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Redefining the oldschool 16-bit RPG by fusing pixel art with 3D environments, dynamic lighting, shadows, physics and positional audio.
2,282 backers pledged $185,322 to help bring this project to life.

Team Drama, Combat Engine, 4 Player Local Multiplayer, Delays

Posted by Elysian Shadows Team (Creator)

Alrighty, this is going to be a gigantic update. Yes, we have been horrible at updating Kickstarter, and yes, the game will be delayed, but the silence was not due to stagnation. We had another pretty fundamental team shake-up that has left the project understaffed, and those of us remaining have been slaving away every day in a state of silent depression, doing our jobs along with the jobs of those who deserted us, hoping to god we could make the December dead-line, but always knowing in the back of our minds that we were attempting the impossible and sacrificing our health to do so... Despite the fact that these last few months have been some of the hardest months of our lives, we have continued to make significant progress on the game and we will continue to do so into 2016. This update was also delayed due to something really, really, really exciting happening for us and the project that we cannot yet disclose, but expect another update as soon as I get the green light. We are literally itching with anticipation.

I never really know what to say when stuff like this happens, but I feel an obligation to be completely transparent with our backers. My father and some of my colleagues think posting intimate team drama is unprofessional, and they would probably be right... Only the majority of our fans are what we would consider friends, and you all know we aren't some big AAA studio with PR reps. We're a bunch of dudes with a dream. You've seen us grow up on YouTube, you've seen us pour our hearts and souls into this project, and we have alwas communicated on a very real, imtimate level with you... I feel like throwing our hands up now and saying we're too "professional" to be sincere and transparent is disrespectful to our fanbase... So I'm fine with being judged as unprofessional.

Tyler Rogers, our gameplay engineer, left us not long after the last Kickstarter udpate. Only he didn't just leave us. He ripped his server out from under us, took Patrick's bed, took monitors, and took routers, without even so much as a minute's heads up to commit code we were currently working on. Normally I don't like to advertise team drama like this, but this was a pretty signficiant setback for us. We lost a significant amount of time and momentum having to redo our setup. This was a pretty large financial setback we hadn't planned on, and now in addition to creating a cross-platform engine and toolkit to compete with Unity2D, I'm also charged with all gameplay programming and scripting.

Setting up the new studio and getting back to work, the same day Tyler quit.
Setting up the new studio and getting back to work, the same day Tyler quit.

I'm sure his rebuttal will be that Patrick and I were "mean" to him towards the end of his days, and he would absolutely be telling the truth. He was the one who once told me that a man should let his work speak for himself. With this in mind, please rewatch the last 6 chapters of Adventures in Game Development. He had a grand total of one scene of progress to show off during this time period, which was only after insisting and begging after he would usually disappear for 2-3 days at a time for every day or two he worked. Between amazing progress on the engine, tools, and graphics, it has been insanely demoralizing for Patrick and I to work ourselves literally to the point of illness and not see any of our hard work come together during this last year into a cohesive gameplay experience... Combine this with the ever-lingering anxiety of knowing 2k people supported your dream and are expecting a game from you, then sure, I could see "mean" being used to describe us urging him to show up for work and threatening him with his job if he didn't... seems legit.

Just one of the many times I caught Patrick napping under his desk.
Just one of the many times I caught Patrick napping under his desk.

Yes, many of you probably think this is my fault for hiring someone incompetent to do such a fundamental task, and honestly, this is something I've beaten myself up over for the last several months since his departure. He wasn't just an "employee" of Elysian Shadows any more than I am. He was my best friend, and this was a dream we shared and fought for together for YEARS. He was just as invested in this project emotionally and financially as any one of us, and this was never about employers and employees--this was a band of brothers. In the end, I'm glad he decided to leave of his own free will, as much as he did it in an exceptionally unprofessional manner, because I don't know if I would have had the resolve to actually kick him off... and just for the record, it was easier for me to redo his work than it was for me to use it. Not a single line of code remains in the project from Tyler, and this has been a clean break.

It isn't all depression and misery on this front. Tyler leaving was actually one of the best things to ever happen to this team and the game. Yes, it has resulted in setbacks, as we were already overworked, but taking over his job has allowed me to make serious progress and focus exclusively on the combat system and gameplay for the first time, and it has been slowly materializing into something freaking awesome that has remotivated all of us. We've had lots of people stop by the studio and play around with it, fine-tuning every little variable and tweaking gameplay mechanics until they just "felt right." It's slowly evolving into what I think feels like a combination of Super Smash Bros (double-tap dashes, hard-hitting "smash attack" feelings), Secret of Mana, and MegaMan X (Charged magic shots, platforming mechanics).

Family and friends gathered around on Thanksgiving to beta test the new combat engine.
Family and friends gathered around on Thanksgiving to beta test the new combat engine.

There was a significant amount of work put into creating a fully skeletal animation system, allowing us to do very complex animations smoothly. Swords and shields show up on the character and can be sheathed. The player can pick up and throw objects and fireballs, animations can use advanced particle effects, etc. We modified quite a bit of the spine run-time to take advantage of the power of our engine.

Julien's basic skeletal animation. Everything is separate sprites, allowing for maximum versatility.. He can even be beheaded by enemies!
Julien's basic skeletal animation. Everything is separate sprites, allowing for maximum versatility.. He can even be beheaded by enemies!
Movement is all analog-based in every direction. Lightly moving it walks, fully pressing runs.
Movement is all analog-based in every direction. Lightly moving it walks, fully pressing runs.
Weapons may be sheathed or unsheathed for combat and platforming, holding the L trigger causes the player to strafe which is useful for precise aiming in-combat.
Weapons may be sheathed or unsheathed for combat and platforming, holding the L trigger causes the player to strafe which is useful for precise aiming in-combat.

 In addition to walking, running, and strafing, the player can double-tap the analog stick to dash as in Megaman X or Smash brothers. He can also jump, jump dash, pick up, throw, and shatter objects (even hitting enemies) with the rigid body physics engine. All weapons will show up visibly on the player as in Secret of Mana.

Testing player "death" in the engine. This was actually a pretty funny bug where Julien was spawning ontop of an invisible enemy that was one-hit killing him, causing an infinite death loop. Haha.

I know, I know. The game is already late, how the HELL is the engine developer justifying multiplayer? By not writing shitty code... After the controller API and subsystem was implemented for each platform, we realized it would be easier to control two characters to test combat against each other than it would be to write party-based AI... As we kept going, it just felt "right." So ES is now supporting 4 player co-op, in the same fashion as Secret of Mana, only less annoyingly. Since we have a truly 3D dynamic camera, the world will zoom in and out to keep the action and each player onscreen in the same manner as Super Smash Brothers. Yes, it will also be 4 player local multiplayer on the Sega Dreamcast.

We had a slew of robberies right around our development studio the other day... Didn't stop us.
We had a slew of robberies right around our development studio the other day... Didn't stop us.
 project video thumbnail
Replay with sound
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My girlfriend and I didn't spend much time alone for awhile... Haha.
My girlfriend and I didn't spend much time alone for awhile... Haha.
Concept art for one of the later party members: "Magas.LUA" She is literally a Lua script.
Concept art for one of the later party members: "Magas.LUA" She is literally a Lua script.
Environment for Crystal Mines (before dynamic lights)
Environment for Crystal Mines (before dynamic lights)
Crystal Golem attacking animation.
Crystal Golem attacking animation.
I guess all the animation work killed poor Patrick...
I guess all the animation work killed poor Patrick...
Concept art for a Crystal Cube
Concept art for a Crystal Cube
Crystal Golems running animation.
Crystal Golems running animation.
Animations for an exploding Crystal Golem.
Animations for an exploding Crystal Golem.
Concept and Gameplay Mechanics for the Crystal Ruins
Concept and Gameplay Mechanics for the Crystal Ruins
Just another day at the office!
Just another day at the office!
Politechnica's Insides
Politechnica's Insides
Politechnica's Exteriors (without dynamic lighting yet). Conceptually influenced by Final Fantasy 8's Balamb Garden and SEED academy
Politechnica's Exteriors (without dynamic lighting yet). Conceptually influenced by Final Fantasy 8's Balamb Garden and SEED academy
Art for the festival in the beginning of the game. Highly inspired by Chrono Trigger's Millenial Fair.
Art for the festival in the beginning of the game. Highly inspired by Chrono Trigger's Millenial Fair.

 Working on implementing save crystals within the engine using Patrick's beautiful animations. This is actually how they will behave in-game. Haha, jk. 

 Meticulously fine-tuning Julien's swinging animation in Spine.

Meticulously testing with every controller we could get our hands on... OUYA, Dreamcast, Gamecube, PS3, Xbox 360, etc. The map is actually a little deathmatch area we built to play around in.
Meticulously testing with every controller we could get our hands on... OUYA, Dreamcast, Gamecube, PS3, Xbox 360, etc. The map is actually a little deathmatch area we built to play around in.
Crystal Rats all chilling...
Crystal Rats all chilling...

