Development Update: March 19, 2018

One Week Remains

Yes, Prototype 5-1 will be coming out for Patrons next week. I’m trying to get all the little things in that I wanted, such as properly balancing the Equinox boss battles and putting in treasure to find instead of just enemies. I don’t know how much will get in, but I think there should be more than enough for the Patrons to test and report on.

Hund will be working on some damage-type attack indicators. Presently we have two, Attack and Debuff. I want one for each of the damage types (Slash, Pierce, Strike, Fire, Ice, Lightning, etc.) so you can tell at-a-glance what you’re getting hit with. These may or may not make it into 5-1. I’m also not sure if the map will, might have to use a simplified map.

New Feature: The Combat Inspector


I’ll get you next time, Combat!

The Combat Inspector was a feature requested by… I forgot who. Someone asked for the ability to see more detailed information in combat. This was back during chapter 1’s development, but I didn’t have time to get it in. Well, now it’s here.

The Inspector can be brought up by pressing F1 during your turn in combat. It lets you see enemy statistics and resistances, as well as what buffs/debuffs are currently affecting them and the threat rating for your party. It also shows the caps for the various effects and how long each effect will last.

It’s rather rough looking but it does its job. It actually didn’t take as long to implement as expected since it borrows 70% of its code from the Status menu.

Anyway, Patrons should get psyched about the prototype next week. I know I’ll be psyched for the long list of bug reports I’ll be getting…


Design With a Grain of Salt: Enhanced Mode


Yes, that’s right. Enhanced Mode. Check out this mockup I made. Yes I know the radar is totally wrong, it’s a mockup.

What is Enhanced Mode?

For those of you just joining us, Hop:Remastered originally started as a project to… remaster… House of Pandemonium. I think that’s obvious. But that job was completed after about 8 months of on-and-off work. Classic Mode is that, and it’s pretty close to the original but with more options and the bugs fixed.

Naturally, as soon as this job was complete, everyone wanted me to keep going. Add more features. Add new characters, new monsters, new stuff, new modes.

The scope got pretty big. There’s a lot I want to do with this, so much that it’d be so different from Classic Mode as to render them essentially different games. Hence, I started calling it Enhanced Mode.

Why are you making Adventure Mode first? Isn’t Enhanced Mode simpler?

Hey, this isn’t an FAQ.

But, yes, Enhanced Mode is simpler. But I want it to be more graphically interesting, and the creation of new characters and monsters requires art assets to match. So, the full development of Adventure Mode will also give me a full set of assets for Enhanced Mode, plus a much deeper lore and excuses to put in all kinds of extra features. Plus making Adventure Mode is a blast and so much fun you guys.

Let’s talk about the design choices.

Enhanced Mode is basically Classic Mode but with more monsters, features, ways to play, and other options. It is, in a word, enhanced.

When making such a thing, there are so many things you can do to improve the original that you essentially need to prioritize them. Identify what’s wrong with the previous version and fix it, and then add things to improve it. When doing this you must weigh them according to criteria. Here they are:

  1. Accessibility. The more complex a feature is, the harder it is for players to wrap their heads around it. Keep it simple, stupid.
  2. Cost to Benefit. The harder something is to implement, the more other stuff could get done instead. If something is really hard to code and has minimal payoff, skip it or redesign it.
  3. Asset Cost. Sprites are pretty and line-art is superb, but it costs artist time. Text is cheap but doesn’t look as nice. Combine the two with an eye towards using the player’s imagination, but never skimp on art. Just get the maximum possible use out of it. Don’t make a pretty portrait and then use it for one tiny thing most players won’t even find.
  4. Raw Fun. Once it’s in the game, test it. If it’s not fun (and you’re not making an art house game like Spec Ops or Papers Please), cut it or redesign it. Don’t put things in your game that aren’t fun.

Good designers are constantly taking shortcuts and doing little redesigns to get the most out of their limited time and asset budget. If you’ve played Adventure Mode, have you ever noticed how all the furniture in the game is on the northern wall of the building?


It’s not impossible to make furniture on the south wall, but then it’d be partially obscured by the high walls. This violates rules 1, 3, and 4 above. It’s more complex for the player for no real reason, it means I have to get my spriter to make twice as many tiles, and it certainly isn’t fun to guess if that’s a bookshelf or a foodshelf when I can’t see it because it’s facing the wrong way.

So with that, let’s take a look at some of my plans for Enhanced Mode.

Some of my plans for Enhanced Mode

Let’s start with the simpler stuff.

Armor, Weapons, Accessories

There’s a variety of new weapons available in the game with parallels from Adventure Mode. In the mockup, you can see that Christine is armed with an Electrospear, which is a powerful weapon that deals extra damage to robots and aquatic monsters.

Armor will also be in Enhanced Mode. Armor uses a degradation system. If you get hit while wearing armor, it takes the hit for you and loses HP. It breaks when its HP reaches 0. Some armor can be repaired, some regenerates HP over time, and some provides extra benefits like a defense bonus or speed bonus until it breaks.

