Creating graphics for games can be quite technical at times. A game artist needs to keep in mind that there’s a finite amount of memory available for graphics in the game. In essense the less an individual art asset takes memory, the more of them you can have which results in visual diversity. Basically that means more varied wallsets, monsters, items etc.

Textures are real graphics memory hogs. That’s why in game art we use all kinds of tricks to keep texture count and sizes low. In this post I’m going to be talking about a method of using the same pieces over and over again to create multiple different assets without any new textures. Sometimes this is called kitbashing.

Exhibit number uno: Wooden supports for the mine environment

(click on the pictures to enlarge them)

I was tasked to create a wooden support structure for our mine wallset. The environment required multiple kinds of configurations ranging from a fence like wall piece with support pillars and beams to a bridge piece for connecting over chasms.

It wouldn’t have made much sense making every asset unique, meaning that every asset has it’s own set of textures, since that would have taken a lot of memory. The assets needed had also pretty big surface areas which means that to keep texel resolution (size of texture pixels in the 3d world) consistent, the textures would’ve had to be big. In grimrock we’ve aimed to keep our texel resolution 1024×1024 pixels per 3x3meters. (our grid size)

So with these limitations in mind I set out to design the assets needed. First we made a simple sketch of what the assets and the environment might look like with Antti. Antti described requirements from a gameplay standpoint and dished out some environment artist wisdom from his Alan Wake days. I also looked at some reference pictures of how supports like these are usually built.

Next step was trying to figure out what kind of pieces I’d need to create them in 3D.

I tried to keep the number of pieces to a minimum, and to figure out how to accomplish that I used a technique we call whiteboxing. It’s essentially just another type of a sketch, but in 3D and placed in game. Using this technique has the advantage of seeing very early on how the asset might appear in game and what kind of dimensions it occupies. Later after the high detail modeling is done, it’s usually difficult to make changes if problems like intersecting with other objects in the environment arise. For example, some of our bigger monsters might intersect through the asset while prowling through the caverns of our mines if the assets are not carefully measured. This technique also helps with making sure the pieces have correct proportions. It’s easy to make planks, nail heads, etc. too big so that they appear cartoonish in game compared to the surrounding environment.

My solution to making multiple mine assets from a single set of textures (diffuse, specular and a normalmap) was to make a collection of different sized planks, beams and some metallic binders I’d use to attach the wooden pieces together. It’s probably what you’d get from a trip to the hardware store in the grimrock world! To create the textured assets I took the whiteboxed pieces to zbrush and sculpted them into what I needed and then created game resolution meshes and textures from the sculpts.

After that it was just a matter of assembling the pieces into what I needed.

When I was finished with assembling the assets we could let Antti off the leash and create our exciting environments!

The added benefit of this techique is that these pieces can then be used elsewhere also!
… and in the case of this collection of hardware store material, everywhere. :)

Aaaand that’s it. I hope this was an interesting read and if you have questions just post them in the comments and I’ll try to answer them!
- Jyri


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.


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, 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. :)


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 »


It is the thirtyeighth day of my journey. The sea has been strangely calm for weeks with nought but a slight breeze and no drops of water from the heavens. The Ratling captain says that this is an ill omen, for in this season rains should be plentiful.

The reports of strange structures on the Island are perplexing to my mind. Surely some of them were made by the natives now long lost to the mists of time. But the tales of seafarers also tell about more recent, grander constructions towering above the trees. The natives and the priestesses long gone, who are building these structures and why?

The seamen believe that the Island is cursed — I say guarded by strong Magicks — since no ship sailing close to the Island has ever returned. Perhaps the ancient statues reported by the few survivors of shipwrecks are there to guards the secrets of the Island until the constructionwork is complete? Perhaps with the careful usage of the Art we are able to dispell the shields and grant us entrance to the Island? Perhaps the King’s endless thrist for knowledge shall be finally quenched? Perhaps.

There are black clouds billowing in the horizon. The storm is rising.

– Alarast the Sage of Royal Library

Hello all! We have been pushing hard on the development of Legend of Grimrock 2 and now we are going to have a brief but sweet summer break. But before we go a recap of what has been happening is in order!

