Release Window, Beta Sharing, Animation Process, Resolution Options
Hi everyone! Sorry for not updating last month - we've been busy!
You've been patient with us for so long so we feel it's time to commit to a release window. We expect the game will be ready to release sometime in June, July, or August of 2016. It's looking like we'll be done with all of the art/animation assets (minus any scenario-specific odds and ends we may have overlooked) by the end of April (next month, woo!) and the game should be fully playable from start to finish a few weeks after that. After that, it's time for the final stages of polishing, debugging, marketing, and getting the game approved for release.
All maps have been animated and have obstruction mapping (so you don't walk through walls).
We expect to start the beta next month (hopefully early next month). The beta will initially just include the first few hours of the game and at a later date the rest of the game will unlock. We will not be placing restrictions on sharing your beta experience with others whether that be through text, voice, screenshots, videos, or streaming. We just ask that you be respectful and don't spoil things for anyone who doesn't want to be spoiled. To indicate that this is the beta and to help us better track bug reports, we are most likely going to put a small text overlay in the corner of the screen that indicates the current version of the game. This will only be in the beta and won't be in the release version of the game.
Several people have asked about Bill's process in creating art and animation for the game so he created this gif.
"I create enemies and NPCs/Support Characters one game location at a time. So I'll start a dungeon or a town/city with a list of the enemies or characters therein. Then I quickly sketch each enemy/character in a front/side view. Then I go through each sketch and create an inked and colored version, then scale the artwork down to the sprite size. I use the resulting scaled image as a basis to create the pixel art at the in-game scale. Then I clean and polish the front/side views in pixel art for each enemy/character in the area. Finally, I go through and animate each enemy, which usually entails a standing frame, idle animation, movement animation, several attacks/abilities, special effects for abilities, and hit/stun frames (some enemies may have 40-100 frames as such). For NPCs it's more often animating walking animations, idle animations, or specific task animations in relevant directions based on where the NPC/Character is placed. When it's all done I clean up and organize the sprite sheets, flatten them and save them as PNGs and I move onto the next area of the game."
Also, here's an animated gif of one of the backer-designed enemies in the game.
The Bag Man
This enemy was designed by Kickstarter Backer Mikko Kirjokangas
The Bag Man syndicate is an organization that can be hired to deliver information and/or small items of dangerous/illegal nature. They guard their cargo with their life, in a small briefcase that is permanently bonded to them. When defeated in battle, the Bag Man's briefcase will explode, destroying the secret information therein and causing destruction to anyone or anything nearby.
If you qualify for designing an enemy and haven't talked to us about it yet, be sure to contact us ASAP so we can make sure to get your enemy in the game at launch!
As we prepare the game for the backer beta, we realized that some of the general elements of polishing hadn't been done yet. For example, with resolution, we had only been showing off the game at trade shows at 1080p and the Vita's resolution (960 x 544), but in the "wild," people will want to play the game with a wide variety of resolutions. We're pleased to state that Cosmic Star Heroine currently has the most robust resolution feature set of any of our games to date. Not only can you play the game full-screen or in a variety of different-sized windows, but the game will adjust the viewing area (within certain boundaries) and the layout of the user interface to accommodate different resolutions while still presenting the highest quality graphics & animation.
We upped the number of NPCs that are possible on a single map at one time (now at 40) so to compensate, we made some general performance improvements to the game's engine. We improved the efficiency of the audio engine, NPCs, special effects in combat, and map backgrounds. In the test on the Vita version we did last week, we were getting 52-60 frames per second on everything except map loading (where framerate doesn't matter since the screen is black). Quite the improvement from when we first started and the Vita version was almost completely unplayable! And of course, these improvements benefit all versions of the game.
That's it for this update! Thank you for joining us on this crazy journey. The end is in sight! We hope the game surpasses your expectations!