I just wanted to quickly update everyone on this front. You've probably all seen the drama in the indie gaming news regarding Razer's purchase of OUYA and the fate of the Free the Games Fund... Elysian Shadows was the highest FTG'd game, and we had planned on receiving the funding ever since we were Kickstarted. Luckily it does look as though Razer is honoring the deal. We haven't signed anything official yet, so theoretically it could still fall through, but things are looking bright on that front. The only thing we don't know about yet is the fate of the actual OUYA console itself. We aren't sure whether we will be supporting the original hardware or Razer's new hardware under our new obligations. If anybody reading this purchased ES for the original OUYA and really, really doesn't want the game on any other platform, please speak up!

OUYA's Free the Games Fund
OUYA's Free the Games Fund

Since the last Kickstarter update, there has been one chapter of Adventures in Game Development released. Its pacing is a little weird, since part of it took place right around the time Tyler left, then we picked the camera back up and continued on with the new setup. You can see us setting servers back up and even see us continuing to code and work on the game as Tyler's stuff was moved out. There is also a lot of great progress on iOS builds and skeletal animation. 

I wanted to apologize just one last time for the silence and lack of updates. I mean no disrespect to the rest of the team, but I am stuck as the PR person in addition to every aspect of programming now just because I am a halfway decent writer, which is more than slightly overwhelming. I will try my best to continue these updates semi-regularly, and I will also be continuing the AiGD series once we have the combat system down. Hopefully in the near future we will be getting a PR rep, so I will never have to do this again. ;)

If anybody has any questions, comments, complaints, or you just want to say you hate us for being late, feel free to post it in the comments below. I will personally be checking the comments every morning for about a week before I open up my IDE and start coding for the day. I am so sorry for the delays, but trust me, in a few years nobody is going to remember that we were late. We will be remembered for having a kick ass game. :)

--Falco Girgis


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    1. e314

      Well, The best way to get updates is FB, and they are apparently alive and doing well.
      A small KS update wouldn't hurt however, since not all of us are following on FB!

    2. Andrew Hsieh on

      Any updates on this? Hope you guys are doing well.

    3. Neal Frick

      Man that sucks. Having opened a business with my best friend and seeing it fall apart I completely know where you're coming from. It goes beyond professional frustration, it hurts like a bitch when things go south. Sorry that you had to deal with it, but thank you for continuing to work on the project. A lesser person would have walked away.

    4. Elysian Shadows Team Creator on

      Thanks again, guys. It means so much to us. Expect another (smaller) update probably by the end of the week!

    5. Steve Kerney on

      Skeleton animation and dynamic shadows for a 2D RPG? Props given, it seems that you guys are setting the bar quite high for your cross-platform engine, gameplay mechanics and art asset quality, can't wait to play this gem. Keep up the good work and as stated by others, put your health first, we'd all like to see a sequel. :)

    6. Paul "Alakazam3000" Gordon on

      Take as long as you need! And PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE take care of your guys' health. We'll wait as long as needed, please put top priority on your health, we don't want you getting sick or anything due to working too hard/long without sleep, food, water, etc. :(

    7. Nethaniel Weil on

      I barely logged into Kickstarter because I was sure I backed something that succeeded and didn't get notified about it's release. Now I know why.
      It's a shame he ran off with the hardware and part of the code. He should have at least left the hard drives.
      I don't have an issue waiting for this to be finished as I don't have much free time to play games lately.
      I wish you the best of luck, and I would think most people will understand the situation.
      All I ask is that you work on the game and get it out when it's ready. Key thing is to do it right. Sure it will take more time, but it will be that much better.

    8. Missing avatar

      Richard Trabucco on

      No rush guys. I'm still just as excited to get the game when it's done and done right! 4 player multilayer O.O I can't wait to see the finished product. I believe in you all. Sometimes the persist and waiting is far better than the getting. Thanks for the update.

    9. Andrew D. on

      I'm just glad to be a part of this project. I'm so proud to support this amazing rendition of you and your friend's dream. I really believe in you. And it's been helpful to hear this

    10. Missing avatar

      Ehren Kallman on

      In today's world of AAA garbage, vapid corporate PR, elitest designers and jaded indie-devs, the project itself and your teams realism and passion for it is a gem. I do not mind another years wait to see the complete vision come together. Sorry to hear that Tyler left just as things are starting to get interesting. Best of luck.

    11. Greg Hoogner on

      Serously guys, take your time with this. I have no issue with you guys taking a break to get some rest. The progress you have made is great!

    12. Elysian Shadows Team Creator on

      Guys, I just wanted to thank you all from the bottom of my heart for the positive responses... I had been dreading this update for so long. I'm already accused of being a thief all around the internet when in reality I have dedicated my soul to this project...

