We’re pleased to announce that we’re participating in Microsoft’s ID@Xbox program and will be porting Cosmic Star Heroine to the Xbox One!
It’s time for the Steam Thanksgiving sale!
With the PS4 coming out last week, the Xbox One coming out tomorrow, and the Wii U getting its biggest game of the year (Super Mario 3D World) tomorrow as well, I thought it would be fun to reflect on the previous generation as well as look to the future.
I started out the last generation with the Xbox 360. Although it’s easy to forget now, the system had a wealth of quality exclusive RPGs early on in 2007 & 2008. There was Blue Dragon & Lost Odyssey from Mistwalker, Eternal Sonata and Tales of Vesperia from Namco, and Mass Effect from Bioware, in addition to multi-platform games like Fallout 3. More importantly for us personally, in 2008, the Xbox 360 really kicked off the modern indie era with games like Braid & Castle Crashers along with the Xbox Live Indie Games Service which allowed anyone who owned a 360 to make & sell games for the system. This eventually resulted in the start of Zeboyd Games with some text games released in 2009 and Breath of Death VII & Cthulhu Saves the World in 2010.
I picked up a Wii as soon as I was able to find one in stock (which I did by stumbling upon an employee at Target who was carrying one to store in the display case). Although the Wii had many good games, there were few standout titles for me. I enjoyed the early controller showcases from Nintendo in the form of Wii Sports & Warioware and I LOVED the Trauma games on the system (with Trauma Team being a personal favorite) but games like Zelda: Skyward Sword & Xenoblade turned out to be disappointments.
Finally, I picked up a PS3 a few years ago. Since buying the PS3, it’s become my favorite system with the most exclusive RPGs these days (like the Atelier series, Ni no Kuni, and later Tales games) and plenty of fun, quirky titles like Tokyo Jungle and Puppeteer. And with the addition of PS+, it’s redefined how I purchase games – before I would commonly buy games that I wasn’t sure about after they hit the bargain bin, but now I just wait for them to show up free in PS+.
So that’s the previous generation. How’s the new generation stacking up?
Not planning on getting an Xbox One at the moment. The flood of RPGs that the Xbox 360 received early on has long since dried up and it doesn’t look like it’s coming back to the Xbox One. Mistwalker abandoned the 360 when they canceled Cry On, Namco-Bandai is now firmly in the Playstation camp (Tales of Graces F & Xillia 1 & 2 on the PS3 and a recently announced PS4 Tales game in the works), and everybody else seems to have jumped ship to the portable systems or is making their games multiplatform. Everyone’s got an indie initiative now (and in fact, the PS4 seems to be in the lead now) so they’ve lost that advantage as well. I do all of my TV watching via Hulu & Netflix (and we already have over half a dozen devices that will play both) & I’m not much of a FPS or sports fan so Xbox One doesn’t really offer me anything at the moment.
I got a Wii U when it came out and I’ve enjoyed it a lot BUT man the post-release drought was brutal. The Wii U gamepad is more of a gimmick than the Wii remote ever was (which actually was put to good use with certain games) but at least it’s hard for developers to mess things up with it. New Super Mario Bros. U was great fun (and I say this as someone who didn’t like the Wii game), Zombi U was an interesting experiment, and Sonic & All-Stars Racing Transformed (though not exclusive) was the best kart racer I’ve played in years, but then there was over half a year where big titles got delayed and next to nothing came out on the system. Now things are looking up – The Wonderful 101 is a great game, Wind Waker HD is the best version of one of the best Zelda games, and I can’t wait for the new Mario game on Friday – but third party support still looks grim. At least, Nintendo’s output this generation is looking to be of much higher quality than it was on the Wii.
Finally, I was able to get a PS4 at a drastically reduced price (aka Sony sent us a free one and we split the cost of a second PS4 between the two of us so we’d both get one) and I’ve been having a lot of fun with it. The controller is a noticeable improvement over previous Playstation controllers (and unlike some people, I never thought previous Playstation controllers were bad), the user interface & Playstation store are faster & more aesthetically pleasing, and I absolutely adore how you can use headphones for all game audio (great for me since I do most of my console playing at night and don’t want to interrupt people sleeping). PS4 -> Vita remote play works really well with a direct wireless connection and I’m looking forward to using it for horror games so my daughters don’t walk in on me. Though it’s not really my thing, I can see how the PS4′s built-in streaming functions are going to be very popular and should help many games to go viral and sell more than they would have otherwise.
Most of the games I’ve played on it have been multi-platform releases – Contrast is okay but felt like a missed opportunity, Warframe (F2P co-op shooter) was kind of fun but looks like it’ll be REALLY grindy, and Need for Speed Rivals is fantastic. The one exclusive game I’ve played for the PS4, Resogun, is amazing. Calling it the next Geometry Wars is doing it a disservice. Resogun takes the good parts of the old classic Defender, eliminates the problems, increases the intensity, adds multiple stages & difficulty levels, several different enemy types, different playable ships, and wraps the whole thing up with some fantastic visuals & audio. Like any good shmup, Resogun makes you feel powerful when you’re doing well and makes you want to strive to do better when you fail. Resogun is the killer game for the PS4′s launch.
