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A rich, diverse Tactical RPG, envisioned by the master of the genre Yasumi Matsuno, Playdek, and you, the fans!
A rich, diverse Tactical RPG, envisioned by the master of the genre Yasumi Matsuno and you, the fans!
A rich, diverse Tactical RPG, envisioned by the master of the genre Yasumi Matsuno and you, the fans!
15,824 backers pledged $660,126 to help bring this project to life.

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Massive February Update

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Dear backers,

It's the first of the month, which means it's Unsung Story update time! 

If you've been following us on Twitter or Facebook, you may have seen a little teaser pic that I put up. You can see it here: 

https://twitter.com/UnsungStory/status/953043465176150016

Since I didn't give a lot of detail, I made sure to include one very identifiable hint in the background - the Tokyo Tower. So this month's update is going to be framed around my trip to Tokyo where I got to work with some of the main talent behind Unsung Story.

Before I start, I wanted to share something that has come up on a couple occasions. For a variety of reasons, sometimes we have to remain quiet about a specific aspect of the game. Taking on Unsung Story involved untangling a legal mess of broken contracts and unpaid partners which has required quite a bit of effort to resolve, and in many of these cases leaves us with no choice but to remain silent.

Please know that we will always try to let the backers know as much as we can, but sometimes it's not possible to do that without violating NDAs or jeopardizing the project.

With that said, here are the highlights of my trip to Tokyo.

Day #1 - Soundtrack & Dinner with Mr Sakimoto

On my first day, I spent a lovely evening with Hitoshi Sakimoto and another up and coming composer from his company Basiscape. We ate at a fantastic underground Izakaya restaurant in the Shinjuku part of Tokyo. When I arrived, I was escorted back to a small private room to eat and discuss Unsung Story.

I am very excited to announce that Mr Sakimoto and his company Basiscape will be composing and producing 1 hour of original music for the project.  

Dinner with Mr Sakimoto
Dinner with Mr Sakimoto

 

We spent much of the evening discussing the story, the world, each school, the characters, and the emotional themes for the game. Afterward I sent over a metric ton of design and story for him to use as inspiration. He's going to be starting with the main theme and then working through the other tracks from there.

Day #2 - Art & Dinner with Cygames

The following evening I got to see Shibuya, another iconic district in Tokyo. Mr Yoshida couldn't attend the meeting, but I was hosted by several members of Cygames at a local Shabu-shabu restaurant. Dinner was fun, and we hope to work with Yoshida and Cygames in the future.

Shibuya
Shibuya

 

However at this time, due to a number of reasons beyond anyone's control, Mr Yoshida cannot be involved on Unsung Story. We had already started moving forward in the art design, but I wanted to give the backers a definitive answer. We still plan to produce the Unsung Story art book, and we have a couple other ideas to help make up for this change.

Day #3 - Design & Lunch with Mr Matsuno

There was a lot to cover in this meeting, so we decided it would be best to meet at the Westin Tokyo, the hotel where I stayed during my trip. Just prior to flying out I sent over 28 pages of story and design notes along with a Powerpoint presentation walking through our progress in various parts of the project - all fully translated into Japanese. We spent quite a bit of time going through everything using a translator, and he gave excellent feedback. The goal of this meeting was to review our completed story to make sure our American writer had successfully captured all his notes and ideas alongside our other narrative requirements. We also covered aspects of the game design and other elements of the game. The story feedback was great, and much of the meeting was very positive, but he did give one major gameplay note that he wants to see explored. I have already met with the development team, and we're hard at work determining the best way to address it.

Lunch at the Westin Tokyo
Lunch at the Westin Tokyo

 

I have to admit, I had a bit of a fanboy moment at the end of the meeting. Final Fantasy Tactics was instrumental in shaping my future in video games, so meeting Mr Matsuno was an honor. And when it came time to leave, I totally forgot to take a picture with him.

End of January Milestones

Pre-production is scheduled to end in March, so that means we only have 2 more months of milestones before actual production on the game begins. Accordingly January was very busy.

Here is a brief look at some of what the team worked on.

