antti

 

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!

 

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 Matinkylä-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!

 

One of the central game mechanics in the Legend of Grimrock -series (can we already call it a series?) are puzzles. They’re a very natural pairing for an oldschool dungeon crawler like ours and it provides a nice counterweight for the exploration and combat you’ll be doing.

After we finished Grimrock 1 I thought that we might have squeezed out all the possible grid based puzzles with levers, pits, doors and traps that we could possibly muster. And I felt that way for a long time too but strangely, after wrapping up the release of Dungeon Editor for Grimrock 1 with Petri, I realized there might still be a few puzzle ideas hiding deep somewhere in the back of my head, just waiting to be digged out. Figuratively speaking of course, not literally… :)

Of course, a lot has happened that has fed the puzzle creation process somewhat. The Dungeon Editor makes it a lot easier to prototype and build puzzle ideas and we’ve also come up with some new mechanisms that can be used for entirely new styles of puzzle or combined with the old elements for a fresh take on the older puzzles.

All in all, it’s impossible to predict exactly where the next idea comes from but no matter what their origins are, they’ll end up in the puzzle_ideas.txt in my dropbox. At this moment there’s about 40 unused ideas, many of which are very abstract and probably won’t end up as actual working puzzles, but others are much closer to reality and more ripe for use. Let’s take a look how one of the ideas ended up in the text file and how I took the idea to completion (as seen on the screenshot above) and how it changed along the way.

Here’s the original notes I wrote down about the puzzle: Continue reading »

 

Phew, it took quite a while but finally it’s here: the Linux version of Legend of Grimrock is on Steam! This means that Steam now carries all the versions of the game: PC, Mac and Linux.

The standalone Linux version of the game has also now been updated to version 1.3.7 which eliminates a few annoying bugs. Most importantly text input and mouse look troubles have been fixed as well as the issue some users have had where they have been unable to export custom dungeons. You can get the update for the standalone version by redownloading the game from the link that was emailed to you when you purchased the game from Humble Bundle or from our store. If you’ve lost the email with the details, you can get it resent but you can of course also email us as well if you need any assistance.

In other news, the development of Grimrock 2 continues! Monsters have been learning some new maneuvers and we’ve also done some work on how items, especially weapons, work and right now as I’m writing this, the guys sitting on the sofas behind my back are thinking about how to do the intro and other cinematics. We have also selected a good artist for the portrait freelancing gig we posted about a while earlier. And boy, the blog post was really effective: we got 234 applications in our inbox from artists all over the world and I’d like to thank all the applicants. I’m sure Juho, who had to sort through all the mails and portfolios himself, is equally thankful! ;)

 

Hehey!

We’ve got a great big bunch of great news for you!

A new Humble Bundle just started and we’re in it! That’s right, the legendary pay-what-you want bundle filled to the brim with great indie games and part of the proceeds go to charities as well. It’s on for a limited time only so now is a great opportunity to get some stocking stuffers for christmas.

But wait, aren’t the games on Humble Bundle always available for Mac and Linux as well? Well, so is Legend of Grimrock now too! You can get access to all the platforms by buying the via the Humble Bundle (of course) or our store. Mac version is available on Steam (Steam Play enabled naturally) and you can purchase the Linux version at Ubuntu Software Center soon.

But.. The Humble Bundle and the new platforms are not the only gift we have in store for you. We also updated Legend of Grimrock itself so if you’re on Steam, the game should update by itself but if you’ve got the standalone version, you can download the patch here. Note: version 1.3.1 is required for the standalone version’s patch, so if you don’t have that version, the easiest way to update the game is to redownload it from the vendor you purchased the game from! One nice addition we put into the game is that if you’ve got a low-spec machine, we’ve got a new rendering mode that will help the game run much much smoother on older hardware. But the real exciting stuff is the new features for the dungeon editor. I’ll add a comprehensive change log to the end of this post but there’s one thing we want to highlight here: you can now create custom GUIs. That means you can add 2D graphics on the screen and interact with them using a mouse or keyboard. This means that now you can create, say, dialogues with NPCs, trading interfaces, screens for custom skills and so on. But to show off what the system is capable of doing, yesterday we decided to get off on a bit of a tangent and make a new game from scratch using it. Prepare yourselves for… Toorum’s Quest II!!!

You can now grab the mod from Steam Workshop or Grimrock Nexus and try it out for yourself.
Continue reading »

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