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Author: Claire Thomas

Sorry for being Quiet, but Here’s Some Phantoms!

Why hello there, stranger! It’s been awhile hasn’t it? Summer here at Pine Drake was absolutely NUTS, and we’ve got so much stuff to show you and talk about! We appreciate you all sticking around here with us, and we hope the stuff we’ve been working on will make it worth your while. 🙂

Since I’m me (Claire, if you did see the picture 👀) I’ve been working on bringing all of our Kindred Phantoms to life! We’re super close to having all of our starters animated and in-game (only one more left to go!) so without further ado, let’s dive right in!

So our first new Phantom is Kalfin, the Love type! Kalfin is a coyingly sweet Phantom based on the cryptid rhinoceros dolphin. While its round and huggable shape may make you lower your guard, Kalfin can actually be quite sharp and dangerous when it needs to be, especially against enemies or those it distrusts. It’ll never show its true face for too long, however, and always finds a way to hide its powerful jaws under a lovable facade!

This friendly pal doesn’t have a name yet, but represents the Calm Phantom in the Kindred set. Armed with a powerful calming energy, it has the ability to lull its foes to sleep when given the opportunity. This Phantom floats around without a care in the world – perhaps that crown on its head has something to do with it!

Last but not least, we have the newest member of the crew – a Sadness Phantom with an unknown name! Not much is known about this ghostly axolotl, but it seems to really need a friend – maybe you can help it feel better!

Another awesome thing about this Phantom – I recorded the process I took to create it! Creating a Phantom is usually a 6-8 hour process, and I recorded it and sped it into a nice 2 minute video 🙂 Check it out below!

One last important update before I sign off. Pine Drake Games is growing as a studio and family, and we are happy to announce that we have made two key hires for our Human Resources department. State Alchemists Edward and Alphonse Elric have joined the team full time, and they have been delightful to work with thus far! You can see them here in their work clothes.

(In all seriousness, CJ and I adopted two kitties and their names are Edward (left) and Alphonse (right) and we love them so much!!)

As always, thanks for reading everyone! We hope you like the content the next few months have in store <3

Meet Bing!

What’s up, everybody? Some might say it is warm outside for this lovely early June week, but it’s nowhere near as hot as we were on Twitter last week! (Like that transition?) If you’re not on Twitter or our Discord, then YOU SHOULD BE, but more importantly you should check out the gameplay trailer that we posted there! We participated in #PitchYaGame, which is a pitching competition held live on Twitter, and we talked a whole bunch about our plans for the game. Check out the trailer!

(In case you were wondering, that music was made by the awesome Kev Matthews, who we’re bringing on to make the music for The Phantom Keeper! :0 )

While the trailer is exciting and all, you might have noticed some new content in there that you haven’t seen before, specifically that little fella right at the beginning. Who’s that guy?

Why does he care what I smell like?

That, my friends, is Sir Binghamton Matthew Thomas Elliot the Fourth, but you can call him Bing! He is the first character you meet after falling to Akeron, and he’ll be sure to take care of you… probably. Bing was once a Keeper many decades ago (perhaps centuries? His memory isn’t very trustworthy) but now he keeps to himself in a small shack in the mushroom forest. He considers himself a mushroom farmer, and collects all the rarest shrooms for use in some of his most scrumptious teas. But don’t let his humble lifestyle fool you – Bing was once one of the strongest Keepers in Akeron, specializing in Hope Phantoms.

While Bing might be a bit eccentric, he sees something in you that revitalizes his Hope. While the Keepers have been dissolved and in hiding for centuries, he thinks that a new recruit might be just what they need to reunite once again! While he can only teach you the basics of Hope, he gives you everything you need to start your journey to master all the emotions, including teaching you how to catch Phantoms in the wild.

Along with our gameplay teaser, we’ve officially spilled the beans on some other exciting news – we’re working on a demo version of The Phantom Keeper, which we hope to release by the end of 2021. This demo will take you through the mushroom forest, unite you with your Kindred Phantom, allow you to experience Bing’s training, and ready you to catch your first Phantoms as you begin your exciting journey! We’ll be sure to keep the demo info updated here, but there might be sneak peeks and extra content to be found on our Discord server, so be sure to join us there!

That’s all I have for today, but enjoy the summer heat, and I’ll see you next time! 🌞

…Update?

Hello everyone! Sorry for the missed update last week… and also sort of this week. We attended TWO Super Fancy Online Business Conferences for Game Business People the last few days, which was just as fun as it sounded! So, unfortunately, I don’t have a ton of *~artistic~* progress to show, since most of it was done in spreadsheets and documents. But I swear it will be worth it! We’re on the hunt for awesome folks who can help make The Phantom Keeper a reality, so hopefully we’ll have something cool to show for it in the next few weeks. In the meantime, here’s a rough artistic interpretation of my life currently.

