Hello again from all (seven) of us here at PixelCount! It's been a few weeks longer than usual since we last chatted and there's been a hefty batch of six individual new updates to catch you all up on in that time. So pull up a chair and warm yourself by our virtual fireplace as you enjoy a brief respite from this crazy ol' world of ours.

Over the last month-plus of work, we've had a flurry of seemingly small but impactful polish improvements that we've rolled out across various areas of the game. It's a bit of a balancing act really, because we have to ensure we work on adding 'new stuff' while simultaneously applying gradual polish to 'existing stuff'. For a complex game like this, it'd be a huge cobbled mess if we were to only ever add new bits and never polish.

It's a challenging balance to strike though - one we're constantly adjusting and learning from. There's a slightly exponential component at work too, which is to say that the more we add to the game the more we'll have to eventually polish. That's why it can be hard to fully predict the timing and scope of major content milestones (like our upcoming relationship milestone, for example). To put it another way, there's an oft-used proverb you'll sometimes hear in game development that asks, "How long is a piece of string?"

But of course, we've still got to do our best in predicting those metaphorical string lengths and ensure we don't get tangled in development knots. These are the sort of things we've been recently mindful of as we worked on this latest batch of updates. To nobody's real surprise, it turns out there's a ton of deeply interconnected game systems that underpin all relationship-based mechanics.

So our focus was to not only continue paving the way for that next milestone but to also apply some important polish as we go. Read on below for some examples and highlights or feel free to just jump straight into our game update subforum for a full look at the six recent changelogs.

Changelog Highlights

One of the things we've been keen to continue adding is additional player customisation, so for the last few months our programmer has been working hard to rig all player graphics (every single tile and/or frame of animation) to a system that allows for per-pixel color grading. This has been an ongoing project for a while now and so we're happy to report that we've just recently added our first pass at these new customisation options. Of course, there's still quite a bit of work left to do for this new system (and player customisation in general) and so we'll continue refining it in future updates as well as taking in whatever feedback you good folks throw our way.

You'll also find a slew of new UI graphics and tweaks have been made. Experience has taught us that UI is something that tends to lag behind in many game's development, and yet it can have such an important impact on how polished a game feels. So in the spirit of that balance we mentioned in the section above, we've taken some time during this last month to make improvements to UI where possible. So give that scroll wheel a tickle and check out some highlights below.

More Player Customisation
We've spent the last couple of months adding in a new per-pixel color grading system to allow for additional player customisation options. Much of this is still just an early pass but we'll be gradually refining and adding to this system as we go along.

New Proverb Setup
We've done a slight adjustment to how proverbs work. They've now been standardized so that relevant items will have exactly three findable proverbs - two to hint at the item's location and one to hint at the item's effect. As such, we've redistributed proverb's placements around the game world (in addition to adding some new ones here and there).

Higher Star Ratings
Making higher star ratings attainable for growables and fish is something we've been keen to do, including updating parts of the star rating UI being used. Across current items, approximately 140 of 260 possible extra stars are now obtainable through certain conditions being met (with more to come of course).

Growable Indicators UI Improvements
Some of the information displayed for growables when viewing Status Mode (accessed via CTRL or Left Trigger) have been given a new coat of polish and now have less of a 'programmer-art' look.

Auctions/Races/Markets Now Drawn on Map
Work continues on adding to the world map. Most recently, the maps will now show indications for various events and info. (The visual presentation is still fairly work-in-progress at the moment.)

Additional Goddess Offering Balance & Setup
Goddess offering saw a number of changes and adjustments in the recent updates. It now has slightly new functionality, updated UI, and better overall balance. (Though feedback on this particular mechanic is still very much appreciated, by the way!)

Improved Status & Skills Screens
Viewing your current progress for your various skills should now be easier with these new UI changes.

Continued Work on NPC Aging
Progress continues at a gradual and steady pace as we work to add aging to our expansive cast of characters. Most recently you may notice that Ash and Boots now age (which also makes Ash eligible for dating once they reach adulthood).

Improved Inventory Organization
Sometimes it feels like RPG's are actually more like Inventory Micro-Management: The Game™, so we've added some new categories to help make your time in the inventory a bit easier to navigate.

Poo Effects
We've enhanced poo's visual effects in our ongoing quest to polish turds.

Full Changelogs
As always, there's vastly more additions and fixes made than we can list here. So jump on over to this recent changelog of ours to check out the details or just drop by the game update subforum itself to check out all six of the updates we've recently released.

Next On Our Journey

As we continue to work towards that hefty relationship milestone, our next steps ahead will be to turn our attention to adding various spouse behaviors and other similar spouse-related mechanics. We'll be sure to let you all know how it's coming along in our usual community spots (which are handily listed just below), so feel free to pop in anytime and hang out with us while we work. Take care everyone and we'll see you all again very soon. Cheers!


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