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Misaos - Game of the Year!

Happy 2022, everyone! The 2021 RMN Misao awards have concluded and Soma Union has been voted the winner for all three categories that it was nominated for: Summoner of Sounds, Excellence in Narrative, and GAME OF THE YEAR!

I'm truly amazed and honored that this labor of love has touched the hearts of so many users on this site. I never thought I'd see Soma Union join its predecessor Soma Spirits to win a Misao award, so I'm happy that this series still holds up!

I'm glad to see that so many people enjoyed Soma Union. And I hope you'll consider giving the game a try if you haven't already!

Thank you to everyone who has played Soma Union and has been following its development. And congratulations to all of the Misao winners for scoring big this year! And an extra special congratulations to SpecialAgentApe for his fantastic work on the OST To net the Summoner of Sounds award.

And we've also been featured on the front page for the month of February! If it's your first time joining on this page: Welcome!

Thanks so much! Here's to a great year!

- Sgt M


Soma Union v1.0.7. New Game+ and Vicious Difficulty Mode

Soma Union has been updated to v1.0.7. We're excited to implement a few new features and changes to the game thanks to your feedback, including changes to the encounter meter as well as an all new way to play the game in New Game+! A number of small outstanding bugs have also been fixed.

Patch notes are as follows:

New Features:

  • The "Encounter Offset" system has been replaced. Instead of encounters being slightly less frequent the longer you stay on a single map, the encounter rate is now halved when the player reaches a high enough level in each dungeon, noted by a yellow encounter indicator. This feature may be toggled in the System menu.
    The encounter rate is now also halved when you have cleared the dungeon and have the blue encounter indicator.
    The overall encounter rate has been slightly lowered to accomodate this change.
  • Added the Remind Me, Tutori! item. This item is acquired when picking up the Tutori Guide in Zero's room. Using it will tell you your next objective. You can pick up this item from Neato Toys if your save file is from v1.0.6 or earlier and have already picked up the Tutori Guide.
  • Save files from v1.0.6 and earlier may not immediately have an objective message when this item is acquired and used, but will do so upon the next relevant story event.
  • New Game+ has been added! You may carry your levels, equipment (except Sigils), Star Chart progress, and G into a new playthrough. Talk to the blue book in the library at any time during the postgame to start your New Game+ file.
  • In New Game+, you are granted the Repel Ring, which turns off all random encounters.
  • Upon beginning New Game+, you may now also play on the special Vicious Difficulty. This new challenge mode alters the game in several ways:
  • Unlike the standard New Game+, your progress will not carry over.
  • Enemy stats are even higher than in Hard mode.
  • Nearly every enemy and boss in the game now has different attacks, including brand new ones.
  • The encounter rate will not be reduced by half when you reach an area's level threshold.

Battle and Gameplay Changes:

  • Using a Power Gem will now reward 100% of the skipped encounter's EXP and G instead of 50%.
  • The ability Counter Stance is now an instant-cast ability that does not take a turn to activate.
  • Counter Stance should also now increase the likelihood is being targeted as intended.
  • Increased the soft cap for Geo Blast's damage by 20%.
  • Enemies in Ripple Railway now have slightly lower HP.
  • Enemies in certain story-related battles, such as those in the Virtue, now drop items 100% of the time.

Map and Exploration Changes:

  • The recommended level indicators for the bosses in the final dungeon have been adjusted.
  • Dockington and the healing sphere now appear in the Ramble Ruins entrance from the start instead of after pressing one of the two green switches.
  • After beating the final boss of Chapter 2, you may now exit the room.
  • The Caviar Cap'n random encounter in Ripple Railway is now noticeably more common.
  • The three interlude segments and the story scenes after the boss of Chapter 4 may now be skipped in New Game+.

    Bug Fixes:

  • The Revivify ability now correctly plays a sound effect when used.
  • Fixed a bug where you could continue pushing blocks in one of the puzzles in Lamp Land and bring them out of alignment.
  • In some story scenes that take place in battles, certain scripted attacks can no longer appear to miss if an enemy is affected by Dazzle.
  • Various text and grammar fixes.
  • Minor map fixes.

    That's all for today! Please let me know if there are any problems!

    - Sgt M


Soma Union: A Post-Release Look Back

Hey all!

