How have you been? I hope your summer is going great! Soul Saga has made some awesome progress over the past month, and I’m here today to share it with you!
Porting from Unity 4 to Unity 5
Most of the time spent over the past month was on porting Soul Saga from Unity 4 to Unity 5. Unity 5 was released several months ago, and it came with many changes. Very few of the changes affected Soul Saga in anyway, but a few were the lighting, shaders, performance gains, and tighter native integration with porting to the consoles Soul Saga is headed to. Since the lighting and shaders changed drastically between Unity 4 to 5, I’ve been having to weak it quite a bit. It’s not quite back to where it was before, but it’s getting closer. There are also changes in the way the water shaders look now, and the characters. Over time I will be tweaking with them and trying to get them to a point we are all happy with.
Porting From NGUI to Unity's Native "New GUI"
I also had to port the entire menu system to Unity’s new native GUI instead of the 3rd party solution I was using (called NGUI). This has been a pretty hard one to pull off. I’m pretty much done with it now, but it took almost 2 weeks to do it by myself. The GUI pretty much had to be completely redone from scratch following the previous GUI’s guidelines. It was a lot of work, but worth it in the end. The risk of using 3rd Party plugins with Unity has begun to be very clear as many developers of Unity plugins begin to abandon them in spite of some of their high costs. The creator of NGUI has been around for a long time and shows no signs of stopping, but it’s best to move on to Unity’s native GUI solution so that there is no risk of the UI package being unsupported later on.
Like with all new technologies, Unity 5 is a bit unstable. At the moment, Unity crashes whenever I try to bake the lighting. This means that there will be a big performance from real-time lighting until I can figure out how to resolve the issue. This will hopefully be resolved in the nearby future, and will definitely be resolved before Soul Saga’s release.
Garen’s Saga is the playable storyline of one of Soul Saga’s antagonists, Garen. We touched on Garen’s introduction in previous beta’s, and the feedback was great. Since I’m only one developer I only have time to work on one storyline at a time, so for now we will focus completely on Mithos’ Saga in the beta. I’m very excited to work more on Garen’s Saga once I find the time after finishing Mithos’ Saga, and will reveal more information on how Garen’s Saga is implemented into Soul Saga at a later date.
New Features Added Based On Fan Feedback
The feedback from Soul Saga fans like you has been phenomenal. Everyone is loving the beta so far and has plenty of ideas of things they’d love to see implemented. I’m doing my best to get to the ones we all agree on in the Voting Booth section of the forum. Here are a few that I’ve added this update:
Chain Battles are the most exciting addition to this beta version. In previous versions, if you had 5 enemies chasing you on the map and you eventually got caught, you would have to fight each one in its own individual battle, causing you to jump quickly between combat and field mode. Now, with chain battles, all nearby enemies get put into “waves” in one single battle, and the amount of waves gives bonus EXP, JUL, and Item Drop rates. This adds a lot to the dimension of the gameplay by giving purpose to gathering as many enemies as possible. But be warned: if you leave the chain early you get no rewards!
New Escape Mechanic
Escaping use to be a flat 30% chance to escape. This worked okay, but a streak of bad luck could be an anger inducing experience. To ease this, I have made it so that a character gets a buff called “Planning Escape” each time they fail to escape. This increases their escape chance by 10% each time they fail, progressively making it easier to escape each time they try. Essentially this also means that the most times you need to try and escape is 8; still a high number for those very down on their luck, but at least you know that 100% guarantee will come eventually.
Fast Travel Home
In your main menu you can now find a “Go Home” button, which will conveniently teleport you back to your bound location. This is the same location you would teleport to if you lose in combat. In the beta this is Mithos’ Bedroom.
There is now an option for your game to auto-save! This auto-saving is no different from normal saving, except that you just have to step near a save point for it to automatically save instead of needing to click the save button. When your game auto-saves, you will get a convenient toast pop-up in the bottom right hand corner of the screen. Autosaving is on by default and can be easily toggled on or off in the options menu.
Start Menu Enhancements
Difficulty Level Pictures Added
We had touched on the difficulty level names in the past, and now they have pictures to help portray their respective personas! These beautiful pictures, drawn by Akaneko, capture both the difficulty levels and the Disastercake Universe characters they portray very elegantly.