  • Class Design v0.20 - We have a second pass on the name and major gameplay mechanics for each class. Version v0.10 was submitted back in December after my trip to Melbourne, and it was solid, but I am even more pleased with this version. The roles between units feel much more defined, while the thematics for each class feel much more unique to our world. You have no idea how much restraint it takes to hold back from sharing some of the class names. 
  • Character Art Style Guide v0.10 - This was a fantastic deliverable that took the last couple months of character art concept and modeling and broke the style down so we could apply it to a broader set of characters while keeping consistency in the look. Moving forward without Mr Yoshida means we needed to create our own look and feel that honored the original tactics style without copying it. We've shown a couple concepts, but I like how the style is continuing to evolve.
  • Game Design Document v0.20 - Last month I mentioned the Design Direction document, and this month I got my first look at the GDD. The documents haven't been combined yet, so it's still very incomplete, but it already has all kinds of juicy details on the game flow and combat systems - specifically how damage is calculated and a first pass on all the game stats.
  • World Design v0.10 - This was a new document that we are using to flesh out the world and environments of Unsung Story. Each chapter takes place in a new location, and each location contains a unique school of magic that has influenced that part of the map. Lots of good raw ideas here for clothing, architecture, and other visual aesthetics. We'll be workshopping this document in February, and then making another pass through the story to keep things consistent.
  • Story Design v1.0 - I alluded to this document earlier in this update during my recap of the lunch with Matsuno. I'm excited to say that we're done with the complete first pass! All 5 chapters of the game have a solid narrative that combines Matsuno's original story and characters with some of our new collaborative ideas and filtered through the game's mechanics. It also identifies key mission objectives and encounters.
  • Prototype Build v0.10 - This was an unexpected treat, and all of the work on the GDD made sense when I got this month's playable build with some very rough RPG mechanics. When I say rough, I mean rough. The level is randomly generated with various square bits of geometry - rock, dirt, grass. The scenario contained 5 enemy units and 5 party units with varying levels of health and energy. We're using placeholder robot models for all the units, but they do animate and move. Grid selection, round timing and attack order all worked, and I was able to use a couple basic items to heal units. Right off the bat several enemies grouped up on one of my units who had spawned away from the rest, and they killed him in a quick series of rounds. My other units fared better, as I regrouped and eventually won the battle with 3 units left alive!
  • 3d Mana Attacker test - Lastly, this is one of the super rough 3D tests we did to explore characters in the game. At this point I don't think this actual model will be used, but I feel like we're getting closer. 
Mana Attacker 3d Test
Mana Attacker 3d Test

 

Stay tuned! Lots more in the works. In mid February, we're hoping to starting our Developer Diaries spearheaded by Ash, our lead producer. If we can hold that schedule, then you'll be getting two major updates a month.

Thank you for your continued patience and support.

Sincerely, Matthew Scott

January Update

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Dear backers,

Happy New Years! 

With the all the holidays, this was a shorter month for us, so I have combined the General Update with another Character Concept below for a single update. Make sure to read to the bottom so you don’t miss it. I'm hoping to make a significant announcement later in January.

Story

We are on track to have a completed new outline for all 5 chapters by the 31st. This is an exciting milestone because so many of the future milestones depend on it, and I am super pleased with it so far.

I like to approach the story in layers. The goal is always to get to a complete outline as soon as possible, so you know your beginning, middle, and end - which we had for the most part with Matsuno's work. But then we end up doing several iterations that each focus on a different aspect of the story. This first draft was solely focused on piecing the story together and solving design problems. The next one will focus on the High Concept and unique world building elements that have emerged from filling in the holes. After that we'll focus specifically on incorporating game design elements like character classes and the magic system back into the world. etc.

Design

Right before the holiday break, the team delivered the Design Direction Document, which is a precursor to the full Game Design Document. The DDD captured a lot of the notes and design recommendations from our November meetings and attempted to organize the whole design in high level terms. This document had breaks every section for me to fill in my own notes or comments to help refine the ideas. The full Game Design Document will build on this and add specific game flow screens, full class breakdowns, equipment itemization, and level walkthroughs. 

