Soul Chains Online - May Progress Update
I've mentioned several teasers about SCO in chat here and there, but we're solidly into May and I want to take the time to make a proper update post about the current development progress of Soul Chains Online, as well as giving you all some information on our direction.
I'd hoped to have visuals available at this point, but our budget has not been conducive to hiring an artist upfront, so we're working towards developing the game to a more finished state in order to recruit an artist on a revenue share agreement. As a fallback if we are unable to do that, we'll secure alternate funding and proceed with a scaled down version of our art plan.
Now, I can't show you visuals yet but let's dig in on where SCO's at and how our plans have taken shape.
What is the current progress of SCO?
We're right at the transition point from pre-alpha to alpha, with our focus shifting from getting prototypes in to building out the gameplay, adding abilities, NPCs to fight, balancing the progression, and also iterating on systems like combat to make them more fun. It's an exciting time, as we finally get to feel what the game will really be like and see the potential come to life before our eyes.
Over the last 3 months, we've done a ton
of planning, thinking through systems, what our core vision is for the game, building the prototypes, trying their basic version out, considering how they interact and what possibilities they create, and how to accomplish our goals.
We brought in the first group of pre-alpha testers/additional dev team members this week, and it's been a lot of fun showing them the game and having discussions about the systems in it and future plans. In 3-4 weeks we'll bring in the next round of testers and really start getting a picture of the game with a number of players playing it.
Now, let's move on to the fun part!
Our vision for Soul Chains Online
Soul Chains Online is a 2D browser/mobile MMORPG set in a world where death is just the beginning. As players awaken their powers, they discover the conflict between three races: Shinigami, reapers of souls and protectors of the afterlife; Hollow, creatures who yearn to become whole again after having their hearts ripped out; and Quincy, spirit-empowered humans who have taken matters into their own hands after watching the human world torn apart and countless loved ones die because of the constant conflict.
Starting as humans with faint but growing power, your actions will shape your fate as your realize your destiny and find yourself thrust into one of the three races. Exploring your newfound abilities, the unique strengths of your soul will manifest into incredible powers as you grow from wide-eyed beginner to renowned legend at whatever you choose to specialize in. You’ll get to customize your character in appearance, playstyle, and abilities to fully fit however you want to play and whatever fantasy you come up with for a character in this world. Along the way, experience intense conflict against NPCs and fellow players as well as tough hurdles to overcome through great effort - All balanced out by the lighter side, getting to know NPCs and going on missions with them, making friends with other players, and bringing your existing friends along for laughing at the funny moments, support during the hard times, and celebrating the victories.
A Social World
Soul Chains Online isn’t just about your character’s journey, or the world you can experience. We want to go above and beyond at making it also a place where players can have fun with their current friends and/or make new ones. To that extent, we have passive training so that you can watch their character grow stronger as you chat with friends, and group activities spanning the spectrum from casual fun and social minigames to team raids and intense boss fights, so that there’s something for everyone to enjoy.
It's important that you have great flexibility in shaping your character however you want. We're focusing on four main pillars of customization to accomplish that:
Your character's appearance and clothing are fully customizable. Bring your vision of a character to life in our universe with plenty of options to set yourself apart from other players while staying appropriate to your character's race attire!
Rather than having restrictive classes or specializations that lock you into training specific stats and end up making players have similar builds, you'll have flexibility to train whatever stats you want, up to a total stat cap for your rank. We'll probably also have a lower individual stat cap just to ensure things don't get too out of hand, but it'll be pretty generous. This system works hand in hand with the Soul Traits system to really enable you to build your character into excelling at the playstyles and fighting styles you enjoy.
Soul Traits represent all of the aspects of your soul. As you level up, you'll be able to choose which aspects you want to focus on, activating unique perks for both playstyle (out of combat) and fighting style (in combat). With over a dozen trees to choose from, become a hunter who chases down your targets or a ghost who can never be caught, gain benefits for working in a team, or by yourself - Focus on long-range precise attacks, assassinating, blocking damage for your team - Each tree will contain a number of different perks to choose from, and you can have perks from multiple trees, but the total amount of Soul Essence you receive is limited, so choose wisely!
This is the most unique aspect of your strength - The powers of your soul, manifested forth. We strongly feel that you need to feel the uniqueness and have a power that befits you. So every player will receive a custom-tailored Zanpakuto/Resurreccion/Vollstandig based on your preferences, with some help from the system to ensure the final result is cohesive, cool, and fun!
The Reactive Combat System
Combat is one of, if not the most important system(s) in almost any MMO. And SCO is no exception, so we've put some deep thought into how to really make fighting fun and capture the feeling and intensity of soul-driven battles. In Soul Chains Online, our turn-based combat system will have three phases to every turn:
First, the attacker will get the chance to setup their attack. They can either move into a better position, or strengthen the attack (Examples would be honing their energy into their sword for a sword strike, or chanting an incantation to increase the power of a magic attack).
In this phase the attacker, after completing their setup, releases their fully powered attack towards the opponent. But it doesn't hit instantly - We have a third phase:
In this phase, the defender gets a brief opportunity to react to the incoming attack and counter it. There are a number of options available:
- Moving out of the path of the attack to dodge it
- Blocking the attack to reduce the damage taken
- Parrying the attack - A riskier form of blocking that if successful can reduce a greater amount of damage or even force the opponent into a disadvantageous position
- Using a magic barrier to block it
Depending on your preferences, you'll even be able to build your character to be more effective with specific types of counters with stats and/or Soul Traits.
Why Reactive Combat?
This system really gives us another dimension of interactivity in combat. Rather than just taking turns slugging it out and being forced to take each hit, you'll get the opportunity to react to each and every one, before firing back with your own. This adds so many more opportunities for expressions of skill and fighting style, as well as more properly capturing the feel of combat. You wouldn't stand there and just let an opponent hit you with their strongest attack in a fight, so why should we force you to do that in game? It's way more interesting to give you the opportunity to counter, with different counter options available that each have their own tradeoffs.
We're hard at work on bringing SCO to life and making it a game worthy of your time as well as all the support you've shown WoB (and me specifically) over the years. It is taking a little longer than originally anticipated because we really want to make sure things are done right, which means more long nights debating different approaches to game systems, more revisions, more complete overhauls, etc. Right now we're targeting a July release (would be just in time for the Bleach live-action movie which comes out on July 22).
We'll keep you apprised of updates here as well as on Facebook, Twitter, and Discord, so make sure to follow one of them if you want notifications outside of WoB: