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Month: April 2021

Love and Fear Starters

Heya! Sera here! Devblog time!

So! Today I’m going to be chatting about the Love starter and Fear starter! By the way, the order in which I talk about the starters is somewhat random and mostly just based on what I feel like writing about on any particular day πŸ˜… Here we go!

Love Starter πŸ’–

The Love starter! There were a lot of directions to go, but we kind of knew from the start that at least one of our starters was going to be based on a dolphin. One of our friends from college has always wanted a dolphin Pokemon, and has yet to be granted that wish, so this one’s for her!

I looked into some cryptids that were dolphin-like, and most of them were pretty boring to be honest. A lot of globsters (animal carcasses that wash up on beaches and are misidentified as monsters, extinct animals, etc), and just not a lot of particularly original creatures. Which is to be expected when looking up a monster based on what it probably is in real life! But I did find one that gave me at least a bit of a starting point for our design: the rhinoceros dolphin.

The rhinoceros dolphin supposedly was spotted in 1820 off the coast of the Sandwich Islands and New South Wales, and was described as a large dolphin (around 9 feet long), with a black and white splotchy patterned skin and two dorsal fins. The men who originally spotted this “species”, Jean Rene Constant Quoy (who was a zoologist and anatomist) and Joseph Paul Gaimard (a naturalist) claimed to have spotted a whole pod of them, about 9 in total. No known cetacean has two dorsal fins (they all either have one or none at all), and despite a few more sightings of dolphins with two dorsal fins over the years, the rhinoceros dolphin is thought to be an old classic–misidentification!

There are a few explanations for what Quoy and Gaimard saw that day: a dolphin with a remora stuck on its head, a dolphin exhibiting “somersault” behavior (lying on its side with a flipper and fluke out of the water), or a pod of inbred beaked whales with some genetic mutations among them. I personally believe that the most likely explanation is a pair of beaked whales that appeared as one creature because of perspective! Baby dolphins sticking closely to their mothers’ side is a commonly observed behavior, and could easily explain the strange placement of a second dorsal fin on the animal’s head!

Our dolphin Phantom takes a lot of inspiration from this cryptid! I incorporated the two dorsal fins, since those are the most obvious feature of the original rhinoceros dolphins, and converted the big black and white splotches into little heart shaped ones! I also took the liberty of giving our Love starter a more obvious reference to the cryptid’s name with a little rhino horn on its snout.

Fear Starter 😱

The Fear starter was the second Phantom to be finalized, after our little Joy friend (you can read about the Joy starter here)! I actually drew this Phantom up before we’d decided on what emotions we were going to use as types in the game, so its expressions originally weren’t entirely fearful πŸ˜…

My idea from the start had been based on another mythological creature: the Dullahan! The Dullahan is a mythological headless horseman (sometimes horsewoman!) from Ireland. They’re pretty dang spooky sounding! They carry a whip made from a human spine, has a hideous grin and rotting flesh, and typically carries their own head under their arm! They are also somewhat commonly portrayed with a ghostly flame coming from the stump where their head once sat πŸ‘»

Scary! But our little Fear friend isn’t quite so intimidating. However, they do take a few similarities from the Dullahan. For one, their head is, indeed, detached. Around the stump is a ring of ghostly purple flames (to be animated… soon πŸ‘€). It would have been easy to make a bat-like creature draw from vampire mythos, but I like to make things hard for myself πŸ™ƒ

In Conclusion

Thanks for reading! These creatures and myths have been really fun to research! Congratulations for reading this far, and I hope you have an awesome day πŸ˜€

Action Commands!

Hey, It’s CJ again! I’ve been spending a lot of time lately working on the action commands for the combat, and so while I briefly talked about the action commands in my last blog post, I wanted to go a bit more in depth into what we’re planning for them, and give a couple examples!

2 quick warnings before you read ahead:

  1. The art in the screenshots are not final, ESPECIALLY the UI. It’ll look prettier in the end, promise!
  2. The action commands haven’t been tested extensively yet, so they may change or be entirely swapped out – this is just to give an idea of our current direction!

How will they work?

For the action commands, we want to make them quick enough so that they don’t disrupt the flow of the fight, but still be fun and unique – without getting too repetitive! These are some hard things to juggle, and so we’ll probably have to go through a lot of iterations to balance everything just right. Another big challenge is that we want to have a bunch of different phantoms that the player can catch, and we want each one to have unique moves and action commands – and with each phantom having multiple abilities, the amount of action commands really starts to add up!

So, how are we going to have unique action commands for each phantom? In short, the way we plan on setting them up is to have one type of action command for each emotion type, and then have variance in the command for each individual phantom and ability. This means that two phantoms of the same type will have similar style of action commands, but will still have a unique differences for each move – so that every move will be it’s own unique action command. To do this, when making action commands, we set it up so that each ability can have different settings for the action command. It’s a bit hard to explain without examples, so here are some of the different types of action commands we plan to have!


The Joy Action command – a straightforward ‘press the button when the thing lights up’

For the Joy action command, the minigame is a simple ‘press buttons with timing’ kinda deal. The meter will fill up, and once it lines up with the target, you gotta put in the input! This is very reminiscent of the basic hammer attack in Paper Mario, just with a slightly different approach. The basic idea of this minigame is pretty straightforward – in fact, the only input is just pushing a single button! However, there are quite a few things that can change in between different versions of joy abilities. To list a few:

  • Have different button inputs, or make the required button random each time!
  • More than one button – needing to press the same button at different times, or different buttons!
  • Different speeds – some filling faster, some slower

And so, by changing these variables, we can make a ton of different versions of the same action command! One Joy phantom might have some quicker action commands but with random buttons, while another might be slower, but with multiple buttons required for each!


What are you talking about, I didn’t steal anything from undertale

For the fear minigame, we wanted something a bit more different from action commands in other games. We also wanted one that reflected the emotion of fear – and thought that a bullet-dodging style of minigame would be perfect! For this action command, the name of the game is survival – avoiding the projectiles that fly at you, and successfully using your ability if you survive. Because we want the action commands to be quick, we plan on making the timer for ones like this short – and so we’ll instead add some difficulty by having different ways of launching projectiles at you! A few variables that the fear action commands will have include:

  • Modifying the speed/movement of the player (Maybe restricting the movement to only one axis?)
  • Changing how many projectiles/how fast they are/where they come from/how big they are/
  • Giving the player room for a few extra hits, if needed πŸ™‚

So yeah! Hopefully you have a better idea now of how action commands will work in The Phantom Keeper. We’re excited to keep experimenting with new variables and new styles of action commands, so stay tuned for probably more blog posts about action commands in the future!

The Forest of Akeron

Hi everyone, it’s Claire back at it again with some fun environment art updates! We’ve been working to flesh out the world of Akeron, and I wanted to share some art with you that we’ve made for the first section of the game. (Also get ready to see a lot of our lost soul taking in the scenery!)

Our current environment for the first chapter of The Phantom Keeper – a work in progress!

When you begin your journey in The Phantom Keeper, you have just fallen into the land of Akeron, in a forest just outside one of the major cities. While some paths exist, they aren’t often travelled, and there’s a lot of exploring to be done – and a lot of Phantoms to find!

Since this is the game’s first impression, we wanted to make sure to nail the feel and aesthetic of the area. After doing a very simple color pallete sketch, Sera did an awesome concept sheet full of trees, plants, and mushrooms and the two of us got to work implementing it.

Once we had these sketches, Sera and I worked together to create everything needed. I used blender to create the models, and we split the task of creating textures for the models and for the ground. While we still have lots of props to go, we’re happy with the overall look of an other-worldly forest.

In addition to the props, it’s important that there be some amount of movement in the background. It is a forest after all, it’s alive and moving! Having all objects be static can be distracting for the player, and make it feel unrealistic. So I decided to try my hand at developing a wind shader!

A shader is essentially a piece of code that tells the game where to put the pixels at any point in time. I added some noise to the shader’s code, so that it warps the image based on a set of numbers that can be easily adjusted, as seen in the gif above. This shader is applied to all of our plants to create some idle movement in the background. It was fun to make, and you can see it in action below!

He’s just vibin in the forest

Aaaand that’s it! Thanks so much for checking these out, be sure to hop into the discord server or comment below if you have any questions! Till next time! πŸ™‚

Anger Starter

What’s up, everyone? Time has been chugging along over here, and it’s finally spring! I can now go on walks and still feel my face when I get home! 🌸

So! In this post I’m going to be talking about my personal favorite starter — Anger! If you’d like to read more about the general process and philosophy behind all of these starter designs, check out my last devblog post here! And without further ado…

Anger Starter 😠

Though I personally love this Phantom, during our initial tests with people, a lot of folks were put off by how scary-looking the original design was so I had to dial it back a little bit… πŸ˜…

Like most of the other Phantoms so far, we have to go through a few different iterations to get to where we are, but the original design vomit sheet was pretty diverse!

Reminder: a lot of the designs that weren’t chosen might show up later as Phantoms! Just not as starters πŸ‘ And the “final” design that we chose is even still subject to change!

When thinking of anger as an emotion, most people link it with the element of πŸ”₯ fire πŸ”₯, and I wanted to curb that expectation of typings in The Phantom Keeper. Games like Pokemon, Final Fantasy, and other RPGs use a lot of elemental types but our game is meant to be different, using emotions instead! Not all of the Anger Phantoms will be fiery, not all of the Sadness Phantoms will be water-based, etc! And what better place to start than a starter!

The inspiration behind the Anger starter was pretty simple: the yeti, Abominable Snowman, or Meh-Teh! I was looking for a cryptid, monster, or animal that could look intimidating, but still be somewhat… fluffy? So here we are! Big ol arms, tiny little legs, big angry eyebrow/horns, and somewhat cartoonishly scary claws!

And the Abominable Snowman is…? A polar bear | Las Vegas Review-Journal

The Yeti is purported to live in the Himalayan mountain range, and is described somewhat similarly to Bigfoot / Sasquatch and other ape-like cryptids. There have been numerous reported sightings of Yetis, starting with pre-Buddhist Himalayan people supposedly worshipping this “wild man” who was depicted as an ape-like creature. These people also shared tales of the Yeti to warn people away from dangerous animals, and to stay close to the community (similar to countless other cultures!).

During the 20th century, more Westerners began climbing the Himalayas and describing huge footprints on the mountain (many of these were later thought to be bear tracks). Like most cryptids, a majority of the “evidence” of the Yeti’s existence comes from eye witness reports. However! There are a few pieces of physical evidence — almost all of which has been disproven 😬 A scalp found by Sir Edmund Hillary (the first man to scale Mt Everest!) in 1960 (later determined to be from a serow, an animal similar to a goat), some mysterious footprints (later determined to be bear tracks), and even a finger were reported to be proof of the Yeti! (The finger was later found to be human through DNA analysis, possibly from a monk’s corpse… yikes.) Various hair, teeth, and tissue samples thought to belong to Yetis have also been tested against the DNA of known species. Most of these have been found to be from animals such as cows, bears, horses, and dogs.

Ending Notes!

So yeah! I only went through one Phantom this time around, but I really like talking about cryptozoology soooo πŸ˜…

I hope you enjoyed reading, and if you have any questions or comments, please let me know either by commenting below ⬇️ or by hopping on the Pine Drake discord server! I promise I don’t bite, but I cannot say the same for our lil Anger starter (gottem, tied it back, nice)! Thanks for reading! πŸ‘‹