Nicalis Blog

September 28, 2016

Ittle Dew 2: Let’s Bash Baddies!

Hey guys! This is Joel again from Ludosity to tell you a bit more about Ittle Dew 2. I’ve mentioned before that Ittle and Tipsy aren’t the most heroic of protagonists – they really just want to find treasure and clobber bad guys. For that reason, it’s pretty important that there are lots of bad guys to clobber, so here’s an introduction to the enemies you’ll get to fight in the game.

First and foremost, we have the Jennys, and I don’t mean Forrest Gump’s girlfriend. If you’ve played Ittle Dew 1 or some of Ludosity’s other games like Card City Nights, then you already know about the Jennys. The full name is Jenny Rich Monsteur, which is a terrible pun on “generic monster.” They’re these purple-skinned girls who dress up in various costumes – like a frog costume or a fox costume – to make them suitable for different environments.

When you see the Jennys, you know what to do: beat up every last one!

Of course, we have a whole bunch of new Jennys for this game. The Safety Jenny is one of the first enemies you meet, and she’s armed with a useless foam sword and safety goggles. There’s also Slayer Jenny, who is like something out of a Moomin (it’s big over here in Europe, trust me) fairytale but more sinister. There’s the Flower Jenny who’s armed with a scythe-shovel, and Shark Jenny who swims around with her fin sticking up (unless she’s on land, in which case she just flops around uselessly).


There are lots of other enemies besides the Jennys, too. Among the most powerful are the Hexrots in the final dungeon; they’re big, cloaked carrot wizards who cast all sorts of spells. We’ve also got cactuses who flex and chase you around while shooting flaming spines, and in Star Woods you’ll face turnips armed with spears, shields, and bazookas. There are even rotting zombie versions of those guys! Because combat is much better this time around, we could make more difficult enemies and more challenging combat, so we’ve tried to make the enemies more varied and fun.

This will teach you to eat your vegetables!

And then we have the bosses, who aren’t necessarily what they seem. Here’s the thing about Ittle Dew 2: even though it’s a classic-style video game adventure, it also pokes fun at the genre a little bit, and so the whole thing is set on an adventure island run by a gamesmaster – it’s sort of a giant theme part for adventurers – and the bosses are hired help. So at the beginning of the game, you can go to the village area and talk to the bosses, banter back and forth, and you’ll learn that they’re pretty good guys. But once you step into a dungeon, they get all serious, and they’re ready to beat the crap out of you.

Sure, the bosses are hired help – but don’t feel bad about clobbering them. They have it coming.

There are three recurring boss characters, all of whom ride robots to battle. There’s Cyber Jenny, who replaces her body parts with mechanical parts gradually, Le Biadlo, who wants to avenge his cousin from the first game, and Lenny, who doesn’t really care one way or another. While Ittle and Tipsy are kind of blank slates as far as backstory and characterization goes, there’s actually a lot to learn about the bosses and their relationships, so that can be pretty fun. That’s especially true of the gamesmaster, but to say anything else would be a spoiler.

So there you have it: a quick look at some of the enemies and bosses of Ittle Dew 2. Some are cute, some are dangerous, and all of them will be there for you to beat the heck out of when the game arrives on Steam, PS4, and Xbox One.

September 27, 2016

Creepy Castle: Custom Creepy!

Hey guy, this is Zach again. I’ve talked a lot about the content and features in my previous updates about Creepy Castle, but this time I wanted to touch on something that isn’t really directly related to the gameplay: the customization options. If you checked out our Kickstarter campaign, you may recall that a customizable interface has been one of the planned features ever since the beginning: you can completely change the border around the gameplay window and choose between hearts or a bar to represent your life meter. In addition, you can select from multiple color palettes.

This is pretty much how the interface looked when we first designed it.

It might not seem like a huge thing, but I honestly think that having multiple borders is a great way to make the game better suited to the player’s personality. In the beginning, of course, there was only one type of border. But then it went through revision and redesign, and the new interface looked quite different from the original version. I showed it to my friends, and opinions were mixed. Some liked the old one, and some liked the new one. Some preferred the hero and enemies to have their remaining health displayed as a somewhat nebulous bar, while others preferred seeing it as distinct hearts so it was a bit more obvious how much health they had left. It seemed to be a simple matter of personal preference. So I figured, what the heck? Why not include all those options and let the player decide which to go with?

