Hey, our summer vacations are starting just in a few hours so here’s a quickie Grimrock 2 status update before we vanish into oblivion (aka. the beautiful Finnish summer). I myself have been dueling against a cursed todo-list which, when one item is struck off the list, grows back to its full size! The speedy regeneration of the list is made possible by a full-time albeit temporary tester, Erik, we have had here in the office playing through the game for the last two weeks. That means that there’s been a barrage of tiny tweaks and improvements to all the areas of the game: a lot of detailing, fine tuning and balancing! So a LOT of small things have happened but despite the small size of the tweaks, they’ve been so numerous that game has really taken a huge leap towards being a finished product.


Here Erik is seen carefully advancing through the game

Despite the big advances we’ve had lately, the best way to progress with the project right now actually is to take a short two week break so we can get some fresh air and see the game with fresh eyes again. It’s been long journey, longer than we initially even set out to do, and it’s very easy to start suffering from a sort of a development speed blindness where it gets real hard to judge your own work, and judgement is what we need when we get back to work and start to wrap things up! After the vacation we intend to get the game to a beta status ASAP and continue extending the testing efforts to find all the remaining bugs and balancing issues. And like with the previous game, when we talk about beta testing, we don’t mean an open beta so no need to send in any applications. I know you mean well but we’d rather have you playing the finished, well-polished product instead since we already have a pretty secure supply of friends-n-family testers. :)

That’s all for now, thank you for reading and we’ll see you again after the vacations!

PS. one thing we forgot to mention a while back was that me and Petri took part in the previous Ludum Dare 48h game jam. So, if you’re dying for some sweet, “Almost Human certified” gameplay, check out The Monastery, an oldschool RPG by Petri, and Bathyscaphe 11, a fast paced top-down shooter by Antti. ;)

 

We sneakily went past a very important milestone just a while ago. Legend of Grimrock 2 is now in alpha! The definition of milestones of course varies from one company to the next but I think our alpha is, relatively speaking, a “strong alpha” (since we don’t have any publishers or investors who we have to deliver to to get money for progressing in development, we can use terms that are actually useful and descriptive ;) ). Alpha in our case means that the game can be completely played from beginning to the very end and that all the planned features exist. The last missing piece from the alpha we had was the ending of the game but now that we got that done, the deal is sealed. :) Of course at alpha, there are still features and content that lack polish and refinement, and balance and progression of the game is not complete, but in a sense the game is now “whole”! To celebrate the milestone, we have a new screenshot for you… The herders are back!

 
And like the natural order of things typically is, after alpha comes beta and that’s where we’re heading next! To get there, me and Petri have been doing a systematic polishing round for all the levels. Or maybe I should be talking about “areas” instead since each area that we tackle contains, technically speaking, 1-4 levels of varying sizes. Each day we pick one area of the game that we concentrate on and for the duration of the day we work only in improving that one place. Basically what we do is that we fix the biggest issues that arise from playing the level but we don’t limit ourselves on only improving the levels themselves (like the level layout, monster placement, puzzles, items and secrets) but we also work on game design issues (for example underwater gameplay, herbs and potions), visuals (lighting & atmosphere, particles, items & environment objects), audio (ambient & environment sounds, monster sounds) or even the game interface (automap and such) if need be.

One day for each area is not a lot of time but doing a pass like this over the whole game really improves the overall experience since this way we always tackle the weakest spots of the game without getting stuck into details for too long. This also helps us by breaking down the game into more digestible bits that we can focus on since trying to polish the whole game at once feels like an overwhelming task and it would always be difficult to decide what would be important to do next.

Oh and if you want more details on the progress of the development, Petri often tweets about things he’s been working on with the game.

 

Hello everyone and welcome to another episode in the acclaimed “Hey, Look at What We’ve Been Up to Lately” -series! It’s been a while since we’ve had one of these posts so there’s been a lot of stuff that we haven’t covered. So sit on tight because there’s gonna be a lot of text!

Alright, let’s jump right into the deep end and start with the skill system! I’m not going to go into too much detail here since it’s still a little work-in-progress and the details can change once we clock in some more testing hours with it, but finally we seem to be reaching an equilibrium where we feel comfortable with how the skills and character traits work. Now we have a system that’s easy to approach but which still offers plenty of depth, tactics and replayability for all players and which should be more extendable and flexible for modders (and us too). It’s so nice when everybody wins! :)

Character creation screen also got a much needed makeover, partly due to the ripple effects from the improved skill system, and it’s looking very slick now. Even though a lot of players will only see the screen just once (or not at all if they opt in to go with the default party), it’s still super important since it’s a major part of the first impressions that the game will give.

We’ve also redone the automap. The automap in Grimrock 1 was pretty good but since the sequel features outside areas and a less linear level structure (levels are side-by-side as well as on top of each others), the old way didn’t really work anymore. Now we have a smoothly scrolling and zoomable map which handles the environments of the new game much more elegantly. It’s not 100% complete though since it’s missing the ability to write down notes, some of the icons are still placeholders and a few interface elements are missing but hey, we’re almost there!

One major milestone that we’re also rapidly approaching right this moment is getting the end combat done. We have a very interesting prototype brewing and if it proves to be working the end fight is gonna be one hell of a ride! As a matter of fact, the end fight is really the only major missing bit I can think of that we still need to make the game whole (which, mind you, is not the same thing as finished).

Speaking of prototypes, I threw together a quick test about a herb growing or farming mechanism but we’re still on the fence if it’s a good fit for the game. We’re going to meditate on it for a while and see if the idea feels worth implementing properly.

Things have been galloping along in the realm of graphics and audio content creation too. We now have a few glorious landmarks for the bigger structures of the game world and an assortment of decorations to spice up the underground portions of the game. I’ve done a couple of new spooky ambient tracks too and polished some older ones as well so that they suit the mood of the game better. And like always with the posts in these series, we’ve got new monsters and plenty of new items! ;) Oh yeah, Juho also has done some key art (or box art or whatever you want to call it) for Grimrock 2 and it’s looking glorious although I think I’m not allowed to show it to you yet since I think Juho would want to do the honors… Sorry, I hate to be a tease but I’m sure you’ll see it sooner or later. :)

That’s it for now from us but if you’re hungry for some more Grimrock right now, you should try out One Room Round Robin 2 mod. It’s a massive mod built in collaboration by 22 master modders and they’ve really pushed the Grimrock 1 engine to its limits! Check it out!

 

It’s time to shed some light behind the dusty curtains that cover the massive art department of Almost Human and take a look at some behind the scenes action. A lot of new shady creatures have been creeping around the studio walls and this time we’ll try to catch one of them. Be very, very quiet, we’re hunting Zarchtons. Zarchtons are one of the first monsters you’ll come across in the beaches of the Island. At first you’ll hear their croaking calls and before you know what hit, you realize you’ve been ambushed.

Zarchtons are amphibious creatures that are as home on dry land as in water, but they never leave too far from water, because they are dependent of water and need to dampen their skin from time to time. That’s why Zarchtons are usually seen around water, but that doesn’t limit to natural water sources. Overflown dungeons are also perfect environment for them too…

The origin of Zarchtons is highly debated topic in the Natural Science Department of the Nothampton’s University. Some say Zarchtons have evolved from fishes and some say they we’re originally land creatures that have moved to live partially in water. Sometimes Zarchtons are seen far in the open sea and they are often mistaken for mermaids. Being amphibious creatures, Zarchtons have both lungs and gills, so they can breath air and in water. Zarchtons have primitive culture system and they make use of resources from the sea to create clothing and accessories from shellfishes and other small creatures they hunt. Swimming in water and walking on land have developed Zarchtons’ leg muscles to enable them to take long leaps to help them hunt their prey and attack anyone coming to their territory…

What goes to actual development of the Zarchtons, the process was pretty standard stuff. We thought of some features and characteristics we needed in a monster and based on that data I started roughing it out. And this is what I ended up:

 
Then it was off to Zbrush to create the high resolution model using Zspheres as a base and just dynameshing the living crap out of it.

