Hello my friends, it's been a long time, and I want to apologize for the radio silence. A lot has been happening behind the scenes and today an official announcement was made finally breaking the seal on the fact that I have been in chats with Curve Digital on porting Cosmochoria for consoles. The one officially announced today was Playstation 4!
Curve and I have been working together for months now to bring Cosmochoria to as many formats as possible. This involves a deep period of technical research where we worked out the most efficient way to port the game. Cosmochoria is built in a program called Construct 2, which, unlike engines like Unity, isn't as easily compatible with console formats. What that means in practice is that the game needs more resources to run than it would had it been programmed specifically for each console.
This brings us a unique set of challenges for each system – and with the way the base game was designed initially, we’re currently failing to meet the high standards we set ourselves on the Wii U version. Curve's engineers are still working on it – and, who knows, we may make some progress and surprise ourselves. But we’re currently not confident enough in the current state of the build to include Wii U in the console launch announcement, so have felt it best to leave it out as things stand. We love Cosmochoria, and want as many people as possible to be able to play it, so if we are able to confirm additional formats, we won’t hesitate to do so.
If you have any questions please don't hesitate to post them here. I've got another couple kickstarter updates I've been meaning to post for a while now, both in regards to remaining backer rewards (collectors editions!) and also a pretty long one I've been writing for a couple months now which has a general overview of a lot of stuff. I'll get that big one finished up and posted within the next couple days then will post a specific one focussed on the backer updates to give you all an idea of where that stuff is at.
Well... There we have it! 17 months, 3844 Events/Lines of Code, 2 Christmases, 2 Office chairs, 174 Red Bulls, 96 Cups of Coffee, 1337 Trees Planted in Africa, Undetermined amounts of Zantac and Motrin, 8 Fluffernutters, and Cosmochoria has officially launched as a full, complete, real game on two of the biggest PC gaming platforms in the world (more to come!).
As a celebration it's dropping at a crazzzzy discount of 50% off for the first week!!!! So if you have a friend who is interested in getting in on the action, now is a great time to tell them about it!
It's mind blowing for me to think that just over one year ago, we were in the final few days of the Cosmochoria Kickstarter campaign. In September I launched Cosmochoria on Steam Early Access, which gave people the opportunity to pre-order and play the game while I continued to finish up the development.
Well, after an amazing 7 months in Early Access, I am so proud and excited to announce that Cosmochoria will be launching as a full, FINISHED Steam release in 2 more days... Monday, April 27 at about 10am PST.
I wanted to take a moment to both thank and congratulate every single one of you who have a copy of Cosmochoria in your Steam or Humble libraries right now. Each and every one of you have given me your trust and faith in my vision and my ability to bring that vision to life. Cosmochoria started as a seed and I always thought I had a good idea of what that seed could become. I can honestly say that not only did you all help that seed sprout, but you helped it grow strong. So many of you personally touched my heart and mind throughout the process of creating this game—shaping it beyond even my own imagination. And, for that, I am eternally grateful.
It has been an honor and a pleasure to develop this game with your eyes, ears, mouths, minds, and fingers in the mix with mine. I can only hope that the result that launches on Monday is not just something you can enjoy, but also something you truly feel proud to have been a part of.
Thank you so much for having my back. You made my dream come true this past year, and I will never, ever forget that.
Want to Help?
For me, this is go-time, and in many ways its almost like we've got one chance to make a great impression. For an indie game from an unknown developer (me) to do well in a marketplace like Steam, lots of people need to know about it. Part of that has been in progress since day one via things like the Greenlight/Early Access campaign, and even the Kickstarter campaign itself! The other part of it comes from how much people are playing the game, talking about the game, telling their friends about it, writing about it, etc.
