Hello friends, and welcome to the annual retrospective summary of progress for Moonshell Island in 2020! As I write, I am recovering from a quadruple wisdom tooth extraction I decided to have right before Christmas, which is a fitting way to end a year full of challenges, but I’ll try not to leave out any important details. Here goes nothing!

Happy New Year?

Boy, and I thought 2019 was eventful! 2020 started off optimistic for me when I shared a small tool I created for balancing tasks with self-care called the Daily Achievement Log, which I got printed on notepads for the shop and patrons and provided a free printable version of here. I have since closed the shop, but I found this tool helped me to change my approach toward productivity and to avoid burnout. It turns out that self-care is much more productive than neglect is!

Crabby’s expression makes a lot more sense now.

January was still a hectic month, but in a good way!

Massive Sacks of Cash Grant

I am particularly grateful for how Massive Corporation Game Studios has affected my life this year. On the last day of January, the same day I was featured in this article about local gamedevs in the Leader-Post (also thanks to Massive Corporation for that opportunity), I came to the Global Game Jam kick-off party in my area and was awarded the Massive Sacks of Cash Grant, which I had applied for with Moonshell Island!

Moonshell Island Receives Massive Sacks of Cash grant from Massive Corporation Game Studios!
You can read more about all this in my blog post! (Feb 2020)

The beauty of the Massive Sacks of Cash Grant is that it gave me $500 each month of 2020, to use however I wanted, no strings attached. This is exactly what aspiring game developers need when they have to scrape by and work themselves to the bone to survive while building their first projects. Thanks to Massive Corporation, I was finally able to pay off my student debt in full, and I even had extra to cover my costly but necessary oral surgery, which I had put off despite the risks due to my financial situation previous years.

On top of all that, Massive Corporation’s CEO, Kai Hutchence never failed to answer my countless questions and provide invaluable clarity as I went through the otherwise very overwhelming process of incorporating and starting up Cheekynauts Entertainment LTD. So as hard as Schotti and I worked this year, we would have only accomplished a fraction of what I’ll be covering in this post if not for this local hero of the game development community in Saskatchewan.

If you’re not already, please follow and support Massive Corporation on Twitter, see how they are affecting change in the Regina Gamedev community and check out their recently launched Brandins Buttons on Steam!

Trailer for Brandins Buttons by Massive Corporation Game Studios

Show us the progress!

Absolutely, let’s start at the beginning of 2020. If you recall from the 2019 Retrospect, Moonshell Island still had a static camera focused on the same test area that became quite familiar as we showcased each added functionality.


In January, we added a canvas for full-screen mode and began the long process of perfecting a shoreline animation.

Full-screen mode added and the beginnings of a shoreline which would see a lot of iteration. (Jan 2020)


After winning the MSOC Grant in January, we were highly motivated and made a lot of progress in February. First we gave the player run and idle states

The player now has run and idle states. (Feb 2020)

…then we got the camera following the player, began improving the tileset, and implemented tomato “nomsters” to fight, defeat, or be defeated by. It was starting to look like a real game now!

The camera now follows the player, the tileset is improving, and you can fight, defeat, or be defeated by tomato “nomsters”. (Feb 2020)


This was when the pandemic started affecting our area and our plans to showcase our demos at Sask Expo were postponed. This was disappointing, but also a relief as we would have fallen short with completing anything very playable in time for that anyway. Around this time I had recorded this (way too quiet and awkward) video devlog showcasing the settings menu, climbable vines, health status updates, pause menu and KO state we had implemented.

I recorded this video devlog which was way too quiet, sorry about that. (Mar 2020)

We kept going and added item interaction and multiple choice to the dialogue system. I’m still quite happy with the thinking cursor we settled on.

Item interaction and dialogue choices are implemented. (Mar 2020)


As the game improved, so did the logo. Since I had streamed the design process, it was a rush job I had intended to improve, but didn’t prioritize for a while. Now that it’s more chunky and clean, I’m satisfied.

