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Unsung Story - May Update

Discussion in 'Game/SP News & Comments' started by RPGWatch, May 4, 2021.

  1. RPGWatch

    RPGWatch Watching... ★ SPS Account Holder

    Jul 28, 2010
    Likes Received:
    [​IMG]The May update for Unsung Story continues to talk about why progress is slow.


    I think it's important to acknowledge that the studio is just swamped right now, and my own time has been severely limited from interacting with the players and our community. I'm hoping that will shift soon.

    We currently have seven titles in some stage of development not including projects that are on the back burner right now like Fallen Earth.

    They fall into 3 categories:
    • Backlogged titles close to being finished
    • Development titles that we are being paid to make
    • Unsung Story
    For category one, we have 3 nearly completed projects that are all blocked in some way from being released. Some of these like the APB engine upgrade and Descent have been previously announced. One of them hasn't. Each of them has had significant investment, but also has a significant issue preventing us from proceeding. It is excruciating to be so close on so many fronts. It just means that at some point we are going to have a steady stream of new Little Orbit games every couple months.

    For category two, we have 3 development projects that are work-for-hire. Two are short term and should ship before the end of this year, and one is targeting next year. As the CEO, I try to balance the development work, because I don't want to take away too much focus on our own stuff, but these projects give us more financial stability.

    And then there is Unsung Story.

    That's been a passion project for us since 2017, and after the Chapter 1 Early Access release I recognized that it still needs a bit of work before we can jump back into full production.

    I know that this project has had a lot of bad history with the previous developer jumping off into other titles that were supposed to fund Unsung. In keeping with this month's theme about "talking", I assure you that this isn't just a lot of talk with no action. In the past, that didn't work out so well, so I want to point out several key differences between what we're doing and what has occurred in the past:
    • We have already publicly released the Chapter 1 Early Access builds and more are on their way.
    • We are continuing work on Unsung - even while the studio handles other projects. I'll talk about some of that progress today.
    • Our development projects aren't speculative. In the past, the previous developer diverted Unsung funds into a different project, gambling that it would generate enough income for them to switch back. That's not the case here. Our development projects are fully funded and generating revenue for us.
    • Lastly, the extra time we are taking since the beginning of 2021 is helping us to go back and adjust some core elements that received negative criticism to improve the overall game.
    Finally, I am painfully aware how long this project is taking to come to fruition, and I'm very much committed to getting a large updated to Early Access in your hands as soon as possible with Chapter 2 very soon after that.

    There is also some information on the progress that was made.


    1. Significant design re-work.

    I mentioned in March that we had shifted the design team around. Ultimately this is our first big tactics game, so this process has been quite a bit bigger than I expected as we take lessons learned and adjust things. This has been a system by system examination to determine whether they are achieving what we wanted.

    We analyzed all 25 jobs and found 4 jobs have Sleep skills, 5 jobs have Rage skills, 6 jobs have Stun skills, 9 jobs have Evasion skills, 10 jobs have Healing skills, and 11 jobs have Hinder skills.

    That analysis revealed the following problems:
    • Skills are too similar diffusing the uniqueness of jobs
    • Jobs have too many skills reducing the need to switch jobs as play progresses
    • Many jobs lack a central game mechanic which means they become hybrids of other jobs
    • Not enough variation for gameplay
    With that in mind we have already started going back through each job to pair down and focus things.

    The new design goals are:
    • Preserve the existing design where ever possible
    • Find the fun is what is working
    • Each job needs to have unique skills
    • Offer emergent roles through combining jobs
    • Offer power boosts through combining the right characters with the right jobs
    This month we completed our first pass on this entire effort.

    2. Significant story re-work.

    As we started the design analysis and tried to jump into level designs, it became clear that some of the story elements were too intricate to allow the level designers enough creative latitude to build fun levels. Since March, we have been taking a red pen through the storyline and streamlining things a bit more. This effort is now complete, which has now given design a super clear set of areas where they can start evaluating Chapter 2 level designs again.

    Additionally it has let our narrative team collaborate with the design team to plan where to introduce each enemy type / new mechanic for the player to defeat and then open a new job in the Opus.

    3. Finishing Female job models and animations.

    Progress on this item was a little slower than I had hoped. We should be complete with the final rigging and animations by the end of May.

    4. UI changes to the Opus.

    This is still ongoing. We have some User Experience comps that are pretty good. But we are continuing to polish before we start implementing.

    "Talking" Dialog Presentation

    For this month, I want to spend some time going through one of the other areas we have been working on and talk about talking.

    In February and March I mentioned feedback surrounding the cutscenes and dialog. Back in that update, we decided to ditch the talking 3D heads. It was clearly a failed idea. Since then we have shifted to a more traditional JRPG presentation with full portraits of our characters on each line in different emotional poses to convey a bit more drama with less distraction.

    This effort required us to find an external art team to do conceptual designs for each of the story characters and then hand paint their dialog poses.

    I thought it would be fun to share the development of these concepts and then comps of the new dialog system. Some of this is still work in progress, so bear with me.

    Last edited by a moderator: May 5, 2021
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