Umaiki Games

Santria Retrospect 2023

Another year done!

Dear reader, welcome to the Santria Retrospect 2023! In beginning of 2022, I stepped back in my involvement in Cheekynauts Entertainment and Moonshell Island and went on a one-year hiatus. In beginning of 2023, I decided to return to Santria again. Sam is still helping with Portraits occasionally!

Santria Retrospect 2023

2023 marks the eighth year of development. I learned coding and pixel art from scratch and reworked the project constantly because of that. In 2020 a closed pre-alpha vertical slice demo without audio was released, but otherwise mostly tinkering and sandboxing was done. Returning after a much needed hiatus, the big questions were: how will Santria’s development continue and will it be released before my retirement? I decided to focus development with an ambitious goal for 2023: finish all sprites and maps, so next year can be under the banner of implementation, story and cutscenes. Did I succeed? Let’s go!


I had to adjust, streamline and finally freeze the game’s scope to achieve my 2023 goal. Locations I loved but didn’t fit into the main story were cut off. In the end, the game contains now the following five blocks:

  • Pine Falls (Quest Hub) + Santria Co. Silver Mines (1st Dungeon)
  • Ravenheim (Quest Hub) + Ravenstone Mansion (2nd Dungeon)
  • Seaside (Quest Hub) + Antarctic Expedition (3rd Dungeon)
  • Sewers (Quest Hub) + Secret Laboratory (4th Dungeon)
  • ??? (Quest Hub) + ??? (5th Dungeon)

With this clear plan in mind, I started to fill the missing art pieces. Pine Falls including the high school was already mostly finished (reworking it right now in my last weeks of 2023) and the first dungeon (Silver Mines) was designed in the first half of 2021. I decided to restart with a secret favorite of mine, Ravenstone Mansion!

Ravenstone Mansion (41 rooms, January - April 2023)

The winding and gloomy corridors of “Unterwegs in Düsterburg”’s Rabenstein exerted a great fascination on me. The mysterious castle of the 2003 german RPG Maker hit is a self-contained episode of dark romance. I really liked how exploration and investigation unraveled the dark mystery of the castle, away from the main storyline itself.

Santria’s Ravenstone Mansion is a tongue-in-cheek homage, enriched with pop culture references to ghost and vampire stories. The overconfident count has invited the hero troupe to his castle, assuming easy prey. He finds that the troupe is more lucky than good… Enjoy the following pictures!

The Count introduces himself.

Ravenstone Dinning Hall. Perfect mix of food and feet activity!

The Armory. Can you recognize all weapon references?

Entering the spooky basement of Ravenstone Manor. The red liquid looks suspicious...

No secret alchemy laboratory without Craft-O-Tron 3000!

Santria Co. Secret Laboratory (99 rooms, May - July 2023)

Santria Co. is a carbonated soft drink manufacturer with a dark secret, perfectly serving everyone’s favorite evil inc. trope. Watch out for the CEO! Santria Co.’s headquarter is not only fulfilling my video game guilty pleasure of entering office buildings and snooping on corporate drones but contains also an elaborated secret laboratory in the basement. Cool robots, aliens and otherworldy technology included!

Entering the twisted secret laboratory!

The reactor is not only at centre of laboratory but also our main objective.

The reactor room is the centerpiece of SantriaCo’s secret laboratory. The constrainted hedron is responsible for the whole energy supply and all laboratory sections in the building are branching from here. Solving the reactor’s mystery is key to succeed and leave this tech-heavy dungeon.

Dramatic situation unfolds at the beverage production! The liquids don't look healthy, tho!

Exploring Santria’s secret basement is fun! One of my many highlights is the beverage production hall with bubbly, healthly colored storage tanks! I could not resist to include a “safe” metal grid walkway other them! Get the punch card, hero!

In the depths of the laboratory, we can discover rooms like the prototype showcase.

Santria Co.’s secret basement has a showroom with different mechanical prototypes and their evolution. I like to use museum-like environments to expose a bit of worldbuilding and flavor texts. Also, curious adventurers might use this information to aid them in fights against these prototypes.

On the other hand, the UFO is another “subtle” jigsaw of Santria Co.’s secret endeavour with alien technology.

Weird and scary secrets awaits us...

The alien research department was a fun challenge to design. Do you remember the one season finale of The X-files where real alien evidence was found in a secret laboratory? What a mind blast, aliens are sooo cool! Sometimes (read: everytimes) I love to take advantage of Santria’s modern setting and weave in some cool pop culture references. Can you guess all egg references?

In the end, the complete Santria Co. complex covers 99 (!) rooms, this is really mind-boggling for me! Quite fitting for the most important dungeon in the game. I am already hype to watch the players discover all the secrets!

Antarctic Expedition (27 rooms, July - August 2023)

The antarctic is a big inspiration for me. The fascination started with the famous french movie “March of the Penguins” and continued with John Carpenter’s “The Thing” and Lovecraft’s “Mountains of Madness”… well, at least the setting is connecting them! The vast frozen grounds have their own lonely, mysterious vibes. Undiscovered spaces, allowing humankind to be still pioneers. Scientists looking for anwers how living creatures can survive these harsh conditions… kind of romantic, eh?

Our trustworthy ship LIMBO helped us to reach antarctica!

Investigation the somehow abandoned station... here the hangar.

I was obsessed drawing cute traffic cones, pallets and barrels. Being able to translate modern objects into pixel art usually used by fantasy setting games is making me unreasonably happy!

That’s it! No more spoilers since I want to keep the expedition als mysterious as possible!

Metro/Sewers (17 rooms, September - November 2023)

I like trains. My favorite Porcupine Tree song was “Trains” for a long time. As a teenager, I shoot profile photos at the tracks. Now, i am happy to create an abandoned metro station for Santria! Please enjoy!

Pine Falls Metro Station is not as abandoned as assumed. Who are these people?

A bunch of school kids fighting a big evil enterprise like Santria Co.? Even for me, this trope is a bit too cliché and shallow. Therefore, the Pine Resistance was included as a underground fraction to counter Santria Co. power and be an ally for our protagonist. The abandoned metro passage was converted to the secret HQ of this mysterious fraction!

Sewer area with high water level.

Sewer area with low water level.

Pine Fall’s metro station is connected to the sewers. Sewers are a fascinating location, giving a modern setting RPG the opportunity of a spookey dungeon equivalent. Please enjoy an old mockup from 2019, the foundation for the areas revealed next time! Crocodiles may or may not be included!

Smart use of the water control mechanic is allowing you to traverse through the maze-like tunnels and pipes… and sometimes you will find some secret red buttons to DON’T press!

??? (15 rooms, August - September 2023)

Sorry, no spoilers! But finished, too!

Conclusion: Phew, I hope you enjoyed the ride as much as i did! In total, 199 rooms/maps were created this year and right now I am polishing some very early sprites to match the current art style. This year’s goal was surprisingly reached, so I am more than hype to start 2024! Bibisco will be the software to track story and dialogues and GameMaker will be dusted off to continue with cutscenes and gameplay!

Social Media: Usually I end my retrospect with a twitter follower diagram, showing the growth. Considering this year, I decided to stop posting on twitter. I am humbly thankful for all the great folks and opportunities I encountered on this platform.

I will happily connect with you on mastodon (, tumblr ( or bluesky ( Also, visit the Umaiki Games website (you are already on it, eh?)!

I wish you a merry christmas and a happy new year 2024, Schotti