      As soon as I made this post I realized all that fear and anxiety was ill-founded. This project has some of the most respectful, passionate supporters I have ever seen in any creative medium, and it is truly humbling to still have the support of so many of you after all these years and after all the pain I've been through... I just wanted to say thank you all, and I would rather die than fail you. This will absolutely be worth the wait, and don't forget, there's a HUUUUGE surprise announcement in the works that is (literally) game changing for us.

    13. Sam Twidale on

      Respect for not giving up, your dedication is inspiring. But definitely take the "it's done when it's done approach" and look after yourselves, even if it means missing more deadlines.

      Games can get delayed for years on Kickstarter, it's not a big deal when you're as sincere and transparent as this.

    14. Nikolaus Beckett Lindberg on

      In think the release of Pier Solar for Dreamcast (Fucking finally, shit), should distract and entertain people long enough to buy you your extra time. Also still really looking forward to dicking around with the toolkit. Keep up the amazing work.

    15. Akule

      You're still going strong at it. That's what matters. Keep up the good work.

    16. Missing avatar

      Damian Sopher on

      Good luck brothers!

    17. Ross Tunney on

      Keep at it guys. Late or not, this game is going to be awesome, and you're an inspiration.

    18. Missing avatar

      Morgan D on

      As someone who has been watching since chapter 5-6 (Ol' grandmas house) and who gave money to this kickstarter, I really don't give a shit how long it takes. There's plenty of games to play in the meantime and I want to play the game you envisioned. What idiot would wanna play a game that's not really done just because it's released on time?!

    19. Ben Schram on

      No dramas guys. I truly appreciate the openness and transparency with the bad and good happenings.

      Chin up. And no pressure from me to rush the job. Take id Software, Blizzard, Valve and Nintendo's approach, "It's done when it's done" And don't kill yourself to get it finished quickly. Take your time and most importantly look after yourselves. I'm sure the wait will be well worth it with a great and memorable game.

      Looking forward to hearing about this exciting news that you are unable to give us the details yet.

      Take care dudes.

    20. Missing avatar

      Sebastian Bergman on

      I kinda don't want you to be done, so I certainly don't care that you delay any kind of release for your own sake!
      Been following you (Falco & AiGD) since at least 2009, perhaps even earlier... and I am totally afraid of how empty it will be when you've actually released the game and (hopefully) start a new project. Would you have the energy to continue to do this community style in the future? For your sake, I would guess not, but I hope so ! :D

      Please take your time though, not for those reasons but for your own. To feel that you're able to make the right choices for your project, and most importantly, to keep yourselves sane and (somewhat) healthy!

    21. Caleb Cittadino on

      Dear Falco & Co.,

      I'm sorry to hear about the loss of Tyler, both for your group and as a buddy. I truly hope you are both able to heal from this and move on.

      I have been watching you on YouTube since you were basically a kid. It's odd to have this one sided relationship, where I follow, learn and hope for your goal. As a fellow SEGA child, and coder, I feel a kinship with you. It was easy to connect and relate as soon as I saw your passion for both.

      A diet of sega at an early age conditions you well for life.

      If you do get a PR person, I'll be glad that you can decrease your stress a bit. However, I just want you to know that hearing directly from you is awesome, and one of the most exciting things I get in my inbox. Seeing and hearing your wins, losses, and passion in this goal is extremely refreshing for someone stuck in a monotonous webservice development job.

      You have done something amazing here. No matter what happens with the band, the game, or life, know that there are many of us who are grateful just to get an opportunity to hold this thing you've been chiseling since you were a tot. Some of us will be grateful even if it takes another 10 years.

      I am envious of your courage and thankful that you've shared everything over the years. "ge smak daun gyon op nodotaim". We'll be here.

    22. Chris Graham on

      Multiplayer O_O you just wanted to up the cool factor a few more notches (not a minecraft pun)..

      I think most of us just want to support the Team and the Dream of ES, which started for you as a dream which most of also have and is why we watched AIGD. It then became a reality for you guys, but drama or no drama we just want to hear from the team honestly and will continue to fan support you guys.

      On a kickstarter level I think most will feel the same even if they gave a small or big donation in the past or just provided a friendly chat.

      All the best, and hope for more good news and updates in 2016.

    23. Ashkan Golara on

      Thank you for the update. I'm just happy to see you're still working on the game while going through all this drama. I can easily wait another year, more if needed, as long as the game get done, that's all I care about.
      Basically I mainly wanted to say good luck.