Old Moonshell Island Logo (Aug 2019)
New Moonshell Island Logo (Apr 2020)

In April, we added a game over screen, special item pickup, and an in-game planner menu with sections for journal entries, quest to-do lists, and achievement sticker collections!

Getting knocked out triggers a game over screen now, from which you can practice your ability to choose things. (Apr 2020)
You can open stuff and get things. (Apr 2020)
The planner menu will track the adventure with main story journal entries, quest to-do lists, and achievement sticker collections. (Apr 2020)


In May, we implemented tutorials, updated the UI for gamepad, and finally left our test map to start building real in-game areas and populating them with props.

Some of our tutorials are a bit cheeky. (May 2020)
New props are added to the beach as we leave our test map to start building in-game areas. (May 2020)

Behind the scenes, I had been working for quite some time on the shoreline tileset to get it just right, which lead to breaking my existing palette. To make that work, I shifted a lot of colours for all assets and adjusted the texture of grass and sand to go best with the ocean. Painful, but totally worth it. I share about the process for the shoreline on this publicly available Patreon post, if you’re curious how I did it. 🙂

Big visual upgrade with a colour overhaul and improved tileset. (May 2020)


In June, after mapping several new areas, our first officially implemented NPC was introduced. Meet Harriet, owner of the local produce stand, Hattie’s Harvest!

More areas are mapped and we meet Harriet, owner of Hattie’s Harvest. (Jun 2020)


In July, we connected and revealed the new areas we had mapped and implemented loot drops and pickups. It was so good to finally see the Cabana Club established in-game.

Running through the new areas and picking up items is implemented. (Jul 2020)

We also added sea urchins that spike out when you approach them.

Sea urchins take social distancing seriously, and so should you. (Jul 2020)


In August, we implemented a cool flippy quest completion and finally introduced Crabby in-game! Took us long enough, I know!

Quest completion is implemented. (Aug 2020)

An adventure begins with a rude awakening as Crabby is finally implemented. (Aug 2020)

At this time we were beyond thrilled to announce that Anna Eichenauer (aka QueerGermanGirl) will be composing the Moonshell Island soundtrack! Please enjoy this preview of what’s to come:

Some lovely music by our new composer, Anna! (Aug 2020)


In September, we continued adding cutscenes and started building the first in-game puzzle where the player must move in sync with the sea urchins to reach the other side of their exclusive limbo party. This meant establishing a lot of new AI behaviour, and it was one of this year’s bigger development challenges.

Cutscene introducing Crabby’s Cabana Club in-game for the first time (Sep 2020)
The sea urchin limbo party forces everyone outside their comfort zone. (Sep 2020)

While Schotti worked on the functionality of the game, I prepared some artwork for the demo’s end credits and a quick reference sheet for the protagonist. The style makes her look more child-like than I intended, but with so much on my plate, I decided to leave it as is. For the record, though I don’t have a specific age in mind for Sam, it seems appropriate for her to fall between age 16 and 26. Of course, leaving it up to the player can make for a more relatable adventure, don’t you think?

Sam, Crabby and Schotti artwork for demo end credits (Sep 2020)
Quick reference sheet for Sam (Sep 2020)

By the end of the month, we had regular item pickup descriptions and more banter-filled cutscenes.

We can now read about an item when we pick it up for the first time. (Sep 2020)
Danger may be at hand, but there’s always time for cheeky banter! (Sep 2020)

September was also the month when Cheekynauts Entertainment LTD was officially incorporated, and as the CEO, I had a lot of new things to figure out. Doing this while finishing a demo and running a Patreon was a huge challenge, but thankfully most of what remained to be done for the demo was on Schotti’s end.


In October, I revamped the portraits and dialogue sprites for consistency and better readability. Meanwhile, Schotti added knockback to the sea urchins, finished up the quest system, and wander-proofed each scene for a smooth player experience.

