So these last bunch of days we've been playing around with a bunch of new puzzle ideas for the ghost ship - we really want to mix things up and get some interesting use out of these mechanics. So, first thing we've tried is using the spirit world mechanic to make a burning ghost light candles for you.

Here's a GIF showing our super early prototype:


Basically, the ghost ignores you while you're in the regular world, and will start chasing you once you enter the spirit world, so your goal is to position yourself so that the ghost will pass over the lanterns (currently the white squares) and set them alight. Completing this task will open a door for you.

If you're too slow however, the candles will stop burning and you need to set them alight again.

These ghosts will appear in other areas of the game as well where they will simply serve as an enemy/obstacle - you won't be able to kill them, and as soon as you enter the spirit world they will chase you. I believe I might have mentioned them before in relation to the room with all the creepy bridges, where you'll have to avoid them while making your way to the other end of the room.
Bringing out Fred's Friday a bit early this week to take a look at what's happening with the skeletons and discuss a piece of their design!

So one thing we've been wanting to do with our skeleton enemies is to give them a quirk where their head will fall off and become an enemy of its own, sort of like the Jumpkin from Pumpkin Woods; a pretty easy enemy that you just whack over a couple of time to get rid of, but that serves as an interesting game play element.

Because of this, Fred has started working on the skulls and what they'll look like when they fall off and are brought to life on their own, and as he did so, we realized the square shape they currently have isn't exactly ideal for what we want to do; it's maybe a bit blocky and simple:


So to remedy this, we've now made a different, more regular looking skull, that we feel fit better: 






While we do love the idea of the square head, it being a bit more original and all, we think this looks better overall. How do you guys feel? 
Time to start working on those colors! This is gonna take a while since the ship is super huge, so I'll split it in two parts (or however many are needed). In the first part we'll be dealing with the basic colors, getting them down somewhat in any case. Might change them around later but it's good to start with a base: 


Obviously it's gonna get a lot more detailed than this, and the water will be animated as well. We're also considering changing the size of the upper front and back of the boat, making them bigger since they look kind of small right now. Oh well, onwards we go!


Meanwhile in Fred's department, it's time to finish up the crab enemy! We've designed this in a way that is kind of similar to the boar, which I think will become apparent once we start prototyping it. For now, here's a bunch of its animations during battle:







So cute! I personally think this might be the cutest enemy of the game. Who agrees with me?!
So the first thing we decided to change when running through the dungeon was the size of the first room - always amazing when your first big change is in the first place you see, right? We felt this room was a bit small and didn't give the proper introduction to the ship as a big and creepy place the way it should. 


Same thing with one of the rooms on the third floor - previously we've been making a lot of too large rooms so I started making them a lot smaller since I always overestimated the sizes. Turns out I've gone too far the other way not instead, haha! Oh well, for this room it will be an easy fix since it hasn't even been properly made yet.


Next, there's a room where we thought we'd have some sort of bullet hell thing going on, but we've decided to change that for two reasons: one being that the boss already has a lot of bullet hell elements, and second, the room would be a nice opportunity to embrace the creepiness factor of the world instead. So, instead of an exciting bullet hell, there will be some creepy examining things in an abandoned ghastly kitchen, trying to figure out where a lost key is.

Other than that, there have mostly been minor edits and changes to make, such as more details in some rooms and added features in others, like a bookcase that will fire books at you, and possibly an encounter with a possessed refrigerator and oven - it depends on how further testing goes.

This whole dungeon is pretty strange right now as it's very finished but also very unfinished, many of the rooms are ready but the encounters and puzzles are not. It's possible we may need to redesign some parts if the puzzles we want to make don't work out, but we'll see! Needless to say, right now we're doing a lot of discussing and testing back and forth, so we'll see where things end up when all is said and done.


.... and here they are! The fantastic sketches made for the remaining rooms of the ghost ship dungeon! 





The puzzle one is very unclear right now since we haven't decided exactly what kind of puzzle we want in there right now. Previously we wanted it to be one of those puzzles where you get chased by something in the ghost world, as I mentioned earlier, but now we're kind of feeling like putting in a phase shift puzzle instead - can't have enough of those, right? 


The rest of the day we've been playing through the dungeon, each room now added by Teddy in a strange world with no colliders or enemies whatsoever, imagining what it'll all be like when it's finished. The short of it is that we kind of wish we had done this earlier, but alas, here we are. We got a ton of notes on things to fix now at least, which I'll be talking about shortly.

Overall though, I think it'll be fine - it's a bit of a strange dungeon (but then again, so was Tai Ming), but thanks to the ghost world mechanic and the enemies I think it'll be interesting. 
With the ghost ship progressing and most rooms actually already being finished, we've come to realize we've done something different with this dungeon that we haven't done before, and we're not sure it's a good thing.

