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A love letter to J-RPG classics from the Playstation era like Final Fantasy, Breath of Fire, Suikoden, and Persona.
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Disastercake

5,631 backers pledged $195,528 to help bring this project to life.

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Soul Saga - Update 15 - Battle System

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Hello, Friend!

How have you been? I hope your new year has been going well so far. Soul Saga has made some major progress in the past 3 weeks and I just couldn’t wait any longer to share it with you! I’ve just put Soul Saga Beta v4 up on your Humble Bundle download page (if you’re a beta tester).

Beta Access!

If you’re not a beta tester yet, please consider supporting Soul Saga by purchasing the Soul Saga Guildmaster’s Collection! You’ll get access to the private Disastercake forums where we all vote on gameplay features, and lots of digital goodies when they’re complete, like the art book, soundtrack, a copy of Soul Saga, and beta access!

http://www.humblebundle.com/store/product/soulsaga_guildmastersedition/skdTlswi1kd9k

If you've already bought a copy of the game and just want the beta access, you can grab that here!

http://www.humblebundle.com/store/product/soulsaga_beta/skdTlswi1kd9k

If you should have Beta access but haven't gotten it yet, please put the e-mail from your Kickstarter survey into this Humble Bundle key resender:

https://www.humblebundle.com/resender

Soul Saga could never have been this great without you, so thank you very much for your support! =D

Enhanced Battle System

The biggest enhancement in this update is to the Battle System. Combat systems in a RPG are one of the most important aspects. I’ve spent a lot of time with Soul Saga’s battle system to bring you a unique and fun experience. There is a lot to go over, so let’s start from the top!

Team Based Turn Order!

In the previous Beta versions turn order was determined by speed. My biggest concern with this type of system is that it is very hard to balance. It’s also very hard, as a player, to determine when speed is more valuable than something like health or attack. With Soul Saga’s new battle system I set out to try and reinvent how this turn order works exactly and I came up with something that works extremely well: Team Based turns.

In this new system an entire team will move at the same time, moving any character in any order they want. When they have completed every character’s turn, then the opposing team gets to move all of their characters. Being able to act in this way allows for the player to have a lot more control over their character’s actions to build countless strategies. For example, perhaps you want Garen to stun the Spearman to disable his counter attack before Miera moves in for the kill with Omnistab. Or perhaps you want Miera to Expose weakness on the Swordsman to give Garen that extra boost to his execute to break through the Heavy Armor. The choice is yours! But the strategy doesn’t stop there…

Intervening!

Intervening allows a character to interject into the enemy’s turn at the cost of 1 IP (intervene point) to immediately act. IP is gained by using the defend skill. Each time a character defends they gain 1 IP, up to a maximum of 2. Intervene can be used in a lot of different ways, like to strategically place debuffs at the perfect times, heal characters that are at high risk of dying, or to throw up a defend skill to prevent incoming damage. It adds a whole other dimension to the strategic possibilities of Soul Saga’s combat system.

Ambushing And Flanking!

One of my favorite things about Soul Saga is that while on the field you can see your enemies. While that’s pretty cool itself, this update has made it even cooler by giving you bonuses for attacking your opponents from behind! On the flip side, you will be equally penalized if the enemy gets you by the tail! The different combat initiations that can occur are:

  • Even Ground – Occurs when both the player and enemy are facing each other on the field. The team to act first is randomly chosen based on a coin flip.
  • Flanking – If either the player or enemy approaches their target from the side, that team is guaranteed to act first.
  • Ambush – If either the player or the enemy are facing away from the other when combat initiates, the team that did the ambushing will get 2 turns in a row at the beginning of combat!

Shenanigan

Shenanigan is a very interesting ability that will be used a lot throughout the game once it’s implemented further. It will be a way for you to interact with different elements on the combat field like pulling levers, breaking an ally free from sticky spider webbing, and many other useful functions.

Reviving

Shenanigan’s most useful feature is its ability to revive a fallen ally. When I designed Soul Saga’s combat system I set out to find a way to add a unique spin to reviving fallen team members. The classic way of just dropping an item on them is good, but I really wanted something that was a bit more interesting. Enter Shenanigan’s most important feature: reviving fallen allies!

The way Shenanigan works when reviving fallen allies is pretty cool. When an ally falls in combat, they gain a Death Penalty debuff. If they already have a debuff, a “Stack” is added to it which increases its count. The amount of Death Penalty stacks determines how difficult it is for the character to be revived.

For example, the first time Garen falls in battle, Miera only has to use Shenanigan on him once. The second time requires 2 uses of Shenanigan, the third 3 times, the fourth 4 times, and so on in that manner until the debuff caps at 10.

This system puts a lot of value and strategy into making sure that your allies stay alive since you can’t easily revive them 99 times in a flash like other RPG combat systems.

Lunchbox

The lunchbox is Soul Saga’s unique spin on the classic item system. When I started working on Soul Saga I set out to design a way to make combat as strategic as possible. One of the things that I found would often remove strategy elements from RPGs were having access to a warehouse of items in your pockets. I had played games where you managed character’s individual inventories that attempted to counter this, but those systems get very heavy and bogged down with micro management. So I tried to find a fun and interesting way to turn the classic item system into a more thoughtful and strategic system. In the end, the Lunchbox was invented!

Each character carries their own lunchbox. Each meal has different effects and has a certain number of charges before the lunchbox becomes empty. Later, when the cooking is implemented, you will get a “taste” of how this system works and the great amount of variety in the cooking recipes!

Beta Testers will find their lunchbox is currently filled with Officer’s Rations, which heal for 500 HP and has 4 charges. There is currently no way to refill the lunchbox, so use them wisely!

Flee

Because of how important battle initiation is, I wanted to make sure fleeing wasn’t able to be abused. So the way fleeing works is that each character must flee individually, and they only have a 30% chance to successfully run away. If one character gets away, but the rest are stuck behind and fall in battle, the game will still continue on the field.

New Character Skills!

Garen's Skills

Last update we were introduced to Garen’s skills, but a little has evolved in the past few weeks. So let’s take a moment to reiterate over them and highlight the changes.

Rage: Garen’s abilities consume a unqiue resource called Rage. He builds rage by taking damage and also dealing it with Raging Strike.

  • Anger Management (Passive) – Garen gains 10 rage when struck by damage.
  • Raging Strike – Garen strikes the target for (Attack x1) damage and gains 10 rage.
  • Hail of Knives – Garen consumes 10 rage per enemy to throw a knife at each of them for (Attack x1) damage. This is a ranged attack.
  • Overpower – Garen consumes 30 rage to deal (Attack x1) and stun the target for their next turn.
  • Execute – Garen consumes all of his rage to deal ( (Attack x0.2) x ( CurrentRage x 0.2 ) ). If Garen kills the target, his entire party is healed for (Support x1).

Miera's Skills

New to this update is Miera’s skill load out! Miera is a powerful and exciting character that specializes in swiftly out maneuvering her foes to expose their weaknesses.

Energy: Miera’s unique resource is called Energy. Miera gains energy naturally each turn, from Swift Strike, and from counter attacking with Kill Stance.

  • Energetic – Miera gains 10 energy at the beginning her turn.
  • Swift Strike – Miera strikes the target dealing (Attack x1) damage and generating 10 energy.
  • Kill Stance – Miera readies herself to pounce on any opponent that approaches her. If she is struck by a melee attack, she will immediately counter dealing (Attack x1.5) damage and generates 10 energy. Miera will also gain a shield that absorbs the first ( Support x1 ) damage she receives.
  • Expose Weakness – Miera consumes 50 energy to strikes deep into the target for (Attack x1) damage and causing them to take (Support x0.5) extra damage from physical attacks.
  • Omnistab – Miera consumes all of her energy to strike the target once for each 10 energy consumed, dealing (Attack x0.3) each attack.

Enemy Skills Implemented!

I’ve also begun implementing in the enemy skills. In Soul Saga I want the enemy’s to have as unique of skills as the main hero’s to make Soul Saga’s Combat system as fun as it can be!

Swordsman

  • Heavy Armor – Reduces damage taken from Physical attacks by 50%.
  • Protect Ally – If the selected ally is targeted by an enemy, jump in the way

Spearman

  • Counter Attack – Can counter attack any melee attacks.
  • Multi-Strike – Attacks 3 times for 50% damage each strike.

Gunman

  • Aim Shot – Charge up an attack to unleash it the next round for 3x normal damage.

Lots Of Synergy!

