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A beautiful 2D sci-fi metroidvania about love, hope, and redemption. Gameplay influenced by Super Metroid and Dark Souls.
A beautiful 2D sci-fi metroidvania about love, hope, and redemption. Gameplay influenced by Super Metroid and Dark Souls.
3,014 backers pledged $54,007 to help bring this project to life.

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Steam Keys for Beta Build to start going out this Monday, the 10th

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Sorry this has taken so long. I apologize for constantly underestimating or miscalculating time frames. Making this game is pretty time consuming. :)

In the hopes of keeping expectations in line, I'm going to lay the ground work a bit in this post.

 

What the Beta is and what it isn't. 

What it is: A functioning preview of the game, a fairly (but not totally) polished slice that comprises roughly 1/6 of the total map size and takes place early in the game. This portion isn't totally insubstantial, and contains a number of secrets, power ups, items, weapons, and NPCs to find. Some more secret than others (some much more). While it's only a portion of the game, it's enough to impart the overall design and gameplay philosophy of the game. You'll get a picture of what it's like to play the game, but not the full picture. This is also a minimal-spoilers build in terms of story information.

What it isn't: A full tour of what it's like to play the game. There are many important, defining powers and mechanics that aren't found until later, in parts of the game not covered in this build. This also isn't by any measure a finished product -- It contains placeholder assets in some instances. Some areas are a bit less polished than they ought to be, and certain elements such as dialogue are subject to change. There's also a known issue where the game can occasionally, at random, crash when switching to a new area. This is an elusive problem with the engine and remains under investigation. I hope to learn more about this through your participation. 

Unfortunately, this also isn't currently a build that includes Mac or Linux users. I'll expand on this more in a bit.

Stuff to know

  • If you're participating in the beta, we'll be discussing the game on the Steam Ghost Song forums. Here I'll be listening to your reactions as well as any feedback, suggestions, or bug reports. here's not much there yet, but hopefully once the beta is distributed we'll have some activity. I look forward to hearing from everyone.
  • There is no NDA. Once the keys are sent out, you can freely discuss the game, show videos, stream, whatever. I have nothing to hide. Obviously, it's forbidden that you attempt to distribute the game -- But showing/telling is absolutely fine.
  • If you're not a beta backer, but are interested in becoming one, it's still possible by backing the appropriate tier through Paypal at this link. When making this decision please keep in mind everything I said above in the "what it is/what it isn't" section. If you backed a smaller amount in the past and want to combine amounts, this is perfectly fine, just email me with your info at twotimingpete@gmail.com and I'll get you set up.
  • Right now, the Beta is only available to Windows users. I deeply apologize to anyone who was hoping for a Mac or Linux version already. I am basically developing this game on my own, and will need help from others fleshing those aspects out later. I know how annoying this might be if you don't have a windows machine, and ask only that you bear with me.
  • The game supports gamepads. It is developed on, and to some extent assumes the use of Xbox 360 and Xbox One gamepads. If you have either of these, I can confirm that the game will work perfectly on them right away. If you have another gamepad, it may or may not work perfectly, and I'd be interested in getting your feedback if you have other gamepads. It is also possible to play on a keyboard but far from optimal. This is a controller style game, with more buttons at use than are comfortable to operate on a keyboard.

Beta updates

The beta will probably be updated a few times. I'll feel it out. I do plan to add another wing of the map onto it a bit later on, and I may update it any time I want to have you guys help me test something new.

What I'm asking you to do right now!! 

Because it looks as though I'll be pretty much distributing the beta keys manually, it will be a somewhat belabored process next week. If you are actively participating and want in on the action ASAP, *please* send me an email right away -- as soon as you read this -- to twotimingpete@gmail.com with the subject "I'm in the beta" and in the body include your kickstarter username and email. Alternatively, if you backed directly by Paypal or through the Humble Widget, then please mention that in the email as well. People who email me will be the first I get to once I'm distributing the keys, after that point I'll work on tracking down the rest of you who didn't.

Thank you

There's a long road behind and ahead of me, and I'm looking forward to you guys getting a first look at the game. I hope it doesn't crash too much. XD I look forward to, with your participation, making this game the best it can possibly be in the months to come. Thank you for giving me this opportunity.

Matt

October update

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Not sure if I've been properly keeping up with monthly updates, but I think I'm at least in the ballpark. :)

Going to give you guys a couple of quick clips to check out from the upcoming demo -- Which has suffered some delays due to me being bad at predicting things as well as various technical challenges (in fact, it just may crash on some of you guys once you try it, and if that's the case please don't hate me). I'm kind of pushing the Stencyl engine beyond what it was originally imagined for and so we're solving problems as they come up.

Some examples of effects I've been working on improving:

(note -- just to clarify, all of the videos here were captured from gif making software and thus have reduced fidelity and reduced framerate. The actual game, in real time, runs at 60 frames per second on most relatively decent PCs)

http://www.gfycat.com/SerpentineOrneryHornshark

http://www.gfycat.com/YearlyKlutzyGuineapig

Here's a look at the "flower up" system, whereby incremental stat increases are made by finding various special flowers (which can alternatively be fed to your companion, Dizzy, once you have him with you...)

http://www.gfycat.com/FortunateHonestAracari

Also have done things like sharpen up the background at the ship site.

http://www.gfycat.com/ImmaterialExaltedCygnet

Finally, I'm going to blaze some new territory, in celebration of my heavy reliance on animated gifs to show the game, here is a gif trailer for the demo. I had to reduce it quite a bit to extend its length. All of the things in this gif will be in the demo, along with a lot more. It's not a tiny demo and comprises a fairly healthy chunk of map.

GIF TRAILER!

I have a few more things to do and then the initial beta demo will be ready for some people to try out. This initial demo may be rough and may crash on some of you, since I'm still investigating some issues. After that point I plan to add a bit more content (I sliced off a couple areas of the demo for the initial release in order to let people test it sooner) and make other fixes as needed.

Thanks again, everyone, for all of your support and for your insane levels of patience. I recognize that this whole process is taking longer than I initially imagined, but I'm quite pleased with the results, particularly when comparing them to the original pitch and I hope you will be too.

Matt

Quick update + Band Saga Kickstarter

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Hey guys. Development goes well and I'm on track to have a demo build for beta backers soon -- Mainly just working on graphics to fill in some of the more plain areas that will be included in the first demo.

I wanted to talk real quick about NPCs -- More specifically, one NPC. Her name is Gili. I've not mentioned her or shown her so far, but she is one of the most important characters in the game.

Gili
Gili

Generally, the NPCs you meet in Ghost Song are a bit strange or even aloof, often speaking of vague mysteries. It's kind of the "mood" of the game, as most people stuck here on Lupoto and managed to survive have become just a bit strange. Gili, however, is a bit different -- She speaks plainly and is entirely relatable. She is the survivor of a relatively recent shipwreck and her story is closely involved with that of the player. Also unlike most other NPCs, Gili takes a more active role in the game and isn't relegated to being a piece of talking scenery you occasionally run into.. But more on that later. (Just to clarify, this isn't a co-op thing, this is purely a single player game, don't worry, :)

Band Saga

There's something else I wanted to show you guys real quick. I am generally loathe to badger you guys, my backers, with a lot of promotional stuff, but given the circumstances I wanted to make a rare exception.

My friend Roger is the composer for Ghost Song. He has made all of the music in the game so far and the music in the trailers. If you've forgotten, here are a couple of examples:

Ghost Song: Bill's Theme
Ghost Song: Ghost Theme

During the years I have known him, he has always had a pet project around that he's been tinkering with. Though it's taken a few forms over time, it's always had a focus on being a game where people can easily make and share music -- And have it tie into the gameplay. During recent months it has really come together and taken shape as a colorful action roguelike game, where the levels are generated dynamically by music. It's a bit hard to explain in text, but it makes a lot of sense if you just see it yourself.

It's called Band Saga.

KICKSTARTER LINK

I'd appreciate it if you guys would check it out, and if it's something you're interested in, consider backing it. Its estimated release date is just around the corner (Jan 2015), so if funded, you won't have to wait that long to play it.

Also keep in mind I have no direct personal involvement in this project and gain nothing from it. Just trying to help a friend.

Talk to you soon!

Matt

New Gameplay Video

27 likes

Hello!

I've posted a new gameplay video. It was done in a similar way as the previous video -- That is to say, minimal explanation. Show rather than tell. It's unedited, and the location was chosen carefully so as to show a number of different things in under 10 minutes.

VIDEO LINK

(If you like the video, please share it with your friends!)

Fun trivia about the video -- Since I do these all in one take, it can take a few tries to get it right. I actually died once on that last battle, ending an otherwise perfect take (I could make myself invincible, but that wouldn't be an authentic video if my health went below zero and I didn't die). Sometimes the fights in this game can be tough, but the goal is the same as from the beginning -- Tough but fair. Challenging but not cruel.