Here are some of the items from the table of contents:

  • Gameplay loop and overview
  • Narrative and Main Characters
  • Combat Design Pillars
  • Level Design
  • User Interface Approach
  • Stats Overview
  • Character Progression
  • Weapon Types
  • and more

Development

The engineering team has started work building our Tactics engine.

During some of their initial testing, we built the notes on the Triangle Grid, which I posted last month. I typically refer to this early part of engineering as the "Ugly Duckling" stage, because the engineers get very little art support. However these first couple of demos are very important for exploring game mechanics and systems, so I'm looking forward to them.

Art

I saved this one for last. Lots of work is going on with this group including building the first couple 3D models to try and capture the final look and feel.

We also have another Character Concept that I feel comfortable sharing. We are calling this one our Mana Attacker (for the school and role she is from). This class deals a lot of ranged spell damage, and we’re toying with making her PlayDek’s “War Mage”, but none of the class names are final right now.

For this concept we wanted to go the exact opposite of our Divine Defender. This is our first exploration into the Mana school with a female character not wearing armor. 

 

Thank you for your continued patience and support.

Sincerely, Matthew Scott

Triangle Grid Design Analysis

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Dear backers,

It’s been a little while since we’ve discussed any design elements, so I thought I would share some of what the team has been exploring with respect to the Triangle Grid system. Before I get into all the detail, I should share that this idea was one of the innovations I was looking forward to about Unsung Story. It’s something I have never seen implemented, and I hoped it would be a nice iteration of gameplay for the tactics genre.

Unfortunately after working with the Triangle system for over a month, we’ve come to the conclusion that it just doesn’t make a lot of sense. So now I’m going to walk you through our analysis.

Establishing the design goals.

With respect to any game design element, it’s important to establish who our audience is and what we’re trying to achieve. In this case, our primary target audience are fans of Final Fantasy Tactics, fans of tactics games in general, and then fans of RPGs. While we are hoping to modernize the approach, it’s critical that our grid system clearly communicates distance and direction on the map. As a player, these two factors (distance and direction) affect many of our choices when determining what a unit might do in any given situation. Can I get out of range of an attack? Can I get an advantage on another unit by attacking from another angle?

What was PlayDek’s solution?

Looking back at the triangle grid announcement, we can see that their Triangle system essentially breaks down Hexagons into smaller triangles split like a pie from a center vertex. Functionally this is identical to a hexagon system, but since the characters can stand at the intersection of each triangle, it means the grid offers more discrete movement.

Triangle Grid System
Triangle Grid System

Later in development, PlayDek released work-in-progress screenshots that showed a traditional square grid system, but at this point they referenced their “8 Point Movement and Attack System”.

8 Point System
8 Point System

Ultimately, for our game we feel that there are only four viable options for movement:

  • Squares with no diagonal movement – 4 possible directions
  • Squares with diagonal movement – 8 possible directions
  • Triangles based on tiled Hexagons – 6 possible directions
  • Hexagons - 6 possible directions

NOTE #1: I added Hexagons here after we posted this update first in our Design backer discussion form. For me there really isn't a difference between Triangles and Hexagons, but one of our design backers pointed out that a straight forward Hex system would address some of the problems of the Triangle system, while still keeping some of the benefits that PlayDek wanted. He also pointed out that games like Wild Arms XF on PSP did a great job with a Hex system - which I agree with. However sometimes the product owner (me) has to make a judgment call on the approach. Personally I'm not a big fan of how bulky hex grids are, and that look has a huge "visual cost". If you google Wild Arms XF, you can see that the art team specifically worked with Hex shapes all throughout their environment to facilitate this choice. I want something less intrusive that serves the game mechanics but still feels like the spiritual successor to FFT.

NOTE #2: You may ask about Octagons, but unfortunately they don’t tile seamlessly, so they can’t really be used effectively for grid-based maps. So I’m going to assume that PlayDek had scraped the Triangle system and was moving towards a Square grid with diagonal movement. Now let’s compare Squares vs. Triangles.

Pros of the Triangle Grid System.

1) I think Triangles look cooler. I saw PlayDek’s early renders, and I was immediately intrigued. I imagined more freedom of movement and all sorts of new tactical options based on 6 directions of movement instead of 4.

