Finally, after many twists and turns (and a ton of housing items), we’ve managed to make a somewhat playable test build of the housing system, which we’ve started testing within the team!

Without further ado, here’s a bunch of GIFs, featuring the most basic features (changing wallpaper/floor texture, adding basic furniture, creating carpets, changing the style of an item, and placing items on top of each other):

And here are some of our (not very creative) test houses:

Since this is the very first steps on creating a fully functional housing system, there were a ton of things we needed to discuss, and a bunch of changes we definitely have to make!

In order to plan all of that, we decided to have a looong meeting at our favorite fast food place (as usual). Immediately there were a bunch of things we decided had to change (or be added), and here’s some of them:

* More house layouts, and varying sizes. From the beginning we thought it’d be enough to use this one layout, but we quickly felt not only did it feel a bit big, it’s also a little boring to only be able to work with a single open space room. We also felt it was a little big. So, there will be an option to change between a set of house layouts, with a smaller room and multiple rooms available.

* A character who creates duplicates of unique housing items you already own. For obvious reasons! Unlike the items you buy in the store (where you can buy as many items as you like), there are unique items out there which you’ll only be able to find one of. In order to be able to place more of these in your house, you’ll be able to make duplicates of them – either at the regular store guy or through another NPC.

* We’ll look into making the area around your house a little bigger so there can be some kind of decorations surrounding it rather than it being placed in the middle of nowhere (well, in the middle of Evergrind) just like that.

* A furniture section should probably be added to your character’s inventory menu.

* The hand tool (which is used to move furniture around or delete it), is currently a long basic line/beam, and will be replaced with a pointing hand.

* The option to flip an item horizontally will be added to items where that feature makes sense, such as the pick-axe

* A mini-icon for furniture items that have more than one style. Styles are various skins of an object, and can be a color change or detail change in some way. For example, a bookcase might have different sets of shelves or stacks of items you can pick between.In order to make it more clear which items have more than one style, we’d like to add one of those tiny icons (like the 1H/2H/housing item icons in the main menu), only visible in the housing menu.

* When you place an item you have more than one copy of, you’re able to keep placing more of it until you run out of that particular item. Currently, what happens after you’ve placed your final item of that kind is that you’ll get automatically moved back to the menu again.

This, we quickly realized, felt a bit jarring, so next we’ll try adding a sound indicating you’ve run out of the item when you try to place another one, forcing you to cancel back into the menu rather than automatically getting there. This might seem counter productive, as it means you’ll have to press an extra button before being able to select your next piece of furniture, but we believe it’ll be less annoying then the jarring feeling of going from moving objects around to changing between new objects in the menu.

* Visual- and sound effects for placing and deleting objects in your house. An outline around the currently selected object. A better icon for the wallpaper section, which currently can be mistaken for a floor texture. Sound effect and visual feedback when you try to delete an item you currently can’t remove (for instance if it has other items on top of it).

* The currently not used star menu will be replaced with a settings menu, where you’ll be able to save your current house, change between different lightning settings and house layouts and other things we might think of.

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…Aaand a bunch of other small things. As you can tell, when we add a new system things are far from perfect the first time around, and the only way of getting to that polished state is to change and add things until it feels nice :)

Once these things have been added we’ll try the system out again and reevaluate!

Speaking of housing, when we planned the housing batches and I made them, there was one thing we had completely forgotten about: carpets! Now that I’m done with each of the batches up to the point of the game where we’re currently at, we decided it was time to go back and add something to stick on the floor for most of the areas (we felt it wasn’t necessary to include in each and every one, and Temple of Seasons already have a bunch of floor decorations!)

In the Pumpkin Woods batch, there will be two carpets, one that has a static size with moons, and one that you can change the size of to fit your needs (second one from the right).

In the Flying Fortress batch, there won’t be a carpet, but a “big item” that you can put on the ground where you can see the sky below.

In Seasonne, there’s a red christmas-y carpet matching the tablecloths of the batch, which you’re also able to change the size of.

Mount Bloom will have a static sized moss carpet, and in Tai Ming, there’s the red and beige carpet that you’re used to seeing inside the houses, but with a slightly adjusted pattern so it’s possible to change the size of it:

And to end this week, something more simple and straight forward: new portraits!

You might wonder where we could possible need more people right now, but aside from pretty much everywhere (or at least everywhere in Evergrind City!), the answer lies in the desert town you’ll soon be heading towards.

I figured it’s better to start making portraits now and make a few every week, than to do everything else until I end up having to spend weeks doing nothing but portraits when it’s time to finally add them! Makes for more varied blog posts, anyway.

So, first up, here’s a tourist girl, enjoying the nice weather of the yet-unnamed harbor town:

And her companion: a tourist boy!

