This week’s focus has been all about the smaller details that make the cutscenes right on point. Fires blowing out, candles falling, cracks appearing – all of those smaller things that individually may not seem like a lot but together make the difference between a cutscene that looks alright and one that looks great:

We’ve also started working on the credits (gosh, I can’t believe we’re actually at that point), how and when they will appear, what they should look like and so on. Though we’re only three people, and have had the help of just three more (our awsome music & sound designers), there’s a lot of names to include from those of you who supported us by buying the Snowbacca Tier. (Again, thank you so much for making it possible for us to make this game <3)

I’m not sure when, but in order to get the credits in order we are going to close that tier soon, so if you’re interested in getting your name in there, now’s the time :)

Before I write the rest of the post I want to take a moment to thank all of you who commented on or reached out about last week’s recap. I can’t even begin to describe how much it means to hear (well… read!) your words of encouragement! I know I speak for all three of us when I say it truly, truly warms our hearts, and we’ll continue doing our best to finish up this journey in a way that will hopefully satisfy you all <3

So, on to the actual update! This week we’ve more or less finished two of the most important cutscenes: the transition scene where the game either goes to “bad”/default ending or continues on the the final boss fight for the true ending, as well as the epilogue cutscene that’s part of the default end.

Fred has also started working on a little easter egg in relation to the final boss fight against Zhamla. It will be very interesting to see how many of you figure out how to “unlock” it! Don’t worry – it’s nothing big that will take forever to make, just a little something for those who have paid attention to certain storylines… ;)

For obvious reasons we’re not going to show any of the actual footage from the cutscenes, but here’s a sneak peek of some related animations:

As for the production book, I’ve finished every written section now except one (the music and sound effect part – still a bit unsure of how to approach that). There will be a bunch of shorter texts & info drops to go along with the images and sketches I’ll add for each area as well, which is something I’ll work on this week.

Another week, and – you guessed it – more cutscene progress! As game developers, creating these final cutscenes pretty much feels like one of the most crucial parts of the whole development process. These scenes can literally make or break the player’s overall experience, so it’s important to get them right. Recently, we’ve been especifically focused on the scene where the final, final boss, Zhamla, spawns.

To approach this scene, we first created a very basic “whitebox” cutscene (meaning we used mostly sample graphics) to establish the general flow and timing. Teddy then recorded and showed this initial version to me and Fred, who came with feedback regarding the pacing, dialogue and how certain things were presented. Yes, I’m being vague here, that is the problem with trying to keep these final things ‘secret’ enough for there to be any sort of surprise when you finally get to play through them. Anyway, based on the feedback, Teddy then made the proper edits as well as adding new animations and effects as they get done.

One of the key aspects of creating any great cutscene (or pretty much any great aspect of a game at all, in my opinion) is iteration. We recognize that the initial cutscene is just the starting point, knowing there will be room for improvement as we move forward, continually seeking feedback and making changes to the scene to enhance its impact and make it as memorable as possible. This means we go through these cutscenes a lot, and while it may seem like we’re taking forever working on the same scenes, a lot of progress is being made.

Here are some of the new animations Fred’s been making for this scene:

As for me, I’ve continued working on the production book.

I’ve written drafts for most of the longer sections now, detailing the economy side of a project like this as well as listing and explaining the various things that make it difficult to estimate how long any project takes to finish, especially when it’s made by a very small team. Both topics I think are highly relevant to anyone interested in becoming a indie game developer themselves, and hopefully helps shed some light on how developing a game of this scope may take longer than you may first think.

Looking back, we were very naive about the scope and how long it would take to finish this game in those early days, but now that we’re nearly there, I can definitely say the journey has been worth it. I do wish there were realistic expectations on what you can expect any game dev to accomplish within a set timeframe, though. Sure, there are geniuses out there that can complete wonderful games in no time at all, but for most people, that’s not gonna be the case. It certainly wasn’t for us, as you can tell from us still working on this even after all this time.

It’s easy for people with no insight into a game’s development process to criticise and leave angry comments on how you’re not doing a good enough job. I wish it wasn’t needed, but I’m considering adding a section on how to stay sane when dealing with people telling you how awful you are for not finishing a game they want fast enough. If I do, I’ll probably make it publicy available to help others in this situation. We do have a lot of wonderful fans that have been nothing but supportive, but I’d be lying if I said the barrage of negativity we face every week didn’t take its toll. Please remember that there are actual people reading what you write on the other side of that screen. Actual people with feelings that will get hurt, no matter how much you think you’re just trolling for fun or trying to put down people who deserve it.

For those of you that have been patient with us throughout this awfully long process, thank you from the bottom of our hearts. It means the world, and without you we’d never have gotten this far.

Fred & Teddy continues work on the cutscenes for the endings. The cutscenes inbetween the two major battles involved in the true ending are more or less done. For the bad ending, everything is done up to the “second part”, which is sort of an epilogue where you see what happened after the big battle.

Here’s a little sneak peek WIP from one of the scenes you’ll get to see. What do you think is happening here? :D

Spoiler Video, Beware

Otherwise, here’s a couple animations by Fred from his batch last week:

As for me, I’ve written the first proper draft for about one third of the pages for the production book!

It’s a fine line to make sure the written parts are short and succint while including enough detail to actually keep them interesting. Once all the pages are done, I’ll send it out to the rest of Pixel Ferrets as well as some other trusted readers and we’ll discuss if they should be longer – or even shorter (who knows!). In this draft I’ve leaned into keeping things very short, so I think the main question will be if the information that’s actually in there is interesting enough or not.

