As you might guess housing is one of our main priorities right now, so here's another update!

As we're finishing up the current housing stuff, there realized there were some more forgotten things we needed to take care of!
This week is a very special week, seeing as it's the annual GGC week!

GGC is short for Gotland Game Conference, which is basically a game expo where the students at the game design education showcase their game and a bunch of people from the industry is invited as judges to give feedback and select which ones did the best. It all culminates in an award ceremony with an after-party where we all get a chance to hang out together and share experiences with other game developers. So basically, it's great!

This year GGC runs from Sunday to Tuesday, so as I'm writing this post we've already finished Sunday's work, and are about to head out to do some game testing this evening (we're likely already there once this post goes live).

So yesterday we got to watch a ton of presentations (pretty much 5-10 minute pitches) for each game we're responsible for. Me and Fred got to watch presentations made by the second year students this year, and Teddy was sent out to watch the third years. While those are the games we have a main responsibility to judge and provide feedback for, we're encouraged to play all the games.

On Thursday, once everything has settled down and the winners have been chosen, I'll write a wrap-up post about the event as a whole and the games we liked the most. Tomorrow and Wednesday will be regular posts, though! We'll be able to squeeze in a bit of work before and after we go to the event every day, so hopefully things won't get too disrupted.

When we're not at GGC judging games and hanging out with fellow game developers, this week will be all about some last minute housing polish, finishing up the remaining details and the graphics needed for them! In fact, we hope to be able to patch once we're done at GGC, so sometime during Wednesday.

Time for our first Fred's Friday! This week, Fred has been busy with the enemies, bringing the Cacute and Mrs. Bird to life with with a bunch of animation!

And now, another portrait! Perhaps this should get it's own weekly post as well: Wednesday Visage? No... Probably not!

And now, some housing icons to indicate which tool you're currently using!

Time to make some walls for Tai Ming's arcade mode!
So, after returning from a couple days on the mainland thinking about other things for a while, I had an idea about changing some things on the blog!

First, it seems like a lot of you enjoy the posts where I talk a bit more in depth on our design decisions and what we're currently working on, so I thought I'd make every Monday a "Monday Meeting" post. We don't really have meetings every week, but we do often end up having a bunch of design talks and so I thought it'd be interesting to go over our latest design changes and decisions in a weekly post.

This would also serve as a kind of "update" or summary on what we're doing right now and what will be done in the very near future. Sounds good?

Next, I know you all wanna see more stuff Teddy and Fred are doing, so I'm thinking every Friday should be "Fred's Friday", where I'll post a bunch of the animations he's been working on and explaining what they are for. If Fred feels like it, he can write some stuff about it himself, or do step-by-steps or whatever he'd come up with.

I'll also try to include more of the stuff Fred and Teddy are working on in the posts in between, which means they should become a bit meatier. I'm also thinking that instead of saving up a bunch of small things for "Mixed Bag" posts, I'll just mash them into the regular posts, meaning posts will more often cover more than one subject!


Without further ado, let's talk about what we're currently working on: Housing!

Our basic prototype is more or less done: the items that have been made so far have all been implemented, and most of the ones that will move in some way have their proper animations. Teddy is currently working on two things, the light settings (which are coming along rather nicely so far), and the rather complicated systems behind being able to add more rooms and change the layout of your house.

You see, previously we decided that you'd be able to select between a bunch of pre-designed layouts for your house, which could be unlocked at the proper salesman or through your housing menu (not fully decided). As our conversation went on, though, we started thinking it'd be really cool if you could design your house however you wanted, adding new rooms and change their sizes freely.

Before we fully commit to that can of worms, our current goal is to upload what we have to Frontline (once it's been polished a little bit more) and let you guys try it out. We're still a little torn between having pre-designed layouts or having you design the house more freely, as the latter definitely would add a ton more work and I'm sure most of you would like to see the game finished sooner rather than later.

So for now, we'll upload what we have: a single layout, and the current housing items. The shop and house will be placeholder, with more finalized look for each of them coming later on, as we'll use the Arcadia redesign versions as a base for the story mode versions after they're finished.

With your feedback we hope to be able to gauge how much more work (and polish!) will be needed before the housing system can truly be complete, and as such will give us a better idea of which of our options to pick.

