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October 01, 2022, 06:31:57 AM

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« Reply #100 on: August 08, 2022, 01:18:25 AM »

Blog post (8th of August, 2022)
Construction and Consultation


Summary: In which the "Hall of Lost Things" continues to be built; a few changes and one new feature are prompted by that process; a new ship-skin is added; and a consultation helps.

Greetings and salutations!

This week's screenshot shows yet more work on the "Hall of Lost Things" within the Vertical Slice Moon:



The work of the week just past was once again primarily given to the building of said level:

Indeed, the structure of the level is now, I think, pretty much done: from the start to the finish, and with at least one hidden place, all rooms currently intended are now in place, I believe.



What's more, a bit of decor has been added (and indeed, one element of it incorporated into the Tutorial Moon, too).

Still, the work isn't quite complete: there is at least one issue that I yet want to fix, and a few elements that are yet incomplete.

But it's close, I do think!



And along the way various changes were made that were prompted by the work on the level:

First, Aethereal objects may now control the fading of certain elements not directly attached to them. This allows a bit more flexibility in their usage.

Second, an improvement was made to the blending of room-covers: they now use the "max" operation. That is, when a new cover is rendered, it is only shown where its value is higher than the value of what is already present. This incurs some restrictions, but allows for a lot more freedom when room-covers overlap other room-covers or room-edgings, I find.

Third, I added a new type of game-object: switches. These, in short, provide a convenience class for the toggling of doors. (And what's more, they can run arbitrary scripts, too.) You can see a (WIP) switch in the first screenshot, above--it's the little pedestal holding a crystal dome, standing beside the dragon statue.

And last, wanting a reward for a particular area, I implemented a new ship-skin for the player to find.

With this new ship-skin, there are now three in total intended for the vertical slice (including the baseline "brass" skin):



And of course, there were various tweaks, fixes, and changes that don't seem worth detailing here!

Now, in the week just past I was troubled by some uncertainties regarding my path forward. There had been an opinion posted indicating that building a vertical slice ahead of publisher-pitching was an unwise approach, and a discussion of issues with publishers, and perhaps other matters besides that had me concerned. Between these, as I recall, I didn't know how viable it was to continue development, or, if so, how to go about it.

So, to address these uncertainties, I booked a consultation with Rami Ismail (@tha_rami on Twitter)--a developer who does a lot of work in supporting and informing indie devs, amongst which is an indie-consultation service.

And he proved very helpful indeed! I found him to be informed, insightful, and patient, and with his advice, feel that I now have a better idea of how to continue on, and a bit more confidence in doing so. ^_^

That then is all for this week--stay well, and thank you for reading! ^_^
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« Reply #101 on: August 15, 2022, 02:14:03 AM »

Blog post (15th of August, 2022)
A Place for the Arcane


Summary: In which a level is pretty much complete; message-boxes become more flexible, and can be larger; a simple lighting trick is found and used; a new moon is built in earnest; and a side-project is begun.

Greetings and salutations!

This week's screenshot shows the trading encounter in the Vertical Slice Moon:



The week just past continued to be primarily a level-building week, with a few other things done besides:

First of all, work continued in the week just past on the "Hall of Lost Things" within the Vertical Slice Moon. Lighting was set in place, art made, text completed, and codex-entries assigned to certain elements. (And perhaps more done that I forget.)

And indeed, with that, I think that it's pretty much done! There are a few issues to fix, but overall, I believe that it's complete.



Along the way, I found that one of the messages that I intended to show on-screen was a little too large for my message-box. After some tinkering, I ended up settling on altering the message-box system to now support different numbers of line. This allows me to have (currently) up to four lines of text, without all messages then taking up that much UI space--and indeed, with short messages taking up less space than they previously did.



(These are, of course, not actual in-game texts, but merely testing-strings. Tongue)

And the process of lighting the "Hall of Lost Things" led me to discover that I could potentially give an impression of light spilling down the entryway-stairs. This prompted me to go back to the Halls of Flow and Traps, and (with some minor alterations to their geometry), incorporate this same effect into them, too:



And with these things done, as I recall, I began work on another moon: The Arcane Moon!

(Well, work in earnest: a very, very bare start had been made some time ago.)