Finally(!) we are happy to announce that Stable has received the long awaited update, introducing Tai Ming in its entirety to those of you who haven’t opted into the frontline updates! A quick rundown of what to expect in this patch can be found here.

Naturally, since we’ve spent most of our time last week preparing for the update, those of you who have played it might have already seen the following things. For some new housing items and a design question we’d like your input on, scroll to the bottom of this post!

First up though: when we talked about adding new items to the shops, we totally forgot about one pretty important store: the hat salesman! Because of this I went ahead and made a bunch of random hats for him:

We hadn’t really discussed exactly what hats would be available in this store, so it’s possible we’ll move things around and have some (or all?) of these somewhere else before the game is done. There are a bunch of hats available that haven’t been placed somewhere in the game yet, so if we feel any of them fit better we’ll just swap them out. In either case, there can never be too many hats, right?

Next up, the final Merchant Isles visitor to join the group in Tai Ming:

This guy has traveled far in hopes of selling things in Tai Ming, however since he won’t be let into the town itself (several years waiting time and all that), he’ll have to settle for something else…

As we draw close to releasing the stable version of Tai Ming, there’s – as usual – a bunch of tiny fixes needed as well.

First up: as you might remember, we talked about whether you’d be able to move a puzzle block to solve a puzzle in the middle of the Mimic battle. After our first discussion, we said it’d be possible to solve it mid-battle, but later on we changed our mind. For reference, here’s the final stage of the boss room, the way it looked before:

And here’s our solution: a bunch of wood that blocks the solution, so you can’t solve it while the battle is raging:

Instead, you’ll have to wait until after the battle, where some of the fire the Mimic spits out cause the wood on the map to burn:

Next, there were some sprites missing for the weapons in the area, which are now properly added, both in their proper animated form and as menu sprites:

Third, we decided to give that newly added Merchant Isles Merchant a couple expressions where he’s a bit bothered by the fact he is not allowed to sell his wares inside Tai Ming:

And finally, we decided that each of these Tai Ming housing paintings will be their own object, purchased separately, and so I made miniatures for them as well:

And now, time for a bigger batch of Tai Ming housing item miniatures!

These are the wall decor items, and there’s quite a few of them as you can see! I’m not sure if these will all be unlocked as part of the Tai Ming batch yet, or if we’ll move things around a bit to even it out between the batches. The three rectangular paintings to the lower right only have one display miniature for now, since I wasn’t sure if they were going to be objects of their own or various styles/skins of the same item:

And finally, something we’d like to ask our players regarding the Tai Ming floors of Arcade Mode!

The Tai Ming Arcade floors poses an interesting challenge that none of the other floors do. After all, Tai Ming is a town, and a town you can explore both in the past and present, so how do we properly convey that over a set of not-overly-decorated rooms where you battle a ton of monsters?

The first thing we decided was that there would have to be enemies in both past and present state rooms: we definitely want to include the time travel aspect in some way, and keeping the past rooms enemy-free (as they are in Story Mode) just isn’t an option.

As for the layout of the floors, we have two options.

Option #1 is to have the Tai Ming floors be about half as long as a regular Arcade Mode floor. That means there will be half the amount of rooms, and your goal is to find a specific room which contains a time rift that allows you to travel forward in time, passing through the rooms once more in another time!

For example, say you begin in past. You battle your way through a set of different rooms, all decorated in Tai Ming’s past style with cherry trees, statues and whatnot. Then you reach a big room, which is empty. This is the boss room, but you’re not yet able to battle the boss because you’re in the wrong time. You go back and find another room containing a time rift which you pass through. Now on your mini map the empty room gets the boss icon, and you start making your way back there.

Now that you’re in a different time, all of the rooms have transformed into Tai Ming’s present state instead, with the statues broken and cherry trees bare. In each room you pass, new enemies will spawn: you essentially battle your way from the portal room back to the boss room you found before. Once you reach the boss room again, you can finally battle the boss and get to the next floor.

There will of course be cases where you find the time rift before you reach the boss room, and in those cases the floor will be shorter than normal, since you don’t have to backtrack through as many rooms.

The upside to this version is that you’ll get to see each room you already went through in its past and present state, and that it makes these floors a bit more unique compared to the other floors of Arcade Mode. The downside is the backtracking, which might not feel as interesting as going through a unique set of rooms, and the fact that you have to find a specific room (the rift room) before you can progress through the floor as usual, which might feel annoying to some people.

