In Fred's department, there's a lot of Utility skill stuff going on. First, the development of the blink:

With the intended patch date drawing ever closer, it's time to make a decision concerning the buffs and how many times it'll be possible to upgrade each skill.

The next step on our quest to implement the Utility skills is making the proper menu backgrounds for it! The old one is rather outdated, and in fact much older than the rest of the skill menu:
As we continue to test the Utility skills, we're now fairly sure these are the ones we want to use in the end, and so it's time for me to make a bunch of skill icons!

First up, the Focus skill (the very first frame of each WIP-animation shows our current placeholder icon made by Teddy, and the last frame is my reinterpretation):

Focus is the current name of the meditate skill which allows you to channel EP by holding the skill button, and allows you to cast a skill for free after a set amount of time. Since it's EP focused, we decided to use a purple background (as the EP meter is purple). 

Next, the Barrier, which in our game kind of looks like a bubble engulfing the character, and so I wanted to focus on that in its skill icon: 

For the blink skill, we had a bit of a hard time coming up with something that would resemble the skill at all, in such a limited amount of space. This might be the skill icon I'm the most unsure of, as it might look more like some kind of healing skill than a blink skill (though maybe that's just my associations due to the green - perhaps a simple color change might help in that regard): 

Next, Death Mark, fittingly using a skull (I modified the one used in the animation where boss-Vilya yells out insults at her minions in the second battle), and added some decorations based off of a sword behind it. Red, as it's an offensive skill that will help you deal a lot more damage:

For the Stasis icon, I focused on the stasis effect, which grays out an enemy and disables them from combat. In this case I took a Rabby sprite, turned it black & white and painted some background patterns around it:
Finally, for challenge I brought out boss-Vilyas insults once more! As you yell at the enemy you're targeting, your own character will begin cursing at them in a similar way, so I thought it'd be nice to use the same graphic indicators for the insults:

And here's the lineup:

We haven't made the buff icons yet, as we're currently discussing whether we want only two or if it would be more fun to divide them after all. Since we haven't come to a decision yet, we'll refrain from making their skill icons until we do.

Last week was all about the Arcadia Rework for me, something which will continue to be the main focus for a long while to come. As you can tell, it's coming along at a steady pace, one building at a time!

This week I will begin creating the underlying decorations, grass and paths between the various spaces. Since we're also fairly sure about the Utility skills, I'll also start creating their icons, while Teddy and Fred continue to deal with testing, testing, testing and skill graphics!

We've had two major discussions these last few days, both in regards to the new Utility skills. First, about the buffs: we are currently disagreeing whether it's better to keep them as we originally planned (one buff for the offensive stats and one for the defensive stats), or to separate them further. Specifically, there's an idea it'd be more interesting the have speed be it's own buff, allowing the current Haste skill to remain (only balanced so it's more useful). However, there are those of us who feel the "package" buff is a more interesting buff to use, even if it means the speed stat won't be buffed as much as it could have been if it were its own buff.

Currently, we haven't actually made up our minds about this! What do you think you guys would prefer? Two buffs: one for offense (damage, speed, crit) and one for defense (defense, shield reg, EP reg), or three: one for damage and crit, one for speed, and the defense buff left as is?

We've also talked about the amount of silver points spent on each Utility skill. We're considering whether to have each skill have 5 levels (as was planned), or if it's better to cap them at 3 each.

With 5 stages, the skills become more of an efficient silver point sink, but the skill improvement between each level will be rather small. With 3, each point spent on the skill will give a bigger upgrade, but you'll also finish leveling the skills much sooner. Currently we're leaning towards 3, as it seems more rewarding to the player that way, but we haven't fully made up our minds yet.

If you have any ideas in regards to these discussion, feel free to share in the comments! We love to hear your input and what you think about decisions like these - after all, we want to do what's best for the players :)
In Fred and Teddy's department, things are progressing rather quickly: the graphics for the Utility skills are coming together one by one. Here's a few examples of the Barrier skill, starting with it's breaking due to a bee attack:

In the current iteration we've decided not to go with our original plan, which was that a barrier break like the one seen above would cause you to take the remaining damage (if any) after the last of your barrier hp is used up. Instead, it'll now absorb the whole attack, keeping you safe from harm even as it's close to breaking. Our reasoning for this is that it feels more satisfying being able to completely shield yourself from harm, especially against strong enemies which might be able to hit through the barrier with just one attack. We'll balance this by lowering the amount of hits and hp the barrier can shield you from instead, but if it still ends up too OP we might bring back our original plan. 

Of course, after a barrier break you won't be able to recast the skill for a little while as well, as seen above. 

Next, what it looks like as it expires due to the time limit: 

As you can see, it does not last very long: part of the balancing. Finally, below, you can see the perfect guard effect as you bring it out in the right moment against a bee:

 And here's a closer look at the effects:

We've also begun implementing the Death Mark graphics seen in last week's post! We are, however, considering changing it slightly, perhaps making the sword red and adding a skull, making it better fit its rather ominous name!

And to end this post, here's a first iteration of the Challenge skill:

This, too, will be further improved. Below you can see an effect that will be added to the animation, to better indicate in which direction you aim your skill. Eventually there will be a speech bubble with curses thrown at the enemy as well:

Arcadia continues to grow, and now it's time to add that central piece of decoration, right below the mountain where you set your course for another arcade run!
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