Save File Preview Updated
The Save file preview has been updated to show a little more information, including the beautiful character portraits drawn by Akaneko. It now contains each of the 4 party members, the party leaders name and level, the difficulty mode, your total Jul, the time played, and the location you last saved at.
Combat UI Prototype Touched Up
Combat now has a pause menu! In previous beta versions you couldn’t access settings or exit the game while in combat. In Soul Saga Beta v6 you can access all of these menu options, plus a few more like your quests and achievements to double check what you need to do while in combat. This can be accessed by pressing the ESC key while in combat, or pressing on the Icon when available.
Combat Tooltips have also seen a little bit of a makeover:
- Combat Tooltips now appear at the top of the screen top instead of over the other UI. This helps clean up any tangents and keep the screen organized.
- The advanced tooltips will now show or dismiss immediately when shift is pressed instead of having to hover over them again.
Increased Mouse Usability
My goal with Soul Saga is to make the controls so streamlined that it can be played with only a mouse (if you like to play that way). Other input options will also be available in time, but it just feels good when a developer takes the time to make mouse implementation work smoothly. To help move the UI in that direction I have added buttons to the combat menu for canceling selections and going back through the menu so that it can be completely used by a mouse. There is also a menu icon that pops up during the character selection screen so you can go to the combat pause menu via mouse without having to press Esc.
Radar Minimap Implemented
Another great addition to the UI is the new Radar Minimap. This is a minimap to the top right of the screen that can be toggled on and off by clicking on it, or pressing the M button. This hotkey will be changeable later when the key bindings window is reworked. I chose a very subtle design so that it doesn’t steal attention, but is still useful and clear with its information. This minimap also works well on the world map by rotating with the camera so forward is always up on the minimap.
Save File Optimizations
Several enhancements were made with file saving and loading.
- Optimized the way files are saved and loaded by ~60% performance gains. This will help make sure autosaving does not cause any hiccups.
Previous beta save files will be obsolete, so please be sure to not use them in a new game.
- Error handling added. The Save Slot will display that the file has an error. You can delete it via the normal methods through the game. For safety reasons, it doesn’t automatically try to delete the file in case of bugs that can be fixed.
Error handling will continue to be built on over time to ensure quality performance for players.
Changed The Location Of Save Files
My goal with save files was to put them in a location that was easily accessible. In previous betas I put them directly into the game’s directory, but this caused problems when running the game from a location that couldn’t be written to, like directly from the zip folder. It also meant that in the future, removing an old version of Soul Saga would delete the save files if they weren’t manually backed up. I wanted to make this a better experience for you, so I sought after a new solution.
I found a remedy for the issue where it now saves Soul Saga files to the My Documents folder in Windows, and the equivalent location for Mac and Linux. This will allow users to easily carry save files between updates and not accidently delete them if they delete deprecated versions of Soul Saga. This should also allow players to run Soul Saga directly from un-writable locations like the zipped download folder.
I would really appreciate it if the Mac and Linux beta testers could please report to me whether this save file path works for you, and where it is saving it exactly on those systems so I can add it to the FAQ.
Beta testers should still delete save files between Beta updates because of how drastic the changes are to the game each update.
And Tons More!
I’ve also gone through and fixed many bugs reported by Beta Testers, implemented additional features, and also working vigorously on content for the final version of the game. We’re getting very close to being able to state a solid release date, and I’m excited to be able to share that with you when the time comes!
Shout Out To Slynk
As you may already know, I am the only programmer on Soul Saga. It’s pretty tough having to do everything myself, and a friend and backer of Soul Saga, nicknamed Slynk, has taken some time out of his busy schedule to help me with part of the user interface code. He created an optimized scrollview list so that many items can be displayed in a scrollview, and it only takes a small number of resources to display them all. This cleared up some time on my end, so I’m very grateful for his help on this. Thank you very much, Slynk!
Thank you very much for being a great fan! I couldn’t have gotten Soul Saga where it is today without your support, and I’m eternally grateful you’ve been there for me through its entire development. I can’t wait to get the final version of Soul Saga in your hands!
What Do You Think?
I love to hear your feedback, so please join us on the forums to discuss it! You can find this update’s thread here: