if you're reading this, you already have my heart. pokemon is one thing, but you're telling me people out there are actually interested in our own original game??? incredible. i love you.
all right, so here's a three part post.
first, for the new folks, we're going to go over what is Starlight Divide and why should you care?
secondly, we're going to go through a rundown of the development team, both new faces and old
finally, we'll briefly go over what's going on in development right now, but details are going to be left for future posts
What is Starlight Divide and why should you please care about it 🥺
Starlight Divide is an action-tRPG about two angels in the distorted worlds of heaven and hell after God has abandoned them.
Okay first off, Ame, if that is your real name, what does 'tRPG' mean?
thanks for asking, imaginary reader! tRPG is short for 'tactical RPG'. some big examples of games in the tactical genre include Final Fantasy Tactics, Triangle Strategy, XCOM, and most critically for starlight's inspiration, Fire Emblem. If you haven't played any of those, imagine chess but instead of wood pieces you have pretty characters with blue hair and swords.
So why is it an 'action' tRPG? That just sounds like something you made up.
well, I did.
so as anyone who's played these games much knows, they can sometimes be frustrating as they are very dependent on RNG. you can plan a perfect strategy just to have it ruined by a 92% accurate attack miss, or an enemy hit a random 3% chance critical hit. it's painful, and watching these battles play out can take a fair bit of time, making players wait and bogging the active time of the game down. I say no-- we can do better than rolling dice in the year of our lord 2022.
One of the premier goals of Starlight is to have a system that is entirely independent on randomness. By taking elements from rhythm games, we've created an active system where who hits what attacks and crits is entirely in your hands, and you'll have to be on your toes every step of the way. I'm hopeful that, with time and care, we can offer a worthy evolution of the genre as a whole.
The side-bar says something about pretty screenshots. Prove it.
These are taken from the original splash page for the demo, but for those of you who haven't been there before, have a gander!
So... is it playable yet?
yes! we release a demo at the end of 2020 which you can download and play from here! we still have a lot of work to do though, the demo is just a starting point and we've already received a lot of feedback that we're excited to get back to the game, dust off the old content, and start implementing.
As someone coming from Reborn, why should I care about this if it's not Pokemon?
here's my secret, loves: sure, i'm a good and talented developer, but I'm far from perfect, and so was reborn to start. still, whatever strengths reborn has aren't just luck-- they're the result of 10 years of passion and work and, most importantly, a cycle of listening to and implementing feedback and features from and with the help of the community. in short, reborn is good because of the support and love you all showed it.
off the top of my head, here are some examples of things that exist in reborn because of the community:
the level cap
the slickest bits of the UI
the existence of 7th street
all of these things and a toe more came from you guys.
most AAA studios don't get the luxury of episodic release cycles and being able to draw from and directly interact with their fanbase. on top of that, they're weighed down by corporate necessities and profiteering. indies are running away with the industry, but many would-be projects never get the logistical support (funds, team, time, etc) to reach their imagined heights. meanwhile, we're sitting at the eye of the storm, where thanks exactly to you all and especially the folks on our patreon, we have both the means and the freedom to do exactly what we need to do make this game wonderful.
more than that, i hope to prove through action that this is a better, sustainable way to produce games for everyone. between rising expectations, harassments, and everlasting crunch, many studios and devs are struggling, but we are here thriving because of the exchange we have with you all. it takes a village to raise a child, and this is our child.
finally, as a bonus, (please imagine i smile at the camera and my teeth sparkle in the cheesiest way possible) you already know me, and that, if nothing else, i can see a project through to the end no matter how long it takes. we're not here to make a homerun, we're here to walk the ball into the end zone, touch it down, (??? idk i dont sportsball), and make sure this project can really be something special.
in short, if you're interested in Good Video Games, we've got all the odds stacked in our favor. why not stick around and be part of it?
of course, i can't do this alone on the dev side either. so, let's talk about the team.
Who is Chasing Selene?
that's all of us on the dev team! you've probably seen the name on e19's splash screen-- it only felt appropriate to get a group name together for as many of us carried over to this project. let's do a roll call and say hi to everyone now!
of anybody, surely i need to introduce her the least. it's a whole new engine that could be ripe for optimization and posts bitching about how inefficient this god awful starting system is.... maybe. either way, we still have her sharp skills and sharper wit on deck to edit and code, cleaning up the worst bits of both the programming and writing.
march has been with us since way back in 2015 when we were first tearing up essentials' original AI. nobody expected back then that they'd go on to write some of many people's favorite parts of postgame, such as the epilogue and a certain quest involving a time-travelling onion... or that they'd steal jan's lemonade stand in cold blood. nonetheless, here they are, ready for action and chaos on both the front and and back end. ...nobody take that out of context, okay? taking quotes out of context just isn't something anyone does around here, right?
sam's been with us nearly as long as march has, but rather than monkeying through code, smeargle is out there painting wonderful animations across the board. in addition to doing about a quarter of the animations in reborn, including big ones like doom desire and judgment, sam also jumped into some hella spritework with the overworld legendary animations, the charous mountain dragon, ferris wheel, and so on. for starlight, he's made the jump to rigging and animating our 2d combat models, ready to paint a new kind of scene for you all!
vulpes joined us on the animation team around 2018, going on to make some of the most impressive animations in reborn straight from downtown (genesis supernova anyone?). later, she suddenly jumped into the code, stitching up the editor, and undertaking a project to give every pokemon in the game form change animations on a whim. from what i understand, starlight's style of animation is closer to her home territory than reborn's was anyway, so i'm extra excited to see what she can do with us here!
Falcon hasn't participated in Reborn's development directly, but you might recognize some of Falcon's art from the recent set of wallpapers, where he's torn through the majority of new ones himself while we worked on postgame! That aside, his art is already in and beautifying the Starlight, as he first helped produce character and environmental art for the demo before! We're ready to get back in action with it!
....Unfortunately crim's statement could not come to work today. After asking what they might be interested in doing, they proceeded to list almost every role in development and then some, so for the sake of our viewers at home, we've been left with no choice but to redact the entire list and airlift crim into a very large cardboard box until they calm down.
That said, listing every role in development is probably the correct choice! It is easier to list what they don't do, and I'm not even sure about that. After first joining us on Starlight to help out with sprites, crim came over to Reborn and proceeded to put an incredible amount of work into the project, learned to do like eight other things at once, and were irreplaceable in helping me hammer through postgame as quickly and strongly as we did. Now they're coming back home stronger than ever.
Perry first joined us after he pulled up the broken Battle Factory code, magicked it together, and then asked if we wanted it. We were like 'yes and we also want you', and pulled him into help with Starlight during the initial demo development. He's been an incredible part of the team ever since, a pillar of stability when we need it the most (usually), and a rival agent of chaos when we least expect it (there have been delightful firestorm gif wars, i'm never ready).
...and that's all the folks that were on Reborn's team*... but it ain't the whole show
Nicky's been around, supporting us from the sidelines for years, from first getting the wiki going to being a voice of encouragement to the sidelines, offering to help out with video editing, and now this. He's already gotten a jump on working out the technicals of our loading systems from the demo, and I'm super grateful to have their help with the code at the ready!
Frequent Discord visitors might recognize Hewaje from their occasional posts in the creative-works channel. After being continually impressed by their work, I made a move to snipe them and have only continued to be amazed in more directions than I bargained for as they blaze through with beauty and work solutions all the way down.
*Okay, so I said that was everyone who was on Reborn's team, but Darius did some work for Reborn too! Those of you who replayed e19 might've noticed Kiki's new theme thanks to his talent and work! I hear he's also working on some other nightmarishly good tracks for another project... But I'm ecstatic to have him on board for Starlight as well!
Maybe we'll have some posts from some of them in the future too. Regardless, I'm eternally grateful to everyone who's embarking on this wild journey with me. Not just a solo endeavor anymore, it helps me so much to know the team's got my back, and I'm looking forward to what we can do together as Chasing Selene!
Wait hold on, who is Selene and why are we chasing her?
oh, that? selene is the greek goddess of the moon.
we're chasing the moon.
you think if we run really really fast, maybe we can catch it at the horizon?
i hope to find out.
and if not, i think we'll have a hell of a time trying to do the unreasonable.
like an 18 badge pokemon game and a giant postgame?
that's just stupid.
nobody should do that.
nobody ever do that, it's a bad idea. okay? it's just bad scope.
................but what if--
So what's going on with development now?
Well, we're just revving up. As I've said previously, the chapter featured in the demo is not the start of the game, so we gotta go make that start properly now!
There is also a lot of feedback to implement from the demo. After all, on both the front and back ends, we've got our starting point, but now we need to take our first step. I'm especially looking forward to the coming iterations as we feel out, with everyone's help, the direction we need to be going.
The back end is taking priority. Our first big project has been migrating the code and animations to a different animation program than we used for the demo. We previously used a freeware called Dragonbones, and while it did the job, but that software is all but abandoned. It is laggy, missing some features... and most of the documentation is Chinese. It's not exactly great for future development. We've been moving over to the more popular, much fresher equivalent, Spine, but that's a lot of work to patch up both the code and the models to all work in a new context.
In addition to that, we're looking at changing some fundamentals of combat, there was the aforementioned preloading, mouse support is a high priority, higher resolution looms over me like the shadow of a lion about to devour its newly slaughter prey in the saharan sunlight, and on top of that we've got a few things to patch up from the demo which are currently constructed out of toothpicks and prayer. ...They're efficient building materials, I promise?? ...No, they need work. It's a whole thing.
For these reasons, our focus isn't going to be on anything we can immediately be showing*, but those details are going to be saved for a future round up.
*actually a lie lol they'll never know im lying lol
Please stay tuned for as we get those details coming... and hey, maybe keep an eye on our sidebar. I'll say hi now and then. And regardless of any of that, you giving this post and this game the time of day already means the world to me.
This is so much and yet still a complete guess-- but I hope to be able to run a proper digital studio, and that means paying people livable totals. Hopefully we can hire others to help move us along and make the game even better too!