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Girl Genius - Adventures In Castle Heterodyne

Created by Rain Games

A fabulous Action Adventure game based on the award winning graphic novel series Girl Genius™ by Phil & Kaja Foglio

Latest Updates from Our Project:

Devblog # 16 - Happy Holiday and Happy New Year!
about 1 month ago – Thu, Dec 29, 2022 at 01:20:44 AM

Dear Sparks,

I wish you all a happy winter holiday and a happy new year! I hope that this post will be a small present for you during the holiday, and we're looking forward to finally giving you the game next year! This post contains non-spoilers at the top of the post, and a clearly marked spoiler section at the bottom of the post.

The TL;DR

  • Game is coming out next year. Release date will be announced in the early part of next year.
  • A new Alpha will be available to alpha players on Steam, estimated end of January\early February. Note! Save data will be invalidated, so you'll have to start a new game.
  • Beta players will have to wait a bit longer, until the game is closer to content complete.
  • We've finished up Act 2 of the game (out of 3 + epilogue). Currently working on polishing the content before moving on to Act 3.
  • We're upgrading the Item Upgrade System. Read about this in blog below!
  • New bossfight added for end of Act 2. Read about this in the spoiler-y section below.


New features from Act 2

  • New enemy types: Fencing Clank Captain, Toxic Chicken Clank, Steam Cat, Nyar Spider (Dingbot mortal enemy)
  • New upgrade system for items (weapons, tools etc).
  • Ingame map, accessed in Pause Menu.
  • Lore system. When meeting characters, exploring locations etc. Lore snippets are unlocked. There's a section in the pause menu where the player can read about the lore in question more in-depth.
  • Agatha can finally sprint! Related to this, Agatha now has Stamina that is consumed when she's doing struggling actions like dodge rolling or sprinting. The attribute can be upgraded.
  • Metroidvania-esque exploration features. Revisit locations to find secret(s?) and collectables, using new tools.
  • Visual upgrades. Much more textures and custom props.
  • New areas in Castle Heterodyne that was not explored in the series. Examples: The Explorer's Lounge, The Grand Gallery and more... with the blessing from the Foglios!
  • New tools for Agatha: Power Lantern, secret and secret. Read about the secret items in the spoiler section below.
  • New tool for the Dingbot: Propeller. The Dingbot can now fly when lifted by an upward strong draft of wind.
  • New epic bossfight: Secret. Read about it in the spoiler section below.
  • Agatha upgrade system: Upgrade things like Health, Energy, Stamina by trading hard-to-find Heterodyne Artifacts found in the castle to a certain NPC.
  • New NPC's: Gilgamesh Wulfenbach, Tarvek Sturmvoraus, Zeetha, Krosp, Violetta.
  • Command the Castle, using the Castle Command feature to activate traps.
  • The "Build System". Convert "Scrap Traps" into objects like Grapple Pole, Springboard etc to traverse areas and solve spatial puzzles.
  • NPC's can now be interacted with for dialogue.
  • New Interactables: Power Globe (activate with Power Lantern), Timed Switch (deactivates itself after X seconds), Ionization Engine (recharge energy when within radius of the object).
  • Upgrades to UI. Improved graphic assets.
  • New Side Quest: "Masterful Portraits". There are some special portraits made by a master, in diverse locations in the castle. Can you find them all?
  • More "Dingbot Sergeants" to find for the Dingbot sidequest.
  • And probably more that I can't remember right now...

About the story

We're working directly with the Foglios on the story in the game. While the story follows the general story beats found in the Castle Heterodyne story arc in the series, the game will feature parts of the story differently. The Girl Genius universe is massive, there's a ton of characters, relationships between characters, side stories within the stories and more. Therefore, we need to cut some of the interactions found in the series down to its core, in order to be able to actually produce the content within budget, team size and time constraints. The avid Girl Genius reader will notice this mostly  from Act 2 onwards, as certain story events will happen differently. But it is great to be working directly with the Foglios on this, and every Girl Genius reader should know that they approve and define the story beats together with us.


The spoiler section starts below

Thank you for reading, and I look forward to sharing more with you next year, and also, to finish the game and having you all play it! :)

Below this, I'll write about and show some game content to be considered spoilers.

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Spoiler Section

  • If you haven't, please check out devblog # 15 for more descriptions of content described for Act 2. I'll write about the new things in this post.

The Item Upgrade System

Originally, we designed the tools and weapons to follow a tiered progression system. The Wrench weapon would be upgraded to Tier 2 and it would give a number of benefits from that tier.

We've decided to separate the functionality of tools and weapons into what we call "sub-modules" instead. The Wrench now has several sub-modules that represent different aspects of the Wrench as a whole. For example, the Wrench now has sub-module "Power" and sub-module "Wrencherang". Each of the sub-modules can be upgraded, and some of them must be unlocked before they're available.

Concept of the upgrade system on the Workbench (temp art & text...)

This provides a much more exciting item system for the player. You have to decide what you want to spend your resources on, it encourages exploration and finding resources, and gives the player priorities to choose from. Do you want to have more damage on the Wrench now, or do you want to build the new functionality on the Grapple Gun? Also, you can find "Blueprints" in the game world, that are objects that must be picked up, in order to unlock a new functionality to an item. These are optional items, that opens up new playstyles, and in some cases optional "metroidvania-exploration". For example, the "Grapple Pull" blueprint is found in the game. When you build this, certain switches and objects can be pulled with the Grapple Gun, opening new areas for exploration. I think it will be a very cool addition to the game!

The Bossfight!

Dr. Silas and his clank! Here, he's getting stunned (zapped by lightning)

The vile Dr. Silas is your adversary at the end of Act 2, when he surprises Agatha, Gil and Zola while they're "discussing" recent events.

Dr. Silas has a fully operational battle clank, and Agatha must find a way to defeat him!

From concept to implementation

We always start out rough, and define and narrow things down from there.

The first sketch of the boss arena, and important concepts for the fight
Concept sketch of the Arena, with 3 Power Globes in defined areas
Tesla Coils on each "Boss Platform" which is the players way to disable Silas' energy shield, for a damage opportunity

So the concept of the fight is that the arena in the Serpent's Chamber is a "Tesla Coil" testing room. The blue circles are "Boss Platforms" that Silas jumps between, and each boss platform has a connected Power Globe associated with it (green circle). When the clank lands on a platform, its associated Power Globe is raised and interactable by using Agatha's tool, the Power Lantern on it. This activates the Tesla Coil on the boss platform, zapping the boss with lightning, thus disabling its energy shield and stunning the clank, and it gives Agatha an opportunity to damage the boss.

Here we see the implementation of the arena in the game and the different concepts. We have the walkable arena, the Boss Platforms and 3 Power Globes connected to each Boss Platform. The Power Globes will raise and retract whenever the clank jumps between platforms.

GAMEPLAY (earlier development footage, no audio sry)!

So here we see me playing against the boss in an earlier test run. I'm playing on Hard difficulty here, as we're testing how the boss plays when there's a lot going on. The normal difficulty setting will be tweaked down  this. You'll see that there's more complexity added to the fight as the fight goes on, and Silas threatens you with more attacks. I'll break it down for you.


  • The boss has 4 phases, where complexity increases each phase. The phases are transitioned when the boss meets a health threshold. For example, falling debris releases each time the boss lands on a platform in the later phases, and number of missiles launched and amount of chicken clanks released is increased.
  • The boss jumps between platforms. When he lands, the connected grate releases a damaging energy burst from the impact on the platform, but also raises the Power Globe that the player can use to stun the boss. The challenge is to time the movement correctly, get in range of the globe and activate the Power Lantern, while the boss is attacking you. The player must also avoid the damaging energy burst from the grate that lasts for a short time.
  • The boss has 4 attacks: Gun Attack (the cone barrage on the ground), Flying Gun Attack (he flies and shoots at the same time, and cannot be stunned in this mode), Missile Attack (launches flying missiles that impacts and creates a fire on the ground for some time), Chicken Clank Egg Launch (launches Chicken Clank Eggs that pops and releases clanks that chase the player, of the exploding and toxic variants).
  • Environmental Hazards: Later in the fight, falling debris is released when the boss lands on a platform. Later on as well, falling debris falls randomly.
  • The boss is invulnerable to damage while the clank energy shield is up. The shield is disabled when lightning is released on top of it when Agatha activates its Power Globe, stunning the boss and Agatha can damage the clank by hitting it with the Wrench.