    24. Missing avatar

      Justin Marwitz on

      Take as long as you guys need to make a great game. We won't get it if you work yourselves to death before release!

    25. Missing avatar

      Gary Cormack on

      As far as I'm concerned take as long as you want to finish the game,if it comes out in 2018 then so be it, I'm sure we all have plenty of other games or keep us occupied until then

      I waited 4 years for strumwind, probably about 3 or 4 years for Pier solar. Your physical and mental health comes first, Don't run yoursself into the ground.. And get some anti bacterial cream for that ass of yours ;)

    26. Missing avatar

      Blowhole on

      This game looks dope as hell and I'm glad to have supported it. I don't care how long it takes.

    27. James on

      O also I would like to share some engine code I have been working on and see what your thoughts are on it thus far. If you ever have a free moment (this can wait till after the game's released no problem)
      I've been creating something along the lines of an Entity System Component type engine... trying to out do Unity... but I'll show you the details if you'd be interested in having a private Google Hangout.

    28. James on

      Falco you are creating a game with all the similar influences of games I love and enjoyed when I was younger and every now and again still.

      I just want to let you know I love you, and am proud of you. Your honesty and courage to keep going is inspirational to me and I am sure many others out there. Keep the determination and strength no matter what happens...

      I will even find a way to help you develop if you find need for it... I have been developing software since I was 15 years old (29 now) not that that means a whole lot, but I have college/job experience, and actual games made under my belt. I know the feeling of all shit hitting the fan and not knowing what will happen next... and then all you can do is just figure out the next best step and keep going.

      You have more than my support, you have my admiration and will to help in any way I can.

      BTW I hope those BTC I sent you got translated into USD :)

      Best wishes for you and the team. I'm looking forward to the future that is inevitable to come knowing what comes from people with your dedication and commitment.

      Keep on being the rockstars!!!

    29. Missing avatar

      Dan Chisarick on

      That was probably one of the most fascinating updates I've read on KS. Setbacks happen, but I'd rather get updates like that and wait longer for the product than get something nobody is happy with just to satisfy an estimated delivery date.

    30. William B. Shaffer on

      I will never stop supporting you, Falco! Keep being awesome!

    31. Missing avatar

      Omnibot2000 on

      Thanks for this update. The game seems to shapen up nicely. The fluid animations look great. As long as you keep working on ES and keep "talking" to me as a customer (I don't need AiGD, some picts and/info on FB every once in a while is enough for me), delays are no problem. Keep up the great work!

    32. Missing avatar

      Jacob on

      First off, great job on the update, personally I follow fb and whatnot so I've been informed previously, but I'm sure the kickstarter-exclusives appreciate it. With that said, I think one thing you need to consider is the fact that it isn't/wasn't just you and a few people who shared this dream, you have a fairly significant following that has shared this dream with you the whole way. Yeah sure, there will always be people that bitch, but I'll just speak for myself then when I say I personally don't give a shit how long it takes you to develop this game... Fuck, I don't even care if it falls through the cracks if it means saving your sanity and happiness. You and the ones who have stayed true to the project have more than earned the small chip of money I have given you... dude you guys earned that well before the kickstarter ;) Anyway, excellent update and glad to see things moving along, keep on kicking ass!

    33. Jean-Maxime Marleau on

      Yay ! A 4 players-couch-coop-RPG on dreamcast ! Guys I'll be honest, with every update I want to play it more and more.

      Keep up the good work,
      Quality of quantity

    34. Sterling Treadwell

      I personally prefer honesty than smoke and mirrors. We are not customers so much as investors, and I find it more professional to be honest with investors. But that's just me.

      I've also seen that a lot of us are fans and passionate about what we back, so we will give a lot of support and leeway if we are in the loop and understand setbacks. In this case, it is unfortunate but not an END so much as a bump. When the game is done and we get to play it, we will just look back on all this and laugh... and laugh.. and drink heavily.. and laugh... LOL.

      Glad you are still at it. Hopefully the folks at WM forums don't give ye too much hell for all this.

    35. kye weasner on

      hey I'm one backer with one opinion. I'm not disappointed,I'm not angry and I am ok with the delay. I know you are working hard and that you are trying to make a great game. take another year if you have to.

    36. Andrew Hsieh on

      It sounds like everyone here had a rough time of it, and I'm sorry for it. Drama aside, the game looks even better than I had thought, and four-player multiplayer sounds like something I'll happily wait for for even another year. It's been a long time since I've played anything on local multiplayer that I've truly enjoyed-- well, Smash aside-- and I look forward to this game with renewed hopes :)