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A rich, diverse Tactical RPG, envisioned by the master of the genre Yasumi Matsuno, Playdek, and you, the fans!
A rich, diverse Tactical RPG, envisioned by the master of the genre Yasumi Matsuno and you, the fans!
A rich, diverse Tactical RPG, envisioned by the master of the genre Yasumi Matsuno and you, the fans!
15,824 backers pledged $660,126 to help bring this project to life.

December General Update

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Dear Backers,

G'Day from Australia!

Last month was largely dominated by pre-production again, and we've had a number of exciting work streams making excellent progress. I'll be posting Design Update #2 and one other update in a couple days, but over the last couple weeks it became increasingly clear that a face-to-face with the entire team would be hugely beneficial.

So November ended with a trip to visit our developer, Torus Games, in the beautiful city of Melbourne, Australia. Several team members from Torus have already introduced themselves on our forums and answered some questions. For those that don't know, Torus in based in Bayswater just outside of Melbourne, which is 19 hours ahead of Orange County where Little Orbit is based. I flew out of LAX over the holiday on November 22nd and arrived on November 24th. I planned for a couple days of jetlag recovery over the weekend before jumping into meetings, and I'm still here till Monday, December 4th.

Before you rush off to google Torus, like Little Orbit they have worked on a lot of licensed based games with tight timeframes and small budgets. It's a studio of ~30 developers, and like Little Orbit they are looking forward to showing backers and future fans the amazing work they can do on Unsung Story.

The major goal of the trip was to sync up with all the teams on their various milestones so far and to get to an agreed scope and timeline - which we now have.

Make sure to read to the bottom of this update for the release date of the game.

Over the next couple weeks, we'll be sharing some specifics and interviews with key staff, but in the meantime I thought I would structure this update around the general topics and areas we focused on for the trip so far.

TEAM MEETING DAY 1 - NOVEMBER 28TH

Story. Story. Story. This is a major part of the game, and we felt it was the best way to jump in there. The game was originally envisioned with 5 distinct chapters that each followed a different "Story Character" and bounced around in history. We are sticking to that formula, and last month on our littleorbit.com Story forums, we posted our first Story update to discuss some of the challenges presented by the unfinished work. If you aren't afraid of spoilers and want to read it, you have to login first, but can see it here: https://littleorbit.com/forums/topic/unsung-story-narrative-introduction/

The non-spoiler summary is:

"Unsung Story takes place in a medieval fantasy world where spells are cast as songs, and magic can reshape reality. With the threat of such power, the original shapers created a way to stabilize the world. Since the beginning of time, History has been sung and recorded in magical schools around the world. The game opens at the end of a 77-Year War. We follows a squad of aging heroes as they are given a covert mission: to infiltrate the archive of a nearby school and cast a legendary spell that may turn the tide of the conflict."

We spent all day in two separate workshops with a combination of lead producers, designers, artists, and developers. We covered the drafts of Chapter 2, Chapter 3, and Chapter 4 that we feel are faithful to Matsuno's vision but still fit the new structure of our game (there is a major change in how our story is told). We are also halfway through drafts of Chapter 1 and some of Chapter 5, but these chapters will go much slower because they are a bit more complicated. Each chapter identifies the Story Character(s), themes, major encounters, candidate missions, locations, and some dialogue.

TEAM MEETING DAY 2 - NOVEMBER 29TH

Day #2 was split between Art and Programming.

In the first half of Wednesday, we spent time reviewing inspirations for characters, weapons, armor, environments, UIs, animations, and VFX. Honestly I felt we were pretty well nailed down on the art design and approach, but the dev team came up with lots of good questions involving how render swappable inventory, playable races, monsters and other areas. We've got a number of new pre-production deliverables now to help us flesh those out, and we're looking forward to sharing progress soon.

I can definitely share that one focus of the new UI is to try and get away from Tactics' menu-based approach. The team is working up several different ideas on how we can keep the classic feel without the depth of menus that slowed down gameplay.

The second half of the day was focused on technology and progress building the Tactics game engine itself. Lots of less interesting discussions about data formats, system editors, grid/movement management, AI, and more.

The approach for these two teams couldn’t be more opposite. Art is trying out lots of experimental ideas and concepts to fully explore the world of the game, but Programming is laser focused on getting the basic Tactics gameplay up and running as quickly as possible. 

