One of the things we wanted to finish before releasing the game on Steam Early Access was to add quests to Seasonne (also known, informally, as the Winterland), and in order to do so, there was a bunch of small things for me to get in order!

First of all, a bunch of gifts, stolen by some particularly mean person:

Then... Expressions! A whole bunch, actually! I love doing expressions , trying to come up with ways to portray different feelings by simply changing the features of a face is a lot of fun. :) 

..Although I have to admit, I spend a lot of time making funny faces myself while drawing these... It seems to be some kind of reflex that you imitate the face of whoever you draw? Or is it just me?!

Lastly, we had to make a slight edit of the Gauntlet portrait from before! I never really thought about it when I made the portrait, but the gauntlet is in fact made for the right hand (the elder fae wears it that way, at least)! So, kind of had to redraw him a bit. 

Hopefully it won't make a super big difference, I think he remains pretty squidlike and that's what's important, right? ;)
Another portrait! This time it's a second summer fae, a female (though who can ever really tell with these guys).. :3

Line Art

Color Blocking




Finished Sprite!

Have you thought about going indie? Do you dream of creating your own games, being your own boss? Do you worry whether or not you're ready, or if it's right for you? While I was working the other day, I was listening to this talk that's available for free over at the GDC Vault (lots of really awesome talks are available there, if you haven't checked it out)! 

Not only is Don Daglow absolutely hilarious in this talk (and he should definitely become a voice actor if he isn't one already), he makes a lot of interesting points. Perhaps the most interesting questions he asked was one in the beginning: 

If you had all your finances settled, money wasn't a problem and you've already been travelling all around the world - what would you do with your time? 

It's a really interesting question because it challenges you to think about what you really want to do with your everyday life. For me, the answer is simple: I'd do exactly what I do today! Being an indie dev in a small team such as this has been a dream so far. I love to draw and to write, and as this job allows me to do both, it's the perfect mix. 

I also have to say - having people play the game and share their experiences is absolutely awesome. Seeing the community grow, people becoming friends because of the game, sharing strategies or helping eachother out... It's fantastic. :)

Of course, if my money was unlimited, as the question suggests, I'd probably move to a bigger apartment (or buy a house) and perhaps get another cat and a horse as well... ;)

What about you? What would you do with your everyday life?
Another portrait of Santa?! Why in the world..? And, no, it's not a remake. Let's just say some weird things tend to happen in certain quests... ;) 

Line Art

Color Blocking




Finished sprite

It's another portrait! Actually, there will probably be a bunch more coming in the next week, as we need a bunch of new people to feature in quests in order to flesh out Seasonne and the Fae village :) 

This is the portrait of a silly summer fae that has an important role to play in one of the quests:

Line Art

Color Blocking


Highlights & Details


Finished sprite

Another thing needed in order to finalize the cutscenes of the Temple of Seasons was a portrait for another talking artifact - this time a mysterious gauntlet!

Here's the video showing the process of painting this character: 

And here's the still images:
Line Art

Color Blocking

Shading & Highlights

Some details~

Finished sprite :)

Thanks for all your replies guys! They sure help a lot :D We'll take a small break from our worries with the mountainside for a bit, in hopes of reaching a solution after letting it rest a bit, and in the meanwhile I'll focus on finishing some more things that we want to implement before the Steam Early Access release (additional tasks like this appear all the time, as we plan quests in better detail or simply remember stuff we previously forgot). 

First of all, there's the puzzle blocks that needed a recoloring to fit in the caves in the Seasonne, where the mountains are a bit more blue:

Then there were some additional portraits needed for the Temple of Seasons boss cutscenes:

Speaking of that boss, as some of you pointed out - the hands are wrong on his portrait - haha! I must have been half asleep while painting that. :D That has been fixed now:

We also realize we were missing some achievements in Arcade Mode, namely the 'reach floor', 'clear all challenges' and 'score s' version of the Seasonne and Temple of Seasons floors!

We also added an achievement for beating the red version of Giga Slime in Arcade Mode, seeing as he seems to be the biggest challenge of that mode currently! :)
Today we added the part of Pillar Mountains that I finished improving to the game. As we ran around next to the walls, a bunch of questions started to pop up, actually filling us with doubt and dread! D:

Is this really better?
While all of us agree that the new mountains matches the rest of the game better, adding them to the game means we have to do a lot of additional work. Not only should these walls appear in every part of the Pillar Mountains, including the lower parts where you face the Black Ferrets for the first time, they're also part of Startington and similar walls are present in every cave - including the three areas that make up Mt:Bloom and its two outside entrances.

So in total, 10 whole maps that we can think of currently, plus every small cave!

