This week we’ve focused on completing the prototyping of the entire Toy Factory, as well as applying some polish to its first half. For posterity, we’ve saved all the different development stages of a challenge room, to show you what prototype iteration can look like!


This was our first iteration. It’s pretty hard to see what’s going on since it’s all place holder graphics, but the idea was to have conveyor belts going in circles through the room (the fields with arrows), and the red dots were things you had to strike with your weapon when they appeared.

The challenge was designed so that you needed to use the speed boost from the conveyor belts to quickly move around the room in order to hit the different targets before they disappeared.

We implemented a prototype of the challenge, but quickly realized that it wasn’t up to par. The challenge was there, but it didn’t feel good. Sometimes, that last part is just lack of polish, but this time we felt it went beyond that. We decided to scrap it entirely.


Back at the drawing board, we decided to experiment with a mechanic that was intended for the Toy Factory boss, namely toy trains. This idea was, in short, to have trains go around a track to provide dynamic area denial while having the players face a second challenge, which originally was going to be fighting enemies.

After brainstorming a bit, we decided against the enemies since it would be too similar to other encounters in the mini-dungeon, and instead came up with the idea of piling on a second type of area denial: falling bombs. For this, we moved things around a bit and came up with this layout:


The playfield was divided into nine squares (term used loosely here). Bombs would fall inside randomly chosen squares, between which trains would zoom by on the rails. The challenge was to move between the squares, while simultaneously dodging trains. Each train crossing had a track switch, which changed at regular intervals, causing the train patterns to constantly differ.

Using the map above, we implemented a prototype of the trains themselves, as well as their switching. This time, it felt interesting right off the bat, and we decided to go forward with this idea and continue iterating.


This is how the background looked after cleaning things up and measuring distances. At this point, we added the falling bombs to the prototype.

It felt pretty good, but oftentimes the trains would be too chaotic for player effort to actually be rewarded. You’d feel you had a good read on the situation, but then a switch changed and suddenly a train could still blindside you as you moved between the squares.

We decided that by making the pattern consistent, we could improve clarity and decrease frustration while still maintaining what made the challenge interesting.

ToyTrainChallengeTime to click!

In the end, this was the prototype we went for. The image above links to an animated GIF, so be sure to click on it! Note that this is still the prototype; there’s a whole bunch of polish left, as you can see, but the core gameplay is there.

This little story is a good example of how gameplay can (and will) change as you go along, and that you should never expect your initial idea to be perfect as-is.

It also conveys the issue of hidden/surprise development time – one of the biggest reasons it’s so damn hard to estimate how long things will take on a macro level. This is why young companies (ourselves included) so often are very optimistic in the beginning regarding how long time a game will take to make.

You can look at some other game that took years to make and go “hey, I could make a game like that in six months” and you might be right, but then you never take into account all systems, sub-systems, prototypes, sprites, models, textures and lines of code that had to be made and thrown away in order for that final game to grow into existence.

Some closing food-for-thought: almost every game you’ve ever played has gone through this at almost every stage of development. Even amazing triple A games has looked terrible and been a clunky mess to play at some point!

The past week, the Marino battle has been the main implementation focus. Here’s a little teaser gif from it:


For Marino, we wanted to create a battle that was more up close and personal than most other boss battles. In terms of style, it’s most similar to fighting Vilya, but this time it’s not part of some camouflaged tutorial. Marino is quick, slippery and will cut you up if you’re sloppy!

Speaking of boss battles, Fred is already at work with creating assets for another one, which will have the player face new challenges…

Train SpinningTrain


This week we’ve mostly done stuff under the hood (Steam, testing and tweaking), but we also mashed in a new system that’s long overdue. Since it’s a system that’s easy to implement and maintain (although mostly because Simon has been slacking off for long enough), we’ve “finally” added the Treasure Map system!


When you buy or find a treasure map (currently, they are all bought from Simon) they will appear under “maps” in your journal. Here you’ll get a hint about the reward. Generic treasure maps are simply numbered, while more important maps can have names! Inspecting a treasure map will take you to a screen that looks something like this:

treasuremapexampleDisregard the text to the left – it’s drunk!

There are three types of maps. Firstly, there are screenshots of some location in the game that you’ll have to find. These are probably the easiest!

