for some new backgrounds and more final dungeon stuff! Stay tuned :)