On top of that, once we improve the walls, other things need to be improved as well. As you can see in the screenshot above, the bigger rocks on the playing field look a bit off next to the walls now - at the very least, they need to get their brightness/contrast adjusted to match the bright new mountain, but they should probably be repainted a bit as well. The bridges between pillars also need to be reworked, as do the houses and ideally the interior of Startington. Once you improve one thing, other old things will simply look too out of place next to them.

And so this would obviously take a ton of time to finish. And technically, I do have that time. I'm way ahead of Teddy and Fred, and I'm confident I could finish most, if not all, of this before the Steam Early Access release. But when you're about to make a huge decision like this, you're bound to be filled with doubt.

Are the new walls even better in the first place? If we could all, honestly, answer that question with a clear 'yes', then I wouldn't be writing this post right now. I'd be working on finishing more walls. But we're honestly not sure.

Let's take a look at a smaller part of the Before-and-After screens from yesterday:

Now, while the actual rendering of the new wall looks better in our opinion, it also draws your attention much more. The old one feels really anonymous as you play, and it's good in the sense that you get to focus on the actual playing field. So maybe the new walls are too distracting? Maybe remaking them isn't gonna add enough of an improvement in comparison to the workload that it'd be worth it? Maybe it'll actually be worse in the end?

We have thought of ways to solve these worries, of course. Ideas such as making the walls darker, adding vines and moss to them, having the walls consist of larger (and/or smaller) stones... As we proceed, I'll probably try some of those suggestions out and see if we can reach a point where we all agree that this is 100%, definitely, without a doubt better than the old ones.

In the end, we want the game to be as good as it can be, both visually and when it comes down to gameplay. Not knowing which path would make the better game really sucks, but that too is something you have to face every once in a while (if not all the time) as a gamedev!

What do you guys think? Is it worth getting into this, or should we simply quit this before we waste too much time? Would these changed even make the area better, in your opinion, or do you prefer the old version? 
So last time I was reworking the walls of this map. Today, it's time to take a look at the ground, and paint some new grassy edges! 

Here's where we left off in the previous post: 

The first step I'll take is to adjust the colors of the grass slightly. Since these walls are much brighter and 'cartoony' in it's shading style, the grass comes across as a bit over saturated and dark. In order for it to match the walls a bit better, I'm gonna edit it's shade to a more pastel-y hue:

During this step I also work around the path, editing the colors of the edges to adjust its appearance slightly.

Once this is done, it's time to start painting new grassy edges to go on top of the new rocks. As usual, this is all about making some basic sketch/line art, then refining it by removing unnecessary pixels.

Here's a couple of examples:

And here you can see the whole map, with the new grass added on top of the mountainsides:

One thing is still missing though: the stairs! In the promotional art, the stairs have a yellow/brown-ish hue, so I thought I'd try it out here as well. We haven't decided if we want the stairs to be this color in the end, but since it's real easy to just turn the saturation down and make the stairs the same color as the rocks, I thought I'd at least give it a go:

Below, you can see the before and after version of a small portion of this area.
It's coming along, slowly:

Since I finished the essential things I needed to get done for the Steam Early Access release, I've been considering what I could do to improve stuff in the game while Teddy & Fred finish up the rest of their tasks. One of the things that has always been on the back of my mind is the way the Pillar Mountains (and Startington) look.  

These areas were the very first created for the game, and in many ways it shows. Not only have I improved my pixel art a lot since I created these areas, the overall style of the game has changed a bit too - in the upper screenshot of Pillar Mountains, the pixel art has a ton of colors and feel much more "painted", compared to the screen below, which is more of what the game looks like nowadays:

Since this is also the very first place the players will explore, it would really be nice if it showed the game in the best light possible, so I figured I'd spend some time reworking the essential parts of these places. Today, I'll begin with the walls (or well.. mountains..)!

I begin with lowering the opacity of the original map by a lot, and start painting rocks on top of it, approximately following the outline of the old walls.

I then create a layer underneath the line art and fill the rocks with a basic gray color.

Third step: add lights and shadows, all day. This takes a while, since I do each stone individually, but in the end it'll be worth having this many rocks that look unique, as I can copy them and reuse them in other places without them looking like replicas of the same 3 rocks repeated over and over.

So that's what I did above: simply copy a bunch of rocks, paste them in and paint a bunch of new rocks to close the gap between the two layers. Afterwards, copying the entire mountain and editing its brightness/contrast creates the darker mountain behind the original one.

Finally, I do a bunch of more copy/pasting of the original mountain to create the rest of the rocks. They might not look like much this way, but once proper grass is in place and you actually see a screen rather than the entire thing in all its broken glory, I think it'll look way better than the old version :)
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