Devlog#21 Hello 2019!

Happy New Year Everyone!

Hope you all had a wonderful Holiday Season, relaxed and well fed, and now fully boosted to welcome wonderful adventures in the brand new 2019! We can’t believe time passes so quickly - this year will be one of the most important for LUNA, because we are aiming complete production and deliver our final release!

Game production and level gameplay optimization

Right now, these pieces of work are all going ahead together. While Betty works on the last few bits of animation and UI design, Susie is beginning the musical composition for our cutscenes. Fox and Guan, meanwhile, are full on with coding and optimization. Aside from all this, we are also continuing to work on our own real-time gameplay tests for LUNA, before moving towards external QA. In a nutshell, we will play the completed 25-level game ourselves from beginning to end countless times, to ensure it is smooth and well balanced.

Gameplay testing is vitally important. Over the past few months of initial proofing, we received a great deal of important pieces of feedback. As a result, we rearranged some of the levels to make sure that the puzzle order is nicely structured. Our original design might have looked good to our eyes, but at the end of day your enjoyment of LUNA is the most important aim for us. Third-party viewpoints are incredibly valuable!

Some screenshot from the cutscenes animations

Some screenshot from the cutscenes animations

Susie’s working progress for one of the animation cutscenes

Susie’s working progress for one of the animation cutscenes


Player friendly hint and guide

We have thought a lot about how to apply a hint system in LUNA. Different games do this in various ways, so there is really no golden rule here. We don’t wanna take away the challenge and fun for puzzle lovers, but at the same time, we have to consider what will happen if players actually do get stuck.

The trend nowadays for many games is to rely on a step by step guide, which some say is helpful for players to understand quickly, but in our opinion, sometimes it dulls the experience of the game itself. LUNA’s fundamental core is point and click gameplay. The player explores their environment with the cursor. Above all, we really need to make sure when player focuses on an interactive area, they receive clear feedback that points towards the result, a direction or a solution. One of the key reasons we all love indie games is the freedom to break away from standard game industry design rules - if rules make our game less fun, why should we follow it.

In response to this, we’ve improved some of the mouse functionality and the appearance of interactive objects, so that the player doesn’t feel like they are just hunting for pixels! We’ve also designed a new loading UI/system to help people find their location inside the game better.

The improved cursor designs (arrow/hand/feet) for a clearer interactive experience in the game.

The improved cursor designs (arrow/hand/feet) for a clearer interactive experience in the game.

New loading screen, also serve the purpose as an in-game map, level selection page.

New loading screen, also serve the purpose as an in-game map, level selection page.

Colorblind friendly optimization

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In testing, we learned a very important lesson when we realized that one of our levels might appear to be particularly difficult for colorblind players or those with similar visual impairments. During the past few weeks, we redesigned some parts of the offending level to allow all players to see it clearly.

We also wrote a devlog about it, explaining what is the method we used to solve the problem. We’re now testing this level again with players who might have found it confusing before. If you’d like to volunteer to help with this, please contact us - it will be very much appreciated!

Next few weeks plan

Professional QA will be invited to help us debug, meanwhile we are working on ways to size down LUNA for final distribution. Last but not least, visual effects will help create an even better atmosphere for the game. How can magic be magic without pretty particle effects! *Lumos Maxima!*

By end of January, we’re aiming to finish all the cinematics and in-game animations. So the third milestone will hopefully soon be reached.

A new demo will be released soon in the first Quarter of the year, available for everyone to play. We will also be sending out a second round beta test after the debug is complete.

So that’s all for this update, LUNA will be waiting for everyone very soon in 2019! See you guys very soon with more news!

Devlog#19 October Update

With the leaves slowing turning to yellow, we thought it was about time to give you guys another update on LUNA! Can’t believe these two months have flown by like an arrow. We’re heading closer and closer towards our production deadline. The past few weeks have been intensely busy for us (as usual) so let’s see what we have accomplished so far.

