Games

Devlog #7: We accidentally made a multiplayer version of Soul Reaper. Yup.

If you’ve been following Power Level Studios’ stories, you know we’re working on a game called Soul Reaper. Soul Reaper is a not-so-serious retro rogue-lite RPG with monster-catching mechanics and deep loot and skill systems. You can play the prototype here: http://powerlevelstudios.com.

Making games with limited resources

Some of you may remember us mentioning that the game would be released in Q4 2018: https://medium.com/power-level-studios/how-long-does-it-take-to-make-soul-reaper-11e0d9cc0f82. In that article, I explained the main reasons why the game would take that long to make. In a nutshell, content, game balancing and polishing are what takes up the most time and resources.

The problem is, as with any startup and indie game developers, resources are scarce. Money and time are limited. For Power Level Studios, I’m lucky that I can do many things due to all my previous experiences, but I still can’t draw professionally or create music, so I need money to hire people. It’s not a bad thing to have a team though and I’m very grateful for people helping me make this game a reality.

Team and collaborators

Team and collaborators

The purpose of this paragraph will make more sense as you read more)

So what’s this about accidentally making a multiplayer version of Soul Reaper?

Again, if you’ve been following our stories, you know we make happy accidents sometimes. See this story where we accidentally created a game that was played by 3M+ players: https://medium.com/power-level-studios/how-our-first-game-project-accidentally-reached-3-million-players-3d16b55f349a.

That’s a lot of fish eaten in one day!

That’s a lot of fish eaten in one day!

Now on to this “accident”. 2 months ago, I was working on a feature to simulate combat between units/monsters in order to see how well they do against each other, for game balancing purposes. Sure I have spreadsheets that show me the results, but I wanted to see in practice that everything made sense. When I finished the prototype for the combat simulator, something struck me: “that feature would make a great asynchronous multiplayer game!”. And it really does in my opinion.

Almost everything is already in place for it. The combat, loot, souls and monster-catching systems are all done and are pretty solid already. All that’s really missing for a minimum viable product is the server part. But it’s simple: combat happens locally, and the results are sent to the server. Players are then ranked in leaderboards. At least, that’s the gist of it.

So what’s next? Does that mean Soul Reaper will take even longer to make?

Maybe. It may set us back by a month or two. December 2018 would be too competitive anyway.

BUT! Here’s where it gets interesting, and potentially unexpected:

We’re making a second game!

“The f***” you say? Hear me out. We’re actually splitting Soul Reaper into two stand-alone games:

Soul Reaper: Rise of the Unreaps; and

Soul Reaper: Unreap Commander.

(More info on what “Unreap” is: https://medium.com/power-level-studios/new-and-exciting-feature-reap-and-unreap-summon-reaped-monsters-in-combat-726b80d089fd)

Rise of the Unreaps (RotU) is the game we all know and love. It’s the original idea for Soul Reaper. It’s a single player game with a big emphasis on exploration, combat and story.

Unreap Commander (UC) is an asynchronous multiplayer version of Soul Reaper, focusing on monster team building as well as Soul Reaper’s signature fast turn-based combat, and loot and souls systems. Alpha is scheduled for release in January for PC and potentially mobile too.

UC is almost done already. Both games share the same assets: monsters, souls, sounds, music, etc. It even has enough content to be released as an Alpha version.

So why not release Unreap Commander already?

It’s not as fun as it could be yet. It’s missing some key features to make it fully enjoyable.

One of the most important missing feature is party management. If you’re fighting monsters against monsters, you need a way to organize how you want your team to be arranged for combat.

WIP: Team Selection Screen

WIP: Team Selection Screen

The server-side stuff is not done yet. Frankly I don’t think this is going to take too long since most of my profesional experience lies in backend development.

It’s not strategic enough yet. A higher level team will mostly always win at the moment. That’s no fun. I don’t want the grinding to be the only way to success. We’re working on key features that will make combat and team building more strategic.

Think of it like a Tower Defense game. You upgrade your units and place them on a map to defend something. The game sends units to attack you and you watch how well your strategy worked. For the next round, you tweak it based on the results you saw. It’s very rewarding to see your strategy succeed. That’s the idea here. How well you build your team, based on different factors, should define your success. And not all builds will be good in all scenarios. In fact, most won’t. You’ll need to adapt based on your opponents.

