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Progress Report

Developer's Log - March 2022

Developer's Log - March 2022
Hello everyone,

It's been a couple of months since I published a proper developer's log. Sorry to keep you waiting!

Going forward, with each new log, I will:
- Provide information regarding development progress,
- Make any necessary announcements,
- And follow up on the roadmap and the likelihood that Chapter 1 will meet its release deadline.

The hope is to provide plenty of transparency regarding the game's production and whether or not a delay is possible. I am (currently) still confident in Chapter 1 releasing by the end of this year, but I want to make sure that everyone who has supported the game up to this point knows well in advance if things might not go fully as planned.

With that, let's see how Legends of Astravia's development is going!

Demo Release Recap
On February 14th, I released the demo for Legends of Astravia on Steam for Windows and MacOS.

Since then, the game has been downloaded over 2,500 times! Many of you have provided me with useful feedback, reported bugs, and even showcased the game via Let's Play streams and videos.

Having consistently worked on the game for the past 4 years, I could not be happier with such a reception. I am so grateful for everyone's support and enthusiasm about the game so far, and I can't wait to share more of it with you.

Thank you so much!

Progress Report
A lot of progress was primarily made on the "backend", that is, programming, planning, and preparing the game for developing all of the content within Chapter 1.

Under the Hood
- Rework the character speed algorithm
- Character stat balancing adjustments
- Battle code optimization
- Improved controller checking on startup
- Other misc optimizations and fixes

Map Progress
I began roughing out some of the next areas of the game, including a large cave (treasures to be added!):



Mordin Village was one of the first maps I made for Astravia, so it's funny to look back at it now. It'll probably have a few small changes made before release, but here's what it looks like:




Mordin Village
Speaking of Mordin Village, its main story and quests have all been planned out, and character dialogue is being worked on.

Here's a teaser of some of the characters you'll see. Some of you who remember Astravia in 2019 might remember them:



There are still several more residents who fill the town, each with their own personalities and stories to share.


Character Reveal - Minerva
With almost 900 followers on twitter, I am going to skip ahead of the milestone to reveal the next playable cast member early:



Minerva offers a wide range of abilities--and knowledge--to Oliver and his team later in Chapter 1. She's fascinated with mysticians, and offers to help Oliver search for answers regarding his memory in exchange for knowledge about his magic prowess.

Minerva is a member of the elves, who reign from a town hidden away in the deserts of Bymere. The elves have been around for many years longer than Astravian humans, and it's said that some who witnessed the Great Cataclysm may still be alive in the present day.

However, among the elves, there exist no mysticians...

Secret Announcement?
The reason why progress appears to be a little thin is because I have spent the better part of March working on something extra special, that I cannot yet share.

I can't wait to announce it, so keep an eye out!

Final Demo Patch Plans
There will be one last patch to the demo before the pre-game release one later this year. It'll serve to address a few more issues with the demo to hopefully make players' first experience with the game best it can be.

Here are the things planned for that patch:
- Better user experience when an incompatible controller is detected
- Audio balancing adjustments
- Addressing several bugs:
- Missing SFX on some attacks
- Dungeon jump gap softlock
- Essence tutorial window auto-closing on input
- Additional polish on the dungeon end sequence
- Improved battle target handling and UI
- Linux support
- (Secret!)

This patch will be made available by the end of April.

Linux & Steam Deck Support
As I mentioned upon the demo's release, native Linux support would take some additional time to publish. With the release of the Steam Deck, I will be prioritizing this, so that folks can enjoy the demo on the go, too.

At the moment, the game does not support the Steam Deck even through Proton conversion. I am looking into this and am aiming to have it working and supported with the release of the next patch.

Roadmap Update
As promised, I will be detailing the game's roadmap and whether or not things are on schedule for Chapter 1's release.

Currently, I am a little behind. The demo release and all of the things I did afterwards took some time that would have otherwise been used for creating game content.

That said, the roadmap is still as follows:



If you are interested in participating in beta testing, please keep an eye on these developer's logs, and join the Official Discord server to be notified.

Beta testing is a core aspect of the game's success, and I'm incredibly grateful for the time folks have volunteered to provide feedback on the game when it's in an incomplete state.

