Work on the math puzzle continues, with Fred having made activation animations for each of the numbers and enemy buttons:


Teddy has started prototyping the puzzle as well, with a few edits compared to what we initially wanted. In our first design, we wanted the player to be able to make any path they wanted, however, as we play tested this it felt boring and, honestly, extremely easy. So instead, we made the redesign you can see below - where each of the buttons start inactivated except one, and as you step on it, 1-3 new buttons will activate depending on where you are in the puzzle and which buttons you activated previously. This made for a much more challenging version of the puzzle which we appreciated a lot more!

In the GIF below you need to start the puzzle on the block with a 0 and end with the block on the opposite end that's also a 0. The second 0 is a placeholder for a = sign button which hadn't been made when this prototype was added:


In this second prototype, you can see a basic version of the puzzle where enemy buttons create an encounter once you're done with the puzzle. The same rules apply here, you need to match the number with the target number (which in the future will be illustrated with magic flames rather than simple text next to the puzzle ;)), but on your path you will also cross a number of enemy buttons that will activate upon puzzle completion:


As you can tell, there's a lot of graphics missing here - such as, you know, the actual caves these puzzles will be in(!) but now that we have a working prototype we can at least be certain that we do like this type of puzzle even outside of the theoretical design (you'd be surprised how many ideas sound great on paper that don't translate well at all when they're actually put to the test). 

Now, next week we'll actually take a short break to recharge our batteries while the sunlight's still with us, so the blog will be paused briefly, with new posts returning as usual on Monday the 23rd! 

Hope you guys also enjoy your summer, wherever you are, and see you soon! ...And should you miss us too much, feel free to join our Discord where we hang out pretty much daily even during the vacation (even if we don't always write, we watch over you always! 8)) 
Next, let's decide on the names for these new couple of areas!


As you might guess, Dragonbone Dunes is the name of the desert, while Port Monnaie is the name of the port town. Now, Dragonbone Dunes gets its name from the dragon bones and dragon decorations from Map01, but we will add more dragon decorations here and there in the map to make sure the name ties in well to what you actually see, even if you're not on the first map anymore.

Anyway, since we're about to implement this area properly, it was time to make backgrounds for the enemy codex and the player sprite in the main menu respectively: 


We also realized the path from Map03 to Map04 of the desert didn't line up quite as well as they could have when zoning from one into the other, so we decided to slightly edit the exit from Map03 to better align with how it looks in Map04.

In the GIF below you can see what it looks like when I put the entrance to Map04 next to the exit of Map03:

As you can see, there's a path in Map04 as well, so I added the beginnings of one in Map03 to match it:


Finally, we decided to amp up the entrance to the math puzzle cave a little, adding some decorative numbers (and colors) as decoration:


More to come... :)

There are still a few portraits left, and this guy seems like he's relaxing by a table near the beach. What a lovely idea in this hot weather (we're in the midst of the Swedish summer over here)!


Finished sprite:

Speaking of the desert, things are still not quite done over there, so over the next couple of days (and lets face it - probably weeks) we'll work on editing and adding details to improve the overall feel.

First up, making sure the maps line up properly! Outside the walls on the right side of the town, a lot of grass grows around the exit. In order to make the transition between the maps less jarring, we realized we needed to make sure there was grass on this side in town, as well:



Next, a pretty major change in mechanic when it comes to going from what we call Map03 of the desert, to Map04 where the Saloon and entry to the desert town is. Previously, we wanted the player to use a season orb only accessible through a cave in Map02 in order to get past the water. Since we already used the season orbs once in the area, though, we decided that's enough, and removed the water altogether!



Now your goal is to get there and push a wagon forward and out of the way instead! Which gives an added bonus of being able to go directly to the left into Map04 without having to walk around through Map02 once again!

Speakin of Map02, we realized that we had put the entry to the puzzle cave you need to pass through to get to the area above, sliightly too high on the map, which meant the interface was blocking parts of it as you enter. In order to fix this, we simply moved it further down:


Finally, for the season orb we decided to keep, we wanted to make a snow effect to show very clearly what part of the area gets affected by the winter magic:



Moving on with the Ghost Ship plans, we have a bunch of enemy ideas we'd like to see in this final 'true' dungeon. Some have been planned for a long time - remember the sailors from Merchant Isles with strange hats? They were designed that way specifically so you'd recognize their ghost forms on the ship.

So basically, we knew we wanted Merchant Isles sailors in some shape. What we'll likely do is have weapons (likely swords and such) floating around the rooms in the 'regular world'. These can attack you, but you won't be able to defeat them - at best you'll be able to disable the weapon for a short time - unless you enter the spirit world. In the spirit world, you'll notice they are in fact skeleton ghosts holding the weapons, and these fellows you can attack normally.

There will be two versions of the sailor enemies - one that does regular attacks and one magician type that buffs enemies or debuffs the players. The buffs/debuffs include making an enemy elite, or cursing the player with Reaper's Blade (the utility skill also found in the player skill tree).

As mentioned, you'll be able to make the regular attack ghosts lose their weapons a while into combat. If this happens, they will get a skill in which they can dislocate their own skeleton arm and throw at (boomerang-style) at the player, before picking up their weapon again.

We also wanted a new and more dangerous version of the Ghosties from Pumpkin Woods, only these more dangerous Haunties drip ectoplasm which drains SP while you walk in it - and might also drain the ghost meter which allows you to stay in the spirit world (if we decide to include the meter in the final spirit world design).