TEAM MEETING DAY 3 - NOVEMBER 30TH

Day #3 focused on Game Mechanics and Sound.

We spent the better part of the day going through the initial candidate list of 20 classes (not including the Elite classes) spread across our 4 different schools - Mana, Nature, Divine, and Technology. This game rests squarely on the classes, abilities, and spells, and it's an area I want to nail down early, so we have the maximum amount of time to integrate the game mechanics into each chapter.

I was pleasantly surprised with how far the team has come in a fairly short time, but I want to warn backers now that we did take a complete step back and start from scratch when conceptualizing the classes for Unsung Story. That means we may or may not use the original proposed names and concepts that Playdek announced like Ballast Knight or Orb Guard.

Here are the design pillars we are using to help guide our approach to classes:

  • Players can mix-and-match classes to make their own Primary and Secondary combinations. That means each individual class should have a single, clear mechanical focus. However, their focus can’t be too niche to be realistically useful.
  • Classes should a single clear, tight thematic within our world.
  • Classes should have a simple and memorable name.
  • Classes should mix-and-match in the player's party with different units in interesting ways.
  • No class should feel irrelevant. However, classes shouldn’t necessarily be perfectly balanced. It’s okay for some combinations of classes to be extremely powerful compared to others. As players explore the class system, they should be rewarded with extremely powerful combinations. This shouldn’t be immediately obvious or too easy to come by.
  • Classes should utilize physical space (tiles) in a more interesting way than previous tactics games, however, they shouldn’t all focus on this mechanic. 
  • Musical terms/motifs should be used very lightly They’re a subtle touch, not a defining feature. 

We spent some time working through the first two classes that are unlocked at the beginning of the game, and how those classes can act as a tutorial by helping players engage in core game play mechanics. I look forward to sharing some of these classes and their core game play soon.

The audio workshop ranged from music to sfx, dialog, and voice over. Largely we are still hoping to deliver a musical score from Sakimoto, but we aren't in a position to announce any details yet. My favorite part was a fun brainstorm on the many types of sound that could be used to generate magical effects in the game. 

TEAM MEETING DAY 4 - DECEMBER 1ST

This was our final full day of meetings for the week, and the focus was entirely on attempting to nail down a release date that we could stand behind.

The day started with going through each month and identifying all of the game's components, and we spent time going through notes from the previous days adjusting the milestone schedule.

When are we releasing Unsung Story?

This has been the #1 question asked by backers, and in light of this project's history, I felt we needed to spend a fair amount of time going through the game's scope, timeline, and deliverables, before we made any formal announcement. We are going to continue refining the project timeline through the end of the year, but at this time we will be simultaneously releasing all platforms in Q4 2019.

That's it for now.

Thank you for your continued patience and support.

Sincerely, Matthew Scott

John Goode, Tony Skoviak, and 101 more people like this update.

Comments

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    1. Missing avatar

      Level 99 on December 6

      All things considered, a 2.5 year-ish timeline from takeover/reset to completion and release is relatively realistic on average. Not being produced by big companies with infinite budgets to create something like an annual release, so 2018 as a projected timeline would have been setting everyone up for disappointment all around. End of 2019 seems sufficient to allow for setbacks and some unforeseen issues while still making progress, though with the scope of this game that likely means some of the ambition may need to be scaled back as it continues. I hope that's not the case but I'm fine accepting a few excess "would have been nice" things being left along the way to see this thing out the door.

      Furthermore, if the updates continue like this, those two years are going to go by EXTREMELY quickly. With a play-by-play style of updates, I'm content with the time length.

      Fantastic news about your workshops, on all fronts. The music/sound and interface design are particularly concerning to me, so it's nice to know those are getting an equivalent focus as all the other aspects. While Sakimoto/Iwata are a defining factor of the feel of FFT series, if neither join up for this ride I'll understand.

      Keep up the great work.

    2. Steve on December 4

      Backed a FFT game, getting a game with another unrealistic release date and art that looks like it's from a Kongregate flash game.

      RIP

    3. Ryan Powell on December 3

      Is this really, happening. I gave up all hope. This was the most money I ever spent on a kickstarter campaign and it soured me. I swore it was dead.