So the focus is on Unreap Commander then?

Yup! We’re aiming for a very ambitious January 2018 deadline. Surrender your soul to Soul Reaper at soulreaper(at)powerlevelstudios.com if you want to be part of the pre-alpha.

We’ll have more information in the coming days on how Unreap Commander will work. And no promises yet, but we might make our Trello board public so that we’re completely transparent on everything we’re doing.

What do you think?

Are you looking forward to Soul Reaper: Unreap Commander? Do you think it’s a good idea? What do you like/dislike the most about this idea?

Have you ever made similar happy mistakes?

First published here:  https://medium.com/power-level-studios/devlog-7-we-accidentally-made-a-multiplayer-version-of-soul-reaper-yup-46a56f052ff

Devlog #6: Prototype 3.1 is out!

It’s only been 1 week since the release of 3.0, but we’ve got another update for you: 3.1. Download it now on http://powerlevelstudios.com.

As you can expect, it’s not a very big update, but it does have some nice improvements:

A Title Screen

Starting the game from outside the vault was always a terrible experience. Like most games, we added a title screen. The background is a video of the game playing. We’re experimenting with the idea. Currently, it’s only a placeholder video.

As you can see from the screenshot below, we also added a Latest News section. That way you’re always up to date with the latest development.

We’ll add an Options menu there in the future.

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Much better Saved Game selection

We’re showing the player’s level, their equipped loot and the top 10 souls they own. The equipped loot will obviously look better once we have actual icons for each loot.

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Timeline Target Highlighting

By moving the cursor to select a monster, you can see where they sit in the timeline, making planning your attacks much easier (see how the Bubbly Fish’s timeline icon is coloured green?).

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Sounds!

We finally put sounds in all the menus. The game feels a lot more polished simply by adding those. The sounds are not final yet though.

What do you think?

Are you looking forward to the new changes? Do you prefer weekly little updates like this one or big monthly updates like the previous 2 months?

What improvement would you like to see in a small weekly update like that?

First published here:  https://medium.com/power-level-studios/devlog-6-prototype-3-1-is-out-cbace0475a0b

Game Guide: Soul Reaper featured builds part 2

If you haven’t tried the prototype 3.0 yet, make sure to download it here: http://powerlevelstudios.com.

The changes in 3.0 make it really interesting to experiment with different Legendary Loot and Soul Gear to become quite powerful. Below are builds we think are valuable to graduate from wannabe reaper of soul to a real Soul Reaper!

If you missed the previous guide for 2.0, here it is: https://medium.com/power-level-studios/game-guide-soul-reaper-featured-builds-1ab3bb077f11

The Builds

Stayin’ Alive

This build boasts incredible health bonuses due to the synergy between the Undead King Crown (Windy Fish) and the Nutty Band. Stay healed thanks to all the Life Percent On Turn bonuses. Plus, the Paw Pendant and the Sharpener Soul Gear synergizes really well due to increase Life On Kill, which now also gets applied on Hit.

Nutty Band: Life Percent On Turn, Health Bonus

Undead King Crown (Windy Fish): Doubles vitality received from the Windy Fish soul gem

2 slotted armor: Holy Shield (Shield Turtle, Saint Squirrel): Life Percent On Turn, Life on Combat End

Paw Pendant: Life on Kill gets applied on hit

3 slotted weapon: Sharpener (Stabby Squirrel, Bubbly Fish, Feline Clawer): Life On Kill, Life on Kill gets applied on hit

Party Player

The Carapace Shield’s bonus is really incredible. Slot any soul gem that does buffing or healing and it will target all your allies. The increase in Intelligence from the Undead King Crown with Bubbly Fish makes it so you can cast more often!

Carapace Shield (Saint Squirrel or Shield Turtle or Burning Worm): Heal all party members.

Undead King Crown (Bubbly Fish): Doubles Intelligence received from the Bubbly Fish soul gem.

Better Together

Similar to the Party Player build: deal damage to ALL targets. Take advantage of this by slotting your most effective single target soul!

Carapace Shield (any single target Soul Action): Deal damage to all targets.

Undead King Crown (Bubbly Fish): Doubles Intelligence received from the Bubbly Fish soul gem.

The Frequent Unreaper

You basically get two meat shields and damagers for the price of one. Take advantage of enemy weakness that way. Beware of spirit expenditures though!

Undead King Crown (Bubbly Fish): Doubles Intelligence received from the Bubbly Fish soul gem.

Worm Threaded Necklace: Slotted Soul gets unreaped twice

The Cheap Unreaper

Using the Red Rose, you can now cast Soul Actions for free while having a meat shield.

Red Rose: Slotted Souls have their spirit cost reduced to 0 when unreaped.

Beef Up!

There’s no better way to level up a soul of your choice, all the while beefing up the Soul Reaper thanks to increased exp.

For extra efficiency, combine with the Better Together build and fight the largest possible groups of monsters.

Beef Up Belt: Gain way more exp and reap two souls of the same type as the slotted soul for the price of one!

You die I die

The main idea here to have a 2 slot head piece. Red Rose usually comes with 2. With the Disgusting Mask, an attacker receives a large percentage of the damage back to them. Plus they get a burn effect that damages them every turn. Amplify the burn effect using Drakey Toothey with Scorch Blade Soul Gear, the Ring of Fire, Burning Man and Hot Wrap.

It’s a good idea to not equip that in areas with monsters with high resistance or absorption of fire damage.

Red Rose: Disgusting Mask (Burning Worm, Octoblader): Burn On Turn, Thorns

Drakey Toothey: Scorch Blade (Flame Bee, Stabby Squirrel, Burning Drake): Fire Damage Bonus

Ring of Fire: Fire Damage Bonus

Burning Man: Fire Damage Bonus

Hot Wrap: Fire Damage Bonus

You wait, I act

Apply a slow effect to all targets thanks to the Carapace Shield’s unique attribute. Power up the fire damage more with all the legendary fire-based loot.

Carapace Shield (Octoblader): Slow effect gets applied to all targets

Drakey Toothey: Scorch Blade (Flame Bee, Stabby Squirrel, Burning Drake): Fire Damage Bonus

Ring of Fire: Fire Damage Bonus

Burning Man: Fire Damage Bonus

Hot Wrap: Fire Damage Bonus

How to get the loot in these builds

We’re only going to cover the loot that’s new in 3.0. For the 2.0 loot, follow this link: https://medium.com/power-level-studios/game-guide-soul-reaper-featured-builds-1ab3bb077f11

Paw Pendant

Trade  Level 100 Feline Clawer  Soul Gem

Trade Level 100 Feline Clawer Soul Gem

Red Rose

Very rare treasure drop

Very rare treasure drop

Carapace Shield

Trade  Level 100 Shield Turtle  Soul Gem

Trade Level 100 Shield Turtle Soul Gem

Beef Up Belt

Very rare treasure drop

Very rare treasure drop

Worm Thread Necklace

Trade  Level 100 Burning Worm  Soul Gem

Trade Level 100 Burning Worm Soul Gem

What do you think?

Have you tried any of these builds? Which one worked best for you? Have you found any other great build?

First published here: https://medium.com/power-level-studios/game-guide-soul-reaper-featured-builds-part-2-6e32d91ee671

Devlog #5: MASSIVE Prototype 3.0 update

Ok, ok, we’ll try not to put MASSIVE for each of our updates. But it’s true though, it is a very very big update, focusing around a very important feature: Combat. It will be available on http://powerlevelstudios.com at the end of September, or early October. In the meantime, you can try 2.0!

Here’s a summary of what you can expect from 3.0:

Vault-ful of improvements for you, reapers of souls: much improved combat, complete with AOE attacks, buffs and debuffs, and Unreap!; arm yourself with new unique legendary loot and soul gear, and reap new exciting monsters’ soul!

Warning

This is very much still a prototype. It still has LOTS of bugs.

Changes

Here’s a full list of changes:

Combat:

  • Grid system for better tactical combat and Area Of Effect (AOE) attacks

  • AOE: Double, Line, Column, Cross and All

  • Unreap feature: summon monsters in combat to fight alongside you

  • Controls instructions

  • Much improved UI

  • Soul Reaper talks

  • Shows all types of damage separately

  • Buff/Debuff indicator

  • Random visual objects in combat background

  • Even faster combat flow

  • Fixed many combat-related bugs

  • Fixed Burning Drake attacking 3 times instead of one

Loot:

5 new, game changing, legendary loot:

  • Carapace Shield: Slotted Soul Actions get applied to all targets;

  • Worm Threaded Necklace: Slotted Soul gets unreaped twice (summon twins!);

  • Paw Pendant: Life on Kill now also gets applied on Hit;

  • Red Rose: Slot Soul Actions cost 0 spirit; and

  • Beef Up Belt: Slot Soul levels up twice faster.

5 new Soul Gear:

  • Sharpener (Stabby Squirrel, Bubbly Fish, Feline Clawer): Life On Kill On Hit, Life on Kill;

  • Holy Shield (Saint Squirrel, Shield Turtle): Life regen per turn, Life on Combat End, Armor);

  • Disgusting Mask (Burning Worm, Octoblader): Burn on Turn, Return Damage Percent;

  • Spirit Sucker (Bubbly Fish, Saint Squirrel, Cursed Snake): Spirit Bonus, Spirit Steal, Spirit on Hit, Spirit on Combat End; and

  • Slow Death (Octoblader, Burning Worm, Cursed Snake): Burn on Turn, Poison on Turn, Slow Chance.

3 new monsters:

  • Shield Turtle (Heavily protected turtle boosting its own defenses (buff))

Burning Worm  (Dangerous worm returning physical damage dealt)

Burning Worm (Dangerous worm returning physical damage dealt)

Feline Clawer  (Deadly assassin dealing LINE AOE damage)

Feline Clawer (Deadly assassin dealing LINE AOE damage)

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Other:

  • Game balance tweaks (still a lot more to do here)

What’s next?

Prototype 4.0 will mostly be about the intro of the game. This means better story, a tutorial and a main screen. But also UI improvements.

What do you think?

Are you looking forward to the new changes? 3.0 will come out in the coming weeks on our website. We’ll leave 2.0 and 1.0 up so you can compare versions.

We think 3.0 is a major step in the right direction. Do you agree or disagree?

First published here:  https://medium.com/power-level-studios/devlog-5-massive-prototype-3-0-update-e6b89f710c84

Game Guide: Soul Reaper featured builds

If you haven’t tried the prototype 2.0 yet, make sure to download it here: http://powerlevelstudios.com.

The changes in 2.0 make it really interesting to experiment with different Legendary Loot and Soul Gear to become quite powerful. Below are builds we think are valuable to graduate from wannabe reaper of soul to a real Soul Reaper!

First off: How to get the loot for the builds

Undead King Crown (drawing in progress)
 

Trade  Level 100 Cursed Snake  Soul Gem to Ryder

Trade Level 100 Cursed Snake Soul Gem to Ryder

Nutty Band

Trade  Level 100 Saint Squirrel  Soul Gem to Ryder

Trade Level 100 Saint Squirrel Soul Gem to Ryder

Butcher’s Carver

Trade  Level 100 Stabby Squirrel  to Ryder

Trade Level 100 Stabby Squirrel to Ryder

Manly Roller Shoes

Trade  Level 100 Windy Fish  Soul Gem to Ryder

Trade Level 100 Windy Fish Soul Gem to Ryder

Soul Caster Scythe

Trade  Level 100 Bubbly Fish  Soul Gem to Ryder

Trade Level 100 Bubbly Fish Soul Gem to Ryder

Drakey Toothey

Trade  Level 100 Burning Drake  Soul Gem to Ryder

Trade Level 100 Burning Drake Soul Gem to Ryder

Burning Man (Drawing in progress)

Trade  Level 100 Volcadillo  Soul Gem to Ryder

Trade Level 100 Volcadillo Soul Gem to Ryder

Ring of Fire

Trade  Level 100 Flame Bee  Soul Gem to Ryder

Trade Level 100 Flame Bee Soul Gem to Ryder

Hot Wrap

Trade  Level 100 Octoblader  Soul Gem to Ryder

Trade Level 100 Octoblader Soul Gem to Ryder

On with the builds!

One Healthy Skeleton

Undead King Crown (Windy Fish)

2-slot Armor: Saintly Clay (Saint Squirrel, Earthy Fish)

SAINT.png

Stay Healthy My Friends

Nutty Band (Windy Fish)

2-slot Head: Holy Lake (Bubbly Fish, Saint Squirrel)

HOLY.png

The Scythe Is The Way

Butcher’s Carver: Blade-o-rama (Stabby Squirrel, Octoblader)

BLADE.png
BLADE 2.png

Just like The Flash!

2-slot weapon: Storm Commando (Windy Fish, Stabby Squirrel)

Manly Roller Shoes

STORM.png
STORM 2.png

Soul Caster

Undead King Crown (Bubbly Fish)

Soul Caster Scythe (anything you want cheaper, but Scorch Blade recommended(Flame Bee, Stabby Squirrel, Burning Drake))

SCORCH.png

Fire God

Drakey Toothey: Scorch Blade (Flame Bee, Stabby Squirrel, Burning Drake)

Undead King Crown (Volcadillo)

Burning Man: Fishy Garb (Earthy Fish, Windy Fish, Bubbly Fish)

Ring of Fire (any soul)

Hot Wrap (any soul)

Combine the Scorch Blade Soul Gear (Burning Drake + Flame Bee + Stabby Squirrel) with the Legendary Drakey Toothey Scythe for ultimate fire damage!

Combine the Scorch Blade Soul Gear (Burning Drake + Flame Bee + Stabby Squirrel) with the Legendary Drakey Toothey Scythe for ultimate fire damage!

Looking at those resistances and fire damage!

Looking at those resistances and fire damage!

What do you think?

Have you tried any of these builds? Which one worked best for you? Have you found any other great build?

First published here: https://medium.com/power-level-studios/game-guide-soul-reaper-featured-builds-1ab3bb077f11

#Devlog #3: Soul Reaper Talks! Now he can’t it keep it shut!

For people who have been following the development of Soul Reaper, you have a pretty good idea of what kind of character he is. To say that he’s not a very serious guy/being is putting it lightly. If you haven’t seen him in action, you can check out our social media pages below or download our prototype from our website.

Why make him talk?

That wasn’t part of the plan actually. And we don’t even know if we’re going to use it in the game. We don’t currently have good enough equipment to produce high audio quality.

I don’t remember what led to it, but I was looking for a software to change my voice so I could talk as the Soul Reaper. After a few failed attempts, we stumbled upon Voxal and it worked great. I played around with the settings for a few hours to find a voice I think is suitable for Soul Reaper.

When writing the dialogues for the game, I would always narrate it out loud as if I was the Soul Reaper saying it. I think it’s much easier to write dialogues that stay within the theme if I can act it out. If it doesn’t feel right, then I re-write it. But with my own voice, it was always harder to judge if it was still “in character”. I haven’t re-written anything yet since the Soul Reaper has a voice, but I have a feeling things will change for the better when I do.

Why the current voice?

The current voice is not at all what I had in mind initially. Since the game is inspired in parts by Castlevania, I thought it would make sense to try something similar to Death in Symphony of the Night.

                                Original inspiration for Soul Reaper’s voice

After playing around with Distortion, Pitch, Reverb, Chorus, Amplification, Low/High pass, Echo and 3 Band Equalizer, I came up with a top 5 settings, all in Low/High pitch variations. Death in SotN has pretty high pitch and Alucard has pretty low pitch.

Initially I was aiming for high pitch since the Soul Reaper is a funny character. But when I was showing people, they didn’t get the high pitch. Granted, they were not players of the game, so maybe I shouldn’t have listened to them, but I thought they were kinda right though.

So we tried low pitch, more like Alucard. I think the result is much better. Like Alucard, Soul Reaper is a badass. He needs a badass voice. And his smart-ass comments seem even funnier with a deeper voice.

So where are you going with this?

Nothing certain.

If we get access to better audio equipment, maybe we’ll put voice-over in the game. Currently, it’s a great tool to stay in character when writing the story line or anything else related to the game really.

Another thing I’m playing around with is face motion capture to animate the Soul Reaper’s face. I’ve had pretty good results so far, but it’s very taxing on my CPU. The software we’re using is still in beta, so we’ll see if that gets resolved in the final version.

We also have other promotional ideas, but we’re keeping this low profile until we know for sure that we can pull it off.

What do you think?

What do you think of Soul Reaper’s voice? Do you think it matches his character? Have you used Voxal or other software before? Have you had success with it?

First published here: https://medium.com/power-level-studios/devlog-3-soul-reaper-talks-now-he-cant-it-keep-it-shut-9c96a758d50b