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

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


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

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


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

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


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


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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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



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



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

It’s a new week, and a new recap!

Last week ended up being spent both on the final Mount Bloom things as well as the next temple. Teddy started off the week prototyping the optional phase puzzle challenge(s), and while we were sending them around for in-house testing, we simultaneously worked ahead with designing the next upcoming enemy visuals and improving our old temple backgrounds.

But let’s not get ahead of ourselves – first, let’s take a look at said prototypes….

01 - GIF03

First up is a new type of puzzle mechanic, where you have to avoid getting hit by sparks by shooting yourself back and forth between two of those “donkey barrels”. This gets increasingly harder, starting with you just having to avoid tiny stationary sparks, but after a while there will be long lines of spark moving in the opposite direction of your barrels.

When we’re adding the real artwork for this (keep in mind all you see here is strictly WIP and/or placeholder), we want the sparks exchanged for fields of electricity instead, that can be short or long depending on the difficulty of the part of the challenge.

01 - GIF02

There will, of course, be regular puzzles as well – only much harder than the ones you encountered in the main story portion of the game! Figuring out where to go, how to get there and – perhaps most important of all – knowing exactly when to shoot yourself out of the barrels will be crucial in these puzzles!

01 - GIF04

01 - GIF05

Once we were satisfied with the prototypes, Vilya went ahead and started working on getting the actual background art in place:

02 - PhaseMap

Okay, but what about the temple stuff?! Well, as you may remember, a while ago Vilya was working on the first zone of the temple (which in fact is a time travel village, so we should probably stop calling it a temple). This week she continued this work, adding a bunch of details to the upper part of the map:

04 - TimeTravelZone01Upper

As for the enemies, here’s what the current lineup looks like:

05 - EnemyLineup

06 - EnemyWormIdle

As always, these are subject to change or redesign as we work ahead! For now though, there’s a cute little worm, a mysterious patch of moss (?!), an annoying monkey, and a statue on a rampage!

These guys will appear in the present state of the time travel village, where everything is abandoned, ruined and overgrown (kind of continuing on the whole Mount Bloom theme, but using a different approach). Provoked by the presence of the artifact, even the statues come to life to haunt you! Oh no!

But first, we gotta finish those Mount Bloom side quests….. So, see you next week! :D

Another week has  gone by, and it’s time to show you some more stuff from the upcoming Mt. Bloom challenges!

As we’ve mentioned before, the final challenge will be a series of Phase Puzzle- and poison gas challenges. Well, the Phase Puzzle challenge parts will take place in a complex of the same origin as Flying Fortress, hidden in the mountain! And as such, we needed a lobby to set the mood for the upcoming challenges.

Here’s a BG for this, that Vilya has been working on (details such as greenery pushing through from the mountain, and other smaller decoration will be added later):

00 - BGGIF

01 - BG

Now, as for the Phase Puzzles themselves – we’ve begun prototyping them and here’s our VERY CRUDE starting point (ALL graphics are placeholder and will absolutely not be in the final version, lol):

02 - Phase01

Basically, you’ll phase shift from one point to the other, but have to avoid platforms floating back and fourth while doing so! In this image, the platforms are represented by boulders, but in the final version they will be actual Flying Fortress-esque platforms driven by the same kind of magic that keeps Flying Fortress afloat!

To spice things up a bit, we’re also adding mirror blocks, that like the mentioned platforms, float back and forth as well, so you have to mind your timing when shooting at them:

02 - Phase02

Here’s a little GIF showing it all in motion, with a third special obstacle, a moving platform which sucks you into itself, and keeps you in there until you press the Phasing button again:

04 - Phase03

We’re currently working on applying the correct graphics for each of the puzzle blocks, so hopefully they will look more awesome in the next update! In the meanwhile, here are some other things Vilya has been working on for the Time Travel Temple, which will be your next destination once you get through the Phase Puzzles!

First up, another portrait:
05 - Portrait

Then, some more detail work on that first map that we started improving last week. First up, some more flowers:

06 - Zone01A

Also, something bamboo-inspired and some other types of greenery – cause, why not?

06 - Zone01B

We also played around with recoloring the barrels and crates around the map, to see if we could have them fit the theme better:

06 - Zone01C

Finally, Vilya improved on the entrance decoration, editing the colors and adding a bit more detail to it:

06 - Zone01D

And here’s what it all looks like right now! I think it’s starting to come together, and it’s time to move on to the next part of the map :) What do you think?

06 - Zone01E