Wow, I've been neglecting this blog more than I thought. Things are still progressing; I've just taken to posting most updates on Twitter lately. But anyway:
I'm currently working on a sidequest/minigame for Emerald Shores called "Bootworm Racing." Here's how it works.
If you find the secret exit in level 2-3: Ice Castle, you open up a path to this island that looks like a Bootworm. This island, Bootworm Island, is home to a farm and a series of race tracks.
When you get here, you'll have a sassy pet Bootworm. You can bring him items that you find in the regular levels, which grant him new powers and teach him new spells.
And then you can take him to race in the Bootworm Races!
If you place first in all five races, you'll unlock something useful for your house.
This is just an in-development preview, and there are a few things I need to add to the UI in the racing minigame, but that's the gist of how it all works.