Oct 022014
 

Following is a discussion we had way back on July 2nd, 2010 where we were discussing what our next project should be while we were in the middle of making Cthulhu Saves the World. Here you can see some of the first hints of what would later become Cosmic Star Heroine.

Note, the following discussion has been edited & abridged for clarity (cleaned up the grammar & spelling, removed some off-topic discussions).

Robert: Are you leaning towards anything for our next project?
Bill: Not yet no, what about you? Oh quick question – are all the alien cats in Cthulhu green? What color should the boss alien cat be?
Robert: Yeah, probably make them all the same color.
Bill: Okay, so green?
Robert: Yep.
Bill: Okay.
Robert: As for our next project, I don’t know. Part of me is leaning towards “Hey, lets try to go XBLA!” And part of me is leaning towards “XBLIG is pretty nice and let’s us do stuff fast.”
Bill: Well.. I think it’s too early to go XBLA
Robert: Yeah, you’re probably right.
Robert: On actual game ideas… I’m tempted to make a Phantasy Star-esque RPG next. Space Opera with magic.
Bill: Sounds good. I’m on board with it already.
Robert: Alternatively a cyberpunk RPG could go over well.
Bill: Phantasy Star style RPGs… have there been many recently?
Robert: Good ones? No.
Bill: Well there you go. I think Phantasy Star style gameplay is still relatively untapped.
Bill: Hey I was thinking the other day… it seems that 99% of RPGs are either “Fantasy” (swords, wizards, warriors, princesses, castles, kings), or they are Sci-Fi (guns, aliens, space ships, etc). There has got to be more settings that are not fully explored…
Robert: True, true.
Bill: …and post-apoc Western RPGs.
Robert: I played one RPG in Chinese… that was a mermaid RPG
[Note: Heroine Anthem 1 & 2]
Bill: Well anyway, I guess I was just wondering… with so many Sword/Fantasy and Spaceship/SciFi and Post-Apoc “modern” RPGs you’d think there would be more in other settings.
Robert: Well, a modern day RPG would potentially be good.
Robert: Earthbound has a very devoted fanbase. As do the Persona games.
Robert: And other than those, there’s pretty much nothing in a real world setting. TWEWY.
Bill: Hahaha. Nice. Couldn’t remember the name.
Robert: Yeah, that one too. Hehe. I’ve had like 5 ideas for less used ideas for RPG settings and then I immediately think of a game that used that. Like I was going to say, Detective RPG! But then you have the PA games & the later SMT: Devil Summoner games. Or greek RPG!
[Note: Soon after this discussion, PA contacted us to finish their RPG series. The results were our third & fourth RPGs: Penny Arcade's On the Rain-Slick Precipice of Darkness 3 & 4]
Bill: Well
Robert: But Nintendo just released Glory of Heracles on the DS.
Bill: It doesn’t have to be the first time the setting has been used, just something that is underserved
Robert: True.
Bill: Like… when people see another RPG in the sword/castle setting, it takes a little extra something to keep their interest because there has been so many of those.
Robert: I told you about my idea for a movie RPG, right?
Bill: No?
Robert: Where you’re a movie director. And each movie you make is its own little mini-RPG scenario. With actors & actresses being your playable characters.
Bill: Oh right.
Robert: And as you “beat” each scenario, depending on how you do, your director gets XP and gains the ability to make more movies.
Bill: Yeah, I remember this.
Robert: Hm… one idea I had that I thought would be kind of cool. Would be that you have an RPG set in a very small location. Like a small rural mountain town where supernatural occurences start to occur. But I guess that’s kind of like Persona.
Robert: But whereas Persona has a very distinct difference between the natural and the supernatural with this, I would have the entire town start getting bizarre and crazy and evil.
Robert: On another note, sports RPGs are pretty popular in Japan, but never show up here. I’ve seen RPGs for soccer as well as baseball. We could do a basketball RPG. 5 players on a team makes for a good party size.
Robert: Hm… dinosaur RPG? Can’t say that I’ve ever seen anything like that.
Bill: Sweet. Yeah, something like that.
Robert: Other than that Chrono Trigger segment.
Bill: Eh, it was only a segment.
Robert: Anyway, just a bunch of random suggestions.
Bill: Yeah. Well anyway, the best thing is to just go with whatever you feel would make for a good design and a good story.
Robert: I will say that although I’ve been pushing for a zombie apocalypse RPG, seeing as how our first two games have both been horror themed, I think a change of pace would be good.
Bill: Yeah good point.
Robert: Yep. Hm… Ninja RPG!
Bill: Sweet.
Robert: I can’t think of any of those other than Inindo and that’s OLD. Or the Naruto RPGs.
Bill: Yeah and sorta kinda Muramasa.
Robert: Yeah.
Bill: We might potentially change art style a little as in instead of 16×16 characters, maybe something like 32×16 characters or I don’t know something so that it doesn’t always look like Dragon Quest.
[Note: We meant 16x32. 32x16 would make for very fat characters]
Robert: I’m still leaning towards Space Opera RPG for our next game.

 Posted by at 10:07 am
Sep 302014
 

Hi everyone! We’re still plugging away at the vertical slice – almost have all of the systems properly in place and we’re rapidly approaching the point where the assets we want to show off are sufficiently polished and impressive enough to send out into the wild of the Internet for all to see. In the meantime, since we haven’t posted any screenshots for a while, we thought we’d post another one today. Here’s a picture of Dave confounding an enemy with his elite programming skills in a battle in the old abandoned research facility dungeon.

 

labbattlescreen1

 

What fresh horrors await our heroes in the darkness? What secrets does this facility hold and were those secrets worth killing for? Stay tuned!

 Posted by at 2:42 pm
Aug 052014
 

We posted an article last year about some ideas we had for making ailments more useful in combat. We thought we’d share an update there on what we’re working with now since there have been some changes.

For starters, we’re going to be aiming for Cosmic Star Heroine to have fewer, but more meaningful battles than many RPGs. In an RPG where combat is always over quickly, direct damage is always the correct choice (defeat the enemy as quickly as possible) but when you have battles that may last longer, then more interesting strategies become viable.

With the exception of ailments that are specific to a certain type of enemy (like Rust on a robotic enemy), enemies are not immune to ailments.

Ailment success is not random. Essentially each enemy has a separate hidden ailment HP for each ailment type. For example, an enemy might have 40 “Stun HP.” If you used a Stun ability that dealt 40 Stun damage, then the enemy would be successfully stunned. Alternatively, if you used a Stun ability that only dealt 20 Stun damage, then the enemy would only be stunned after you used that ability twice on them (or combined it with another stun ability that dealt 20 or more stun damage).

Trying to Stack or repeat the same ailment on the same enemy becomes more and more difficult with each stack.

Some abilities will not just inflict ailments. For example, Alyssa’s basic “Bash” attack will deal damage and also has a small stun effect as well.

Some characters will have powerful ailment abilities that are more effective against certain enemy types. For example, Dave’s “Hack” ability is more effective at charming robotic enemies than organic or astral enemies.

Here are the ailments we’re currently planning to use. As usual, the specifics are subject to change between now and the game’s release.

General Ailments:

  • Stun – Skip a turn. Does not stack.

This takes the place of the Interrupt function that we had in our previous 2 games (Penny Arcade’s On the Rain-Slick Precipice of Darkness 3 & 4) in that it lets you prevent the enemy from taking action.

  • Charm – Will hurt allies or help enemies. Can stack additional turns.

Note, it’s highly unlikely that any enemies will have access to inflicting this ability, just because we know how annoying this can be (from experience in other RPGs).

  • Confuse – Has a chance to act regularly (34%), do nothing (33%), or act charmed (33%). Can stack for additional turns.

Our one ailment with a random element to it. Can be very useful… or do absolutely nothing.

  • Disarm – 30% damage penalty to next attack. Cancels 1 buff. Does not stack.

