The New Look of Soulcaster

Last week, I had the opportunity to show the Soulcaster pre-alpha at a MIX event hosted by Patreon. With my post-GDC recovery complete, it’s time to publish the reveal here on my site.

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It’s been over a year since I last posted images or mentioned anything about production, so it’s time to bring everyone up to speed and answer the most frequent questions I’ve gotten so far.

What is Soulcaster?

At its heart, Soulcaster is a realtime dungeon crawler (think Gauntlet or Diablo). But instead of button mashing to slay the hordes of baddies, you summon epic warriors to do this for you. Your summons use AI to auto-attack foes, so to survive you must use the terrain to your advantage– pick tactical positions for your heroes, and take cover.

It includes RPG elements like items and upgrades, world exploration, and a focus on character positioning much like a tactics game. It even has a bit of a base-building/tower defense feel–but since you’re there in the thick of battle, you’ve got to take cover, stay alive, and think on your feet.

On The New Art Style:

First up, let me introduce my art team: I have joined forces with David Hellman (best known for Braid), so far primarily working on character designs and environment art, and Randy O’Connor (my Escape Goat 2 co-conspirator), who lately has taken on the task of 3D modeling (and animating) the in-game characters. It’s not possible to put into words the graphical upgrade we’ve undergone–so I must show you instead:

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On Patreon and Further Development Updates:

Patreon isn’t something I had considered even as recently as a month ago. It appeared on my radar when I was invited to their media showcase event, and though they didn’t require that I set up an account, the more I thought about it, the more it grew on me. This will be the primary way I showcase the development process.

The reason I went underground with development was that I didn’t like putting my every new feature up for soft approval. Some devs might be more resilient to this than I am, but I couldn’t help but check to see how much attention a new screenshot gets on Twitter. Tweets that would get few favorites made me question my design, and I spent too much time worrying about delivering the game others want to see and play–at the expense of making the game I want to play.

It’s still too early for me to post regular updates publicly, but I can benefit from showing things exclusively to a contingent of fans–it’ll force me to keep the game in a showable state, and describing my process is a good way to stay on track with production. And beyond simple progress updates, I plan to write longer-form articles on game design in general.

And now to answer a few questions…

When will the game come out?

Early 2017.

How much will it cost?

$19.99

Will subscribers get a copy of the game when it comes out?

If your cumulative contribution is $20 or more, yes!

I’m looking at the screenshot… did you move to 3D?

We’re still in 2D. The terrain is all hand-drawn sprites, and the creatures are sprite sheets output from 3D models (similar to Diablo or StarCraft).

Isn’t this the third Soulcaster game? Why isn’t it Soulcaster 3?

The title is still not solidified, but under no circumstances will it be called Soulcaster 3. (Someday I may write a long post on why you should never have a numeral in your title.)

What’s next for production?

The past year was focused almost entirely on tech, visuals, and the editor. With these things largely stable, I’m moving next to tune up extended battles within a room, then exploration with movement among rooms, and eventually to the metagame of moving among regions, equipment and items, character customization, and much more…

I hope you will follow along with me as Soulcaster comes together. If you’re not in a position to subscribe via Patreon, you can follow me on Twitter for the latest news. I’ll be posting updates here on the blog as well.

The era of obscurity hereby comes to an end… behold, as Soulcaster coalesces into the game I have trained my whole life to create.

7 thoughts on “The New Look of Soulcaster”

  1. Wow, after a long silence… this looks phenomenal!

    I did wonder about the Soulcast 3 thing. I’m more than interested on your view of why there shouldn’t be a number in your game’s title. Blog it up!

  2. Thank you! I am also very happy with how things look.
    The whole title thing is a big discussion, and would make an excellent long form article. I will probably tackle that on Patreon first and then post to this blog a little later on. The short answer, though, is that I think numbers in titles are a turn-off these days, because they take away from the concept of novelty, which is a big thing for customers.

  3. Will this still be based around randomized maze of rooms? I look forward to seeing the new environments! I am also excited by the new main character design! I did like having a horned warrior alongside me, though.

  4. So excited… so many questions, opinions, curiosities and ideas– but then I remember why you had to go incognito— sorry!

  5. On the patreon page you said you were interested in music that might fit in.
    The newer aesthetic made me think of the amazing OST of this semi-rogue action exploration title, Oblitus.
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0o8vI1AbWwU&list=PLC4nrHJbYa8w2gi5Fa7pWWQE6J3_BJbT0

    I really like it. Never took any serious music lessons, ignorance ensues:
    It seems to be more somber and reserved compared to the initial tracks, but since the new designs seem less whimsical and more abstract it might work. Not to mention it is another take on “fantasy”-esque music meets a more widely recognized contemporary genre (industrial?), or (orderly organic)+(lively inorganic).

  6. Procedurally generated world is still the game plan. There’s a lot to work out about this aspect, but I have a plan for the metagame that should work really well… though you never really know until you implement it, as with everything…

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