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Heaven or Hell

The downloads have been updated to version 2.0 in response to feedback from the last couple of reviews. I'm really sorry it took so long to do so!

So what's new in this version? Well, the biggest addition is a new difficulty setting: Heaven or Hell Mode. This is essentially Survivor mode but with a twist:

No item shop in Haven.

Yep, your only means of survival will come from what you can find in the ground. No loading up with healing items now. You still have the Blacksmiths, so spend your money on armor instead.

Heaven or Hell mode makes your actions in the Childhood Arc a bit more meaningful. By completing optional objectives and finding secrets, you're granted a few goodies to make the Adult Arc a bit easier to get into. This version adds a small, but hopefully appreciated new one: if you can find the secret candy stash in Orias, you're given a First Aid Kit upon starting the Adult Arc. And since each First Aid Kit can be used three times, that should make the lack of an Apothecary a bit easier to get over.

Anyway, Heaven or Hell Mode is for those that have already beaten the game once and want a real challenge. It's tough, but it can be done. I want to do something cool for anyone who beats that mode, but my mind's drawing a blank. If you want, I can make a page for a list of names of anyone who wants to be immortalized for completing the game in this mode!

Outside of Heaven or Hell, there have been a few changes as well. You'll see the nitty-gritty ones by checking the Version Changes document in the game's folder, but they're mostly balance fixes. To prevent you from drowning in healing items, the prices of all restorative items in the Apothecary have jumped up a decent amount. Which means, if you want to load up on healing items, you'll probably have to sell a few more attack items or equipment. Hope you're cool with that! Hee hee hee. But, as this would be incredibly unfair to those just starting out, the Apothecary will give you a discount while you're in Haven for the first time equal to the original price of those items. The idea of the game was to be hard, but fair, and unreasonable prices before you even have a chance to buy anything just isn't fair.

Since I didn't mess with the properties of the items themselves or add/remove new ones, anyone who wants to continue their save file should be able to just transfer them over. Word of advice: Rotate your save files.

... I'm making this sound really evil. And while it's true that every once in a while I have a glass of Saint's Blood with my dinner, this update was more to address some game-breaking issues than the result of a sudden sadistic streak as well as provide a challenge for those that found the game too easy the first time. I ran through the game on Heaven or Hell mode, and I saw a LOT of things I would have done differently if I could go back and do it all again. If I wasn't already fully submerged into Prayer of the Faithless, I might have actually remade the whole thing from the ground up.

Run when you need to, don't forget to check enemy properties before using an item, and don't forget to guard when enemies charge up. If you need help, check the hints and tips tab on the game page or ask a question here and I'll help you. You'll be fine. I believe in you!

So here you go. A more sadistic, evil version of Soul Sunder.

Merry Christmas~


Looking Back

Well, today is the one year anniversary of Soul Sunder's completion. Holy crap.

Here, I made a thing:

Redacted to prevent bleeding eyes.

It's been a while since I drew these three, so this was a nice trip back down memory lane. If only the actual game ended this cheerfully.

Let me be a little self-indulgent for a minute and just rant. I've been trying to find the best way to say this stuff without sounding like some Hollywood snob that just won an Oscar, but it's been difficult. So, screw it. I'm just gonna lay it all out.

I've been extremely lucky to have some of the best support imaginable over the course of development for this game. In addition to being featured in June of 2015, Soul Sunder was nominated for Best Storytelling and Direction, Best Characters, Best Atmosphere, and even the Game of the Year Misaos in 2014! Wut? I always thought that the major problems for this game (once I found them) would have been a dealbreaker, and ensured that Soul Sunder would have been lost and forgotten among the rest of the games on this site. Well, in a way, that's not wrong. I mean, it's not like the gameplay was the sole point of Soul Sunder. If it was, I'm pretty sure few would have even given it a glance.

Thanks to some amazing help from a bunch of fantastic people, though, that was not the case. unity, nhubi, Marrend, NeverSilent, CashmereCat, among others, have been so wonderful with their reviews, feedback, advice, and general support. Even now I still wonder why I, of all people, won the lottery of support, but it's thanks to them that I kept at it until the day I could mark this game as completed. I'll forever be grateful.

