It's been a while! There's a ton of new stuff in the game now. This shot here is, as the corner suggests, The Toy Factory. You had to know you'd end up in one of those eventually, right? This is kind of the finale of the first third of the game in a way. Once you finish the Toy Factory, you get a choice of how to proceed next, so the middle third of the game actually has two different paths to it, which come together for the final third. Guess you'll just have to play the game twice!
One thing that's happened a few times and made a big difference is that Sol has played the game from the beginning, a couple times, while I took notes. This has led to a lot of changes and improvements in the subtle things that make it more understandable and playable.
On the more major side, there's been a bunch of new additions to expand the gameplay options. I've doubled the number of magical powers that items might have, and now instead of them all being fairly weak, there's another tier of powers that are much rarer, which are of course more powerful. Then there are 'cursed' items (doesn't call them that in the game, but I do), which aren't necessarily bad at all. They just have both a plus and a minus. The plus is always bigger than the minus, but they are something for specific character types. For instance, a wizardly type player would be happy to get an axe that does less damage, but gives them more spell power, while a warrior type would find it useless. Things like that.
There are also more options to the equipment even when it's not magical. Parkas no longer just offer Armor, they also affect your maximum Stamina. Amulets now both raise your maximum Magic and increase the damage of your spells. So you have more to consider with equipment. The nightmare there was the fact that it increased the number of names for non-magical gear from 5 parkas and 5 amulets to 25 of each (which is how many there are for axes). It took a while to come up with all those names, and they're not all that explanatory. Like how powerful is a Jade Amulet? Well, it gives +5 or 6 to your magic, and 15 or 20% to your spell damage. Almost as good as a Ruby one! Nobody will ever remember that (I had to look it up myself), but at least having all those names gives it variety.
I also added a whole new category of equipment - magic lenses for your glasses. You combine them in pairs to get different magical effects. Lenses vary in rarity, and thus of course power, so the combo you make can be as weak as +1 Stamina all the way up to ... good things you'll have to discover.
Another major change just yesterday was to Stamina and Life. I moved it to gaining 2 Life per level instead of 1, so I beefed up the enemies accordingly. That will make it much harder to reduce all enemies to just doing 1 damage per hit, without making you die too much more easily, and it will also mean the beginning of the game is easier, which has been a problem. Lots of dying in the beginning. For Stamina, it's no longer limited by your current life. As clever as that was, it made it too punishing - when you got injured and were close to death, you also couldn't attack very much. So your Stamina has its own maximum now, and you lose Stamina when you get hit (not max Stamina, just current). It's kind of like a non-magical Magic meter, fueling your attacks. It reloads much more quickly than Magic does, but you go through it a lot faster too, since you attack so often. It's also easier to upgrade its rate of recharge. Oh, and the other big thing to Stamina now, that makes it a lot more interesting than it was (I'm kind of a statistics geek) - the Stamina cost of attacking is now equal to the damage of your attack (plus whatever extra costs your skills require). So what happens is, you may not want to use the most powerful weapon available, because you just won't be able to swing it enough. But later, as you upgrade your stamina amount, stamina recharge, and your Axe Mastery (or Throwing... the skills that decrease the cost of attacking in your chosen way), the bigger weapons become a more reasonable choice. I'm pretty happy with that system.
Okay, so anyway, back to the screenshot, there's new interface trickery! Note that the level name has moved over to the right side, and now all 3 meters are on the left side. And small! What's that about? Well, for one, Sol insisted, endlessly, that the Magic meter had to be over with the other meters. So there's that. But also, see how the life meter is much taller than the other two? That's a weird new thing I invented. The lower a meter gets, the taller it gets. When your life is full, it's as skinny as those other two. As you get injured, it gets bigger, making it stand out to your eye more (it also flashes when very low, because it's important). The idea is simple: you don't need to see your meter if it's full, but if you're almost out, it's important information. I think it works pretty well, but it's only been in since yesterday. We'll see. I've never heard of this idea before, so I better patent it or something, and start collecting royalties. I think it's pretty clever.
So there you go, with a highly technical and really long Sneak Peek. More to come someday.