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A beautiful 2D sci-fi metroidvania about love, hope, and redemption. Gameplay influenced by Super Metroid and Dark Souls.
Created by

Matt White

3,014 backers pledged $54,007 to help bring this project to life.

First Look: Ghost Song gameplay

37 likes

The video link is down below. First, a call to action: 

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Please vote for Ghost Song on Steam Greenlight!

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I'll lead off by apologizing for neglecting the updates a bit. Honestly, I've been through a few transitions in terms of how I'm doing the game, and, for a time, I wasn't sure what to update with that would be concrete.

I'm gonna try to get you caught up on what's been going on. If you don't care, just scroll down and look for the youtube link. :)

Over the past months I've done things like evaluate and re-evaluate the combat mechanics and pace of the game -- Eventually coming back to the idea that the combat should be pretty fast, with twitchy dash moves, as portrayed in the original Kickstarter videos. It was always a challenge figuring out how to properly balance this, but with a little more experience comes new ideas and new approaches to things. The balance is in a pretty good spot now -- You can dash about pretty easily with "L1" and "R1" (or equivalent) buttons, avoiding damage, but doing so costs "armor" -- There's a resource in the game tentatively called "armor" -- But in effect it's more like armor and stamina together. It regenerates on its own, it's used to defend against damage and also consumed by your abilities. You can be fast and aggressive, but, as you'll see, so can enemies. The game is challenging.

Also not discussed in updates was the engine switch. I know I talked a lot about Unity during the Kickstarter period, and, indeed, an early Unity build of the game exists. The problem was it was just far too hard to be hands on. As someone trying to design a game down to exacting details, with a very specific vision, I longed for the freedom I enjoyed back in the early days with Stencyl. To those of you who aren't acquainted with me, I'm primarily an artist and designer. I just lack the knowledge, experience, or even the disposition to program a game on my own without the assistance of a scripting tool.

Some months ago Stencyl made an internal library change, from NME, to Open FL. As a subscriber, I have access to beta and nightly builds, so at some point I decided to try some experiments in the new Stencyl engine to see what was possible. I also reached out to Jon, creator of Stencyl, who has been very helpful.

Suffice it to say, after much testing and discussion internally, I decided to move the game back to Stencyl as a Windows/Mac/Linux release. The game looks and plays well, and my increased control and freedom compared to designing second-hand has improved productivity greatly. This wasn't a decision made quickly or rashly, it was made in the best interest of the game and my own sanity.

For historical purposes or for more details, you can check the original announcement I made about this matter on the Stencyl forums.

Onto the video. When it came time to decide how to go about the video and what to include, there were many ways to go about it. I ultimately decided against a tightly edited approach, because I wanted to show you all what it's like to play the game. For that, I really needed one long unedited gameplay take.

I'm one of those people who has been bandying about the "Dark Souls inspired" tag since the beginning. Super Metroid and Dark Souls. I think the Metroid influences have always been self evident, but with this video I hope to show you that I really meant it on both counts. 

This is a love letter to my favorite games of all time.

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VIDEO LINK

Please understand that while I have put effort into the presentation of the game, it is still very much a work in progress, and I am quite acutely aware of some minor sound glitches and a couple of ugly placeholder sounds. Please don't bust my chops too hard over it. :) That said, let me know what you think!

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House cleaning:

Ghost Song website has been revamped to be more useful and less of an eyesore.

Heart Forth, Alicia This is a game made by a guy I've talked to on Skype over the past four months or so. I've followed the progress of his game and I am delighted to see that his Kickstarter is doing phenomenally well. He doesn't need my help at all, but I'm happy to give it all the same. This is a quality 'vania by a serious person, and soon persons. If you already backed GS and feel the intense urge to back something else, then I strongly recommend it. I've backed it as well.

Greenlight As mentioned, Ghost Song is now on Greenlight. Please vote for it so we can get this Steam thing finalized.

Stencyl The video you see is of the current build of Ghost Song, which was done in Stencyl. If you are a visually oriented person or new to programming it might be just the ticket.

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Thanks again, guys, and feel free to hit me with your questions or comments, I'll field them as best I can. On the extremely off chance that someone will ask about XYZ console port, I have no information yet but it remains something I'm interested in!