If you want to get in on the action, this is something you can actually be a huge help in. All you'd really have to do is PLAY! When you play Cosmochoria in Steam, your Steam friends would see you playing, and they might wonder "What is that?!" and check it out. You could also leave a Steam review and give your honest thoughts of the game. Even if it's not your thing, maybe your review might explain it in a way that totally appeals to someone who WOULD LOVE the game. Or, talk about it on Facebook, twitter, make a video about it, tell someone about it at work, etc, etc. Here's a link to the official trailer on YouTube if you want to share it! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=poiwrUDa6Eo
Making the game was a huge accomplishment but only a part of the overall business-end battle. We now have the opportunity to pool our collective voices and cause this weird little indie game about a naked cosmonaut to light up the sky. Even if every backer told one other person about the game, the potential awareness could spread like wildfire. And that, my friends, is the BEST way, without a doubt, to help get publishers interested in a Wii U / Console port!
Final Physical Rewards
Now that the game has been completed, there are a few things I need to take care of in terms of the remaining physical rewards. I need to design and prepare the instruction manual, load the USB keys up with the game, prep the final collectors edition & superfan reward packages, and start shipping it all out. That stuff is going to be taking place in the coming weeks, and if you're on my list to receive a package, I will be emailing you soon to confirm your shipping address, etc. since who knows where the past year has taken you! :) I appreciate your patience in having your physical stuff delivered and now that Cosmochoria is done, I can assure you it shouldn't be too much longer of a wait!
Console / Wii U Port
Just a heads up that I'm still working on some behind the scenes stuff for potential Wii U / Console ports. Still nothing solid to report at this point, so I would still consider it a 'no go' until I can officially announce some good news. Just wanted you to know it's not dead in the water, and something I'm still working on as the days and weeks roll by. Like I mentioned before, though, there is considerable business leverage gained if Cosmochoria does well on Steam, so anything you can do to help spread the word is INFINITELY appreciated and for the greater good!
What's Next for Nate?
I'm looking forward to remaining in an active state of development on Cosmochoria in some facet. Obviously bugs will continue to be fixed in a timely fashion, and balance tweaks etc may still come based on community feedback. If it's a rainy Sunday morning and I've got a great idea for something cool to add to the game, you can bet your ass I'll be adding it in!
That being said, I am also looking forward to my 'next game(s)' and I am so proud to report that with the launch of Cosmochoria I will be joining up with a team of indie game wizards. Blue Wizard Digital, to be exact, which is a brand new indie game studio starting up with HQ on Vancouver Island, Canada and a second wizard outpost in Seattle, WA!
Wait... So You're Like a Real Game Developer Now?
Yup. In November 2013, I took account of my life, my passions, and my dreams and began to put *everything I had* into the development of Cosmochoria with the hopes that it would lead to a career in game development.
Over the past year and a half, I've been connected with so many incredible people like yourselves, fans of the game, press, business people, other developers, artists, musicians, writers, and generally surrounded myself with a world I wanted so desperately to be a part of.
The end result is that without even fully noticing it, and before even fully completing my first game, I realized I was a full time game developer / artist / musician. A dream come true for me since I was 8 years old.
It was YOU ALL who helped me make that happen!!! Thank you so much for believing in me and supporting me in this process, it has been the greatest professional year of my entire life, and I don't want to waste a single day of it moving forward. Prepare to see some weirdly cool stuff for many years to come, and if you ever have any questions or want to get in touch or run something by me or just say 'hi' at any point, my email is firstname.lastname@example.org, or imessage me at 250-898-4596 <3
Hey everyone!! I am absolutely blown away at the amount of stuff done in the past month or so in prep for the launch. So much has happened both to the game and behind the scenes.. This is going to be yet another one of those crazy long updates. :) First and most important though, is the release date...
The Release Date... Delayed...
Originally the release date was set for March 17. That's tomorrow. That being said, there have been some pretty major revelations from having essentially a non-stop stream of players playing Cosmochoria at PAX last weekend, in addition to talks with some business leads which could have some potential effect on overall release plans. These things all put together mean I essentially need to delay Cosmochoria, slightly.