There's also a third option here, where if people are satisfied with the basic version of the house, we might just stay off multiple layouts altogether as that would save a lot of time and would mean we could add the proper housing system much sooner. Anyway, your feedback will decide! Stay tuned for that :)


The rest of the week I've planned to take a look at some much-needed Housing icons that illustrate what tool you're currently using, some more Tai Ming Arcade stuff (a variety of walls!) and another portrait. See you tomorrow! :)

We've had multiple discussions regarding table cloths and how to apply them to various tables. Finally, we've come to a decision!

Sometimes, it's easy to forget that being a gamedev involves more than simply making games and managing the community surrounding it. Today (when this gets posted, a while ago) we had our "annual meeting", which is a formal thing we need to do to review the year and how the company has fared through it.
Some time has passed since we started the poll regarding which of the Tai Ming Arcade floor designs you'd prefer - backtrack through time or random time jumps. At the moment of writing this, it seems you guys are as divided as we are, so for the time being we're leaning slightly towards the backtracking idea.

This means each of the rooms have to be made available in both a past and a present version. And speaking of the floor visuals, how would we even go about designing an Arcade floor of an area that's more of a town than any of the previous areas you've progressed through?

To sort this out, I had a long meeting with Teddy where we sketched and discussed the various ways we could handle this.

In conclusion, we've decided to make the floors in a very different way compared to the others. For the other floors, each room background is either very designed by me, with variations to give the user an impression of there being more rooms than there actually is (Flying Fortress, Mount Bloom etc), or they are fully generated by the engine that puts a bunch of trees in a circle on top of a basic background (Evergrind Fields, Seasonne, etc). For Tai Ming, we're going to do a mix of the two.

We decided that each outdoor room of Tai Ming will consist of a plain grass background, upon which we'll put various things that will serve to block the screen so that you can't move further than the square where you'll be fighting. These things will include various fences, mountain walls, streams of water and houses, either ones you will enter or closed ones that will only serve to block your way forward.

Each of these items will be generated into the game by the engine, but they will have to be handmade by me to fit into each situation. For instance, there needs to be a way for a horizontal and vertical fence/stream/mountain wall to connect, and they need to be able to work with each other - a fence must be able to connect to the mountain wall, for instance.

To make these floors coherent we'll frame them with the mountain, meaning the the bottom, far right/left and topmost floors will have a corresponding mountain wall - it will be in the upper parts of the topmost floors, signifying that you cannot go further north than this. We believe this will give the floors a sense of you progressing through Tai Ming much like it works in Story Mode, you're passing through a town that's inside the mountain. Because there's a lot of water in Tai Ming's second zone and we thought it would make the rooms a more interesting look, there will be streams here and there that you can pass over (in some rooms) by bridges, that will also be made by me but generated into the game by the engine as it creates each floor.

So basically, instead of painting whole rooms, I will spend a lot of time making and piecing together many, many small parts, that need to work both on their own and be able to connect with others as they get generated by the game!

As for the indoor rooms, they will (for now) be single room living areas in a bunch of variations, but with entrances and exits in the same place: if you enter a house from the south you'll exit it in the north, and if you enter a house from the right you'll exit it to the left. Since we've already dealing with quite complex backgrounds we thought we'd keep the indoor houses simple. This way we don't have to make a ton of variations of the house sprites (the outodoor ones) that would have to look different if the house is L-shaped or longer than one room. Now we can focus on giving each of the exits variations through color and design rather than the shape, which would also end up affecting the other pieces made for the outdoor areas.

Creating these floors properly will definitely be a challenge, and more on the technical side than what we normally do, but we believe this will make these floors look the best they can. Our other options would be to make a ton of pre-rendered rooms (a bunch with the mountain wall to the bottom, a bunch with the wall to the left, etc) or lose the coherency of where the mountain floors and walls connect, and we all agree that just wouldn't be as nice.

In other words, expect a post or two full with tiny parts and ways of connecting them! ;)

And now, for the last post this week before we head to Stockholm to celebrate Teddy, another of those desert town portraits! As I mentioned before, gotta start early and all, right?

Those of you not wanting to know what things will unlock where in the new version of Arcadia should probably steer clear of this post!
This week will be a little different, as it's a very special week indeed! In fact, this week (tomorrow to be precise) Teddy is turning 30! To celebrate this, we'll be going from our isolated island to the Swedish mainland to celebrate him with his family. We'll be gone from Thursday and blogging will resume as usual on Wednesday next week, so these two weeks will be a bit shorter than usual.