As you can probably tell just from the descriptions, there is a LOT of synergy and combinations that can occur. Not just among the enemies themselves, but also in how the skills of the player react. I would go into detail, but I’d really like you to experiment yourself to find out what they all do and how to counter them!

Difficult Mode Enhancements!

Soul Saga’s difficulty modes have also seen more implementation to them this update. When designing functionality for the difficulty modes I really wanted each one to have its own unique personality. If the modes simply dealt more damage or had more HP, it would just entice power leveling instead of actually bringing a new strategy. Well we can’t have that in a game as cool as Soul Saga, now can we!

In Soul Saga the different difficulty modes actually alter the way the enemies act and the skills they have. In higher difficulties the enemies are a bit more relentless and mean with their targeting, and they have many extra skills to enhance their combat prowess. Here are some example from the enemies currently in the Beta v4.

Swordsman

Cake

  • Randomly chooses to either protect a target or attack the player.
  • Protecting a target will consume the swordsman’s turn.

Vanille

  • Will always try to protect a target with high priority (Any Gunman or anyone with below 30% HP). If a priority target doesn’t exist, he will attack the player.
  • Protecting a target will consume the swordsman’s turn.

Jacked

  • Protecting an ally does not consume a turn, so the swordsman will always be protecting an ally.
  • Will attack a random player character every turn.
  • When protecting a targeted ally, the swordsman will also counter attack the player’s character.

Spearman

Cake Mode

  • Will randomly choose to either add a Counter Attack buff to himself or attack.
  • Adding a counter attack buff only lasts 1 round and consumes a turn.

Vanille Mode

  • Always has Counter Attack buff enabled passively.
  • Will randomly choose to use either a normal attack or multi-strike attack.

Jacked Mode

  • Always has counter attack buff enabled passively.
  • Will always multi-strike a random target.

Gunman

Cake Mode

  • Randomly chooses to either attack or Aim Shot a random target.
  • Aim Shot takes 2 turns to fire.

Vanille Mode

  • Randomly chooses to either attack or Aim Shot a random target.
  • Aim Shot takes 1 turn to fire.

Jacked Mode

  • Will always Aim Shot and always targets the character with the lowest HP.
  • Aim Shot takes 1 turn to fire.

Where's Disaster Mode?!

You may notice that Disaster Mode is not mentioned, but fear not my friend! I will go into more detail on Disaster mode in a future update.

Other Cool Stuff!

I was able to add a lot of other neat stuff into Soul Saga since the last update. Here’s a few you might notice in Beta v4:

  • Can see target data by hovering over the character.
  • Added a secret item into the first scene. Many more to come!
  • Can sleep in the bunks in the dorm to replenish HP and AP.
  • Quest items now appear in inventory.
  • Placeholder Game Over text implemented.
  • The “Item Get!”, “Good Night”, and “Game Over” themes were composed by Ryan Camus. Ryan has done a lot of work on Soul Saga’s soundtrack and I’m excited to be able to show you his amazing work!

A Special Shout Out!

I’d like to make a special shout out to all of the beta testers. They’ve been doing an amazing job finding bugs and helping me squash them. I’m amazed at the talent you all have and I couldn’t do this without you, so thank you from the bottom of my heart!

And Thank You!

And thank you so much for being a great fan! I would love to hear your thoughts about the battle system so far, so please drop a comment or join us in this update’s forum thread here:

http://forums.disastercake.com/viewtopic.php?f=6&t=571

Seeya next time! =D

Soul Saga - Update 14

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Happy New Years!

Happy New Years! Let's kick this year off with a juicy Soul Saga Beta update!

Beta v3 is Live!

Everyone who pledged extra for the beta access should now be able to access the latest beta that just went live today through their Humble Bundle accounts. Today's is titled "Beta v3".

What's New?

Since Soul Saga's Kickstarter about a year and a half ago, a lot has progressed with Soul Saga's development. This update focuses on starting to bring in the unique hybrid combat resource system you and I talked about during the Kickstarter and also voted on in the forums.