It might be too early to recommend a purchase of any of the new consoles quite yet though. The Wii U is great if you like Nintendo games, but not good for much else; the PS4 has a lot of potential but needs more quality exclusives, and the Xbox One is the most expensive of the bunch without having any killer launch games (though I hear Forza & Dead Rising are both pretty good if you like those series). In any case, this should prove to be an interesting generation to watch – will the Wii U make a comeback? Will the Xbox One succeed despite the high price tag? Was the gamer focus of the PS4 a wise decision in our new smartphone & tablet world? Stay tuned!
So I’ve been replaying Final Fantasy XIII. First it was as a joke (torture myself for the Extra Life marathon), but then it was because I was honestly enjoying the unique battle system that the game has to offer. FFXIII’s battle system offers a fun evolution of the earlier Final Fantasy games’ ATB battle system.
However, Square-Enix made a major mistake with the combat – they didn’t take everything to its logical conclusion.
Final Fantasy XIII’s combat is all about switching your party’s AI via class changes. There are 6 classes, each of which has a very definite role to play. There’s a tank class, a healer class, a debuff/ailment class, and a buff class. Finally, there are two classes for direct damage – one boosts the enemies’ damage multipliers and the other class deals massive damage once those multipliers are up.
Each of these 6 classes have a distinct role to the point where the player can feel largely useless controlling someone manually since the AI is quicker (no need to fumble through menus) and has few choices to make since once a class is chosen, what you should do with that class is usually obvious. The key is deciding which classes to use and when to switch them, not on how to use them.
What Square-Enix should have done is removed the whole concept of a main character & manually entering commands all together, in favor of a greater focus on controlling the entire party in real-time. In short, get rid of the micro-management and expand on the macro-management.
Here’s what I would do.
Change to a 4-6 person party (with less micro-managing, we’re free to add complexity elsewhere with a larger party).
Several menus adjacent to each other, one for each character. Each menu has a list of all available classes for that character. By moving up & down, you change the current class (no need to press a button), while left & right allow you to switch between characters. This would allow for quick control of the entire party’s AI at all times without the need to limit yourself to a handful of preset layouts.
L1/R1 move the enemy cursor between enemies, determining which enemy will be the focus of the party’s attacks.
L2/R2 move the player cursor between your characters, determining which character is currently the focus of the party’s buffs, heals, and support.
Face buttons are assigned to up to 4 equipped summoned monsters which can attack if they have enough energy. Tap the button for a regular summon attack, hold it for charged attacks (slower, more powerful, more expensive). Unlike traditional FF games, summon attacks do not pause the game so the player will be encouraged to use them to create combos with the actions of the party.
This system would focus more on the strengths of the current FFXIII battle system, while increasing the scope (larger parties, more enemies) and complexity (more classes & combinations). Finally, the summon attack system helps to make the player feel involved and compensates for the lack of micromanagement over individual party members.
Cosmic Star Heroine – $132k. Finished. This is our Kickstarter!
Cornerstone: The Song of Tyrim - $31k. Finished.
Faëria – Strategy Card Game – $86k raised. 1 day left.
Indie Van Game Jam – $4k raised ($46k goal). Failed.
RETRO: A New Retro Gaming Magazine – $75k raised. Finished.
Night in the Woods – $141k raised. 13 days left.
Sentris – $32k raised ($50k goal). 13 days left.
The Mandate – $230k raised ($500k goal). 23 days left.
Knite & The Ghost Lights – $43k raised ($35k goal). Finished.
SCALE – $68k raised ($87k goal). 7 days left.
Confederate Express – $29k raised. 12 days left.
Dino Run 2 - $20k raised ($175k goal). About 650 backers. 27 days left. Sequel to the popular indie 2D platformer.
Paradise Lost: First Contact – $53k raised ($70k goal). About 2600 backers. 23 days left. 2D Metroidvania where you play an alien plant trying to escape a research facility.
Bloom: Memories – $13k raised ($40k goal). About 500 backers. 32 days left. Action/RPG where you can choose a non-violent path.
The Cosmic Star Heroine Kickstarter has finished with over $132,000 raised from over 6400 backers! Thank you everyone!
We’re in the final hours of the Cosmic Star Heroine kickstarter! Only about 15 hours left! Last chance to back it!
Cosmic Star Heroine – $113k. 5 days left. This is our Kickstarter!
Hyper Light Drifter – $645k. Finished.
The Long Dark – $256k CAD. Finished.
Citizens of Earth – $36k CAD ($100k goal). Failed.
Cornerstone: The Song of Tyrim - $27k ($30k goal). 1 day left.
Comic ConQuest – $22k. Finished.
GoD Factory – $51k CAD ($70k goal). Failed.
Faëria – Strategy Card Game – $64k raised ($70k goal). 15 days left.
Indie Van Game Jam – $4k raised ($46k goal). 12 days left
RETRO: A New Retro Gaming Magazine – $35k raised ($50k goal). About 1100 backers. 9 days left. They’ve got quite the lineup of contributors so this ought to be good.
