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June 26 - Disastercake
COMBAT UI PROTOTYPE TOUCHED UP
Combat now has a pause menu! In previous beta versions you couldn’t access settings or exit the game while in combat. In Soul Saga Beta v6 you can access all of these menu options, plus a few more like your quests and achievements to double check what you need to do while in combat. This can be accessed by pressing the ESC key while in combat, or pressing on the Icon when available.
Combat Tooltips have also seen a little bit of a makeover:
Combat Tooltips now appear at the top of the screen top instead of over the other UI. This helps clean up any tangents and keep the screen organized.
The advanced tooltips will now show or dismiss immediately when shift is pressed instead of having to hover over them again.
INCREASED MOUSE USABILITY
My goal with Soul Saga is to make the controls so streamlined that it can be played with only a mouse (if you like to play that way). Other input options will also be available in time, but it just feels good when a developer takes the time to make mouse implementation work smoothly. To help move the UI in that direction I have added buttons to the combat menu for canceling selections and going back through the menu so that it can be completely used by a mouse. There is also a menu icon that pops up during the character selection screen so you can go to the combat pause menu via mouse without having to press Esc.
RADAR MINIMAP IMPLEMENTED
Another great addition to the UI is the new Radar Minimap. This is a minimap to the top right of the screen that can be toggled on and off by clicking on it, or pressing the M button. This hotkey will be changeable later when the key bindings window is reworked. I chose a very subtle design so that it doesn’t steal attention, but is still useful and clear with its information. This minimap also works well on the world map by rotating with the camera so forward is always up on the minimap.
SAVE FILE OPTIMIZATIONS
Several enhancements were made will file saving and loading.
- Optimized the way files are saved and loaded by ~60% performance gains. This will help make sure autosaving does not cause any hiccups. Previous beta save files will be obsolete, so please be sure to not use them in a new game.
- Error handling added. The Save Slot will display that the file has an error. You can delete it via the normal methods through the game. For safety reasons, it doesn’t automatically try to delete the file in case of bugs that can be fixed.
Error handling will continued to be built on over time to ensure quality performance for players.
CHANGED THE LOCATION OF SAVE FILES
My goal with save files was to put them in a location that was easily accessible. In previous betas I put them directly into the game’s directory, but this caused problems when running the game from a location that couldn’t be written to, like directly from the zip folder. It also meant that in the future, removing an old version of Soul Saga would delete the save files if they weren’t manually backed up. I wanted to make this a better experience for you, so I sought after a new solution.
I found a remedy for the issue where it now saves Soul Saga files in the My Documents in windows, and the equivalent location for Mac and Linux. This will allow users to easily carry save files between save games and not accidently delete them if they delete deprecated versions of Soul Saga. This should also allow players to run Soul Saga directly from un-writable locations like the zipped download folder.
I would really appreciate it if the Mac and Linux beta testers could please report to me whether this save file path works for you, and where it is saving it exactly on those systems so I can add it to the FAQ.
Beta testers should still delete save files between Beta updates because of how drastic the changes are in the game.
AND TONS MORE!
I’ve also gone through and fixed many bugs reported by Beta Testers, implemented additional features, and also working vigorously on content for the final version of the game. We’re getting very close to being able to state a solid release date, and I’m excited to be able to share that with you when the time comes!
SHOUT OUT TO SLYNK
As you may already know, I am the only programmer on Soul Saga. It’s pretty tough having to do everything myself, and a friend and backer of Soul Saga, nicknamed Slynk, has taken some time out of his busy schedule to help me with part of the user interface code. He created an optimized scrollview list so that many items can be displayed in a scrollview, and it only takes a small number of resources to display them all. This cleared up some time on my end, so I’m very grateful for his help on this. Thank you very much, Slynk!
Thank you very much for being a great fan! I couldn’t have gotten Soul Saga where it is today without your support, and I’m eternally grateful you’ve been there for me through its entire development. I can’t wait to get the final version of Soul Saga in your hands!