This moon--one of the few fully-artificial satellites in the local solar systems--is a gathering place for magic-workers, a hub of research and development in the arcane.

The work here is still somewhat nascent, but below you should see a start to a room and the elements thereof:



I only intend that the vertical slice include a few rooms in this moon, but the location is a part of the game's progression in "metroidvania abilities", and so I do want to have it at least somewhat be present.

And along the way I enacted various other tweaks, fixes, and changes that don't seem worth detailing here!

On a tangential note, I recently took part in a small visual-novel game-jam, "O2A2". (You should find my entry here: "A Tale Under Earth".) To that end I put together a simple framework for making visual novels in Panda3D. And in the week just past, I started a side-project to build a visual editor for that framework. It's still fairly early in development, but here is a look at what I have thus far:



That, then, is all for this week--stay well, and thank you for reading! ^_^
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« Reply #102 on: August 15, 2022, 04:51:34 AM »

On a tangential note, I recently took part in a small visual-novel game-jam, "O2A2". (You should find my entry here: "A Tale Under Earth".) To that end I put together a simple framework for making visual novels in Panda3D. And in the week just past, I started a side-project to build a visual editor for that framework. It's still fairly early in development, but here is a look at what I have thus far:


As a developer of narrative-focused games, I think this is awesome. Already looking like a pretty intuitive tool. I hope you'll continue to share updates about it along with your game. (Which, btw, you appear to be making great progress on). I always love seeing updates on here where devs are building their own gamedev tools, its definitely a dying art.
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« Reply #103 on: August 15, 2022, 09:31:43 AM »

As a developer of narrative-focused games, I think this is awesome. Already looking like a pretty intuitive tool. ... (Which, btw, you appear to be making great progress on).

Thank you very much indeed, on both counts! ^_^

I hope you'll continue to share updates about it along with your game. ... I always love seeing updates on here where devs are building their own gamedev tools ...

Given this encouragement, I now intend to so continue! ^_^

(Presuming that I remember, of course. ^^; )

... its definitely a dying art.

In all fairness, part of that is, I suspect, due to the proliferation of easily-available tools, some of which are really good I do think. And this element of it, at least, is something that I'm glad of. ^_^
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« Reply #104 on: August 22, 2022, 02:48:06 AM »

Blog post (22nd of August, 2022)
The Problem of Octogons


Summary: In which the appearance of a moon sees work; mana-switches gain art; a tricky problem of depiction finds a simple answer; a bit of level-logic is implemented; and a side-project has a drop of work enacted.

Greetings and salutations!

This week's screenshot shows an update to the appearance and contents of the Arcane Moon:



And indeed, it was the Arcane Moon that took up the majority of the week just past, I do believe:

To start with, much was done on the matter of the Arcane Moon's appearance: On the look of its walls, on textures for various elements, on objects that might be found within the place, on what's visible between rooms, and even on a little bit of (possibly preliminary) lighting.

Perhaps of particular note is the interstitial space of the moon--the gap between rooms. Here can be seen the supporting structures of this artificial satellite: thick girders and glowing spell-runes.

And as part of this work, the game's mana-switches--switches that require the "mana-crystal generation" upgrade to operate--finally gained some art:



There was, however, one matter that gave me some trouble.

The shader that I use to depict the backdrops of moons--that renders their background textures, their layer of atmosphere at their edges, and the "space" beyond them--assumes a moon of circular profile. (In short, it uses a "distance from the centre" calculation to render the aforementioned layers of background, atmosphere, and space.)

But the Arcane Moon doesn't have a circular profile--it has an octagonal one.

How, then, was I to depict that?

I thought on this a number of times, going over possibilities primarily involving alterations to my shader: Could I create a parameterised polygonal calculation that would somehow reduce to producing a circle under some condition? Could I use Bezier curves? Could I somehow pass in an equation, or elements thereof, that would allow me to alter the calculation of distance to the centre? Or something else besides...?

In the end, however, an approach came to me that was much, much simpler, and quite effective: I could simply set the moon's background and atmosphere colours to be the same as the colour given for "space"--thus making the backdrop depict just "space"--and then attach a large 2D model in place that depicted the moon's shape.

And this seems to work nicely, I do think! ^_^



This approach also as the advantage that it should allow me to have other non-circular profiles in the future, such as for an explorable asteroid.

