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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 36 – Time is like an airship (it flies)

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Hello, Friend!

How have you been?  This has been a crazy few months for myself, so let's delve into all the great news so I can get back to work!

Beta Playthrough

One of Soul Saga's amazing backers, Roydical, played through the Soul Saga beta.   You may remember some of his videos in the past covering some of the features in Soul Saga's beta. Here's a highlight reel from his experience of the latest version.

Settled In

You may remember from the last update that I had to leave my apartment I had been staying in for 6 years and move to a new home.  That move went very well and I'm all settled in.  Here's a picture of the team hard at work in the new house!

 

Progress

I have made a LOT more progress on Soul Saga not revealed in the beta above. Mostly I’ve worked on cutscenes, which are almost completely done at this point. I also recently began overhauling the airship exploration mode of Soul Saga to make it a much more important part of the overall experience. My biggest hurdle I’m recently facing is that many assets for the airship scenes need to be optimized, sometimes even recreated. So I’ve recently picked up blender to optimize them, and even work with rigging and animating some NPCs.

 

Game Development, Destroyer of Time

I recently realized that we have just passed the 4 year anniversary of Soul Saga's Kickstarter.  Absolutely insane.  When I first launched the Kickstarter I had no idea I would become so meticulously obsessed with creating such a polished experience, and as the only full time developer.  I know I had always put a TON of time into Soul Saga, but it wasn't until I started testing Soul Saga on Steam that I had something really logging (some of) the hours I spend developing Soul Saga.  It was quite jarring to see the numbers add up (over 100 hours a week).

 

Open World Airship Exploration

The most prominent enhancement to Soul Saga is that the airship exploration will be a seamless open world exploration experience.  You will be able to fly around all of Medonia, exploring every nook and cranny of this beautiful and diverse sky world with your airship.

 

One of the biggest hurdles of moving to a more open-world-like system is that I had to work on the aesthetics quite a bit. I started by identifying the most important aspect of living in a floating island in the sky: the clouds. From there I decided to focus on the clouds until I got them just right, and I really like where we ended up with them:

 

There’s still some polishing I need to do with it before going into more details, so for now here’s a video of my early scene loading prototype I made a few months ago (and have since completed). I’ve made much more exciting progress on airship exploration and am ecstatic to share more with you in the next update!

Kickstarter's Underbelly

Recently I had been approached by some individuals with offers to trade your backer information. I, of course, promptly denied it in my trademarked “emotionally blunt” fashion. However I’ve always felt the need to be as transparent as possible with you, and I felt you needed to know this type of thing DOES exist, and not every project creator may share my views on privacy. Be careful with who you pledge to on Kickstarter, because inevitably they will have a lot of information about you and Kickstarter cannot control what they do with that information.

 

What Do You Think?

I couldn’t have made Soul Saga without you, and I’d love to hear more of your feedback and thoughts. Please feel free to follow me on Twitter, like on Facebook, and join me with other Soul Saga fans in the Disastercake Discord chat channel! Talk to you soon, friend!

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!

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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!