Very useful if you know the enemy is charging up for a powerful move.

  • Vulnerable – Takes double damage on the next hit. Does not stack.

Very useful for setting up combos (use right before you know you’re going to unleash a powerful move) for massive damage.

  • Enraged – Will target the most recent enemy that targeted it. Reduces damage of multi-target abilities by 20% but increases the damage of single-target abilities by 30%. Can stack for additional turns.

Useful for controlling enemy movement and for weakening enemies with powerful multi-target abilities.

Enemy Type Specific:

These are ailments that only work on specific classes of enemies. All of these ailments last for the entire battle once they’re inflicted.

  • Poison – Takes damage at the end of each turn. Organic enemies only. Can stack for additional damage.

This is the only ailment where stacking the ailment increases the effect (more damage each turn) rather than adding additional turns (since it already lasts the entire battle).

  • Rust – Takes damage at the end of each turn. Lowers speed by 20%. Robotic enemies only. Does not stack.

Can’t deal as much damage as poison can (due to the multiple stacks) but deals a good amount of damage & slows down the enemy.

  • Curse – Lowers attack, defense, and speed by 20%. Astral enemies only. Does not stack.

Doesn’t deal damage like the other two ailments, but significantly weakens the enemy.

Special Ailments:

  • Fatigue - Reduces Max HP by 10% for the rest of the battle. Stacks up to 5 times.

Most of the time, fatigue is self-inflicted by using certain powerful abilities. Also most heal effects inflict fatigue on the target (the stress of rapid healing takes its toll on a body).

  • Desperate - Automatically inflicted if HP goes below 0. Dies at the end of the next turn if HP is not positive.

Under certain circumstances, player characters can survive a hit that would otherwise defeat them. When this happens, they enter desperate status and are defeated at the end of their next turn if they do not win the battle or bring their HP back to a positive amount. Certain passives & equipment may bestow additional bonuses for characters while they’re in desperate status.

  • Hypochondria – Lowers resistance to damage & ailments for the rest of the battle. Does not stack.

Hypochondria is an interesting ailment in that it cannot be directly inflicted on an enemy. Instead, enemies will automatically contract hypochondria if they are hit with enough ailments over the course of the battle. Hypochondria is inflicted faster if you hit an enemy with different ailment types rather than just stacking the same ailment multiple times.

We’re hopeful that by increasing the length of the average battle, removing the random aspect of inflicting ailments, designing useful ailments & abilities that inflict them, ailments will become an important and interesting part of combat in Cosmic Star Heroine and not the afterthought that they are in many RPGs.

Finally, on another note, here’s an update on the video preview that we mentioned earlier. The two areas that we’re planning on showing off have all of their maps finished (9 maps total) so right now, we’re adding story events, and working on the battles for those areas. Not sure how long it’ll be until we’re ready to show it off, but it shouldn’t be much longer. :)

 Posted by at 2:22 pm
Jul 232014
 

We’re pleased to share a preview of the main battle theme for Cosmic Star Heroine.

Here are some notes from Chris over at Hyperduck:

“Hello CSH fans! Here is a preview of the first battle theme for Cosmic Star Heroine; there is a lot more to this theme than meets the eye, and we’re only showing you a small amount of it for now. IT IS NOT MIXED YET! So don’t be too harsh on the judgement, yet! Hehe.”

 Posted by at 10:16 am
Jul 082014
 

A few months ago, we had backers vote on which non-human character they’d like to add to Cosmic Star Heroine as a playable character. The votes came in and the cyber-insect character was the winner.

Today, we’d like to reveal our playable cyber-insect, Psybe.

psybeconcept555

Although it would have been easy to stick Psybe in as a bonus character, we were actually able to fit the character organically into the main storyline. With high stats in both Hackitude & Sparke, he/she/it should be a valuable member of your team.

psybespritetest2

 Posted by at 9:16 am
Jun 172014
 

There’s been a change of plans.