Option #2 is a bit more straight forward. This idea is simply that certain rooms have a time rift you pass through as you go between one room and another, so some rooms will be past and some will be present. This means the floor will be the same length as and work in the same way as the other Arcade floors (when you find the boss room, it will always be in the correct timeline and you can battle the boss at once). What rooms will appear and whether they are past or present rooms will be randomly generated by the map rather than you going through a set of past rooms first, which then transform into present rooms.

Perhaps not as interesting mechanically, but might be more so visually (more unique rooms rather than two versions of the same, shorter floor).

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Since we can’t really decide which one we prefer, we’d like to hear what you guys think. Would you prefer Option #1 or Option #2? This game is designed to be enjoyed by our players, so we’re very interested to hear which one of these you’d like to see!

In order to collect your votes, I have made a topic with a poll on our forums! Please cast your vote in THIS THREAD to let us know what you prefer. Thank you :D

As you might expect from the title of this blog, this week we’ll take a look at the desert enemies, mainly designed by our animator Fred~

First up, the Cacute, a basic enemy that mostly minds it own business, jumping around the map. Everytime it makes a jump one or more of its needles shoot out from its body as projectiles, damaging things in its path, so you better keep track of where it’s at!

Next, a much rarer but also way more powerful enemy: the Solem! This sand golem has multiple attacks, one where it slams its fists in front of it, causing shockwaves to do damage, and one charge which works as a combined boar/halloweed charge: it sets its target and moves toward it at great speed underground. Once it reaches its target it grabs him or her and knocks them away!

The third enemy works more like an upgrades Bee enemy, it’s Mrs. Bird:

Much like the bee, this enemy flies out of reach of your regular attacks, and swoops down to attack you every once in a while. Aside from this it has another, interesting mechanic though: it lays eggs! These eggs hatch after a short while, spawning new birds – unless you destroy them first. Destroying them leaves a sticky goo on the ground that slows you, though, so you might be careful what you decide to do with them!

Finally, an enemy that isn’t pictured yet: Orange Slimes! These slimes are more advanced than previous slimes, leaving fire in its wake and attacks by turning into a mini version of Giga Slime’s saw (though only for a short distance)!

And now, time to complete that sailor guy’s portrait:

He’s been charged with helping a merchant deliver goods to Tai Ming, and as you might be able to tell from his expression he’s not exactly thrilled to be forced from the sea!

And here’s the second sailor, helping the first unloading some crates filled with items to be sold in Tai Ming:

Not much to say here, same basic concept, different decorations on the hat. There will probably be a couple of these in Evergrind City at some point as well, plus a bunch in the harbor town that you’ll enter after you pass through the desert. Just to cement the fact that these people are sailors and they are a thing before you actually encounter any enemies with the similar design :)

Here’s fred take on them, unloading the crates in Tai Ming:

We’ll end this week with a second Tai Ming housing miniatures batch! A few left to go… :)

Not much to say here! A bunch of the ‘big items’ from the Tai Ming batch, the crate variations and two different weapon stands are skins you can select for the item when you place it in your house. And below them, the miniatures made in the video:

With the Arcade Mode rework drawing closer, we sat down to iron out more of the houses that will be available so I can begin work on the new Arcadia design. We also changed a few things around:

Candy and Muffin were said to have a house in the last Arcade Mode meeting. That has been changed into two vendor stands near the exit to the Arcade Mode run, in order to avoid having to load into a house every time you want to try out new treats or curses.

The Alchemist Remedi will also appear somewhere close to the exit, and like candy and Muffin he will be available without moving into a building, although the exact design of his spot hasn’t been fully decided yet. Remedi will allow you to select one (or multiple, not decided yet) potion(s) to bring with you on your arcade run, and it will work much like the potions in story mode after the rework has been implemented: battling enemies will slowly refill your bottle.

The Bank is something that isn’t available in story mode, so it’s an all-new thing. At the bank you’ll be able to trade in your essence for money, or money for essence!

Master Ji’s Dojo will make an appearance as well, and at this place you’ll be able to train your perfect guard by selecting enemies that will spawn in his training ground. We have plans on having perfect guard challenges here as well, where you have to complete a series of challenges using only your perfect guard and your reward will be headbands in different colors signifying which rank(s) you have passed. This feature might make an appearance in story mode as well!

The Cinema is another feature not available in story mode, and we’re not 100% it will make it to the game yet, although it would be pretty cool. Teddy has been working on a feature that allows you to save replays of your arcade runs, and our idea is that you will be able to load and watch your own and others replay in this building!

The Carpenter will have a shop that sells housing items! Each batch will be unlocked by reaching the corresponding floor in an Arcade Mode run.

Farmer Oak will appear with a petting zoo! He’ll have a set of quests and taming items that will bring animals to Arcadia. Our idea is that it’ll be optional whether the animals are gathered at the petting zoo or if you allow them to roam free in town.

