So to end this week, let's do another portrait :) Here's a friendly winter fae, who is quite pleased that you wish to help his hometown with its issues!

Line Art

Color Blocking


Highlights & Details

Finished sprite!

The final day of Gotland Game Conference! This day we went down to play some more games - because why not - before heading to have dinner with the other judges and preparing for the Awards ceremony and party (which lasted pretty much all night - thank god we only do these things once a year or so ;)).

Drinking some champagne at the pre-awards VIP mingle.. :o)

There isn't all that much to say about today, other than that I got to talk to so many amazing people! I love attending GGC because you get to meet a lot of people that are much like you - we all love games, developing their different aspects and sharing knowledge and experiences in doing so. After mainly being locked inside our apartment developing day and night, just us three, it's really refreshing to get out and meet some real people in the industry, as well as students about to join us.

Plus, as a gamedev, you can't really play too many games, right? Gotta keep in touch with that side too!

I think that's all for this year's GGC! It's been an honor to be invited for the third year in a row - I'd do it again anytime! :)

BTW, for those that are curious, here's a showreel with all the games participating in this year's GGC:

And here's a list of the winners:

Best First Year Project
Frog Climbers

Best Second Year Project
Clouds Below

Best Graduate Project

Best Presentation

The Cha-Ching! Award
Summit Chasers

The Almedalen Library Award
Colors of the Wind

Alumnus of the Year
Rikard Jaksch

The Innovation Award
Workspace Warfare

The Tokyo University of Technology – School of Media Science Dean’s Award
Clouds Below

Students’ Choice Award

The Pwnage Award (Best of Show)
Frog Climbers
Yesterday we continued to play games at GGC! This time around, the public was welcome to attend the showfloor, meaning there were a lot more people there. I finished playing the second year games, and managed to play a bunch of others as well, since we had a bit of extra time!

This time around, I was the most impressed by a racing game called Twin Shift, which combines the basics of a racing game with a shifting mechanic resembling the one in VVVVVV:

Basically, it's like any other racing game, but there's also a track above your which you can shift to. Sometimes the track you're on will end abruptly, meaning you have to shift to avoid crashing and losing valuable time, and sometimes the track above/beneath you will take you through a different route than the one you're currently on. While I don't normally enjoy a lot of racing games, this felt intriguing since it had such a cool, yet simple, mechanic that at least I haven't seen before in racing-type games.

In general, I feel like the best games on exhibitions like these, where the contestant only have 8-10 weeks to build their game, are the ones that use very basic core mechanics, polish them really well and expand from that center rather than the ones that try to do too many things at once. A lot of the time you can tell that someone had this huge vision of a game where you could do a bazĂ­llion different things, but trying to implement all those aspects into a vertical slice in such a short time is near impossible and typically leaves you with a buggy, unpolished shadow of your original vision.

Learning to understand what your core is and keeping it simple instead of adding unnecessary features is a really important aspect of game development, regardless of whether your project is a 10-week expo project or the long-term project of your dreams. It's something we struggle with as well - sometimes we have to sit down and ask ourselves if what we want to add really serves to improve the game or if it's just another "wouldn't it be cool"-idea that will take a lot of development time without increasing the value of the game. While it's cool to have a ton of features, you have to finish the game as well, and the content you do implement has to feel polished and like it belongs in the game.

Anyway! After playing the games we were invited on a walk through the city along with the rest of the judges. We got to visit some of the companies in Visby and tried some of their wares (cheese, beer and wine) before going back to the school where we had dinner consisting of some of the different specialties found here in Gotland.

All in all, a great day!
Being a judge means very little time, it seems! Instead of talking about day two of GGC today, I'll throw in this pre-prepared portrait post. Basically I just came home and fell asleep yesterday, and now that I've awoken it's time to return to GGC for its final day! I'll post more about that tomorrow. For now: enjoy!

Time for another fae portrait (nope, we're still not done with those)! Another autumn fae this time, contemplating who will become the next elder:

Line Art

Color Blocking



Details & Wings

Finished Sprites!

This week will look a bit different as me and my fellow Pixel Ferrets have been invited to Gotland Game Conference, where we'll serve as part of the jury, trying out a bunch of games and giving feedback (and scores)!