2) Triangles are more discrete. They are smaller and rotated in different directions, so it gives us the ability to represent distance in new ways and shapes such as cones that stretch away from units or radials around a unit. This is what PlayDek illustrated in their mockups.

3) They also used color banding to group triangles and illustrate where one character was 1 unit of distance away from another character. Again, this seemed to offer some compelling gameplay.

Cons of the Triangle Grid System.

1) The biggest flaw of PlayDek’s Triangle system is the difference between a Hexagon and an Octagon. Since we’re only dealing with 6 sides, we quickly get into weird edge cases. All of their renders showed the “good” cases. But we intuitively think in 4 or 8 directions – not 6. Illustrating a cone from one angle on a character worked fine, but shift 60 degrees around that same character and rendering the cone again looked awful.

2) It’s difficult to see exactly what 1 unit of movement is. PlayDek cheated with the colored banding to show us 2 triangles together which forms a shape that illustrates distance better, but that banding is not always possible to render with respect to comparing distance between more than 2 characters at a time.

3) Being able to attack a character from 6 directions becomes a bit more confusing. Depending on the angle that character is facing, it’s not immediately obvious which way is the front, back and sides.

Pros of the Square Grid System.

1) Simply put Square grids are easier to read if we only deal with the four primary directions. You can quickly look at the map to determine how far you can travel. 1 square is 1 unit of distance.

2) Squares also allow us to create more natural interior movement. Typical room construction is confined to straight walls, so it’s easier to map with squares.

3) Character facing is simplified. It’s easy to see what is behind or to the side of a character.

Cons of the Square Grid System.

1) In our opinion the biggest drawback to Squares is the lack of directional movement to the diagonals and the complexity that comes when you add diagonal movement. In any game that limits movement to the primary 4 directions, I still look at the zig zag walk that characters have to travel in order to go diagonally, and I just shake my head. No one would really walk that way in real life, so why do we force players to do it in a tactics game. The problem is that diagonals become a lot harder to handle, and they potentially break the game allowing the player to move farther than they would have with the 4 primary directions.

Conclusion

More directions doesn’t necessarily mean better.

The design team felt the Triangle Grid system added complexity without really adding value. In fact it became harder to estimate distance or directional facing – the two core elements any good tactics game needs to help communicate. Based on our analysis, we’ve decided to stick to the tried and true Square Grid system.

Thank you for your continued patience and support.

Sincerely, Matthew Scott

December General Update

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Dear Backers,

G'Day from Australia!

Last month was largely dominated by pre-production again, and we've had a number of exciting work streams making excellent progress. I'll be posting Design Update #2 and one other update in a couple days, but over the last couple weeks it became increasingly clear that a face-to-face with the entire team would be hugely beneficial.

So November ended with a trip to visit our developer, Torus Games, in the beautiful city of Melbourne, Australia. Several team members from Torus have already introduced themselves on our forums and answered some questions. For those that don't know, Torus in based in Bayswater just outside of Melbourne, which is 19 hours ahead of Orange County where Little Orbit is based. I flew out of LAX over the holiday on November 22nd and arrived on November 24th. I planned for a couple days of jetlag recovery over the weekend before jumping into meetings, and I'm still here till Monday, December 4th.

Before you rush off to google Torus, like Little Orbit they have worked on a lot of licensed based games with tight timeframes and small budgets. It's a studio of ~30 developers, and like Little Orbit they are looking forward to showing backers and future fans the amazing work they can do on Unsung Story.

The major goal of the trip was to sync up with all the teams on their various milestones so far and to get to an agreed scope and timeline - which we now have.

Make sure to read to the bottom of this update for the release date of the game.

Over the next couple weeks, we'll be sharing some specifics and interviews with key staff, but in the meantime I thought I would structure this update around the general topics and areas we focused on for the trip so far.

