1. FriUp26: Digging

    April 11



    Hey everybody, welcome to our 26th Portico update! This will be a short one, for which I apologize, given the lack of updates lately. The image I hope shows that we have not been entirely slacking off in the interim, though.

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  2. FriUp25: Traps v11.3 Or Something

    March 14


    Haunted by the ghost of endless iteration… new traps appear!!

    Hey everybody! Thanks for your patience these last few weeks. Things got pretty crazy around here. We launched our new company Finji, and then that dovetailed with the ominous spectre of preparing for GDC and all that that entails. We’re also busy trying to find another team member for Overland, which is a weird/interesting process in and of itself. BUT, most of that is done now. While we won’t be completely back on schedule here for another week or two thanks to the aforementioned game conference, we should be done with the gaping month-long absences!

    SO: what have we been up to?? Well, as you can see above, we’ve been working on doing a new pass on the in-game trap design. At this point I have probably designed… 200 traps? 300 maybe? The vast majority of these traps were unusable of course, but still, it’s a lot of sketchbook paper. Or maybe not that much, given how central these are to the gameplay? We’ll talk about this process more in just a bit.

    We’ve also been fixing a lot of bugs, adding iPad support, figuring out how the world map will work, refining some plans for the final graphical approach, and trying to decide what mechanics and level designs to explore next. I’m still really happy with our progress though, and still feeling really confident that we actually did find the Good Version of this game back in February. AND, don’t forget that Portico has its public gameplay debut at The MIX on Monday, which is exciting/terrifying!

    Continue reading for some insight into the latest round of trap designs.

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  3. GRAVE is called Portico now!

    March 3

    So that’s a thing! Back to proper dev updates this friday :) Thanks for your patience!

  4. A Week Off

    February 7

    Hey everyone! Not much of a post this week, I apologize. It’s also misleading, in a way; we made huge breakthroughs on the game this week. Here are a few of the things we figured out:

    • The game’s title (hint: it’s not GRAVE)
    • The game’s unifying look and feel
    • The game’s pace and differentiating environmental features

    We probably made more progress this week than any other week since we started working on this game, and, paradoxically, we have absolutely nothing to show for it… yet.

    I am really looking forward to next week’s post especially, and the march toward alpha is shaping up to be glorious indeed. We have a lot of stuff to reveal soon, so thanks again for following along, and we’re looking forward to showing and telling you more next friday (which, wholly coincidentally, is my birthday!)

  5. FriUp24: Alpha Road

    January 31


    Testing some of our new environment mechanics.

    Hey there and welcome back! This is Friday Update #24 for the game that is still called GRAVE (we’re working on that, I promise!). Last week we shipped out our “pre-alpha”, a single level from what we imagine our alpha will be: gameplay complete, but otherwise unfinished. We got some good feedback and made some good changes already, but I’ll talk more about that later in today’s post.

    This week (and for the next few weeks probably) we’re working on expanding our pre-alpha up to that full alpha point, at least for the main game levels. A few days ago Alec coded up the new environment features and I set up a dozen or so new test levels, but the result was a bit underwhelming. This, combined with some of the feedback we didn’t get, is leading to some big, interesting changes in the days ahead.

    Continue reading for a peek at some new in-game trap designs and a deeper look into the changes we’re making as we work toward our alpha milestone.

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  6. FriUp23: Pre-Alpha At Last

    January 24


    A screenshot from the GRAVE pre-alpha build - click here for the full res version.

    Welcome back everyone! After almost six months I’m really happy to announce that GRAVE has officially achieved “pre-alpha” status. Like I talked about last week, our pre-alpha is kind of like a vertical slice of the eventual “full” alpha: a single level with most of the features we want in it, playable by humans.

    It’s really exciting to be able to see what the game will be, finally. We have a lot of work ahead of us but a lot of the uncertainty is gone, which is a huge relief. We are definitely looking forward to keeping you up to date on our progress as we move toward our full alpha milestone.

    Continue reading for more development progress and a re-examination of the exit HUD issue from last week’s post.

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  7. FriUp22: Design Defrag

    January 17


    Updating the monster designs has been fun but challenging.

    Hey everybody, and welcome back to the 22nd Friday Update for the game currently codenamed GRAVE! We made big progress this week finalizing our next (and hopefully last) pre-alpha build. We have been working on redesigning all the in-game monsters, as you can see above, but also making some gameplay adjustments, fixing bugs, and working getting a single level of the game up to “real alpha” status. Aside from maybe a few sound effects and one more enemy painting, we actually completed our to-do list last night, which is really exciting, because that means we are on track to have an alpha of the whole game ready before GDC.

    Continue reading for a design-heavy breakdown of some of our recent progress and gameplay decisions.

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  8. FriUp21: New Character Art Stream

    January 10

    Hey everyone! Update 21, holy crap. So nothing crazy this week - I want to write about design defragging and some other things but I’m a bit pressed for time, so instead we’ve got this video of me painting one of our new enemy designs, so you can see a bit more of our current concepting process and all that good stuff.