---

That's all for now. Thank you as always, everyone, for your support as I continue development.

-Jaiden

Announcement

Legends of Astravia Demo Now Available!


Legends of Astravia is now available to download right here on RMN!

Download now: https://rpgmaker.net/games/10245/downloads/

Fight monsters, solve puzzles, and uncover secrets alongside a mystic companion as you explore the twisting pathways of Mordin Swamp in this one hour introduction to the world of Astravia!

It is currently available for both Windows and MacOS. A Linux release will arrive at a later date.

Any bugs or issues can be reported via the Official Discord Server. Please be sure to read the guidelines before making a report. Otherwise, any feedback is more than welcome, and will help make the game the best it can be when Chapter 1 releases, hopefully, later this year!

Thank you for your endless support, I really hope you enjoy the game. After several years of development, I'm beyond excited to finally be able to share something playable with the world.

Announcement

Legends of Astravia's Demo Available February 14th on Steam!

The free demo for Legends of Astravia launches on Steam next Monday, February 14th! After several years of development, it's exciting to finally have something playable to share.



You can read more about it on Steam.

The standalone version of the demo will be made available on itch.io, GameJolt, and right here on RMN on March 1st!

Announcement

First Look Demo Stream

HawkZombie did an exclusive stream of the new demo this week, and the VOD is now available!

This is the first public reveal of the entire demo, and Hawk himself has never played it before. As one of the first people who streamed the game when it had its alpha build years ago, it was only natural to let him get a sneak peek at the new and refined Astravia.

If you're curious what is in store for the game and the free demo, check it out! (spoilers, obviously):

Progress Report

2021 Year End Summary

Hey RMN! I know I've been pretty bad at publishing Devlogs here. It's been hard to maintain across several sites, so I'm going to reserve it for more major announcements.

As a reminder, the main website and Steam page will always have the most recent developer logs.

2021 Year End Summary
2021 has been a great, but challenging year for Legends of Astravia's development. I figured it would thus be appropriate for December's devlog to be a summary of how the game is shaping up, plus a few fun announcements about the plan ahead for 2022.

December Progress
Here are some detailed breakdowns on the features added and progress for the month of December.

Demo - Done!
While I wasn't able to release the demo publicly as I originally hoped, I was able to complete the release candidate for the demo. That's right--the demo's content is 100% complete!

There are still some things I need to sort out before releasing it to the public, however, which I'll talk about more in the "Roadmap" section below.

Steam Support & Linux Build
The has been tested and successful launches from Steam! Being able to launch it like other games feels really satisfying.



I was also able to successfully build the game's engine for Linux, which is very exciting. I cannot promise incredible support for many distributions, but it will allow some folks on this platform to give the game a try!

Tutorial Button Prompts
Knowing which button to press is important in RPGs, so a little extra TLC went into the UI to have animated buttons whenever prompted to press something.



Eventually these will be used in the menus as well, which should be helpful when navigating.

Speech / Explore Icons
A little more UI polish: a speech icon appears over characters that have something to say:



Additionally, if you've exhausted all of their dialogue options, the icon changes as a quick reminder. This way, you only have to listen to Azel's lectures once ;)



Explorables also utilize the same system:



2021 in Summary
In June of 2020, I announced that the game would be put on a pretty large "hold" while I took a step back and worked on the engine. It has been a long journey since then, but the way the game has evolved is truly special, and this is all thanks to the early feedback from testers and design advice from colleagues.

Here are some screenshots of how the game has changed in the year, visually, from December 2020 to December 2021:







And, as a fun little bonus, here's an example of just how far the battle system has come along over the years:


Announcements
I have a few announcements for some opportunities regarding the demo and the game's community.

Demo Closed Beta Test Signups
Currently, the demo release candidate has been issued to a very small pool of individuals. I'd like to expand this a little bit to get some proper information about how the game behaves on a variety of machines.

If you'd like to try out the demo in its beta state before it’s available to the public, please fill out this form.

I will be issuing demo keys to those who qualify in a couple of weeks. (In all honesty, if you fill out the form, that's pretty much a qualifier since you've gotten this far through my rambling to see it!)