There will also be a Clock Tower where you can change the time of day: initially between day and night but we might add support for dawn and evening as well.

Other than that we have a bunch of decorative slots planned that will help bring in new inhabitants and quests. Some of those ideas include a garden and a fae tree (but plenty of smaller ones as well). We also came up with a couple of quests, but I think we’d rather have you explore those on your own once they’re in the game, rather than have me tell you now what they will be all about!

Next up is some more housing miniatures! Since the Tai Ming-themed ones are sooo many, I’m going to divide them into groups depending on which item type they are. Some batches will be bigger, other smaller. This is one of the smaller batches, featuring the ‘small items’, or things you can stick on tables and other surfaces!

 

Finished sprites below:

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And now, some more design talk! As you might know by now, the next dungeon is going to be a ghost ship. What you might not know, though, is that the ghost ship will be populated with the possessed spirits of sailors from the Merchant Isles.

Since we want the enemies to have a cool design, we wanted the sailors from the Merchant Isles to have a particular look about them, so it’s easy to spot them. Our idea is that you’ll see some of these sailors throughout your travels, and be able to recognize the design when you meet the enemies in the ghost ship.

Fred had a design in mind, so he went on the make a bunch of suggestions:

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After seeing these designs, I made a quick sketch of a portrait version and wrote down a bunch of suggestions for common points among the sailors. The clothing style is basically a toned down version of the ones seen on characters from Merchant Isles that are already in the game: kind of 1700’s pirate/seafarer inspired clothing, only with the sailors it’s in earthy tones rather than the bright noble tones of the merchants we’ve already met.

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In the beginning, our first thought was that each sailor would have a different version of the hats Fred designed, and that the hats would be common among all the people from Merchant Isles, regardless of their occupation. In the end though, we decided against this, and selected a single hat type for all the sailors, as seen below.

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After deciding this, Fred made a bunch of different version of the new hat, as well as a couple edits of the characters clothing, to better fit with the clothing designs of my portrait. In the end, our favorite is the fourth hat from the left, which is likely to be the one we’ll use for all of the sailors.

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There will still be some clothing adjustments before we’re completely satisfied, but this is an example of how me and Fred sometimes work back-and-forth in creating designs, with all three of us coming with feedback and ideas along the way. Next up I’ll actually be making the proper portrait of this guy, who will be one of the additional NPCs added to Tai Ming’s first zone before the Stable Patch :)

This week got cut a little bit short due to Fred’s birthday and us taking a couple days off for easter to spend with friends and family. Next week, there will be another design talk featuring what the desert enemies will look like, and we get to see the finished Merchant Isles portraits (among other things). Stay tuned~

So, Tai Ming has been fully added to frontline: what happens next? Once we’ve polished up Tai Ming for a stable release, there are a ton of things we want to add before moving on to the next area, and many of these will probably get their own Frontline and Stable releases:

1. Housing
We’ve talked about it a lot, and it’s finally on its way! Almost all basic batches are completed, although we’ll keep adding items as we come up with them. All that remains is polishing up the interface and for Teddy to implement like a hundred items…

2. Support Skills
Seeing as there’s only one area and two dungeons left of the game, it’s high time these got implemented. We still haven’t decided 100% which ones they’ll be, but we have a lot of nice ideas that we hope will make things interesting for support players as well. More on this later~

3. The Potion Rework
I mentioned it before, and we definitely want to implement this ASAP as well! Makes potions more interesting.

4. Rebalance
A rebalance of pretty much everything, including giving magic users a tiny bit of range for their normal attacks.

5. Arcade Mode Rework + New Floors
As we’ve talked about before on the blogs! This will likely happen after the above things, since the support skills, rebalance and potion rework will affect things in Arcade Mode, and a complete rework will probably increase the amount of players trying it out (which means it’s nice to already have those in the game at that point)

6. Quest Skipping After Multiplayer Completion
This has been on our feature list forever. Basically after you complete quests and stuff in a multiplayer session you’re supposed to get an option for skipping them when you go back to playing single player.

7. Season Orbs and ..Plant Nutrition..?
A lot of you have noticed tiny wiggly plants and areas where it looks like you should be able to cross the water somehow. Since these things have trolled you long enough, we feel it’s time to actually implement their ‘solutions’, namely Season Orbs for crossing water and ….some kind of plant nutrition to make the plants grow.

We’ve had various ideas about the nutrition either being available throughout the world or sold by Oak in the farm in Evergrind West. Still haven’t finalized that part but it’s likely we’ll finally implement it before the desert!

8. A Special Side Quest & Treasure Maps
More treasure maps because a bunch of them are already prepared, and the special side quest because the reward we have planned for it is something that might be interesting to use for players while they await the next patch.

