Hello friends, and welcome to the first annual retrospective summary of progress for Moonshell Island! 2019 was an eventful year, so let’s see how we did, shall we?

The Mockup

Original mock-up created for Squared Up! Pixel Art Zine (mid 2018)

It all started with a mock-up I created in mid 2018 for Squared Up! A Pixel Art Zine, and having worked together on Santria in this time, Schotti and I decided to team up to make this game a reality. He would recycle what programming he could from either project to benefit both of our games and set up the main functionality I’d need, while I’d focus on the creative and visual side of things and continue to contribute graphics to Santria.

Pixels with Crabby

The rarely seen Pixels with Crabby break screen

I also had began live-streaming on Twitch, in effort to explore new options for earning an income from home to support myself while devoting more time to these projects. This proved to be valuable for the friendships made, though the time and energy put into it would ultimately not be paid off financially. I streamed once a week for the first half of the year before making the difficult choice to go on an indefinite hiatus.

Crabby RPG Enters the Scene

Our protagonist takes her first steps (March 02)

Returning to the beginning of the year, we had given our new project the code name Crabby RPG, and it was little more than a character sprite walking around in 8 directions. I began planning with scribbles and mind maps to keep everything organized.

Planning for the game starts getting organized with XMind (April 2019)

Tileset Design is a Beach

The walk gets a bit more scenic and dynamic (March 09)

After some struggling with tilesets and stylized palm trees, the player now had a small area to test game mechanics in, such as the lovely silhouette effect and auto-corrected collisions Schotti programmed in!

GUI Design and Crate-smashing

Portraits, text effects, and GUI – oh my! (March 16)

Next we added some GUI elements such as portraits for health status and dialogue, complete with text effects and blueberry muffin appreciation!

Whisks are surprisingly effective against crates! (March 23)

What good is an action battle system if you don’t have a weapon and something to smash? While Schotti worked on the crate smashing and loot mechanic, I made a rough attack animation and spinning acorns to collect! Of course, I’m far too silly to start with a standard melee weapon…

Inventory Menu

Inventory menu testing causes some confusion regarding dual whisks! (April 06)

Poor Schotti had just come out of menu hell with Santria only to be thrown back into it with the inventory screen I wanted. We also updated the GUI to match and added an acorn counter! Coming up with menu descriptions is great fun, isn’t it?
Disclaimer: The use of dual whisks is not guaranteed, but thanks to some awesome fan art by our friend Dave, we are not 100% sure about that.

Nomster Designs

Just your garden variety starter enemy: Veggie Nomsters! (April 17)

I’m one of those people who hates to hurt animal-based monsters in games, so I decided to make all enemies in the game food-based, appropriately named Nomsters. Naturally, I started with vegetables, but I have plans for fruit, baked goods, and other categories as well. Defeating these monsters will return them to normal. Now the ethical dilemma of stealing sentience from something that didn’t have it before is all I have to worry about! 🙂

Schotti’s Birthday Questline

Part 1 of Schotti’s birthday questline! (April 20)

While all this progress was made, in the background I had been preparing a surprise birthday gift for Schotti, which was a lot harder to achieve without his help! On April 20th, I revealed how I wanted branching dialogue and item-based questlines to work in the form of a very cheeky birthday cutscene. This also kind of made public that Schotti and I had started dating and that Schotti is getting too old for power naps.

The awkwardly PDA conclusion to Schotti’s birthday questline! (April 20)

Subtle, am I right?

Interior Design and Decoration

How did that anchor get in there? (May 01)

During my Pixels with Crabby days, I worked on graphics which were easy to live-stream, like this interior I quickly prepared to be filled with viewer-suggested furnishings. Our traveler inspired by the IKEA shark also managed to squeeze in there!

Island Map

New details added to the updated island map (May 15)

Next I adjusted the map from the original mockup and added new details like an underground skull cave at the end of a downward spiral and some giant organic buildings in the farm region. This map will likely go through many iterations as the game is developed.

When it Rains, it Pours

A short example, since GIFs don’t like rain effects (June 22)

At this time, Schotti began developing AcornEdit, a content editor to streamline the development of both Santria and Moonshell Island. This was a big project that took some time, but he did take a break to implement rain into both games.