Usually we start off with sketches of every room and make sure we can run through each of them in a row, just like the dungeon would actually be, before we make the final art. This time however, because Teddy and Fred were so busy getting the last bits of the desert completed, we decided against that and had me work on making the completed rooms first thing. What that has lead to is that we have a lot of finished rooms, but we haven't even had a possibility of running through the dungeon in its entirety yet as we usually do.

To remedy this, I'm going to take a break from the ghost ship exterior and focus on making quick sketches for the last bunch of rooms that haven't been made yet, so that Teddy can put them all into the game and we can try it out and see what it feels like.

That was one of the things we discussed in today's meeting. The other thing was that strange section I've mentioned before, where you'll find yourself awaken back in Startington, but it's a Startington that's weird and kind of off. Previously, we wanted 4 mini "challenges" or events to take place here, but for now we've settled for three - each one representing obsession, expectations and deceit. These three elements are key to the story in various ways, and by adding these 'challenges' / cutscene things we'd like to put some emphasis on that. The deceit one is still in the sketching phase but will likely involve the artifacts you've been collecting in some way... Stay tuned for more on that ;)
So, after showing the lineart to Teddy and Fred and having some discussions, we've decided to change it in a couple ways. First, let's take a look at what it looked like last:


First thing we wanted was to make the ship a bit higher, so with some quick editing here's what we came up with: 

Then we also wanted to make it longer, adding a broken mast to make sure the area you'll be fighting in doesn't get too big. Another sketch of that here: 


So with these fixes in mind I went ahead and started with the reworks, also removing the door with the ladder and adding one from the left side instead: 




And here's the finished thing, ready to get colored (unless we decide on changing some more things):

Meanwhile, the prototyping for the challenge room continues! Teddy has been making some tests with the absolutely disgusting bridges. We'll make a few more to mix the way they look up a bit, but at least now we know they look decent enough to run over:


It wouldn't really be much of a challenge if there was no way to fail though, so here we have an example of what kind of obstacles you'll be facing in this room, starting with some eerie eyes: 


If these eyes see you in the ghost would, you'll immediately take a whole bunch of damage and get frozen in place, so you better go back and forth between the spirit world and the regular world to avoid them!


Secondly, we have these masks that float around and will start chasing you in the ghost world. Dangerous stuff! Better make sure you don't get caught by one of these...

As always, this whole room is very very far from done, especially graphics wise, but this is a neat way of testing gameplay ideas before committing to making the proper graphics for them.

So now that we have the sketch in place, let's transform it into something a bit more clear, getting that lineart up and running. Here's the first part: 

As you can see, we haven't added anything cool the the bow of the ship yet; we'll see whether you'll actually even ever see that part of the ship ingame or not; might be that you won't and then it's pretty pointless to spent a bunch of time decorating something nobody will see!

As I mentioned before, we'll make the ship bigger as well, but for now we'll start with this basic lineart and start editing it to fit our needs in the next step. 

Alright, so we've seen a lot of the Ghost Ship interior, but so far we haven't talked much about what it looks like from the outside! As those of you who have played through the desert know, you'll catch a ride here from the Black Ferrets little boat. I've made a temporary sketch showing what the boat could look like, and placed the camera as it will be when you land there for the first time: 

It's not visible right now but our idea is that the ship will be surrounded by some trash and debris like ropes, nets and plants, and you'll walk over on them into the ship through a hole in the hull. When you first get there, we'll pan the camera over the top of the ship to show you what it looks like, and who might be waiting on the deck but.... Yeah, that's right, Luke!


As a lot of you have figured out already, you will definitely be battling Luke here, so getting the size of the deck right is pretty important as there will be a fight going on. In this first sketch though, we've made the ship a little bit smaller than we'd like, but it's a good place to start. In the above screen you can see another placeholder camera for what the boss fight screen would be like, but again, we'll probably make the ship bigger and seal off the fight area instead - we'll see!

And here we have the second batch of cabins, with their regular and spirit world versions: 




Once everything else is in place, Fred will likely add some moving things to these rooms as well, for the bonus creepiness factor. Now, onwards to more rooms! We're almost there!
Now that the cabins have all been made, it's time to bring the darkness down and turn 'em scary and creepy for the spirit world! I'll mostly be using props from the previous rooms for this, so you kind of know the drill already.

First three cabins, normal/spirit world versions below:




Meanwhile, Fred keeps working on the crab - and look how cute it is! Those tiny legs, aww... I don't know how I'll be able to kill this?!



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