The next floor we’ve been tackling has been the Tai Ming floor, which is all about returning to the past (unsurprisingly…) :)

You’ll enter into a large open space area, looking much like the ruined present version of Tai Ming, but smaller. A statue of ancient priestess Tessen in her boss form blocks the path leading to the next floor, although this version is edited to have slots for three emblems (oh dear).

You’ll travel back in time using a time rift, to a version of the map where any buildings are whole and it’s a nice village-y feel. There are NPCs from Tai Ming walking around this area, and talking to three of them will trigger you to travel to the present day where you’ll have to do a challenge of some sorts (battling various sets of enemies, most likely), after which the ghost of the NPC you talked to will appear and hand you their emblem.

Once you have collected all three emblems you can return to the present day version of the floor hand and insert them into the statue, after which it’ll come alive for an empowered version of the Priestess battle!

Now, just two floors left…. :)

Remember the skill point to talent orb transmuter from last week? Here’s his apprentice, a young boy called Bokus! He’ll hand around with his master in the HQ once they’ve been added to the game properly:

Next up, we’ve continued to work on sketches for what we’d like that final Arcade Mode room to look like. We’ve moved away from the idea of the church like structure, as that would imply you’ll be able to go inside it – which you won’t – but settled for having the final room set among the heavens, since you’ve, after all, climbed the way up there :)

Here’s a bunch of new designs for the portal that will take you back to Arcadia or on to more adventures, depending on your power level:

Our favourite this far is the first one (although technically, it was the last one I made) :) Our idea is that the gate will either be dark like in the sketch, or empty (as in, you’ll see the background on the other end), until you’ve opened the chest, after which a portal will appear within the gate, looking slightly different depending on whether it’s leading back to Arcadia or onwards :)

We’ve also been discussing the final tower interior and what it should look like, and as such I’ve been playing around with a bunch more sketches, where the amount of mirror material varies from barely any to full on “everything’s-a-mirror” mode.

Right now we’re kind of leaning more towards the ’emptier’ version, meaning little to no mirror decorations. What do you guys think? One of the reasons we prefer that is because we won’t be able to use a proper reflection for the character on mirrors that aren’t on the floor, which means the mirror effect won’t be too clear to begin with. Also, having a more ‘boring’ look means that once you break the tower’s spell and it reverts back to it’s normal version it should be a bigger difference compared to the magically transformed room you were just in.

Meanwhile, Fred’s been working on a bunch of Bishop animations, but what we’re going to show today is something a bit more exciting(?), the sprite for Maracas, the guy who will transform your silver point into talent orbs, or the other way around! Behold:

For the sixth final dungeon floor, we’re doing a mashup of the festival and Mount Bloom, which means you’ll be going to a festival in the mountains! And who better to host such an event than a score of Cavelings…. :)

Our idea is that you’ll be in a rather open cave system where you’ll trick phase between various stations, each having a little mini game challenge of its own. We haven’t yet decided whether you’ll need to do them in a specific order or if you can trick phase your way around the area freely.

Either way, our current idea is that it’ll be the same mini games as you had in the Evergrind festival after you finished the Temple of Seasons, only with a caveling twist for each event. So for instance, you might not win the fishing contest based on the best or most fishes, and the cavelings might use some other cheating tactics to make sure they win themselves in the running challenge, and so on. I won’t go into too much detail here but you get the idea – basically you’ll most likely end up getting swindled one way or another – what else to expect from the cavelings, huh?

This week we’ll be discussing the Tai Ming floor, and after that there’s only two more floors to go! Drawing ever closer to the end :)

So, another thing we’ve been working on recently has been a bunch of new gauntlets for the arena! Now there’s a total of four of them, each a bit more difficult than the last.

First we have the good old classic one featuring Pillar Mountains, Evergrind City and Pumpkin Wood enemies. The second one has enemies from Flying Fortress and Seasonne, as well as a guest appearanec from Phase Man and a couple puzzle block enemies. The third has enemies from the Temple of Seasons and Mount Bloom, and also features the Summer and Autumn Elder Fae and Black Ferrets! Finally there’s the final Gauntlet, which has enemies from across the entire world, as well as some giant thorn worms, Vilya AND Marino! Quite intense.