The second kind is what you see above: some kind of sketch hinting a location. These could be pretty straightforward, like the one above, drawn from a different angle than the game itself, or even something completely different.

The third and final version are treasure “maps” written in text! These are small stories or riddles telling you how to find a treasure.


When you stand on the spot where the treasure is buried (take or give 10 pixels), a pulsating X will appear beneath your character! Simply press the action button to dig up your well deserved reward!

One of the best thing about treasure maps is that they are probably the only thing in the entire game which actually takes longer for the player to finish than it takes for us to create… :P

Last week in the comments, there were some confusion regarding the Steam beta transfer, so here are some clarifications:

Who? If you’re in the Desura beta and you have posted a first impression, reported a bug or in some other way provided feedback* when we start inviting people over to Steam, you will get an invite. Also, we’ll invite some more people from the IndieDB registration thread. In both these cases we will send a message on IndieDB asking you if you want a Steam key! You should automatically receive an e-mail when we send that message. You can still post feedback (preferably on the IndieDB private forums if you have access) if you forgot to do it when you got into the beta.

* Making a video where we can watch you play is also a form of feedback

When? We have  a small checklist of stuff to fix, but fingers crossed we might invite some of you by the end of the week to test the waters, and the rest next week if the transfer goes smoothly. At that point we might send out a bunch of new invites as well.

With all the offensive skills in the game, we’re taking a break from skills before looking into how to spice up the supportive ones. Instead we’ve done a bunch of quality of life-improvements to existing systems. One of the more visually interesting of these changes are the new critical strike indication!


Before, critical strikes were displayed as regular damage numbers that blinked white at the beginning, which was difficult to see if you didn’t know what to look for. These fancy new animated numbers, however, should be hard to miss!

Another thing we’ve been working on is Steam integration. Don’t read too much into this; this is not in preparation for an imminent release, but we want to start migrating the beta over from Desura.


While Desura has been great, there are certain limitations with the platform that makes it sub-optimal for running a beta. The biggest disadvantage compared to Steam is that all uploads to Desura must be approved, which is a process that can take several days.

The Desura staff has been really cool about pushing our updates quicker than that in emergencies, but it’s still not as good as the instant deployment available on Steam. Steam also saves all revisions, making it possible to rollback to an earlier version should we accidentally upload a way too broken build.

Another advantage is how easy it is to have a primary and secondary branch for the game. This means that we can have one stable release, and one “in house” build with very new features. Right now we only have one branch, and thus the updates are few and far between since we don’t want to break the game. With an opt-in superbeta we can have dedicated players testing the brand new features and not just ourselves and our close friends.


Now some of you might be wondering what happens to the existing testers and, of course, what about the thread on IndieDB?

Of course, existing testers will get access to the new version! However, this only applies to users that have posted feedback in the forums or have been making videos of the game (you are safe, IHeartPie)! In other words, people invited to the beta that hasn’t given anything in return will no longer be receiving updates.

Regarding new beta invites, we will still be sampling from the IndieDB thread, only we’ll send a message and ask for your Steam account name.

As you might have noticed if you’ve been following the blog, we’ve been focusing pretty hard on finishing up all the offensive skills, and we’re happy to say this week features the very last one: Berserker Style!


The Berserker Style might be our most game-changing skill. It’s a two handed skill which will change the rules of how energy works, forcing you into a offensive play style. When you activate the skill, you will get a varied range of effects depending on the charge level. All charges increases your damage by 15 %, and damage taken is increased by 15-45 % depending on level.

Every time you strike an enemy, you’ll get a stacking attack speed buff which stacks up to 10 times for 30 % bonus on level 1, and 40 % bonus on level 3. Also, on level 3, you will also get a big crit chance buff along with the attack speed.

The biggest change, however, is that energy decays constantly, but you will also gain energy by striking enemies. What this means is that the tactics surrounding energy restoration is completely reversed. Instead of playing defensively while your energy recovers, you must now play offensively in order to use other skills!

Since there are both pros and cons to having the skill active, it has a pretty high skill requirement to use efficiently. It can be really strong if you can manage to play to its strengths (offensive bonuses, energy control) while mitigating the weaknesses (defensive debuff, energy penalty on defensive play).