It looks like 2022 is here and if you’re not tired of reading everyone else’s 2021 retrospectives at this point, here’s another one for the pile! Or possibly your backlog. Either way, 2021 proved to be a fruitful year for developing games, with the release of Soma Union happening this past August. Hard to believe that it has been more than a third of a year already!

Today I wanted to look back at this two year project and look at the very many aspects of its release. From what went well, to what didn’t go so well, and some of the takeaways I learned from this follow-up to Soma Spirits.

Soma Union’s Development

Not long after the release of the original Soma Spirits game in 2016/2017, the second game I developed along with composer Agent Ape after Brave Hero Yuusha, I jumped right back into working out the details of a new project that would eventually become Crescent Prism. Sadly, a multitude of problems would hinder Crescent Prism’s development over the next two years, which led to me shelving the project in 2018 to work on the remastered version of Brave Hero Yuusha, and ultimately canceling the project and releasing what I had of Crescent Prism as a Chapter 1 standalone release a year later.

Throughout that time, nothing really came close to the reception that Soma Spirits enjoyed, being nominated and winning several categories for RPGMaker.net’s Misao awards, including Game of the Year, and even found some success on Youtube as it was covered by prominent Youtuber StephenGeorg/StephenPlays. It was pretty clear that Soma Spirits was our most successful game. And after Crescent Prism’s cancellation I found myself with a lot of unused assets as well as a longing to cover some of the things in the Soma Spirits lore that I wasn’t able to cover the first time. Soma Union soon began development in mid-2019 to serve as both a sequel and a prequel to the first game.

But I decided this time that I wanted to approach things differently to avoid what I experienced with Crescent Prism’s development.

Re-Assessing Game Development

I could write paragraphs about my experience with commercial game development. In fact, I did write paragraphs before I deleted them all and wrote this one instead. The short version is that commercial development just didn’t work out for me and I don’t really have any desire to hit the big time anymore. As encouraging as it was that people were hoping Soma Spirits would be the next big RPG Maker game, it didn’t quite live up to that expectation. After several years of deep steam discounts, price cuts, and having games only ever selling for fifty cents, I just wanted to be a hobbyist again. And that is essentially how I went into Soma Union from the start: making a game for the sake of making a game, one free of the chains and Catch 22s of mass appeal.

Soma Union ended up being a free sequel: a decision I made right from the start and something I still get asked about a lot and explaining why never gets any easier. But it was also a game from the heart, and told a very different tale from the first game. It expanded on many of what I felt were Soma Spirits’ strongest elements, while also omitting some of the elements that defined it, such as the two-world mechanic or the branching story paths. For a long time I worried these radical changes wouldn’t set well with people but the only one who has criticized them so far is myself so perhaps I worried too much!

For what I think the game set out to do, I feel like I did a lot of things well, and others not so much.

What Went Well

To me, one of Soma Union’s biggest successes with the overall feeling of “completeness” in its writing. There were many aspects to its story that I had to carefully weave around the existing story of Soma Spirits and I think I wrote it well enough that it’s not completely necessary to play Spirits first. Some of my favorite story elements included expanding on the Sun King as an actual character, and exploring the dynamics between him and characters that existed in Soma Spirits. It’s a story that I can look back on and feel accomplished about.

In terms of gameplay, I feel like I did a lot of things right. Allowing players to change roles their characters roles on the fly instead of having them location-locked led to some pretty interesting strategies and seeing different players tackle boss fights in different ways was very interesting. Someone even went so far as to complete the game without gaining a single level! Watching people do challenge runs is really amazing.

And Soma Union did find a bit of an audience: the game has surpassed 1,000 downloads across all platforms and just managed to edge over the critical 10 Steam review threshold recently. It also found an audience for content creation: There is at least one full Let’s Play of the game, and even an amazing THREE HOUR video essay breaking down the game! It’s a great feeling that the people who play these games continue to be so dedicated to them.

Plus at the time of this writing, the game has been nominated for three categories in the RMN Misao awards: Summoner of Sounds, Excellence in Narrative, and Game of the Year! Let’s check back in in a month and see how we did.

What Didn't Go Well

One of the biggest challenges about making a sequel is that, well, it’s a sequel. Which means that you have to be careful about marketing the game as, depending on what you share, you might accidentally make it too easy for players of the first game to speculate based on existing lore. Accidentally spoiling things can render a whole sequel moot. So I had to keep my cards closer to my chest for this one.