I'd like to give a big shout out to unity in particular, who has been supportive of this project since the first demo was released around this time two years ago. She has been absolutely invaluable to the game's success, and was patient enough to run through the game multiple times in order to give a constant stream of super helpful and constructive feedback. For those that weren't aware, due to the item scripts I used, all save files from the demos were incompatible with future updates and even the completed game, meaning that every time a new demo came out, players would have had to start from the beginning. But unity, in all her awesomeness, was patient enough to run through the entire game each time a new segment was ready for testing.

To say she has gone above and beyond with support would be an insulting understatement. unity, you're the best! \^o^/

Well, that's that. Thank you for reading, despite the self-indulgence. Thank you for playing, despite the many issues. And just... thank you in general, for being as awesome as you are.

Anyway, I forgot to mention it here like I said I would months ago, but the game page for the sequelnotsequel to Soul Sunder is up and ready for viewing, just in case you missed it.

Progress Report

Stuff is happening

Did you hear that 2k3 is finally released in English? Hooray! Now I can fulfill my dream and remake Soul Sunder in 2k3 for commercial distribution!


In all seriousness, I have nothing against 2k3. Granted, I only played with it for about a month before moving on to VX so I don't know the ins and outs of it like I do with Ace. But it was my first RPG making engine, so without it, I'd probably be off in Game Maker or Stencyl and I'd never come here to RMN. So I gotta respect it for what it did for me as a developer. However, the only two things I remember liking about 2k3 are the tilesets- er, chipsets (See? I'm throwing around the oldschool lingo!) and the default side view battles.

But I digress.

The purpose of this blog is 10% an update on things and 90% to get that April Fool's blog off the front of the game page. For the record, I actually made a halfhearted attempt at trying to get a cooking simulator to work on Ace, but all I could do was slap on a crafting script and call it a game concept. I know it'd just be an April Fools joke, but if I'm going to do something stupid, then dammit I want to be PROUD of my stupidity! Plus, given my current endeavors, I don't have the time to delve deep into any more projects.

I am now going to talk about Soul Sunder 2's general progress. This will be the last time I do so on this game page, as I think it's tacky to talk about a game extensively that has no game page yet. So I'm going to just lay out my progress with the hopes that nobody kicks down my door and holds me a gunpoint demanding info about the game. The next time I talk about SS2 here will be to direct you to the gamepage that will appear on RMN.

Info dump ENGAGE:

Yes, Soul Sunder 2 is happening, but that's about all I know right now.

I want to thank everyone who gave feedback for the prototype during Release Something XIII! There was so much valuable info there that I have taken into consideration. 99% of what was mentioned has been implemented, and this is making me more excited about the project's future, uncertain it may be. Those that have played the prototype can attest that SS2 is going to play out sliiiightly different than the original while (hopefully) retaining the core concepts of a survival RPG. So if you hated the original, then SS2 may still be able to hook you! (Also, if you hated the original, how did you get this far into the blog?)

That being said, it's coming along quite nicely.

The battle system, the areas, the character designs, and the overall game structure are all but finished. Of course, without anything PLAYABLE, anything I say is just empty boasting. I can have a perfect mmo planned out and can talk about it for hours, but it'll mean just as much to you as what I'm telling you now with the lack of actual playable content. It's true, though. Between getting Remnants of Isolation polished for commercial release and getting ready for final exams this coming week, I've gotten a lot of this game planned out and ready to be developed.

What's that? A vacation? I have no clue what that word means.

I have the entire story written, as well. Usually, I plan the beginning and the ending and let the characters work their way to the end all on their own. However, as this is actually a rewriting of a story I had written about five years ago, I had everything in my head already and just needed to present it in a more manageable way. Now I know what I want to do from the very beginning to the very end, so mapping, art, and writing will (hopefully) come along much more smoothly than SS1 did.

One part of the story that I'm very proud of is that it's independent from SS1. You do not need to play SS1 to understand SS2. The only similarities to the original is that both games take place in the same world, so you'll see similar lore that you did in the original (Kiyomas, Miasma, etc.). However, it will still be made clear what these things are so anyone just jumping in will still understand what's going on in the world.

Besides, both games are character-driven stories, not world driven stories. It's not like there was a LOT of lore in the first game, anyway.

Mapping is what I need to work on the most. After all, without any maps, it'd just be a visual novel. However, thanks to RMN essentially telling me to quit whining, get off my lazy ass and WORK in addition to some super useful tips from unity, I've actually started making progress on mapping again! Yay! I've actually mapped about half the prologue! I mean, it's still rather barebones, but I have ideas on how to make them look better, which is much better than how I was less than a month ago.

Yeah, yeah, yeah, whatever! When can we actually SEE it?!

Well... I honestly can't tell you. I know that I'll make the game page when I'm closing in on finishing the prologue, but who knows when that's going to be. Plus, I've made it a short term goal of mine to get on the New and Notable list. It may seem petty and pointless, but first impressions are important, and I want to start off strong. To that end, I've been studying mapping and improving my drawing so I can give the game a stronger visual appeal.

All I can say is this: It will be ready when it's ready. Not a moment sooner.


Rebooting the game.

Inspiration comes from the weirdest places sometimes. I sent a text to one of my friends the other day, and when I typed in Soul Sunder, the autocorrect changed it to Soup Sender. I took a moment to stare at the words, mouth agape. Suddenly, it all became clear to me. Suddenly, I realized the error of my ways.

"Error of your ways? What are you talking about, Nova?"

Well, people have praised the story for this game in the past. I cannot understand why. I mean, people play video games to GET AWAY from issues like loss and grief, right? So why should I force others to confront these problems through the medium of game. Really, people. Video games cannot be considered a form of artistic expression. Haven't you read Ebert's blog post? Sheesh.

Soup Sender has been a revelation. I can't make games that touch on such heavy issues. I want to make something FUN! I want to make something CHEERFUL. I want to make something that people can laugh at!

So here's what's going to happen: Tomorrow, I'll be taking down all the downloads of Soul Sunder and I'll begin work on the rebooted version. Soup Sender's story will be drastically different from the mess that was the original game. Now, after Arya runs away from the village and becomes Zero, she instead decides to not pursue Cieran. Revenge is too heavy an issue that I want to tackle with this game, so it's scrapped.

Instead, she will search for a new passion in life: Cooking. That's right. Soup Sender will be a cooking simulator.

I've already made a quick concept mockup of the new look. Admittedly, not much has changed in terms of Zero's design, but I want you to at least take a look at what I have so far:

Look at how happy she is! Her sheer joyfulness perfectly reflects my own newfound attitude towards this game's new direction.

Artistic subs may notice that the line art looks a bit, well, different. You see, I have actually purchased a drawing tablet just so I can make better art for you! I've also graduated from GIMP and bought Paint Tool Sai. Gimp doesn't have a pressure sensitivity function, so I had to find something else that did. I'll admit that I'm not exactly perfect at it yet, but I promise you that I'm working hard to improve!

The fact that I've bought a tablet and a new art program should tell you how serious I am about this.

I'll leave the current downloads up for a few more days just so anyone who wants to see the old project can do so. I'm really excited about this new direction and I hope you all are too! I'll make more announcements on the project as I finalize the details, so stay tuned!


Believe in yourself

Woohoo! Soul Sunder is now available on Game Jolt!


That's pretty much the announcement. Wish me luck! The following is now going to be me just talking to myself. I'm not sure if I should be showing this off since I'm always hesitant to talk about myself online, but the act of writing this alone was therapeutic for me. Perhaps someone out there who reads this can benefit from it. Whether it's helpful to you, or material you can just use to point and laugh at me, whatever. Here it is:

(Please note that every use of pronouns does not refer to you, the reader. It refers to me. As stated before, this is merely me talking to myself.)

I was staring at the screen for about eight minutes trying to work up the courage to click the unhide button. I finally managed it, though! I've had to fight myself every step of the way. I have a really bad habit of doubting myself. It's not a lack of self-esteem so much as the fact that, as the developer, the flaws are a lot more glaring to me than the draws. Those flaws, in my fear-addled mind, are amped up tenfold and make the game not worth showing, let alone playing:

"The item crafting system is inherently flawed! Those that aren't in the know about RM will give it crappy ratings!"

"Your art is laughable! You're still learning how to draw! Are you really going to show off those amateur drawings out there in the indie scene?"

"You got lucky to get where you are now! Don't be getting such a big head and thinking that everything you do is going to be amazing!"

"Sure, Nova, it may have had a good reception here on RMN, but out there on Game Jolt? You'll get torn apart like a steak thrown to a pack of starving wolves!"

... Stuff like that.

And then I realized something. Something that I probably should have realized the moment I got my first subscriber to this game (which was the first game I put up here on RMN, btw):

... So?

"Even if it does get crappy ratings. So? What's the worst that could happen? Someone comes and shits on a personal project you devoted the last year and a half to? ... Okay, that's pretty bad. But it won't kill you! It's not like a crappy review is going to stop you from making games entirely! So what else? What else could happen? The game gets ignored? Yeah, that still sucks, but it's not like this is your only chance to make an impression! If Soul Sunder happens to tank on Game Jolt, it's not the end of the world. Besides, no matter how important one web site is, it's still just one.

If the comments are constructive criticism, there's no reason to be upset. This is material I can use. Material that will help makes this project and future projects even better! If they're opinions, that's also no reason to be upset. Not everyone is going to like it. To withhold a game because people out there may not like it is foolish, and a guarantee that nothing you make will ever see the light of day. Ever.

At the end of the day, whose opinion of your game matters to you? If you could only pick one person, who would it be?"

My answer: My own.

The game isn't perfect, but there are two things that separate it from other projects out there:

1) It's complete. I've made about 4 games already while many aspiring game devs out there quit before they even complete one. That alone is worthy of celebration. Some people take years to get a project to a playable state before giving up and quitting.

2) It's yours. This is a title that no other project, no matter how big and popular, can ever achieve.

"What's your opinion of your game? Do you like it?"

You know what? Yeah. Yeah I do like it. I like it a lot. I like the characters I've made. I liked the scenario I wrote. I liked the gameplay mechanics I implemented. I don't like a glitch that I'm aware of but can do nothing about. It does make a focus point of the game really clunky and unintuitive. However, that's not the ENTIRE POINT of the game. As such, can it really be considered a deal breaker? Well, that's up to the players to decide.

"But I'm not asking the players. I'm asking YOU. Do YOU think that it's a deal breaker?"

... No. No I do not.

"If you really like what you've got, great. You're certainly not the only one who thinks so, either. In the end, isn't that enough?

Sure, you're not where you want to be, but what's wrong with that? You're not going to produce one thing and have it define your entire career, right? You're not trying to become super popular on the internet with your games. I mean, if you did, awesome."

"If you think your game is good, then show it off to everyone you can find. If you believe in your project, then you can look past its flaws and appreciate all the effort that went into making the game a good one."

I'm not Archeia. I'm not Luchino. I'm not anything like the people I've taken inspiration from even before I learned who they were. I used to feel incompetent whenever I compared myself to others. They're so much better than me, I thought, who would have time to give my stuff a try when there's so much better stuff out there now?

I've now learned that trying to compare myself to others is an insult to both them and myself. I'm me. I have my own style of gam mak. I have my own voice to tell my own stories. There is no one else on the planet that can claim to be me.

Even if no one on Game Jolt likes Soul Sunder. Even if no one in sites outside RMN likes Soul Sunder. Even if no one else on the planet likes Soul Sunder, I like Soul Sunder. And you know what? I couldn't ask for anything better.

It was a this point that I finally clicked the Unhide button on Game Jolt. Whatever happens now, I have absolutely no regrets.

I ought to make a game out of this message.


Full version is out!

After long hours spent looking manually adding in assets, looking online for an easier solution, trying and easier solution, COMPLETELY BOTCHING the easier solution and having to start again, the RTP independent version of Soul Sunder is finally out. Yay. It's all worth it, I tell myself. It's worth it because not everyone knows what the RTP is!

Now, you can just download the game and start playing right away.

I should also mention that a few things have been changed as well. Most of it is just backstage stuff that no one cares about except me. However, one change I'll mention here is the lowering of vulnerabilities of armor. Originally, it was 200% to slash, strike, and pierce. Now, it's 130%. These changes have been reflected in both the RTP Independent version and the recently updated RTP Dependent version! As always, for a detail list of changes, check out the Version Changes file included in the download.

Now that the full version is out, I can start looking at putting Soul Sunder on other sites. I've been scoping out Game Jolt for a while now, but I told myself that I would wait until the RTP-Independent version was finished before uploading it anywhere else. Now that that's done, I can finally get around to showing this thing off! I'll let you know when this game gets on Game Jolt and/or other sites!

While waiting for the full version to upload to the site, I went ahead and signed up at Game Jolt. If anyone wants to add me, my name is the same as here. Oddly enough, when I tried to get rid of the underscore, that username had already been taken. Well, here's hoping there's no confusing going forward!

Aside: Learn from my mistake, people: keep a running list of RTP assets used when developing your games. It'll save you the headache of having to go around playtesting your game, bumping your head into every corner in case there's a sound effect you forgot to add. I can't tell you how many times I crashed this game when I thought I had everything.


Release Something...

Please keep everyone updated on your super secret project that nobody is supposed to know about.

Because I've lost control over my own life, I might as well let you in on some info.

The Release Something! Day is coming up, and I do plan on releasing something. You remember that TOTALLY UNRELATED prototype that I offhandedly mentioned a few blogs back? This may come as a shock to you, but it actually WAS related!

It's okay. I'll wait while you collect your minds that I'm sure have just been blown by that statement.

Here's the thing: It's FAR, FAR too early to set up a game page for it. There is no story, no custom art, nothing but a (nearly complete) battle system. However, seeing as this event is focused on giving feedback, there is no way I'm NOT going to show this to you, as the very IDEA of feedback practically makes me drool.

The question now becomes: How should this be presented? I have two options: A demo, or a video. There are pros and cons to each choice, so I'll list them here:

If I make a video, I can be sure to show off the best the battle system has to offer. Since I know everything about how the game works, I can demonstrate exactly what each character can do. The con, though, is that I have no (reliable) microphone, and so any information that might be confusing to players will have to be conveyed through text. I don't mean to brag... but there's quite a bit of stuff to talk about, and a video with 60% text and 40% gameplay can get boring really quickly.

Or maybe it won't. I don't know. I've never made a video before, so maybe such a format WOULD work.

Making a demo would certainly be easiest for me. If you're anything like me, then you learn the most by DOING things instead of reading/watching things. Since every character has a fair amount of skills, you could learn the intricacies of the battle system yourself and be able to tell much more clearly what works and what doesn't. This is, of course, a downside in and of itself. Without extensive testing, I have no idea what could potentially break the game! Plus, as this is merely a prototype, not even an alpha, I don't want to give a bad impression of the later project. The other downside is that, since I'm using the Luna Engine for this next project, I will have to encrypt the game files. If you were wanting to open the project in Ace and have a look around the logic that makes this game tick for feedback/learning purposes, you will be disappointed.

So what do you think? Do you want a demo? Or should I make a video? While that's being decided, I'm going to build a sort of tutorial level that introduces players/viewers to the mechanics a little at a time. If you want that tutorial to be playable, I'd love to hear it.


MAJOR Bug fix!

I am pissed off at myself.

Thanks to ricifidi reporting in a bug about two hours ago, I've become aware of a bug that occurred in the latest patch. The bug happens in the Temple of Truth (the last dungeon in the game) about a third of the way in. Apparently, in my haste to get a fix out, I accidentally left out a switch change that shows a VERY IMPORTANT CUTSCENE!

It's nothing game-breaking or progress-breaking, but good lord is it immersion breaking, which is absolutely unforgivable. I'm so sorry.

If you have Version 1.3, please note that you have an OUTDATED COPY with that bug! I have updated the download to Version 1.31 which contains the fix! Don't worry, it's not the half-assed RTP independent version. Thankfully, I keep unencrypted files of all my previous releases, so it was easy to dive in and fix this issue (don't worry! I playtested it to make sure this works!)

Please download the latest version if you're still going through the game. You can transfer your save files to the latest version with no problems.

I will now find the spikiest, heaviest object in my house and proceed to beat my head with it. If anyone wants to come in with a heavy stick or something and give me a couple of whacks, feel free.





Totally random thoughts

I'm still working on the RTP-independent version of Soul Sunder. Just starting out in a new university means that progress will been going slow. That, and... well... I'll detail that later.

I am now going to put some TOTALLY RANDOM thoughts down. Feel free to read or ignore. I won't be offended.

Here's some trivia info for you: Did you know that the Soul Sunder that's available for download now... actually isn't the original Soul Sunder? Weird, right? But it's true. See, around six years ago, I made an RPG for a creative processes class in RPG Maker VX. I had a really interesting story penned down, but I was so laughably inexperienced with RM back then that I thought I could do it all: Write the story, do the tilesets, draw the characters, even writing the music!

Classic newbie syndrome. You can imagine how well that turned out for me.

Anyway, I quickly came to realize that I could not tell the story I wanted to tell with my skills at the time. But I was so overwhelmed with the amount of work I (thought) I had to do, that I deleted VX from my computer, never to touch RM again. Well, until May 2013 when I got VX Ace and decided to try again with a smaller scale project. You wanna see the result of that? Well, look up and click the Download Now button. That's what came out of my first trip into RM after such a long hiatus.

But the story never left my mind the entire time. In fact, I've been constantly working on it! Sure, the main plot needs a serious downsizing, but the characters (in my opinion, of course) were really special. I couldn't ever get them out of my mind. Recently, I thought to myself, "I've learned so much since then. Perhaps...?"

So... yeah.


Sequels are cool, aren't they? For developers, they give the opportunity to take mechanics that worked in the first game and improve/expand upon it to create an even better experience! Players, on the other hand, get the opportunity to explore parts of the world that the predecessor hints at/doesn't fully expand upon. And (in my opinion) a good sequel will engage old players, draw in new players, but STILL be different enough to keep the predecessor relevant.


I've been building a prototype for a new project for the last two months. Only about half of the framework has been done, but so far it's a pretty cool build, and I'm actually kinda excited for the potential this project has.


I've been planning to start up an art thread sometime either this weekend or next week. But there's a piece that I've been wanting to share with you all beforehand. It's only line art, but I think you deserve a first look at this before anyone in the art thread does. Here you go:

Why? Who is this dude? Why am I showing this here, on a Soul Sunder blog? I don't know. Like I said, these are all TOTALLY RANDOM THOUGHTS.




Misaos, Discussions, and the Future

I've been spending all morning trying to figure out what to say. Actually, I know WHAT to say, but I'm having some real trouble figuring out HOW to say it best. At an impasse like this, I usually just opt for my tried and true F$#@! IT approach and write what I want to write, but even that is failing me now.

I usually try to refrain from the, "Thank you!" blogs because I feel that they don't deserve an entire blog to themselves and are best just added on to more game-relevant topics, but given all the awesome things that happened recently, I feel like I had to say something. I'll just give a simple acknowledgement to current events and wait to deliver more news until I have something more solid to write about in the future.

These last three months have been unexpectedly kind to Soul Sunder. Three wonderful reviews, 4 Misao nominations, tied for 3rd place for Best Storytelling and Direction, as well as lots of positive reactions in the Overall Bestest Games thread. To each and every one who mentioned this game, nominated, or voted, thank you so much! I can't begin to explain how grateful I am to you.

Now, for some game relevant talk: With Cash's and Marrend's recent reviews, I have a few places to polish. After updating the current download with the polished version, I plan to get an RTP Independent version up on this page. I hesitated to do it before because not only would it double the workload for fixing bugs and such, but I felt an RTP Independent version is the final chapter of an RM game. You know, like nothing else will happen. That's it. The game's done. With an RTP Independent version, the game will be accessible to people outside RM communities/ people who won't download 200 MB to play this game. It's totally understandable, so I want to do my best to accommodate potential players.

After working on this for a year and a half, I'll admit it's... very hard to close the book. But you know, it's time to move on. Move on to WHAT though? Well, that's for another blog.

While I'm diving into the game one last time, is there any major bugs/glitches, other grievances you have? Now is the time to report them!

Anyway, I've taken up enough of your time with this self-indulgence. I'll give more info as time goes on, help out people who need help and even fix one or two minor issues here and there, but for all intents purposes, Soul Sunder is done.

By the way, if you see this, I'm impressed! Hey, why don't you post the name of a random animal in the comments? It'll be funny to see the reactions of everyone who didn't see this!
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