The jury consists of a bunch of interesting people from different parts of the game design industry, and the whole list of people can be seen here; needless to say I'm very excited to be part of this gang :)

Today (Sunday) was the first, inofficial, day of the conference, where the jury meet up for the first time and listen to a bunch of presentations held by the students about the games they've been making. Listening to the presentations is actually part of our duty as jurors, and we have to grade each presentation based on how good we thought it was.

The jury meeting up for some expo information and a light lunch
before starting the hard work!

I'm judging the Second Year students, and I have to say, they were really good! The presentations were all very clear, people spoke great English (they do presentations in English since not all of the jurors or teachers are native Swedes), and the games felt, for the most part, well thought through.

Once the presentations were done, we got to experience the expo floor for a bunch of hours on our own along with the students; tomorrow the public is allowed in so it'll be a lot more cramped. Unfortunately, I had to leave the expo area quite early today, since I've been feeling a cold coming on (got a horribly sore throat), and it got much worse towards the evening. Therefore I couldn't play as many games as I wanted today, but thankfully there are two more days and hopefully I'll feel better after some rest and a good night's sleep.

Anyway, of the games I did play today, some stood out quite a bit! One of those were Naar, a middle-eastern inspired game where you play as a guy who looks a bit like Super Mario in an oversized turban:

Naar manages to capture the spirit of a world that, at least to me, feels very unique: the theme is middle-eastern, kind of Arabian nights-styled, where your main character is on a mission to fight an army of djinns. The gameplay allows you to cast a variety of different spells, which can be combined in different ways, creating even more powerful attacks, and you gain new abilities by killing certain monsters.

While the mechanics may need some polishing, I loved the world and the premise of the whole thing. The 3D-graphics were among the best I've seen this school produce as well, with wonderful textures and a sense of everything fitting together really well.

Another game that showed great promise was Scrap Pirates, a 2D co-op puzzle-ish game where you and a friend take on the role of two pirates looting abandoned ships:

The 2D art of this game really appealed to me, and the mechanics were pretty cool too! Basically you have two different energy fields, one blue and one red, which works kind of like magnetic auras: depending on what color aura other things (or your friend) have, you'll either pull things towards you or push them away. For instance, if your friend activates the red aura, and you activate the blue aura, you will cling to each other, something that's very useful in certain parts of the puzzles. If you both activate the same color aura, however, you'll bounce off each other instead, which allows to reach new places.

My biggest gripe with this game was that the only way of playing was through co-op, making it an incredibly hard sell. I, at least, wouldn't want to buy a game where I have to have someone else interested in playing with me. While the auras definitely work the best in co-op, there were plenty of ways in which they were interesting in solo play as well, so hopefully they consider adding single player levels in the future!

That's all for today! Sadly no Secrets of Grindea updates, but later this week things should go back to normal :)
As promised a few days ago, it's time for a new portrait, featuring another of the fae! This time around, it's a spring fae male! Hope you enjoy :) 

Line Art

Color Blocking



Details & Wings!

Finished Sprite

Today we've been working on the design and implementation of a feature I think most on the team have been wanting for a long time... Quick leveling! 

With this new feature, you'll be able to hold tab to bring up the interface seen above, where the last 5 skills and talents you used are shown. This means that instead of having to open the menu and find the correct skill and talent every time you level up, the game will find them for you, and you won't have to swap between the talent- and skill trees. 

This is especially useful in Arcade Mode, where you level up often and typically only use 1-2 skills and 1-2 talents at one time. I'm not sure whether this feature will be available in Story Mode yet, as that mode is a bit more slow paced, and leveling through the menu makes more sense. 

Either case, for my next few Arcade Mode runs, I look forward to being able to level up much faster and without as much hassle!

Oh, and as a side note. I've begun polishing the In-Game menu a bit, starting with the menu icons:

Most of them are more or less the same, only slightly adjusted (outlines, yay). The system-, skill- and equipment icons are probably the ones with the biggest changes. Overall I think these look a bit more crisp and clear than their predecessors, and I hope you guys agree! :)
In a coming patch, we'll be adding another rank to your Arcade Mode runs! Currently, you can get S, A, B, and C-ranks, and you get a bit of score for getting each of those ranks. 

We've noticed, however, that playing extremely safe has become a bit too OP in terms of score - it's almost always better to play safe and get past higher floors, regardless of your score for each room, than to clear the rooms as fast & skillfully as possible. 