TEAM MEETING DAY 1 - NOVEMBER 28TH

Story. Story. Story. This is a major part of the game, and we felt it was the best way to jump in there. The game was originally envisioned with 5 distinct chapters that each followed a different "Story Character" and bounced around in history. We are sticking to that formula, and last month on our littleorbit.com Story forums, we posted our first Story update to discuss some of the challenges presented by the unfinished work. If you aren't afraid of spoilers and want to read it, you have to login first, but can see it here: https://littleorbit.com/forums/topic/unsung-story-narrative-introduction/

The non-spoiler summary is:

"Unsung Story takes place in a medieval fantasy world where spells are cast as songs, and magic can reshape reality. With the threat of such power, the original shapers created a way to stabilize the world. Since the beginning of time, History has been sung and recorded in magical schools around the world. The game opens at the end of a 77-Year War. We follows a squad of aging heroes as they are given a covert mission: to infiltrate the archive of a nearby school and cast a legendary spell that may turn the tide of the conflict."

We spent all day in two separate workshops with a combination of lead producers, designers, artists, and developers. We covered the drafts of Chapter 2, Chapter 3, and Chapter 4 that we feel are faithful to Matsuno's vision but still fit the new structure of our game (there is a major change in how our story is told). We are also halfway through drafts of Chapter 1 and some of Chapter 5, but these chapters will go much slower because they are a bit more complicated. Each chapter identifies the Story Character(s), themes, major encounters, candidate missions, locations, and some dialogue.

TEAM MEETING DAY 2 - NOVEMBER 29TH

Day #2 was split between Art and Programming.

In the first half of Wednesday, we spent time reviewing inspirations for characters, weapons, armor, environments, UIs, animations, and VFX. Honestly I felt we were pretty well nailed down on the art design and approach, but the dev team came up with lots of good questions involving how render swappable inventory, playable races, monsters and other areas. We've got a number of new pre-production deliverables now to help us flesh those out, and we're looking forward to sharing progress soon.

I can definitely share that one focus of the new UI is to try and get away from Tactics' menu-based approach. The team is working up several different ideas on how we can keep the classic feel without the depth of menus that slowed down gameplay.

The second half of the day was focused on technology and progress building the Tactics game engine itself. Lots of less interesting discussions about data formats, system editors, grid/movement management, AI, and more.

The approach for these two teams couldn’t be more opposite. Art is trying out lots of experimental ideas and concepts to fully explore the world of the game, but Programming is laser focused on getting the basic Tactics gameplay up and running as quickly as possible. 

TEAM MEETING DAY 3 - NOVEMBER 30TH

Day #3 focused on Game Mechanics and Sound.

We spent the better part of the day going through the initial candidate list of 20 classes (not including the Elite classes) spread across our 4 different schools - Mana, Nature, Divine, and Technology. This game rests squarely on the classes, abilities, and spells, and it's an area I want to nail down early, so we have the maximum amount of time to integrate the game mechanics into each chapter.

I was pleasantly surprised with how far the team has come in a fairly short time, but I want to warn backers now that we did take a complete step back and start from scratch when conceptualizing the classes for Unsung Story. That means we may or may not use the original proposed names and concepts that Playdek announced like Ballast Knight or Orb Guard.

Here are the design pillars we are using to help guide our approach to classes:

  • Players can mix-and-match classes to make their own Primary and Secondary combinations. That means each individual class should have a single, clear mechanical focus. However, their focus can’t be too niche to be realistically useful.
  • Classes should a single clear, tight thematic within our world.
  • Classes should have a simple and memorable name.
  • Classes should mix-and-match in the player's party with different units in interesting ways.
  • No class should feel irrelevant. However, classes shouldn’t necessarily be perfectly balanced. It’s okay for some combinations of classes to be extremely powerful compared to others. As players explore the class system, they should be rewarded with extremely powerful combinations. This shouldn’t be immediately obvious or too easy to come by.
  • Classes should utilize physical space (tiles) in a more interesting way than previous tactics games, however, they shouldn’t all focus on this mechanic. 
  • Musical terms/motifs should be used very lightly They’re a subtle touch, not a defining feature. 

We spent some time working through the first two classes that are unlocked at the beginning of the game, and how those classes can act as a tutorial by helping players engage in core game play mechanics. I look forward to sharing some of these classes and their core game play soon.