Title Screen and Name Reveal

Moonshell Island revealed! (Aug 10)

During the months of May-August, I worked on the title screen artwork, which was also designed to fill two monitors as a desktop background for our patrons. I had also been developing a name and logo for the game. Moonshell Island was revealed on the same day as another project I had been secretly working on with Schotti…

Cheekynauts Launch

Team Cheekynauts is announced and our website goes live! (August 10)

Schotti and I had been working hard behind the scenes to come up with a team name and website to make it easier for everyone to follow our projects. I exercised my rusty vector skills to give it some charm with squirrel and bunny characters in an acorn ship to represent us, since we had personal associations with these animals. While I still struggle with a crab vs bunny identity crisis, this brand continues to grow with us as a team.

Cheekynaut Travels

Cheekynaut Travels
Read about Sam & Schotti’s European Adventure (August 2019)

After the launch, Schotti and I both were in need of a vacation, so I flew to Germany to meet him and had an amazing 2 week adventure in Europe where I got to meet some awesome friends from Twitter! I came back refreshed but dreading to have such an intense schedule as I had before the trip. I did one final Pixels with Crabby stream and announced that I would be taking an indefinite hiatus, as mentioned earlier. I want to say a big thank you to my understanding friends who regularly supported me on Twitch!

Location, Location, Location!

The mysterious Lampwood Forest (September 21)

My next focus for Moonshell Island was to mock up some new locations to get excited about. The first new location is the Lampwood Forest, where you’ll find trees that hold the power to light the way to a secret place!

Crabby finally has his Cabana Club (October 26)

The next location is an important one. Crabby’s Cabana Club will be somewhat of a home base and will develop as you progress through the game.

What has happened to the Cabana Club?? (October 30)

In the spirit of the festivities, I made a Halloween version of the Cabana Club. I am hoping to include things like this for other holiday seasons throughout the in-game year.

Cheekynauts on Patreon

The Cabana Club on Patreon takes in some stray travelers (October 6)

Meanwhile, we overhauled my existing Patreon page to the Cheekynauts style and to include lots of new perks like merch, templates, asset packs, postcards, and even Santria content from Schotti! We also had hopes to start a podcast, but haven’t yet had time to record one. Fingers crossed we can fit it into our schedules next year!

Zugai’s Indie Art Calendar

Moonshell Island artwork for the month of August (November 13)

Our friend Zugai organized a collaboration called the Indie Art Calendar, and I made a scene for the month of August. This could potentially make a good wallpaper or even a load screen, so I’ll play around with those ideas eventually.

Moonshell Island Devlog

Devlog 1: Inspiration and Title Art Speedpixel (November 17)

After finishing the calendar entry, I finally had time to record voiceover for the long speedpixel video I had been saving from the title screen artwork. I decided to make it somewhat of a loose devlog and discussed the inspiration behind the game.

I still have some long speedpixel footage of other things I could potentially make into videos like this. Let me know in the comments if you have any topics you’d like me to talk about in this format!

Self-care Slow-down

As winter approached, my energy levels plummeted and I was hit with an unusually high number of migraines. The truth is for the last several years, I had been devoting the majority of my limited time to working on my projects, to the neglect of my own well-being. My ability to continue this way has come to an end. So I have been dedicating the last months of 2019 to health appointments, better self-care, and lots of rest.

Okay, okay, I get it!

While I have gradually been working on Moonshell Island assets here and there, I have made another project my priority in the times I was able to work, and I hope it will help me and others to take better care of themselves as they work towards their ambitions. I’ll tell you more about it in another post!

Twitter Growth Chart

Twitter following for goawayimcrabby for the year 2019

To follow Schotti’s example, I’ll share how my Twitter following has grown since the start of this project. It is encouraging to see there is an audience out there and how it grows as we continue sharing about the projects we love. I hope to be able to share more consistently soon!

Conclusion

There have been so many times this year where I felt like I wasn’t accomplishing enough or living up to the expectations I put out to the world. Looking back on it in summary, along with everything else I ventured to do and curve balls life threw at me, I am proud of what was achieved. I know that 2020 is going to be eventful too! Let’s all do our best!

Thanks for joining Schotti and me on this journey. We will continue to work hard on Moonshell Island!

Your friend,

Sam