Work on the cutscenes continue on this week! Cutscenes are one of those things that take the longest to make, both in terms of programming and animation, and there’s sometimes not a lot to show for all the hours put into making them work – especially when they’re filled with so many end-game spoilers as these are (we are, after all, working on the very last bunch of cutscenes for the game). It’s difficult deciding where to draw the line for how much to show you guys on the blog. On one hand we really value your feedback and want to show you what we’re working on, on the other hand it kind of (literally) spoils certain surprises. Since these are the last bunch of cutscenes and show pretty much how the game ends, we’ve decided to not show much progress from these. Because of this, the blog posts have been pretty short as of late, and I hope you can forgive the lack of juicy art and progress videos. At least this journey is soon coming to an end, and you’ll be able to see all of the cutscenes in their full glory as you actually finish the game! :)

For now, here’s a couple of effects that won’t tell you too much about what’s going on story-wise:

Meanwhile, I can recap what’s been going on with the Visual Novel we started working on ages ago!

I’ve actually finished writing the outline and have let it rest for a while to make sure I catch any problems I didn’t see when first putting it together. The working title for the project is Tales of Grindea and as of now it’s a pretty short visual novel companion piece to Secrets of Grindea which explores the world through the eyes of a collector and a newly created sentient artefact. It’ll have six chapters, of which the first serves as an introduction to the world and characters and the last is the conclusion where your decisions throughout the story decide which ending you get. As I write this, I’m in the progress of writing the actual chapters, so wish me luck on that! :)

First of all, thanks everyone for your input on the fonts last week! We hear you and we’ll continue to try our best to make sure the book will be as readable as possible! :)

As for the actual content of the production book, last week I made the decision to start cutting out a ton of stuff from the production book in order to make it more about art and the interesting bits and less about long texts and too much dry information.

While the previous outline had over 85 categories, I’ve now narrowed it down to 18, which I intend to be about one page each:

While most of these texts have already been written, they’re still way too long and will need to be cut down and polished a lot before I’m happy with them. I am certain this is the right decision though, making the whole book a lot easier to digest as a reader.

Aside from the 18 or so pages in the outline above there will be an undecided number of images from the production with comments on the progession.

Fred and Teddy, meanwhile, continue working on the cutscenes! Each cutscene needs a bunch of animations to make sure what’s happening is properly conveyed visually, so there’s a ton of work to do there. Here’s a couple of the animations Fred’s been working on for those cutscenes this week:

This week I’ve continued to focus on the visual aspects of the production book! Even with the general style decided upon there’s still a ton of smaller details to take care of, such as picking fonts and proper colour schemes. While it might seem trivial, it’s in fact extremely important since it determines if the book is comfortably readable and whether it’s visually pleasing at all.

Below you can find a few mockups with some of the fonts we’ve gone through:

Our current favourite is the third. Which one do you prefer? :)

As I’ve been going through more art and game books I’ve also come to the realization that I need to cut more of the original text than I initially thought. I don’t want the production book to drag on with boring details, instead I want the focus to be on the process as a whole with as many pictures as possible and short and succint comments rather than whole chapters. Perhaps I will change my mind again, but for now it seems like an overall better approach for a project like this.

As a result I’m currently going over the text once more with the scissors, trying to polish it down as much as possible!

Fred, meanwhile, has continuined his work on the Frosty Fiend, which now has a proper spawn animation, death animation, roll and soon (!) an alternative attack animation:

Teddy has shifted focus from the boss battle to work on some cutscenes between the two major battles, as well as the cutscenes surrounding one of the endings. This week the both of them will likely team up to finish up those cutscenes, with Teddy requesting animations for the cutscenes whenever he feels he needs one.

A new week, and more Frosty Fiend progress! He has, as of today, one regular attack (he will get another one, but one is enough for now to just test how it feels in-game), then Fred made a “hulk smash” for a potential special attack. It was a bit tricky as the pose was a bit difficult to get right but after much fiddling and reference checking, it worked.

Fred has also made a cannonball dive for him (he was first going to have a regular dive but he soon realized the cannonball felt more appropriate). He thought he would be extra smart here and just use the hulk smash pose straight away and just adjust the arms, but realized quite quickly that he needed to redraw everything for it to look nice. It went smoothly though! Nothing is 100% finished-rendered at this stage, but it’s taken far enough that one can test it in-game and get a fair idea of how it will feel.

Teddy has also continued with Frosty Fiend. He has tinkered together a (nearly finished) test for a snowball attack where the Fiend throws straight ahead instead of lobbing (which is what he has done so far). This way he has equivalents for both the snowball attacks we have previously used back in Seasonne through the snowball-throwing Scroundrel!

As for me, I have gone through more art/game books to get ideas and inspiration for the layout of the production book and made a ton of different design mockups before settling on something like these:

We are still evaluating what type of text design will be the best in terms of balance between readability and aesthetics, so it will probably change a bit before we are completely done:

Which version do you prefer so far?

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 week has looked pretty much like the last!

For me, it’s all about the production book, for Teddy it’s all about the summoning phase of the Zhamla battle. When Teddys computer died, he lost the programs needed to screencap videos of his work (or rather, they wouldn’t work on his new setup), but we’re working on getting them back up and running so we can show you some progress videos as we keep at it.

Fred has also moved on from Zhamla’s battle poses to making animations for the summoning phase instead as well. Here’s a couple of Zhamlas Frosty Fiend/Foe’s animations:

First, Fred wanted to base its walk animation on the regular Frosty Friend, but then he felt a more gorilla-inspired walk pattern would feel more powerful and intense for this fearsome enemy. I think it looks pretty cool!

Not much to show in terms of the production book work, just a lot of writing and rewriting. However, for this week I aim to play around a bit with various layout and possible have some alternatives to show you next recap!