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A love letter to J-RPG classics from the Playstation era like Final Fantasy, Breath of Fire, Suikoden, and Persona.
A love letter to J-RPG classics.
A love letter to J-RPG classics.
5,631 backers pledged $195,528 to help bring this project to life.

Soul Saga – Update 35 - Beta update and Discord

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Hello, Friend!

How have you been? I'm sorry for the delay in an official update, but I had to deal with an unexpected move last month. Thankfully I'm all settled into the new space now and my focus is back on Soul Saga!

 

New Teammate!

Oh, and please say hello to my new teammate, Senpai the Shiba Inu!

 

Senpai and Phoebe love to hate each other, but I sometimes glimpse a hint of love inside small moments.

         

Even though the last few months have been very busy, I still got a ton of work done on Soul Saga! Most of what I do can't be revealed due to them being major spoilers, but here's some of what I've gotten done in the beta...

 Beta v11.1

Soul Saga's beta has been updated to version 11.1. Version 11.1 of the Soul Saga beta brings with it several graphical enhancements in different environments and cutscenes as well as all the following changes. If you have purchased the Soul Saga beta, you can now download it from your Humble Bundle library for Windows, Mac, and Linux. Please report any bugs to one of the following locations:

Easy Bug Reporting Form

Advanced Bug Reporting Database

Discord Live Chat

 

The Disastercake community is a very active, mature, and friendly group of people that I have been honored to be surrounded by since I had my Kickstarter. In an attempt to connect with fans even more I created a Discord server a few weeks ago that has gone very well! Discord can be ran from the browser, desktop installation, or mobile devices.

 

I also whipped us up some custom emojis for you to play with! You might recognize the adorable Torne, unique Grumplins, the cutest cupcakes you've every seen, and Mithos! I'll try to find time to add some more later on!

When you join the Disastercake Discord server, please message me on Kickstarter or send me an e-mail with your account name and I'll set you up with a backer role to give your name some flair!

You can join us on the Discord server here: https://discord.gg/k5PW5aZ

Loading Enhancements

In Soul Saga your teammates follow you directly on the map while exploring. This follow the leader type attitude makes exploring feel less lonely and the world more alive. It does come with technical complications, though! One of the issues I ran into was loading the characters in the map. In some previous iterations of Soul Saga there were no teammates following, so I had designed the levels to have only a single spawn point. Rather than go through and add more spawn points for additional team members, I decided that a more versatile way would be to have them load in as the player moves their main character away from the original spawn point.

NPC Enhancements

In Soul Saga there are many NPCs, including various animals! Here's a glance at how I work with a visual graph tool to create the roaming intelligence of the Squabble NPCs.

Behind the Scenes

A question that was asked in Discord was what exactly a "scene" is in terms of working with game development. A scene is a single loaded area. In Soul Saga, dungeons are made up of several smaller (sometimes medium sized) scenes. The reason they are cut into smaller segments is for performance reasons. Here you can see what a scene looks like from the game view and then from the editor view where I work on it. The scene is created in a way that the part gamers see gives them the belief the world is large and seamless, but in actuality it is decoupled and smaller so performance can be tight.

Game View

This is what players see in the game view.
This is what players see in the game view.

 Scene View

This is what I see in the game engine's view.
This is what I see in the game engine's view.

 Overworld vs. Explorable Paths

In Soul Saga, the land of Medonia has been shattered into small islands. Because of this, most major traveling between islands is done via airship. However each major island has several points of interest on it. For a while, I had been using a classic looking overworld map to represent walking around the islands. However after consideration, I recently made a tweet gauging what Soul Saga fans think about possibly replacing the overworld with explorable paths.

Gauging preliminary feedback from Soul Saga fans on Twitter.
Gauging preliminary feedback from Soul Saga fans on Twitter.

 Explorable Path Prototype

The results were pretty split, so I went about prototyping the connecting roads to get more accurate feedback. What I came up with was met with overall very positive feedback. Personally I feel these explorable areas are much better at adding personality to the islands. In time I will add more content to them as well, like sidequests, treasures, and secret areas, though their primary purpose is to connect the major points of interest on an island. Here is a video of the comparison:

Steam Greenlight to be Cancelled

Important news for the Steam gaming community is that Steam Greenlight will be cancelled in the foreseeable future. Soul Saga already flew through Steam Greenlight thanks to many fans' help, so this news does not affect Soul Saga in any way. However it is interesting to know the reasons behind Valve's decision to do this as it reflects how the market has become so saturated that gamers require new technologies to get relevant games in front of them. I have written up my thoughts based on my experiences as a developer and wrote an article for you here: http://www.disastercake.com/blog/steam-removing-greenlight-indie-developers-interpretation/

What do you think?

