Jun 232015
 

Robert here, recently returned from E3!

The Playstation Press Conference was first up on the itinerary (day before the show floor opened) and was great. I was on one of the far sides so I couldn't see half the side screens, but on the plus side, I could read the teleprompter. Audience reaction for The Last Guardian and the FF7 Remake was something to behold. Like many people, Horizon was my favorite new game announced there. During the conference, there was a moment where they had a collage of several indie game screens running simultaneously on one of the side screens - it was pretty trippy to see Cosmic Star Heroine up there. I don't think you can see it on any of the recordings though (they focused on the main screen then).

Since I had an exhibitor badge, I was able to get in the hall earlier than most people so I took advantage of the time to scope out the place. Our booth was on one of the edges of Sony's area, near Nintendo's booth & close to the Atlus/NIS booth (it was mostly Atlus with a tiny corner for NIS). Atlus had a stage where you could dance with Atlus staff & a Teddie mascot in order to win prizes - always a long line there. XSeed Games had a really nice booth a little further away where they were showing off a bunch of games. Was great chatting with various XSeed staff, both at their booth and ours.

Sony had a nice cafeteria area hidden towards the back of the hall, free for everybody associated with them. Besides a breakfast and lunch buffet, it also included a soft serve ice cream machine with an assortment of topping choices. Was also great for grabbing water bottles throughout the day.

Didn't have much time to play games but I did play Yarn Yoshi, Mario Maker, Heart Forth Alicia, the Amplitude Remake, and Trails of Cold Steel. All were fantastic and are definitely games I'll be sure to grab when they come out.

Met a lot of backers which was great! Also met tons of developers (both indie and otherwise) and general fans of RPGs. I was very pleased to meet Hitoshi Sakimoto, one of my favorite composers behind the soundtracks of such great games as Final Fantasy Tactics, Breath of Fire: Dragon Quarter, and Gradius V. Vic Ireland (Working Designs, Gaijinworks) stopped by and we talked about CSH, Summon Night 5 (their current project), and RPGs in general.

Was surprised to have David Jaffe stop by the booth and to discover that he's a huge RPG fan. We talked RPG mechanics (he was very pleased to find out that we're trying to build upon the classics rather than just copy them) while he watched somebody play the demo and then he played it himself. Afterwards, he raved about the game on twitter and even went so far as to say it was his favorite game at E3.

Kat Bailey from USGamer stopped by the booth to say hi and try out the demo and then later write some very positive words about the game, "Cosmic Star Heroine is their magnum opus, though. It is miles beyond anything they've done before, with lovingly crafted cutscenes and an atmospheric soundtrack; and in terms of presentation, it stands with anything I've seen on the SNES." You can read the full article here. She also told her colleagues that they had to be sure to check out the demo, with positive results.

A team from RPGamer stopped by the booth and had some very positive impressions and also shot a video of the game. Jesse Woo from RPGFan also stopped by and wrote about the demo. And Kylevito from RelyOnHorror loved the demo: "I was immensely impressed by the game. The art, the UI, the music, how skills and battle work--it was outstanding."

Overall, E3 was very tiring, but it was great to meet so many people and to see a lot of enthusiasm for our game. We would definitely like to thank Sony - not only did they cover our E3 & hotel expenses (and since I live close to LA, travel expenses were minimal) but they also had several awesome people on the floor to help out and to cover the booth during breaks.

We got some good feedback watching people play the demo. Because of this, we're going to be changing how the desperation system works in the game.

Old Version:
If a character has at least 50 style points when they would take a fatal blow, they lose 50 style, their HP can go negative, and desperation mode is activated.
Characters in desperation mode die at the end of their next turn if their HP is still negative.
Certain abilities and equipment give additional bonuses to characters in desperation mode (generally more damage).

Basically, desperation mode gives characters a last ditch chance to defeat an enemy or heal themselves before perishing. And in fact, I even saw one person at E3 win a battle with 1 desperate character and everybody else dead - a great moment indeed.

Here are the changes we're planning on implementing:
Desperation cost & requirement is 100 style, not 50.
Desperate characters regain HP slower than normal (i.e. healing effects are less effective on them).
Characters have an innate 50% bonus to damage when desperate (in addition to any other damage bonus effects they may have).