After having made these, we’ve of course spent a bunch of time testing them. I also decided to remake the icon for the original gauntlet (which was a single slime against a yellow background) now that I had to make icons for the new challenges anyway:

Meanwhile, the Bishop battle is turning more and more from a prototype into an actual badass battle!

We’ve added a bunch of attacks and cleaned up the graphics on some. After some initial testing of this version of the battle, I’d like to be bold enough to say it’s one of my favourite boss battles in the game this far:

Hopefully you guys will like it as well! It’s pretty intense, let me tell you that much! :D

Next up we have a new NPC we’ve been talking about adding for a long time! This guy will be ‘unlocked’ by finishing a quest in the Collector’s HQ, and will grant you the ability to turn your silver skillpoints into talent orbs (and the other way around!)

Of course, as such he needed a portrait:

Meanwhile, Fred’s been continuing on with refining the Bishop animations, making sure the battle against him looks as good as possible! Here’s some more of his animations:

This week we’ve been talking about the fifth floor on your journey to the top of the tower! This floor will be all about the Temple of Seasons, and will begin in a wintery area in the woods, where you’ll walk through a corridor of trees that part and walk off to the sides to reveal a path before you, all while fae dart back and forth (just to set the tone a bit). This path will eventually lead you to the Temple of Seasons entrance, where the actual floor will begin.

You’ll enter a Temple of Seasons room that’s currently winter, but thankfully, Naniva appears and helps you by turning the room into spring, allowing you to enter one of three doors. This door leads to a fight or puzzle room yet to be decided, where you end up rescuing Autumn. Once you return to the first room, she will then turn it into autumn, revealing a second door leading to another fight/puzzle room where your goal is to rescue Summer. If you succeed in this and return to the first room he will turn the room into its summer version, allowing you to pass through the final door.

In this final room, you’ll battle an enraged version of the Hydra, summoned by the mirror guardian of the tower. This version of the Hydra has one more head, representing spring, thus you’ll have to battle the four seasons all at once! We haven’t decided exactly what the spring head will do yet, but one suggestion is that it’ll cause loads of bushes to grow in the area, serving either as an obstacle for you or something that will deal damage as well (by the addition of thorns). Another suggestion for a super move the hydra can make here is to turn the room into all seasons at once, using all of their powers for a short while… >:)

As for the puzzle/battle rooms, we haven’t made any fixed plans, but we’re playing around with the idea of having a special enemy in the shape of a rainbow orb, that will appear and turn the room into all seasons – only once you defeat the orb it’ll go back to normal, so until you do the rest of the enemies will be in their elite versions. We don’t want these rooms to be too complex, seeing as there’s still a ton of rooms to go through, but I think so far we have a good balance. Let’s see where the next floors take us :)

In Arcade Mode, we need a room you’ll get to once you finish the Ghost Ship, where you’ll get some sort of reward – and, if you’re powerful enough, you’ll get the chance to transcend into one final floor where an epic final boss battle awaits!

So, I’ve been making a couple of suggestions for what this room could look like, and this first one is inspired by what I’d like the final floor to look like – otherworldly, up in the sky, on floating isles with other floating isles in the distance having statues or parts of statues of Grindea on them:

The second idea is a throwback to Bishop’s realm where you’ll be battling him in Story Mode, a grim and dark realm.. In this version, the doors of the temple will open either to an intense glowing light or straight up to the sky, if you should have enough power to get there… :)

While I was sketching that room, I also went ahead and made some suggestions for the average room design in case we’d end up making regular rooms in that final floor you’ll only get to with the right power level, looking something like this:

We’ve also been talking a lot about what the final tower dungeon would look like for those that aren’t under the mirror’s influence, so I’ve been playing around with ideas for that as well. Here’s one such suggestion, featuring a lot of mirrors on an otherwise gray tower setting:

There’s a big possibility we’ll redesign or at least change the colours of the tower exterior now that we have a better idea of what the inside involves, but we’ll figure that out once we’ve completely decided on a design for the interior :)

Now, one of the many things Teddy has been working on recently has been adding a bunch of smaller cutscenes and fixes for the various new quests. One such thing is having Bishop appear during the Ghost Ship quest for a short while, and to make his appearance look as good as possible we went through a bunch of iterations. Here you can see our progress, going from pretty crude, to working our way to a more polished version:

Most things we implement go through a bunch of iterations like these, which goes to show implementing the first idea you have just the way you imagine it isn’t always the best bet :)

Meanwhile, Fred has been working on not only Bishop but Grindea herself as well:

The next thing we’ve been discussing and designing for the final dungeon is the Flying Fortress floor. In the beginning we wanted this to be quite phase shift heavy, but as we though more about it we felt the essence of Flying Fortress is more about bullet hells, so we started leaning more towards that. However, we’ve had a ton a random ideas, among others a phase shift puzzle where you need to collect items within a certain time and a bullet hell with guardians that block parts of the room with their laser beams…

In the end however, we settled for three rooms (for now, this might change), first one of those corridor where a number of orbs pass through and you have to run left and right so you pass through the orbs in the slot where one of the orbs is missing – I’m not great at explaining this in words, but you’ve already passed through such a corridor in Flying Fortress already, and this one will be pretty much the same – although we have some ideas for beams and such to make it a bit more difficult and high paced.

The second room will have a number of small platforms, 4 or more, which will get hit by a ton of missiles. The goal in this room is to phase shift to the one platform that won’t get hit by missiles and as such avoid damage. Once the timer runs out you’ll be able to proceed to the final room…

…which is all about bosses, namely Phase man – and not only one, but two of them(!), ending with a little burst of Gun-D4m. We’re pretty excited about this combo and hope you will be too!

For Seasonne, we all felt like the core of the area is the Toy Factory, but we also wanted a little dash of the regular snow area, and an appearance of Marino, since he’s a pretty big character and having Amalet stolen from you after Flying Fortress is a pretty important part of the game, after all.

As such, you’ll begin this floor by appearing in a small Seasonne-esque area with the usual Seasonne enemies minding their own business. At the end of the area is the Toy Factory building, which you enter, and find yourself in a room with a locked door, a blocked path and a chest. In the chest is a key for the locked door, but before you have a chance to unlock it Marino appears and steals it from you, dashing through the blocked path, breaking the things that blocked your path before.

The next room will be one of two challenge rooms, but we haven’t yet decided which one of these it’ll be! In one, you think you’ll have to solve a block puzzle, only for each and every block and piece of it to come alive so you have to defeat it literally by force. The second would be a lot more like the room where you battle a ton of gift boxes, only with more kinds of gift boxes with new abilities!

After that, you’ll end up in a room with a conveyor belt where you’ll chase Marino for a bit before ending up in a room where you’ll battle him along with having to dodge falling bombs and trains, much like in the later rooms of the Toy Factory!

Next, time for some mixed stuff! Your mother’s grave in Startington, some new items made for an additional part of the ghost remembrance quest in the Ghost Ship, as well as an expression for the newly added ghost you’ll find there soon:

And here’s some more new stuff, featuring bigger versions of the catalysts, new backgrounds for the temple of seasons character and enemy codex, a new set of stairs in the Port Monnaie church, and a slight edit of the Startington grave:

Meanwhile, Fred’s been working on more Bishop stuff and some new player animations, one which can be seen here:

So last week our goal was to each come up with one or a few design ideas for the first floor in the final dungeon, after which we’d go through each of our suggestions and pick our favourites, building our dungeon one floor at a time.

As we mentioned, our guidelines were to remind people of the journey they’ve made throughout the game, bringing back “old classic” events and mechanics. Some of our ideas for the first floor, representing the very beginning of the game, ranged from battling your own sword and shield, a bullet hell with wooden swords, bees circulating around you and attacking you one by one, or an arena where you battle a block puzzle that comes alive.

In the end we decided to combine a few elements of the early parts of the game, namely the arena trials, finding your shield and sword to proceed and battling the Black Ferrets on the bridge. Our main idea is that you’ll start on a Pillar Mountains looking area (perhaps even a pillar), where you have to find your sword and shield by fishing and solving a block puzzle while the Arena commentator Mr Plott comments on what you’re doing, and you’ll only be able to proceed after handing your items to Grandpa Joe who blocks a bridge over which you’ll battle an ever increasing amount of Teddy & Freddy, culminating in a battle against Vilya herself before you’ll be able to progress to the second floor, a floor which will be centered around the Pumpkin Woods.

