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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 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!

Soul Saga - Update 31 - Controller support and more!

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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

Soul Saga - Update 30 - Cutscenes and Music!

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Hello, Friend!

How are you doing? Is the weather warm where you're at? Summer has brought the heat down upon my back yard, with the temperature is getting close to 80°F (27°C), which to me is way too hot! I actually planted some kiwi vines in front of my window in hopes that they'll grow into a "green screen" of sorts to absorb the sun heat. It's a technique Nozomi taught me that they use in Japan to reduce the heat in the buildings during hot summers. Here's to hoping it can cut down on the air conditioning costs!

 

Cutscenes

Development is going well, and my focus at the moment is the final content of Soul Saga. I'm currently crunching away on the cutscenes. At first they were taking much longer than I was hoping, but as I continued to work with them I created more tools and developed work flows and programming patterns to speed it along. So at the moment they're moving at a more reasonable pace. Because I'm the only person working on the cutscene scripting, dialogue writing, and engine programming it bottlenecks the development process and takes longer than a big studio can do. But with all that aside, seeing the final result of the story in action is just surreal. I often find myself saying "Did I really make this game?!" Here's a little peek of what I've been working on.

 

Testing

One of the biggest challenges of making a JRPG like Soul Saga is testing. Coming from a video game quality assurance background I have high respect for good testing procedures, and often find myself testing regularly rather than putting it off until later. But testing something like a JRPG isn't normally a one man job, so to assist with testing I've created some tools and "hacks" in Soul Saga just for me to speed up the testing process. Some of the tools include a speed hack, scene jumping, and an overpowered Ring of Debugging used to smite my enemies in a single blow! No Torne or Squabble shall slow a test session ever again!

 

Music

Ryan Camus has been hard at work on the Soul Saga soundtrack. Seriously... he's cranking out more songs than I know what to do with at this point, but they're just so amazing I'm making spots for all of it! I really appreciate the hard work he's put into Soul Saga. Music is one of the most important elements of a JRPG, and I'm ecstatic Soul Saga's music will be great! Here's just a few that he's made:

My Best Friend

"My Best Friend" is the catchy and adorable theme song played when Mithos interacts with his best friend in the Soul Saga story, a character to be revealed soon!

Likurk Living

"Likurk Living" is the relaxing theme song played when you visit the different Likurk inhabited areas of Medonia.

Life Is Good

"Life Is Good" is the smooth and relaxing theme song played when in various parts of the game for happier moments. Relax a little, you've earned it! =D

Moonlighter Cross Over!

Moonlighter is a gorgeous and incredibly fun looking 2D action adventure RPG where you play as the owner of an item shop! Your goal as the item shop owner, Will, is to delve into the nearby dungeons to earn treasure and loot to then sell to the traveling adventurers for a profit, one of which will be Mithos from Soul Saga! The mysterious dungeons are constantly changing, so there's a new challenge every time you go spelunking. It was obvious to me as soon as I laid eyes on this project that it was a labor of love by several talented people, including the amazing composer Alec Holowka, who has done great work on the Aquaria and Night in the Woods games. I'm a backer myself and can't wait to see Mithos in Moonlighter!

Will and the Moonlighter shop will also be making an appearance in Soul Saga! Search for the shop hidden away in Medonia's capital and you'll have access to some nice items! Just make sure to bring your Jul.

Moonlighter's Kickstarter ends in just a few days, so please take a look and show them some love! https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/digitalsun/moonlighter

So What Do You Think?

Each day Soul Saga's last 10% gets whittled away, and I get ever closer to sharing my 3 year labor of love with you. Yeah that's right, this month marks the 3 year anniversary of the Kickstarter! Holy Torne cakes! This has been a long and incredible journey, but every ounce of sacrifice was worth the effort. Thank you for everything you've done for me... I couldn't have made Soul Saga without you!

If you have any comments, please let me know below or join us in today's forum topic here: http://forums.disastercake.com/viewtopic.php?f=6&t=931

Soul Saga - Update 29 - User Interface Enhancements

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Hello, friend!