Vilya has been inside the portrait factory the entire week converting to the new style, and here are some of the latest ones, featuring the priest and nurse from Arcade Mode, as well as Nysbruden, one of the very first NPCs you run into:

hood1 hood2nysbruden

Are you tired of watching gifs and reading about new skills? Hopefully not, because here’s a skill super post about what we’ve cooked together over the past week!

First out of the gates is the revamped Spirit Slash, which has gone from a pure AoE spell to distributed targeting, and at the same time gone through a big visual makeover.

SpiritSlash_v2Click to view animated gif!

As you release the Spirit Slash, it will start picking targets around you, striking at enemies one after the other until the max number of slashes has been reached. If there’s only one target around, each consecutive strike will deal slightly less damage.

Due to its random and non-instant nature, it’s a bit trickier to use than regular AoE-attacks (like the Whirlslash or Ice Nova), but also fits into more situations. At close range, it can be used as a simple damage amplifier both to single and multiple targets, and when battling slow enemies it can even be used for kiting.

Then we have the new earth based skill Insect Swarm, which shockingly isn’t a type of lettuce, but a swarm of insects!

InsectsVsPillarMountainsClick on it, we dare you!

The Insect Swarm spell is a soft-summon, meaning they behave like a pet but for a limited time only, and they only consume energy rather than block it out completely. The other soft-summon in the game is the Plant spell, which we added way back!

When cast, an insect swarm will spawn from the tip of your hands, traveling straight forward. If it hits an enemy, it will swarm around it, dealing damage over time until the swarm dies off, or the enemy is defeated. If the swarm gets the last hit on a monster, it will revive a portion of its lost members, increasing its duration. When the targeted enemy dies, regardless who killed it, the swarm will move on to another target and continue dealing damage until the last insect has died off.

While the spell is easy to use and deals consistent damage (unless you miss completely), getting optimal results is a bit more tricky. Due to its self-healing mechanic on kills, you’ll get more damage out of targeting monsters with low health, making it suitable as a follow up after softening enemies up with something else.

Last off, we’ve implemented the Flame Thrower silver charge!


Unlike the regular version, which required you to stay put in order to complete the channel, silver charge lets you strafe around while casting, opening up for new and more efficient ways to use it.

If you just can’t get enough, here’s a VOD of a massive 8 hour stream Fred did, featuring mostly animation work but also some Arcade Mode gameplay.

Once again, Teddy have been hard at work in the Skills Workshop. This week we present the third and final skill of the Air-tree, the Wind Slash.

WindSlashClick to view animated gif!

The Wind Slash is another projectile based skill. What makes it  stand out from the rest of our skills is the way you fire the projectiles.

The moment you start charging the Wind Slash, a spinning, double edged arrow appears under your character. Once the charge is released, two Wind Blades will shoot out from the character in the directions that the arrow is pointing, damaging all enemies they pass through.

At higher charge levels, a second arrow will appear spinning in the opposite direction, firing an extra pair of Wind Blades. This makes it possible to land double hits if the arrows are aligned during the charge release.
The Wind Blade is deviously hard to control, demanding good positioning and timing. If used correctly however, it has the ability to deal tons of damage to multiple enemies at once!

Other than skills, we’ve spent a good amount of time focusing on balancing Arcade Mode. Besides changing a ton of small things such as damage numbers, item costs and skill nerfs, we’re also investigating changes regarding health recovery.

The health recovery is a major element that really ramps up the difficulty in Arcade Mode compared to Story Mode. In Story Mode, every enemy has a chance of dropping a Health Orb which restores some of your lost health. The chance of enemies dropping orbs is also increased the lower your characters HP gets. To top it all off, your death only means having to replay a small portion of the game!

In Arcade Mode, Health Orbs can only be obtained by either clearing a floor or receiving them as a reward for clearing a Challenge or Bet. While this makes things a lot more unforgiving and challenging (which is what we want Arcade Mode to be!) it also makes it incredibly difficult to mount a come back if you’ve taken some heavy hits in a room, and if you die, that’s the end of your run.

To mitigate this, we’ve messed around with adding a small health regain every time you managed to clear a room quickly enough to get the S-grade. What (we hope) this will do is promote more aggressive and risky play when your characters HP is low in hopes of receiving the S-grade and added health regain.