Matt

Comments

    1. Creator Kyle Ryan on May 8, 2014

      I have tried a lot of things to figure out what the 3252 means? I typed it into the website url; many different ways. I looked for the numbers in pictures and gifs, updates here, and other places you have discussed the game that I could internet. 0.nothing? Your number puzzle is driving me crazy! I see that kind of thing and I have to figure it out. I do not see any bread crumbs. You said you thought it would be easy, no its not some kind of cypher. Where to look? I like Easter egg hunts :)

    2. Creator Tiago Ferreira on May 4, 2014

      The graphics look great and the whole game style delivers a very unique aesthetic experience.
      Something very minor that I kind of dislike is the fact that the main character always seems to be looking down, specially once moving (running, dashing, et,c). I think if you tweak a little bit with the helmet angle when the character moves, this should disappear (think that when you run you move your torso forward, but you also tilt your neck a little up so you can still look forward)

    3. Creator Michael Flowers on May 2, 2014

      I love what I'm seeing, keep doing what you are doing.

    4. Creator Matt White on April 30, 2014

      @kyle thanks :D re. the scenes, at no time are you removed from control, if you want to walk away or whatever you can. *generally* no scene is forced

    5. Creator Matt White on April 30, 2014

      I'm experimenting with new camera logic. check it out. the circle represents the camera's target that it moves towards. http://gfycat.com/InfamousSecretAsianlion

    6. Creator Kyle Ryan on April 30, 2014

      I thought the "scenes" were fine. I like that for the most part they are optional. This will definitely help when replaying the game! I did not have a problem with the lighting? The ambiance seems perfect to me? Maybe there can be a filter that can be turned on or off? I have no Idea how difficult something like that would be?
      I do not fell like I need to be able to see the enemy, however, because of the element of strategy in the combat, having some way to keep track of damage when enemies are off-screen would help. At first I was not sure if I liked the character not looking up to fire. If you decide not to change this, it is kind of bad ass. These are the only things I can think of for now! Thanks! Super excited about the game :)

    7. Creator Justin Schuber on April 30, 2014

      I think the game looks great, no real complaints about the visuals. I just remember you saying you wanted to up the visuals from the Flash version but if the video is pretty much the final visual look then I am more than fine with it :)

    8. Creator Matt White on April 30, 2014

      BSL -- all feedback like this is taken into consideration, my one little response in my own defense would be that the game has a more detailed, luminescent quality on a big screen in real life than really comes across in a youtube video. The darkness comment is definitely something I'll be thinking about, as I've heard it a few times, but I also have to think about the full picture and what my own experiences are telling me.

    9. Creator BSL on April 30, 2014

      Looking good Matt, one personal critique, the ambient light. When you visit the first NPC he's got lights on his suit and yet the "darkness" filter is still in full effect. I'd prefer not having a fake fog of war in the game as most 2D titles that use that suffer for it as well (see Moon Diver on PSN/XBLA) Even Metroid had sections of darkness, but mostly that was temporary (see Wrecked Ship in Super Metroid).

      Anyway your call, but I hope that some of this is considered, that boss fight looked cool, just would have been nice to actually see the boss, otherwise I'll have to play with the in game brightness cranked up to actually see what I'm doing. ;-)

    10. Creator Matt White on April 30, 2014

      based on feedback I'm definitely thinking about camera logic lately and what should be done to tweak it, for what it's worth.

    11. Creator Matt White on April 30, 2014

      thanks -- I am glad you seem to get what I'm going for with how the NPCs are implemented. When recording the game for the video I made sure to twitch around a bit while NPCs were talking, because I wanted to demonstrate to everyone that there is not (except during very specific circumstances where it makes sense) any freezing of player controls when NPCs are speaking. You can walk away while they're talking, or in the case of Adam, you can ignore his orders and just keep walking towards him, in which case he'll attack (hey, you had fair warning). This approach was important to me as it makes the NPCs feel like an ambient part of the world rather than something the game is making or expecting you to do.

    12. Creator Shevai Asan on April 30, 2014

      I personally LOVED the conversations. I enjoyed that the world around them rather 'stopped', they stand out as small set pieces and help tell the story of whats happening since you've awoken(and well before then).

      You can always hold the character in place and basically say "OK, cutscene/story time", but during a boss fight or an engagement; I often feel like I need to get ready to mash buttons during the 'cutscene', which sometimes makes me feel like I'm going to either miss the story if I accidently cancel the cutscene, or I'm gonna get hurt or miss out on extra damage if I don't try to mash some buttons.

