DevLog #1 – Do what now?

This post will be used to outline the current progress and vision for the game, called ThruTheTrees. The goal of this website will be to document the game as it progresses through the development cycle and share my thoughts and aspirations for the final result.


ThruTheTrees is an action-rpg drawn in the classic era of 16-bit style games such as A Link to the Past and Secret of Mana. I’ve always been drawn to the sense of freedom and exploration that those games provide. Traversing through a vast overworld, uncovering dungeons, and finding secret treasures. The goal is to invoke that same sense of wanderlust and delight you feel from solving a cryptic puzzle or battling a tough enemy that you did from those games.

I became absolutely enthralled by Stardew Valley when it was released. I thoroughly enjoyed working my humble plot of farm land to maximize efficiency and selling my crops and artisan goods for hefty profits. I also love economic simulations like M.U.L.E. and thought about how interesting it could be to incorporate some market concepts into the strategy of growing, buying, and selling your crops. And although I did enjoy the relationship building, fantastic dialogue, and town-life simulation aspects of the game, I found myself most drawn towards discovering new areas to explore, seeing how deep into the dungeons I could roam, and collecting the rarest and best items in the game. I wanted more of the adventure.

I’ve always enjoyed the concept of leveling up different skill trees to unlock new abilities in games like Final Fantasy, Diablo, Elder Scrolls, etc., and I love some of the randomness of roguelikes such as ADOM. I felt like there is a happy balance of skills to give the player that can provide the benefits needed to progress through the game and offer enough of a variety and challenge to make them worth pursuing. Here are the skills I’m working on for ThruTheTrees:

  • Farming: growing and maintaining crops, raising livestock, scarecrows, etc.
  • Fishing: teach a man to fish blah blah, plus mini game opportunities
  • Cooking: because you have to do something with all those damn fish and crops and such
  • Smithing: mining for ores, gemstones, and runes; crafting of weapons and armor
    • I love having options, and I wanted to give the player lots of freedom to explore and combine items without a penalty of remembering specific recipes.
    • There are 14 base ores that the player can mine. Each of these ore types carries various properties that when combined together will result in alloys of corresponding quality that the player can then use to craft stronger and more powerful items. The player chooses any 3 base ores to combine into a new alloy, and there is no restriction on the type of ores that a player can combine, which works out to something like 2744 different combos.
    • There are dozens of alloys that the player is able to craft. The properties of the alloys are determined by the quality and type of ores that the player used to craft them.
  • Alchemy: crafting potions and things like bombs and poison knives and arrows; crafting magic amulets
  • Combat: beating the asses of all the non-believers
    • Wouldn’t it be cool if the weapons you crafted and found had sockets for inserting gemstones and magic runestones to enhance their power? This feature has been added to the game!
    • Elemental status effects such as poison, slow, frozen, on fire, etc.
  • Magic: for throwing fireballs and other magical things (see elemental status effects above)
    • Also wouldn’t it be cool if there was an elemental wheel, and monsters and players had bonuses and weaknesses based on their individual elemental affinities? This has been fully implemented! The elements are ice, wind, fire, lightning, poison, water, earth, light, and dark.

So what I’ve got is this pretty complex system of mash ups that I’m working to implement in a way that feels fun and fresh. I’ve got quite a bit of time and thought invested in how the systems will interact and so far it’s going well. Here’s a rough list of things that I’m working on, and either have already been implemented or are a work-in-progress…

Fully Implemented:

  • Day/Night cycles, constant time passing (and lighting FX), days, weeks, months, years, 1 second IRL = 1 min game time
  • Seasons/Moon Phases – crops are grown and harvested in specific seasons, trees change sprites each season, phases of the moon affect the elemental affinities of the world
  • Weather FX – fog, rain, and snow – weather is based on the season, snow in the winter, rain in the spring/summer
  • Character Customization – 10 base skin types, 14 hair styles, 5 clothing and armor types, 18 eye colors, 120 hair colors, 378 clothing colors, plus a few surprises here and there
  • Zodiac System – player birthdays result in zodiac signs that provide elemental affinities and unique birth events.
  • Notorious Monster System – normal, elite, champion, and notorious monster types
  • Crafting Items – 72 unique fruits and vegetables that can be fully grown from seed to harvest, 30 miscellaneous food and animal products, 20 miscellaneous crafting items