Your feedback has shaped Soul Saga into the beautiful game it's becoming, so please keep it coming! Let me know what you think by joining us in the Disastercake forums or the Disastercake Discord. You can also follow me on Twitter and Facebook to keep up to date on more frequent news.

Soul Saga – Update 34 – Soul Saga will be on GOG!

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Happy New Year, Friend!

Hello and happy new year, friend! I hope this first month of 2017 has treated you well.  Personally I've just had my head buried deep in my work with Soul Saga to make sure I can finally bring it to you this year!

Development

Development with Soul Saga is going well.  Before the end of last year I had a draft of the main story loop implemented, but now I am going back and reworking quite a bit of it.  Perfectionism has taken a toll on Soul Saga's timeline, and I am sincerely sorry for that.  I really wanted to launch last year, but I knew more polish was necessary to get you the game you deserve.  However this will be the last major pass I do on the main storyline implementation, and after that I will work on the side content before shipping Soul Saga off to you.  As an estimate I would say later in 2017 is a reasonable time frame for the remaining polish and content I want to add, which is really just a fraction of what I've already put into Soul Saga over these years.  However, I always put quality before anything else, so please hold on with me while I finish scaling this mountain called "Game Development" the way it was meant to be climbed.

An Insider Look

A lot of people have asked me to film my work space to see a normal day in the life of a Disastercake, so here's a sneak peek of how Soul Saga's levels are designed.

https://twitter.com/disastercake/status/826952214392381444

 Soul Saga on GOG!

Since the Kickstarter launched years ago, many Soul Saga fans have eagerly asked me to look into getting Soul Saga on GOG.com.  If you don't already know: GOG is a DRM-Free game distributor with a strong reputation.  I'm excited to be able to tell you that I sent the beta to GOG for review, and they were equally as excited as I was to be able to add Soul Saga to their impressive library of games!

If you would like to get a GOG key instead of whatever key you currently are signed up for (console, Humble Bundle, Steam, etc), please private message me on Kickstarter (if a backer) or e-mail me at mike@disastercake.com and I can assist in switching your current key to a GOG key.

You can find the Soul Saga page on GOG.com here: https://www.gog.com/game/soul_saga (Add it to your wishlist, JRPG GOG fans!)

 

     

Soul Saga - Beta Fan Videos

Soul Saga fans and beta backers have kindly created some more videos for your enjoyment showcasing the current state of Soul Saga's beta.  Feedback has been great so far, and I'm eagerly anticipating the moment I can finish up polishing based on all of the great fan feedback.

Airship

lordreo22 (Roy) is back again after last update's Amber Synthesizing video, this time to highlight airship exploration and airship combat in Soul Saga.  He does a great job showing off the different features currently in the beta, and even gives you a video of how it can be played with a dual stick controller.

Full Beta Playthrough

KomaruTheHylian64 is a Soul Saga beta backer and fan that has kindly recorded the entirety of the Soul Saga beta for you.

THIS VIDEO CONTAINS SPOILERS!  Though the beta is not 100% polished yet, this video does contain what I would consider minor story spoilers for the first 1-2 hours of Soul Saga.  If you'd like to keep your experience as fresh as possible for the full release, then you may not want to watch the video through completion.

This video is of beta v10, and the current version is v10.1  A couple bugs pop up later in the video that I've already addressed and fixed in beta version v10.1.

What do you think?

Thank you so much for all of your support.  Every day I talk with Soul Saga fans, and the encouraging words have kept me motivated on this long journey.  I can't wait to finally finish Soul Saga and share my humble JRPG with you.  In the meantime, you can hit me up on Twitter at @Disastercake, on Facebook at www.facebook.com/disastercake, the Disastercake forums here, or in the comments below!

Soul Saga – Update 33 – Beta Highlight: Amber Synthesizing

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Hello, friend!

How are you doing?! I missed you! Also, if you're an American, then Happy Thanks giving to you! But the Squabbles in Soul Saga disagree with your choice of meat for the holidays...

 

 

Development

Soul Saga's development continues to move forward well as I focus on the core content. A lot of experimentation and iteration is being done to achieve the quality I want you to have, which takes a bit longer to achieve. With this year coming to a close, 2017 will have to be the year that Soul Saga releases. I'm sincerely sorry for the delay. When I first began working on Soul Saga I never imagined I would put so much content and polish into my first game, but I've grown to love Soul Saga and my backers with all of my heart. I firmly believe that everyone of them deserves a quality game, and that means the end result is much more important than the time frame. I promise that I am pushing forward as fast as I can to get you the best game I can make.