WHAT DO YOU THINK?
I love to hear your feedback, so please join us on the forums to discuss it! You can find this update’s thread here:
June 26 - Disastercake
How have you been? I hope your summer is going great! Soul Saga has made some awesome progress over the past month, and I’m here today to share it with you!
PORTING FROM UNITY 4 TO UNITY 5
Most of the time spent over the past month was on porting Soul Saga from Unity 4 to Unity 5. Unity 5 was released several months ago, and it came with many changes. Very few of the changes affected Soul Saga in anyway, but a few were the lighting, shaders, performance gains, and tighter native integration with porting to the consoles Soul Saga is headed to. Since the lighting and shaders changed drastically between Unity 4 to 5, I’ve been having to weak it quite a bit. It’s not quite back to where it was before, but it’s getting closer. There are also changes in the way the water shaders look now, and the characters. Over time I will be tweaking with them and trying to get them to a point we are all happy with.
PORTING FROM NGUI TO UNITY’S NATIVE “NEW GUI”
I also had to port the entire menu system to Unity’s new native GUI instead of the 3rd party solution I was using (called NGUI). This has been a pretty hard one to pull off. I’m pretty much done with it now, but it took almost 2 weeks to do it by myself. The GUI pretty much had to be completely redone from scratch following the previous GUI’s guidelines. It was a lot of work, but worth it in the end. The risk of using 3rd Party plugins with Unity has begun to be very clear as many developers of Unity plugins begin to abandon them in spite of some of their high costs. The creator of NGUI has been around for a long time and shows no signs of stopping, but it’s best to move on to Unity’s native GUI solution so that there is no risk of the UI package being unsupported later on.
Like with all new technologies, Unity 5 is a bit unstable. At the moment, Unity crashes whenever I try to bake the lighting. This means that there will be a big performance from real-time lighting until I can figure out how to resolve the issue. This will hopefully be resolved in the nearby future, and will definitely be resolved before Soul Saga’s release.
Garen’s Saga is the playable storyline of one of Soul Saga’s antagonists, Garen. We touched on Garen’s introduction in previous beta’s, and the feedback was great. Since I’m only one developer I only have time to work on one storyline at a time, so for now we will focus completely on Mithos’ Saga in the beta. I’m very excited to work more on Garen’s Saga once I find the time after finishing Mithos’ Saga, and will reveal more information on how Garen’s Saga is implemented into Soul Saga at a later date.
NEW FEATURES ADDED BASED ON FAN FEEDBACK
The feedback from Soul Saga fans like you has been phenomenal. Everyone is loving the beta so far and has plenty of ideas of things they’d love to see implemented. I’m doing my best to get to the ones we all agree on in the Voting Booth section of the forum. Here are a few that I’ve added this update:
Chain Battles are the most exciting addition to this beta version. In previous versions, if you had 5 enemies chasing you on the map and you eventually got caught, you would have to fight each one in its own individual battle, causing you to jump quickly between combat and field mode. Now, with chain battles, all nearby enemies get put into “waves” in one single battle, and the amount of waves gives bonus EXP, JUL, and Item Drop rates. This adds a lot to the dimension of the gameplay by giving purpose to gathering as many enemies as possible. But be warned: if you leave the chain early you get no rewards!
NEW ESCAPE MECHANIC
Escaping use to be a flat 30% chance to escape. This worked okay, but a streak of bad luck could be an anger inducing experience. To ease this, I have made it so that a character gets a buff called “Planning Escape” each time they fail to escape. This increases their escape chance by 10% each time they fail, progressively making it easier to escape each time they try. Essentially this also means that the most times you need to try and escape is 8; still a high number for those very down on their luck, but at least you know that 100% guarantee will come eventually.
FAST TRAVEL HOME
In your main menu you can now find a “Go Home” button, which will conveniently teleport you back to your bound location. This is the same location you would teleport to if you lose in combat. In the beta this is Mithos’ Bedroom.