———

And then, it’s on to the desert! This will probably take a while to complete, but once it’s all implemented there isn’t a lot to add aside from more side activities (quests, arena challenges, boss rebattling, etc) which we’ll likely save for after the main story is done. How exciting to take another step closer to that point!

And to jumpstart all of that, let’s jump straight into the stable priority stuff! First up: shop upgrades for when you reach Tai Ming!

So yeah, we wanted to upgrade the shops with some new items once you reach the inner levels of Tai Ming, since most of the shop items have been around for a bit at that point. We decided to upgrade the three rings that are already in the game with a second tier, basically a stronger version of the previous one. We also wanted a new armor piece, and a bunch of new accessories:

We haven’t decided exactly what the accessories will do yet, just that we wanted a bunch of new ones. There are a ton of builds that need new items though (basically like all of them), so I’m sure we’ll come up with a number of alternatives before they get implemented~

Finished sprites:

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There are still a lot of miniatures / drop sprite versions of a bunch of items left to do as well, so here’s another video featuring the making of the Mount Bloom special items:

The first two mushrooms didn’t get recorded because I forgot to turn off Aero, so OBS recorded me painting on top of a grey screen instead, haha! Oh well :D

Finished sprites (in 300%, in case you’re wondering why they look bigger than the ones above):

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Since I’m waiting for Fred to complete the additional NPCs that will appear in Tai Ming’s first zone, here’s a preview of a couple more Mount Bloom room types for Arcade Mode!

Making these rooms are a little bit of a challenge: they can’t be too small with the Larvacid and Spinsects enemies ruling this section of the game, but with too large rooms there also won’t be much of a challenge!

Hopefully these slightly smaller rooms (compared to the last batch) are balanced enough to make it a fun challenge!

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I think I’ll make one more room type that is slightly more rounded, and then a few variations of some of the room with water decorations as seen in some of Mount Blooms early maps. After that we’ll hopefully have enough variations, given the many different decoration combos that can appear in each room!

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I keep worrying the difference between each of the rooms won’t be enough, but considering there isn’t much difference between most rooms throughout the other Arcade Mode floors it should probably be fine (especially with our new and improved mix-and-match system that mixes and matches various decoration setups for each of the corners).

Mostly I suppose people are too busy worrying about not dying to consider how closely two rooms resemble each other… :)

Next week we’ll continue to flesh out Tai Ming for a stable release, and the work on Arcade Mode and its rework continues~

Another week has passed, which has been another week filled with preparing for the final Tai Ming boss. Finally, we’ve completed the third and last stage of the Mimic boss room… Time to bring in some Mt. Bloom!

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So basically in this third stage you’re back to your own time, but we wanted this room to be more ruined than the rest in order for some health crystals to have grown in the room after this time jump! The boss battle is very long, after all, and being so close to Mount Bloom we thought this was a nice solution for including some health without forcing random health orbs.

The health crystals aren’t pictured in the finished version below, but they’ll be growing in the parts where the cave floor is peeking through:

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Another thing we’ve been focusing on lately is the cutscenes surrounding the Mimic fight. And with this one, we have a question for you guys!

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Above you can see one of the cutscenes we’ve been prototyping lately. Now the question is: when should the boss portrait appear? We have two suggestions:

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In this first alternative, the boss portrait (yes it’s a thorn-worm for now, since the real one hasn’t been made yet) appears as the Mimic sucks the crown into its chest.

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…And in this one it appears as its tongue is around the crown, pausing mid-animation.

What do you guys think? We’re currently torn, and while it might not seem like a huge decision, it’s always better to pick the version that the most people like better! When I asked this in my own work blog, the overwhelming result so far indicates the second one is better. Do you agree? Please comment with your preference! :D

Now, we can’t let the Mimic boss portrait remain a thorn-worm now, can we? Time to fix that!

We are actually not yet sure if this will be *the* boss portrait, or if we’ll have several, one for each state. So before making this one, I made some quick sketches to work out what size each of the iterations would have in their portrait versions, should we decide to add the other ones:

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For now though, we are gonna start with just the small one, and play around with adding the other two in a prototype, to get a sense of what it’d feel like to have them appear after you complete each iteration:

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What do you think? Would you like to have a new boss portrait appear every time you beat one version of the Mimic, or do you feel it would get too spammy, throwing you out of the mood of the battle? I guess it’s hard to imagine without actually trying out the fight, though.. Maybe we should include a way to try out the different versions in next frontline update, unless it would mean too much work for our poor overworked programmer!

And now, some mixed stuff!

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First up, fixing a graphical error shown above! Behind the door transparency the closed door peeked through, rather than the floor. It has now been fixed.

I also added a bunch of extra decorations for the second fighting room in zone 3. It just looked a bit empty, so I felt it needed a bit more polish:

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I also adjusted the garland you’ll unlock in the Seasonne batch of housing items, making sure it’s properly stackable. Previously, you had to put them next to each other like in the left version below, but by editing the size they will now stack seamlessly when you put two next to eachother:

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Finally, we’re swapping out the map painting in the Mimic boss room for a portrait of Grindea! Progress and finished versions below:

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Now, a lot of you have asked when frontline will be updated with the third Tai Ming area. Here’s our estimate: HOPEFULLY this weekend! We’ll do our very best to make that happen, at least :)

Remember the Mimic boss? Improvements have been made, and the prototyping goes on!

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Since the last prototype we decided to keep the waves he spits out, but with mixed enemies, so there will be enemies from all around the world rather than from one area at a time. We also removed a couple of waves, since this fight likely is long enough as it is – this is stage 3 after all!

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Occasionally while you battle the wave(s) he spits out, the Mimic will launch random disables or damage dealing stuff as well. These can be anything from bombs, slime, rockets, fire – you name it! These will be random, but certain disables/attacks don’t unlock until you’ve progressed far enough in the fight.

Yet another step closer to finishing the map! Now there’s mainly a ton of animations and polish, polish, polish remaining!! :D

…And of course… The actual background for the fight!

Right now the prototype version of the boss room looks like below (which can also be seen in the GIFs above):

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After doing some thinking & talking, I made a sketch preview of what the finish thing could look like, and had it approved by Teddy and Fred before I began work:

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The most complicated thing in the room is probably the painting – which we, oh irony, have decided to swap out for another one yet to be made. For now, here’s this one, which will likely appear somewhere else in Tai Ming instead:

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And here’s the finished room for the first stage:

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As the fight progresses, you will jump through time and the room will change. And so… On to stage two! For this one, some time has passed and it’s time to break and demolish the props inside:

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As I made this I did not yet know the painting would get swapped out, and so it too got a ruined version, though I do not yet know if that will be in the game or not. Maybe this will be the only time you’ll ever be able to see it, so take a good look!! ;)

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For the next stage, we jump back to our own time, and this particular room of Tai Ming has seen some serious ruin compared to the rest. But first…. some more housing miniatures!

With Tai Ming and Mount Bloom’s housing items finished, it’s time to create their miniatures and add them to the game, and this time I thought we’d mix it up with a video!

Only the basic items for each batch in this one – the video would be way to long otherwise! More to follow in another post. For now, here’s the result from this vid:

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And the large versions for comparison:

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That’s all for this week! Next week the work on the boss room continues, and we begin piecing together the cutscenes one by one. Stay tuned!

With Tai Ming nearing completion, and a revamp of Arcade Mode in general and Arcadia in particular, it’s no wonder a lot of our recent talks have been about exactly what new Arcadia will look like. This meeting we dove in and decided on some more things:

Buying Houses for Arcadia
Basically, Arcadia will start as an area of wilderness! The place where you start will be small, with most of the map being covered with wood and other obstacles. As time progresses you will be able to ask various people for help clearing the area, and in doing so revealing a bunch of signposts indicating what could be build at the spot.

Clicking the sign will trigger a preview of what the building or decoration will look like, and what it will bring to Arcadia. For instance, aside from shops and buildings with gameplay features of various kinds, there will be decorative things that may not give you a new feature per say, but will bring people with quests to town.

Essence & Gold
Essence will be used to buy perks, as well as transmute decorative hats and other gear that carry over to Story Mode. Essence might also become the currency used to buy housing items in the Arcade Mode version of the feature.

Gold, meanwhile, will be used to unlock new buildings and decorations, and pretty much everything else.

Candy & Muffin
Muffin’s house from Seasonne will be available from start, though there will be nobody at home in the beginning. Once you’ve either died a number of time or gotten to a certain highscore, Candy or Muffin will start inhabiting the house.

If you’ve died x times, Muffin will appear and allow you to make Arcade Mode easier by giving you a number of treats (3 maximum, much like perks). Treats might include things such as health orbs healing more or there being no elite enemies. The downside to this is that you will get a much reduced highscore for using these treats.

If you gain x highscore, Candy will appear and allow you to activate certain curses (again 3 maximum, much the same as perks). These curses serve to make the game harder in various ways, such as doubling the amount of elites or removing health orbs altogether. With curses activated you will gain a higher score than during regular runs.

While it might sound tempting to do so, you can’t combine treats and curses: you’ll have to use one or the other.

