July 2021 Dev Update
2 months ago
– Tue, Jul 27, 2021 at 03:33:42 AM
It had been a while since we last streamed a dev update for Sea of Stars, so we did just that a few days ago to show more of the game's systems like inventory management, cooking, and shopping, along with our take on the sometimes-infamous-yet-always-mandatory fishing minigame!
Outside of the game, we unveiled a new compendium section for our website, and unveiled The Cryptwalker, the NPC who will greet adventurers visiting the area where the backers' stones, statues and monuments are displayed. We also officially announced that the forms for those who pledged for a presence in The Crypt will be sent out this September!
We know not all of you are keen on watching live streams, so we'll go through everything in detail here. If you'd rather catch up through video directly, the VOD is available here!
Fishing minigames are notorious for consistently being unable to please everyone. In the end, the goal is for it to be in tune with the overall game's rhythm by offering simplicity, progression and immersion. Here are some of the notes the vision started with:
- Most significant ref is BoF 3
- Something where you can touch and feel the environment
- Gameplay 100% without UI for a more immersive experience
- No bait equipment to manage, going instead for simple linear upgrades that give you access to more locations and species that will bite or be easier to reel in
- Overall, something simple and lite that is still more involved than "press action when it twitches"
We had been teasing this one for a while and after a lot of iteration was done, we were finally ready to show our take on this classic component. A gameplay video is available here, we hope you'll like it!.
Oh, and don't worry if fishing is not your jam, it is of course 100% optional!
We also unveiled one of Garl's special moves in combat, which allows him to throw an enemy close to another one, opening up opportunities for splash damage on certain moves like Zale's sunball. You can see it in action in the VOD!
INVENTORY, EQUIPMENT AND SHOPPING FLOW
We put so much focus on the areas we felt were more interesting like combat and navigation, we caused some of you to be concerned about the apparent lack of inventory, equipment and shops. Rest assured that all of that is in there, probably in the fashion you would expect.
One quick note on money however, which will have a low cap (in the 3 figures) to create rhythm instead of hoarding and ending up with an economic balance in numbers that strip away meaning. It's all about keeping it lite while still offering the fun of selling valuables and buying equippable upgrades!
Camping is always available for free anywhere on the world map, but is restricted to camping spots while exploring dungeons. Adventurers who like to be prepared will make a point to cook snacks and meals for the road, as they are the most efficient way to heal up in between battles when there are no camping spots in sight.
Snacks are for a single person, while meals will feed the whole party. You'll be free to fight, fish, forage and shop for cooking ingredients, or buy ready to eat snacks and meals directly from your favorite restaurant.
All snacks and meals come with their own custom illustration, description, and ingredients list.
Back in May, we started a community effort with super backers on Discord to define the creative direction of the Cryptwalker.
Through a series of votes on multiple-choice questions, the community helped specify the general vision for the character which was used in the first steps of our usual process, creative briefs and design!
Based on the brief, our concept artist Bryce Kho worked on multiple propositions. During the stream, we showcased the three designs that ended up being put up for community vote, and revealed the one that has been chosen.
Behold The Cryptwalker, a conscience in a lantern, carried by a spirit fox.
Thanks to all the backers and community members for participating in such high numbers in this wild process!
A Cryptwalker wouldn’t be much of anything without a crypt to walk in. The time is near for those who have pledged for a presence in The Crypt, whether in the form of a stone, a statue, or a monument.
Forms are coming this September, stay tuned!
We’ve been putting a lot of efforts into growing our social media presence lately, to bring more eyeballs to Sea of Stars.
During the stream, we launched The Compendium, an evolving encyclopedia of Sea of Stars characters containing backstories, sprites, screenshots and behind-the-scenes drawings. The content will grow along with our follower base.
Every time we reach a new milestone on Twitter, a new character will be revealed, and we even have an achievement system for more special one-of reveals.
THAT'S IT FOR NOW
We hope you liked this update, feel free to check out the VOD for a more involved look, along with dev commentary.
Stay tuned for our next beat in September where we will start rolling out forms to backers who pledged for a presence in The Crypt!
As we’re going the self-publishing route, we really do need to grow awareness of the game throughout the whole production. If you want to help us even more than you already have, here are a few ways you can can do so in 30 seconds or less:
Once again, thanks for everything.
Indie Publishing Award + Q&A Stream
5 months ago
– Sun, Apr 18, 2021 at 11:00:48 PM
SEA OF STARS WON BEST CROWDFUNDING CAMPAIGN OF 2020 AT THE INDIE PUBLISHING AWARDS!
The Indie Publishing Awards are part of a new online event called GI Live, organized by gamesindustry.biz. They celebrate excellence in all things pertaining more to the business side.
For the crowdfunding category, the international panel of judges analyzed each campaign using these criterias:
- Results (Number of backers, average amount per backer)
- Campaign quality (Graphic assets, video, written content, etc.)
- Marketing results (reach, engagement, virality, coverage)
- Backers relations (Support, updates, community management)
We are really excited to publish this update to let you know about the award, as none of this would have been possible without your support! A massive thank you to all of you who believed in us so early and paved the way for this incredible adventure. Your trust means the world to us and we will do our best to exceed your expectations.
Also, quick shout out to our friends over at Kowloon Nights who won Investor of the Year!
Q&A + NEW AREA REVEAL TODAY ON TWITCH AT 2PM EST
Production is going well, and we wanted to show some fresh pixels! Today's stream will also include the reveal of another important character!
The stream will also include a Q&A, so be sure to join us if you are curious about the behind the scenes, or have a question of your own!
You can tune in to our Twitch channel at 2PM EST, or watch the VOD which will be available later.
Again, we couldn't be more grateful for your support.
A year later! + Cinematics reveal
6 months ago
– Sun, Mar 28, 2021 at 12:11:34 AM
IT’S BEEN A YEAR ALREADY.
We thought we'd be over it by now, but we're not. The overwhelming support has been carrying us for the past 12 months and we can't thank you enough for it.
It's obviously been a strange year, but we adapted, scaled the team to 23 artisans all working remotely, focused on the production of Sea of Stars, and tried to avoid spoilers :)
We couldn't be more grateful to be crafting our own turn-based RPG with such a close relationship with our community. Which by the way, if you haven't joined our Discord yet, now would be a good time as we'll be hosting a Q&A and showing a new area of the game soon!
More details below, but first, something shiny to look at right now:
During the Kickstarter campaign, we showed a rough cinematic pilot with placeholder character design, naively thinking the public would go "Oh they mean this but fully fledged, got it!"
Suffice to say we should have known better. So, here we are with a teaser of the Actual Direction and Intention- for our concept artist Bryce Kho's designs to come to life, in traditional animation style made by our friends over at Du Coup Animation: frame by frame character redraws with no rotations, loops, or shortcuts of any kind.
Of course, this approach is way more costly than doing cut-out animation, but quality is our metric here, and for the cinematics to carry this little something that just feels right. Here is a sample which we believe speaks for itself:
Hope you like this teaser as much as we do! For an optimal game experience, we will be sprinkling them lightly, shooting for quality over quantity, to maintain the focus on gameplay and save these bangers for key moments or establishing shots where we feel the story and world are better conveyed without the limitations of the game's camera angle.
WE'RE REVEALING A NEW AREA AND DOING A LIVE TWITCH Q&A ON APRIL 16
It's been a while since we last took questions, and we do want to stay in touch with what players hope to see in the game, as well as offer longer form answers about things such as difficulty, systems like combat, and the design approach in general.
Feel free to join the conversation, it's the best way to stay up to date and voice your preferences!
To ensure proper flow, we will be accumulating most questions in advance in the #qna channel on our Discord. Those that get the most upvotes will be making it into the Q&A, along with more on-the-spot ones as the conversation evolves.
Oh, and we'll take a stroll in a new area, the Moorlands!
WE UPDATED OUR STEAM PAGE!
Be sure to check it out for the latest screenshots. With funding secured, the best action we can now take to make Sea of Stars a success (other than literally making it) is to grow our wishlist.
If you want to help us even more, please go ahead and wishlist Sea of Stars on Steam if you haven't, or get a friend to do it. A bigger wishlist means more opportunities for our game to be showcased, which at this stage is the thing we need the most.
Once again, we can't thank you enough for enabling this dream project.
Expect another update in a couple of months as we will get started on statues and monuments for the backers crypt!
Full funding secured! Kowloon Nights joins the party.
8 months ago
– Sat, Feb 06, 2021 at 07:16:47 PM
Important update today, and a big moment for our small studio. It relates to the business side rather than the game itself.
We decided to go with the full transparency approach for this post and share behind-the-scenes business considerations around the production and eventual publishing of Sea of Stars.
If you are only interested in updates about the game directly, that's totally fine, feel free to skip this one. The gist of it is everything is going super smoothly, and our partnership with Kowloon Nights basically amounts to us officially having the means to achieve the complete vision for the game while retaining 100% creative ownership and freedom to self-publish without any compromises whatsoever.
If you have any questions, we’ll be happy to answer them in the comments, or on our Discord. Let’s dive in!
BIG SCOPE, BIG BUDGET?
You might have heard of the infamous production triangle (fast, cheap, high quality) out of which you only get to pick two items. Whichever pair you chose entails giving up on the third one. Fast and cheap? Low quality. High quality and fast? Expensive. Cheap and high quality? See you in 2027.
From Sabotage's inception 5 years ago, it was always clear that there would be two main aspects on which we would never compromise: actually and measurably humane work conditions, and high-quality content.
Inspired by the response to shoot for The Full Scope while bearing our two main business considerations in mind, and still aiming for a 2022 release, we needed a slightly bigger team, and thus a slightly bigger budget.
We now have 23 team members working full time exclusively on Sea of Stars, most of them having 10+ years of experience in their respective crafts, which makes financial risk management and production planning a core aspect of turning the vision into reality.
Building the full-fledged version of Sea of Stars, including things like side content, a fishing mini-game, backstories and high density areas with seldom any re-use, is frankly a few million dollars venture. This is a ballpark that can put a lot of pressure on a small studio like Sabotage.
IT TOOK CLOSE TO A YEAR TO FIND THE RIGHT PARTNER
Right after the Kickstarter campaign, we started taking meetings.
Defining what we wanted for the future of Sabotage was a long process, and each of the countless meetings we had with potential partners helped us close in on the relevant questions pertaining to our long term vision for the studio, along with shorter term considerations, which lead us to these key takeaways:
- We want Sabotage to be recognized by its peers and by players as a studio that specializes in blending retro aesthetics and modern game design.
- We want freedom to publish ourselves and grow our own brand with long term plans to keep our games' stories alive for those who gathered around them.
- We want to keep the team relatively small (below 25 members).
- We are willing to go all-in on Sea of Stars, reinvesting everything we made from The Messenger.
- We don't want to cut content from the game, even if it means requiring more investment.
- We need support on the "bizdev" side, as we frankly never cared to spend too much time negotiating deals and prefer to focus on making games and building hype with the players directly.
When we met with Alexis and Callum from Kowloon Nights, the connection was all but instantaneous. They are laid back and very knowledgeable of the industry. Within minutes it was clear that they understood on a deep level what we were trying to build regarding both Sea of Stars and the future of Sabotage, and that they agreed it was a worthwhile venture.
Kowloon Nights is a specialized fund focusing mainly on PC and Consoles premium games. They act as a big sister company, providing funds, business advice and opportunities, while letting us make all the final decisions. They are a hands-off partner, meaning we retain full ownership of the creative vision and business decisions around both Sea of Stars and our studio itself, which brings us to the big exciting news.
WE ARE SELF-PUBLISHING SEA OF STARS
Empowered with the response from the Kickstarter campaign, and on social media afterwards, we decided to tackle the challenge of publishing. The proximity that developed with the community around Sea of Stars really feels unique to us, and it is something we want to nurture, as it helps us let the game emerge as what it is trying to be. For example, we weren't sure at first if more mundane content should be in the game (things like fishing and cooking). Seeing the feedback following the demo last summer, it became clear that the core systems of traversal and combat were well received, and that almost unanimously players were hoping the final version of the game would be closer to what we refer to as The Full Scope.
With in-house experience coordinating QA, localization, ports, community management, marketing and compliance, we are confident (and excited) to tackle the challenges of going through the full process by ourselves.
With the team fully ramped up and the funding secured for The Full Scope, the next months will be all about crafting every single act, and iterating on every minute detail until everything is as good as we can make it. As always, we’ll keep you posted on our Discord and Twitter with weekly updates.
Once again, we thank you for believing in our vision at such an impossibly early stage. The amount of love and support we received from backers played a central role in giving us the confidence to self-publish.
2020 wrap-up, and news from production
9 months ago
– Tue, Dec 22, 2020 at 10:55:15 PM
What a year 2020 has been. We hope you are all safe and healthy.
From an intense Kickstarter campaign that started at the same time as a global pandemic, to going fully remote while hiring, to refining our production and work from home pipelines, it’s been quite the roller coaster. That being said, we couldn’t be more grateful for the support we received from this community, and the very welcome distraction it blessed us with.
This update was long overdue, so let's start unpacking...
Act 1 alpha is a wrap
Pretty big milestone for us as the team is putting the finishing touches on the first act of the game. We learned a lot, and are really happy with the result!
Here are a few shots from Act 1 (alpha footage) :
We are live streaming new Sea of Stars content this afternoon (EST).
This afternoon (December 22nd, 2PM EST), Thierry will do a live Q&A on Twitch and present a sneak peek of the Mountain Trail dungeon, featuring everyone's favorite warrior cook!
If you have a question for the team, you can post it in the comments section here, and we’ll add it to the pool :)
Our team now has 22 members
To maintain the focus on quality without causing avoidable delays or compromising on the full vision, we hired 6 more people! Three more pixel artists, one more programmer, a social media manager and a new QA manager. We’re now fully ramped up and ready to tackle this production with only one metric in mind: to make Sea of Stars as good of a game as we can make one.
In other news, like many others we had to adapt our methodology and processes for the challenges of full time remote work, but we are happy to report that velocity has not been impacted. Our dev pipeline is optimized and content is being produced at a steady and predictable pace, so you can expect to be seeing more reveals in the following months.
Exciting news: we are self-publishing Sea of Stars!
This isn’t the official announcement, but we closed a major deal that will allow us to self-publish Sea of Stars. We’ll go into the full details in a dedicated post in 2021.
Since it is not an exclusivity deal, we have complete freedom here, so you are more than welcome to voice any hopes or preferences about platforms. We will be listening and prioritizing our efforts according to your demands.
The Crypt Customizer is launching early 2021
With more than 7000 memorials to be customized for The Crypt, we had to create a platform to gather all the data and streamline communication with backers.
The Crypt Customizer is a web application that allows eligible backers to customize their memorial, whether it is a monument, a statue, or a stone. It will be accessible via your favorite browser using your unique code and backer email.
In the first phase, coming Q1 2021, only the monuments section will be open (a Hero to be Worshipped tier), and will progressively open up to other tiers.
The second phase will add statues (A Hero to be remembered) and stones (Solstice Warriors).
You will receive an email with instructions the moment it goes live. Multiple reminders will also be sent via Discord and email to make sure everyone has ample time to send us the data.
2021 will be a big year!
There are a lot of announcements coming next year, including launch platforms, feature reveals, character reveals and so much more.
But for now, it's time to rest. We wish you all happy and peaceful holidays, and give you our thanks once again for the incredible support you have shown us in this adventure.
-The Sabotage Team