Hybrid Resource System

At the moment, Garen is the first to be implemented, and Miera will come soon. Let's take a look at Garen as an example. Garen uses 2 resource systems:

Rage

Garen has a unique resource called rage. When he uses his "Raging Strike" skill or is attacked, he gains rage. This rage can be spent on his unique abilities that other characters can't use. His skills consist of:

  • Anger Management - Passive skill that allows Garen to gain rage when he's hit.
  • Raging Strike - Deals (Attack x1) to a single target and generates 10 rage.
  • Hail of Knives - Garen throws knives at every enemy dealing (Attack x1) to each. The cost of this skill increases by 15 rage per enemy on the field, but the first enemy has no cost. (This is a ranged skill, which will produce different results in battles later after it is implemented further.)
  • Overpower - Garen spends 50 rage to deal (Attack x1) to a single target and break their defenses. (There are no defenses to break at this point in the beta. They will be added later.)
  • Execute - Garen spends all of his rage to deal (Attack x.2 X Rage x.2). The damage increases the more Rage he has. If the enemy dies, Garen and his team are healed for (Support x1).

These are just prototype names and are subject to change. The functionality is also always subject to adjustment based on balancing.

Amber Points

When aether energy gathers and crystalizes it becomes a gem known as Amber. Amber is utilized by Alchemist's to create stones that allow even non-alchemists to utilize magical powers. Each amber contains the ability to cast one skill, and up to 4 amber can be equipped.

Unlike Garen's other skills, Amber uses AP (Amber Points). AP can only be recovered through rest in a safe location, like town. Currently there is no way to recover your AP in the beta, but it will be added later.

Skill Menu

Skill Menu
Skill Menu

There is a skill menu where you can check out all of a character's available skills, including their amber. From here you can cast healing skills to heal up allies out of combat at the expense of valuable AP.

Equip Amber in the Equipment Menu

Make sure to equip your amber in the equipment menu! If you don't equip the amber, you can't utilize their useful powers! For testing purposes in the beta, you will find 2 Healing Touch and Fireball ambers ready for use in your inventory. I recommend putting one of each on Garen and Miera.

Tooltips

Simple Tooltip
Simple Tooltip

There are now descriptive tooltips in combat and in the Skill Menu that should tell you almost everything you need to know about a skill. The default tooltips are compact in their information for easier understanding, but if you hold shift before the tooltip pops up then you can also see a more advanced tooltip with the calculations used to determine damage or resource costs. This can be useful so you understand what equipment to wear for the role you're aiming for with a character.

Advanced Tooltip
Advanced Tooltip

Awesome!  So what's next?

The "to do" list is large, but here are some things that will be implemented to the combat system in the near future:

  • A new turn based system implemented.
  • Intervene Points and functionality implemented.
  • Shenanigan skill implemented.
  • Lunchbox cooking and usage implemented.

What are all of those? Well, I'll reveal that in good time, my friend! This is just what's on the foreseeable horizon, and a lot more is to come. =)

So what do you think?

I love talking with you and am always excited to hear your valuable feedback, so please let me know what you think in the forums! You can find today's official update thread here.

Thank You!

Thank you so much for being such an amazing fan and a great friend! You've made all of this possible and I am eternally grateful for all of your kind words and support on this monumental journey. I hope you have a fantastic new year, and I know it will be a great one for Soul Saga!

Soul Saga Beta v2 is Live!

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Hello, friend!

Just a quick update today to let you know that Soul Saga Beta v2 is live! If you pledged for beta access, then you can find it in your Humble Bundle library. If you can't find it, please message Humble Bundle at contact@humblebundle.com. Please make sure to clarify with them that you do not have a purchase number, and that you pledged through Kickstarter.

What's New?

This update addresses all of the critical bugs plus more that were reported in the Disastercake forums from Beta v1. It also contains builds for the PC, Linux, and Mac. You can find the patch notes here.

Thank You!

I'd like to thank all of the awesome beta testers for their excellent and dedicated hard work. Bug testing is hard stuff, and your dedication makes it very clear that you love Soul Saga just as much as I do. I can't wait to do more feedback polling and bug squashing with you!

Beta v1 is Live!

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The Beta is here!

I just wanted to make a quick note to everyone that the beta can be downloaded from your Humble Bundle rewards page if you pledged for that.  I'm really excited to see what you think so far, even though it is an extremely rough work in progress.  Please report any bugs or feedback to the Disastercake forums.