On the gameplay side, a little bit of level-specific logic was added to the Arcane Moon, primarily towards the opening of doors.

And once again, there were various changes, tweaks, and fixes enacted in the week just past that don't seem worth detailing here!

As to the side-project that I mentioned last week, the visual editor for my "simple visual novel framework", it was as I recall somewhat displaced in the week just past by another personal project. Still, I don't intend to abandon it, and a little bit did get done: it now has preliminary support for the logic-flags used by the framework, including a basic UI by which to add them.

That, then, is all for this week--stay well, and thank you for reading! ^_^
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« Reply #105 on: August 26, 2022, 07:53:03 AM »

I love seeing your progress and polish on this <3 looks great and more complete every post.
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« Reply #106 on: August 27, 2022, 06:27:40 AM »

Thank you very very much indeed! Such is rather heartening to read! ^_^
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« Reply #107 on: August 29, 2022, 02:32:15 AM »

Blog post (29th of August, 2022)
Engaged in the Arcane


Summary: In which a level continues to be built; arcanists go about their business; a texture is simplified; lines are made thicker; and a side-project continues.

Greetings and salutations!

This week's screenshot shows a new room in the Arcane Moon, complete with an arcanist, miscellanea, a mana-switch--and a rather dangerous-looking beam of some energy:



And indeed, the week just past was once again given primarily to the Arcane Moon, in a variety of elements thereof:

First of all, work continued in the building of the moon's structure: as shown above, a new room has been added and furnished--complete with a hazardous beam blocking access to one door, impassable to the player save via teleportation.

(There's even a new bit of interaction about said beam with the relevant arcanist, albeit currently with only placeholder text.)

Furthermore, the extant room has been adjusted, and a new door added:



In addition, and as shown in the screenshots, a bit of lighting was done.

You may note in the screenshot above that the arcanist is no longer T-posing, but appears to be engaged in some spell-casting. And indeed, this is because the arcanists of the moon are no longer static: they now go about various tasks within their labs!

In broad strokes, the arcanists cycle through a series of states: Walking to a randomly-chosen node; performing at that node a randomly-chosen activity (from a list specified with each node); pausing for a moment; and then returning to the start.

It's not perfect--for one thing, the objects moved during the "search" activity don't match well with the character's hands--but I think that it works reasonably well. ^_^



On the aesthetic side, two changes have been made:

First, I've simplified further the texture applied to the arcanists. What I had previously was yet a little over-detailed for the scale, which I fear resulted in it still looking a little indistinct. The newly-reduced texture reads better, I feel.

And second, I'm experimenting with thicker lines on the game's 3D objects. You can see these in the screenshots above, and here below are shown a few older characters in this new style. What do you think? I'd appreciate impressions of this change!



And once again, various changes, fixes, and tweaks were enacted in the week just past that don't seem worth detailing here!

As to my side-project, my visual editor for my visual-novel framework, I did advance that a little bit: specifically, it now supports flags for game-logic, and prompts one to name choices and flags immediately on creating them:



That, then, is all for this week--stay well, and thank you for reading! ^_^
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« Reply #108 on: September 04, 2022, 11:00:52 AM »

I just wanted to pop in and say the art direction for this game is really lovely. Color palettes and choices in design and shading often attract me to games before anything else, and this is just so pleasant to look at. I'm a big fan of the consistent shades of purple, black, and gold.
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« Reply #109 on: September 05, 2022, 02:54:24 AM »

I just wanted to pop in and say the art direction for this game is really lovely. Color palettes and choices in design and shading often attract me to games before anything else, and this is just so pleasant to look at. I'm a big fan of the consistent shades of purple, black, and gold.

Ah, that's wonderful to read! Thank you very much for so saying, and I'm glad that it is so. ^_^
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« Reply #110 on: September 05, 2022, 02:55:00 AM »

Blog post (5th of September, 2022)
Depth and Shading


Summary: In which a level gains more rooms; doors gain depth; an icon for a codex-entry is made; an encounter is written and logic-scripted; a moon gains an in-space appearance; other moons and planets gain some shading; and a side-project allows rearranging and deletion.

Greetings and salutations!

This week's screenshot shows once again the Arcane Moon--but this time as seen from "space"!