We also decided on some details around the dungeon. Previously, we’ve decided that the thing that turns the dungeon into what it is is an ancient artefact mirror, which transforms the tower into challenges to stop you from reaching the top. As such, we want to incorporate various mirror effects here and there (like for instance, Grandpa Joe shattering into glass pieces when you show him your sword and shield, enemies spawning by appearing through mirror glass and such). We also reiterated that we want the main focus for each floor to be something iconic to each part of the game, focusing on the story beats and ‘feel’ of certain areas.

Next up, the Pumpkin Woods floor! For the this we felt the key component was the curse of the woods, making you unable to progress, and the hunt for each of the items needed to clear the curse. To capture this, our idea is to create a set of rooms with a ‘lost woods’ feel where you’ll end up back in the first room by taking the ‘wrong’ exit, and having you battle five mini bosses in a room each.

The mini bosses we have in mind here are Pumpking and Helloweed from Arcade Mode, plus a similarly difficult mini boss based around Jack o’ Lantern which will also appear as an Arcade Mode floor boss later on! We’ll also design a challenge based around the Jumpkins and Ghostys.

For the Jumpkins this will most likely involve a living-vegetable like mayhem room with loads of jumpkins, while the Ghosty challenge idea we have so far is more about finding and defeating the correct one out of a bunch that will surround you – though our ideas here are still very much up in the air. For now, our main focus around this floor is the feel of having to cleanse the wood once more, this time by collecting the items from more difficult enemies than simple elites like you had to the first time around. We’ll dice into more specific design details once we get to this floor, our overall idea holds regardless of how we design the challenges.

Once you’ve defeated all of these mini bosses and collected their key item, you’ll be able to cleanse the curse with the aid of a Grindea statue, just like in the original Pumpkin Woods, complete with a minor appearance from Bishop; after that, it’s onto the next floor, featuring the Flying Fortress! :)

Now, you’ve seen a bunch of Bishop’s attack animations made by Fred, but now that we have a basic sketch for the arena, it’s time to start some prototyping of the fight!

At the moment, Bishop has three distinct attacks/patterns, but we have plans to add more as we go along. For now it’s a sword-throwing attack, a giant scythe attack and an attack where a bunch of Bishops emerge from the ground with spears:

We know Bishop disappears a bit into the dark background when he’s towards the top of the fight area, but we have plans on making him more visible by adding a shader that makes a subtle aura or outline around him when he’s against the dark parts. Other than that, what do you guys think so far?

In Arcade Mode, it’s high time we get a proper map through which you can track your progress! As such we’ve been talking about various ways to illustrate this, ending up with illustrating them as isles:

Now, the layout of these isles isn’t in it’s finished version here, the idea is that we want to illustrate how you move upwards a bit more, so we’ll play around with how we place the isles as we move on; and as such might change the design of these isles a bit as well.

On top of that, there are two more isles missing – that of the room where you get your reward for finishing Arcade Mode, and the bonus floor you get to only if you’re strong enough! These will only be added once they’ve been made in their proper forms in the game, though, so I know exactly how to design their isles.

In Fred’s department meanwhile, it’s all about Bishop and giving him more animations! Let’s have a look:

So we’re drawing ever nearer to that final dungeon, and now that we’ve had some time to think about it, we’ve discussed taking a different approach to it!

We’ve gone through several iterations already, although none of them have actually left the sketching board as of yet. At first we wanted the dungeon to have one floor representing each major area in the game, then we considered mixing various themes together and at some point we wanted fewer floors but more of a mishmash of everything…. The only thing we’ve really always agreed upon throughout all this has been that it shouldn’t be super long – often we feel like when players get close to the end of a game, there’s always a risk of getting fatigued and running out of steam just before the final boss, an effect that is often made worse by overly long and complex final dungeons and boss fights.

Our latest idea is to have several shorter floors – some or possibly most just a single room’s worth, and each floor will touch upon something you’ve seen or experienced in the game, but in a sort of strange way – imagine something like the creepy version of Startington, but decidedly less creepy and with more gameplay elements!

Our mission for this week game design wise will be to come up with a bunch of room ideas for the first stretch of the game, up until Flying Fortress, and present our ideas on Friday. Which events throughout the game do you find most iconic and would be something you’d expect to see represented in a dungeon like this? And how do you feel about the length of final dungeons? Do you expect a super long finale, or do you prefer it to be a little shorter?

