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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 - Our 5th Anniversary

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Happy 5 year Anniversary, Friend!

5 years ago. from this exact day, I came to Kickstarter as a young developer with a dream: to make a fun game inspired by the classics I loved from my childhood.  At first I just planned to find a way to fund Soul Saga's development, but through Kickstarter I found much more.  I found support, I found friends, and most importantly: I found a reason to live.  Without you, I wouldn't have had the motivation to continue.

In a previous post I covered some of what I've had to sacrifice to keep working on Soul Saga.  Since then, I left my entire life behind to return to the exact place I started Soul Saga: my parent's basement.  I haven't left the farm since I got here half a year ago, because every waking moment has been dedicated to working on Soul Saga.  It's been a long journey with a lot of pain and heartbreak... and if I had the chance to start over, I'd do it all again.

I set out to make a love letter to JRPG classics and ended up making a love letter to you, my friends.  From the first moment I wake up, to the last moment I fall asleep, my only goal is to one day see you proud of the game you and I have created together.  This is why I've been gathering your feedback and applying it to Soul Saga.  I'm making this game for you, and it's you that has pushed Soul Saga to be the best game it can be.

Earlier this year I had hoped to have Soul Saga finished by July.  Since then I have done nearly nothing but work on Soul Saga. While I haven't been able to completely finish it yet, I've gotten a lot done.  However, after a lifetime of combating mental health diseases and the past 5 years pushing me beyond limits, it's become very obvious that toiling away alone will not be a feasible way to handle the remainder of Soul Saga's development.  It's time that we try something new.

Early Access in July

Lately I've been looking back on the past 5 years of Soul Saga's development cycle and analyzing my own personal strengths and weaknesses to plan a realistic route to Soul Saga's completion.  What I've found is that the most valuable strength I have isn't from within myself... it's you.  Soul Saga could never have been as polished as it is today without your feedback and support.  And the only way I can complete Soul Saga is if you can help me figure out the best way to utilize what its world has to offer.  And we'll do that through early access.

In July I will be releasing Soul Saga in an early access state.  At the moment it's not nearly the game it can be or the game that you truly deserve, but with you and I working together, one day it will be.

World Map

Above you'll find Soul Saga's world map, illustrated by the talented Gracie Cole.

You might recall that Soul Saga's world is split into three layers:

  • Medonia, a land of floating sky islands
  • the Tempest Reef, a protective cloud layer Medonia sits on
  • the surface world of Oterra, an ancient world ravaged by terrible evils

The explorable areas of the first Soul Saga game focuses on Mithos and his friends in their younger years and their adventures among the floating sky islands of Medonia.  The world map above illustrates the broad layout of Medonia, which includes:

  • Dunhaven, the capital city of Medonia and seat of the Guild Senate.
  • Tanglewood, a deadly forest grown out of the roots of the mysterious Dragontree.
  • Rustbelt, the abandoned junkyard of ancient, forbidden technology.

The explorable area of Medonia is an open world design.  If you see it, you can fly there!  The world is split up into a 7x6 grid, identified similar to a spreadsheet with a combination of letters and numbers.  If you look close enough during your adventures, you'll find that each area has something of interest in it: forgotten wonders, epic flying bosses, treasure, and even hidden dungeons.

New Airship Design

In Soul Saga, your airship is like a part of your team.  To give it a bit more personality, I've added a mouth and eyes.  The mouth also serves another purpose: it spits bullets!  I really like this design because it follows the cute aesthetic and strong personality that all of Soul Saga's characters have in this beautiful world.

Twitter Update Summary

I often use Twitter as an easy way to get out bite sized information and connect with fans.  Here's a summary of important Twitter updates I've had lately.

            
    

Public Roadmap on Trello

I've created a (mostly) spoiler-free public roadmap on Trello so that you can follow along with Soul Saga's development, understand the priority ranking of different tasks, and have a stronger understanding of exactly what's left.  With a complex game like Soul Saga, pieces are always moving and changing, so a live kanban styled roadmap is a great way to deliver that information to you.

Want to change your key?