To balance this a bit, we'll be introducing the D-rank, which gives you zero points when clearing a room too slowly:  

We do understand that running around with Mr. Cloud or shooting enemies from afar once every 10 seconds is a strategy that many love to use (myself included), but it doesn't seem fair that it should be the most viable strategy in terms of getting a good score. 

With this rank implemented, you'll be able to get a higher score by playing more aggressively, acing fewer floors before dying, than crawling through a higher number of floors while clearing the rooms at a slower speed!

Now that that's out of the way, let's take a look at the last (?!) bunch of portrait improvements:

First up, the Gardener! He had to be repainted a bit, cleaning up a few shades. Other than that he's pretty much the same.

Next, some minor adjustments of the Mumrik, cleaning up a few shades here as well, editing the highlights on his hair slightly...

Then there's the stonecutter, who also suffered from a few too many shades, and some slight hair issues. 

Lastly, we gave the Mayor, in his riches form, a monocle! Because, why not? :)
Remember how I promised a male spring fae? Well, scratch that! This post will be about how we continue to work on our Steam leaderboards! The basics have been implemented now, and we're in the process of adding polish, some of which will be the focus of today's post!

To start off, we thought it would be nice to have an indicator of whether you know someone on the leaderboards or not. We also thought it'd be good to have a clear indicator of which score is your own. So, to do that we've added these two icons: 

The star indicates that the score it's next to is your own, and the heart indicates that the score belongs to someone on your friendlist. You can see them in action below: 

Next, we needed some slight adjustments for the "friends only" filter. When you view the global scores, you can see the avatars of the three top players. We wanted this for the friends only filter as well, so we had to make a special interface for it - in the top three global score boxes, the players rank number can be found within the balls to the left of their character portrait, but as your friends might not be #1-#3 on the global score, we replaced the numbers with trophies instead: 

We also added their actual rank beneath the character portraits, so you know exactly how high your friends have climbed in terms of global score: 

Lastly, we've added a prompt asking you whether or not you want to submit your score to steam whenever you get a new highscore: 

This allows cheaters to go wild in Arcade Mode without ruining the leaderboards when they wish not to, and also allows especially private player to keep their scores secret. If you cheat, it should be noted that you will get banned from the leaderboards if you submit illegal scores, and people who obviously cheat will get a warning about this along with the prompt!

Alright, I think that's all in terms of new leaderboard content (for now)! See you tomorrow :D
Part two of the nosejob frenzy! This time we begin with the Blacksmith ladies: 


With these, I had to do some additional fixes on them aside from their noses as well. For instance, there were a lot of unnecessary shades in their faces in particular, so I cleaned that up to give the portraits a cleaner look.

Next up, the Mountain girls:


Since they were among the later batches of portraits, their overall style is what we're looking for, but somehow I had managed to make their noses a bit too big for Teddy's taste, so I simply shrank them and repainted them a tiny bit to fit the characters better :)

Next up is one of the older portraits, featuring the Mayor of Arcadia:


The Mayor had to be remade quite a bit: he had a ton of unnecessary shading, especially in his face, plus his hair was textured in the old way, so I had to remake his hair as well.

Lastly, there's Luke's little brother:

He also had to be repainted a bit! I fixed his cheek a little, shrank his nose and removed a few shades.

There's a couple more that had to be fixed, but I'll save those for another post. :) Tomorrow it's time for a brand new portrait instead, featuring a male spring fae!
So a while ago Teddy approached me suggesting that since I was reworking old things, perhaps I could take a look at a few of the old portraits again. You see, he had found that a lot of the noses looked rather big, and would prefer if I could make them smaller to give the characters a more pleasant and attractive look. 

While I personally don't think the noses are too big, I'm sure that if he thinks so, plenty of others will agree with him! And I don't think making the noses smaller would mean the portraits will look worse, so why not!

I asked him to give me a list of the ones he thought needed fixing, and here's the first batch: 

Nysbruden in Pillar Mountains: original version!

Nysbruden after her nosejob!

The schoolkids: original versions!

The schoolkids after their nosejobs (and after removing a few unnecessary shades as well)!

The waitresses: original versions!

The waitresses after making their noses smaller (and adjusting their expressions slightly)!

There's more of these, so prepare yourselves for another batch next week! ;)
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