How've you been?! I hope your spring has gone well. Did you know summer's right around the corner already?! Time sure does fly when you're spending all of it working on Soul Saga! I've been focusing on Soul Saga's new user interface lately, and I'd love to show you some of that today!

Beta v9.3 Live!

Beta v9.3 is live and has almost all of the new user interface implemented! This includes the Title Menu, main menu and all sub menus, and part of the shop menus. Next I will work on finishing the shop menus and the crafting menus. The user interface implementation should be 99% done by next week. I'm also planning on adding controller support in pretty soon!

User Interface Enhancements

The biggest change over the past month has been a complete overhaul of the Soul Saga user interface design. The previous betas were simply using placeholder UI. I like to tell people that making a good game with a tight budget should be treated like baking a cake. You don't put on the toppings until you've baked the cake first! And now that Soul Saga is being finalized it's time to start piling on that sugary eye candy frosting!

Title Menu

The title menu sports a black and white background of the beautiful Soul Saga character collage created by Akaneko. The UI designer then created some fancier save file frames, and I programmed in a cool animated glow effect behind them. I also implemented in a couple social networking buttons at the bottom so new fans can easily connect with me to chat about Soul Saga and keep up to date on future Disastercake games!

Main Menu

The main menu sports more coloring in the background, but a bit desaturated and blurred so it doesn't overwhelm the foreground. This is the menu you'll be seeing often in game to access all your information. The goal was to give you some nice eye candy on the landing page of the main menu so you can enjoy your time here.

Other Menus

Many of the menus in Soul Saga will sport a notebook type look to it. The goal is to give the user interface some character by making it look like young Mithos has scribbled this information into his notebook.

New Title Theme

Soul Saga's lead composer, Ryan Camus, has created a new title theme for Soul Saga! This epic and inspiring theme is titled "Dream Big", and it captures the mood and moral message of Soul Saga perfectly.

What Do You Think?

One of the many things that makes Soul Saga unique is the obviously strong impact fans have on development. A recent question I brought up for fans to help decide is whether your airship should cost money to repair or not. Feel free to join us in the discussion on Twitter or on the Disastercake forums.

Thank you!

I'm going to jump right back into working on Soul Saga now! I'm so excited to share Soul Saga with you this year I can't even explain it! I'll always be eternally grateful for the opportunity you've given me to share Soul Saga with you, so thank you, Thank You, THANK YOU!

I'm still aiming to release Soul Saga on the PC, Mac, and Linux by late August, and I'll let you know if that has to be adjusted in the near future. So far everything is coming along well! I'll definitely keep you up to date about console porting soon after the Desktop version has been released.

Please join us on the Disastercake forums do discuss this update here: http://forums.disastercake.com/viewtopic.php?f=6&t=925

Soul Saga - Update 28 - Innovating on the class JRPG combat system

32 likes

Hello, Friend!

Hello, friend! How are you doing today? Is the spring weather treating you well? It's been starting to get warm here, but there's no time to play in the sun! Soul Saga's development is cruising along and I'm crunching in as many humanly feasible hours as possible to get you the best game I can this year!

Beta v9.1 Update!

The update is here! The update is heeeere!!! Yesterday I uploaded the latest Soul Saga Beta version to v9.1 for beta testers to get their hands on. This update is a huge step forward for Soul Saga as it shows off it's final draft of its unique and innovative combat system. If you're a Soul Saga Beta tester, you can find it for download in your humble bundle library now!

Steam Page Live!

Soul Saga's coming soon Steam page is now live! This is a very exciting time for me to be far enough along with my dream project, that YOU helped make, and be this close to sharing it with the world. Thank you! Please let your JRPG loving friends know so they can add it to their wishlist! =)

http://store.steampowered.com/app/251590

New Combat Initiation

Earlier we had a vote among you and other backers whether you'd like to maintain the Final Fantasy inspired combat zone system, or switch over to a more dynamic Chrono Trigger inspired system. The Chrono Trigger inspiration won by a landslide, and I got to work implementing that in for you! The results are fantastic, and you can take a look at how it feels below.