We feel these changes will help reduce the potential for abuse, better create those awesome last minute win and last minute save situations, and just generally work better in the context of the combat system.

That's it for E3! Now back to finishing the game!

 Posted by at 4:46 pm
Jun 102015
 

We're pleased to announced that Cosmic Star Heroine will be at E3. Yes, we'll be showing off the Playstation 4 version of the game in Sony's booth so if you're attending, be sure to stop by. And Robert will be there to answer any questions you might have about the game.

In other news, the map count for the game is over the map count for Cthulhu Saves the World now. All the towns are done & we're just finishing up a few more dungeons. By the time we're done, Cosmic Star Heroine should have more area maps than any of our previous games (and higher quality maps too!).

RPGFan recently interviewed HyperDuck SoundWorks about their music and their games, including Cosmic Star Heroine. You can listen to that here.

Thanks again for all your support! We're working hard to get this game done ASAP while not sacrificing quality. :)

 Posted by at 10:28 am
Apr 302015
 

Let's talk about the program & item systems in the game since we didn't show those off in the Playstation Experience demo.

Each shield (basically the armor in this game) comes with 1-6 programs pre-installed. These programs function just like abilities in battle with a few key differences. First, recharge abilities that replenish innate character abilities have no effect on programs (i.e. in most cases, you can only use each program once per battle). And two, each program has a stat requirement - if that character's Hackitude stat isn't high enough, the program is unusable.

As programs on each shield tend to share a theme, the program system essentially acts as a way to temporarily give each character a sub-class of new abilities. And in addition to the standard shields, you also get the Heroine Shield which only Alyssa can equip - this unique shield gives her access to special 2-character unite abilities with each other character.

Now on to items.

Items work similarly to abilities & programs, however they're shared by the entire party. Once an item is equipped to one of your satchel slots (which you gain more of as you progress through the game), it can be used in battle. Items automatically recharge at the beginning of each battle so there's no need to horde them.

To encourage more interesting item use, healing items aren't going to be as common as they are in most RPGs. That's not to say that they'll be completely absent - we'll most likely have a mid-level healing potion, as well as some rare late-game rewards like a Heal to Max Potion and a Revive item - but healing items will only make up a small percentage of total item types. Current plan is to start Alyssa off with 2 ailment-focused items - an item that inflicts Vulnerable (enemy takes double damage from the next hit) and an item that inflicts Poison (damage over time) - to emphasize the versatility of items and to show off the ailment system right from the start.

Next, an update on map counts!

Here are approximate map counts from our previous games. Note, on occasion, multiple maps will cover the same area (for example, before and after a major change has happened).

Penny Arcade's On the Rain-Slick Precipice of Darkness 3 = 40 maps
Breath of Death VII: The Beginning = 54 maps
Cthulhu Saves the World = 101 maps
Penny Arcade's On the Rain-Slick Precipice of Darkness 4 = 113 maps

Right now, we're rapidly approaching 100 maps for Cosmic Star Heroine. By the time we're done, the game should easily have more maps than any of our previous games. Creating the maps are by far the most time-consuming part of making any of our games so it's exciting that we are starting to see the light at the end of the tunnel.

 Posted by at 2:43 pm
Apr 132015
 

Earlier this year, we experimented with a super-heavy discount of Cthulhu Saves the World + Breath of Death VII on Steam that resulted in the bundle being under $0.50. We were surprised & pleased with the huge response so we're doing it again with an even bigger sale! Not only is the Cthulhu Saves the World bundle heavily discounted (even slightly cheaper than last time!) but our Penny Arcade's On the Rain-Slick Precipice of Darkness 3 & 4 bundle is also available for under $0.50! This is the biggest sale we've ever done directly on Steam and we're interested to see how well it goes. :)

Breath of Death VII: The Beginning was our first game as a team. Although we each had worked on smaller projects before, neither of us had done anything close to a full-fledged RPG before. I'm still a little surprised that not only were we able to make the whole thing in about 3 months, but people really enjoyed what we had made - an homage and parody of the 8-bit RPGs of our youth. You can see a lot of our key philosophies about game design right from the start like a desire to make RPGs accessible for new players while still filled with depth for advanced players and the idea that we shouldn't just copy old games but try to improve on their designs by removing what doesn't work & experimenting with gameplay systems. Breath of Death VII was a big hit on the Xbox Live Indie Game service, selling both a good number of copies for the platform and being one of the highest rated games. And you can get it on Steam bundled with our next game...

