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
Mar 062014
 

We’ve been tweaking the battle UI since the last screenshot based on various feedback you all gave us and thought we’d share the results.

BattleUIVer2b

 

We shrunk the portraits a bit so that they wouldn’t draw as much attention away from the action and then we swapped their position so that we could add another character slot to the time bar. We redesigned the name/description bar so that we’d have more space for text. Finally, we made the numbers in combat slightly smaller (we think it looks better this way).

As usual, this is a work-in-progress and so the layout and art is subject to change between now and the game’s release.

 Posted by at 1:00 pm
Feb 282014
 

Since we haven’t shared any screenshots for Cosmic Star Heroine recently, we thought we’d show off the battle user interface. We think it’s a big improvement over our previous games in both form & function. And hey, you might be able to guess on some of the combat mechanics from this screenshot!

Standard disclaimer: work in progress, subject to change before the game comes out. Also, the location shown isn’t actually going to be in the game; we just use it for testing various things (and it’s good for avoiding spoilers too!).

Cosmic Star Heroine Battle UId

 Posted by at 4:31 pm
Dec 132013
 

There has long been a myth that if you were able to get your indie title on Steam, you’d be successful and make a lot of money. Now, don’t get me wrong – indie titles do traditionally sell better on Steam than they do elsewhere (although better than next to nothing may still be next to nothing) but being on Steam is no guarantee of success. As Valve lowers their barrier to entry, it’s going to become more and more difficult for individual games to get noticed and find financial success. Therefore, I thought it would be useful to discuss some of the various strategies developers can take to improve their chances of being noticed (which is essential to having a commercially successful game – no one’s buying games they’ve never heard of).

The Cynical Strategy – Clone a popular game and try to ride its coattails. Alternatively, use manipulative psychology to coerce people into paying more for your game than they originally intended. I disapprove of this strategy so let’s move on.

The Price Strategy - Price your game lower than the competition and attract buyers looking for a bargain. This was a very useful strategy a few years ago but now there’s a glut of cheap & free games on the market so a low price is no longer much of a talking price. However, this strategy is still very useful when used in the form of publicized short-term sales.

The Brute Force Strategy - Spend tons of money on marketing so that people can’t help but hear about your game. Alternatively, have or gain the rights to a super popular IP.

The Quality Strategy - Make a game that’s better than the competition in one or more ways. Here’s where I think a lot of indie developers stumble. It’s not enough to make a game that’s “good for an indie.” It’s not even enough to make a game that’s just plain good. If you’re trying to use quality to gain attention, your game needs to be AMAZING.

The Niche Strategy - Find a niche that is underserved and serve it. The important thing here is that just finding an unpopular genre isn’t going to do you any good – some genres are unpopular for a reason. The key is finding a genre or subgenre that has a fanbase that feels neglected. In short, find a genre where demand exceeds supply. For us, we’ve found the turn-based RPG genre to be a good fit – big companies are all focused on Action/RPGs and RPG hybrids these days, and there aren’t many indie devs making high quality RPGs so there’s not much competition. Alternatively, this approach can be taken to platforms as well (which is why launch titles on new systems often do better than they would have otherwise).

The Creative Strategy - Make a game that doesn’t really fit into existing genres so that you essentially have no competition (until clones arise). This is a gamble as wildly creative games often fail to take off, but it can pay off greatly if your game catches the public’s imagination. Minecraft is a great example of this strategy. More recently, Papers, Please managed to pull this off – a depressing, story-focused bureaucracy simulator hardly sounds like a bestseller, but it got people talking and ended up selling really well. Alternatively, you can use the creative strategy to a lesser extent by having a unique gimmick in your game.

Of course, you get even better chances of success when you combine strategies. Take Telltale for example. They’ve found great success in recent years by combining the niche strategy (visual novels with light puzzle solving) with the brute force strategy (popular IPs like The Walking Dead). There are higher quality visual novel/puzzle games out there (Ghost Trick, Ace Attorney, 999/VLR), but through the use of high profile IPs, Telltale has managed to find much more success than other strategies to the genre. In fact, they have probably even managed to increase the audience for these kinds of games.

If you look at our most successful game – Cthulhu Saves the World – you can see that it uses almost all of these strategies to various degrees:
Brute Force – Popular IP in the form of Cthulhu (which happens to be public domain so we could use it)
Price – $3 (back in 2010-2011 on home consoles & PC before the freemium wave had really reached its peak)
Niche – Turn-based console-style RPG
Creative – Eldritchian horror as farce
Quality – Well, I happen to think it’s a really good game. :)

The indie game field is just going to get more and more competitive as time goes on. It’s not enough to just make a good game; you need to have a strategy if you don’t want to get lost in the crowd.

 Posted by at 11:41 am
Oct 152013
 

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.

 Posted by at 3:50 pm
Oct 112013
 

Previous Kickstarters

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.

New Kickstarters

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. :)

cshalienforest1_upscale

 Posted by at 2:41 pm
Sep 302013
 

Hi everyone! We got approval from kickstarter so we’re making the Cosmic Star Heroine kickstarter go live tomorrow morning at around 9 am!

We’re really excited! We’ve been working on preparing this kickstarter for the past few months and can’t wait to show it off! If you like what you see and want to see us continue to improve with each game, please donate! $10 will get you a copy of the game on the format of your choice – PSN (PS4/Vita), Steam (PC/Mac), or DRM-Free PC/Mac – and there are plenty of other fun rewards to be had at the various levels. And just as important as your own support is to help spread the word. Tell your friends who might be interested, post the news on forums, mention the game on Facebook, Twitter, and the like, and more! The more people find out about the game, the more money we raise, the more freedom we’ll have in developing our best game yet!

And once again, thank you for all of your support over the years! We couldn’t have done this without you! Let’s make Cosmic Star Heroine our best game yet!

 Posted by at 5:18 pm