For the Pumpkin Woods floor, 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! :) 

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... :)

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? 

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!

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! 

Next, 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! :) 

 



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? 

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