Welcome! Nice to have you back. Summer has been so incredibly hot here at Castle PixelCount that we’ll take any fan we can get.

The last time you visited us we were still basking in Spring and spending our days collecting bugs. Since then, the days have grown long and the weather has turned warm. All this additional daylight seems to have given us a motivating effect and has allowed us to slowly restock our reserves of midnight oil.

Temperatures are high and so are our spirits, but heads are low as we work hard on a veritable smorgasbord of treats for your delectation. Though the chief disadvantage to working in all this heat is that we're working up a sweat while working up a game. We recently asked our castle scientists if they could devise a way to keep the castle cool and they happily replied, "No sweat." That scientist has been thrown into the dungeon.

(You wouldn't happen to know a good Dungeon Keeper would you? We sure need one.)

It's become so hot that we could've sworn we detected the faint smell of bacon rising from the pigs. Even the chickens are laying hard-boiled eggs. We also reached out to our friends and allies at Valve to request additional water but they just keep sending us Steam.

But at least we still have our sense of humour. We've been telling hot weather jokes since before it was cool.









Ye Ol' Updates

"Rest is not idleness, and to lie sometimes on the grass under trees on a summer's day, listening to the murmur of the water, or watching the clouds float across the sky, is by no means a waste of time." At least, that's according to our good friend John over at Kingsgate Castle.

But here at our castle, there's been very little idleness indeed. Neal has been busy putting together systems for some of the big features to come. Matt has been surfing the waves of the internet while avoiding the heatwaves of California, making ample content for the patronages of our community channels. And Charlie has been busy building (by hand) the vast and expansive world beyond the gates of The Vale. One can't help but wonder, what is it that these gates are keeping out? Glad you asked! Because that's what we're here to talk about.

One of the challenging things to balance between is refining existing game systems versus adding new ones. For those of you playing the backer build of the game, there are many of the engine's cogs in place that still need further refinement. Yet we must also be careful to not refine too much, as other cogs need to be put in first.

In the last couple of months we've been very mindful of that balance. After we opened the gates to our backer build in April, our primary focus was on sorting bugs that you'd all alerted us of. After that initial round of fixes, we began to slowly add smaller new features here and there - tavern entertainment, quick travel, a lemonade stand, cooking mechanics (not to be confused with culinary car repair persons), among other additions.

Yet one thing that some of you may have noticed in our recent change logs is that there's been a gradually increasing use of the phrase 'behind the scenes'. That's because we're now moving to the other side of that aforementioned balance and the time has come for us to turn our attention to one of the larger cogs ahead: combat!



Combat in Kynseed

Up until now, combat preparations have been largely invisible to outside appearances, but things are now approaching the point in which we have something to show - a prospect that hopefully excites each of you as much as it excites us. Combat is one of the most challenging elements to add to any game, often depending entirely on 'feeling'. Which is to say that to most players, a game's combat either feels right or it doesn't. There's so many subtle nuances that go into it, ranging from controls to timing animations to audio feedback.

We recently challenged our character animator to a duel and asked him to draw his sword, but all he did was send us sword drawings. We figured we might as well use them and so we've been slowly but surely piecing together combat art and animations. The game's sword attacks aren't yet cutting edge, but each day we get closer to having something ready for you to play.

We've also been looking at various other games and their combat systems (research, ahem, not playing them for leisure). In general we're aiming (ho ho!) to have a meaty combat system that starts off simple - you are a simple farm kid after all. We'll then expand your skillset so you become a monster slaying blur of blades over time. Battling needs to be responsive and fun and impactful, not a repetitive grindfest. We also have a range of diverse monster types whose attacks will keep you on your toes, all beautifully crafted by Gary, the pixel whisperer.






Want to Help Test Combat Early?

Combat is one of those things that relies heavily on playtesting, which is why we're keen to put together a small group of testers to give us focused feedback so that we can work out all the initial kinks before updating the backer build for everyone else to have a go. So any of you who are Dev Access backers (Land Shaper tiers and higher) will soon be given an extremely early build of our very first combat tests.

This will actually come in the form of a separate download altogether and will be focused on combat alone - it'll basically consist of testbed regions that we've made just for playtesting combat systems. It's in these test regions that you'll go up against the first type of folklore monsters that roam Kynseed's wild countryside. During this time we'll be working with each of you closely so that we can extract your delicious feedback to help fuel the development machine.

Be sure to keep an eye on your backer emails as well as the Dev Pub on these forums for updates on when this combat testing ground will become available. And if you're not at the Land Shaper or higher tier but still want to try out these early combat tests, you can hop on over to the Kynseed crowdfunding page and select any 'upgrade to this tier' link to upgrade your backer tier to one of your choosing.



New Backer Build Updates

But just because combat's been our recent focus doesn't mean there hasn't been progress made on other neat things as well. Below is a quick look at some of the additions that have been made to the backer build of the game since last we spoke. In fact, if you've not played the latest backer build in a while you can update your game right this instant and see all these changes for yourself!

Recent Backer Build Additions:
  • Visiting entertainers now appear in the tavern
  • A few region's layouts have changed (dramatically in some cases!)
  • A 'lemonade stand' to sell goods to villagers for a profit
  • New cooking and baking mechanics (some recipes now have consequences too...)
  • New art here and there, such as new fish sprites and idle animations for wandering villagers
  • Work done on NPC's so they act more intelligently (with new debug tools to better find NPC issues)
  • Blacksmith minigame improvements in both look and design
  • Continued refinements to controls and UI
  • Animation system refinements to anchor objects on frames for more accurate animation placement
  • And more polish and bug fixes than you can shake a stick at! (please stop shaking sticks)

In addition to the above, we've also been working on adding a number of first passes at upcoming features. It's all very rough and unrefined at the moment (and will continue to be for some time), but below is a small peek at some things we're working on for future updates.

Behind the Scenes Work:
  • Basic player customisation
  • Work on all four seasons (not the popular hotel chain)
  • New regions beyond The Vale
  • Editor brush system refinements to aid level design
  • Oh, and as already mentioned, combat!



Upcoming Giveaway

Almost everything we do on this project, ranging from backer rewards to the game itself, has been purely digital in nature. But if you're the sort of person who'd like to get your hands on an actual physical piece of the game's development then you'll be most interested to know that we've got a special giveaway coming sometime in the near future. (Ah, the near future. The magical land where all game developer dreams come true.)

To make sure you don't miss it, you'll want to give us a hearty follow over on Kynseed's Twitter as that's where we'll be sharing it first. But for good measure, also feel free to join the PixelCount Discord and join these forums, as we'll be announcing it there as well.

And while you're in a following sort of mood, you might as well subscribe to PixelCount's YouTube. We're going to be sharing some choice selections from the Kynseed soundtrack over the next few weeks and we'll be putting it all together in a handy YouTube playlist for all of you to enjoy, starting with the video featured at the very top of this update!








In late September we'll wander through the fallen leaves of Summer's ghosts, serving as a reminder of new seasons yet to come in The Vale. At this very moment, our artists are painting leaves and whitening snow in preparation for year round visitors.

Some not-so-distant day from now, we'll open the big gates to Kynseed so that everyone can visit. While we still don't know when this magical date will be, we do know that it's never too late to start preparing - especially given how humbled and surprised we were when so many of you showed up for an early look back in April.

It's important that we're ready and prepared for that grand day, so we've been busy putting plans together, plotting out ideas, and marking down calendars. We've even been rearranging things here at the castle so that we can accommodate as many guests as possible. Previously, our meat storage was kept on ground level but to make room we've moved it up to the castle tower. So the steaks are high.

Love,
PixelCount