The week just past continued to focus primarily on the Arcane Moon, albeit that while it included level-building work, it also branched out from there:

To start with, that level-building work: Two new rooms have been added to the Arcane Moon, both being storerooms. One is small, and contains steel crates; the other is large, and contains a miscellany of items useful to the Arcanists of the moon:




And you might note another change within the first of the two screenshots just above: doors are now three-dimensional!

This is another step on the journey from the game's original near-entirely top-down look towards something with a bit more "depth".

It's a step that I resisted for some time, I think due to concerns about the complications that it might incur. And indeed, there were some complications--but nothing too dire, I feel.

Conversely, the top-down look of the doors had somewhat bothered me for a while: they no longer quite fitted with the semi-3D walls.

And indeed, with this change, I feel that they fit the look of the game rather better!

See for example this door from the Vertical Slice Moon:



Returning to the Arcane Moon specifically, in the week just past I attended to a few non-level-building tasks. For two, I created an icon for the moon's codex-entry, and I set in place some writing and logic for the encounter with the arcanist who provides the "mana crystal" metroidvania-upgrade.

Furthermore, and as shown in the first screenshot of the post, I implemented the moon's appearance within "space"!

Now, as with the moon's appearance within its levels, the shape of the thing provided a minor challenge. Indeed, not only did it have a non-round profile, but it presented non-round surfaces to the sun, thus affecting its lighting.

This, however, proved fairly easy to solve: Some extensions to the default "moon" shader allowed me to have it optionally make use of geometry-normals, enabling the lighting that I wanted. And a bit of custom geometry attached to the default moon-background (which was scaled down in order that it be hidden) provided both the profile and the aforementioned normals.

Combined with a custom texture, the moon's appearance was achieved!

And as with the changes that enabled the moon's in-level appearance, these changes may well prove useful for other moons in the future!

Now, there was one more uncertainty attached to this: I wanted the Arcane Moon to be not only lit, but also shaded: that would aid in conveying the moon's shape. But other moons were not so shaded, bearing only highlights--thus producing an inconsistency in the aesthetics of the game.

So I tried introducing shading to the other moons, and to planets--and found that I rather liked it! I feel that it gives the moons and planets rather more form:




And as per usual, there were other changes, fixes, and tweaks enacted in the week just past that don't seem worth detailing here!

As to my side-project, I implemented one new set of features: it's now possible to rearrange and delete options within a choice--complete with their connections updating in response!



Which leaves me now with perhaps the trickiest part of all: figuring out how to approach and how to present in UI the non-interactive portions of a visual novel...

That then is all for this week--stay well, and thank you for reading! ^_^
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« Reply #111 on: September 12, 2022, 05:57:59 AM »

Blog post (12th of September, 2022)
A Deadly Bony Grasp


Summary: In which more feedback for the low-health state is given; a new artefact and combat-spell is added; procedural outlining gains variable width; some mapping issues are addressed; and "swordtember" is entered.

Greetings and salutations!

This week's screenshot shows a red border that now appears when the player is low on health:



The week just past was, due to a variety of factors (including a brief illness), a bit of a slow one for me, I fear. Still, some things did get done:

First of all, and as shown above, I've added a new piece of feedback to indicate to the player that they're low on health.

You may recall (and indeed, it's likewise shown in the screenshot above) that there was already some feedback present in the form of a fiery circle that surrounds the player at low health.

Still, this is, I feel, perhaps a bit understated by itself. And so in the week just past I decided to add to it a simple red edging that fades in when the player's health drops below the relevant threshold, and fades out when their health is restored above that level.

On the gameplay side, I've been at times concerned that in the vertical slice demo all artefacts are either dropped by a boss, or are given in demo-specific locations. This, I have feared, might suggest to players that artefacts are never found simply by exploration--which isn't accurate to the intended gameplay.

I didn't want to shoehorn an extant artefact into the Ossuary Moon (the main non-demo-specific level in the vertical slice), and so had thought a few times about finding a new artefact appropriate to the place. But the one combat-spell that I had in mind for this purpose I found to be tricky to represent visually, and so I set the idea aside.

In the week just past, then, an idea for another combat-spell came to me that I felt might work. I set to implementing it (with some modifications along the way)--and indeed, I'm fairly happy with the result! ^_^

In short, the spell might be said to be the game's "shotgun": it fires seven projectiles in a wide spray, each travelling to moderate range.