Do you prefer the old look or the updated look? Either way, you’re good to go.

The custom interface choices grew from there. You can select from one that’s red and smooth, one that’s blue and stony, one that’s grey and mechanical, one that looks like castle parapets with dragon heads breathing fire, one that looks like a lush forest, and others. There are currently nine border choices in the game, but that could end up expanding before the game’s release.

This plant-themed border is pretty soothing, don’t you think? It’s one of nine you can choose from.

The customizable color palettes came about during the Kickstarter campaign. One of the stretch goals (which we hit) was to include a greenish four-color Game Boy-style palette for the game, so to do that I implemented a shader that can swap certain colors with other colors. Once the shader was done, it was no problem at all to include other alternative palettes as well, and the number of color options has currently climbed to 10 (though, as with the borders, the number may grow).

It’s like 1989 all over again with the Game Boy-inspired color palette!

You can choose to go with a brighter color palette, a more muted palette (if you find the default palette tough on the eyes for any reason), a grayscale “noir” palette, a pastel pink palette, a black-and-white palette, and even an NES color palette. There’s also one that makes all the colors weird – it was sort of inspired by Super Mario World, specifically the way the colors and character art would change once you cleared all 96 exits in the game. Sorry, no pure-red Virtual Boy color scheme though!

On top of all that, there’s also even more adjustable shader options that let you tweak the game’s aesthetic to your liking. All of the aforementioned options from this update are available from the get-go – you don’t need to unlock them or anything – so I hope you enjoy trying them out and finding your favorites once you play the finished game.

August 23, 2016

Ittle Dew 2: Adventurous by Design

Hey everyone! Joel here again with some more behind-the-scenes chatter on Ittle Dew 2. This time I’d like to tell you more about the world you’ll be exploring in the game, and some of the decisions that influenced that world’s design.

If you’re familiar with other classic action-adventure games, or the first Ittle Dew, then you know the general premise: lots of dungeons, a nice big overworld, and lots of enemies to crush and puzzles to solve along the way. Naturally, we want to keep things varied and interesting, so there are a number of fun and, um, unique locations to visit. The dungeons include places like the Trash Cave, an art exhibit (where pretty much everything is is destructable), and even one that’s set in some dude’s flooded basement! It starts as a regular basement, but slowly transforms into a pirate-themed desert island with sharks and cannons and stuff.

While in the art gallery, be sure to mind your manners and…smash everything you see!

As for the overworld, you’ll travel to spots like Pepperpain Prairie (which has rivers of hot sauce and peppers), Frozen Court (a permanently snowy area where enemies with gigantic magical swords roam around), and Star Woods (where a beautiful forest is half-covered in sad-looking trash bags and rivers of sludge that are coming from the aforementioned Trash Cave).

The adventure turns hot and spicy when you venture onto Pepperpain Prairie.

Originally, the overworld was a lot more open, without any major obstacles or detours, and it was mostly just a way to get from one place to another. But that wasn’t satisfying, so Daniel, our expert level designer, rebuilt a lot of it and blocked off some paths so you could never just run through in a straight line. There was a lot of creating and testing to make sure it was fun and the difficulty felt right. Also, to make sure it didn’t feel like going through the overworld was ever a chore or that you’re wasting time, we’ve included warp spots at all the major points of interest so you can quickly travel there for subsequent visits. (Likewise, there are shortcuts in dungeons for easy backtracking, too.)

Need to get somewhere fast? You can warp to all the major points of interest after you visit them once.

On the other hand, we also wanted to make sure that exploring was worthwhile, so there are lots of secrets and optional items off the beaten path, as well as a few sight gags and bits of lore about the game that only astute players will discover. You can find hints for just about everything too, even if the clues aren’t obvious or necessarily near the secret in question. And while I’ve talked a lot in the past about how important it was that the game be nonlinear and that you could go anywhere at any time, that’s not completely true – aside from the final dungeon, of course, there are some mysterious black obelisks that…well, I’ll let you see for yourselves.

Tooltip Sign2
Why, yes, I do believe this is…a clue!

There’s plenty to see and solve and destroy in Ittle Dew 2, so I hope you have fun playing it and discovering the world for yourself when it’s released in the not-too-distant future.

August 18, 2016

Creepy Castle: What Lurks in the Castle

Creepy Castle: What Lurks in the Castle

scen1-unlocking doors

As I’ve mentioned before, one of the key ingredients in a nonlinear exploration-based game like Creepy Castle is to make sure that the world is fun to explore. It’s more than just good level design – you also need to fill the locales with interesting characters to encounter and intriguing things to discover so players will want to explore every nook and cranny. I’d like to think I’ve accomplished that with Creepy Castle, so here’s a look at just a few of the enemies and items you’ll come across when you play the game.



1-monsoon Monsoon is a somewhat mysterious character that you’ll come across multiple times in the game’s first scenario. Wearing a flowing cloak and a horned helmet, Monsoon is one of the castle lord Darking’s lackeys, and he’s the first boss you’ll face. Yet, there’s clearly more to him than your typical villain. Although he’s intent on carrying out Darking’s will, he also knows that something strange is afoot, and he seems to share a history with Moth.


2-stickbugAs his name implies, Stickbug is indeed a giant stick bug. He’s actually one of Moth’s closest friends, but he’s fallen on hard times and enlisting as a boss for Darking seemed like a better way to go than selling his body to science. He’s probably the least-qualified guy around for being a villainous henchman, so he and Moth will surely be able to patch things up regardless of what happens when they fight.


3-mimic    Ah, the Mimic! It’s an RPG classic! It looks like an ordinary treasure chest, but when you go to open it – SURPRISE! – it’s actually a monster! Luckily for you, if you decide you don’t want to battle a Mimic, you generally don’t have to, but then you won’t be able to get whatever treasure that may be hiding beyond him.


4-vampire  The only thing you need to know about vampires is that they have a crazy-high amount of HP, and defeating them is next to impossible… or is it?


5-possessor I don’t want to spoil too much about Possessor yet, but he’s one of the major villains of the game. He’s sort of an homage to Dracula from the classic Castlevania titles, and he’s one of my personal favorite baddies in the game.



6-keys  There are two types of keys in Creepy Castle: normal keys and red keys. Normal keys are usually used for getting to the next required area, while red keys tend to lead to optional parts of the map. You’ll have to search far and wide to find everything!


7-phaser The phaser is a device that lets you phase through certain doors that are otherwise impenetrable. Who needs a key when you’ve got one of these things?

Ice Rod

8-icerod Some parts of the castle are filled with water, and unfortunately for Moth, he’s not a very good swimmer. However, he can equip the ice rod to turn the surface of the water into a hard, icy floor that he can walk on, thus allowing him to reach new areas and find hidden treasures. It works on lava, too!

Light Rod

9-lightrod  As you might suspect, the light rod lights up dark areas. Sure, you can stumble around in the dark without the light rod, but you probably won’t get very far since you’ll also need the rod to activate some contraptions in the darkness.


10-hook SPROING! Yes, it’s the hookshot, a grappling-hook-like tool made famous by a certain green-clad adventurer. This hookshot, however, attaches to certain points on the ceiling, and you can then climb the chain to reach distant platforms. Some of the attach points are on moving platforms to ensure that things stay interesting.

Jump Boots

11-jumpboot   It’s true: the heroes in Creepy Castle can’t jump. At least, not unless they get these boots, which enable characters to hop over two-block gaps. This item doesn’t appear in the game’s initial scenario, but it shows up later on.


12-cross The only way to level up in Creepy Castle is to collect these little crosses that are hidden throughout the environments. At first you only need one to increase your level, but then you’ll need two, then three, then four to keep leveling up. Leveling up is also different from other games: when you increase in level, you don’t get perceptibly stronger, but enemies’ health bars get smaller.


13-foods  What kind of a retro-inspired video game would this be without delicious foodstuffs to replenish your health! There are more than 45 types of food items, and while the kind you get from any given treasure chest tends to be random, you can acquire a veritable buffet of goodies, including a burger, fried shrimp, a cheese wheel, pizza, corn dogs, a roast chicken, ice cream, and a donut (it’s actually a rice ball; old-school gamers will understand).

