Star Renegades Dev Log #2

⭐ Heeeeeey Renegades ⭐

It’s been a while! So this devlog is going to be a B I G one. The last few months have been one heck of a ride preparing for Gamescom and PAX back to back. Just wanted to give you all a bit of an update as to what we’ve been working on and what’s coming up next!

First off, we’d like to thank you awesome folks for sticking with us on this dev journey. During these past few months, we’ve recruited at least 2500+ fine rebels to join the Star Renegades community mailing list from CGX, Montreal Comiccon, Gamescom, and PAX! Your support resonates so much with us, and we cannot be more excited to show you what we’ve been working on!

Anyways, before we get started on all that, here’s a montage of pics of usssss!


Please note: all of this could be subject to change because we’re still iterating on many aspects of the game

We’ve been describing Star Renegades as a tactical rogue-like squad-based RPG (sounds like a mouthful right?!). In our screenshots and videos, you see a lot of squad turn-based combat going on, but what we haven’t shown online yet is some of the underlying systems that make our gameplay  more robust.

To give you a rundown of our demo, here were the highlights we chose to showcase:

  • Overland Travel Map Functions :map:
  • Character Progression and Camaraderie System :fireworks:
  • Equipment and Merchant System :shirt:
  • Story-based Events (will be proc-gen in final version) :book:
  • Combat Loop :crossed_swords:

For the demos we took to Gamescom and PAX, we wanted to basically show off our core combat loop and watched peoples’ reactions to the mechanics. So far so gooood! This slice of our demo took our players on a journey through the explorable overland map to beat the Big Bad Bomb Boss Jomath. It was incredibly difficult to beat at first (something only Peter and Garry could beat aka difficulty level: insane genius) and the success completion rate was 3% on the first day for our players. We had to bug Peter to decrease the HP and shield amounts for certain mobs so that the rest of us normal people could enjoy the game a taaaaaad bit longer before getting wrecked- haha.

Despite some random bugs that we encountered here and there, the feedback was overwhelmingly positive so we think we’re on the right track! We totally loved how small groups of friends would walk by our booth, stop, do a double-take on Bryan’s pixel art process (we had him work on more Star Renegades characters and livestreamed it onto our TV), and sat down together at one of our stations to figure out how to beat Jomath- the final boss in our demo.

Spot our Pixel Artist King BRYAN!

Our demo ran through one rebellion cycle or at least 30 minutes if you’ve been hanging on (even by a thread). The beauty of it is that you could win a fight, but lose half your squad, yet land on a node with a merchant and hire new mercenaries to keep on going. We’ve seen some players come back with one player left only to hire a new squad with new equipment. We also had two selectable squads from the start (different from our CGX demo), which offered different strategies to beat enemies. In the full game, you must defeat the Tyrant (not in demo) to bring a period of peace (20 years) before the next Tyrant rises up and rebuilds The Imperium.

The UI is something we’ve thrown together as placeholder while we tested out the combat, so it is already something we’re polishing for our next milestone. We know that improvements needed to be made with equipping items, hiring mercenaries, and leveling up heroes even before showing our demo, but focused primarily on combat mechanics and feel for this demo.

In the next section, I’ll be talking about the game outlined in a bit of high-level detail.


:map: Overland Travel Map Functions :map: 

In our CGX demo, we put people through the tutorial. We had a sort of holographic-looking map with three nodes that you can travel to. It was pretty simple. However, since Bryan, Colin, and myself (Jacq) are avid lovers of JRPGs, we fell in the love with the idea of an overland travel map heavily inspired by Chrono Trigger and Final Fantasy. We wanted all our players to feel like they’ve been hit right in the feels with JRPG nostalgia as they are exploring a giant map with their squad. Sooo we had a huge overhaul with the art, animations, and node mapping for the travel screen. It was a huuuge hit, as we saw many peeps stop at our booth to watch the gameplay video playing on loop.

Old map:

New map:


:fireworks: Character Progression and Camaraderie System :fireworks:

In this demo, players were able to level up their characters and unlock more abilities with EXP they have obtained from fights and random narrative events. During combat, if your characters attack in a specific sequence, a camaraderie bonus unlocks between them. YEessss that’s right!! <3 This reveals a new duo combo attack between both chosen partners. We were very much inspired by Fire Emblem to implement this sort of relationship system, and plan to insert more supporting narrative to give our characters that extra flavour.

Teamwork, BABY!

 


:shirt: Equipment and Merchant System :shirt:

Our equipment system works similarly to Diablo in which the traits for the weapons/armour can fully transform your skills. For example, the Enlightenment Chip transforms all single target buffs to AoE but loses 50% of its potency (still a great item though). This item is particularly strong on Xurx with his shield-generating abilities and attack buffs. We have little trade offs on traits on items so that no one item can make a character too OP (no winfinity gauntlets here sorry!).

You get a shield, and YOU get a shield, and YOUUU get a shield! Shields for everyone!

 


:book: Story-based Events :book:

Many people have asked whether or not Star Renegades will have a linear storyline with multiple endings. That’s still something we’re deciding at this moment. For the full game, Star Renegades will contain a multigenerational storyline. In our current demo, there are narrative events that pop up on each node your squad travels to. These events are procedurally generated and can alter the course of your mission based on what you choose to do. Right now, we’re leaning towards not having a rigid linear story, but rather supply our players with elements in game that allow themselves to tell their own story. That way, players have individual stories that they get to personally craft around each rebellion and the emergent story that is driven by the Rebellion Engine’s procedurally generated content, enemies, loot, and events.

 


:crossed_swords: Combat Loop :crossed_swords:

So our combat is based around an info-centric (Peter: that sounds like a hip millennial term) battle system where you see your enemies plot their actions on the timeline. Interrupting, defending, and guarding are suuuper important in combat. If you don’t interrupt the Firewulf’s Immolate skill, your team will get roasted. And ooohhh boy- we’ve seen lots of peeps get punished when they weren’t careful in planning their next turn.

NOoooooo…Wyynnnnnn!

Oh and you’ll never have to worry about whether your heavy attacks will miss an enemy because there is no RNG in combat. Everything is under your control on the battlefield. You are the master tactician (so if your squad wipes, that is 10000% on you 😛)


Sooo this is what’s available in our demo for now. Of course we have a few other systems that we’re working on (that we’re keeping under wraps for now), but we definitely would like to tighten up and balance combat a bit more as well as heavily refactor our controls for UI and repolish all of our current windows. These are the things we will be working on for our Closed Alpha (ETA: to be determined)! Everyone on the team is working very hard to get Star Renegades to a playable state for our fans.

AAAAAAAND… when that happens, shortly after we’ll be ready for our first Star Renegades Closed Beta! WOOOOoo. To get in on this exclusive opportunity, make sure you sign up on our Mailing List and join our Discord for announcements as we get closer to that date! We will also be drawing some names for raffles to win a copy of Star Renegades as well. We’ll be posting announcements on our Twitter and Facebook and Steam as well so make sure you’re following us to get these updates!

 

Also, here are some pre-alpha reviews we’d like to share with you:

“This is the best game of the whole [Gamescom] show.” – Dedicated Fan (who came back five times to beat the demo with a different squad and also brought his brother to play)
“I like how there is no RNG. Everything is under my control. If I lose, I accept that it is entirely my fault.” – Awesome Fan of no RNGesus
“I may need to abduct your pixel artist :P” – Facebook Fan (jokingly of course)

 

Aaaand that’s it for now folks! Thanks for joining our community and tuning in to our channel to hear what we have to say. We’re well on our way to working on our next milestone, but we’ll be sharing secret snippets with peeps in our mailing list! So make sure you sign up for that 🙂

 

Cheers from your friendly neighbourhood Community Manager ❤,

Softcookie ^^’

 

 

P.S. Ummm sooooo…. Peter and Garry are STILL duking it out (since February 😮) for using “Read-and-React” vs. “Reactive Time Battle System” to describe our current combat system lol.. * P L E A S E * HELP US OUT and vote for either one of the terms and explain why you like it?? Thank youuu!

 

P.P.S. We’ve finally watched Avengers: Infinity War. On the plane. To Gamescom❗

Interview with our Pixel Artist- Bryan

Hey all!

We seem to get a lot of compliments regarding our pixel art styles in Halcyon 6 and Star Renegades (that’s a good thing right?) sooo I thought you all might be dying to know more about the mystery man behind the scenes: Bryan! I asked him a few questions and of course- like all artists- there isn’t really one answer but 100 million iterations of the answers. So let’s get to it!

 


 

Me: Did you start off in games? How long have you been doing art for?

Bryan: Welll, my first Art Job was teaching art to Children followed very closely by a contract position at Little Guy Games, where I worked on Stick Wars 1,2,3 for IOS, as well as Super Snack Time and Little Bandits.  In regards to how long I’ve been doing art, the answer is always. I remember trying to quit art once, but was always drawn back to it. Professionally I’ve been working as an Artist for 7 years now. Pretty much since I came back from getting married in New Zealand.