As to the projectiles in question, they happen to be skeletal, grasping hands.

The associated artefact, then, is likewise skeletal: the dessicated arm of an unknown necrourge.

It's intended in the full game to be part of a set of such artefacts, scattered about the Ossuary Moon. (Which scattering might prompt one to wonder why they were so separated, and what might happen if collection brings them all together... >Wink )

Here, then, is a look at this new artefact in action:



And as part of this work, I implemented support for variation in the width of the game's procedural outlining: I found that I wanted the skeletal hands to be outlined, but that the default line-width was a bit much for them.

On the bug-hunting side, I discovered in the week just past a few issues with my level-maps. Some of these were, I think, fairly simple to fix--but a few, related to aethereal regions, have proven trickier. Indeed, those last are still works in progress at time of writing!

And once again, there were changes, fixes, and tweaks enacted in the week just past that don't seem worth detailing here!

As to side-projects, I didn't continue my "visual editor" side-project in the week just past--but I did embark on "swordtember"! This is a series of daily prompts for sword-related art, for which I've been making little pixel-art entries.

You should find the most recent set of my "swordtember" pieces in the tweet below, with a link to the previous set in its replies:
https://twitter.com/EbornIan/status/1568634195718860801

That then is all for this week--stay well, and thank you for reading! ^_^
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« Reply #112 on: September 19, 2022, 03:04:31 AM »

Blog post (19th of September, 2022)
Marks of Occupancy


Summary: In which an encounter-image is painted; a character gains an individual model; a level is made to feel "occupied"; sources for codex-entries are assigned; a moon is (demo-)completed; another moon is begun in earnest; a signpost is added to a level; a new "death effect" is added to an enemy; a bug in mapping is dealt with; "unique selling points" are drafted; and "swordtember" continues.

Greetings and salutations!

This week's screenshot shows a new image for the encounter with the second arcanist of the Arcane Moon:



The week just past was a fairly varied one, I feel! There was level-building, detail-work, painting, bug-hunting and even some minor effects-work!

On the visual side, and as shown above, in the week just past I painted a new encounter-image. This one accompanies the player's conversation with the second of the arcanists met in the Arcane Moon--that arcanist who provides the "mana crystal" metroidvania-upgrade.

(I did belatedly realise that I had forgotten to add some colour to the character's skin--I intend to rectify that this week, then--but otherwise I think that the piece is done.)

And speaking of that arcanist, they have now their own in-level model, too, individuated from the extant "arcanist" model that they had previously shared.

This work had already been begun, if only barely, but in the week just past I completed it, I believe: I altered the model, extended and adjusted the armature, accounted in the animations for the character's longer hair, and updated the texture.

As to the Arcane Moon itself, the place was previously a little over-pristine: it lacked those bits of wear and debris and personality that indicate a place lived and worked in.

So, in the week just past I attended to that, adding various details: a vase of flowers here; potted plants there; a picture frame on a table; and scratches and spills and damage and smudges in various locations.





I also realised that I had planned to provide a few codex entries in the Arcane Moon, but hadn't yet actually done so. I thus quickly placed some basic interactions for those.

Likewise, I realised that I hadn't assigned the relevant codex-entry to the encounter with the Fugitive Spirit on the Ossuary Moon, and thus did so.

And with that, (and excluding the painting touch-up mentioned above) the Arcane Moon is all-but complete, I think--or as complete as I intend it to be for the vertical slice!

And that being so, I then started in earnest, at last, on the level-building of the Ossuary Moon!

This is, confessedly, just a bare start: I've cleared away the test-level that I previously had for the moon's "surface", have copied in my template level, and have cleaned up various elements.

The question that faces me, then, is that of how to go about designing a level of this sort, in both size and type. This I'm honestly not yet sure of--we'll see, I suppose!

Still, it's quite exciting, as this is the last of the moons that I intend for the vertical slice demo! ^_^

Moving over to the Vertical Slice Moon briefly, I realised that there was no introduction there to explain the moon's purpose in the demo. So, I added to the "surface" level a "signpost" of sorts: a crystal hovering above a pedestal that, upon interaction, produces a simple message to give that explanation.