Please post bugs here:

http://forums.disastercake.com/viewforum.php?f=21

And please post feedback with a voting poll here:

http://forums.disastercake.com/viewforum.php?f=18

General discussions and feedback that's not voted on should go here:

http://forums.disastercake.com/viewtopic.php?f=6&t=456&start=40

Please read the warnings of known game breaking bugs here:

http://forums.disastercake.com/viewtopic.php?f=7&t=459

Thank You!

Thank you very much for your time , and I look forward to chatting with you on the forums!

Soul Saga - Update 13

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HELLO, FRIEND!

It’s been a while! How have you been? Soul Saga is pushing forward, and I’ve got quite the update for you today!

BETA BEGINS SOON!

The beta is very rough at the moment and only contains about 10-15 minutes of the first portion of the game, and is not feature complete or polished, but that’s the point of a beta! Beta v1 is more of a late Alpha and will be patched regularly with content and features. It contains most of the basic functionality, but everything will be polished up and added to over time, and I’m excited to have you a part of that process! Soul Saga has always been about involving you in every part of it’s creation, including character designs, gameplay elements, story, stability, and overall fun of the game. I can’t wait to get your thoughts on the Disastercake Forums and polish everything based on your valuable feedback!

The beta build that will be uploaded to Humble Bundle within a day or two (after a little testing and stability touch-ups) for backers who pledged for that feature. This is the first time I’ve sent something to Humble Bundle for uploading, so we’ll see how long it takes. I estimate it will take at least a few days.

GAREN’S SAGA CONFIRMED!

The current scene in the beta may come as a surprise to you. It revolves around Garen! Garen in his earlier years, in fact. Garen is a very robust character with huge amounts of development. Even though we didn’t meet the stretch goal, and fell even further from it with the dropped pledges, I felt it would be a shame not to include his full story as playable into Soul Saga for you to enjoy.

I have more surprising gifts and treats for you as well that I will reveal in later updates!

CURRENT STATE OF DEVELOPMENT

The scene in the beta is only a tiny portion of the overall game. There is so much more done and all that’s really left is to put it all in the engine and polish up gameplay. The art and programming side of development has come along greatly. On the backside of things, all of the engine functionality is in the game. The amount of concept art and 3D characters/monsters left to do can be counted on one hand, the 3D environment art has almost all been completed, the level design is a long way through, the story has been written and completed, the majority of the music has been composed and mixed. The only thing that has lagged behind too much is the animations.

As I’m sure many are already aware from the conversations we’ve all been having on the Disastercake forums, there was around $15,000 in dropped pledges. Not from Kickstarter’s cut or taxes, just simply people not following through with their pledges. The $10,000 backer was one, and then there were some others. On top of that, the two art studios I planned on utilizing had increased their pricing on me after the Kickstarter, making it impossible to utilize them and still meet the stretch goals that I had defined based on their initial quotes. To be clear, this wasn’t artists asking for more, it was middle men between myself and the artists. This has made things rather difficult for me when trying to staff the project because A) we had a very defined style to match and B) we had developed the project scope based on who was lined up to do the project. After a lot of struggling and time spent restaffing, I was able to pull through it and get you an art style that closely resembled the Kickstarter pitch while maintaining a unique personality.

Even though we’ve had these bumps, I’ve spent a lot of time meticulously searching and negotiating to try and find the right staff for Soul Saga to end up with a game both you and I are proud to have been a part of. And that’s why I think you chose to back Soul Saga, because you knew I’d never give up no matter what. So one might ask, “if there were so many bumps, how can so much more get accomplished?” The answer simply is: hard work.

I work between 80 to 100 hours a week on Soul Saga and never below that, and sometimes more (even with back injuries or illness). My work day starts when I wake up in the morning and start checking my e-mail before my eyes even adjust. Then it ends long after the sun has set (sometimes when it begins to peek up again), and with me crawling to my bed exhausted or sometimes passed out at the computer chair. Or, when my spine injury is hurting bad, I may never leave the bed while working on my laptop the entire day.

The amount of work I have contributed thus far based on a modest $25 an hour salary (with overtime pay) is calculated at approximately $234,000. If we calculated this at a more standard developer rate, the amount could reach upwards to $400,000. That’s just the amount I’VE put in to the project. And the amount I’ve been paid? $20,000. ~$3 an hour. That leaves $214,000 in sweat equity unpaid; much more than even the Kickstarter made. And I don’t need it. Why? Because I love working on Soul Saga, and I love working with you. This beta is a huge, invigorating milestone. I hope you can see the potential Soul Saga has from it, and I know you’ll all enjoy watching it progress and develop into something great.