I'm getting so close to the end, but there's still more content and polish to add. I can't wait to finally be able to share Soul Saga with you. I do have a time frame in mind for myself and will let you know as soon as everything is 100% finished and ready for your enjoyment! I couldn't have pushed Soul Saga this long and far without your support. The best motivation I have to keep going on this long journey is knowing you'll get to enjoy Soul Saga when it's complete. Thank you so much for always being there for me! :)

 

Roy Explains Amber Synthesizing

A Soul Saga beta backer and streamer, lordreo22 (Roy), has created a video for you covering one of the unique features introduced to Soul Saga in Beta v10: Amber Synthesizing. Amber are man-made magical gems created by an Alchemical process known as Synthesizing. Alchemists are able to take just about any sort of items from the world, break them down to their base elemental equation, and then synthesize them as an amber to contain the primal forces of nature inside of them. Recipes for amber are closely guarded secrets of Alchemists, so getting a hold of recipes requires reverse engineering existing amber, also known as deconstructing an amber. Roy shows you here how it's all done in the Soul Saga synthesizing menu. Please remember to like/share the video and subscribe to Roy for more of his Soul Saga videos in the future!

Soul Saga Beta v10.1 Live!

I've updated the Soul Saga beta to v10.1 after fixing bugs reported by Soul Saga's amazing beta backers. The feedback I get from them is fantastic and critical to the quality of Soul Saga. Thank you so much for all of your help! I love squashing those bugs. ;)

Music

Ryan Camus has been hard at work on Soul Saga's soundtrack and has really gone above and beyond to bring you one of the most (if not the most) robust soundtracks in an indie JRPG I've ever had the pleasure to listen to. Ryan has already gone through and added different exploration and battle themes for every Airship zone, and is now going through the core game and adding new combat themes to different zones to ensure every area has its own personality. One of the most important aspects of good JRPG's is a great soundtrack, and thanks to Ryan Camus we all have that to enjoy in Soul Saga. Please join me in thanking Ryan for his astounding contribution to Soul Saga's quality. Here's some examples of an exploration zone and combat theme combination:

Dangerous Delvers (Exploration Theme)

Never Surrender (Battle Theme)

What do you think?

Thank you very much for your patience as I push Soul Saga forward. Hopefully in a few updates I can solidify a release date and finally share Soul Saga with you. In the meantime, please let me know what's on your mind below or join us on the forum for this update's discussion here: http://forums.disastercake.com/viewtopic.php?f=6&t=951

Soul Saga -Update 32 - Amber Synthesizing and Beta Update!

28 likes

Hello, friend!

How are you doing? I've been pushing Soul Saga forward and have made an exciting beta update! I'm going to keep this update quick so I can get back to work wrapping everything up for you!

Beta v10 Live!

The next Soul Saga Beta (v10) is live on Humble Bundle if you're a beta tier backer. This beta brings a lot of changes, and jumps Soul Saga much closer to its final production level. The beta covers approximately the first hour and half of Soul Saga, which is an important character building setting for the world and characters. For the sake of preventing spoilers, I won't go into details here, but here's a general list of changes. Also, you can find the change log on the Disastercake Forums here that also has a list of important testing areas for beta testers.

More Story

The story has been appended to before and after where the previous beta version took place. The beta story line has also been adjusted to accommodate the new playable character. There is also a higher level of production quality on the main story line, with an opening that helps bring you into the world and events that introduce the characters very well.

The main story also always has an entry in the quest log so you never forget what to do next.

Interactivity

There is a lot more flavor text around Dragontree Village to build the world and characters. Both the environment and NPCs can be interacted with now. By the time I'm finished with development, every NPC in Soul Saga will have something unique and interesting to say, and residential zones will have lots of intractable environments.

 

Amber Synthesizing

Soul Saga's unique crafting system has been added this beta! Amber Synthesizing allows you to craft more potent amber using the items you find around the world as ingredients. The unique thing about this system is you can use any item combination you feel necessary to craft the amber.

Each item in the world has an Elemental Equation, and your goal is to match the equation as close as possible.

Music

The latest Soul Saga beta reveals a few more tunes by the talented Ryan Camus. Contrary to the upbeat songs I've been revealing previously, this music is for the more emotional and heavy scenes in the story.

Flickering Shadows

Stains of Ink

What do you think?

I'm excited to be getting Soul Saga closer and closer to the finish line! Years of sacrifice have lead to the moment I can finally share my humble JRPG with you, and it feels amazing to be so close to that time. Hopefully in a couple updates I can have the final release date in stone and get you Soul Saga as soon as possible.

As always, your opinion is important to me. Please join us in the Disastercake forums for this update here to discuss the update!

Soul Saga - Update 31 - Controller support and more!

30 likes

Hello, friend!

