Sep 182015

Short but sweet update time!

Here’s a teaser pic from the second world in the game, Planet Rhomu!

One more world map to go!

Unity for Vita just recently had an update that gives devs the option of freeing up more RAM by disabling certain multitasking apps. So you get a lot more RAM but you can’t run the web browser while the game is running. Anyway, we tried this option and got the game to run on the Vita’s default RAM setting (as opposed to the devkit setting which has extra RAM)! We still have a handful of optimization areas on our schedule that we’re going to do before we’re done to ensure it stays under that RAM limit for the entire game & runs as smoothly as possible but we’re very excited about this milestone!

Back to work!

 Posted by at 1:21 pm
Sep 142015

Time for another update!

Here are some pics of one of the three main world maps in the game – the Planet Araenu. Note, there’s no combat on any of the world maps.

We hit a major milestone recently – we have created over 200 maps for Cosmic Star Heroine! To be precise, we’re up to 203. This is just over twice as many maps as Cthulhu Saves the World had & almost twice as many as our biggest game to date had (Penny Arcade 4 with 113). And of course, the maps in Cosmic Star Heroine are generally larger & higher quality than the maps in our previous games. From the look of things, final map count in Cosmic Star Heroine will be between 210-220. We still have more stuff to finish after the maps are created, but we’re quickly running out of things left to do which is a great feeling!

Oh and in case you didn’t know, a map is an area that can be explored without leaving the screen. Most of our maps are 1024×1024 pixels in size, with most of the smaller maps being 512×512 (used mostly for small building interiors). The demo we shared at PSX, E3, and PAX and that can be viewed online had a total of 9 maps in it, although you only see a small part of one of the maps (the demo ends before you really have a chance to do anything on the final map).

We haven’t shared any of the character musical themes yet (although you can hear parts of Alyssa’s theme in the original Cosmic Star Heroine teaser music) so we thought it was time to fix that.  Here are 3 song teasers – Z’xorv, Psybe, and Sue’s character themes!

In the original Kickstarter pitch, we talked about having your own spy headquarters. Now that the game is nearing completion, let’s talk about how that works.

Originally, your headquarters were going to be just a large building, but given the planet hopping nature of the game, we decided to kill two birds with one stone and have your base double as your own spaceship so you didn’t have to constantly be traveling back to any one location. Your base has 3 main floors & 2 smaller floors and as you recruit more people to your base, you unlock new rooms. We’re looking at around 20-25 different recruits (a few of which automatically join) – all of which can be equipped as your support teammate to give the entire party a bonus like higher stats, improved healing, more credits earned from combat, bonus turns, and more. Recruits also may give bonuses in your base itself like being able to buy high-end equipment or even being able to fly away from the final “point of no return” dungeon to go finish up any last minute business you may have.

Your base also has a dining hall. Periodically, you’ll be able to dine with your allies and chat with them – if you’ve played the Grandia games, it’ll be similar to the dinner scenes there.

In other news, we’ve got the Vita version up to a decent performance level. We’re still working on optimizing the code to make it run even better, although right now, our focus there is on lowering RAM use so it’ll run on actual Vita hardware (as opposed to just the dev kit which has some extra RAM). We’re making good progress there and hope to have Vita RAM use and performance in an awesome state by the end of the month.

That’s it for this update! Thanks again for your patience – the game is really starting to come together now and we’re really excited about how good it’s going to be when it’s done!

 Posted by at 2:46 pm
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!




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.




 Posted by at 12:01 pm