Finally, since it's an old ship that has taken in some water here and there, we wanted to include a sea creature of some sort, and right now we're leaning towards a pretty straight forward hermit crab that will serve as a tanky kind of enemy in the group.

Since we're still in the middle of the desert, these will probably not be implemented in the near future, and as such it's possible we'll change these designs in some ways. At the moment though, we think we're headed in the right direction, and hopefully it means starting work on the ghost ship enemies will go smoothly once we're done with the desert areas!
Meanwhile, Fred has been working on the desert enemies. Here's a zoomed in version of those birds that will attack you after hatching out of eggs, cause it's simply too cute to pass up on showing: 


We've also been working on the Solem laser! It's now a lot brighter and more intense, clearly showing the difference between simply aiming and actually attacking you:


Fred has also been working on the puzzle plates we'll use in those math puzzles mentioned. Here you can see the enemy plates as well, so cute: 


In the end, it's likely we'll adjust the colors of this - but for now this is the basic idea of what they'll look like!
You'd think we'd be finished with the desert graphics soon, but oh no, now that things are finally started to get implemented, there are a ton of edits that needs to be made - some things you just don't realize need fixing before they have been properly implemented...

First up, we have the exterior of the desert ruin. Now that the ruins will be slightly bigger than we first though, we felt it needed to look just a little bigger on the outside too:


Then we have this area, which never got finished in the first place:


Earlier we actually thought we'd have some sort of desert storm challenge there, where you'd have to navigate your way through a desert storm, barely able to see anything. Since we didn't have the details or layout for that ironed out yet, I just left that part of the desert empty. Since then, we changed things around and put the map with the saloon to the left instead, so now it was simply time to complete the map.  

We've also decided to add a cave right before the season orb below, to give you a bit more of a challenge other than simply walking around to hit it (it will come as no surprise that you need to hit it to get across to the other side):



In this cave we'll have a new type of puzzle, one we're actually quite excited about! This one will be all about math, having you step on plates to make up a number shown inside the cave. Basic sketch below:
We plan on having three puzzles like this inside the cave, of varying difficulty (one will likely have 9 plates, another 20). One will also feature plates with enemies on them, which means you'll essentially build your own encounter once you step out of the plates. Fun times!

Final part of the desert ruins! This time we get into the details, adding those small things that tie everything together.

As you might have guessed, there will be a puzzle of some sort in the middle. While we know approximately what this will look like, we haven't ironed out the specifics yet so for now it will remain empty.

Aside from that, here's what it looks like in its completed state:



Since I'm finally running low on portraits to make, this week there will be just one! This guy is another oldtimer, made by Fred quite a while ago. He's a gangster - or at least a gangster looking kind of guy (actually, you know, maybe he just likes to wear a suit.. who am I to judge?) - who hangs out in the saloon, playing cards:



Finished portrait:

This week we've finally started planning the next dungeon in more detail! As mentioned previously, the final dungeon will be a ghost ship, with a skill that allows you to enter the spirit world, where you can see (and interact with) things you don't normally see...

As most of you are probably aware by now, this blog is full of spoilers, but I thought I'd make another spoiler warning for the remainder of this post, as I'll be going into more detail than usual.

So, what we've talked about recently is the main design on the dungeon, how things will start out once you enter the ship, and some of the mechanics we're looking into using here.

To begin with, we'll be adding another character that will make its first appearance earlier in the story than we are currently. While we're not super excited to go back in time and add characters, hints and other things in areas most of you have likely played through already, I'm afraid it's unavoidable when working on a game like this, chapter by chapter. We'd have to be geniuses or have thought out the game in much more specific detail before beginning any area to avoid this completely - and often you don't realize what's missing until you've had enough feedback from beta testers (or when it comes to story elements I guess you guys are more like beta readers). We already know we'll add a bunch of extra scenes in the beginning to flesh out the story and relationships slightly, before the game is done. This will just be one more thing like that. Hopefully, this will give you all an incentive to play through the game once more at release, when all these additions and small changes are in place, to experience the story as we intend it to be experienced - in one go with all the proper story elements there from the beginning!

Anyway!! The character we'll be adding is another scientist hanging out with Dad and the other scientists in the HQ lab. This character, however, will be focused on researching the spirit world, whether it truly exists, and how one would interact with it. Sometime into the story, he will have heard rumors of a ghost ship and will take off to investigate...

So, as you enter said ghost ship, you'll meet with a flying weapon and someone hurling curses at you that you can't see. Well, that's a bit of a problem! Ignoring this threat, you continue onwards, battle some of our new enemies (more on those later), see a locked door, and eventually run into the scientist who will give you his spirit world machine that allows you to enter and interact with the spirits haunting the ship.

The gimmick of the ship will be to enter and exit the spirit world in order to solve puzzles and defeat enemies. Some enemies you'll only be able to damage in the spirit world, but entering the spirit world will allow them to attack you with more attacks and deal more damage, as well. There will be enemies harassing you in the regular world, too, of course - so nowhere's truly safe, but each world will have their own challenges. We'll have our work cut out for us in making sure there is balance between the two and none you just stick to the entire dungeon. One of our ideas for this is having a meter limiting how long you can spend in the spirit world, since that's the place you'll be able to get rid of most of the enemies - and it's a mechanic that helps increase the stakes in certain puzzles, when you can't spend unlimited time solving them.

There's a lot more discussion to be had, but for now I feel we have a good grasp on the early stages of the dungeon! For now, onwards with the desert... :)
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