The walking System Optimization

We’ve been focused on optimizing the walking and interaction system recently and have upgraded it to a better, smoother one with some improved new animation sets.

Instead of doing it the most common way, by moving a flat character walking animation between two spots, which usually might appear like sliding/floating on the floor while moving, we have built our walking system with a more realistic, handcraft look.

We added more frames between the idle post and the walking cycle to give it a nice transition. With the variation of 8 different set of walking animations, our character is now able to stop on a very specific spot to interact with an object, each step firmly on the ground without sliding when walking.

This has been one of the most challenging things we've worked on since the beginning of LUNA. It is time-consuming and quite difficult to do. During all this time we couldn’t help thinking, "no wonder most developers choose not to do their walking system in this way!". This is the kind of challenge that makes us really grow and learn from the journey, and it is one of the the few precious moments of pride in indie gaming, knowing we stuck to our unique approach and it worked!  Together with our characters’ cell animation and the 2d draw backgrounds, the world of LUNA now feels both magical and also has the tangible feeling we hoped to achieve.

We wrote a dev log about this issue, if you’re interested in the details you can read it here from our website.

Cinematic Production


Knowing the storytelling will largely rely on the cinematics, we’ve been working on the story for a long time before finalizing our storyboard. Even so, there're still many details, the motion design of each scene that needs to be done along with the animation.

Background - draft animation - line drawing - clean up - coloring. This was and still is the ONLY way for traditional 2D animation nowadays. The magic button I am ever longing for to automatically create the in-between frames still waits to be invented. Until then, keep calm and keep animating.

We have in total about 15-20 min footage of hand-drawn animation in LUNA. Now we've done half of it, basically, 5-10 sec per day is our aim. Our plan is still to finish all the animation before the end of this year. It is a very tight schedule but we intend to keep up the pace! We’re really excited about it and can’t wait to have them all in the game as a whole.

Here is some sneak-peek footage of the animation we’ve done so far.

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Music and sound Fx

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Two thirds of the levels now have music. We have to tell you, the music adds so much more emotion immediately felt when you play the game. It makes a huge difference.

Instead of each room having an individual background track, our music composer Wang Qian took a broader approach. Each character/chapter has its own melody, each with a distinctive emotional tune. By changing the instruments, key, or tempo, we apply subtle variations that blend nicely with each level or cinematic music track. So the overall album of the soundtrack of LUNA will sound more like one big complete work.

It’s not always a straightforward production process on the music side. Music is such an abstract form of art that within the team we had many differences along the way, sometimes even arguments! But the final result you’ll hear in LUNA is the best that came out of us. (some clips of LUNA’s new music below)

Adventure X and Weplay 2018


As some of you might know already, we will be attending this year’s Adventure X  in London on Nov 9-10th, the game show will be held in one of my favourite place in London, the British Library! If you already bought the tickets please do come around and say hi, ask us questions or just chat around! For those who can’t be there in person, please follow our Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram, we will have the live updates during that weekend to make sure to share our moment with you all!

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Players will also be able to try out LUNA at Weplay 2018 in Shanghai on Nov 3-4th. Some of team members in China might be there to great you too!

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Next few weeks plan:


From now till the end of this year we will be aiming to complete 90% of the animation ( if everything goes super smooth we might even finish all of them, fingers cross), then complete ¾ of the music and soundtrack. Meanwhile, we will continue to have industry internal gameplay testing and debugging. We’re also about to start preparing the marking job and publishing / legal business.

We're also thinking to update a new free demo for everyone on the website by the end of the year, we’d announce it in all our social platforms when it’s ready. We’ll soon be back with more news!

Devlog #18 Mind the Gap-The study of LUNA's Character walking system

So, we’ve been meaning to write about LUNA’s character walking system design for quite a while. Now that the optimization of the system has been completed, we are finally able to share some of our process with everyone.

Have you ever wondered how characters walk in video games? In a nutshell - imagine we have a box. The typical method would be to program this box to move from A to B, then replace that box with your character in a flat walking cycle animation. The character will look like it is walking (or running) between those two spots.