Many backers have asked to change their key to Steam, Humble Bundle, or GOG so they can get in on Soul Saga's early access and help me further with development.  If you pledged for a console key, and would like to change it to a Desktop version, please send me a private message on Kickstarter, or shoot me an e-mail (mike at disastercake.com) if you pledged through Paypal.

Moonlighter

If you're a fan of Recettear or if the idea of running your own item shop tingles yours toes, you have to check out Moonlighter.  Moonlighter has some of the most beautiful pixel art, music, and fun gameplay I've seen in a long time.  If you're lucky, Mithos might actually visit your shop in Moonlighter!  And if you look hard enough in Soul Saga, you might find something of Moonlighter that's crossed over...

What do you think?

 I love you, and your opinion matters to me more than anything else.  I've always promoted a transparent and open communication between us, but now more than ever with this last stretch of Soul Saga's development I need to know what's on your mind.  Please feel free to join myself and other fans in the Disastercake Discord channel and have a chat!

Click here to join Disastercake's Discord channel.

Soul Saga delayed 5 more years: Dog ate my only backup

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Hello, friends...

Today I have some horrible news: my dog ate the only backup of Soul Saga.

5 years down the drain...

But don't worry, I'll get back to work right away.  I just have to start from the beginning...

Unrelated: anyone want some hot dogs?

Soul Saga – Update 37 – Goodbye 2017, Hello Soul Saga Release Date!

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Hello, Friend!

Hey there, friend!  It's been a while.  How have you been?  I hope 2018 has started off well for you.  It's certainly been much better than 2017 for me.  Speaking of which...

Goodbye, 2017!

Oh 2017, how I loved you so.  Let us count the ways...

 

  • Evicted - At the beginning of 2017, a faulty water heater installation led to my landlord terminating my lease.  I was given a 1 month notice to vacate the home I had lived for 6 years.  It was morally devastating that I couldn't finish Soul Saga in the same space I had launched the Kickstarter, but such is life.  Then I was barely able to find and settle into new housing before...

 

  • Divorced - Immediately following the previous Soul Saga update, my wife divorced me stating the core reason to be my inability to maintain a work-life balance with Soul Saga.  I tried my best to resolve the issue, but Soul Saga's immense presence made it impossible for the marriage to work.  As a result, I was forced to leave my new home, evicted for the second time in 2017.  This led to...

 

 

  • Homeless - My unwavering dedication to Soul Saga has left me a homeless wanderer.  For almost half a year now, I've been floating between different living situations--some days forced to live out of my car.  I tried my best to keep an optimistic attitude, but as you can imagine this situation made it very difficult to focus on development.  That changes now...

Moving Forward

So bye-bye, 2017!  You won't be missed.

I was hoping to finally get Soul Saga to you by the end of 2017, but these obstacles made last year the hardest time of Soul Saga's development (and the hardest time of my life).  Thankfully, 2017 is now behind us.  Although I'm still technically homeless, I'm focused and determined to deliver Soul Saga to you this year.  Which brings us to the good news...

Soul Saga Release Date: July 2018

 

Over the years following Soul Saga's Kickstarter, I have gathered mountains of art assets, written a bazillion story variations, and experimented with gameplay in countless different ways.  Each iteration of these elements always had you and your feedback in immediate consideration because the only thing I've ever wanted to do is make a game you and I can both be proud of.  Being the world's first solo developer to create a classic 3D JRPG with the production quality of Soul Saga has taken me through immense trials and tribulations. But the light is finally at the end of the tunnel.  I believe that...

Soul Saga will be ready by July 2018!  July of this year will mark Soul Saga's Kickstarter's 5th anniversary and it's a conveniently appropriate time to finally get you the humble JRPG I've been working on for so long.  The desktop version will be released first and polish will be applied based on fan feedback.  Information regarding console porting will come after fan feedback has been applied to the Desktop version of Soul Saga.

Stay tuned for further updates regarding Soul Saga in the near future!

What do you think?

You are the reason I wake up in the morning, which is why I'm extremely grateful for us all to have the Disastercake Discord channel.  Discord makes connecting an effortless breeze, so feel free to jump in and join us in all of the JRPG discussions.

You can join the Disastercake Community by clicking here.

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.