Discord Moderator Applications
The game's public Discord server has been very quiet as the game has been developed. I anticipate a lot more activity once the demo becomes public, and thus will need a little help to manage the community. This will ensure that the scarce free time I have is spent with the game's development.

Please note that this role is unpaid. There will be no financial compensation for moderating the server, and it is entirely voluntary. Moderators will, however, be provided with a free copy of the game and early access to beta versions.

Moderators have kick/pan permissions and are responsible for ensuring a safe & pleasant community. This means redirecting off-topic discussions, removing spam/bots/rulebreaking content, and diffusing any issues that may arise. Legends of Astravia currently does not have "general" or "offtopic" chat channels—all discussions remain relevant to the game. As a result, moderation should be fairly laid back.

If you are interested in being a moderator, please fill out this form.


Roadmap for 2022
I anticipate this year to be a very busy one, as I'd like to release the demo and Chapter 1 of the game. Timing of both is rather important, given a lot of big games are coming out this year. Here are some rough plans for both the public demo and the first part of the game.

Public Demo Release
While the demo is truly complete outside of a little more polish, I admit timing the release is very important. I don't want to release the demo too soon before Chapter 1 is ready, as I want folks to be excited for, and be able to enjoy, a full game experience shortly after.

As it stands, I will be releasing the demo publicly, and for free, approximately 1-2 months prior to Chapter 1's release. There may be some special key giveaways and opportunities to try the game prior to this, so keep an eye on Twitter and Discord.

Chapter 1
Content development has moved very quickly, and while Chapter 1 is entirely planned, I need to give myself proper time to ensure the game can be released on time and any big bugs can be worked out. The tentative release for Chapter 1 is thus Fall of 2022.

A formal date and pricing will be announced along with the public demo's release.

---

I am feeling very optimistic about this year, and I can't wait to share more progress with you.

Thank you to everyone who has given me invaluable support by lending their time to the game for advice, playtesting and feedback, and to all of you who take the time to read through these logs every month.

It means the world that so many people believe in the work I do, and it helps me carry on regardless of the setbacks that I face.

Happy new year!
-Jaiden

Announcement

Website & Steam Page Launch

Hello everyone, I'm happy to share a few very exciting pieces of news with you today in this announcement.

Steam Wishlists Now Available
The first and perhaps most exciting announcement is that Legends of Astravia is now available to wishlist on Steam!

Wishlisting is the #1 biggest thing you can do to support the game at absolute zero cost. If you have any interest in the game at all, please take some time to check out the Steam store page!

Click to wishlist on


Official Website Launch
Additionally, Studio Alemni is finally launching it's official website. On it you will find all of the details about Legends of Astravia, developers logs, a press kit, and more.

This will become the official source for all future announcements. They will then be added to itch.io, Steam, and the newsletter after the fact.

Click to visit the official Studio Alemni website

Episodic Announcement
After a lot of careful thought, we've come to the decision to switch Legends of Astravia to an episodic format with three chapters. There will not be more than three, and each one will be a complete experience that covers a major part of the game's story.

And we're prepared to answer any questions you may have in mind regarding this.

What does this mean?

Episodic means Legends of Astravia will be released as three smaller, separate installments instead of one full game.

"Legends of Astravia" (Chapter 1) will be purchased as a full game. Then Chapters 2 and 3 will be released as paid Downloadable Content (DLC) at a later date.

Won't the whole game cost me more money now?

Not at all! Legends of Astravia is a huge game, and would have been priced as such. Each chapter will be priced much more competetively.

In a way, this ensures you'll be able to get a complete game experience as soon as you pay for it. We felt this is a stronger alternative to paying for the entire game and waiting years for it to be complete, like in conventional crowdfunding or early access scenarios.

Why not a single game release?

While it might make more sense to release the game as a single package, this episodic structure aims to ensure a full, complete game experience will be available to all players much sooner than originally planned.

This also helps to potentially negate the need for a crowdfunding campaign, ensuring the later parts of the story will be delivered completely as intended, without forcing people to pay early and wait for content.

Plus, if you decide that you're not that interested in the game by the end of the first episode, you don't get stuck paying for the rest of it.