To make up for that, we'll be taking a look at what Fred has been busy with recently! We haven't posted a lot of his animations on the main blog for a while, so there's a bunch of stuff that's been going on behind the scenes.

First of all, the desert enemy designs! We already talked about their gameplay design earlier, but since then Fred has been busy iterating their visual appearances:

This is typically what it looks like when we try to figure out what something should look like in the game. Make a bunch of variations and then pick whichever one is the best. In this case, we stuck with the ones in the red circle, bottom right. We're all very excited to finally start working on the next area, although me and Teddy have a ton of housing and arcade mode stuff to finish first!

Speaking of housing, that's another thing we've continued working on. Below you can see a basic test of a different light setting and a bunch of iterations for the visual appearance of the hand icon which allows you to select and edit furniture: 

Our current favorite is the version that points straight down, with the selected square beneath it. We've also started working on our options regarding multiple room layouts and it's coming along, though it's gonna need a lot of testing since there's a bunch of design problems occurring from having several rooms that need to be solved and reiterated.

Meanwhile, Fred has been making animations for a ton of the housing items that will move in various ways:

With many more to come! :)

And as a continuation of yesterday's post, here's the tourist girl's companion: a tourist boy!

And to end this week, these last two post will be something more simple and straight forward: new portraits!

And now, a quick and dirty post about something we all forgot about: carpets!
Rather than the typical "Monday Meeting" post, we're going for a "Tuesday Meeting" post today (although the actual meeting took place last Wednesday... Confusion galore)!

Anyway! As mentioned yesterday, we've finally started testing the first version of the housing build, and immediately there were a bunch of things we decided had to change (or be added). Here's some of them:

* More house layouts, and varying sizes. From the beginning we thought it'd be enough to use this one layout, but we quickly felt not only did it feel a bit big, it's also a little boring to only be able to work with a single open space room. We also felt it was a little big. So, there will be an option to change between a set of house layouts, with a smaller room and multiple rooms available.

* A character who creates duplicates of unique housing items you already own. For obvious reasons! Unlike the items you buy in the store (where you can buy as many items as you like), there are unique items out there which you'll only be able to find one of. In order to be able to place more of these in your house, you'll be able to make duplicates of them - either at the regular store guy or through another NPC.

* We'll look into making the area around your house a little bigger so there can be some kind of decorations surrounding it rather than it being placed in the middle of nowhere (well, in the middle of Evergrind) just like that.

* A furniture section should probably be added to your character's inventory menu.

* The hand tool (which is used to move furniture around or delete it), is currently a long basic line/beam, and will be replaced with a pointing hand.

* The option to flip an item horizontally will be added to items where that feature makes sense, such as the pick-axe

* A mini-icon for furniture items that have more than one style. Styles are various skins of an object, and can be a color change or detail change in some way. For example, a bookcase might have different sets of shelves or stacks of items you can pick between.In order to make it more clear which items have more than one style, we'd like to add one of those tiny icons (like the 1H/2H/housing item icons in the main menu), only visible in the housing menu.

* When you place an item you have more than one copy of, you're able to keep placing more of it until you run out of that particular item. Currently, what happens after you've placed your final item of that kind is that you'll get automatically moved back to the menu again.

This, we quickly realized, felt a bit jarring, so next we'll try adding a sound indicating you've run out of the item when you try to place another one, forcing you to cancel back into the menu rather than automatically getting there. This might seem counter productive, as it means you'll have to press an extra button before being able to select your next piece of furniture, but we believe it'll be less annoying then the jarring feeling of going from moving objects around to changing between new objects in the menu.

* Visual- and sound effects for placing and deleting objects in your house. An outline around the currently selected object. A better icon for the wallpaper section, which currently can be mistaken for a floor texture. Sound effect and visual feedback when you try to delete an item you currently can't remove (for instance if it has other items on top of it).

* The currently not used star menu will be replaced with a settings menu, where you'll be able to save your current house, change between different lightning settings and house layouts and other things we might think of.


...Aaand a bunch of other small things. As you can tell, when we add a new system things are far from perfect the first time around, and the only way of getting to that polished state is to change and add things until it feels nice :)

Once these things have been added we'll try the system out again and reevaluate!

Finally, after many twists and turns (and a ton of housing items), we've managed to make a somewhat playable test build of the housing system, which we've started testing within the team!
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