      Finally came back to find a new company owns it and they are COMMUNICATING. I'm paying attention now. I would love to see the original promise of this game come to fruition.

    4. Nicholas Hoppe on December 3

      Thanks for all your continued updates. Keep working hard and can't wait to see the results, even if it's 2 years down the line.

    5. Matt Hasek on December 2

      Awesome update! Not upset at all about the release projection. Sounds like you guys are working really hard to make a innovated take on a classic style which is truly exciting! Finally feeling glad I supported way back when.

    6. Ade Putra on December 2

      Great update and fair release date. Thank you for salvaging this project and being fellow lovers of FFT.

    7. Missing avatar

      Shachihoko on December 1

      To be fair, planning release for another two years out (particularly when you were picking up the pieces and starting more or less from scratch earlier this year) is generally a smarter move than saying 'we'll get this out in 2018!' and then having to push the release date back when the inevitable complications present themselves.

      That said, it sounds like the trip to Australia was very productive in terms of mapping out how development's going to go, and it's good to have a release window on the calendar after all of Playdek's lollygagging about with nothing to actually show for it.

    8. Missing avatar

      Pastry Sandwich on December 1

      2 years, seems very reasonable starting from the ground up. I have not, for a long while, nor do I expect anything to come from this. However, best of luck I do hope you all are able to not just put something together but something worthwhile. If you are able to you are gonna have one helluva lot of goodwill built up.

    9. Little Orbit Creator on December 1

      @Joshua - This is similar to FFT, and we agree - it remains one of our favorite mechanics. It is a core part of the game design that we are focusing on right now.

    10. Ralph Miller
      Superbacker
      on December 1

      This sounds awesome! Thanks for the detailed update!

    11. Mark Dorney on December 1

      This is a fantastic update. I really appreciate how thorough you have been.

    12. Griffinman01 on December 1

      Once again you've put out an update that gives us more info than we got during the entirety of playdek's involvement. In a few months you've taken a dead project that I'd originally written off as money wasted and have turned it into something I'm actually moderately hopeful for. The awful taste of playdek as still soured my experiences with this kickstarter but you've done far more to clean things up than I ever thought possible. Keep it up!

    13. Joshua on December 1

      "Players can mix-and-match classes to make their own Primary and Secondary combinations." --- I'm assuming that means it's similar to FFT (and FFV and Bravely) where you gain abilities through freely switchable jobs which you can then use with others, as opposed to most RPGs where you have a sort of static 'line' where you choose a class and can only use per-determined advancements? The former is the absolute number one reason why I love FFT, more than anything else.

    14. Scott Lowe on December 1

      Not sure why they even bothered to try and salvage this project, tbh. I mean, yeah, more orgranized than Playdek was but all hope was lost years ago.

    15. TouchGameplay
      Superbacker
      on December 1

      Good luck to all of us Backers that this mess that Playdek created will find some day a good ending.

    16. Shane (CoffeeGnerd)
      Superbacker
      on December 1

      @Creator: Asked this before but not sure it was answered: Are you honoring the triangle-based grid system that was announced in the original project, or moving to a standard grid of squares?

      Thanks!

    17. Shannon Potter on December 1

      Thanks for the update! Painful wait, but like many of my fellow backers, it's better than what we expected with Playdek: NOTHING.

      Also, thank you for the detailed updates. You're keeping your word so far with keeping us updated, and it really helps legitimize Little Orbit's efforts.

    18. Michael C on December 1

      Yeah on one hand two years out hurts a little... but on the other hand this seems like a solid update, lots of good communication, and the goal seems realistic and well thought out. Having already written this Kickstarter off as "Never going to happen" before you guys game in it's hard to be anything but optimistic - if not a tad hesitantly so thank you for the update and happy holidays, Little Orbit Team.

    19. MannyLaMancha on December 1

      Considering that you're basically starting from scratch, the new projected release date seems fair. I'm sad that puts it at about five years since it was backed, but that's not Little Orbit's fault.

    20. Stoney Brooks on December 1

      Waiting 2 more years is a bit of a kick in the crotch, but it is a gentle rub compared to Playdek's handling. Thank you for the open communication!

    21. Missing avatar

      Ryan Lammers on December 1

      Great update, far more detail than most KS updates.
      Very excited to follow Unsung Story along on its development!