But if you look carefully, you will notice that the walking is actually only an imitation - Technically it is a character sliding across the floor while moving its legs. Hardly the carefully hand-animated approach we envisaged for LUNA! You can adjust the start and stop speeds to make it look more natural, but still, in the middle of the animation, the character moves flatly across the floor.

8 bit Mega man game, the character slid a lot on the floor, which is consider normal in most of the game design nowadays for a smoother movement.

8 bit Mega man game, the character slid a lot on the floor, which is consider normal in most of the game design nowadays for a smoother movement.

In real life, we walk step-by-step and our walking distance is usually not an evenly distributed motion like the above example. Our bodies don’t actually move too much between “lifting a foot off the floor from behind us” and “placing it in front of us”. It only starts to move forward when we actually step out and put the foot down, with the forward momentum created by the gap between the two legs.

If we break this action down into an animation sequence of eight frames, four per leg, there are only two frames per leg representative of moving forwards. Therefore, it is rather difficult to code an animation system this way, because the movement is not evenly distributed across the eight frames. ( see break down image for walking cycle below)

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We knew we wanted to do better than this and for some reason with LUNA, we are so crazy that we wanted to imitate the normal way in which people walk, with each step having a solid place on the floor. We liked the tangible realism of this kind of animation and a handcrafted style worked nicely with LUNA’s hand drawn backgrounds, aesthetic and other animations. However, it also came with a very big challenge!

In order to interact with the different objects in each level, the character needed to be able to start walking then stop at almost any specific spot. A realistic walking cycle would surely not be able to stop at a precise stopping point. So, we had to find a way to deal with the gaps in between.

First of all, we made a total of eight sets of walking animations to cover some of the stopping points within a full walking cycle. If the total set of distance is X, the character can now stop at his ½ X, ⅓ X,¼, X⅛ ...etc. . With these eight mini-distance options and combinations in place, the programming was now able to choose the most suitable animation to play after the player clicked the point where he wanted the character to go.

Also, within each walking set, the character would not just sharply switch from walking to an idle pose. Instead, when he was about to reach his destination, he would stop more like a real person, turning the body a bit and lowering his step. If the walking distance required is a very small amount, instead of walking, the character would now do a small sideways hop like when we cross a puddle on the street!

3 steps of improving the basic walking cycle

3 steps of improving the basic walking cycle

Here we’re showing 3 sets out of those 8, which you can see they cover different distance from a full cycle to just 1/4 of it.

Here we’re showing 3 sets out of those 8, which you can see they cover different distance from a full cycle to just 1/4 of it.

Everything seemed good so far, however this system still did not allow the character to stop at ANY point, because distance can be divided into even smaller fractions, leading us to create an infinite set of animations. That just not achievable (and crazy).

So, after many other tests and adjustments, we decided on a minimum unit of travel, around 5 pixels. This is an insanely small distance at the game’s resolution, but is small enough to serve our purpose. Based on this spec, we distributed any extra distance that our current walking system did not cover into a few of the transitional frames among the eight sets of walking animations - usually the step-down frame which you actually need in order to move the body forward.

This has been one of the most challenging things we've worked on since the beginning of LUNA. It is time-consuming and quite difficult to do. During all this time we couldn’t help thinking, "no wonder most developers choose not to do their walking system in this way!". We don’t know whether it has been worth spending so much time on this and maybe it is not the best approach to walking issues in video games after all - but, this is also the kind of challenge that makes us really grow and learn from the journey, and it is one of the the few precious moments of pride in indie gaming, knowing we stuck to our unique approach and it worked!


Together with our characters’ cell animation and the 2d draw backgrounds, the world of LUNA now feels both magical and also has the tangible feeling we hoped to achieve. It was a kind of adventure journey into the unknown, crossing desert and dark forest but finally arriving the other side, we truly think it was a great experience that we’ve loved sharing with everyone :)