Ridiculous dialogue gets a lot more readable thanks to GUI updates. (Oct 2020)
Please respect social distancing guidelines, or face the consequences! (Oct 2020)
Didn’t read the quest card? Check your planner! (Oct 2020)
Crabby doesn’t think procrastination is a valid strategy. :/ (Oct 2020)

By the end of the month, I was still very overwhelmed with things to do, but I couldn’t resist testing my spooky version of Crabby’s Cabana Club in a separate copy of the demo, making it a little more magical than last year’s mockup.

Did you know blueberries are a healthy source of magic? (Oct 2020)


In November, Schotti put the finishing touches on the functionality while I polished up the visuals and added a couple unexpected NPCs, including one snarky beatnik.

Clearly this snarky beatnik isn’t the only one who could use a break. (Nov 2020)

And then finally it was time to release the Moonshell Island Teaser Demo to our patrons! Although the demo doesn’t have sound yet, Anna had composed some sweet new music for it in time for the announcement. Please enjoy this small OST tease!

Moonshell Island Patron-exclusive demo announcement and OST tease! (Nov 2020)

While all of the above was happening, I was also building and improving a gameplay trailer using demo footage set to Anna‘s music, and even the voice talent of Gabriel Castro, who did an amazing job narrating! Since it represents the culmination of this year’s efforts, it seems a fitting way to end the productive portion of the retrospect. Please enjoy the Moonshell Island teaser trailer!

Moonshell Island Teaser Trailer (Nov 2020)


As I’m sure you can imagine, Schotti and I were both in dire need of a vacation by the end of a year like this. Launching two demos and starting a business while holding day jobs is a challenge even when the world isn’t crumbling around you. Once the demo was released, I continued pushing myself to clear my plate so I could rest in peace for the holidays. After I had sent out the new Moonshell Island pins and winter postcards to our Patreon supporters, I would finally reach that carrot-on-a-stick called “time off”.

Moonshell Island Pin and limited-time bonus stickers for $10+ patrons

While I intended to take a good 4 weeks of self-care and recovery, things didn’t exactly go as planned. My day job still needed me, and I still had matters to sort for the Cheekynauts business (don’t even get me started on all the problems I had with this process), so I cut out the only energy-expensive thing I could afford to neglect: social activity.

I love the creative communities I’m involved in, but I do go by Crabby Sam for a reason. I am a hermit by nature. It takes energy and motivation to maintain a social presence, even if it’s rewarding. I’ve also seen a correlation between social inactivity and loss of momentum, so it’s not easy to pump the breaks when you finally start getting somewhere. But at this point I was heading straight for a brick wall if I kept going.

It’s not just social media though, I also run a Discord community for our patrons, which happens to be an awesome group of encouraging people. Fortunately, everyone was very understanding when I needed to go silent for the majority of December.

Cheekynauts themed winter postcard for $5+ patrons

Once all matters were finally put to rest, and just as I was about to take mine, I got a call that there was a last minute cancellation at the oral surgeon who was going to handle my wisdom teeth extraction (long story involving radiation therapy in my jaw area 5 years ago, dentist drama, risks of complications, blah blah), so I took the opportunity to spend the remaining weeks of my holidays in bed on a liquid diet! I mean, who wouldn’t? Thankfully everything went well and I’m healing up nicely.

What’s next?

Now that it is the new year, I am starting to feel more myself again, and I’m easing my way back into a more reasonable lifestyle. My intention for 2021 is to prioritize self-care like I did in the earlier part of 2020 and try not to take on more than I can handle as I work toward the public demo releases of Santria and Moonshell Island with Schotti.

Twitter Growth Chart

In keeping with tradition, here is the chart tracking how our reach has grown on my Twitter account since I started posting about Moonshell Island. It’s encouraging to know that people out there are excited to play and rooting for us as we follow our dream.

Twitter following for goawayimcrabby for the year 2020


And that’s a wrap on the Moonshell Island Retrospect for the year 2020! I hope you enjoyed the read. Here’s hoping 2021 goes easy on us all.

Thank you for sticking with Schotti and me as we take our time to make our games the best they can be without sacrificing too much of ourselves. We look forward to sharing the journey!

Your friend,