On the effects side, I added a little to the death-effects of the "Skeletal Spike Shooter" enemy: it now depicts the spirit bound within the bones being loosed upon the enemy's destruction.

On the bug-hunting side, in the week just past I bumped into a nuisance of an issue: I found that the game's map could become somewhat broken around aethereal structures!

In short, the game derives its map from a specific sub-set of the level's geometry. But aethereal structures take over some of that geometry themselves, resulting in it being unavailable to the map--and thus potentially leaving great big holes in said map.

I initially tried to have aethereal structures then provide the relevant geometry to the map, with some initial success--but certain elements proved difficult to so handle.

In the end, then, I took a simpler approach: rooms can now optionally provide express map geometry. This then allows me to manually depict an entire room for the map, without holes, and without that geometry interfering with any aethereal structures.

On the pitching side of things, and prompted by some advice that I encountered, in the week just past I made a start at defining the game's "Unique Selling Points". What I have thus far--and this is a work-in-progress--is as follows:

  • Mid-paced exploration-and-combat gameplay
  • Arcanist-wrought upgrades to the vessel, both granting new capabilities and altering the vessel's appearance
  • An arsenal of combat-spells, gained through artefacts discovered across the solar systems
  • The magitek "space"-future of a fantasy world, in a cosmology of crystal spheres, portal-suns, and themed, magic-heavy moons

And once again there were various tweaks, changes, and fixes enacted in the week just past that don't seem worth detailing here!

As to side-projects, my pixel-art "swordtember" continues! I'm a little behind, but I did post a third set, containing swords for the prompts "floral", "snake", "neon", and "woven". These you should then find in the tweet below:
https://twitter.com/EbornIan/status/1571190496613044224

That then is all for this week--stay well, and thank you for reading! ^_^
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« Reply #113 on: September 26, 2022, 03:00:14 AM »

Blog post (26th of September, 2022)
Sights Amongst the Bones


Summary: In which the look of a moon is updated; a level's set-pieces are begun; "decor" elements aid in that; an encounter is finished up; and "swordtember" gains more swords.

Greetings and salutations!

This week's screenshot shows revision to the appearance of the Ossuary Moon:



And indeed, the work of the week just past was primarily given to the Ossuary Moon, or matters connected to it:

Since last I worked seriously on the Ossuary Moon, various changes have been made to the game's aesthetics. Thus the change shown in the main screenshot above: the look of the moon has been updated to match those changes.

To that end: edging has been added; to accommodate the edging, walls have been made thicker; to match the walls, pillars have been scaled up; "forward-facing" doors have been made "three-dimensional" ("side-facing" doors have yet to be updated); the shading of walls has been tweaked; and "bone piles" have been given a semblance of three-dimensionality.

(That last isn't much visible in the main screenshot; here below then is one that I daresay shows it better.)


Now, in last week's blog-post I believe that I mentioned some uncertainty on my part as to how to go about designing the sort of level that I have in mind for the main of the Ossuary Moon.

As a start, at least then, I've begun making some of the "set-pieces" that I have in mind for the place: the more-dramatic elements of the level.

Thus far I have three partially-built: A huge spine-and-ribcage bridge; a place where two Deceived Acolyte enemies are busy at summoning skeletons from a bone-pile; and a tomb, its sarcophagus made of bones, and, watched over by Stone Guardians.

And the sarcophagus in that tomb isn't a single asset: rather, it's composed of several smaller "decor" images that I made in the week just past, intended for this sort of construction.

However, I would rather not show these set-pieces right now, with my apologies: I'm feeling a little anxious about falling prey to art-theft with some of the assets. ^^;

Let me instead, then, give a hint at one by showing said "spine-and-ribcage" as it currently appears on the level's map:



On the logic side, I added some finishing elements to the "Sequential Boss" found on the Ossuary Moon, or rather to the encounter that follows it. Specifically, a note is now added (and removed as called for) to remind the player of the matter raised there, and a related flag is now set on the defeat of the "liche" boss.

And once again, there were various tweaks, fixes, and changes made during the week just past that don't seem worth detailing here!

As to side-projects, the week just past saw another entry into my "Swordtember 2022" set!
(The image should now link to the tweet in question.)


That, then, is all for this week--stay well, and thank you for reading! ^_^
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A Fantasy Top-Down "Space" Metroidvania
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