Partially Implemented/Planned:

  • Elemental magic system, with spells for each of the different element types – partially implemented
  • Crafting system – currently able to forge alloys of all planned types out of mined ores, prototype version has the ability to craft all weapons and armor. Still needed are the cooking, alchemy, and some miscellaneous items such as furniture, storage, etc. – partially implemented
  • Boss Fights – not yet implemented (planned)
  • Fate/Faith/Karma – Lucky/Unlucky Status – Blessed/Cursed Status – partially implemented
  • Energy Points – Physical actions expend energy. The player needs to rest and consume food to restore energy lost. Lack of rest will cause your player to become less effective and fatigued or even hallucinate, cooking and eating food will provide temporary stat boosts or other perks – partially implemented
  • Dungeons – both RNG dungeons and set dungeons, traps, secrets, switches, lighting FX, etc. – partially implemented
  • Persistent Farming System – a home plot of land that the player controls. Player’s house is there, able to dig holes and plant crops that grow over time. Everything in the player’s home area will remain persistent. – partially implemented (a full crop growing system is working in the prototype build, must be re-configured for the new inventory system and optimized)
  • Quest System/NPC/Story Missions/Lore – not yet implemented (planned, WIP)
  • Fishing System and Mini Game – not yet implemented (planned)
  • Alchemy System – crafting poisons, bombs, potions, etc. – partially implemented
  • Tools of the Trade – Pickaxe, Shovel, Hoe, Woodcutting Axe, Watering Can, Boomerang, Magic Candle, Fishing Pole – everything except Fishing Pole has been at least implemented in the prototype version
  • Combat System – currently implemented features include critical hit checks and dodging, and 2 mutually exclusive attack types, piercing and slashing attacks that the player can alternate between. Certain enemy types may be more vulnerable to certain types of attacks. There are more features that are planned or partially implemented including elemental weapon attacks, magic attacks, and potentially a combo system and chaining kills for bonuses
  • Market System – Basic economy simulation that provides some variety and luck when buying and selling goods – not yet implemented (planned)

This represents a good portion of what is planned for ThruTheTrees. I don’t want to oversell or misrepresent my game in any way, and everything on list list I believe to be well within my scope of achievement. Many of the items are already working in-game, and I have many more ideas and concepts that I will continue to work on as development of the game unfolds. I will share much more insight into updates and the design of the game when I can and I’ll do my best to upload some media to give a more detailed look at the progress so far.


In case you skipped the “about” section, this gig is a one-man show. This is very much a passion project of mine that started ~1 year ago in October. I’ve always had aspirations of making a game like this one, and finally decided to give it a shot. After about a month of tinkering around I decided it had potential, and I’ve been full steam ahead ever since. I have a full time day job and work on ThruTheTrees in my spare time. Despite those commitments, I remain fully invested in seeing this project through to the end. I’ve gotten great support from my people so far, and it’s been tremendously encouraging.

After about 8 months and a thousand hours into the initial prototyping of the game I made the decision to completely start fresh and rebuild from scratch. I’ve learned quite a bit over that time, and by starting over I felt that I could build an even stronger foundation for the game. It has absolutely been the correct decision. The entire physics system was replaced with a tighter, more precise one. The inventory management system has been completely redesigned in a way that allows for more more expansion, and the finite state machine that controls the player was tweaked and re-structured.

I found a great pixel artist to help me with the player character, trees, and crops. The quality and aesthetic are precisely what I was seeking. I’ve also been spending lots of time polishing my own pixel art skills, reading and investing in tutorials. I am still not 100% satisfied with the artwork and there are definitely areas that will be changed prior to release as more quality artwork is developed. The majority of the environmental art has been drawn by myself, but there are a few pieces that have come from purchased assets. Ideally, all those pieces will be replaced with new art in time.

So where I’m at is my initial prototype project with many features that are now being either consolidated or re-worked/rewritten into the new pre-alpha build. Some of the features listed below are still being ported over to the new build or being re-worked. There is currently no time table on when a playable version will be available, but in the meantime I am hard at work making this the best possible game that I’m capable of making. This project has been 100% self-funded thus far, and so it will proceed at it’s own pace. Thank you so much for your time and interest. I am very open to feedback and ideas. Please drop me a line-

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