      I like the way they flowed, and you even had an option thrown in there; which was awesome.

      I loved the un-edited trailer, and your mention on Stencyl has actually brought it to my attention; I've been banging my head against a wall trying to learn code itself and my eyes just glaze over like they did in math class everytime I try and do tutorials.

      Great video, and the music got me really excited. Glad I backed this within 10 minutes of first reading the kickstarter; keep up the great work, you're on the right track!

    13. Creator Jacob Chambliss on April 30, 2014

      Now Betaaaaa!!!!!!

    14. Creator Sleet on April 29, 2014

      Thanks for the update! The game looks beautiful, and getting the skinny on how everything's been going so far was fascinating. Best of luck with Stencyl!

    15. Creator Paul Walker on April 29, 2014

      So looks good and ditto to what most everyone else is saying.

      It would be nice to see enemies a little bit farther away. Perhaps pan a bit to the left when running right and visa versa.

      Or a manual pan might be good too.

      Also, the tentical attacks go really fast. It would be nice if they were slowed down a bit to see the animation a bit better. Or the last frame holds for a second or two longer.

    16. Creator Daniel Silveira on April 29, 2014

      It's looking pretty good, good job man.

      I seriously thought that last NPC would block your progress before sending you on a fetch quest of some sort, but you actually gave the option to face him head on. Giving the player the option is proof of your good design sensibilities.

      One complaint I have though, is about the general darkness, which severely limits the field of view - it seems you can only see your enemies when they're literally just a few steps ahead of you, which really harms the player's reaction time and kind of defeats the point of having long range weaponry. I know you're going for atmosphere, but maybe you can try adjusting the lighting a bit to reach a sweet spot where gameplay isn't compromised.

      Everything else's great though (art, animation, combat mechanics, sound) and I'm sure Ghostsong is on its way to be a success - it really looks top quality. Keep it up!

    17. Creator Greg Kinsella on April 29, 2014

      So glad I backed this project, it looks even better than I expected. Love the Dark Souls style NPC interactions and the art design and sprites look fantastic. Can't wait until this is released!

    18. Creator Matt White on April 29, 2014

      thanks guys, and thank you anthony for constructive feedback, I do pay attention to suggestions and criticisms and am open to learning from them. :)

    19. Creator Joseph Huckleberry on April 29, 2014

      The amount of detail you manage to pack into these encounters is pretty freaking awesome. In the original pitch video, I definitely got the Metroid influence, but was having trouble seeing the Dark Souls, after seeing this, it clearly shines through. Metroid aesthetics and Dark Souls style storytelling are like peanut butter and jelly, and I never would have guessed! Keep up the hard work Matt, judging from the super positive response you've received on Greenlight so far, it looks as if you're set to become a very popular guy! Congrats and I can't wait to play the final game; here's hoping we can see some console ports in the future as well! :D

    20. Creator Demonkyubi (Chris Nelson) on April 29, 2014

      Amazing video, looks so good in action and the audio was excellent.
      Really look forward to playing this :)

    21. Creator Anthony Newman on April 29, 2014

      Some feedback:

      Looks beautiful. Great animation and atmosphere.

      The dialogue sequences are way too long, and very little happens. Consider zooming in and having at least some minor animations to fill the time, but definitely shorten these sequences overall.

      If you are damaging an enemy offscreen, it'd be great to have some hit indicator. Consider showing the numbers at the side of the screen the enemy is on if you're damaging an offscreen enemy.

      The dash looks really awesome

      I wish I was collecting something from these dead enemies to progress or upgrade my character... Could be something biological (like in monster hunter) or some kind of energy or something like Metroid.

      Great work so far, keep it up :)

    22. Creator Nathan Hill on April 29, 2014

      What was the "3252" at the end of the youtube video supposed to be? Needs some polish to be sure, but for a work in progress this is INCREDIBLE. Keep it up man!

    23. Creator Kyle Ryan on April 29, 2014

      Atmosphere and subtlety are just not in games much any more. It is nice to see how it is going to play! I did not think it was going to have so much voice work so that is cool that even smaller NPC's will have a voice and give to the story.

      I love the stamina/armor idea. It adds a level of complexity to a game where you could just shoot them dead. It will be fun to manage and think about combat!

      Nothing really looks like Ghost Song! I am more excited to play this game than anything. Thanks for not spoiling anything also. Hoping to see the spin jump return, it looked good in the original video!