Do I have to start over each chapter?

No. This decision would not have been made if save data could not be preserved. Each chapter will feel like a full game experience, and when the next chapter releases, you can pick up and continue the game as if it were one complete installment.

How long will each chapter take?

This is very difficult to estimate. However, the first chapter will release a lot sooner than originally intended because of this new structure.

The tentative goal for the first chapter is the end of this year (2021), but please understand this is not guaranteed and is subject to change due to many factors. An official release date should be announced this summer.

Once Chapter 1 is completed, Chapters 2 and 3 will go much quicker, as they will only require content and assets. All the engine code and core features are expected to be finished for Chapter 1.

I have more questions!

Feel free to submit a question via the contact form, or ask Jaiden in the Discord server.



With these new changes, please expect more frequent updates, as progress on the engine is going well and expected to be finished by this summer. Beta testing, the free demo, and early access should follow shortly after.

As always, thank you so much for your support!

-Jaiden

Original article posted on studioalemni.com

Progress Report

Battle Improvements, Intro Cutscene & More



It's been a while, but it's safe to say the less you hear from me, the more I've been working. Here's another developer's log to update everyone on the state of the game and what I've been working on since the last update.

As a reminder, you can follow the game's Twitter or join the Verified Discord server to get updates more frequently.

New Battle Sprites + System Improvements
In the last devlog, I talked about the various changes I was making to the ATB's design. Now, 4 months later, that design has been refined and plistled together with a new interface--and new sprites!



Visually, a lot has changed, but here's a breakdown improvements made:

  • Battler sprites - Perhaps the most apparent change are the new character sprites, thanks to the accomplished pixel artist Burt. This has always been a goal for Legends of Astravia, but finally seeing it come to fruition is an immense joy. The limited movements are inspired by Golden Sun, and the mantra, less is more. The enemy sprites remain the same, but hopeflistly if the game gets the funding it needs, a revamp of these will be an option as well.
  • Framing - The ATB bar was anchored to the top of the screen and the dark fade at the bottom became a hard black border. The black bars frame the center of the battlefield so the player can really focus on the action when it's happening. The help window, which used to randomly pop up in the center of the screen, is now tucked in the top-left corner.
  • Command wheel - The ring menu, which displayed on the battlefield, was hard to follow and didn't animate as nicely. Now it's next to the active character at the bottom of the screen, which was drawing the focus due to the opening window regardless.
  • Additional zoom - 2x zoom has been increased to a whopping 3x, making the distance between characters smaller. This helps prevent the eyes from jumping around the screen. The battle camera does have the capacity to zoom out, which may be useflist for some later bosses or large mobs...
  • New ATB icons - Some hand-drawn character sprites were added to be more consistent with the busts at the bottom of the screen.
  • Camera follow / easing - The camera will follow characters as they move around the screen. This effect so far seems to work, though an option will likely be added to help prevent motion sickness in those susceptible.
  • Battle cursor - The original cursor, which was a barely-visible fixed arrow and a slightly blinking gem, has been upgraded to a flistly animated one that slides to different targets. The old code was significantly optimized in the process as well.


Still, some areas need improvement. The animation timing is still clunky, and some actions are simply too fast. This is something I hope to improve before the demo.

Also, Azel has received a pretty cut-in graphic similar to Oliver's, which was posted in the last devlog. Just like the last, the lineart was commissioned by the talented Ryuuen.

Cutscene Preview - Introduction
During this time, the story and dialogue has received some significant improvements. The story is nearly flistly outlined at this point, and the opening area of the game was completely restructured to fit the new narrative. Still, with all the updates posted, the story is rarely touched on.

Here is a video of the first exchange in the game, between Oliver and Azel:


The sprites here are due for a makeover as well, in time. The text noise can be toggled, but the sound itself may need to be modified before the demo release.

Additional "Under the Hood" Changes
I'm consistently tweaking, and tweaking, and tweaking... Here's a list of some other things that were done:

  • Most of Mordin's maps were compacted to help adjust for pixel movement and overall quality.
  • The dungeon's puzzles have been arranged in a sensible way, allowing for a ramp up in difficlistty.
  • Pixel movement continues to be improved on. Event collision is still not the best, but it's better.
  • Various bugfixes were made to the battle system in addition to the improvements listed above.
  • UX improvements to some of the menus.