RELEASE DATE

Earlier in the year I had conferred with my teammates on when they thought we could finish Soul Saga. It was a unanimous decision that the end of this year was feasible. Unfortunately, due to the nature of small indie teams on tiny budgets with big dreams, most team members must work other jobs as well. And when this happens, that means many small things that normally shouldn’t get in the way of development often times do, and the small delays in each team member add up over time. The biggest hit is the loss of our previous animator and me needing to halt my own work to spend time and energy restaffing that position (a task that burns me out quickly).

So at this point I would like some more time to redetermine when the game can be finished. I don’t want to state a date unless there’s absolutely nothing that could get in our way of meeting it, so I’ll have to contemplate on it for a while before I can supply you with a new one. I am sincerely sorry for the delay and appreciate your understanding. On the bright side, now that the beta is live it will give you a better window into development so you can have your fingers in Soul Saga, too!

LOOKING FOR A 3D ANIMATOR!

Unfortunately our previous 3D animator is no longer able to contribute to the project due to a new job. This came as a big surprise as we were cruising along great and making excellent progress after a long downtime with animations, but then the brakes suddenly came on with the sudden news and animations halted again. I waited over a month to see if things could get better, but unfortunately it looks like the situation won’t be changing. The previous animator did a lot of animations (idles, basic attacks, runs, etc) for many characters, but there are still a lot remaining. What’s mostly left are the more complicated skill animations and some less complicated cinematic animations.

The animations were all done with custom rigs in one of the most expensive animation software suites on the market: 3DS Max. I’ve generally found it more difficult to find animators that use 3DS Max rather than Maya. This coupled with the fact that the humanoid rigs do not take advantage of any sort of animation sharing means that continuing with these animations may prove more difficult than they should have.

I personally use the 3D modeling suite called “Maya LT” to save on costs; it is only about 10% of the cost of 3DS Max. Unfortunately these 2 software suites are not cross compatible with animations, and a lot of data is lost when switching between them (like all of the rigging controls, IK/FK, tweening, unit sizing, etc). I am currently learning more about 3D animation so that I can both A) analyze how to move forward with the remaining work, and also B) contribute directly to the animation creation. I will need time to determine whether moving to the less expensive technology or maintaining the more expensive technology is better for the team. We’re at a fine impasse where any could really be viable options.

In the meantime, we do need a dedicated animator, as I am only one person and can’t do everything. I’m already doing all of the programming, managing, PR, writing, level design, game design, technical art, producing, directing, and other things that I lose track of because there’s just so much of it. If you happen to know a 3D animator who would like to get involved in an indie JRPG project, please give them my e-mail: mike@disastercake.com. Some e-mails end up in the junk mail by accident, so please have them also contact me on Facebook, Twitter, or Google+ private messaging as well if they don’t get a response within 24 hours. Candidates must have extensive experience in either 3DS Max or Maya.

A SPECIAL THANK YOU

I would like to thank Javid, our previous animator, for the hard work he contributed, regardless of how we continue with the animations. I’ve known him for a couple years now and it was always obvious he wanted only the best for Soul Saga and donated a lot of time to help make that happen. I sincerely wish him the best in his career.

Another person I’d like to thank is our 3D environment artist, Zahra Haghiri. Zahra has been a close friend of mine for years and we began working on the project together earlier in 2014. The reason the in-game 3D environments are looking so great is all because of her. Seriously, she did all of it in her free time, which there is not a lot of considering she has a full time job. On top of that she is doing it for deferred payment after the project is complete, which cleared up the budget to help get the extra things we need to make Soul Saga a well-rounded and robust RPG experience. It would be great if you could take a moment to thank her with me on the forums. She really deserves it!

AND THANK YOU!

And, most importantly, THANK YOU! Thank you for being such an awesome fan. Every day I wake up to kind and motivating comments in my Kickstarter messages, e-mail, and the Disastercake Forums. Your kind words go a lot further than any amount of money ever could. Thank you for joining me on this monumental journey, and thank you for being such a positive part of my life.

Soul Saga – Update 13 Forum Topic