You can also pick up accessories, like rings, amulets, and other bitties. These provide status boosts, with a chance to be cursed and have a malus or turn you into a Rusalka.

When playing as a monster, you can use weapons and armor. AI-controlled monsters typically spawn with theirs equipped already or use their bare hands and instead have higher stats. You can therefore help your allies by giving them your equipment if it’s better.

Levels and Statistics

That’s right, in Enhanced Mode, you can gain experience and level up. Your character gets stronger with each level, but groups of monsters can still take down a high-level character. The other humans on the field also level up, but the AI monsters don’t. It can therefore be a good idea to keep high-level humans… human. Because if they get transformed, they’re going to be very tough to take down.

Each of the six playable humans also has special abilities they learn as they level up. Each one thus plays differently. Sanya is very good at defeating high-health high-defense enemies with her powerful attacks, while Jeanne can learn to heal herself and summon weapons and armor for her teammates (and throw fireballs, but every mage does that).

Special Abilities

All monster forms come with special abilities, and there are more that can be learned in other ways. For example, all characters can learn magic spells if they find a scroll, though Jeanne’s are more powerful than the rest of the cast.

Special abilities usually cost Willpower or Stamina to use, though some are free. Most of them also have attached cooldowns where they cannot be used again for a few turns. Finally, some require combo-points which build up in combat and decay if there are no hostiles around for a few turns.

If you’re familiar with Adventure Mode, many of the special abilities are the same ones present there. Mei learns Rend to deal damage-over-time, while Alraunes can use Regrowth to recover their health.


Monsters are divided into a series of factions, based on their origins. These are (at present): Humans, Forest Creatures, Aquatic Creatures, Desert Creatures, Angels, Demons, Fey Creatures, Machines, Undead, and Eldritch Abominations.

The monsters are looking for recruits, and do not take kindly to other monster groups taking their catches. Different factions of monsters will fight amongst themselves for the human prizes, a fact which the humans can exploit. If you’re being pursued by some monsters, try fleeing towards other monsters of different factions.

Of course, when you become a monster you will be under similar pressures. They will attack you outright, sabotage your allies, and try to steal your equipment and human victims.

Each faction has several monsters that belong to it. For example, Alraunes, Slimes, Werecats, and Bees will work together as they are Forest Creature types.

Invasions and Bosses

Periodically, an ‘Invasion’ will be triggered. A portal will appear somewhere on the map and a group of monsters of the same faction will spawn out of it, along with a boss monster. The boss is a very tough monster, and is sometimes a named character from Adventure Mode. The portal will spawn reinforcements periodically as the monsters stream into the map, and the only way to shut the portal down is to deal with the boss monster guarding it. Of course, doing this will net you a lot of experience and possibly special items.

If you leave the portal too long, it will close on its own. This is bad, though, as the boss monster will then start wandering the mansion. Any allied monsters it finds will start to follow it in a retinue and they will probably curb-stomp anyone they find. Deal with the portal before this happens! Or, you know, don’t.

Faction Orders

You can set orders for your faction, which is very useful if you want everyone to group up. AIs of your faction will follow the set orders to the best of their ability. These orders include ordering your faction to group up with you, to spread out and search for targets, to stay together but periodically break off to look for loot (the AI will run to the group if they encounter a hostile), or to move to an exit point and leave the map.

Multiple Maps

Enhanced Mode has an option to allow you to leave the map and move to a new one. You cannot do this as a monster unless all humans have been cleared from the field. If you do this as a human, you will actually take control of another human on the field until they have all left the field for a new map. Most maps have one exit point, some have more.

Items spawn in logical places. You will often find armor and weapons in an armory, and potions in an alchemy lab. When playing with multiple maps, items will not respawn and instead will only spawn in new maps. Therefore, your team needs to move to new maps to keep finding new goodies. However, each time you leave the map, monsters will start spawning at higher levels. You’ll have to weigh the costs and benefits.

If you’re entering a new map as a monster, you will have to track down any escaped humans on the map. You may also keep a retinue of up to 3 other monsters with you as you go.

Victory Conditions

It’s now possible to actually win in Enhanced Mode! To do this, you must journey between several maps and locate six runestones. If you enter a map with a runestone, you will receive a notification and not be able to move to the next map without it.

The runestones have special properties attached to them, making them powerful items in their own right. They can also purify their associated human, turning them back into a human from a monster (each human has a color and symbol associated with them. Mei is grey, Sanya is red, Christine is violet, etc.). If you are on a map with a runestone but the bearer was transformed, they will spawn as a monster on that map and you’ll have to track them down once you find it. If the character gets transformed again, they will flee and you’ll have to find them, and their runestone, on a future map – assuming you make it that far.

If you become a monster, your goal is to track down and transform all remaining humans. After that, you ‘win’, and presumably go do monster things or open a pizza parlor or something.

That’s enough for now

I think I’ve rambled about Enhanced Mode enough for now.

I don’t intend to develop Enhanced Mode until we’re at least 2/3rds of the way through Adventure Mode, and it’ll be up to the Patrons to decide what my priorities are.

If you have good ideas for Enhanced Mode (that fit those four criteria above) and want to discuss it, we have a forum for that. Do that. I have a pretty long track record of implementing suggestions I get from patrons and forumgoers, so what have you got to lose?

Development Update: March 13th, 2018

(Because I took a nap and now it’s after midnight, oh no!)

Prototype Status (And Bad News)

Due to unforeseen/unforeseeable issues, Chicken believes she will not have all of the transformation art completed in time for the prototype. We may have one of the sequences done, but not the other. Sad.

On the other hand, all of the cutscenes are done and fairly polished. I need to do a lot of balance testing, adding examinables, and adding treasure, but the prototype is now fully playable with no placeholders all the way through to its conclusion. The only main area that needs new balance testing is the eastern side of the LRT facility and the Equinox boss battles.

I had to add some code to the combat engine to handle threat and internal states. It’s fairly rough looking right now, and it’s hard to target friendly party members with the current interface. If I have time I will try to fix that before the prototype goes out.

The minigames will probably not have time to get polished before the prototype. They’re playable but they’re not all that fun (from my perspective) and don’t provide work credits. For the purposes of the prototype, I’ll probably just provide some base work credits and let you do a subquest to get the rest.

Otherwise, everything is on track for the release on the 26th.


Development Update: March 5th, 2018

Three weeks to the Patron Pal Prototype for Chapter 5. Mark your calenders.


Things are going well on the coding front. I did my second balance pass, but I spent most of my time improving cutscenes, improving maps, and polishing dialogue. Chapter 5 looks pretty darn good in my opinion.

I still need to polish and balance the LRT facility, and the Equinox facility’s battles are still unbalanced. There is also a major puzzle (optional, for those of you who hate puzzles) which I have put the map in for but not completed the back-end for.

Since I have three weeks to go, I probably won’t get all the polishing work in I want. But, everything will be functional for the prototype players to give feedback on.


Sprites and inking are up to date, and I’m getting Urimas to add some special sprites for a cutscene I’m planning. Hund is going to be putting together a map for Regulus. Right now he’s putting together some buildings and pieces which will be arranged into a map.

Chickenwhite is redesigning one of the bosses from Chapter 5 to be – better. That’s all I will say. After that she’s on TF-scene duty. I’m hoping all four TFs will be completed by the time the prototype goes out, but that’s a bit of a tall order. They will probably only be in sketch form.

Everything Else

There isn’t an “everything else”. Right now, this project is art and coding. I do the music and sound work myself. Damn it.

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Development Update: February 26th, 2018


First, a bit of free art this week. This is the Raiju, one of the monster species of Chapter 5. It’s been a while since we showed off any art to non-patrons, so I’m taking this opportunity. Happy… February…

In coding news, I’m starting balance work. I’ve already done the first balance pass for the first part of Chapter 5, but I wasn’t happy with it and have to go and edit it. And then I’ll probably redo it a few more times until I’m happy with it. We’re also doing an internal balance test later this week once I have everything in place.

Once the balance work is complete, it’s just art that needs completion and then we can ship the March prototype. Well, that and bug tests, but there’s always bugs.

In terms of art, the entire art skeleton for the first prototype is complete. There are a few character concepts left to do, but the characters in question don’t appear in the prototype so we’ll do them later. This week the artists will be starting on the TF sequences and the dialogue art.

Whether or not I’ll have time to get in any more bonus content is a big question. I have another (paid!) project I’m working on, which also has a prototype due at the end of March. I’ve been splitting my time between the two. If I’m satisfied by the balance and polish of the minigames, I’ll try to squeeze Serenity Crater Observatory in.

There will also likely be a “[X] With a Grain of Salt” post later this week. I want to discuss linguistic realism and how to do it properly. It might even not bore someone!

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Development Update: February 19th, 2018

Good news, comrades!

The Equinox Facility scripting is completed

The Long-range Telemetry Facility scripting is completed

The Lower Sector 15 sub-quest is completed

Amazingly, I got all of that done in a week. This includes two transformation sequences, several cutscenes, and a bunch of map layouts.

With this done, I have another project I need to work on for a while. I will try to get my first balancing pass done this week so we can start that testing. MarioneTTe has already edited one of the TF sequences to make it excellent, and the art is inked and awaiting coloring for that sequence.

Depending on how much extra time we have, I should be able to get done 1-2 of the extra content requests in the poll a few weeks back. I also have to polish up the cutscenes and get their timings down (some make extensive use of sound and music for effect) and polish up the minigames and work-credits system, which has some bugs. Otherwise, everything is going fantastically well.

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Development Update: Feb 12th, 2018

Right, not as much work got done this week due to my illness. Oh well.

I’m still closer to the prototype than I was before. I hit a brick wall during the development of a cutscene in the LRT facility and basically scrapped the whole thing. Luckily Mario and I rewrote the scene from the ground up and it’s a lot better now.

I’ve also started working on the parts of the map that lead to the Equinox facility. I’ll be finishing that up this week, hopefully, and then it’s time for balance testing.

I’m frustrated with myself for a lack of general progress due to the illness. The only cure is to work on the project, right? Rawr!