Next Steps
While we're still quite a ways out from a public demo, beta testing will be essential in polishing the game up beforehand. If you are interested in helping test an unrefined version of the game when it becomes available, be sure to join the Discord server!

I have some outstanding colleagues that I have commissioned for some of Legend of Astravia's art, music and writing, but listtimately I am still a solo developer. And, because this project is not my flistl-time job, progress will continue to be delayed at times. The current goal for the kickstarter is September of this year, and the public demo a little bit before.

Quite frighteningly, among all this is a global pandemic. I am very fortunate to have not been affected financially or personally yet, but I wish everyone else out there remains safe in this trying time. As always, thank you for your support. -Jaiden

(Devlog post originally written on itch.io)

Announcement

Regarding the Current Demo and Upcoming Update

If you've been following the game's progress on Twitter and read the recent development log, you'll notice that the game is due to change with the next update so radically that it is practically a new game.

The next update was supposed to be exclusive to the game's early access release, and thus, paid. After some thought, even with all of these major changes, and my philosophy to maintain a free demo of the game, I've decided that I will push the paid version back a bit.

As a result, the current demo for Legends of Astravia has been taken down, as it is no longer an accurate reflection of the game. All of the screenshots and previews will thus be updated to support the new changes.

While it is a fun experiment to compare them, I would rather the new demo be a "fresh start". Keep your eyes peeled, as I'm aiming for it to be available before the end of the year.

If you are incredibly curious about the game's previous state, the demo will remain up in the official discord server for beta testers and supporters, and there are several "Let's Play" videos on Youtube of these older versions of the demo.

Thank you for all of your amazing support so far!

Game Design

November 2019 Update and Process

(View the original blog post on itch.io)

New resolution and map design


Hey everyone. This is going to be a long form discussion about my process to make up for the lack of updates here. I have been hard at work and those of you who follow me on Twitter and that are in the Verified Discord server have seen some of the changes I've been making as they happen. I'm going to consolidate what I've done over the past couple of months while detailing my process here.

Redesigned ATB system
Those of you who have played the existing demo know that the battle system operates like Grandia, giving you a full view of all of the battlers on a single "time bar" instead of the conventional "wait to charge" bars per character in a standard ATB. It was lacking, however, in a lot of areas. After struggling with various scripts from other developers I finally sat down and redesigned the system how I wanted it.

The result is a significant improvement over the previous:

- ATB's biggest flaw in my opinion: waiting. Too much waiting. So, in my system, you can select your input for all available party members at any time before the "wait" period. This means no more waiting to reach the end of the bar then selecting. All that dead time now has a purpose.

- When a battler reaches this "wait" period, that's when the actual waiting should and does occur. There is a short amount of time calculated based on their action (huge, AoE spells will take longer to process, for example), and then they do the action once they reach the end, resetting the process.

- Enemies now display a letter in their name and on the bar so you can differentiate between troop members. With this new system, an adept player can get a jump on enemies and even stun or defeat them before they have a chance to attack.

- Party members have accompanying busts at the bottom to indicate their status. They also make "ouch" faces when they get hit and it's really neat.

- Slip damage was so incredibly broken. Not only was it terribly unoptimized, but confusing, too. Things that normally operate on "turns" are tough to calculate in a system that is "open" like this one, so I made the decision to hit all characters with per-turn effects like poison, healing, etc. based on the number of battlers.

- The system will "remember" the last active party member / window when an action occurs. That way you don't have to scroll through a list of items / skills or try to remember who you were targeting, and makes the interruptions from an enemy making a decision faster than you less jarring.

- Sliding windows and a "drawer" effect because...why not? Actually, this decision was made because window animations do a fantastic job of drawing your attention to important areas.

- "Defend" is less useless. In v2.3, defending increased your defense x2, but it was a crapshoot as to whether or not it would protect you from an enemy's attack or not, and had no other purpose. In the revised system, it heals a percentage of your Life Energy and Mystic Energy, and can also be better timed to ensure you use it only when an enemy is going to unleash some nasty spell on you.