 

Me: What’s your biggest influence in the game art genre?

Bryan: Oh hm…that’s a hard question as I don’t think there is a single influence and instead I had different influences at different points. I remember drawing Mario and Link when I was really little, then taking my Dragon Quest, Super Metroid, Breath of Fire, Breath of Fire 2, Final Fantasy VI strategy guides to school and drawing the images in them over and over again.. And later, games like Metroid Prime, Windwaker, Okami, and Viewtiful Joe, Zone of the Enders, Breath of Fire Dragon Quarter, Metal Gear Solid, Valkyria Chronicles, Fire Emblem and Mass Effect were big influences. Now, games like Nier Automata, Hyper Light Drifter, and Owlboy have been big influences.

 

 

Me: Sooo I gotta ask, what is your favourite game ever?

Bryan: [chuckles] I can’t say I have a favourite game. I have favourite games for different genres, but Metroid Prime, Metroid Zero Mission, Nier Automata, Parasite Eve, Bayonetta 2, Fire Emblem Awakening, Advance Wars Days of Ruin, Final Fantasy VI, Virtues Last Reward, Shadow of the Collossus, Mario 64, Megaman 2,3,8,X, Castlevania Dawn of Sorrow, Super Mario Galaxy, Smash Bros Melee, and Xenogears immediately spring to mind, but I could easily list a top 10 of any genre.

 

Me: Can you show me your favourite piece of art you’ve ever drawn?

Bryan: Usually the more funny an image is the more it lasts with me.  I really enjoyed doing Smash Date series of images as well as pixel art Nintendo images. Also a couple of illustrations I did for books have a warm feel that I’ve attached myself to.

 

Me: What were your biggest inspirations for drawing Halcyon 6 and Star Renegades?

Bryan: When it comes to art style for Star Renegades and Halcyon 6, Halcyon 6 was already in motion when I came to work at Massive Damage and I had to match what was already there.  There is a point where I feel like I stopped copying what was there and I made it my own, and that would be in the diplomat animations, and the final Boss animation and all of the higher tier ships.  I think I took the essence and added as much personality to it as I could, I wanted something that both felt fun and alive. Star Renegades was mine from day 1, the team had taken a lot to games like Dead Cells and Hyperlight Drifter Visually, which led to artwork without outlines, so I used them as a basis of what next level pixel art looks like and then I started trying to make each asset I did better and more interesting than the last.  I really wanted animation to speak to what the game is which is why we went for such a high frame rate for 2d art. In color pallet I wanted a lot of backgrounds with analogous colors with gradients overlaying them. I really wanted something that had a lot of personality but also looked very cohesive. I went with permanent wind because I wanted everything to be majestic and epic. I was getting really tired of post-apocalyptic settings and wanted this to be a group of planets there is actually a point in saving. That is why I’ve tried to keep a lot of colour in the game, as well as grass and other fauna.

 

Me: How’s your work process in creating art?

Bryan: My process when it comes to making art is rather methodical.  I think of what I want something to look like, then I simplify the hell out of it, and think about it’s essence.  often I end up with a really bland start and am ashamed of loose work that I do, but I”m always surprised how I can save assets by cleaning them up and thinking a new way to polish them.


Me: Any advice for developing artists?

Bryan: I think my advice for developing artists would be build up a strong technical base and try matching every style.  Also have fun images that show what you can do rather than what everyone else is already doing. All of my art jobs have started because the team had an artist they liked but the didn’t have art being made fast enough and I got the job because I could match the style. I think I’ve very analytical in how I approach art.  Also be as versatile as humanly possible. The more tasks I can do specifically the more useful I am and I really think that’s the best way to break in.

 

Aaaand those were most of the answers I could get from Bryan before he had to resume his progress on Star Renegades! All the backgrounds, characters, and animations are hand drawn by him- and Bryan is our only game artist here at Massive Damage! If you want to check out more of his awesome art (pixel or not) head on over to his site bryanheemskerk.com

 

 

Star Renegades Dev Log #1

Star Renegades development is heating up!


Hi all!

It’s Softcookie here from the MDI team!  For those of you who are new to our upcoming game, I am the UI designer/community manager! Our UI developer Linda has stepped away on maternity leave for a bit, so I have been giving a hand in the UI of STAR RENEGADES (i.e. the game we’ve been obsessively working on).