As you may remember, we mentioned that we were planning on showing off some footage of the game during E3. E3 has come and gone and no footage was shown so what happened?

Our original plan was to create a short 10-30 second video which included a few seconds from 2-3 scenes which would show off some combat & exploration. This kind of footage is great for creating trailers and for inclusion in larger montage videos, but we figured you all deserved something better.

With our past games, we would focus on one aspect of the game, finish everything in that aspect and then move onto the next. For example, we might make every single enemy in the game and then make every single area in the game and then make every single ability in the game and so on. Although this approach had a certain amount of efficiency to it, it has a major flaw in that we wouldn’t have anything playable until the game was almost entirely finished. This can be especially bad if it turns out that your original plan had problems since you don’t discover those issues until near the end of the project when you might not have much time to fix them.

With Cosmic Star Heroine, we’re doing things a little different and creating the game on a scenario by scenario basis. So for say a dungeon, we’d create the maps for that dungeon, the enemies for that dungeon, the story triggers & dialogue for that dungeon, and so on until the dungeon is playable just like it would presumably be in the finished game. This is a little more work in the short run (since you have to adjust between working on different tasks), but we feel this will result in a better game since we’ll be able to play through the game as it gets created and thus will be able to adjust & polish it more easily.

As an added bonus to this scenario approach, we should have a meaty preview of one of the larger scenarios in the game ready to show off to you all in a few weeks. This won’t be just a few seconds of carefully edited footage. Instead, we’ll be able to play through a couple sections of the game, record that, and show you several minutes of footage of us playing through part of the actual game.

Specifically, we’ll be showing some segments from early on the game where Alyssa leads a team of herself, Chahn, and Dave on a mission on Rhomu. You’ll see more of the jungle that we’ve shown off on the Kickstarter page as well as an all-new location in the form of a creepy old abandoned laboratory. Should be a fun segment to show off. :)

 Posted by at 2:03 pm
Apr 142014
 

Hi everyone! Time for a quick update!

Based on our current plans for the game’s main story & sidequests and our previous experience on our other games, we’re guessing that Cosmic Star Heroine will be in the 15-25 hour range (depending on difficulty chosen, playstyle, and how much optional content you complete) making it our longest game ever. Of course, this is just a guess and we’ll have a better idea when the game is nearly done but we think it’ll fall somewhere around there.

In particular, we’ve really been focusing on improving the optional content in the game. Many of our optional quests in our previous games could scarcely be called that and consisted primarily of bonus caves filled with a few enemies and treasure chest. We definitely want to avoid that so we’re making sure that all of the sidequests in the game have a story and/or character significance and aren’t just a way to get extra loot.

In both the main story & the sidequests, we want to avoid the game just being a series of town, dungeon, boss, repeat, and will have more interesting scenarios. In particular, Final Fantasy VI is a big inspiration as situations like Defending Narshe, the Opera House, the Raft Escape, frequently changing party lineups, and more helped to add a lot of variety to the traditional RPG format. And yes, we’re planning on having at least one multi-party dungeon as well as a turn-based hacking mini-game. :)

Finally, we just wanted to let everyone know that we’re planning on sharing some gameplay footage for the game during E3. Please be excited.

 Posted by at 4:55 pm
Mar 172014
 

Here’s our work-in-progress prototype of the ability menu for Cosmic Star Heroine. The ability menu allows you to look at stats for your abilities, equip your 8 active abilities, and equip enhancers (gained via leveling up masteries and let you modify and improve abilities).

AbilityFinal5a

 

AbilityFinal5b

 

AbilityFinal5c

 

As usual, this is just a prototype & is subject to change before release.

 

 

 Posted by at 3:49 pm
Mar 122014
 

Here’s a picture of our work-in-progress equipment menu prototype for Cosmic Star Heroine. Visuals are subject to change between now & the game’s release, stats & equipment do not represent final gameplay, Cthulhu is probably not going to be in the game, etc, etc.

testEquip12

 Posted by at 3:05 pm