How are you? I hope this past month has been treating you well. If it hasn't, let me know and I'll give it a stern talking to! It worked well for me because this has been a great month for Soul Saga!

Development Status

The current state of development is in an excellent spot. I keep spending time adding more bulk and polish to Soul Saga's main and side content, and I really want to squeeze as much in there for you as feasibly possible. As such, this last 10% is really feeling impossible to estimate exactly. It could take a few more months to get it all in the way I intend it to be. My goal for Soul Saga has always been to give you the best game I possibly can, so I'm going to keep pushing forward and keep you posted on where it's all at next month! In the meantime, let's go over some things I accomplished this past month.

Music

Here's some lovely and catchy music by Ryan Camus while you read! This one is called "I Love My Job".

Cutscenes Workflow

The main story line events and cutscenes are continuing to be implemented. These are taking the vast bulk of my time, as I'm the only person working on their writing, design, implementation, and the programming API for the cutscenes and actors. A general cutscene's development flow goes something like this:

  • Write a summary of exactly who and what happens in this scene and the order of the events.
  • Write the dialogue for the scene.
  • Comb over the writing and make any adjustments to events, orders, or the dialogue.
  • Place the pre-made cutscene boilerplate code into the scene.
  • Place actors in a general starting position.
  • Place camera points where major camera points will most likely be needed.
  • Test.
  • Make any adjustment to scene props to assist with moving actors or cameras.
  • Test.
  • Do a rough "motion" pass, where the actors enter the scene and go to critical locations.
  • Test.
  • Do a polish pass with actors making more movements or turning to look at speaking characters.
  • Test.
  • (Repeating) Polish and test small tweaks rigorously.

There's also many extra steps related to 3D game development that make it much more difficult and technical than 2D games. Because these are taking so much time to complete I'm always looking into ways to try and improve work flows. New tools get created and added as I find ways to modulate and streamline certain actions. I might also experiment with some different cutscene styles at certain locations in the game to help alleviate more complex scenes while maintaining visual quality.

Cutscene Features

To ensure the user experience is as smooth as possible in Soul Saga, I've added a few extra features to cutscenes.

First, a cutscene skip confirmation has been added. Previously if you just pressed the skip button (escape key on the keyboard, and the menu button on the controller), the cutscene would immediately cancel and progress beyond it. To prevent accidents, I've implemented in a safety feature so that you now need to hold the cancel button for about 1.5 seconds. The text "Skip" with a circular progress bar appears in the top left corner. When the circle completes, the scene will skip. Releasing the cancel button early will prevent the skip from occurring.

Also an Options menu has been added to cutscenes for volume controls and skipping. From this menu you can adjust the music, sound effect, and voice acting volumes, and even toggle the VA on and off.

Interactive Environments

Some of the feedback that Soul Saga fans have given me is how important an interactive environment is to a good JRPG. Many modern games have deviated from this by adding more visual detail to their art styles, but they forget that receiving input for exploring is an important reward for players. So now that Soul Saga is in the polishing stages for many of its scenes, I've begun adding these types of details around the world. These moments are most prevalent in town and residential areas where there's a lot more character personalities to build and culture to be experienced.

 

Controller Support

As Soul Saga progresses towards the finish line I had a strong urge to play the entire game with a controller. So... I added it in!

I've been told by colleagues in the game industry that one of the hardest parts of porting to a console from Desktop can be adding controller support. So it's a good thing I saw this issue coming from a mile away and made sure to build Soul Saga's design and code from the ground up with both a mouse and controller in mind! Because of this careful planning, adding controller support was a rather painless process. You can even seamlessly switch between a controller and mouse, allowing you to use the mouse for general clicking and then using the keyboard to quickly navigate the menu list options (if you desire).

So far I've tested on Windows with Xbox 360 and a PS4 (DS4Windows plugin) controllers. When the next beta version comes out I will be very interested in getting feedback on the keybindings and controller support.

Vibration has also been added to the game and works on controllers that support direct input (like Xbox and DS4Windows PS4 controller). You may also toggle the vibration off in the options menu.

And more!

A lot more has been done as I squeeze in time between cutscenes to add more functionality to Soul Saga. For example you can toggle the party leader with the controller bumpers to quickly switch between the leads. I've also created and implemented a lot of performance optimizations, which in some cases require I rework a scenes models to be more universally performant.

What do you think?

As always, I'm very interested to know everything on your mind! I'm excited Soul Saga is getting closer to being finished, and I can't wait to finally get it in your hands! I promise to let you know as soon as I'm certain when that can happen. Thank you so much for your patience! I couldn't have made Soul Saga without your generous support!

You can find today's forum topic here: http://forums.disastercake.com/viewtopic.php?f=6&t=935