The audio workshop ranged from music to sfx, dialog, and voice over. Largely we are still hoping to deliver a musical score from Sakimoto, but we aren't in a position to announce any details yet. My favorite part was a fun brainstorm on the many types of sound that could be used to generate magical effects in the game. 

TEAM MEETING DAY 4 - DECEMBER 1ST

This was our final full day of meetings for the week, and the focus was entirely on attempting to nail down a release date that we could stand behind.

The day started with going through each month and identifying all of the game's components, and we spent time going through notes from the previous days adjusting the milestone schedule.

When are we releasing Unsung Story?

This has been the #1 question asked by backers, and in light of this project's history, I felt we needed to spend a fair amount of time going through the game's scope, timeline, and deliverables, before we made any formal announcement. We are going to continue refining the project timeline through the end of the year, but at this time we will be simultaneously releasing all platforms in Q4 2019.

That's it for now.

Thank you for your continued patience and support.

Sincerely, Matthew Scott

Design Update #1

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Dear backers,

Today I would like to talk a bit about design.

Before I jump in, if you're interested in Unsung Story's narrative, you can read the other half of this update on our Little Orbit Story forum. We would have posted everything to Kickstarter, but some backers expressed concern over spoiling the narrative, so those updates will be on our site from here on out.

I mentioned in an earlier update that we have gone back to the roots of this project, untangling what was original to Matsuno’s design, identifying what was introduced by Playdek, and isolating what was useful (or not) from both. I am going to walk you through that process so that you can have a better idea of where we are right now and how we plan to move forward regarding game mechanics and progression.

Inherited Design

I don’t feel comfortable sharing the actual initial design without Matsuno’s permission, but I think it is important to understand the main focus, because that has formed an important starting point for us. The key note is that his first design was for a mobile game. So many of his decisions were based on simplicity to match that platform. It wasn’t until the Kickstarter that Playdek massively increased the scope of the game to the spiritual successor of Final Fantasy Tactics. At that point, we see lots of changes that attempt to retrofit the original ideas into a larger framework.

Here is an overview of Matusno’s original design goals:

  • A traditional epic fantasy theme 
  • Original notes talk about a war with an invading “demonic” force 
  • The story is focused through Story Characters and Chapters 
  • The player controls “Unsung Heroes” who are the true heroes but lost to history
  • Instead of using a main map or any concept of linear time, the player chooses to play key battles during the war that they could replay at any time 
  • Unsung units have classes like Knight, Archer, Priest, Wizard, and Pioneer 
  • More classes for the Unsung units unlock based on leveling up that give new abilities and slightly modify power or speed
  • Players can switch classes from the base class to new classes as they unlock
  • Use group-based skill points to level up or improve skills
  • Height and incline affect movement speed and attack
  • No complicated stats

We agreed internally that we needed to focus on a couple goals to help focus Unsung Story:

  • Preserve most of Matsuno’s original design and narrative 
  • Combine those ideas with the scope of what backer’s paid for in Kickstarter
  • Combine those ideas with the extra features added by Playdek if possible

With this base, we spent some time analyzing how to meet these goals.

Here are some of our initial observations:

1. PLAYDEK’S WORLD LACKS MANY OF MATSUNO’S IDEAS

Although there is mention of dragons, giants, and “monsters” in Matsuno’s world design notes, there is very little mention of these elements in Playdek’s design. It appears they wanted a more historical or less fantastic world. This seems like a lost opportunity.

2. PLAYDEK’S LINEAGE, CLASS, AND PROFESSION SYSTEM IS OVERLY COMPLEX

We have spent quite a bit of time deciphering Playdek’s ideas about how classes can specialize or change during the game. There is very little if any actual design around classes, abilities, or progression. Personally, I find that if you need this kind of diagram below to explain things, you're probably not doing something right.

 3. MAGIC IS NOT DESIGNED

References to magic across the various docs are contradictory and incomplete.

Matsuno’s narrative and high-level design mention basic spells and classes, but it appears the work was never completed, because he used placeholder names, and there is no explanation of actual spell mechanics.

Playdek’s proposed magic system is unbelievably complex and deep, which is completely at odds with Matsuno’s high-level design goals.