The Arena
There will be an arena where you can practice boss fights once you’ve reached them through one of your Arcade Mode runs. In the arena you’ll also be able to run the same PvP challenges that will eventually become available in Story Mode, as well. It’s likely you’ll have to pay some gold to practice boss fights, while PvP will be free.

The Aquarium
One of the decorative spots, a house where you’ll see a collection of all the fishes you’ve caught during your Arcade Mode runs (one of each). This place will also attract NPCs with quests!

The Inn
…Will work much like it does now, only with more NPCs and more quests!

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And by the time we reached this point of our discussion, the hamburger place we were at were closing so we had to go back home to do regular work. More planning next time, and instead, let’s have some more text previews:

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While making these it’s really easy to start coming up with things for previous areas as well, as you remember other bookcases or signs where you’d like to have some kind of text but haven’t added one yet. All in good time though, we want to avoid backtracking too much while we still have quite a long way to go before the main story is done.

All in all there will be 35 optional flavor texts available throughout Tai Ming! Can you find them all? I guess we’ll see… :)

Now it’s time for the final batch of themed housing items for a while now! Tai Ming, bring it on~
You know, you’d think that with Tai Ming being a town and all, there would be plenty of ready made housing objects there, right? Not so. I’m not kidding, I had to remake almost every single item in some way!

Next time we make a town, I’ll make sure to follow the housing guidelines to begin with. Not that I could follow the guidelines before since we didn’t have any… But you know ;)

Anyway! The basic items, not much to say. A very basic batch, with things you’ve likely seen before (although remade in size or with additional versions for Housing):

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The surfaces here will have a different height than items in the rest of the housing batches, since people in Tai Ming prefer sitting on the floor rather than chairs!

Compared to the basic batch, the special item one is.. a bit overwhelming: so many items!! There were so many wall decorations I couldn’t even fit them all on one wall, but had to put one on the floor just to show you. There are also a bunch of variations for some of these objects (such as different versions of decorations on top of the crates in the upper right corner) that there was no room to show as well:

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I think it’s likely that not all of these will be unlocked as you enter Tai Ming: some of the more generic looking objects will likely become part of the first basic batch, and others will be granted as quest or chest rewards.

And now…. More Mimic boss stuff! This time of his third and giant phase~

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We’ve already gone through two prototypes for this version. Here is the first one, where the Mimic pretty much spits out random things all the time. We felt this version was a little too messy in the end, so it was scrapped.

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Cue prototype #2:

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This version has a more clear pattern: he begins by spitting out a bunch of Pillar Mountains and Evergrind Fields themed enemies, then spits out slime at random intervals while you either beat the enemies or him up. After you’ve damaged him enough he then moves on to Flying Fortress enemies, while spitting out rockets. After dealing even more damage on him, he’ll move on to Temple of Seasons enemies – and so on.

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We liked this version a bit more, but we didn’t particularly enjoy how much it felt like you were replaying the game, so we’ll probably do one more prototype where we mix the encounters up a bit more between areas but keep the intervals he spits them out at!

It’s been another week, and on the menu for this week’s recap we have MORE housing (it never ends!), some previews of the optional examination texts you’ll be able to find around Tai Ming, a bunch of portrait expressions for the upcoming third zone, and… some animations! Let’s begin with housing~

While the housing items made up to this point has been saved and await implementation, we still have two areas to go! First up: Mount Bloom~

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This area transformed to housing is quite straight forward – ROCKS! Above are the basic items that every batch will have: Floor & Wall textures, bed, tables, chairs, etc. And below, lots of random items, many of which you can already find in the mountain:

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Mushrooms, crystals, some more rocks, a statue, a… a Fluffyfeathers? and some of the greenery seen around the caves of Mount Bloom! These items have all been resized and recolored to fit with the housing system and the rest of the item batches. Except Fluffyfeathers. Cause he’s perfect the way he is. Right?

Now, it’s been our ambition to add more of these optional texts for a while now, and we’ll begin with Tai Ming and work our way back!
Some of you might have noticed magnifying glasses appearing here and there. They most often signify that you’re able to examine something, and sometimes it’s even relevant to the story. From the beginning we’ve wanted to add more of these flavor texts here and there throughout the world of Grindea, but it’s also something we’ve been very good at forgetting. No more, though!

Here are a few example texts from the first zone of Tai Ming (do excuse any spelling or grammar errors, as this is from my draft document):

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Since adding these will make the few actually story-relevant (or otherwise more important) ones less apparent, we’re considering making another version of the magnifying glass that’s bigger and more epic looking to signify this piece of information might be useful to you somehow. It’s also very likely the story-relevant hints will have their magnifying glass appear from further away, while you have to step quite close to see the ones that are only for flavor.

