I want to start by thanking all of the backers that chose to send messages over Kickstarter, email, and tweet to say thank you for taking this project over. Even those that were cautiously optimistic, or otherwise – we deeply appreciate your support.
In some of those message, I was asked a lot about why we got involved with Unsung Story. Rather than repost that information, you can read it here:
In most of those messages, one request was made over and over – communicate regularly and often.
So here is our Kickstarter update going back over the month of August:
INACCURATE KICKSTARTER FAQ AND CAMPAIGN INFORMATION
We have spoken with Kickstarter, and while they were able to change some things for this project site, there are still many that we will not be able to change since the details for this project (like who the current publisher is) are locked as of the day the campaign successfully funded.
We are working on a solution to find a new space that will allow Little Orbit to share all of the new information about Unsung Story with the backers without old conflicting details.
NO ACCESS TO FACEBOOK PAGE YET
There is a technical problem preventing us from getting admin control of the Unsung Story Facebook page. For the time being, please check Kickstarter for the most current information on the project.
KICKSTARTER MESSAGE INBOX
When we took over the account, there were more than 400 unread messages. Since it was impossible for us to know whether Playdek responded outside of Kickstarter, we replied to all of them as best as we could. We apologize if you got duplicate responses. As of now, we are starting with a fresh Inbox to help our support team address any new issues as they come up.
We've spent quite a bit of time reviewing BackerKit. All of your Kickstarter rewards are loaded and surveys went out years ago. However, we only have completed surveys for 82% of backers. Please spread the word to other backers to go complete their surveys, so that we can insure they get their rewards. If you haven't filled it out, go here: https://unsung-story-tale-of-the-guardians.backerkit.com/
BACKERKIT ADD-ONS AND WIPE
In reviewing BackerKit, we found that none of the backers were charged for Add-ons added from that site. In light of the status of this project, we felt it was inappropriate to suddenly charge people for something that was set up so long ago, so we have elected to cancel all of the orders and remove all of the BackerKit-related Add-ons. Please don't panic. We are not doing this to punish anyone. We just want backers to be confident that the game is going to ship before we offer any new opportunities to purchase Add-ons again.
NO CURRENT PAYPAL DATA OR HUMBLE BUNDLE DATA YET
Unfortunately, we are still waiting on comprehensive backer purchase data from Playdek's direct Paypal sales and from the Humble Bundle that was originally offered. Once we get this information, we will add those rewards to BackerKit so that backers can complete their surveys properly. We appreciate your patience.
Next, I'd like to discuss a couple internal discussions that we encountered this month.
WAITING V. MOVING FORWARD
In an effort to deliver the game that Playdek promised, we reached out directly to Yasumi Matsuno, Akihiko Yoshida, and Hitoshi Sakimoto. Matsuno's storyline and design are incomplete. As the days roll by with no response, we have begun to ask ourselves how long can we afford to wait while backers see no progress. And from a practical standpoint, we have a game to make. With that in mind, we will begin locking down key aspects of the game in art, design, and story over the month of September.
SPOILERS V. SURPRISE
In preparing this update, we all felt an overwhelming desire to share everything we've been working on while we wait for responses from Matsuno, Yoshida, and Sakimoto. Going forward, we need to balance the number of things we potentially spoil for backers. I don't want to sacrifice the amazing surprises that await players down the road when they finally get to play the game. Instead we will focus on other ways to show real progress.
As a consolation, I will share one new part of the design that is core to the direction of the game at the bottom of this update.
COPYING V. INSPIRATION
Several backers sent us suggestions about reducing the scope of the project and some even went so far as to say we should just copy Final Fantasy Tactics in order to fulfill the campaign promises and release a game they could enjoy. I think this is an important topic, and one that I want to set the record straight on.
As much as we all love Final Fantasy Tactics, we cannot release a “copy” of that game. Instead, we are 100% focused on Matsuno's new design that took inspiration from his earlier work. Unsung Story has many great innovative elements, and while those will take a little longer to build, we are confident that the wait will be worth it.
Here are some of the areas we worked on this month.
MATSUNO’S ORIGINAL DESIGN AND STORY Our internal team has finished going through all of Matsuno's retranslated original work, and an enhanced high concept for the game has been finalized that embellishes on some great seeds planted within the original design. Additionally, the design team has reconstructed the game flow through each of the chapters and identified the cities, characters, and general themes that we'll be focusing on. I am extremely pleased with what they have come up with so far, and I look forward to seeing the world of Unsung Story evolve far enough that we can begin to share more details.
Expect some things to stay exactly like Playdek presented, and some to change.
FFT MODDING COMMUNITY HELP
During August several members of the FFT modding community approached us, expressing their desire to be involved. We have decided to utilize this team to evaluate our general approach to the game design, controls, art, and narrative. To that end, we have put them under NDA, and for about two weeks now, they have been providing feedback.
Yes, they have had lots of exposure to the project. No, we wont reveal their names. Yet. But I may have one or two of them contribute to these updates down the road.
We ran a couple visual tests to work with the size of elements on the screen and camera angles. We even looked at some 2D pixel art created for Unsung Story by the FFT modding team, which I must say came out spectacular. But for various reasons, I have decided to stick with the full 3D game that the campaign originally promised.
RECONSTRUCTION OF THE GDD
One of the most prevalent questions last month was "When will the game be ready?" In order to answer that question with any accuracy, we need to finalize the game design document. The end goal of any GDD is to map out the systems and scope of the game in great detail so that we can design the schedule and milestones. Playdek's design contained some of Matsuno's ideas, some PvP ideas, and some of their own original ideas. We decided to start from scratch at the end of July. Our goal is to preserve the heart of the game you backed while also assuring that all the pieces will fit together in an amazing game.
During our review, we came across a section in the World Overview about the magic system and how spells are cast. One of our designers found this section oddly specific. 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.
That means that in the world of Unsung Story, the tone of a spell is crucial, and the most powerful spells are sung.
Before next month, we will be reaching out to the $1K+ backers to start including them in our design process. So you may start to see backer-only updates.
Thank you for your continued patience and support.