Example:  

Playdek has a completed spell design for the Priest class, which is 1 of 30 proposed classes. This design proposes 48 spells across 6 levels for the Priest class. We compared this with the White Mage from Final Fantasy Tactics who gets 9 unique spells with several upgrades for a total of 16 spells. No other work beyond the Priest was ever completed, and none of the spells were ever incorporated into the narrative of the game.

Unsung Story’s magic system will need a full, new design to meet Matsuno’s goals, but it also needs to differentiate itself enough that it doesn’t come across as a copy of Final Fantasy Tactics.

4. PROBLEMATIC PROGRESSION FOR UNITS

In Final Fantasy Tactics the player gets to keep their units through the entire game so they can level them up to meet them to their specific needs.

We love the idea of Story Characters and switching perspectives every Chapter, but this creates a significant gameplay problem preventing the player from keeping the same units between Chapters. Since the Chapters are told out of order and follow different story characters on both sides of the conflict, it appears that the player must “start over” with an entirely new group of units at the start of every chapter or battle.

Example:  

In Chapter 1, a player will collect 6-7 characters that are at his disposal for battles. They all gain experience. When Chapter 2 starts, there is a time gap and the player might switch “sides” to fight beside a new Story Character. We can’t really see a way to satisfactorily fix the progression problem, which we feel will be a frustrating experience for players.

Design Changes

Given this starting point, we felt some changes needed to be made. Here are the following systems changes proposed for classes and magic.

1. DEFINE THE MAGIC SYSTEM BETTER

I teased this in an earlier update, but buried in a World Overview design document there is a short description of how spells are cast. According to this section spells are more than just words, regents, or movement. A caster must “use a special intonation” to harness true magic by moving tone up and down through energy points in the body like octaves on a musical scale.

Simply put: Spells are sung rather than spoken.

That’s a good start. Songs shape the affect of the spells. But where does the power come from?

To answer that question, we found references in other design documents to “Schools”. I’m not sure if they ever shared these with backers, but they divided classes up amongst 5 Schools: War, Nature, Divine, Man, and Arcane

The lines were pretty blurry on what these schools taught or what the differences were, so we streamlined them down to 1 External force and 4 Schools that focus on different forms of power.

In our world, we started with Chaos. It’s an external force the strives to constantly reshape reality and wreak havoc. It’s the RNG of the universe. From our perspective, the earliest citizens brought Order to Chaos by harnessing the following 4 powers through spells and sound.

  • Nature – The energy from the Heart. Life/death, earth, seasons, Mother Nature and all its creatures. 
  • Divine – The energy from the Soul. Cosmic/celestial forces, but with no differentiation of “good” and “evil”. 
  • Mana – The energy of the Body. Essence of self, vitality, yin-yang. Technology – The energy from the Mind. 
  • Technology/science, mathematics, engineering, logic.

So putting that all together, Unsung Story takes place in a world that can be reshaped with magic. That’s a powerful statement that implies all sorts of things, and one that we've fully incorporated into the story.

2. SIMPLIFY THE CLASSES

Playdek announced 5 Class Types: Attackers, Defenders, Mage, Healer, and Tamer. This was an extension of what we found in Matsuno’s design where he focused on 3 roles: Attackers, Defenders, and Support.

We like his simpler approach, so we’re moving forward with that. Think of these as classic roles within a party (Damage, Tank, Buff). Each class will be a variation on one of these 3 roles.

Unsung Story will have a total of 24 unique classes. Some of those classes will be available for units at the beginning of the game and the others will unlock as the player levels up units during the game.

Classes will be distributed evenly between the 4 Magical Schools. Each school will have 6 classes total, which means we can create a couple variations of each role for diversity.

Looking back at our first art concept, you can now see how he fits into the game. We showed a “Divine Defender” which is our version of Matsuno’s Knight in his original design.

Hopefully you enjoyed this first look at the design process. Please make sure to let us know what you think in the comment section. We kept story developments out of this post, but if you want to see these system changes in context by looking at how Unsung Story’s narrative will evolve, you can read more on our forums.

Thank you for your continued patience and support.  

Sincerely, Matthew Scott