Now, time for a bunch of mixed things: a bunk bed in Trick & Treat’s house, some new better looking graphics for some of the ambience box sounds, and a new item based on a backer’s request! :)

Another thing I’ve been working on recently has been sketching a couple of the last bunch of maps needed for Story Mode, one which is the room where your card collection is shown and which will grant you a special reward once you’ve collected all of them:

This room will be in Mount Bloom, in front of where the dragon carving on the floor used to be. In this initial sketch, it doesn’t look very mountain-y, but that will be remedied in the final version, which will probably look slightly different in the end, but the concept will remain the same: slots for cards on the wall, and some similar looking decorations across the room to make it look more interesting.

The other room I’ve been sketching has been the strange realm where you’ll battle Bishop! In the beginning we wanted this battle to take place in a surreal dream world governed by Grindea, but after some thought we changed our mind; while Grindea is light, we feel that Bishop is more of a dark creature, and having his battle be in a proper Bishop-y realm would be best.
As such, my design for the room is a bit more grim looking that our initial plan:

Again, it will likely look slightly different in the end, especially once the proper graphics are made, but you get the overall concept and colour scheme!

Time to start working on the background for the card cave! As you can see, the Mount Bloom mountain walls make it feel a lot more like a cave than in the sketch:

I haven’t made the slots for the cards yet, as they will need to be animated with glowing lights and such I thought it best to leave that up to Fred for now so the size of them will work out!

In Fred’s department, it’s been all about figuring out the look for one of the most important characters in the game that hasn’t yet appeared in the game in her physical form…. That is, of course, Grindea! She’ll appear as part of the ending, so we’ve been figuring out how to illustrate her form by having Fred make a ton of sketches!

Here you can see the progress of how it’s evolved:

Originally, we envisioned her as more of an ordinary character, but in the end we went for a bit more shapeless approach, and so these last two are our current favourites! What do you guys think?

Good evening everyone!

Have you had great holidays despite the strange year we left behind? We’ve been taking it easy, not meeting to many people – in fact, me and Fred and Fred’s brother (whom he lives with) decided we wouldn’t go anywhere and risk getting or spreading the virus, so we celebrated christmas and new years together on the island instead!

Today we got back to work, and the first thing we decided on doing is having a meeting to discuss our upcoming patches!

There are three big patches left, one featuring the final story mode stuff (except for the ending bit), where we’ll add the last bunch of backer items, some arena stuff (making you able to rebattle bosses in the arena + some bonus challenges), adding a fight with bishop and the cave where you can track your progress on how many cards you’ve found (as well as getting a special item once you’ve collected them all).

The second patch will involve Arcade Mode, where we’ll be reworking the challenge rooms to make them a bit more fun and varied, add a proper map so you can track your progress, adding a proper room to end your runs as well as a final boss battle featuring none other than the goddess herself, Grindea! We’re also gonna make sure we feel each run is varied enough and possibly add more types of rooms to make sure each new run won’t get too repetitive.

The third and final patch before proper release is the Main Story ending patch, where we’ll add the final dungeon, both endings and both final bosses (the version of the battle you face will depend on whether it’s the default or true ending path you’re on)! It’s possible we’ll save the final battle of Arcade Mode to this patch as well, so both endings come out at the same time.

We’re aiming for the first patch to be done by the end of March – however we’re not sure whether this is actually realistic or if we’re just being hyped after having some time off for two weeks! Regardless, we’ll do our best to make it happen :)

Stay tuned for our continued progress as we head into this new year together!

So the first thing for me to do is a proper house for the Trick & Treat twins. We might postpone any optional boss battle they might have been part in, but they still get a house of their own!

The first floor was made ages ago when we still had big plans for those guys, so I decided to add a bit more detail to it:

This place will also be the home of another smaller character (in more than one way) – the evil mandarine I made a portrait of quite a while ago (still remember him?)

