Let's talk about one of the things Fred has been working on recently: Loods! In Arcadia, this is the name of a new feature, namely these cute little beings who appear randomly in rooms in Arcade Mode runs:

The Loods are mysterious creatures of unknown origins. Some say they are linked to the goddess Grindea in some way, but who can tell for sure? What we do know, though, is that there are several kinds of Loods in different colors, and that upon defeating a Lood, it will turn into treasure!

What kind of treasure the Lood turns into depends on what kind of Lood it is. Currently there are four known kinds who give gold, items, talent orbs and health pots respectively. Defeating them in itself won't be too hard, since they don't attack - the challenge lies in defeating them before they get bored and run off! As such, once a Lood spawns you have a very limited time in which you may try to defeat it to get the treasure. Fail, and it will simply leave!

Once the Lood is defeated it will turn into an idle form, which, upon room completion turns into a chest. We hope that the Loods will make Arcade runs even more interesting, as it adds a little random factor to the regular rooms. We have thoughts of including evil Loods that you need to defeat in order to be spared from something annoying as well, but we'll see how things go with these friendly Loods first. Looking forward to hear what you have to say about these little creatures once the patch goes live!
Today has been another day of testing the new Arcadia rework! After several hours played we've far from unlocked everything, which is great. While I only get to the second floor of Evergrind and Fred gets to the later floors of the whole thing, we've unlocked things in approximately the same amount of time, which is as we intended.

The time it takes to get enough gold to unlock new buildings actually feels surprisingly well balanced in our opinion, but that might of course change once we upload everything to Frontline and hear more opinions!

As always when looking at something you haven't touched for a while, there's some eyesores. In between testing (when waiting for Teddy to upload patches with bug fixes), I went ahead and fixed a bunch of smaller things:

I forgot to draw an arrow from the old to the new money bags, but needless to say, the left one is the old and the right one is the new. The portraits have been slightly touched up. I still have a dream of going back and remaking a bunch of the older portraits one final time before we release the game properly, but for now these quick touchups will have to do :) 

With this testing we're getting closer to an actual estimate of when the Arcadia rework will go live on Frontline as well! If nothing unexpected happens, we aim to have it done around 10-12th April, basically somewhere early that week. There are still some small things we need to add or fix graphics wise, and we have a lot more systems to test as well, but this estimate includes the time we expect to spend on bug fixes.

Can't wait to hear your feedback once this goes live!
Today and the next few days will be all about bug testing this beat of an update. The Arcadia rework has been fully implemented (aside from some smaller polish things), and before it can be released on frontline we need to do some testing of our own. 

...and it's a good thing we did! One of the first things we noticed was a hard to figure out bug that crashed the game every time we entered a specific type of event room. There's also been a lot of other smaller but kind of obvious bugs that we've been able to clean out that definitely would impact the player experience.

Other than that though, our testing sessions have gone really well. Most things work and the main new feature (the building your town thing) feels pretty satisfying, to us at least! The whole of Arcade Mode has gotten some upgrades pacing wise, with things unlocking as you progress, which feels a lot more satisfying.

There's still some bug hunting to do, and some smaller things to fix, but you should be able to expect the update within the coming few weeks - possibly even next week, if things go as planned. Now I better get back to testing - and graphics fixing! Exciting times.. :)

With the new event rooms decided upon and fully designed, it's time to get to making some new graphics. Or rather bringing in and adjusting some of our existing ones to fit the theme of these rooms.

First we have the Blessings of Grindea rooms, which will give permanent upgrades of various sorts (or just a simple heal). Our idea here is that the chest will open up and reveal the blessing as you receive it:

Next, Shadier merchant and his carpets. We might add some more props to this guy in the future, or maybe make him a different character entirely (a vampire, perhaps, seeing as he wants your life force ;)). For now though, he sits by a couple of torches, with each item displayed on a tiny carpet in front of him:

Finally, the buff shrines. Our idea here is that a buff icon will appear in the middle of the circle as you approach it. A strategy might be to avoid going close enough to activate the shrine until you find the boss room - but on the other hand, getting there without the buff might be hard enough! What will you do?

With the the buildings and their corresponding mechanics fully implemented into the new, revamped Arcadia, it's now time for the final few things we want to add before it's time to get to testing! We've always planned to add more randomized event rooms, and with the rework we feel it's a good time to add in a few of them. 

Here's the one we'll add this time around:

Buff Shrines
A shrine that, upon approaching it, gives you a random buff for a limited time. The buffs we've got planned are the usual basic ones: increased attack (both magic and physical), increased cast & attack speed and increased EP regeneration. But we've also come up with a few less common: one that makes your shield much stronger, one that increases your movement speed, and one in which you won't get knocked back. These last three will need to be tested to see whether they will actually be nice buffs to have in this setting, but we have our hopes up.

Grindea's Blessings
A room with a Grindea statue that grants you permanent blessings. These can be a level up, a gold skillpoint, a few talent orbs, gold, or a heal!

Shadier Merchant
A mysterious salesman who sells powerful items and skillpoints in exchange for a portion of your max HP. He'll have three items on display each time this room appears, and depending on the item he'll reduce your max HP by a certain number.

Little J
...will start appearing as well! First as a prisoner which you'll need to save from a mean mini-boss, but once he's released he'll start appearing in shop rooms, allowing you to upgrade your bow as you progress through the floors.

We have more rooms planned as well, but for now we'll just include the ones mentioned above (we gotta get that update out after all - we've been at it quite a while!) Once they are implemented we'll only need to do some slight inhouse testing before pushing it out to frontline though, so stay tuned!

With the Arcadia rework drawing closer to a finish, I better step up the portrait making speed to keep up with all the characters Fred is making! As such, here's another one.

I know I've mostly been doing GIFs for new portraits but this time my initial reflex was to start recording the whole process so I just went with it! This here is the portrait is of Jar Jar Potter, the resident potter of the desert town:

Next stop on the des(s)ert menu (ha!) is finishing up a bunch of smaller places found in or around the town! There are two cave systems, for one, that we need to design, as well as that saloon.

The first cave system is found on the first map of the desert. The room in which you enter is filled with mining equipment - seems that Mt Bloom company has some business in other parts of the lands as well. The cacti in here will have a peculiar, mushroom-like shape. I wonder what significance that will have on any potential side quests in this area?

From the first room you'll be able to go right to an encounter room, after which you'll be able to make your way upstairs where there's another exit. 

The second cave system is found on the second map of the desert. Much like the first cave system, this too leads to an exit one level above. It also has a dead end sort of deal, but seeing as there's a jump down thingy leading away from it, maybe it's possible to reach the other end of this map through some other way... I wonder. ;)

Finally, the Saloon. Fred has already made a bunch of NPCs for this place, so I placed them around the room to get a feel for the place. One of the card player tables will be replaced with the Black Ferret's table, and there will be a couple of non-occupied slot machines rather than a caveling at each one of them, but you get the idea. We've also got plans to put a dancer or two on the small stage next to the bar:
My next mission will be to finish up these areas with, you know, actual graphics. Then there's one final place to design, but once that's done Teddy should be able to implement the whole desert area up to the town in one go, without having to wait for more graphics from me and Fred. Of course, there's usually a bunch of stuff we forget, so it probably won't go as smoothly as that, but here's to hoping!

I'm still way behind on portrait creation, so here's another random guy form the saloon. Drinking the day away (but I'm sure it's lemonade, so that's ok, right?):

Next step on going over the whole desert map to add details is that ship! Gonna add some more personality to it by adding some small things. And yes, the steering thingy is still not fixed by the end of this video, but it is on our fixlist:

Back to the desert town! Now we'll move on to making smaller fixes around pretty much everywhere, closing a door to one of the houses we don't have any particular plans for yet, adding some decorations and making other things blend in better. Also a new version of palm tree!

And here's where we are right now (except for not having replaced some of the palm trees with version two yet):

This week Fred has been battling a cold, but that didn't stop him from making three salespeople for the market area of the desert town!

Here we have a shield maker polishing a shield, a potion salesman tempting you with one of those health pots (possibly?) and a weapon smith applying some final polish on her latest sword:

With the roof and stand decorations covering a little of their appearance, here's a version showing what they look like without it (for science... or something):

There's also a jar merchant, doing some final adjustments to his/her latest piece:

The desert town becomes more and more of a bustling town with these additions! We hope it'll be able to rival Tai Ming in how alive it feels with NPCs and animations here and there. Don't worry though, we won't make it into a full "temple/dungeon" kind of deal. It's just a chill place where you can grab some quests and upgrade your gear before heading on to the next real challenge :)

My turn to take a quick break from the Desert Town to fix somethings for Arcadia! First up there's a new NPC, who will appear as you develop the farm. Her character sprite was actually made a long time ago for story mode, where she'd play a mechanic part that was since scrapped:

Meanwhile, since Chika will be responsible for the eggs and hatching mechanics, we thought it was time to upgrade her from being permanently sad to actually enjoying her job a little (who doesn't like chickens and/or eggs, right?):

Speaking of eggs, those things need drop appearances since you will be able to walk around with them in your inventory:

And as part of the farm experience, there will be a new perk as well! This one will make capturing eggs easier. Since my first attempt at this perk icon (the left) looked a bit like it had more to do with apples than pet capturing, I made a second version (on the right) which will more likely be the ones we'll use:

And finally.. A strange little box:

What it will be used for? Announcing that you've captured a new fish, that will become available in your Aquarium in town, of course!

With so many new characters appearing in and around the desert town, I can only keep making portraits hoping to one day catch up with the number of sprites Fred makes for the area! Today it'd time to introduce the bartender who cleans glasses (and serves drinks) in the Saloon.

First, a reminder of his sprite from a while ago:

And then the WIP and finished version version:

We continue to work on the details of the desert town, this time zooming into the harbor area. Crates, ropes and carpets are on the menu as we give this place a little more personality:

And here's what the town looks like so far:

Time to start tying things together in the desert town (maybe we should come up with a name for it soon)! To start off this week I'm gonna focus on getting the groundwork (haha, get it) done, putting in some sand details and paths around the town, as well as making a few pieces of greenery to decorate the area.

First though, let's deal with the walls surrounding the town! First I put in a quick something based on the piece of wall I made in the map outside of this one:

But I quickly felt this texture is way too busy, so instead I'm toning it down by a lot, so it doesn't bother the eye quite as much:

Now, time to start working on that greenery! First up, a palm tree in three different sizes, and then, a little bush with berries:

Along the way I also adjusted the height of the wall, and made a few green versions of the cacti to go inside town:

Now it's time to work on that sand beginning with the edges towards the water:

And then some sand surrounding the beach and the harbor:

And some decorative grass on said sand:

Applying the grass on the rest of the map:

.... and finally some of those roads, so you know where you're  going:

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