Cthulhu Saves the World! Cthulhu Saves the World was our big follow-up game to Breath of Death VII and featured more of everything - more scenarios, more music, more playable characters, more abilities, more jokes - along with noticeably improved graphics (early 16-bit style as opposed to BoDVII's 8-bit style). Foolishly, we though since we already had an engine from our previous game that we'd be able to finish Cthulhu Saves the World in no time - instead development took the better part of the year (and longer if you count the PC port & the enhancements we made for that). Cthulhu Saves the World is by far our best known & most popular game to date, although that will hopefully change when we release Cosmic Star Heroine later this year.

While we were working on Cthulhu Saves the World, Penny Arcade contacted us about the possibility of working together. They had started a Penny Arcade RPG series earlier, but work on the series with the original developer was canceled after the first two of the planned four games. Penny Arcade had seen our work with Breath of Death VII and thought we'd be a perfect fit for finishing off the series in a retro style. We were both big Penny Arcade fans and the terms they offered were very favorable to us - we'd get most of the revenue from the games, a great deal of flexibility in design, as well as assistance from Penny Arcade with marketing & producing the games - so we eagerly agreed to make Penny Arcade's On the Rain-Slick Precipice of Darkness 3 & 4.

Penny Arcade was great to work with, especially Jerry Holkins & Jeff Kalles who were the two people we interacted with the most. We gained a lot of experience in developing the Rainslick games with them, and we were able to drastically improve our map design and editing. The games turned out well - great graphics, humorous jokes, a fun Grandia-inspired battle system, and two different varieties of job systems (3 jobs simultaneous with PA3, monster + trainer with PA4). The Penny Arcade games were also the first time we worked with Hyperduck Soundworks (first on the PA3 free DLC & then on the entirety of PA4), the team that is doing all the audio for our current game.

So there you have it, a brief recap of our first 4 RPGs. Our next game, Cosmic Star Heroine, is poised to mark an exciting new chapter in our life as a game studio, but in the meantime, for less than $1, you could be playing 4 great RPGs right now. What are you waiting for? ;)

 Posted by at 11:25 am
Apr 012015
 

Zeboyd Games is proud to announce Cosmic Star Heroine Legend!

CosmicStarHeroineLegendBoxArt

 

CosmicStarHeroineLegendAd1b

Zeboyd Games is proud to announce Cosmic Star Heroine Legend, an exciting new portable RPG coming exclusively to the Nintendo Game Boy.

Join Alyssa, Chahn, and Dave on an epic RPG journey across the Zevanii system (other characters not included due to memory issues). Originally intended as a Breath of Death spin-off but later changed to Cosmic Star Heroine for better name recognition, Cosmic Star Heroine Legend is sure to delight players, both old and young. Taking inspiration from such classic RPGs as Great Greed, Knight Quest, and Sword of Hope, Cosmic Star Heroine Legend is destined to become an instant modern-day classic.

"With an install base of over 64 million systems, if Cosmic Star Heroine sells to just 5% of the total installbase, we'll make a fortune!" said Zeboyd Games designer, Robert Boyd. "And what better way to test the market for our games on Nintendo platforms than by supporting one of the most iconic Nintendo systems of all time?"

Cosmic Star Heroine Legend is scheduled to come out April 1, 2017. Following the examples of Square-Enix and Atlus, the expected MSRP is going to be $49.99.

For more information on the original Cosmic Star Heroine, coming soon to PS4, Vita, PC, and more, check out the official Cosmic Star Heroine media kit.