Soul Saga Combat

I'd like to talk with you a little about Soul Saga's combat system and the innovations that drive it. When I started working on Soul Saga, it was my goal to design a system that was inspired by the JRPG classics like Chrono Trigger, Breath of Fire, and Final Fantasy, identify the critical elements that make those systems fun, and innovate around those core design concepts. After identifying the elements I wanted to maintain, I dissected the common elements in JRPGs that were the most critical to address, and I quickly found the number one issue: monotonous battles.

Monotonous battles are an issue present in almost every JRPG and are even in many of the great classics. As you’re walking through those dungeons and you’re forced to fight wave after wave of weak and predictable enemies, you turn off your brain and just keep hitting the “next” button over and over again until you’ve stomped all over them and you're on to the next battle. Well not in Soul Saga!

For Soul Saga I made sure this wasn't the case, and I'm ecstatic to finally share with you the final version of Soul Saga's combat design that has successfully banished that problem.

The Beauty of Self Discovery

The beauty of Soul Saga's Combat system is in discovering exactly how the synergy works for yourself. While this system is new, it's completely understandable with a little experimentation. I'll share an overview of the system with you here, but I'm going to avoid delving deep into different uses and strategies with these mechanics so you can experience the joy of mastering them yourself!

Your actions, your choice!

The core concept behind Soul Saga's battle system is that you have FULL control over when and which of your characters act. You can even delay your actions to pause the enemy's turn.

Intervene Points

Intervene Points (or IP) is the universal bread and butter resource your characters utilize to use their personal skills. In the current beta, you have 3 IP points maximum.

IP can be accumulated by:

  • Taking actions. Every 3 actions generates a new IP point. Enemies also accumulate points this way.
  • Delaying actions. All unspent IP will roll over to the next turn. Delaying will also not consume the current action buff.

Accumulated IP can be used to:

  • Take multiple small actions.
  • Use a single strong skill.
  • Intervene the enemy turn for various strategic reasons.

Intervene!

Intervene is a unique concept that allows you to pause the enemy's turn to use any IP you've accumulated. You can utilize this to initiate different types of strategies for time critical situations.

Wheel of Morai

The synergy of all these systems comes together perfectly with the Wheel of Morai. The Morai Wheel is a device in the bottom right corner of the screen that foretells the buffs and debuffs that the next 5 actions will be afflicted with.

The most common effects are:

Double Attack Power

This buff will increase the actor's attack power to 200%, strengthening damage dealing skills.

Double Support Power

This buff will increase the actor's support power to 200%, strengthening healing and shielding skills.

Half Attack Power

This buff will reduce the actor's attack power to 50%, weakening damage dealing skills.

Half Support Power

This buff will reduce the actor's support power to 50%, weakening healing and shielding skills.

Synergy = Strategy

By taking advantage of the IP, delaying, and intervening systems, you can manipulate which team and actors consume which buffs and debuffs to turn the tide of any battle! The great thing about this system is that it's simple, but dynamic, so you're always thinking for every turn in every battle.

Hopes and wishes to Kumamoto, Japan

You may have heard about the recent earthquakes in southern Japan and the devastation it's wrecking on the families there. One of Soul Saga's key members, Nozomi, is from that region of Japan. She has requested time off to take care of her family during these trying times and I will be making adjustments to Soul Saga's timeline as needed. My sincere condolences go out to the people of Japan, especially Nozomi and her family. She has been a critical part of Soul Saga's successful development from the beginning and I wish nothing but the best for her.

Adjusted Release ETA

Earlier this year I had set a hopeful release date of June, but with everything happening at this point it may be rushing things a bit. To reduce the chance of delays I'd like to say that August is a safer release schedule. However, I will be trying my best to get it earlier than that for you. Thank you very much for your patience while we finish up Soul Saga for your enjoyment!

Thank You!

Thank you, thank you, THANK YOU for having given me this opportunity to create Soul Saga for you. I seriously can not wait to share it with you later this year! Please join me and other Soul Saga backers in the forums to discuss this update here:

http://forums.disastercake.com/viewtopic.php?f=6&t=912

I'm very excited to get your feedback on the final draft of Soul Saga's combat system!