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!
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...
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:
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
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.
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.
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.
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.