CosmicStarHeroineLegend_Screen2

CosmicStarHeroineLegend_Screen1

CosmicStarHeroineLegend_Screen3b

 Posted by at 12:01 pm
Mar 122015
 

We've compiled a media kit full of Cosmic Star Heroine information and assets. This zip file includes frequently asked questions, links to videos & music, our contact information, and a bunch of screenshots & hi-res art. Feel free to use anything in this zip file on your websites when talking about the game. You can get it here.

This is version 1.0 of the Media Kit (updated March 12, 2015). We will be updating it with more stuff as the game's release approaches. :)

Here's a gallery of some of the images in the zip file:

CSH Title

 

CSH Underwater CSH Ability Menu Cosmic Star Heroine Hack Battle Ship Landing CSH Terrorists CSH Nuluup CSH Nightshade CSH Mutated Jungle CSH Lab Tubes CSH Lab Screen CSH Jungle Battle 2 CSH Jungle Battle 1 CSH dialogue CSH Bridge

 Posted by at 2:35 pm
Feb 262015
 

We were trying to think of interesting things we could show off that were still early in the game (since we don't want to spoil too much of what happens later) and realized we hadn't shown off any images from the hacking segments.

Note, this is still a work-in-progress and we're still working on the hacking systems, both visually and mechanically. Still, this will give you an idea of where we're heading. Enjoy!

 Posted by at 10:23 am
Feb 022015
 

Rami Ismail of Vlambeer fame recently wrote an interesting article talking about the failures & success of the game industry. There's nothing particularly new in his article but it serves as a good summary of the current state of things.

We live in a world where it's never been easier to make video games. One-person & small teams now can make a video game, release it digitally, and hopefully find success without the need for a publisher. With that freedom & ease comes competition. In a world where everyone can make a video game, sometimes it feels like everyone IS making a video game.

You can't directly get rid of competition. You can't make people stop making video games.

So what are you to do in a world where everyone is making a video game and you're up against all of the classics of past years? There are basically three routes to success.

1 - Make a better game than everything else. We see this a lot in the AAA sphere. If we take one of the best games of the past & spend even more money on graphics & technology, the end result should be even better, right?

2 - Make everyone think that you have a better game than everyone else. Market, market, market. Spend a fortune on marketing, get celebrities to endorse your product, and try to buy your way to success.

3 - Make a different game than everyone else. We see this a lot in the indie sphere. If your game is the only game of its type, than everyone who wants to play a game of that type is yours, assuming quality & price matches up to their requirements. Most people don't make 100% original games, but making games in less crowded genres or with unusual premises can have a similar, though less absolute effect.

It's not enough to make a good game. It's not enough to make an excellent game. When I was at Playstation Experience 2014, I wandered around the indie section and pretty much every single game I saw looked like a high quality game. Despite that, I'm sure some of those games will not be financially successful.

Quality isn't enough. If you make a quality game that's similar to a thousand other quality games, you're still competing against a thousand other quality games.

The way to be successful as an indie who doesn't have the money to brute-force their way to success via marketing or better technology is to STOP COMPETING WITH EVERYONE ELSE. Make something that stands out. Make something that's different. Make a game that gets people to think "I want this game and no other game out there is an adequate substitute." Make something that's worth buying. Make something that's not "yet another" game. Make something that's glorious. Make something that's yours.

There's room for more success in the game industry than we've ever seen before, but we need to all stop fighting over the same little pond with the same kind of games. Let the big companies duke it out over a few scraps; in the mean time, there's a vast ocean awaiting us.

 Posted by at 10:22 am
Jan 232015
 

New Kickstarters:

Starr Mazer - $38k ($160k goal). 28 days left. Awesome looking mix of side-scrolling shmup and point & click adventure game. Alex Mauer (who did music for our 3rd game) is helping with the music.

Children of Morta - $33k ($65k goal). 27 days left. Top-down Action/RPG with Hyper Light Drifter-style art.

Steel Assault - $2k ($8k goal). 26 days left. NES-style Action/Platformer.

Previous Kickstarters:

Shadowrun: Hong Kong - $639k ($100k goal). 25 days left.

Drift Stage - $45k ($30k goal). 15 days left.

The Grisaia Trilogy: Three Huge Visual Novels for PC – $389k ($160k goal). 8 days left.

Recently Completed Kickstarters:

N/A

 Posted by at 11:45 am