Oh, what’s that? You want to see some content??? Some real beautiful imagery?? Well, perhaps I can let just a little bit slide…

Oh yeah. That’s the good stuff.

The rest of the team has been making some cooler stuff (like…. actual gameplay??) that we’ll totally get back to talking about next week. In the meantime, I just need to write more emails and probably take a nap. Hope to see you then! 👋

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! 🙂

Meet Grimlee – A Joy Phantom!

Hi everyone – Claire here! I know you all saw the concept art for this Phantom in Sera’s last post, but the one of the exciting parts about game development is that eventually things start to move and take on a life of their own. Grimlee has come a long way since Sera’s original drawing, including getting a name for itself, so let’s take a look at where they are now!

Look at them now! All grown up and three dimensional and all that. Of course, Grimlee didn’t get that way without some help, so let’s backtrack a bit.

First, Sera makes a turnaround of Grimlee for my reference. The drawing includes notes about shape, form, and how certain aspects of how the creature moves. I then use this reference to sculpt Grimlee in Blender and paint their face on in Substance Painter. After this, I take some time to give Grimlee some bones in a process called rigging, and create animations for them.

We wanted Grimlee to be very bubbly and squishy – they are a Joy Phantom after all! Many of their animations were focused on being comical. Our goal is to make every Phantom convey their personality through their animations, and Grimlee is specifically a mischievous trickster.

You might notice that Grimlee has an aura glow around them. All Phantoms glow in the color of their inner energy, determined by their type. All Joy type Phantoms will have this orange glow around them, whereas a Sadness type may have blue instead, and so on! Phantoms can change between their aura form and physical form at will – when you encounter them in the wild, they will simply be glowing balls of light until you engage them in combat.

And that’s Grimlee! There will probably be much more to discover about this Phantom as you continue your adventure… who knows, maybe this Phantom will be your Kindred! Thanks for reading, and as always, feel free to leave comments down below or reach out in our discord server!

What are Phantoms?

Hi there! Y’all know me, I’m Claire, I do 3D art and narrative design things for Pine Drake Games! Today I wanted to get into the story of The Phantom Keeper and the circumstances surrounding the game. That way you can have more context when checking out our updates! Hope you enjoy!

In the universe of The Phantom Keeper, every person is made up of two different parts – a Soul and a Phantom. A Soul is exactly what you’d expect it to be; a culmination of your being, representing your thoughts and opinions and how you view the world, as unique as your fingerprint. A Phantom works in tandem with your Soul as a companion, and it drives all of your emotions. Your Phantom controls how you react to the world around you, how you deal with hardship, and how you are perceived by others. Your Soul is your identity – your Phantom is your gut instincts. Make sense?

When a person dies, the Soul and the Phantom are separated. Unable to follow the Soul or stay on Earth, the Phantom finds themselves in a different place. This world has many names – The Phantom Realm, the Great Filter, even Purgatory – but most refer to it as Akeron. Here, the Phantoms spend the rest of eternity, lost and alone without their Soul to guide them.

A few Kindred Phantom concepts (done by the lovely Sera!)

Nobody knows where Souls go when they die. It isn’t supposed to be Akeron. But yet, every once in a long while, a Soul ends up there anyway. No one knows how. Perhaps it’s fate, divine intervention, or just a complete accident. Regardless, these Souls trapped in Akeron have found each other, and built up small communities in this strange world. That’s where you come in!

It’s you!

You play as a Soul who finds themselves in Akeron. Against all odds, you are able to meet up with your Kindred – the Phantom who guided you in life. This type of encounter is incredibly rare, and it leaves some to believe that you are destined to become a Keeper. Keepers are wandering nomads who keep the peace in Akeron by harnessing the power of Phantoms. They catch and train them, and also utilize the strength of Phantom emotions that Souls themselves lack. There hasn’t been a new Keeper in centuries, and most of them have gone into hiding for mysterious reasons. But with mysterious kidnappings and missing Souls on the rise, a new Keeper in town might be exactly what Akeron needs!

Hope you guys enjoyed this little world-building dump! Feel free to leave questions in the comments (although some things may remain a mystery for now!) or start a conversation on our awesome discord server! Thanks for reading! 🙂

Welcome to the Dev Blog!

Hey everyone!

Soooo yeah. We’re making a dev blog! We wanted to keep you all updated on the current progress of our new game, The Phantom Keeper, and this seemed like the best way to do it!

We’ve been doing a lot of work on nailing the overall look and feel, as well as making sure that there is a game to play! We’re excited to share more with you in the coming weeks about what we’ve been working on. Blog posts will be more personal than some of our other announcements, and each team member is going to have free reign to talk about what they’re excited about for the project.

If you’re interested in staying up to date, you can sign up for email notifications for our blog! This way you’ll never miss a post. If you’re on our mailing list, you’re getting these already, so no worries. We also encourage you to leave comments and questions at the bottom of posts – we love hearing from y’all!

Until next time! 🙂