One drawback to this is the creation of an artificial “skill bump”; a player will get better and better at a relatively steady pace, but when he starts getting S-ranks with some consistency the game suddenly becomes easier, possibly causing an unintended spike in the player’s progress. We’re still experimenting with this to achieve the best balance!


In addition, or as an alternative, we’re also adding a nurse, which will appear at semi-random intervals and offer you healing for cold, hard cash. The more health you’ve obtained this way, the steeper the price! Our hope is that this will make gold management more interesting than it is now, since buying a better weapon in a shop might mean less healing if you run into a nurse, and the other way around. This solution also opens up healing to every player, regardless if they have the skill to clear a room with S-rank!

The balancing act of both Arcade and Story Mode is a task that we’ll keep wrestling with up until release, but hey, that eternal struggle is one of the twisted appeals of our trade :)

The past week we’ve continued our quest to get all the skills into the game. This time, the third and final fire spell joins the fray! Its working name is Flamethrower, and it’s a close ranged, channeled spell which does massive damage to anything in front of you.

FlamethrowerClick on the image to view an animated gif!

To use this skill effectively, positioning and timing are very important. You’ll want to be able to hit your enemies with the full channel without getting caught by flanking enemies, or hit by a counterattack in case the enemy is too tough to stunlock!

The skill channel is both shield- and movecancelable, meaning you won’t be stuck if things get dangerous. The uncharged version will cancel if you move, but if you get the Silver Charge at level 5, you can move while channeling, enabling you to easier land the full damage.

Vilya has also been getting back into portrait duty. Here are some of the new remakes, featuring the rival Marino, bandit leader Vilya and her minion Teddy:

The Arena has felt a bit emtpy and dead for a while, so Fred have spiced things up with a live audience! The audience is a single 100×100 animated tile that can be looped seemlesly.

AudienceClick on the image to view an animated gif!

Besides animation work, Fred put in a Arcade Mode session on his livestream this Saturday. For anyone intrested in seeing one of the devs getting stomped by Arcade Mode, you can check out the VOD by clicking here!

This week we’re switching back from Arcade Mode again to work on skills!

Do you remember the snow summon called Frosty Friend, which Fred has worked on for some time? At last, the time has come for it to appear inside the game!

FrostyFriendLvl1Click to view an animated gif!

This is a pretty early prototype, but the foundation works pretty well! As we mentioned a while back, this summon differs from the other two in that it’s a physical participant in the combat, and as such it can take damage as well as deal it. This also means that we must handle how the summon dies, and recovers HP. We’ll definitely have to test and iterate our way to the best solution, but we can share some of the ideas we’re going to try out first.

When the snow creature dies, it will get knocked out from the fight, lying dazed until its owner resurrects it. The resurrection mechanic works just like in multiplayer. That is, you’ll have to stand still beside your pet for four seconds to wake it up. Your pet will regain health automatically in time when it’s out of combat, and become fully healed when you zone. Unsummoning your pet will flag it as out of combat, but it will still take some time to recover health. A knocked out pet cannot be unsummoned.

Skills have been the name of the game in the animation department as well, wrapping up the last animations for the Frosty Friend amongst other things.FaintSnowDeathSnow RabbyRage

Hey all!

This week, we’ve added a couple of new floors to the Arcade Mode, based on the Flying Fortress. This has opened up some interesting enemy combinations, as well as challenges (such as perfect guard training and bullet hell dodging). Here’s a screen of an outside room on the 7th floor:


Apart from that, we’re also trying out an updated way of showing damage numbers. We’ve gotten feedback from many testers that say it’s sometimes a bit difficult to see if you take damage during chaotic fighting because the damage numbers look the same regardless if they come from an enemy or a player.

To mitigate this, we’ve made the color of enemy damage white, and kept the player damage red. Since shield damage used to be gray, we’ve changed those to blue! It’s a bit weird at first when you’re used to the old system, but after a while it feels okay again :P

Fred has been getting into the holiday mood by continuing to animate the frosty friend! Below is a charged up version of the summon. Not as cute, but packs more of a punch!

IdleSnow2 MoveSnowLevel2

Howdy neighbor!