Night in the Woods – $75k raised ($50k goal). About 2600 backers. 28 days left. One of the developers worked on Aquaria – Need I say more?
Sentris – $19k raised ($50k goal). About 330 backers. 27 days left. Music creation/puzzle game from someone who used to work at Unity.
The Mandate – $166k raised ($500k goal). About 3900 backers. 37 days left. Epic Sci-Fi game where you command your own spaceship, either in support of the Empire or against it. Sounds great although I will note that there doesn’t appear to be any real gameplay footage yet (I believe all the visuals they showed are from the opening cutscene or concept art).
Knite & The Ghost Lights – $37k raised ($35k goal). About 1600 backers. 1 day left. Stop-motion 2D Puzzle/Platformer.
SCALE – $50k raised ($87k goal). About 2500 backers. 21 days left. 3D Puzzle/Adventure game where you can manipulate the size of objects.
Confederate Express – $6k raised ($10k goal). About 430 backers. 26 days left. 2D Strategy/RPG where you deliver packages through zombie apocalypse-ridden lands.
Cosmic Star Heroine Update
Less than a week left to go!
If you’ve played our other games, you probably know that we love buffs (abilities that boost or otherwise improve a character temporarily). We continue to love buffs, but we realize that they were a bit overpowered in our other games so we have two small but important changes to fix that.
First, characters will only be able to have a limited number (probably starting at 3 though in a few rare cases, you’ll be able to increase that) of buffs active at once. If an additional buff is cast on a character beyond that amount, it’ll replace the oldest active buff. In our previous games, there was no limit to the number of different buffs you could stack on a single character.
Second, most buffs will have a limited duration of X number of turns (although there are ways to increase that turn count). In the past, most of our buffs lasted for the rest of the battle.
We think those two changes should make buffs a bit more balanced in Cosmic Star Heroine (and allow us to do more interesting things with them). And beyond these balance changes, we’re also going to make it easier for the player to quickly see which buffs are currently active on their characters.
Now let’s talk a little about two of the more buff-heavy masteries in the game: Alyssa’s Leadership Mastery and Chahn’s Friendship Mastery. Although both masteries focus on supporting the party in various ways, it was important to us to make sure that each one felt unique & went well with each character’s personality.
Alyssa’s Leadership mastery is very active for a support mastery. She’s meant to actively lead her party in the thick of battle rather than hanging back from behind. Here are a few of her Leadership abilities…
Lead by Example: Passive. Whenever Alyssa defeats an enemy, the party restores some HP.
Cheer Up. Buff. Target ally regains some HP. They also get a bonus to all Stats for 1 turn.
Confidence: Passive. Alyssa gets a +10% bonus to all stats as long as no one in her party has been defeated in this battle.
All-Out Assault. Special Effect. All ally attacks & abilities deal 50% more damage this turn.
From the Shadows. Buff. Party gets a boost to Cunning for 3 turns.
In contrast, Chahn’s Friendship mastery is much more of a traditional support mastery. Through her giving nature, she actually becomes more powerful the more she helps other members of the group. A few of her Friendship abilities include…
Fortify Mind: Buff. Increases magic defense. 4 turns.
Best Friends Forever: Buff. The Best Friends Forever buff does not expire. Other buffs on this character last for 2 additional turns.
Sharing: Passive. Whenever Chahn places a buff on an ally, she also gains that same buff.
Economize: Buff. Reduces MP costs by X points.
All in all, the mastery system & related abilities are proving to be very fun to design. We could make some really interesting characters just by using a single mastery, but when you take into account that each character will have 3 masteries to choose from, plus further customization through things like equipment, there should be a ton of fun depth to explore with the various characters.
Oh and by the way, the Cosmic Star Heroine kickstarter has reached its goal! And there’s still a little over 2 weeks left in case you want to help it shoot up even further.
Cosmic Star Heroine – $96k ($100k goal). 19 days left. This is our Kickstarter!
Alteil Horizons – $41k ($100k goal). Failed.
Hyper Light Drifter – $582k. 1 day left.
River City Ransom: Underground – $217k CAD. Finished.
The Long Dark – $185k CAD ($200k CAD goal). 4 days left.
DCS WWII: Europe 1944 – $158k. Finished
Citizens of Earth – $26k CAD ($100k goal). 8 days left.
Cornerstone: The Song of Tyrim - $16k ($30k goal). 14 days left.
Comic ConQuest – $11k ($20k goal). 11 day left.
GoD Factory – $27k CAD ($70k goal). 6 days left.
Faëria – Strategy Card Game – $30k raised ($70k goal). About 770 backers. 29 days left to go. Board + Card Game meets Strategy game. Looks fun with quality presentation values.
Indie Van Game Jam – $3k raised ($46k goal). About 40 backers. 25 days left. Game jams + Indie documentary + TV show! Interesting idea, though it’ll need a big burst of backers if they want to reach their goal.
Cosmic Star Heroine Update
We’ve posted a number of updates on the Kickstarter update page, but I wanted to share the new screenshot we uploaded today again.