I know this isn't as disastrous as it would be if there was no way to actually play Cosmochoria right now, but the truth is, the Early Access version is getting very very very close to being 100% complete and essentially you guys can still play that version on steam right now if you like. Really, the official release date only affects the world outside who do not yet know about Cosmochoria and for them, (well also for you!) I want to make sure the game is 100% ready before it hits the 'full release' Steam store, etc
I'll get into what's been done and what's left below. As far as a specific release date, I'm still trying to figure a couple things out with those business leads, and if things become more solid there I will likely send a backer-only update to get everyone's thoughts on the course of action we take, but for now things are still relatively preliminary, so I don't want to jump the gun and / or get anyone too excited in case it doesn't lead to anything. I also don't want to give a specific date until I'm 100% complete the dev. That way I know the dev's done and I can focus all my efforts on gearing up for that release instead of what i've been doing lately where I was focusing all my efforts on the dev and just happened to be saying to people that March 17 was the date... even though I was spending zero time on actually promoting that date or making people aware of it. I want to make sure even the release gets as much attention as the development so once the dev is fully wrapped up it'll be time to switch gears into promo launch mode and make it happen properly.
As some of you know, Jessi, Ilkae and I were in Boston last weekend for PAX East. It was epic. It was insane. The cheers of 10+ thousand game fans lined up and waiting to get into the expo hall at opening time, and the overhead speaker counting down the minutes was something I will likely never forget. Having people come by the booth to check out and play Cosmochoria — sometimes even better than myself!—was something i could have only dreamed about as a kid. I want to give a huge thank you to the awesome backers who stopped by to say yo and give me a hug. Meeting you guys & girls were the very best part of an incredibly crazy weekend for me. Those were all such special moments for me and I hope my incredibly tired loopyness wasn't too off-putting haha :)
After all said and done, PAX was an insurmountable learning experience. Watching first hand what seemed like hundreds of players rock the Cosmochoria gamepad over the course of the weekend was infinitely educational and as soon as I was back in a bed or relaxing somewhere, I was grinding away on the code to help improve the experience for new players the next day. Comically, pushing out new builds literally as people started streaming into the hall. (You can see why the doomsday call of "Five More Minutes" on the overhead speakers were so emotionally charged for me. I felt a bit like a cheezy tv hacker trying to diffuse a bomb over a crappy wifi signal, haha).
Quite a few key things changed over the course of the weekend in an attempt to make the game that much easier for new players to pick up and play without having a guy stand over their shoulder explaining EVERYTHING. It was incredibly valuable, but I came out of the weekend with a phone book's worth of UI changes and bugs i needed to implement which largely set me back on the development overall. It's all good though, because even as of you reading this, those changes and fixes have been implemented and are in the current Steam Early Access build, ready for you to play with.
What's Else Has Been Done?
OMG. So much. So much has been done. Unreal amounts. If you haven't played since the early days of Early Access, Cosmochoria is a whole new game. It is now effectively complete from a UI / Functionality / Item / Collectible standpoint. In the past month I've finalized everything that isn't the last few boss fights and end scene. I've made the game more playable on gamepad, I've implemented the Artifacts, all the costumes, implemented new Gameplay hooks, etc etc. I'll run through that stuff now!
All Weapons Go!
All weapons are now fully live and playable in Cosmochoria. Each has their own strengths and weaknesses, but all are fun to play with and change up to match your preferred play style nicely. I don't want to spell it all out in the update because Im sticking with the fact that some of the fun of the game is discovering how things work, etc. The guns should be unlockable just via crystals you find while playing. The sword is a little different and is actually a special weapon that now unlocks through a special quest you can come across in the game. Have fun & explore!!