There is now an option for your game to auto-save! This auto-saving is no different from normal saving, except that you just have to step near a save point for it to automatically save instead of needing to click the save button. When your game auto-saves, you will get a convenient toast pop-up in the bottom right hand corner of the screen. Autosaving is on by default and can be easily toggled on or off in the options menu.
START MENU ENHANCEMENTS
DIFFICULTY LEVEL PICTURES ADDED
We had touched on the difficulty level names in the past, and now they have pictures to help portray their respective personas! These beautiful pictures, drawn by Akaneko, capture both the difficulty levels and the Disastercake Universe characters they portray very elegantly.
SAVE FILE PREVIEW UPDATED
The Save file preview has been updated to show a little more information, including the beautiful character portraits drawn by Akaneko. It now contains each of the 4 party members, the party leaders name and level, the difficulty mode, your total Jul, the time played, and the location you last saved at.
[Update continued in next post...]
May 13 - Disastercake
How has your spring been going? The weather has been kind to my part of the world lately. I’ve not had time to enjoy any of it because of all the work I’ve been doing on Soul Saga, but it’s worth it because I have some awesome news today!
BETA V5 IS LIVE!
Soul Saga’s next beta build is ready and uploaded! If you are a Kickstarter backer that pledged at the beta tier or pre-ordered the beta from the Humble Bundle widget, then it should be ready on your Humble Bundle download page.
Beta v5 is a big beta update. It contains early implementations for the lunchbox cooking, restaurant, quest system, towns, world map, costumes, and Mithos’ Saga! The tutorials are still being worked on and will debut in the final versions of Soul Saga, so for now I will cover some of the important things for you here:
DRAGONTREE VILLAGE POINTS OF INTEREST
Right now there are 6 points of interest in Dragontree Village:
- Item Shop
- Amber Alchemist
- Mithos’ Home
- Job Board
You’ll notice the NPCs are just kind of hanging around lazily right now. In a later beta version they will have a lot more life injected into them! However, the NPCs at the counters can be interacted with to open up the shop menus.
At the moment the Blacksmith will sell you some basic starter items. In a later update the Blacksmith will be implemented further to upgrade your primary weapon for each character. At the moment the Blacksmith also can be used to sell items, though this may change in the future.
The item shop at the moment is more like a grocery store for your Lunchbox Cooking needs. All of the materials you need for crafting can be found here. You can also sell the junk items you gather while slaying enemies in Pleasant Woods.
The restaurant serves a multi-purpose function where it both allows you to purchase pre-made lunchboxes for a premium price, or create your own meals with your own ingredients.
If you would like to purchase a pre-made meal, chat with the lady at the counter. If you’d like to make your own, then please talk with the man near the back door.
The amber alchemist sells you amber and stratagems. At the moment her collection is limited and quite expensive. This may be adjusted based on Beta tester feedback.
You can identify Mithos’ home from the unkept front lawn. You’ll also notice the interior is equally disorganized and messy. The main point of interest in Mithos’ home is that you can sleep in his bed located in the room on the second floor.
The Job Board in Dragontree Village is adorned with a beautiful visage of the towns history. The local villagers put up their requests here, and Mithos can take them. At the moment, you will find 6 kill quests that send you into Pleasant Woods hunting the local pests. The amount of quests and their objective varieties will be updated in alter Beta versions. You can turn your quests in to the man standing next to the board. The way quests are turned in may be changed in a later beta.
WHERE IS DRAGONTREE VILLAGE?
The Beta drops you off into the action of the Pleasant Woods, so if you want to visit Dragontree you’ll have to head left from the Pleasant Woods entrance to exit to the world map. At the moment the world map allows you a straight shot to Dragontree Village.
Each equipment is assigned to a specific category, and only 1 of each category can be equipped at a time. In a later Beta version I will add icons and text that will make it very apparent which item belongs to which category, but for now there is a lack of description and items. So don’t be alarmed if you put on the apron and it automagically removes Mithos’ shirt from his equipment!
STAT DISTRIBUTION IS SEMI-AUTOMATIC
In the previous Beta version, you would apply points to specific stats of your choice on each level up. This system has been replaced with the Stratagem system that was introduced to you in Update 16]. If you don’t have a stratagem equipped, then it will use a basic “balanced” stat allocation.
PLACEHOLDER MAP SYSTEM
There is a placeholder map system implemented that can be accessed by pressing ‘M’. This is a third-party map system I picked up from the Unity Asset store. The asset store can sometimes help a developer get an edge to find systems they already need, but unfortunately in this case the system was abandoned by it’s author. As such, you’ll notice it’s very buggy, which is why I disabled it by default. I will be gutting this map system out and replacing it with another for a future update.
There is a very handy alert system that will give you punctual updates on things such as unlocking a checkpoint, quest progress, challenge completes, and level ups through quest turn-ins. The messages will slide in on the bottom right hand corner of the screen, and promptly disappear after a few seconds.
The Pleasant Woods are huuuuuge! So it’s a good thing that there are checkpoints set in strategic locations for your convenience! You can make use of these to get around quickly or save your game.
Mithos and Elise sport some placeholder skills at the moment, and will be elaborated on further in a later Beta. Please don’t be alarmed that there’s not the same variety as Garen’s Saga at the moment, because that will change once I have more time to implement them!
STORY AND CUTSCENES
Just a heads up that the story and cutscenes right now are just a skeleton of what they will be in later versions of the game. Please don’t mind the placeholder scenes currently shown.
In the beta you will find the Kickstarter Mithos and Elise costumes in your inventory if you’d like to try them out! In the final version of Soul Saga the costumes will be a hidden reward that you can earn.
The beta also sports a fun mini-game where you chase the mysterious blue Torne around the map by controlling your allies.
WHAT DO YOU THINK?
This update is a giant step forward for Soul Saga and all of its fans and backers. Soul Saga could never have gotten this great without you and your amazing feedback. Your opinion is extremely valuable, and I would love to hear what you think. We have the prefect place for your great ideas and feedback in the Disastercake Voting Booth forum, and any bugs you find would be greatly appreciated if they ended up in the Bug Forum where I can squash them out! You can find these locations in the Disastercake Forums here:
Thank you very much for reading and have a great day!
April 7 - Disastercake
Smarter Enemy Artificial Intelligence
I've been working with behavior trees and pathfinding tools to come up with a smarter enemy artificial intelligence (A.I.) on the field. I'm still tweaking with it to get the perfect results, but I'm very happy with the progress that has been made so far with it!
In the past beta versions, the field A.I. was very simple. It would simply check to see if you were in its line of sight, then would run at you. This is a basic A.I. that many games utilize, even some AAA RPGs. The downside to the A.I. being this basic is that they get stuck on obstacles in the field, like rocks, walls ,etc. They simply aren’t smart enough to find their ways around it without more of a brain behind them. For Soul Saga, I didn’t want the A.I. to suffer from this, so I implemented in pathfinding so that the enemies can navigate their way around.
Walking vs Running
In previous beta versions, you could only run. If an enemy wasn't facing you, then you could simply run up behind it and catch it off guard. When the next beta build is live, you will notice this has drastically changed.
Now you can walk or run while on the field. If you run, then nearby enemies will hear you and move to that location you last made a sound at. This means that if you want to get the jump on an enemy from behind, you actually have to take the extra care to walk up behind them. You can also use this technique to lure an enemy you don't want to fight away form their post if there is something like a rock that you can maneuver around so they don't see you in time.
Another new equipment slot is called the costume slot. This will allow us to create different color or outfit variations for the characters for you to obtain. I am super excited to announce the first costumes that are available...
Kickstarter Mithos and Elise Costumes!
That's right! You can obtain costumes to play as Mithos and Elise with their chibi designs from the Kickstarter! Taro and Max will also have costumes available to them. The outfits will be hidden in the game for you to unlock and wear to sport your nostalgic Kickstarter pride.
Saving and Loading
I’ve begun implementing the saving and loading system into the next Beta build. I would like to request beta testers to please test this functionality thoroughly and please report any bugs to the Disastercake Bug Reporting Forum. Saving will be enabled at specific save points throughout the game.
I’ve begun work on the achievement system, and there are a few basic achievements currently implemented. When an achievement has been completed, there will be a pop-up notification on the right hand side of the screen stating so. I’m a big fan of achievement systems, and I have many ideas for them in Soul Saga. If you have any ideas, please add them to [rl=http://forums.disastercake.com/viewtopic.php?f=4&t=411]this thread started by fans on the Disastercake Forums[/url]. We’d all love to hear your thoughts!
So far, there are 5 composers that have contributed to the Soul Saga soundtrack. Their order in number of songs contributed is:
- Ryan Camus
- Aivi Tran
- Shannon Mason
- Terry Chandler
During the Kickstarter, Aivi was planning on doing the soundtrack by herself, which was estimated around 20 tracks in total. However, she ended up getting long term gig with a large animation company soon after Soul Saga’s Kickstarter campaign ended. Aivi has finished contributing what she can to Soul Saga, which is about 10 songs. Surasshu came on mid-way through the project, but works on the same projects as Aivi, so also had limited time. Shannon Mason guest composed to help out a little, and Terry Chandler made Soul Saga’s theme song during the Kickstarter, but we were still lacking in the amount of songs Soul Saga’s enhanced story and size demanded of it.
Soul Saga was initially scoped at 20 songs, but I felt that the story demanded more of it. It was becoming obvious we’d either have to leave the scope of the soundtrack at 20 songs and cut the new additions, or pick up a new composer to complete everything we needed. I ended up meeting Ryan Camus and bringing him on board. Within a couple months he almost doubled our soundtrack size. You heard some of his work in the previous Betas with the “Item Get”, “Goodnight”, and “Game Over” themes. In this version you will get to hear his World Map theme.
I'm excited to show you the amazing work all of the composers who contributed to Soul Saga created. For now, here is the World Map theme by Ryan you can hear in the next Beta version:
To Adventure! By Ryan Camus
Release Date Pending
I am currently analyzing the release date for Soul Saga, and we are coming very close to having a solid one. Progress is going smooth, and many different areas of development are starting to reach their finish line. Once Soul Saga is at a state that I know nothing can delay it, I will let you know when the release date is. I will try to leave at least 2 or 3 months before the release from the time of the announcement of that date.
Unity 5 Porting
Soul Saga utilizes the Unity game engine, and recently they released their next big version: Unity 5. Unity 5 probably won't bring anything different to Soul Saga's aesthetics since we use very optimized shaders, but it will help me on the backend with porting to the consoles once the PC/Linux/Mac version is complete. This porting will cause some delays as a lot of third party tools I use are still porting themselves to Unity 5, and the lighting system has completely changed and will require I redo all of my previous work on the lighting. In the end it is necessary, as tools and support for previous Unity versions become non-existent, as is evident with Unity's history.
Next Beta Update
The next Beta update will contain the first portion of Mithos' journey. You'll be able to explore Dragontree Village, the first town, and the nearby starter area named Pleasant Woods. There is also some story that unfolds. I will post another update will the next beta build is ready in a couple weeks.
What do you think?
I'd love to hear your thoughts on how Soul Saga is progressing. Please let me know what you think on the forums in this update's thread here:
Thank you for being an awesome fan and a great friend! I can't wait to get Soul Saga into your hands, so hang on tight while I work on bringing you some even more awesome news in the future!
April 7 - Disastercake
Hello, Friend!It's great to see you! How have you been? Since the last update a lot has progressed with Soul Saga, and everyone working with me is really excited to show this update off!
Mithos has an airship! In the first Soul Saga, Mithos cruises around in a modest Koi model design as he explores the blue skies of Medonia. I'll go into more detail on airship combat and exploration in later updates. Mithos' Koi airship was originally designed by Kanipanda and then touched up by Zahra Haghiri.
Dragontree Village is the first town Mithos visits. Dragontree Village has a job board for quests, a general store for amber and equipment, blacksmith for weapon upgrades, a restaurant where you can fill up your lunchbox or cook meals, and Mithos' home. In the next beta update you will get to visit Dragontree Village and help Mithos leave his first marks in the world on his journey to become the strongest Guildmaster! All of the 3d environment art in Soul Saga was created by Zahra Haghiri, and the Dragontree Village concept art was created by Yoshiro Mori.
Pleasant Woods is a small area right outside of Dragontree Village. This is the first dangerous area Mithos explores as he takes his first step of adventure into the huge world of Soul Saga. There are a variety of creatures native to this area, such as Torne, Squabble, Honey Jackets, and Croakers. It is also an abundant source of resources such as cooking ingredients and lost treasure.
World maps are a feature many classic RPGs have. I noticed many modern RPGs have sometimes excluded the world map from their games. With Soul Saga I wanted to make sure I captured that same feeling from the classics, so each of the larger islands in Medonia has its own World Map area to explore on foot! The following image is a screenshot of world map exploration.
The way equipment worked in previous updates is that there were just generic slots that anything could be equipped to. This meant you could have something like 4 leather jackets and equip them all at the same time. This has evolved a bit to help with balancing and progression pacing. Now there are still 4 generic slots to equip in, but equipment pieces now have classifications, and multiple classifications cannot be equipped at the same time. This means that a leather jacket would now be a body classification, and only 1 could be equipped at a time. There are currently 6 different classifications:
Trinkets are special in that multiple of them can be equipped, unlike other classifications.
Stratagems are a new addition to Soul Saga that dictate how your stats are allocated. A Stratagem can be equipped from the equip menu in the Stratagem slot. Each character has a single Stratagem slot. Stratagems can be purchased from vendors, earned from quests, or found hidden throughout the world. Stratagems work like any other piece of equipment, so multiple must be owned if you would like multiple characters to use that Strategem at the same time. The way a Stratagem works is that is pushes around the energy in the owner to enhance them in different ways.
- The Soldier Stratagem moves energy away from the Support stat and moves it to the health stat. This allows the character to have more HP at the expense of less Support.
- The Field Medic Stratagem move points away from the Attack stat and puts it into the Support stat. This will allow a character to heal and augment allies more efficiently at the expense of not dealing as much damage to enemies.
Stratagems can also contain passive skills, such as reducing damage taken from different sources, counter attacking, and other nifty abilities.
Some feedback I got regarding lunchboxes is that they are a little strong at the moment. I've attempted to balance these out by implementing a new lunchbox item in Mithos' journey called the Seared Sushi. This item tests more dynamic situational functionality. Specifically, the seared sushi will heal twice as much out of combat as in combat. This means that using it in combat will not be as effective, but will still allow for the food to be very helpful in regaining health between battles so the characters remain fresh. This will hopefully make amber skill healing more viable compared to the lunchbox items.
Armor and Resist
Two new stats have been added to characters: Armor and Resist. In many RPGs, armor and resist calculations are generally kind of complex. When you think of HP, that stat is simple to calculate. If an enemy deals 100 hp damage to me, then if I add 500 HP to my character, I can take 5 more hits from that enemy before dying. However, armor and resist stats are usually a lot more complex. They use special diminishing returns equations that can be difficult to comprehend with head math. I'm not a fan of these complex equations, so I was initially planning on not having any armor or resist stats. After some planning and designing, I decided that armor and resist stats could be fun if they were simplistic enough to understand. So I implemented Soul Saga's current Armor and Resist stats, which use a very basic equation: 1 point for 1 damage reduction.
For each point of armor, damage is reduced by 1 point from physical attacks. For each point of resist, damage is reduced by 1 point from magical sources.
There are very few items and Stratagems that give any armor or resist, but those that do can be utilized to make a character quite tanky in the right situations.
[Update continued in next post...]