New battle cut-in graphics
Speaking of the battle system, here's something that adds some flavor:


No fancy plug-ins or animations here, just some script edits and several sprites in arrangement not too dissimilar from the "show picture" event command.

- There's a background sprite that darkens the battlefield that fades in first.

- The magic circle is a static 1400x1400 image (phew) that is faded in while being rotated a couple of degrees each frame.

- Finally, Oliver slides across the screen, slowing down a little before exiting on the other side. This suggestion was thanks to fellow developer, Korok'n'roll, and I think it really sells the idea.

The bust was drawn by the incredibly talented Ryuu, whose art you should check out right now.

Here's what it looks like in full:


My intent is to have one of these for each playable character, so it will be exciting to share more as they come.

Pixel movement & diagonal movement
This was an idea that was on the table for a while, but I constantly dismissed it because of the complexity, potential issues, and I felt that an RPG restricted to a grid would be perfectly fine.

Then I played Golden Sun.

I changed my mind.


(Video Link)

Moving to a fixed 32x32 grid after playing a game with gridless pixel movement is awful. It just feels bad. It feels so much better to be able to move fluidly, so I made the move to add this regardless of the amount of work it would take. And it was totally worth it. There is a stellar fleshed out pixel movement script created by f0tz!baerchen on HB Games. It's a long since unsupported script, and it took a fair amount of modification and optimization to get it to play nice with my existing script structure, but it is totally worth it. Movement is smooth now, and you can walk in areas that would otherwise be limited to the 32x32 grid. It also allows for a completely custom collision map, down to the pixel, allowing me to make objects of all shapes and sizes collide in unique ways instead of just being stuck in a realm of big boxy empty spaces that the player can't walk on. This does impact some existing mechanics, like "enemies only move when you move" similar to Lufia II: Rise of the Sinstrals, so it will take some thought to determine how to manage these existing mechanics.

But it seems jumping and running may become an option, so Golden Sun style puzzles may be in Astravia's future...

Oliver also has a diagonal spriteset, thanks to RPGZexion from Chaos Project. This what really sells the diagonal / gridless movement.

Other, "Under the Hood" Changes
Alongside these major things, I've made a plethora of other changes and improvements to the game:

- Added controller input (xinput) so the game can be played like a normal, actual video game now.

- Added a "Localization" script that manages all in-game text through external files and locales. This means translation options are totally possible in the future.

- Added an animated menu cursor (that can be toggled

- Made several things like the animated windows, battle speed, etc. adjustable options to suit each player's preference and experience

- Heavy changes to the introduction and pacing to better fit the finalized story outline

"When will there be a demo with all this?!"
I have had a difficult time deciding exactly where to "cut off" this demo and put it out for release. Adding pixel movement set me back a bit, but I hope to have something playable before the end of December. As mentioned in some previous posts, my intent is to put the game into Early Access (on Steam, etc) with the release of v3.

This means it will cost money to play the demo. However, I can't justify charging money for the first hour of the game, especially for those who have already supported me this far and already played the opening.

Even though the opening and first dungeon varies significantly now, I have decided that this next demo will be free. The downside to this is that my intent to have a whole new area and second dungeon ready is now pushed back and reserved for the Early Access release instead.

Sometime in February, the project is anticipated to be put on Kickstarter (to help fund the battler graphics, soundtrack, remaining art, and possibly a redone tileset and porting opportunities). When this happens, everything from the end of the first dungeon onward will be in Early Access. This means a solid 1-2 hours of the game remains free, which I think is fair. My intent for the final product is upwards of 15-30 hours.

If you love Legends of Astravia, and want to help me make it better, beta testing will remain free, always. So please join the discord and let me know if you are interested, as you will get early early access to the game's demos before they are ;officially released.

That's all for now! Hopefully the next update will be one announcing the download for this radically new and improved version of the game.

Announcement

Official Discord Verification

Legends of Astravia is now officially verified through Discord!



If you haven't joined yet, you can now do so through this spiffy vanity url:

https://discord.gg/astravia

We look forward to having you in our ever-growing community!

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