The final set of costumes is now live and fully unlockable and playable in Cosmochoria. Each costume has benefits to using it and while some might be more game changing than others, they're all a lot of fun to play with. Shouts out to Jesse Poon for his Panda Costume idea - if you guys like playing as the Alien Panda, you can give Jesse a high five as it was his idea. :) Also shouts out to Nick Hoffman for his awesome idea for the Neko (cat) costume. It adds some really cool gameplay features and is a lot of fun to play as. :) Hope you guys enjoy!
Super Mysterious Ultra Dimensional Time Stones
These stones were born out of a need to solve a few various issues. One was the fact that people were actively requesting a 'save game' feature. A reasonable request, of course! The issue was that there were some pretty huge bugs coming in form my early implementations of it and the way things were looking, I'd need easily a month or 2 just to work through and test that to make sure it wasnt corrupting anything. Big time cost, and it actually went against my whole philosophy of Cosmochoria feeling like a simple arcade game at it's core. Things got weird though when I would watch live streams or videos of people playing and I could see the amount of time people were committing to a full game... easily over an hour or two could be spent on searching for artifacts or growing planets and I was seeing it would be easily a couple hours to do even a speed run of the game from the start to get all the bosses and finish the game in one run. SO with the help of some comments on Steam, I decided to implement a sort of 'checkpoint' system by way of the Super Mysterious Ultra Dimensional Time Stones.
These stones work in conjunction with a lot of the lore I have written into the game about what this whole thing is all about, but on a simple level they are a collectible, permanent item you can find when you destroy a boss. Collecting a Stone means you can now start a new game at that point of the boss being destroyed. So basically the stone will warp you to a universe / time where the boss is destroyed and you have the number of completed planets and seeds on hand that you did when you destroyed the boss the first time around. This means you only really ever have to kill a boss once, as you can continue on from that point in an attempt to kill future bosses.
There is a gameplay choice to make here too, though as starting a new game with a stone will 'restore' the number of planets you should have restored, so the galaxy could be 'half completed' this way, but it is still an alternate universe -- the galaxy is in a different configuration, npc's will be in different spots, and none of the defensive structures you placed initially will be there any longer (this being a different universe, after all). SO there is still a strategic benefit to starting a game from scratch, but having the universe / galaxy more completed goes a long way to allowing you to progress through the game without having to really start from the beginning every time.
I hope you dig.
There are now cute little tooltips that appear at the start of a game that are intended to help keep your initial experience a little less confusing. A lot of these tutorials were appearing as big messages on the main screen while you played, but I've since made them a little more neat & tidy in little popup messages that appear in the upper corner while you play. Hopefully it helps people get the general idea.
I've also made sure that if you're JUST starting to play, and it's your first time ever... the jetpack is actually not active until you plant your first planet. I've also made sure the first planet is never too big. It only needs a few plants to restore it, so im hoping that helps nail down the point of what it is you're tasked with by seeing it all take place fairly quickly.
I've also made the map icon in the bottom right available to ALL players, not just players who purchased the Map upgrade. This means you can see planets you've discovered as you go even from the start of the game. Even the map icon itself now acts as a compass which points to a very important spot in the game, a spot you will likely be returning to time and again as the story progresses.
After having a discussion with MessedCoast on Steam, we basically brainstormed the concept of having signs/flags planted on planets. This had come up a few times in the past but it was never really implemented because i didn't want some clunky way for users to type the name of a planet with the gamepad while in the middle of action. It was MessedCoast who suggested that the names be purely randomized and I thought it was an amazing idea.
I have implemented a new mechanic which effectively begins the process of planting seeds on a planet in Cosmochoria. Before you can plant seeds you must first place a flag on the planet. The flag is in the same spot as the seed icon so it just swaps out to seeds once you've placed the flag. Once the flag is down, it gives the planet a name from a random list of names i created, and then is forever known to you. It shows up on your map, you can setup certain planets as certain things depending on their name, or just forget the name entirely. I think it added a whole new dynamic to the relationship you have with a planet, and if anything is just one more thing connecting you to the planet and helping you remember that it's actually still 'out there' even if you never really return to it.
