Happy April, lovely Quarterstaff friends and family!
I apologize for the massive break in updates since February. We’re nearing the final leg of production, so things have definitely ramped up since the last blog post, and I’ve barely had a chance to sit down and chat with you!
During this time of silence, we’ve been working hard to schedule out the rest of our production. Aside from our level maps, most of the art is complete. All that’s left is replacing a few temp art pieces, and then a mighty polish pass, where we’ll go through and clean up any buggy art.
Our 2D animators are working with increased momentum to finish out all of Kalresh’s animations, after which they’ll perform at an incredible speed to finish out the enemies we have planned for the game. Right now, the Arena goons are the placeholder enemies throughout the game, taking the hits on everyone’s behalf. Soon, they’ll be confined exclusively to their home in the Arena, and you’ll be treated to a variety of soldiers and monsters to thwack with increased satisfaction.
Recently, we had a new patch update where all the mission maps for the Blighted Trail were added into the build. We’re extremely excited about this update, and have begun our farewells to the TRIPLE-G.
Now, you may have noticed if you’ve been playing the game, that the maps looking nothing like the tile system discussed in a previous blog post. We had to switch gears very quickly on this front, so I’ll use that as an excuse for not offering any kind of explanation. But the wait for answers is over, so keep reading.
Some of our early mock-ups of the tile system weren’t…well, as appealing as we’d hoped. Mind you, this has nothing to do with the talent of our artists, but everything to do with the map tools in our level editor. We were limited in the number and variety of textures that we were able to use in each map, which led to repeating tiles that were a bit tough on the eyes. It was disappointing to not see this system reach fruition, as it would have shortened our production time, but alas. None of us wanted to settle for less with Quarterstaff.
After some intense consultation, we circled back and decided on a more straightforward approach.
Each map will now be hand-illustrated! Yay…?! I’m kidding. I’m not. We’ll get through it.
The process will be time-consuming, but gives us the flexibility to add a unique tone or special features to each level. It’ll be worth the time spent, and the early results are staggeringly beautiful.
We brought on Mari Takeyama back in January, who was initially set up to do textures. Once we realized the tile-system couldn’t do her work justice, she graciously let us pivot her to hand-drawn illustrations. I’d link a screenshot of her work, but you should really check it out in-game for yourself! Choose any of the four levels in the Blighted Trail, and away you go! Be sure to use the Light and Heavy Flourish animations to appreciate the animation and VFX painstakingly added by our animators, and throw down some Thorny Brambles to see how beautifully they integrate into the maps.
It’s totally been worth the wait, and I’m very excited for the next region! Mari is sketching out some Bandit Hills maps for us, which we’re planning to add in the next update in May.
In addition to new art for the maps, we also added in a lot of new animations for Kalresh. Unfortunately, integrating new animations often causes bugs, which we work hard to resolve. Our recent update was a bit clumsy, mostly for this reason. We’ve been (allegedly) consistent with updating the build on Steam every two weeks, but we’ve had some unavoidable slip-ups. We thank you for your patience on this, as we’d rather not put out an update that will hurt the build more than help it.
Our most recent deadline was last Friday, April 21, which we unfortunately missed due to some bugs that needed our attention. We stayed up late into the night, trying to resolve these, and we did! By the time midnight rolled around, we were ready to deploy and go to bed.
Because things don’t always work out like we plan and that’s just life, we encountered another conflict – the new art had increased our build to be larger than 2GB (huge, right?) which prevented us from downloading from version control. As a result, we had to delay the deploy, and our sorcerer-programmer-wizard James worked diligently through the weekend to optimize our update process.
Remarkably, James was able to deploy the build on Monday, April 24. A few days late is better than never, if you ask me!
After this, we discussed the frequency of our updates, and if this current schedule was helping or hurting us. Since the majority of these updates will be art or animation related, the two-week frequency just wasn’t sustainable or helpful to our developers.
We’re switching gears, so moving forward our patch updates will be every three weeks. This way, we get enough time to add, test, and troubleshoot everything, while enabling our artists to do their best work. The resulting update should be fat and juicy with brand-new art and animations, ideally without ugly bugs.
Besides, a late night once every three weeks is better than a late night every two weeks, and I prefer my team to be well-rested and not miserable.
I reject toxic death march/crunch time work practices!
We sincerely hope you enjoy the new art that’s in the build, and keep an eye out for any new updates. We’re working as hard as we can until we transition to full release, and can’t wait to show you what we have in store!
-Millie and the GLM Team