We’ve been a little quiet on the social media front lately, and that’s because we’ve been holed up in our dev caves working reeeeeeeal hard to submit a build for PAX West and Gamescom! We finally submitted this last week (and on time too lol), so fingers crossed that we get in! Being able to cross off this deadline from our task list has given us a bit of breathing room to come out of our rooms, see the sun, interact with other hoomans, etc.

We look FIIIIINE!

 

To prove that we’ve been working hard on Star Renegades, here is a list of movies that most of us HAVEN’T seen:

  • Avengers: Infinity War
  • Deadpool 2
  • Black Panther
  • Pacific Rim: Uprising
  • Tomb Raider

(And the crazy thing is these all take place in the same universe, right??)

 

So, with the point of these DevLogs being to fill you in on STAR RENEGADES, we figured we’d jump straight to the topic of our new combat engine!

(Not that the entire game is combat! It wouldn’t be Massive Damage if we didn’t have a pile of supporting systems on top of our core game. We’ve got a super flexible mission and event system, for all your future content needs, plus we’ve got an AMAZING equipment system, as well as a few SECRET systems that we’re working on that we’re hoping will blow everyone’s socks/pants/boots(?) off, all of which we’ll tackle in future dev logs.)

COMBAT


So first off, it bears asking what the heck are we trying to do that hasn’t been done before?

Well, the answer is a few things!

First off we’ve got a built-from-the-ground-up combat engine that revolves around the idea of enemy transparency, that is to say, you can see what your enemies are planning to do at the beginning of a round, and it’s up to you to use your heroes’ abilities to counter your enemies’ actions.  Make a wrong move, get a little impatient, and it might lead to devastating consequences!

Here at Massive Damage, we’re calling this system our “Read-And-React” Combat (Peter’s term, stolen from basketball, which you can vote for in the comments section) or Reactive Action Battle System (Garry’s Term, which you can choose NOT to vote for in the comments section, because it’s way less elegant and doesn’t really communicate anything).

 

So, a simple example of one of these Read-and-React (yep, I’m using it! Take that Garry!) moments is say an enemy is targeting one of your squishies with a flurry attack (it does 6 hits, and 6 damage each hit) for a whopping 36 damage, enough to kill your squishy.  Now you COULD choose for your squishy to defend (incoming damage is -50%), thereby reducing that damage to 18 (not great, but as you can probably tell, unlike most turn-based games, you have an actual reason to defend).

Or, let’s say your machine gun fella has an Overwatch power, which allows him to return fire on the attacker for each hit (return fire on the attacker for 5 damage per attacker hit). So he does that, AND THEN your damage soaking tank GUARDS your squishy, taking attacks intended for them (allowing her armor to soak up all that dreaded DMG). AND THEN your weird portal-sword wielding robot man conjures up a reflective damage portal vortex in front of your damage soaker, and now each time your tank gets hit, the attacker gets hit too! 

Well that didn’t go according to plan

 

Anyway, that’s pretty much the system. We’ve got tons of other stuff on top of it, some of which we’re pretty sure has never been done before in a squad combat-based system, like personal shields systems that interact with debuffs in interesting ways, and a power selection flow that emphasizes experimentation with an maximization of squad powers so as to really emphasize TEAMWORK. Oh, and interrupts. And SO MUCH MORE!  

 

INTERSTITIAL ANIMATIONS


And wrapping that all together is a really cool in-house animation system that we’re using to build all the nifty and dynamic attack animations anyone could ever want!

And the best part about it is its acronym: C.A.T.T.L.E. (Combat Animation Tool That Lucky Engineered).  Garry came up with that one. You really came through this time with that one, Garry.

Anyway, so that’s a wrap for our first dev post! We’ll have tons and tons of more stuff coming your way soon as we continue to experiment and tune Star Renegades to perfection!

But for those of you who don’t give a damn about perfection, and who might live in the Ottawa or Montreal areas, you should absolutely come on down to CGX in Ottawa (June 23/24) or Comic Con in Montreal (July 6-8th), where we’ll be showing a PLAYABLE version of the build.

 

That’s right. A PLAYABLE version of the build.

Hopefully, that’s a deadline we won’t regret announcing!

 

Remember to WISHLIST us on Steam as well- for firsthand beta testing 😉

Steam: Star Renegades

Feel free to join our Discord server or follow us on Twitter and Facebook for more spicy GIFs and updates.

Anyway, back to our work caves.

 

Cheers,

MDI Team