 
After the high resolution model was done, it was decimated a bit and exported to 3dCoat, we’re I retopoed and unwrapped it ending to around 6200 polygons. High resolution data was baked into normal map and rest of the textures were painted in Photoshop.

 
And finally, here’s a final posed model for Zarchton. I bet you’ll end up peeking under his skirt.

 

Normally the last few weeks of development before launch are really stressful because everything has to come together in a nice clean package. Usually this means frantically trying to fix the remaining bugs, making sure the game runs great on all supported hardware while at the same time polishing the game. The last weeks are very critical to achieving that certain high quality feel. That’s why this time I’ve decided to ease the pain of the last few weeks with a head start. In this blog post I’ll talk about the most important performance optimizations that I’ve been working on for the last two weeks.

Performance Profiler

Some might think that optimizing is boring and tedious because the work is very time consuming and nothing seems to happen to the game on the surface. To help with this I’ve turned opimizing into a sort of game for myself. Whatever I’m optimizing I first come up with some metric, usually a number whose value I can track and try to make it as small as possible. I set up a challenge for myself to see how low I can push that number. Some things are easy to measure like memory consumption of the process with Windows Task Manager or the time needed to process a single frame. But to really dig deep into performance issues it’s necessary to breakdown the measurements into smaller bits to get a better idea what to optimize. Therefore I built a performance profiler directly into the game that I can summon with a press of a button.

The profiler shows milliseconds and percentage of frame time spent in each subsystem of the game and various other statistics. To run at 60 frames per second the computer can spent up to about 16 milliseconds to process each frame, including updating the game world and rendering the view. The profiler also shows amount of temporary memory allocations (Malloc column) during the frame — more about that later.

Memory optimizations

Legend of Grimrock 2 is a 32-bit application on Windows so that means that the application can use up to 2GB of memory without hacks. To make matters worse in my experience the real limit is closer to 1.5GB presumably because DirectX resources eat up virtual address space. Textures and other assets eat a lot of memory so 1.5GB is not that much today. Optimizing memory usage will also help with load times, and can potentially increase overall performance too. It’s important to get the memory usage as low as possible without sacrificing quality of assets.

After cleaning up unused assets we determined that we still needed to shave off some more memory so I begin looking into what could be done on the code size. One easy optimization which was already planned for Grimrock 1 but I never had time to work on was a simple animation compression technique. In Grimrock 1 animations are stored as “array of structs”, where the struct contains position, rotation and scale. This was not optimal because, for example, scaling is very rarely used. In fact most skeletal animation nodes have only rotation movement. A simple optimization is to store keyframes as “struct of arrays”, meaning that position, rotation and scale keys are optional. For many animation nodes we just need to store constant position and scale values and varying rotation keyframes. This optimization cut the memory usage of animations by 20 MB.

Another big optimization was compression of vertex format used by models. Previously all model vertices had normal, tangent, bitangent and texcoord vectors stored as 32-bit floating point values. Floats have a very big range and high precision, more than we need so I compressed those into 16-bit integers. Also a common trick is to leave out the bitangent needed for normal mapping because it can be reconstructed in the shader by computing the crossproduct of the normal and tangent vectors (TBN handedness still need to be stored but it fits nicely into tangent vector’s fourth component). Vertex format optimization yielded about 75 MB saving.