      Thanks! I tell everyone about Ghost Song!

    24. Creator ExecutionGlitch on April 29, 2014

      Okay, this looks phenomenal. Great job! How do you feel about Let's Plays? I'd love to play this one on my channel once it's finished. Regardless, I'm really looking forward to the finished game. Good luck and keep up the good work! :)

    25. Creator Brandon Roediger on April 29, 2014

      How will the fact that you are now using Stencyl effect possible console release in the future?

    26. Creator zacH on April 29, 2014

      Matt, the video is amazing!! And I really did get a "matroid meets dark souls" vibe, in the best way.

      - I think you may want to rework the UI at some point... I like how metroid-y it is now, but it seems like a more Dark Souls approach would be good, with multiple bars that are ever-present. having a stamina/armor bar is a great idea, but it should definitely always be there, and be a little more sleek in appearance. Likewise, it might be a good idea to give your current weapon a bar, rather than a simple numerical value.... especially if it recharges like I'm seeing in the video. I think it'll be much easier to keep track of that out of the corner of your eye.
      - I like seeing the numbers fly off of enemies when you hit them, but have you also considered giving them floating meters (when hit) instead? This could be less busy in a positive way, as I think people can then focus on the new bullet-spray effect without the numbers getting in the way. Also a bit Dark Souls-y. :P
      - you should see if Disasterpiece would do a track for the game! Obviously you already have a composer, but I think he's just so great at this sort of score. Between FEZ and the upcoming Hyper Light Drifter, he's clearly capable of the moody tracks you'll be using. Think about it?
      - who is doing voice work? Need any extra help? :) I would love to contribute and could do a pretty good range (though I don't have any samples, I could certainly record some stuff and send it your way). What you have so far sounds pretty good, though I thought the first soldier could have sounded a bit more wounded/quiet, and the robot could have been a bit more animated/manic near the end. I would assume that like everything else, the voice work is a WIP as well... it did do wonders for the DS vibe, for sure.

      If you need another tester, please let me know! I really love doing QA, can test on windows and linux, and try to be very detailed in my feedback (hopefully apparent). Keep up the great work, man!

    27. Creator Roje Felix on April 29, 2014

      Regardless, I support you in everything you do. This game looks amazing. I'll buy the PC version, but would really prefer if it came out on Wii U (wink wink) ;) hell, I'd buy both versions.

    28. Creator Michael Mc on April 29, 2014

      Awesome =) !!!

    29. Creator Matt White on April 29, 2014

      thanks guys :)

      @justin there's no need to pull back the scale. you can manage memory into atlases in stencyl. and as for visual flare, just watch the video and decide if you think it looks good enough or not. some things about the visuals may change or improve over time, but that's more or less the jist of it.

      @wii u people. this could actually happen. I've heard whispers about an open FL console export, but honestly, I have no real information yet. beyond that, if everything goes well, I could just have the game ported. don't fret too bad.

    30. Creator Thomas Happ on April 29, 2014

      Oops, Stencyl has a 'y'.

    31. Creator Thomas Happ on April 29, 2014

      Going with the development environment that makes it easiest for you is the right choice. Long iteration times can destroy projects! Once it's complete on stencil you can look at porting it (Or maybe Jon will have Stencil itself ported by then).

    32. Creator ARustyFirePlace on April 29, 2014

      So no WiiU?

    33. Creator Justin Schuber on April 29, 2014

      Hey man, great video on the game, it is looking pretty good! :)

      However with switching from Unity to this Stencyl engine, is the game going to become somewhat less in depth? It does look like a nice object oriented language and all but I'm somewhat concerned that the game's scale might be pulled back but again, I don't know much about this engine.

      Also does this mean the game is going to have less visual flair and effects to it as well? Please let me know when you have the time to answer. Anyway, still looks pretty damn awesome so keep it up and I will for sure vote for your game on Greenlight!

    34. Creator Evan Magid on April 29, 2014

      What does this mean in regards to console versions of the game (specifically Wii U)? I backed the game with the intention of playing on a console, so the move away from Unity is concerning for me. Regardless I am really looking forward to the game, it looks great. Best of luck with the title!

    35. Creator Gamemaniac3434 on April 29, 2014

      If the recent deluge of crap onto steam is any indication, getting a game that actually looks to be good on there shouldnt be hard. Also Vita. Sorry, its an obsession. Though they are very indie friendly right now.