Did that whet your appetite for exploring Creepy Castle? You can look forward to all this and more when the game hits Steam in the not-too-distant future!

August 8, 2016

Creepy Castle: Music in the Castle!

scen1-unlocking doors

Hey guys, this is Zach again, and this time I want to talk about something that’s especially important to me in a video game: the music! The right music can make a good game great, and make a great game something truly memorable that sticks with you forever.

I can’t actually think of any moments in video games that I consider to be truly great where the music was not playing an integral role. Phoenix Wright lives by the pounding beat of one of its Cornered themes filling you with adrenaline as you finally begin to break apart a murderer’s false testimony. Yoko Shimomura’s touch is incredible enough to make the wacky melodrama of Kingdom Hearts something you can be excited for with tracks like Forze Del Male, and beautiful enough to conjure emotions in places you might not expect, like the Final Battle Theme of Mario & Luigi: Partners in Time.

I’d say music is the most nebulously absorbed part of a video game – we tend to care more about what’s happening in a dialogue box or the action on screen – but at the same time, in some ways it might be the very most important part.

So, obviously, making the right soundtrack for Creepy Castle was incredibly crucial to me. I wanted something that was memorable and motivating, based in rock and metal, and at the same time had the proper retro sound to go with the old-school visuals. Ideally, I wanted something like the old Capcom or Konami soundtracks of the NES days. There was just one problem: when I started making Creepy Castle, I didn’t have any musical capacity at all. Fortunately, my friend Marius Schneider from Germany is a great composer, and he’s been helping me with Creepy Castle since its very first two-day-game-jam incarnation. Marius has a Celtic approach to music and a background in guitar, and his music is a perfect fit for the upbeat and catchy nature I’m going for. (He’s also very talented at writing and world-building, and he’s helped a lot with the story of Creepy Castle.) He originally wrote nine songs for the original Creepy Castle prototype.

Marius cites the Marble Atrium theme as one of his personal favorite tracks.

As the game expanded and after the Kickstarter was successful, we found ourselves with the opportunity to do a lot more with the soundtrack. Marius went back to those original nine tracks and tried to make them a bit more unified, expanding some songs and rewriting large parts of others. We also kept finding reasons to include new songs: unique themes for certain characters, new areas, specific enemies, etc. It happened organically, without a particular plan, but in the end we expect there to be more than 60 unique tracks in the game!

Fun Fact: Sometimes the music would influence other aspects of game design, like I might make an area more labyrinthine if that’s the feeling the music gave me.

That’s a lot of music for one person to handle, so in some cases Marius went into his personal vault (so to speak) and dug up unfinished and unused songs he’d written over the years, polishing them up or using them as inspiration for new tracks. One that especially stands out is a mysterious, Egyptian-sounding theme that has found a new home as the theme of an important area in Scenario 3. In addition, I’ve been working to improve my composing skills since the Creepy Castle prototype was built all those years ago, and they’ve reached the point that I’ve been able to add to the soundtrack as well. I’m probably only writing one song for every 10 that Marius does, but I’m glad to contribute tracks like the Ghost Palace Boss theme.

Marius didn’t originally create this song for Creepy Castle, but it ended up being perfect music for exploration.

While I’m very happy with the songs I’ve made and Marius’s tunes are amazing, there’s one thing about the Creepy Castle music that had always bugged me a little, and that’s the fact that we weren’t creating authentic chiptunes. Ever since we started making the music back in 2009, we did stick to rules like limited channels (two lead, another for bass, another for percussion), but we just exported the sounds as MIDI files, then fed them through a program called GXSCC to make them sound like they’re being generated by an an 8-bit sound chip. It’s OK, but it’s not ideal, so eventually Marius began redoing the music the proper way with tracker software.

Unfortunately, the going was slow, and we still had a lot of other work to do on the game, so remaking all the music was somewhat impractical. Luckily, Nicalis introduced us to musician and remixing genius RushJet1 – who I’d already been a fan of for years – and he’s remixing all of our songs into proper chiptunes. Better still, he’s even contributed a few original tracks to Creepy Castle, and collaborated on a few more. One of my favorite tracks so far, which was somewhat inspired by Yoko Shimomura’s emotional, imposing boss-fight song from Kingdom Hearts 2, is called “Wanting All the Things You’ll Never Have,” and it wouldn’t have been possible without Marius’s fantastic bass track or RushJet1’s instrumentation.

This track was very much a collaborative effort and is one of my favorite tracks in the game.

Hopefully you’ve enjoyed this look at the music of Creepy Castle! If you want to know more, you’re in luck – there’s a jukebox option in the game, and each song has a bit of commentary from the composer. I hope you look forward to checking it out!

July 27, 2016

Creepy Castle: One Game, Four Scenarios!

scen1-fighting snaken

Hey, this is Zach again. I’m here to tell you more about Creepy Castle, but I also want to tell you that Creepy Castle is just the beginning. What I mean by that is that while Creepy Castle is the game’s title, it’s also just the first of four scenarios you’ll get to experience when you play the game (as you’re no doubt aware if you’re familiar with our Kickstarter campaign). Each scenario has different maps, enemies, and items – though there’s an overarching story tying everything together, each scenario is a distinct adventure. Here’s a breakdown of the four scenarios you’ll encounter.

It all starts with the first scenario, the titular Creepy Castle.

Scenario I: Creepy Castle
As you can probably guess, Creepy Castle is the core scenario of the game, and it introduces all the key gameplay elements: exploring nonlinear environments, using items, and engaging in various types of duels. You play as Moth, the wandering swordsman, who is indeed a giant moth; he has come to Darking’s castle to learn about the mysterious events that are taking place, and to put a stop to them if necessary. Along the way you’ll meet characters such as Darking’s lackey Monsoon, Moth’s friend Stickbug, and the enemy general, Butterfly. This scenario should take you a few hours to get through, and once you’ve completed it, you’ll be able to play an alternate version of the scenario in which you’ll play as a character named Sir Bee.

The second scenario, Ghostly Mystery, takes inspiration from classic action games.

Scenario II: Ghostly Mystery
If the Creepy Castle scenario is an RPG mixed with an exploration-based adventure like Castlevania: Symphony of the Night, you can think of Ghostly Manor as being an RPG mixed with classic Castlevania. It’s much more linear, plus it’s divided into six stages, each one filled with enemies to fight and boss encounters to overcome. You might even cross paths with some enemies that are inspired directly by Castlevania. In this scenario you play as Butterfly (yes, she’s a giant butterfly), the enemy general from Scenario I, and you’re trying to find out what happened to Moth after the previous scenario’s events. In fact, if you want to see what Moth was up to first-hand, you’re in luck, since he’s the playable character in the alternate version of the scenario.

Scenario III, Depth, is all about exploring vast, nonlinear areas.

Scenario III: Depth
Whereas Scenario II was focused and linear, Scenario III: Depth, goes the opposite way: big, sprawling, and massive. It’s somewhat inspired by La-Mulana and Tomb Raider. You once again play as Butterfly, and though there isn’t a lot of story or lore here, there’s a lot to discover. You’ll have to collect numerous keys to get from one large area to another, and you’ll find them by exploring, solving puzzles, or by defeating enemies; getting all the keys isn’t required, so you’re largely free to choose how you want to proceed. You’ll also gain access to new items to aid in your adventure: a jump item for hopping over gaps, and a grappling hook for latching onto things, including moving platforms. In addition, I decided to spice things up so enemies and items respawn whenever you save your progress; both are finite in the other scenarios. I expect this to be the largest scenario in the game.

The fourth scenario lets you take control of the galactic-traveling Ant Queen!

Scenario IV: Due Exaltation
The fourth scenario brings the adventure to a galactic scale, quite literally. Playing as the Ant Queen, another character introduced in Scenario I, you’ll go into space and journey to various planets to tie up the plot threads remaining after the other three scenarios. Like the first scenario, Due Exaltation provides a well-rounded experience, but it’s bigger and the duels will be more challenging. I’m still working on this one, but there will be at least four large planets to explore, as well as a few small ones, and at least one new item to help with navigation. Plus, there’s an alien mafia!