Rendering optimizations

Grimrock 1 didn’t need a geometry level of detail system but Grimrock 2 has much longer view distances and has many more models on the screen so the number of triangles drawn can get quite large. I had implemented a very simple level of detail (LOD) rendering system some months ago where we simply swap between high detail and low detail meshes based on their distance from the player. While this increased the frame rate this resulted in ugly snap when the lod level was changed which limited the usability of the system. When doing the performance optimizations I revisited the old lod system. After doing some initial tests with the artists we figured that a crossfade between the LODs would be the ideal solution. Unfortunately alpha-blending the models is out of the question with a light prepass deferred renderer. A pretty common technique is to use alphatest dissolving instead. I used the technique successfully in Alan Wake’s rendering engine and it still works great today. The end result is quite good and it’s hard to see the LOD transition even if you know what’s going on. We also use the same dissolving technique to fade out small objects like grass.

We are using distorted planar reflections for our water rendering and this requires rendering the scene twice, once for the main view and once mirrored upside down. This can get really heavy on frame rate. Fortunately it’s not necessary to draw the reflected scene with full detail. In fact many object don’t need reflections at all, usually those that are far away from the reflective surface (except if they are really tall like towers). Making an automatic solution that handles all cases nicely is pretty hard, so we gave a few hints to the renderer to help pick the objects to reflect. Objects in Grimrock 2 have three reflection modes: “never” means that the object is never reflected. It’s used for small objects like most items. “always” means the object is always reflected, like the sky and very large structures. “cell” is the default option and used by almost everything. With this option we take advantage of our grid structure. The level designer can paint in Dungeon Editor which cells in the level have reflections enabled. Static objects with “cell” reflection mode will then skip reflection rendering if their cell is not reflective. For dynamic objects we currently use either “never” or “always” mode so that we don’t have to check constantly where they are and update their reflection enable flag.

Game world update

Years of object oriented programming tends to produce bad habits. One good example is the game object update logic that was in place two weeks ago. In Grimrock 2 game objects such as monsters, doors and teleporters are made from components such as lights, models, clickable zones and particle effects. In the object-oriented way each game object had a update() method which calls update() for all its components. Can you see what’s wrong with this? There are at least two big problems (and a few other missed optimization opportunities). First the code has to iterate through all components regardless if they actually need to be updated. For example models do not need to be updated at all because there is nothing dynamically changing about them. Secondly the code has to “megamorphically dispatch” to the component update routine, meaning the code is jumping between different component types all the time. This code branching is very slow. A much better approach is to update all components of given type in one go, i.e. update all particle systems in one pass, update all animations in one pass and so on, something like this:

...
updateComponents(LightComponent)
updateComponents(AnimationComponent)
updateComponents(FloorTriggerComponent)
...

This restructuring of update alone saves several milliseconds per frame. It also has other very nice properties. The code is easier to profile and it’s easy to toggle updating of component by type. It’s also trivial to change the update order of component types. For example, animation components should be updated after monsters so that animations start playing immediately, not one frame after the monster’s brain has decided what to do.

With all of these optimizations in place the average frame rate seemed decent (we haven’t tested on low end setups yet though so we may have go back to optimizations later). I have a frame rate number displayed on the screen all the time and I’ve set it up so that it turns bright red if the frame rate dips below 60 fps. While testing I noticed that every now and then, apparently for now reason, the frame time spiked above 16ms. I immediately began suspecting Lua’s garbage collector and added Lua memory statistics to the profiler. It turned out we were allocating about 40 KB per frame, at 60 fps that’s about 2.5 MB per second! After a few seconds of this Lua decided that enough is enough and collected garbage which dipped the frame rate. We were very lucky that this problem had not surfaced with Grimrock 1. Lucky because garbage collection issues are really hard to fix. I suspect that the working set and garbage generated was much smaller in Grimrock 1 so the problem did not exist.