The game may have a bit of a learning curve. If you play it as if it were Mega Man or Metroid, you'll probably find yourself dying a lot. Enemies often have projectiles, and these projectiles do not crawl across the screen. They are fast. You also may find yourself dying a lot if you like to run headlong into situations. Caution is usually the best way to approach unfamiliar territory.

The reason for this is because the combat encounters were balanced around the core controls and mechanics of the player, which are characterized by a high degree of speed and evasiveness (as you'll see demonstrated in this video). The player cannot sustain a lot of hits, particularly if those hits are made in quick succession (if your armor/stam bar is above half, your health won't go below 1, protecting you from ever having a single hit kill you). You must learn to quickly manage your resources in real time, and take advantage of your dash moves in particular in order to avoid being hit. This may sound daunting when described, but once you start playing it -- if you don't mind my saying so -- it just feels right. I have a high degree of confidence at this point in the basic gameplay mechanics and controls.

In the video you will be able to observe some new things. For instance, the map system is now fully implemented into the game. You cannot map rooms simply by walking into them, nor does the map display your exact coordinates within a given room. Rather, the map is pieced together by finding chunks of map data located within capsules. It should be noted that much of the game world can never be mapped, even if you find every capsule. The design goal here is that you have some ability to map and therefore have some frame of reference as to your whereabouts, but just enough that when you go "off map" (which you frequently will) it feels just that much more suspenseful.

You'll also note perhaps the single most important change since last video -- The camera view. Previously, the camera was simply too close in. I expanded the boundaries of the screen to make everything more fun to play. This allows fast action to play out in a way that feels a bit more fair. 

Also new is the ability to influence the camera's positioning by pushing the right analog stick around, which is what you'll see me frequently doing while playing in this video. It becomes second nature.

Gamepad

Currently, here in the ol' Ghost Song basement, the 360 gamepad is what is used to play the game during development. I haven't really tackled the challenge of getting different types of controllers working perfectly yet, but, suffice it to say, if you have a 360 gamepad everything will be perfect. Plug and play.

Here's how the buttons are mapped:

A: jump
B: interact
X: cannon shot
Y: special shot

Lb: dash left
Rb: dash right

LT: hold for forced diagonal aim
RT/L3: cycle special weapons

Left stick/dpad: movement
Right stick: influence camera
R3: reset camera

Back: toggle map overlay

House cleaning

Thanks for checking out the video. I apologize for not having a date for release yet, but trust me when I say that I'm working hard on this game and it's center stage in my life right now.

The Wii U question remains the same as before. I really want to do it, but whether this happens depends entirely on technical stuff. To wit, I've heard some rumblings about an Open FL (Open FL is the engine Stencyl, and thus Ghost Song, is based on) console export being worked on, but I have nothing concrete yet.

If you have any questions, let me have it and I'll do my best to answer. Thanks again to everyone who has backed. I really appreciate this rare opportunity I've been given.

Music: Roger Hicks
Voice of Saymund: Ryan Cooper

Please follow me on twitter if you haven't already:
www.twitter.com/twotimingpete

Thanks,

Matt

Progress update + New media

33 likes

There's no beta demo yet, I apologize if this notification made you think so. But I feel like it's nice to keep you guys at least somewhat appraised of what I've been up to.

As mentioned before, I'm working on doing a new video soon that demonstrates some of the progress and changes the game has undergone. This will be a more casual video, where I'll play the game and talk about it. Basically I just need to finish up a few more assets before I can record it.

In it, we'll see more of the new screen orientation, we'll also see some new enemies and learn more about how the map system works. I'll also give a rundown on how the game controls on a gamepad.

Speaking of gamepad, it was only in the past few weeks that I've gotten this working properly. The game's controls were designed using an Xbox 360 gamepad, and the controls map perfectly onto it if you have one plugged in without you having to do anything. Other gamepads haven't really been tested yet, but I plan to implement a feature where you can map your own buttons should all else fail.

Following the video, the next milestone I'll be working towards is a playable demo build for beta backers to play. The first build will be limited in scope and may potentially be buggy for some users, but it'll be important to start to get some feedback on the game in both a technical sense and a gameplay sense. As I said, when this happens I'll put up a private forum for us to use to discuss the game, and I'll roll out new versions onto that forum and people who are interested in doing so will be able to test and provide feedback.

Thanks for backing. Here are some new images for you guys to look at until the next update. These thumbnails link to higher resolution webm videos, so click them for the full experience.

If you follow me on twitter sometimes you'll see images like these ahead of time, as I occasionally tweet out images and clips of what I'm doing.

Thanks!

Matt