Soul Saga - Scope Analysis, Combat Enhancements

😍 Hello, Friend! 😍

I missed you! 😘 How have you been? 🤟

Was your summer fun? 😎🌞

Excited for autumn? 🍁🍂

Let's jump straight into some great news...

🤩 Unity Fixed!!! 🤩

I'm sure your nails have been chewed down from the last update.  In case you missed it: Unity had some horrible bugs that were blocking my development.  I'm excited to let you know that Unity got around to fixing them (after several months) and I'm back on track with development with more vigor than ever!

🤔 Early Access Analysis 🤔

After Unity got itself patched up, I passed the build internally to some associates and friends for their opinion on whether Soul Saga could be ready for a (very) Early Access.  The consensus was that, while generally fun, Soul Saga has much more potential than it's currently achieving. 👎

Having analyzed expectations for Early Access by gathering feedback from fans, I've decided that I'll continue to keep Soul Saga in a closed beta until it's polished further.  I know you were excited to get your hands on my humble JRPG, and I'm sincerely sorry that I couldn't get it to you (yet). 😭

I care for you, your time, and Soul Saga way too much to just rush it out the door.  I'll continue to do my best to make sure Soul Saga is unique, special, and fun when you get your hands on it. ⭐

📉 Game Scope vs. Project Scope 📈

When I talk with people about game development I hear the word "scope" and "scope creep" thrown around a lot, but often with different definitions and applied to the wrong ideas.  After over half a decade of working in both the indie and AAA game development fields, I've identified two major differences in the concepts of Game Development "scope": 

  • Game Scope - What the player perceives as "content" such as: time played, "things" to do, character development, world building, mini-games, and overall polish.
  • Project Scope - The time it takes the game developer to create the Game Scope's content.

The goal in game development is to increase "Game Scope" as much as possible while keeping the "Project Scope" down.  Essentially that means getting more game for less work.  This might seem logically impossible, but thoughtful and clever game design can achieve great correlations between the two scopes. 💡

Soul Saga's current designs follow the (traditionally) "bad" correlation, which is why development has taken me so long.  This can't continue. ✋🛑

My goal moving forward is to redesign each major piece of Soul Saga so that it's project scope can follow the "good" correlation.  This will allow me to get a better game to you faster. 👍

To realistically accomplish this it's important we identify -why- this problem ever occurred in the first place and then honestly assess how we can solve it together. 👊💥👊 *bump it!*

🔍 Identify 🔍

Soul Saga's ineffective scope correlation was born from its initial conception.  When I first designed Soul Saga I was just a young developer with a dream to create the types of games that inspired me.  A mix of passion and inexperience resulted in designs being kept almost verbatim to the original AAA games that inspired them.  However, those classic JRPG designs follow the "bad" correlation, and have a project scope larger than their game scope. 😣

AAA teams accomplished their goals by spending (and sometimes wasting) immense amounts of money and man-power to make up for the ineffective scope correlation.  Those are resources an indie developer, like me, does not have.  And as games have become more complex, especially in the field of 3D, the minimum "project scope" bar has increased dramatically without positively affecting the "game scope".  You can see in recent years how this ineffective correlation has negatively impacted many modern games. 😤️🎮

👍 Solve 👍

As I've grown as a developer I've realized the value of finding my game's own unique personality while also balancing the "Game" and "Project" scopes.  This is especially the case now that I've sacrificed my health, money, time, once-in-a-lifetime opportunities, family, and friends and STILL have not achieved results I'm proud of.  It's painfully obvious at this point that the current designs outlined for the project simply cannot be achieved by a single developer at a quality level that fans would be expecting. 🤦

Moving forward, I will be reanalyzing the designs of several aspects of Soul Saga to ensure that they increase Game Scope and decrease Project Scope while maintaining Soul Saga's core vision.  Starting with... 🥁 *drum roll*

🙊 Less Interwebz = More Gamez 🎮

In analyzing each second of my time with intense scrutiny, I determined that there is one major area that could use enhancement: the public relations pipeline. ⚡

To optimize my time, and increase the quality of communications with you, I'll be consolidating my web presence.  The goal is to spend less time worrying whether I've responded to every comment about Soul Saga and more time actually making the game.  As a result I've closed Soul Saga's Facebook, Google+, and the official website which now all link directly to my Patreon. 📝

From now on my internet presence will be focused on...