But one of the difficulties I faced is that Soma Union is an obscure sequel to an already obscure game, making it even more difficult to market. This also factored in to Soma Union having a very limited audience. Even though the game was written so that you don’t necessarily have to play the first entry, some felt compelled to do so anyway to get the complete story. Which, I don’t know if you’ve looked at Soma Spirits recently, but that game is looking pretty rough nowadays compared to Union. So I don’t blame people for trying to play Soma Spirits but the old jankiness of it ended up being too rough. Soma Union did find some players who didn’t play the first game, but as far as I know, it hasn’t been too many.

Soma Union has yet to reach the heights that Soma Spirits did. Some of that comes with its sequel status, but it was also a very difficult game to pitch to content creators especially: it’s an RPG Maker game that falls well outside of the criteria that makes it appealing to most youtubers. It’s, linear, narrative-heavy, and isn’t a horror game. I still fear that the game simply isn’t content creator friendly. (To those who have covered the game: You have most utmost respect and thanks!)

Back to my point about being difficult to market: This is especially troublesome in the modern age where marketing your indie game while it’s still in development, no matter how mundane the update is for any particular weekend, is absolutely key. So not being able to reveal too much was a detriment, though I also feel like it was a personal failing for not finding the right way to market it with that in mind. But then again, I’ve never wanted to market these games in a way that just make your social media numbers go up. The things you make deserve dignity.

Also my dungeon design is getting worse lol.

So What's Next?

Well, I’ve certainly been doing this for a while now. Maybe not as long as some of RPG Maker’s greatest veterans, but my life has changed a lot in the ten years that I’ve been doing this. I’ve been working a full time job for the last four years and if I hadn’t been home for several months in 2020 during the start of the pandemic, I’m not even sure completing Soma Union would have been possible. Making games of this scale has been immensely satisfying, but it’s also getting harder to make them as I get older. While I think any possibility of me making it beyond the hobbyist level has long passed (I’ll leave that to the younger, fresh talent in the RM community) I’ve been trying to find ways to keep the spark going with the limited amount of time I have to dedicate to it.

Right now, I’m helping out Agent Ape with Epilogue Adventures, a pseudo-sequel to Brave Hero Yuusha that will have a lot of fun things that you haven’t seen in our other games. It ‘s been a lot of fun working on something with someone else’s design philosophies and I think it will be refreshingly different from the more narrative-based games we’ve done so far.

As for my own projects?

Well, I’ve been prototyping something for the past month or so. It’s still very early on and, if I decide to commit to this as an actual project, I won’t be able to show much of it possibly for many months to come. It will be quite different from anything I’ve done before. But I have a solid idea of what I want it to be, and here’s a few details I can share:

- It’s being developed in RPG Maker MZ.
- There will be less emphasis on story and more on gameplay.
- It’s closer to Brave Hero Yuusha than it is to Soma Spirits (but is related to neither)
- It’s doing a lot of things I haven’t done before and is way out of my comfort zone, so I hope it’s good!
- It will be a smaller project than Soma Union.

That’s all I can really share for now! I hope you’ll look forward to when I’m able to show it off, and I appreciate everyone’s patience in the meantime.

Let's Have a Good 2022!

So I guess that’s the good and the not-quite-as-good of Soma Union, but at the end of the day I’m glad we were able to make this two year project a reality. If you enjoyed the game, thank you for giving it a try! And if you’re still thinking about giving it a go, I hope you’ll play it and let me know what you think of it.

Until next time!

-Sgt M


Now on Steam! And v1.0.6


Soma Union is now released and available on Steam as a free download! I hope you'll enjoy all of the benefits of Steam, including 27 achievements to find! Old saves will also transfer to the Steam version just fine if you'd like to continue your progress there.

Download the Steam version Here!

Additionally, the game has been updated to v1.0.6 on all platforms. This includes the following changes:

Steam Version Only:
- Steam Achievements added!
- Added a book to the Virtue's library that syncs your achivements if any are missing.

All Versions:
- Mind Batteries can now be purchased from Carrot Palooza during the final chapter.
- Made the on-screen encounters in 5F of the final dungeon easier to dodge.
- Fixed the on-screen encounters in B2F of Lurid Laboratory not moving on their intended paths if another encounter was defeated on the same path.
- Minor mapping fixes.


Available on Steam Nov 1, For Free!