The focus of work recently has been on the building blocks of the game, the monsters, puzzles, and environment assets. After the holiday break we are going to start putting the pieces together and building the (final) game world. (I put “final” in parenthesis because I know we are going to polish and tweak the levels to the very last moment before the game ships.)

With the added musclepower of Jyri and Jyri, we have been able to push an impossibly large amount of 3D models, animations and textures out of the oven in a very short time. For example, we have 16 complete new monsters and more is coming. Combined with the monsters from Grimrock 1 we have something like 40 unique monsters, although many of the old monsters won’t make a come back in the new game. The monsters of Grimrock 2 are also much more complex, many with multiple types of special attacks and unique AI behavior.

On the wallset side, we have seven completely new environments, more than double what we had in Grimrock 1. The amount of model files, material definitions and scripts is getting really tough to handle! :)

On the tech side, we have implemented water rendering and integrated a video player. After carefully evaluating our options we chose to use an open source WebM/VP8 video format. Being open source means that mods can also contain cinematic videos without licensing limitations. This was very important to us. The cinematics can also be played whenever needed, no longer just at the start and end of the game.

That’s it! Have a great summer!


Ok, we know we’ve been awfully quiet with our blog lately, but that’s only because we’ve been working very hard. Working hard on what, you say? More about that a bit later. Let’s first look back all the way to year 2012.

Last year was an incredible success for Almost Human. We released our first game, Legend of Grimrock, which was the best seller for two weeks in Steam and has continued to surpass our expectations. LoG reached 82 points in Metascore declaring it officially to be a great game (but we already knew that, right). We also released the Dungeon Editor that has spawned lots of brilliant mods and Steam’s Legend of Grimrock Workshop has over 450 entries already! Our great community is always surprising us with their skills, creativity and activity in the forums with 50.000 posts and counting. And those post are really high quality stuff too, unlike most forums dedicated to games ;) . That means you don’t run out of dungeons to explore in the future. Towards the end of the year we also released the highly anticipated Mac and Linux versions of LoG with great new features and optimizations. And to sum up the year, we’re now proud to announce that Legend of Grimrock has sold over 600.000 copies! We would’ve been happy with just one tenth of the sales numbers, so needless to say we’re very happy and the future of our company is secured for a long time.

But great success doesn’t mean we haven’t lost our passion for making great games. So, what’s next, you might ask. We thought we could share with you a glimpse of some new exiting things we’ve been working on. But beware, this is only the tip of the iceberg. Enjoy!


Friday time, Blueberry Pie!! :-D Here is a work-in-progress screen grab from the upcoming Dungeon Editor. The editor is still pretty far from final but we wanted to give this early sneak peak anyway. There is no release date for the editor yet — we don’t want to risk making bad design choices by hurrying. You can follow the progress of the project here.

Have a nice weekend everybody!


Earlier today I noticed my Facebook feed had some Rebecca Black links again. It could only mean two things: first, the current state of pop music is appalling, and second, it’s Friday and therefore it’s time for another weekly update!

On last update we mentioned some new tweaks on the GUI and now I’ve got a screenshot to illustrate the matter:

So, what we essentially did was merge the portraits and attack buttons into one area instead of having them spread out in two opposite corners. Now you can access inventories of the characters, do some attacking and spell casting or shuffle the marching order all from the same area. To get there, Petri and Juho spent days talking only in a strange language that consists solely of numbers and single letters:
“Y? … 10.”
So, to those of you who have been saying that the UI spread across both corners is stupid, I raise my hat to you sirs. You have been right all along! :) Even if it took a lot of iterating to get all the pieces to fit together perfectly, this layout is much better to use.
Continue reading »


Hello again! We’ve survived yet another week, despite being engulfed in a small snow blizzard for the past few days. But at least I find it refreshing since the winter this far has been exceptionally warm here in Finland… Anyways, even though I know that you’re just dying to hear more about the local weather, I’m afraid we’ll have to move on to the development update. Since I’m in a storytelling mood now I’ll avoid the usual bulleted list this time! But first, since some of you have asked what our automap looks like, here’s a screenshot. I hope I didn’t ruin the joy of discovering the early parts of dungeon level 2 for anyone! ;) The “N” on the map indicates a note that I’ve left and you can see what is written down in a note when you bring your mouse on top of it. Level three will be displayed on the other page once the player discovers it.

Continue reading »

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