I began hunting down the source of garbage. Thanks to the update restructuring it was easy to add per component type mem alloc statistics and a few culprits were quickly found. Some cases were easy to optimize away, like the creation of temporary tables here and there. Much more problematic was vector math code that created a lot of temporaries. Lua garbage collector is not particularly good at short lived temporaries like these. I decided to try an experimental technique, to make a separate vector and matrix classes that would be allocated from a pool. At the end of the frame the temp vectors and matrices would be returned back to the pool. The only problem was how to handle “boxing”. Temporaries could not be stored permanently in objects’ fields because their values would become corrupt at the end of current frame. A simple solution is to use boxed vectors as member variables and copy the values explicitly from temporary to the boxed version. It’s a bit of a chore to do it but it seems to work okay.

I still haven’t gone through all the places but the most bad behaving temporary allocating routines have now been optimized. As a result temporary memory allocations per frame has gone down from over 40KB to about 4KB per frame. My goal is to keep optimizing it below 1 KB. Garbage collection is already pretty harmless but I want to beat it so there’s no doubt about it.

That pretty much sums up the work of the past two weeks. Together with content optimizations the game now uses about 25% less memory and runs 25% faster. Not bad for two weeks of work! Hopefully this was an interesting read. If not, then prepare yourself for some more artsy blog update coming next! :)

 

Information about Grimrock 2 has been a little scarce lately so it’s about time we unravel some of the mysteries. Let’s get going!

The events of Legend of Grimrock 2 will happen on the Isle of Nex, a secluded island faraway from civilization. An island is a perfect place to setup an unforgettable dungeon crawling experience because we can mix indoor and outdoor locations seamlessly while still maintaining that atmosphere of mystery and danger, and the density of interesting things that is at the heart of Grimrock. If you think about it, the island is the perfect microcosm, where the party may explore dark woods, misty swamps, underground tunnels and ancient ruins without need to travel great distances. For us, an island is the perfect “dungeon” with a welcome variety of different types of environments.

At the start of the game, a party of four prisoners has ended up on the island against their will and start to explore the island. Pretty soon they will realize that they are not alone on the island and that the island is not an ordinary island at all… What are the mysterious towers on the island and who built them? Why is the island full of puzzles and traps? The story of Grimrock 2 will not be a direct continuum to Grimrock 1, but will be a completely new story with new characters that will expand the Grimrock universe.

A big part of Grimrock is, of course, the brain-teasing puzzles and for Grimrock 2 we have been busy developing new types of puzzle mechanics. Talking about puzzles is a tricky subject to discuss. We believe that the less you know about them in advance the better. So without ruining the surprises ahead, let’s just say that you’re not the only one stuck in the puzzles…

One of the few things some reviewers criticized about Grimrock 1 was monster behavior in combat. We have attacked this problem directly and rewritten the monster AI entirely. As a result monsters are now smarter and they know how to use their larger numbers to their advantage. The repertoire of tricks they know has been expanded greatly. For example, some monsters can call other monsters for help and can use group tactics against you. Of course the behavior of monsters depends on their intelligence so the most stupid and most fierce monsters are still, well, fierce and stupid as they should be. And talking of monsters, there will be lots of new monsters with some of the old, familiar faces making an occasional appearance for old times sake.

As explained in an earlier blog post , the character skill system has been completely redesigned and replaced with a perk-buy system that allows for more flexible character skill development. The design goal is make each level up meaningful and at the same time contain a tough choice. At level up, each character gains only one perk that changes the character in some way. Every perk gained is important. There are no in-between levels.

Tied to the skill system is the item system, which has also been expanded. Many items now have secondary powers that can be triggered by holding down the right mouse button on the action icon. The powers consume energy and range from special attacks to non-combat actions. In contrast to Grimrock 1, primary actions of items can be most often used by any character but the true powers can be used by a character with the right skills.

Potions can now be mixed directly in hand without going to inventory.
Spells can be cast using mouse gestures with less mouse clicks.