    Progress-wise I’m really excited, we are just a few changes away from our next pre-alpha, a kind of vertical slice of the alpha itself. If this next round of playtesting goes well we’re pretty much focusing on art and level design, hopefully resulting in a kind of for-real alpha sometime between Valentine’s Day and GDC. From there we’ll probably work on building an actual vertical slice of the game, which is going to be very, very exciting.

    That’s it for now! See you next week :)

  9. January 4

    Anonymous said: Could you stream video how you building game in Unity?

    yes, this is something we’re already planning on doing in the future!

  10. FriUp20: The Grave We’re Not Making

    January 3

    Archival footage of ye olde anciente prototypee.

    Hey everyone! Welcome back to the 20th GRAVE Friday Update. This week we have our first gameplay video… of the game we’re not making anymore. Or rather, the game we were making and then drastically improved. While we’re not ready to show any video of the turn-based version of the game yet (hopefully we’ll have that in February or March) we are still kind of excited to show some video from GRAVE’s previous life. And you can still play the LD48 larval form of GRAVE, if you really want to dig into our sordid history!

    As we recover from the holidays and our side projects, we’re both getting a kick out of diving back into the current turn-based iteration of the GRAVE and tweaking and tuning it and adding new features as we approach our next big internal playtesting milestone. This latest pass involved a lot of balancing changes that were all focused on making the low-level, immediate gameplay more fun. This means collapsing a few game objects into more interesting objects that have more combinatoric, emergent consequences, which in turn has the positive side effect of giving the player more options (but not too many more).

    Thanks for checking out the video. We’ll be back with more art and gameplay, which we look forward to sharing with you next week!

  11. Interlude: Free Gaems

    December 27


    Happy holidays, everyone! As foretold, there is no real GRAVE update this week. Instead, Alec and I helped make two free games for you! You can check them out here:

    LONGEST NIGHT (Mac/Windows/Linux)

    CUBIC SPACE (Flash/Browser)

    Continue reading for a little bit of background info on where these two games came from. Otherwise, we’ll see you next week!

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  12. December 20

    Anonymous said: where di i find the game?

    GRAVE is not out yet, and does not have a release date yet. Thanks!

  13. FriUp19: Character Art

    December 20


    Frogmob character progress from this week, oldest to newest.

    Welcome back to GRAVE Friday Update #19! This week’s topic is pretty similar to last week’s, because dang I am still hung up on how to tackle the monster designs for this game. The good news is that I’m finally making some progress (or I think I am anyways - you can judge for yourself in the image above!). Currently I am attributing this progress to a mix of just plain practice but also I think some minor changes to my workflow, which we’ll talk about more later.

    Between the holidays, Night in the Woods, some unannounced projects, and general end of year exhaustion, there will probably not be a blog post next friday, but we’ll make up for it with something extra good on January 3rd, we promise!

    Continue reading for a continuation of last week’s post about character art and design, color pickers, and making calls.

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  14. FriUp18: Character Design

    December 13

    Welcome back! This is our 18th Friday update, and will be slightly shorter than the novella I posted a couple of weeks ago, I promise! This week we continued our exploration of what GRAVE should look like. We did an art stream on Twitch yesterday, during which we sketched and painted the latest iteration of our basic enemy unit, which you can see above.

    Almost immediately after finishing the stream I realized I’d painted the creature completely wrong, but for the first time, maybe ever, I think I know what I did wrong, and how to approach fixing it going forward, which feels great. This is probably the best I’ve ever felt having to throw away a few hours of work! I think getting used to and appreciating that feeling is important when you’re learning new things…

    Alec and I are planning on hitting our next internal alpha by the end of the month. I’m hopeful that by then we’ll have some new artwork for the traps and enemies, though probably not the environment itself yet. Either way we’ll have lots more art to show over the coming weeks!

    Continue reading for a quick breakdown of some of our character design goals, the reasoning behind the current approach, and a fork in the visual road.

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  15. FriUp17: Making Up For Lost Time

    November 29


    Hi everybody! Welcome back to the 17th GRAVE Friday update, and the first update to be posted after (*gasp*) missing a week. Making games is super important to us but a few too many things landed in our laps last week… I didn’t even realize we’d missed an update until a few days ago!

    The ironic thing is, in spite of everything, we made some big leaps forward in GRAVE over the last couple of weeks, so I have a lot to catch up on here. We’re in an “adding stuff” phase right now, and we added a lot of new things recently: a new enemy type, art for even more enemy types, single-use items, enchanted tiles, altars, and, most excitingly, for me anyways, a system for randomizing these elements each time you play. We also roadmapped a new alpha, laying plans for three or four new enemies (including a boss), more flexible single-use items, and some other fine-tuning. I’ll go over some of these new additions and plans later in this post!

    Continue reading for a rambling exploration of the latest GRAVE changes and some of the thinking behind those decisions, including some overviews of relevant board games and classic design texts by architect Christopher Alexander. Plus a sneak-peek at some new enemy designs!

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