The fight is all about timing, avoiding damage and managing threat complexity as the fight goes on. Also, I think that the madness of Silas is showing through in the fight. He really wants to DESTROY you! I hope that the bossfight excites you as much as it excites me. :)

Screenshots and WIP

The Plunder Room WIP. Storage facility for "donated" artifacts.
The Hub. Improved visuals
An ominous gate. Could it be the Serpent's Gallery?
The Heart Of The Storm?
The Grand Gallery WIP
Did somebody say TRAPS?
The Phosphorous Gate rough WIP

Thank you for reading, and have a happy new year!

- Kenny

Twitter: @raingames_kenny & @rain_games

Devblog #15 - New game content! (SPOILERS!)
3 months ago – Sat, Nov 12, 2022 at 09:01:27 PM

This post is for backers only. Please visit Kickstarter.com and log in to read.

Devblog #14 - Tokyo Game Show!
4 months ago – Wed, Oct 05, 2022 at 01:27:08 AM

Dear Sparks,

I promised I would share more from our trip to Tokyo for Tokyo Game Show, so here it is, finally!

OMG! Tokyo Game Show!

First of all, the trip was incredible.

It was fantastic to experience the lovely Japanese culture, and it was very exciting to show off the game.

We had a shared booth called "Norwegian Games", with 11 game dev companies from Norway.

Setting up the booth the first day

The booth was present for 4 days, where 1.5 of those days were business days with press and meetings, and the rest were consumer days.

Read about the Norwegian Games Booth and Girl Genius in the Japanese media "4Gamer" here.

The writer unfortunately misunderstood a few things about Girl Genius in the short amount of time we had with him, but it was good to get the attention anyway, since the magazine is one of the largest media for games in Japan.

Welcome to the Girl Genius booth!
Also on Steam Deck!

We showed off the game, both on PC and on the Steam Deck.

We also brought a Nintendo Switch build that I didn't show off at the booth, but used during meetings.

While we did not have a massive queue for Girl Genius like the Asian games, we had players playing all the time.

Big group!

My big takeaway from showing off the game was that people enjoyed playing!

It is certainly not guaranteed, because art style and gameplay preferences can be quite different in the Asian countries.

I felt very proud to show off Girl Genius and the game to Asian people, and seeing them enjoy it.

My favorite moment was when a Japanese mother and her two children, aged around 8-13 I think, played the game. I thought it was so cool to see them laugh at the "right" moments, pointing at the screen and telling their mother how cool the little Dingbot is.

That was special to me. 

Other than showing off the game for the players, we also had some really good meetings.

First of all, I got a meeting with Nintendo Japan, which is not something that happens everyday, to put it mildly. I showed them both Girl Genius and Teslagrad 2, and got good feedback.

Also, the Norwegian Embassy in Tokyo visited the Norwegian Games stand, and they were really excited to see how big Game Development is, and also that so much quality content is produced by Norwegian developers.

At the Norwegian Embassy Residency in Tokyo

We got invited to a spectacular reception at the Norwegian Embassy Residency in Tokyo. What an experience!


It was an intense week, where most of it was work. But we also got to check out some sights in Tokyo before TGS kicked off.

At the Zoo

We visited the Zoo, in the park close to the Studio Ghibli Museum.

The King of Meerkats
Big, big, big and fuffy bats!
And giant spiders...
The Studio Ghibli Museum

We also visited the Studio Ghibli Museum. Weren't allowed to take pictures inside unfortunately, but it was really cool!

View from the Hotel over Tokyo Bay. Yes, the shadow is the hotel.
Me and Lars Erik (Art Director) visiting Fuglen in Shibuya

Here's me and Lars Erik visiting Fuglen, a cafè from Norway that opened up in Tokyo as well. I am quite destroyed in this picture, as I just came in the door from 100% humidity and heat, and a Typhoon outside the door.

Lars Erik destroyed after the last day at TGS

The last day before leaving Tokyo, a typhoon came in. We flew out of Tokyo through a lightning storm.

Yep.

It was an incredible trip.


The TL;DR

  • Players enjoyed the game at the booth!
  • Looks promising for the game in Asia, even though it is a Western IP.
  • I don't think it will go "wild" in Asia, but I think there will be players.

Thank you for reading!


- Kenny

Twitter: @raingames_kenny & @rain_games

Devblog #13 - Gamescom and Tokyo Game Show
5 months ago – Fri, Sep 02, 2022 at 11:52:11 PM

This post is for backers only. Please visit Kickstarter.com and log in to read.

Second Playtest for Alpha Backers
7 months ago – Thu, Jul 21, 2022 at 10:23:46 AM

This post is for backers only. Please visit Kickstarter.com and log in to read.