Hopefully you’ll enjoy this update once it launches. With any luck, these texts will help you feel more immersed in the game world!

With most of the cutscenes in Tai Ming’s third zone prototyped and ready, it’s also time to bring some flavor to those faces! I don’t know if we’ve mentioned it before, but the third zone will be all about the priests quarters, so naturally that’s why this first preview is filled with almost nothing but priests:

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With grave things happening around the ancient world of Tai Ming, I’m afraid there aren’t a lot of happy faces here, and it will remain so in any coming previews we might show as well!

Finally, have a couple of Fred’s animations, featuring the final stage of the Mimic boss:

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See you next week! :D

You’d think after finishing a bunch of sprites for housing, you’re all set, right? Nope! Time for step two in housing: making drop appearances/menu miniatures for everything!

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Honestly, if there’s one thing I wish I knew how to streamline better it’s finding the right folder for stuff and saving a ton of items as PNG. Maybe there’s a way I haven’t found yet (I have not exactly done much looking).

Regardless, it takes a tooon of time saving items once you’ve finished making them. Not only do you have to check it for flaws (one of my great skills is accidentally leaving empty pixels in objects, trying to catch that before adding items to the folders now), and actually save it with all that entails, in the case of housing you also need to make menu versions since the big ones are much too large to show properly in the interface!

Above you can see a bunch of examples of miniatures, with the bigger versions below. After making this many, we had a talk about how to display Temple of Seasons stuff (since they will be three versions at once), and I had for some reason assumed that meant I should make three versions of everything. Because that would entail a whole lot of extra coding, we decided to either make one version that were all three at once, or simply stick with one of them and put a special icon next to it showing it gets transformed by the seasons.

After trying out the first idea (see above, upper right), we decided to simply stick with one version, in this case the summer!

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And the madness continues! This time a bunch of surfaces and beds~

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See that stray pixel between the red tablecloth and the left vines? Yeah, that’s exactly the kind of thing I’m trying to avoid. And clearly failed to do so before uploading this image! Oh well, at least it won’t be in the game :D

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And now…. Time for some Mimic updates!

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To make this guy’s eat-attack look a little more interesting we decided to swap out coins of various colors for a different set of items. The mimic will still eat huge coins (which won’t do anything), but the items that cause various effects will be as follow:

Emblem – Causes shockwaves (not pictured yet)
Chili Pepper – Fire
Hourglass – Slows player character(s)
Box of Bombs – The mimic spews out a bunch of bombs!

Since Fred has a very hectic schedule right now with a ton of animations needed for next update, I stepped in to make temporary objects for him to eat (wip above). These will be upgraded and animated by Fred once he has a few spare minutes:

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Here’s a GIF showing how the mimic boss has improved since last time. AGAIN all GIFs in this post run slower than in the actual game. I’m looking for a different program to record GIFs in since FRAPS isn’t working anymore and cutting things in GIFcam is a bother. If anyone has any  suggestions they are very welcome! Anyway!! Instead of simply leaving fire on the ground, he now shoots out balls of flame that cause a fire to burn where they land. We also made an effect for the hourglass slow-down, to make it more clear when you get affected by it:

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In the third phase, the mimic will grow even bigger and become static. In order to harm the player, he will spew out a ton of random items and enemies.

In this part of the battle we have two options, and we have not quite decided which one to go for yet – either he’ll send the player far back (the room would then be a bit larger vertically) with some kind of pushing attack, then fill up the room with obstacles and enemies the player needs to get past in order to hit the Mimic again. The second option is to have the Mimic invincible, until he gets exhausted (triggered by you clearing enough waves of enemies/items), at which point he’ll reveal his tongue which you can hit do deal damage.

We’ve also discussed a special attack where the Mimic starts sucking all the items he spewed out towards him, causing damage to the player if you get sucked too close (due to spikes or something similar poking out of the chest), but we haven’t finalized that part yet so I cannot say if it will actually appear in the game.

Finally, let’s end this week with a quick look at the skill you’ll unlock in the fourth dungeon~

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So this skill has the codename “the ghost skill” because we haven’t come up with anything better yet. What it does is basically it shows you the spirit world, where things look a bit different.

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There are a ton of possibilities for this skill, including having enemies that can damage you in the real world by using real weapons, but you cannot hurt them unless you go into the spirit world. There’s also obstacles you can only pass in the spirit world, or hidden treasures only seen while in it.

With this skill you’ll also be able to talk to ghosts, which might help you on your journey or give you quests?! Who knows, this is just a very early prototype after all.

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What do you think? Too dark and scary? We’ll do our best to make sure nothing becomes too creepy, just the right amount!