Kickstarter backers may notice that originally there was a different scenario planned in lieu of Depth, which was to be called Brotherhood. I still haven’t fully figured out the story I want to tell in Brotherhood, which is why I decided to move ahead with Depth instead. Ideally I’ll be able to reveal more about Brotherhood in the future, but hopefully for now these four scenarios will suffice.

July 19, 2016

Creepy Castle: Looks Like Retro!

Creepy Castle: Looks Like Retro

scen1-freezing a lake

Hi everyone! This is Zach again to talk some more about Creepy Castle. This time I wanted to discuss the visual style of the game. All it takes is one look at a screenshot to notice two things: 1) it has a very low-fi, retro art style, and 2) it doesn’t really look like most of the other retro-inspired games that are out there.

There’s something about pixel art that’s timeless, huh?

So why the old-school visual design? I guess the answer is simply that I like it. I’ve always been a fan of retro games and pixel art, so I just went with what I enjoy! Unlike a lot of pixel-art game creators, I didn’t want to go for the look of any specific classic game hardware, so I didn’t try sticking to an NES color palette or anything like that, but I did get a lot of inspiration from the Japanese MSX computer, as well as the ZX Spectrum and Commodore 64. Even though the visuals weren’t directly informed by classic hardware restrictions, I did set one rule for myself to try to create some visual cohesion: only two colors for each eight-pixel-by-eight-pixel tile, which tends to give the game a somewhat monochromatic appearance. If you look closely you’ll notice I break the rule occasionally, but I think I did a pretty good job of sticking to it most of the time, and only bending the limitation on tasteful and hard-to-catch occasions. Influence from old PC games is also one of the reasons why most of the game takes place against a black background; the other reason for all the black, of course, is that most of the game is set in dark dungeons and caves and the like.

The game’s look isn’t based on anything specifically, but the MSX and ZX Spectrum were big influences.

Another thing you’ll likely notice right away is that the window for the playable action- the viewport, if you will- is somewhat small compared to the size of the entire screen. Technically, there’s not really any strong reason for this either, but it’s just something I remember fondly from classic games like Dragon Slayer, Xanadu, and other Falcom classics (as well as Commodore 64 games like The Last Ninja). These old games would have a window for the gameplay, accompanied by separate windows alongside it containing various information, and I wanted to include an homage to that, in addition to simply enjoying the aesthetic.

The smaller gameplay window is a throwback to classic action-RPGs like Dragon Slayer.

To be honest, this is probably the most I’ve thought about the game’s look since I started making it. For the most part, I just went for what felt right and it kind of happened naturally. I’d like to think it’s a lot like the early days of game making when developers were never afraid to be experimental and pretty much anything was OK, even if it was totally crazy. These days things tend to be a lot more homogenized, especially when it comes to larger publishers, but I think there’s a lot to be said for doing something a little different that stands out from the crowd.

Of course, if there are some things you don’t like about game’s the visuals, there are ways you’ll be able to customize its appearance, but I’ll get into that more in a later post.

July 18, 2016

Ittle Dew 2: Time to Fight

Hey! It’s time for another update on Ittle Dew 2, and this time I wanted to discuss one aspect of the game that we really focused on improving when compared to the original, and that’s combat. As I’ve mentioned before, some players felt that combat seemed tacked on in the original game (which is true to some extent, since initially it was going to be purely a puzzle game), so we’ve made strides to make combat more fun and fluid with the addition of 360-degree character movement and a dodge/roll that offers a small window of invincibility. More responsiveness means more fun!

Ittle’s new defensive dodge adds a new dimension to combat!

But beyond those additions, the action primarily revolves around four weapons/items you can use to clobber your enemies in different ways. At Ludosity, we love the Zelda series, but we feel like they tend to go overboard with the items and weapons you can get, so, just like in the first Ittle Dew, you’re limited to four of them, each mapped to a different face button. It’s not about the size of your inventory; it’s how you use it! These items can be used for both solving puzzles and bashing bad guys, but we’ll discuss their puzzle-solving uses at a later time. (Besides, all Ittle really wants to do is the bashing part.)

Sometimes simple is best – like smacking your enemies around with a stick.