We have also improved the spellcasting and potion crafting systems to reduce the required number of mouse clicks. Potions can now be mixed without going to the inventory. Using an empty flask in hand will open up a miniature potion crafting panel (see screenshot) which you can even use in the middle of combat much like the spellcasting interface.

The new spellcasting panel allows mouse gestures to be used to cast spells. Spells are cast by holding the mouse button down while doing a swipe with the mouse on the correct sequence of runes. Talking of magic, the Mage character class has also been redesigned. The requirements to cast spells of different schools have been relaxed so that mages can cast larger variety of spells. In Grimrock 2, mages need not be one trick ponies.

Of course, Grimrock 2 also has new spells, a new playable race (with portraits to go) and a new character class. These combined with over a hundred new items, 22 new monsters, new environments, day to night cycle, plus as much more as we have time to crank in, means a lot of new stuff to have fun with!

In other news, we also have a big reason to celebrate today. Legend of Grimrock: The Series from Wayside Creations, the makers of Fallout: Nuka Break, has just been successfully funded on Kickstarter! WOOHOO! Wayside did a fantastic job with Fallout so we are super excited to see how Grimrock will translate to the new medium. Naturally we will assist Wayside and make sure the series will be true to the lore of Grimrock. There are still 4 days remaining on the Kickstarter, so if you want to take part in the development of the live series, there’s still time!

This post is getting rather long already, so let’s stop now to oogle at these shiny new screenshots!

 

Hello everyone! The year is nearing its end but we still have some very exciting news to share! The Legend of Grimrock live action series is now on Kickstarter! This has been an amazing opportunity for us here at Almost Human and we couldn’t be more excited. The project is super ambitious but since it is helmed by the super talented guys at Wayside Creations and Chris Avellone (Obsidian Entertainment) is attached to the series as a writer, we’re certain that the results will be awesome. You can get all sorts of great extras and swag, or even Legend of Grimrock 2 keys, by pledging on the Kickstarter. Needless to say we’re really hoping that the campaign finishes successfully and if you want to give us a hand in it, please pass around the link in twitter, forums and anywhere else where there might be people interested in seeing a high quality live action fantasy web series! And a million thanks to you all who have already given your support!

But hey, since the holidays are soon here, all of us here at Almost Human wanted to bring you some seasonal cheer! We decided to devote half of today for creating Grimrock-themed Christmas cards (with the word “card” interpreted very loosely here)! Take a look and feel free to pass these around as well (for sake of fairness, I sorted these according to our seating order).

Olli:

Jykä:

Juho:

Jyri:

Pete:

Antti:

Taneli: (This is a Windows game, click here to download!)

Alright, that’s it. I hope you liked these! Next we’ll be taking a short Christmas vacation so we’ll see you next year and we wish all of you happy holidays and an awesome new year! :)

 

Hello everyone, it’s time for another status update! Features and content keeps on pouring on in the game at a steady pace and the point where the entire game would be playable from the beginning to the end is sooo close: there’s just two or three levels (that I actually started working on today) that need to be done to make the game “whole”. Of course, the game is not by any means finished at that point but reaching alpha is a mighty fine milestone nonetheless! Other gameplay things we have also tackled recently were prototyping some new spells and adding a completely new character class. We’ll keep the new class under covers for a while but once we get it to a more complete state, we’ll tell you more about it!

The intro cinematic to the game is now pretty much complete, barring a few finishing touches on the soundtrack, and Juho has already gotten a good headstart on the outro cinematic as well! The full motion cinematics are a huuuge step up from the still images we had in Grimrock 1 and I hope the players appreciate the sweat, tears and love (well okay, mostly the sweat & tears) Juho has poured into making them.