Once the Wii U port was effectively cancelled, the one positive was that there were no longer such tight restrictions on graphic memory, etc. so I went crazy. I started creating background environments for the planets -- things like mountains, hills, even weird crystals, and the response was so much better than i expected. People loved seeing the randomized backgrounds come up in their games and I could see first hand how it added a whole new dynamic to the exploration. I tasked Jessi with creating even more environments for the game and she came up with another 7 of them, all crazy awesome from a bone graveyard to snowy hills to ancient ruins. Between the 17 different planet designs, 10 different environment designs, and the water and lava hazards, there are a crazy number of combinations of planets you can now stumble across in Cosmochoria, and it really makes for a richer and more engaging experience. Hope you love it as much as we do haha :)
While exploring the galaxy, you may come across a strange pod covered in rust and lichen. Activating the pod will display a hologram of what you will soon learn to be is one of 'the ancients'. These ancients will reveal tiny fragments of a story from long long long ago. You can choose to ignore them entirely and just get on with your pew pew pew or you can seek them out in every game and gradually start to learn a little more about the mysteries of the universe you're in... possibly even mysteries surrounding parallel universes as well...
Every time you restore a planet by planting seeds on it, you are rewarded with a Treasure Chest that mysteriously erupts from below the surface. This treasure chest will contain things like more crystals (to purchase upgrades, etc), more ultranovas, weapon powerups, bricks to build towers with, or in some very rare instances... Ancient Artifacts.
Artifacts are designed as a long-term collectible series of items. There are 24 in total to collect, and each game spawns with only a handful for you to discover, so it could take a few playthroughs to actually find them all. Even more importantly is that artifacts themselves can be brought somewhere in the game, and that essentially unlocks them as a permanent modifier for the game, available from the "Artifacts" menu off the title screen. Once you have unlocked an artifact, you can then enable / disable it between games in order to change various aspects about how the game behaves. Each artifact acts as a way to make the game easier or harder, and can be enabled / disabled in combinations of as many as you wish in order to change the challenge or fun of Cosomchoria. In addition to the artifacts changing the difficulty of the game, you actually increase the chances of finding the rarer artifacts by making the game harder on yourself. So by enabling 2-3 "Hard Mode" artifacts you will make the game harder on yourself, but you have a much higher chance of finding some of the really game changing "Easy Mode" Artifacts, like instant plant planting or instant base building or even unlimited jetpack.
I feel like my head's going to explode. All these crazy cool updates are actually IN the current Early Access build of Cosmochoria. So you can play with them right now, today. There are still a few final things im working through which include the last few boss fights and the once and for all final boss fight, then the end story sequence and credits. Once that stuff is done, Cosmochoria is going to be done. Short of some final massaging and bug fixes. We're so close to being ready to launch but I don't want to make the same mistake I did last time and announce another date just yet. Im going to be working my butt off to get this stuff complete this week and once I have finished everything, I will actually plan a proper release date that doesnt overlap too badly with the millions of other things coming out these days. I apologize greatly for the wishy washyness of the release date since I was so confident a month ago that it would be doable to release by the 17th of March, only now... after PAX, after bugs, and this and that.. It's just doing a disservice to rush it. Id way rather you guys be pissed off because the release date gets pushed a bit and have an amazing game to show for it, than to rush to get it out and have it broken and a total shit show on release day.
Thank you all so much for everything. This has been a crazy crazy process and just the fact that I can see the light at the end of the tunnel is mind blowing. If anything I'm going to be working my butt to the bone to try and get this done and out before the kickstarter launch day since almost one year ago I was prepping to launch the kickstarter with sweat all over my head. Will be a symbolically significant thing if I can get the full game out in under a year from that point :)
Infinite hugs! Any questions, comments, concerns, support, feedback or otherwise awesomeness, just throw them down in the comments or hit me up via email email@example.com