So what do you have in your arsenal? First up: the stick. Nothing too fancy, but when it comes to inflicting blunt force trauma on vicious wildlife and other bad guys, it definitely gets the job done. There’s also dynamite for times when a big explosion is the only way to show your enemies how you truly feel. (If you played the original Ittle Dew, you might remember bombs were in that one; bombs were big and took up physical space when you placed them, but dynamite is smaller and can be walked over.) Then we have the Ice Ring, which freezes enemies, and the Force Wand, which shoots out balls of, uh, force.

When you need to bring the boom, unload the dynamite!

Some weapons are more effective than others on certain enemies due to their built-in strengths and weaknesses, and sometimes it makes strategic sense to use a particular weapon. For instance, some enemies are rather fast, so it benefits you to punch them with the Ice Ring, which will cause them to slow down, and then smash them to pieces with the stick. These weapons are upgradable, too! As an example, the simple stick upgrades to a fire sword, and then later to something even better.

Feel free to yell things like “Chill out!” or “Ice to meet you!” when you attack with the Ice Ring.

There are a few passive items that will improve your combat skills, as well. A protective amulet will decrease the damage you receive from enemies, while a special headband will allow you to inflict more damage on enemies.

So there you have it: pretty much everything you need to know about combat in Ittle Dew 2. I wouldn’t call it super-complex, but it just feels right, and it offers what we believe is the right amount of depth for an adventure game. Have fun bashing baddies!

June 30, 2016

Creepy Castle: Let’s Battle! II: Burning Fight

Hey there, this is Zach again. In my last post I introduced you to Creepy Castle’s combat system and discussed some of the duel types. This time I want to tell you about some of the other duels you’ll encounter as you get further into the game.

scen1-boulder chase

Parry: Like the Pursuit duel I mentioned last time, Parry takes place on a three-by-three grid. This time, though, the grid display represents the location of incoming enemy attacks. These attacks take the form of icons with rapid countdown timers, and you must target each icon with your reticle before the timer hits zero to deflect the attack. As you deflect the attacks, a meter fills up on the left side; once it’s full, you win. Fail to block three hits, though, and you’ll lose this duel. You’ll also have to be on alert for grey feint icons; if you target a feint icon, it’ll also count as a miss. Part of the inspiration for this minigame came from the rhythm game Elite Beat Agents, and although it wasn’t really an inspiration, the parrying in Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance is sort of similar.

Target the exclamation-point icons before time runs out to block the incoming attacks!

Shove: I’d consider this duel to be the most like a typical video game quick-time event. It’s basically a sumo wrestling match in which you’re trying to push your opponent back and knock them out of bounds. A string of input commands appears at the bottom of the screen; if you enter these correctly you’ll knock your foe back, but if you mess up you’ll get pushed back instead. There’s also a time limit on this one, and if neither of you get shoved out before it expires, the contest ends in a draw.

Channel your inner sumo strength to knock back the enemy.

Teleport: This one is kind of like the cup game in which you put a coin under a cup and then quickly slide the cups around, with the goal being for someone to guess where the coin is hidden. Only instead of cups and coins, it’s an enemy moving rapidly between several locations, and you have to identify the spot the enemy ended up at when he stopped moving. The number of teleportation spots varies by the enemy, as does the speed at which enemies teleport.

Can you spot which enemy is the real deal?

Siege: Siege is another duel that uses a grid for movement, but this one draws its inspiration from classic 2D shooters. Projectiles come at you from the right, and you must move up and down on the grid to dodge the incoming shots. Different enemies have different firing patterns and types of attacks, so this duel can feel quite distinct from one encounter to the next. For instance, there’s one enemy who can fire big, burning, meteor-like projectiles, as well as a volley of three fireballs, plus smaller, faster projectiles; I’m especially fond of that one. In fact, right now this is probably my personal favorite type of duel.

Siege takes inspiration from old-school shooters.

Maze: Think Pac-Man and you’ll have a pretty good idea of what the duel is about. A small maze is randomly generated, and you’ll have to move through it and pick up some collectibles while avoiding the enemy. Coding the random maze creation has been one of the trickier aspects of programming the duels, but it wasn’t too bad.