Talking of eyecandy, we finally tackled the issue of how we make the skies in Grimrock. The traditional approach of using a static skydome texture doesn’t really cut it in a game like Grimrock 2 so we had to figure out something that wouldn’t take forever to create and that would still look good, both in a still image and in motion with a dynamically changing time of day. Petri came up with a hybrid approach (as seen on the pair of screenshots above) of using a code generated sky and sun together with a few layers of relit clouds. The relit clouds mean that the cloud textures are not just plain cutaways from photos, although that was our starting point, since we have separate hand painted data for highlights so that the clouds react convincingly to different lighting scenarios when they drift across the sky and the position of the sun changes. While this approach we used doesn’t provide hardcore super photorealistic results, the looks of the sky are actually somewhere between painterly and realistic: a perfect match for the looks of our game.

Oh, and our buddies (and almost next door neighbors from our Matinkyl√§-days) from Theory Interactive popped in to say hello the other day and to give us a hand with the leftover beers from our christmas party ;) . They just passed the 20,000 Eur milestone of their indiegogo campaign for Reset and we snapped a celebratory photo with members from both of our teams. Their time traveling robot FPS puzzle game looks glorious and the crowdfunding campaign definitely deserves to gather so much more money than it currently has! They should also have a new video coming up by the end of the week too and I can’t wait to see what they have in store!

Alright, I suppose this is it for this time around! If there’s any particular “making of” -style article you would like to see, let us know (via blog comments/forum/facebook/twitter) what interests you and we’ll see if we can do something about it! Thanks. :)

 

Oh boy, here comes some huge news! We have a hard time even believing it ourselves but Wayside Creations, the creators of the most excellent Fallout – Nuka Break web series and films, are looking into creating a live action Legend of Grimrock series! Stay tuned for more info!

PS. This is my first blog post where every sentence ended in an exclamation point but this totally deserves it!

 

I’ll have to apologize that this post will lack the focus that the previous ones have had but there’s a very good reason for it: I also lack focus today! I lost the focus yesterday when I was out for a couple of beers with other Finnish indie game developers (and had a great time as usual) but despite that, my current state of being is actually good for writing. Usually when I’m a little hung over I have pretty good flow, in more ways than one, so we thought why not exploit my misery to type one of these “what we’ve been up to recently” -posts.

So now that we have that disclaimer out of the way, let’s start from the big picture: Legend of Grimrock 2 is starting to really shape up. I mean now it actually has a shape instead of being scattered all around in little bits and pieces that don’t connect with each others in any meaningful way. Our first levels are in alpha and we are closing in fast towards the state where we have more or less the whole package and can switch to “iterate and polish” -mode. But we’re not quite there yet: we still have time to experiment with new features!

One of those new features we tried out is rivers. Of course they are not only for looks so that you can go for a refreshing dip in them if you want to. A nice byproduct that we got from it is that now it’s possible to create terrain where there are bigger differences in elevation so now we can add small canyons or ditches into the wilderness or add “verticality” to some dungeon rooms as well.

Now that we aren’t facing the immediate threat of starvation if we don’t get the game done ASAP (like the situation was with Grimrock 1), we’ve actually had the luxury of being able to go back and iterate and polish some of the 3D models we’ve done. Especially the outdoors now look much more lush and we have a bigger palette of building blocks so we can put much more variety in them. Juho has been working on the intro cinematic and it’s just one or two days away from completion and this time it’ll be fully animated and it looks awesome. The steady trickle of new animated monsters has also continued and every now and again there’s also a burst of new items. Making items is fun but it’s best enjoyed in small doses so that you can avoid the creative hangover that you can very easily get from churning out those tiny icons and 3D models…

And, uhh, it feels like I’m maybe talking a little too much about hangovers here so I think I need to defend myself here so that you’re not left with the impression that I’m leading a completely destructive lifestyle (although admittedly it’s pretty close) :) . To prove my point, here’s a few photos from the 5 day hike I did with Juho a month ago in Urho Kekkonen National Park in Lapland:

If you want to see more, here’s a gallery by Juho and a gallery by me.

Oh and by the way, if you want more tidbits about developing Grimrock 2, Petri can now be found on Twitter too. Check it out!

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