Hello everyone!

Today I am proud to announce that Soma Union will be available on Steam beginning November 1st! Still for free! The game will be available alongside its current availability here on RMN and on itch.io. But now you'll have all the added benefits of it being on Steam, such as automatic updates and Steam Achievements! Hooray!

You can wishlist the game HERE on Steam to be notified of the release.

Thank you for your continued support of this project! :)


Soma Union v1.0.5 Update

​Hello! We have a very minor optional update for you today, and thankfully the last one for now unless we need to fix something major!

Soma Union has been updated to v1.0.5. Like previous updates this version is optional if you have already downloaded the game. However, you can still move save files over just fine if you wish to update!

Bug Fixes:

Fixed a visual bug where characters would occasionally begin a battle with SP that had a decimal place (ex: "3.0" instead of "3"). This usually happened in instances where characters started a battle with more than 0 SP.


Soma Union v1.0.4 Update

Hello all!

Soma Union has been updated to v1.0.4 to address some minor bugs. Like previous updates this version is optional if you have already downloaded the game. However, you can still move save files over just fine if you wish to update!

Bug Fixes:

Fixed a map in Boreal Bastion having random encounters that shouldn't have.
Minister Orange, god help him, should now display the correct graphic in some scenarios where he could be interacted with from the side.
Fixed some of the entries in the postgame music player that were playing the wrong tracks.
Fixed some specific encounter formations awarding Stardust even if EXP/Stardust gains are disabled in the System menu.
Minor map fixes.
Minor text fixes.


Soma Union v1.0.3 Update

Hello all!

Soma Union has been updated to v1.0.3 to address some minor bugs. Like previous updates this version is optional if you have already downloaded the game. However, you can still move save files over just fine if you wish to update!

New Additions:

Added tooltips in some menus where you can press Q or W to cycle between characters, such as the Status and Equip menus.
If you fail any of the stealth puzzles in Chapter 3 five or more times, you will be given the option to make that room easier.

Bug Fixes:

Fixed a bug where you could re-enter the boss door in Lamp Land after finishing the dungeon and soft-lock the game.
Fixed some tile passability issues in several areas.
Fixed an issue with the Role menu not assigning the correct role to certain characters.
Minor text fixes.

Outstanding issues (that I'll get to eventually):

Standing directly in front of a bubble vent in Ripple Railway may freeze you in place for a few seconds when the bubble comes out.
Occasionally, characters will begin a battle with an SP number that has a decimal place (ex: "3.0" instead of "3'). This is a visual bug and usually happens when a character starts a battle with more than 0 SP. May be an issue with the Luna Engine plugin.


Soma Union v1.0.2 Update

Hello all!

Soma Union has been updated to v1.0.2 to address some minor bugs. This update is optional if you have already downloaded the game, but you can safely move save files over to the new version.

Changes in v1.0.2:

- Fixed a bug where winning the Level 10 Figurine in the training room would also award the Level 20 Figurine.
- Fixed a monster in Chapter 3 displaying the wrong weaknesses when scanned with Inspect.
- Fixed the description of the Reality Ender weapon.
- Updated the descriptions for several skills to make them more consistent.
- Minor spelling fixes.
- Fixed some mapping issues in Cobalt Castle.

Changes included in v1.0.1 (because I forgot to list them earlier):

- If you disable EXP/G gains in the System menu, they should no longer turn themselves back on after every battle.
- Fixed a visual error on one of the jump pads in Jubilee Jungle
- Fixed some HP Orbs that were restoring MP instead.
- Various text fixes.

Outstanding issues:

- Standing directly in front of a bubble vent in Ripple Railway may freeze you in place for a few seconds when the bubble comes out.
- Occasionally, characters will begin a battle with an SP number that has a decimal place (ex: "3.0" instead of "3'). This is a visual bug and usually happens when a character starts a battle with more than 0 SP. May be an issue with the Luna Engine plugin.


Soma Union is COMPLETE!

Today is the 5th anniversary of Soma Spirits and the story that began with that game is now complete.

Thank you to everyone, old & new. Especially SpecialAgentApe: without your music and help there would be no game. And to my fantastic testers and the many(?) returning players of Soma Spirits.

It's been a long two-and-change years but here we are! Soma Union is now and available for download both here on RMN and on itchio.

Thank you, everyone! Enjoy the story!
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