Unfortunately, there are no Power Pellets to help you here

Slider: Basically, there’s an indicator moving across a slider, and you have to press the button when the indicator crosses over strips, kind of like in a rhythm game. When you successfully hit the command button while over a strip, your bar is incremented. Catching the strip over red regions will increase the bar a bit, and if you hit the button while the reticle is over a golden “perfect” region, it will increase by a lot. If your bar is close to full by the duel’s end, you’ll snag a perfect, and if it’s next to nil, the duel will end in failure. This is the last type of duel I have planned for Creepy Castle, but you never know what could happen before it’s all said and done!

There you have it – a full list of the types of duels you’ll encounter in Creepy Castle. I think it’s safe to say that they’re not your typical RPG battles. Thanks for reading, and I hope you enjoy playing them once the game is released!

June 29, 2016

Ittle Dew 2: The Jump to 3D

Hey there! This is Joel from Ludosity again to go behind-the-scenes on Ittle Dew 2. This time I wanted to discuss one of the big changes to Ittle Dew 2 that I only briefly touched on in a previous post: the switch to fully 3D visuals! That’s right; the hand-drawn 2D graphics from the first Ittle Dew have been lovingly rebuilt as fully 3D polygonal models.

Though the first Ittle Dew (left) was all 2D, we opted for more flexible 3D graphics for Ittle Dew 2 (right).

There are a few reasons that we decided to make the leap to 3D. For one thing, because the scope of Ittle Dew 2 is so much greater than that of the original, and our team is fairly small, it was far more efficient to build the game in 3D. Sure, a single 2D pose or animation of a character is a lot faster to create than a polygonal model, but when you’re talking about animating many different characters that can move in many different direction, the work involved adds up fast. The more animations something needs and the more directions it’s seen from, the more efficient 3D becomes. Additionally, Ittle now has complete 360-degree freedom of movement – which just wouldn’t have looked or felt right in 2D – to allow for smoother control and better gameplay possibilities.

That’s not to say that switching to 3D wasn’t without its challenges! While polygons are more efficient in a lot of ways, they’re actually more work for static backgrounds and objects that only appear once, so that required us to be more selective in what we built. (As our artist, Anton, put it: please take an extra look at Cyber Jenny’s computer before destroying it.) Another thing to consider is that Ittle Dew 2 uses a pseudo-overhead perspective most of the time. That’s easy enough to deal with in 2D since you can always cheat the details, but it can sometimes look weird in 3D if you’re not careful with the models. Furthermore, we wanted the graphical style to look as similar to the original Ittle Dew as possible.


We experimented with a lot of things to make sure that Ittle Dew 2 had the look we were going for. Around the time we started going 3D, The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds was released for the Nintendo 3DS, and we saw that it used slanted character models to help give the illusion of 2D artwork, so we tried that, but it was really hard to work that way, so we decided not to use that method. We did, however, build some models in unnatural ways so they look good from an overhead view, such as dungeon walls and some of the characters – when viewed from a more traditional angle, for example, some of the characters’ facial features might appear higher on their heads than you’d expect so they look good from a top view. We also used a shader to add wobbly black lines around the character models so they look like the character art used in the original Ittle Dew! Overall, it took some trial and error, but we’re very happy with how everything looks after the jump to 3D.

This was one approach we considered for making the visuals look good from an overhead perspective, but it ended up being too tricky to work with.

Aside from the benefits mentioned above, full 3D graphics allow us to add other cool stuff to Ittle Dew 2 as well. For one thing: alternate costumes! They don’t affect the gameplay, but we included them because it’s pretty easy to do in 3D. (They’d require us to redraw every frame of animation in 2D!) We’ve also been able to beef up the number of enemies in similar fashion by reusing skeletal structures or animations, or in the case of the Jennies (that’s our pun on “generic enemies,” for the uninitiated), they’re all based on the same “blank Jenny” template model. Another cool thing we were able to do is play around with the camera angle a bit – there’s one part of the game that kind of resembles a sidescroller!

We used a special shader to outline the characters to help give the 3D models a hand-drawn feel.

In the end, we’re quite glad we decided to make the switch to 3D, and I think you’ll feel the same way, as it really allowed us to play around and experiment with many visual elements in the game, and it enabled us to create something that’s bigger and better than would have been possible before.