  • Patreon - For all public updates and Patron-only content.
  • Kickstarter - To fulfill my duties as a creator until all rewards have been handled.
  • Discord - For daily communication with fans.
  • Twitter - As an alternative platform for communication with fans.

Reduces Project Scope: Less time spent checking to make sure updates are mirrored across all sites.  Less stress worrying if a fan has gone unanswered.

Increases Game Scope: More time and energy can be spent on the game's actual development.

⚔️ Combat Redesign ⚔️

Soul Saga's combat has gone through a few major revisions over the course of its creation.  I'm confident (and ecstatic 👏) that this last revision is the final version, as it captures everything I want in a battle system.  It's...

  • Very unique, with hints of familiarity.
  • Dripping with personality.
  • Fits like a glove with Soul Saga's sky island / airship motif.
  • Requires minimal work to setup across different parts of the game.
  • Has modular systems that allow for easily adding strategic content variety.

In other words: this new battle system is designed in way that game scope increases faster than project scope (the goal for every decision moving forward). 🎉🎈

So here's what's in the new combat system...

  • Battle Zone - This new system places combat in a private Battle Zone like most classic JRPGs.  Previously, Soul Saga had battles that were fought where the player engaged, like Chrono Trigger, but this required immense manual labor setting up the locations, adjusting level design to accommodate, and testing.

Reduces Project Scope: Less time spent setting up and testing battlefields in each scene and dungeon (there are hundreds of scenes).

Increases Game Scope: More time and energy can be spent on more critical game features.  The Battle Zone looks better and has more personality than if there were too many zones for me to polish.
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  • ATB - Soul Saga's combat is now active-turn-based (ATB) similar to Chrono Trigger and Final Fantasy.

Reduces Project Scope: Less time spent debugging or handling fringe mechanics cases that would otherwise cause complications in a pure turn based system.  Easier to program as the units operate  asynchronous  to one another.

Increases Game Scope: Works MUCH better with current Compass of Morai system, which encourages staggering of skills for best offense and defense.  Adds significantly more strategy to timing attacks and movement.
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  • Movement - You can now change your characters' positions during combat!  You can move your characters freely in any direction (360° ; no grids) on your half of the battlefield.

Reduces Project Scope: Mechanics that work with the movement system can be added in a modular fashion that will allow fast iteration.

Increases Game Scope:  Positioning allows you to adjust the damage you deal / receive, protect allies from attacks, and is utilized for various boss mechanics.   This increases the strategies exponentially.
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  • Line of Sight - Certain skills require the caster to have targets in their line of sight or they may hit the wrong person.

https://twitter.com/disastercake/status/1047553814629367808

Reduces Project Scope: Mechanics that utilize line of sight can be added in a modular fashion that will allow fast iteration.

Increases Game Scope:  Dramatically increases strategy in a simple, intuitive way, and introduces a variety of enemy and boss mechanics.
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  • Random Battles - Battles are now random.

Reduces Project Scope: Less time spent setting up enemies on the field and programming / testing field artificial intelligence.  No time spent readjusting level design so enemies (of various sizes) can spawn on the field correctly.

Increases Game Scope:  More enemy variety can be added in any location, regardless of level design choices.
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🎮 Beta Update 🎮

Soul Saga's beta has been updated (Beta 18.10.18) which showcases the new battle system.

Side note: I'll be using a build's compile date as version numbers from now on rather than an arbitrary numbering system.


You can download the beta by becoming a patron and clicking here.



💕🐛 Bugs / Feedback 🤔💕

If you're playing through the beta and find a bug...

CONGRATULATIONS!  🍾🎉
You're making Soul Saga even better!

Here are two ways to report the critter:


  • The best way to report bugs is to private message Disastercake on Discord.

By using Discord I can contact you easily and you can paste screenshots and videos directly into Discord for free.  You can find me (Disastercake) at the top of the server list. (Please do not post bugs in a public channel).

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Using the form will require you supply a contact e-mail and host the screenshots and videos on a separate service (like Dropbox or Google Drive).


😊 What do you think? 😊

Your feedback is the MOST important part of making Soul Saga a fun game.  Please let me know what you think on Discord!


❤️ With love, ❤️

Mike 🤓  +  🦊 Senpai