Next up, we’re working on adding that stuff to the arena! As part of that, you’ll be able to select difficulty for the boss rebattles, and so I was tasked with making an interface for said difficulty setting:

As you can see, there will be three settings available, and they will be Default (the way the boss was when you first encountered it), Scaled (which means we scale its difficulty to your current level), and Overpowered (which will be a much more difficult version, overpowered for your current level)! I haven’t added the texts to the buttons here as they will the rendered directly in the game engine:

Working on this interface again makes me feel like it looks a little bit bland, so I feel like I might improve on its general look in the near future as well…. :)

(You know what, said and done, time to touch up these old UI graphics a little bit:)

Meanwhile in Fred’s department, it’s all about giving Bishop some more weaponry! Scared yet?

This post is extremely late, but things have been a bit hectic right before the holidays, so many apologies for that!

Right before we went on some christmas holidays (which will continue once more after this post: the blog should be back around the 11th of January) however, we managed to finish up another patch for frontline, featuring a bunch of new side content for Story Mode! If you haven’t checked it out already, go ahead and do so – to see the full patch notes, check here!

Now, let’s start this week’s recap with more portraits, featuring a bunch of collectors you’ll find in the conference room of the HQ! Here’s the first:

and here’s the second:

The next patch is drawing ever nearer, so here’s a bunch of small fixes and addition from me, featuring a vine bridge and some new drop appearances:

So, in the next patch, which will be available any day now (and is already if you’re on the Meatshield version of the beta – that is, the version that gets the super early, barely tested stuff), there will be a bunch of different new stuff, but among my favourites is this new mini game!

Turns out that Fark, our sound designer, has moved in to the north of Port Monnaie, and here he’ll be offering you a mini game where you have to guess which sound effect belongs to which creature!

Get it right, and a green check mark will appear, after which the next sound will play…

…get it wrong, though, and you’ll have to start from the beginning!

The first time you succeed in this challenge, you’ll be rewarded with a housing item that plays various sounds in the background! After you’ve unlocked the item, you are able to do the challenge any number of times you’d like, just for fun. Will you be able to guess all of the sounds? :o

Finally, you can take a look at these new additions by Fred, giving you a sneak peek of something epic that will appear in an upcoming update:

Merry Christmas! ;3

This week we’ll start off with another portrait, featuring the sleepy collector Fred made last week:

Next, a new ghostlike figure! This one actually has ties to your family, and can be found on the ghost ship in the near future!

As mentioned before, we’re transforming the Memory room where you could battle previous bosses into a conference room where people are making decisions on the upcoming quests and plans for the Collectors!

So, time to take care of the background:

Next up, another background change! In place of the puzzle tower, which we’re putting on hold for now, there will be… a strange slime altar? How peculiar..!

In Fred’s department, he’s finishing up a bunch of stuff for the next bunch of quest stuff, mainly the Slime Altar one, but also some sound devices you’ll get as a reward for a fun new mini-game we’ll take a look at next week:

So, some more items from the list of things we’d like to include before the full release!

First off, the house in the top right corner of Evergrind City! Remember that house on the little island in the water? It used to be all broken down, then it got cleaned up, and then we have like 50 different ideas for how to use it, until we recently simply decided to move a pretty regular family into the house, which will provide you with some background story for one of the quests we’ll include in the Pumpkin Woods.

Collectors in the Fields, we’ve mentioned this before, but we really do like the idea of including more Collector NPCs out in the world, doing everyday collector stuff such as hunting items, inspecting loot, or just talking about their adventures. At the moment the collectors are pretty much only visible in Evergrind City, so we feel like adding a bunch of additional ones around the world would help flesh out the collectors as an organization.

An easter egg ending for the storyline featuring Pine & Tannie, we know a lot of you want to be able to reunite them, so we’ll make sure you’re able to do just that, if you keep your eyes out!

More treasure maps around the world (pretty self explanatory).

Plant enemies dropping seeds so you can grow them in your own house~

A mini game featuring a sound made by our sound designer NPC Fark, after which you have to guess which sound it belongs to!

So, let’s jump straight into that stuff, starting with the interior of the house on the top right isle in Evergrind City:

Next up, one of the inhabitants of the previously made house, a mother living in Evergrind City with her husband and child(ren)!

And now, another mixed bag of stuff, some expressions, a new decor for one of the rocky parts in the Dragonbone Dunes, a new icon for the arena boss rebattles, and a couple new drops:

Fred, meanwhile, has continued working on a bunch of NPC animations, some of which can be seen here: