Hey guys, here’s some info about the Steam release…
Epic Battle Fantasy 5 will cost $15 on Steam. The release date is "Late 2018". The soundtrack will be sold separately, probably for $5. It’s DLC, so you can’t buy it on Steam without the game, but you can get it directly from Phyrnna for a little more.
Everyone who owns EBF4 on Steam will get a 20% discount coupon for EBF5. I think Valve sets this up so that coupons are sent out just after launch. This works better for me than a launch discount, because it lets me notify 200,000 Steam users at once. Should make for a decent marketting campaign to get the ball rolling.
Once the coupons expire after a month, I’ll release a Steam bundle of EBF4, EBF5, and Bullet Heaven 2. This bundle gives you 20% off if you “complete the set”. If you only own EBF4, for example, you can buy the other 2 games together for 20% off. This will be a permanent deal going forward, and it works in conjunction with other discounts. It’s basically a scam to make people buy BH2.
Patrons who have given me at least $15 will get Steam keys a few days before official release, so they can double check that everything is working correctly.
The free web version will be released once I’ve had a break from the Steam release. But the beta will most likely stay up on this website until then anyway. Saves between all versions will be compatible, and easily transferable with the save backup feature. Saves from the beta may have a few minor problems – such as permanently missing an equip or two if you save in the wrong place.
Hey guys, this is a list of some leftover stuff that won’t be in the EBF5 at launch, but I’d like to add to the game later.
• A battle arena dungeon, where players must fight waves of enemies solo. Combat with just one character is something I haven’t explored much in the series, and it could add a very interesting challenge to the game. Additionally, summons could be disabled, forcing you to rely only on each character’s unique skills. Even a regular foe could feel like a boss fight.
• A library dungeon, with paper cut-out style enemies. Trying out different art styles is fun, and a dungeon like this could make it work nicely in context too. It also let’s me use a lot of my old sketches of tanks and robots in the game. Plus a library could be filled with lots of lore and information, if that’s something people would like to see more of.
• Hidden portable game consoles, which would initiate battles against one-of-a-kind pixel-art foes. The aim is to have something like a treasure chest, except the treasure is that you get a chance to capture a rare enemy. This is another chance to play with different art styles, and it’s likely I could even host another foe competition for this one.
• Challenge runs - I’ve mentioned this before, but I’d like to add the option to replay the game with some differences, including: shuffled equipment locations, different weather, stronger foes, and various other little changes that could make the game feel fresh for another playthrough.
Anyhow, this list will probably still grow as I think of more interesting ideas. And ya’ll better buy the game if you want me to keep working on it after launch.
Hey, this is a big blog about my experience translating Epic Battle Fantasy 4 and Bullet Heaven 2, and how I’m trying to do things better in Epic Battle Fantasy 5.
Translating EBF4 was a last minute decision – it didn’t even cross my mind until the game was almost finished. But I knew I had a lot of fans that didn’t speak English, based on my Facebook page and Kongregate data, and the fact that my Flash games were quite popular on Spanish, Chinese, etc, Flash game sites. The languages I chose to translate to were Spanish, Portuguese, German and French. The first two because I had a lot of fans in those regions, and the second two because they just seemed like the most popular European languages to translate to (ie. they buy a lot of games). I didn’t consider Chinese because they already had made unofficial translations, and I figured they just pirate everything anyway. (I don’t know how much that’s changed in the last 5 years, but China seems to be really big on Steam now)
I asked for volunteers from my fans to translate and proofread, and a lot of people stepped forward. I couldn’t judge their skill at their first language, but I made sure they were at least fluent in English. My translation strategy was to turn all of the text strings in EBF4 into arrays of text strings, and dump them on Google Docs so that all the translators could work on them at the same time. “Word” would turn into ["Word","","","",""] and the translators would fill in the gaps. Once translated, the script was also shared publicly, so that anyone could provide feedback if they wanted to.
This wasn’t very efficient, but it worked. The worst part was going through all of the game’s code, trying to find every tiny bit of text, copying it to a Google Docs file, and then later doing that whole process in reverse. It also means that adding a new language now would involve all of that work again. With EBF5, I’ve put all of the text in seperate files right from the beginning, and each file contains one language. The game’s code just loads the relevant text file depending on the options. This means that adding a new language requires almost no extra coding work: I can just give out the English files, they can be translated, and the game can load them as a new language. So that should save me a lot of work in the long term!
But there were some other problems when translating EBF4:
• It turns out that most translated text ends up being a bit longer than the original, so I had to significantly increase the size of many text boxes. Lesson quickly learned.
• Translating parts of sentences separately is a very bad idea, for example: “A ” + “fire/water/ice” + ” elemental attack!” This works well in English and a few other languages, but you never know when weird grammar rules might pop up. From now on I’m sticking to full sentences, even if it leads to a lot of redundancy, like typing out the full line for 10 different elements.
• Dialects! I didn’t realise how different these could be. With French and German we managed to settle on neutral dialects, but with Spanish and Portuguese we went with south American ones, since that’s where almost all of the volunteers were from. Some Europeans were not very happy with these translations. I’m not sure if this problem is totally avoidable, but it’s worth talking to your translators about it before you start. (and then marketting your translation accordingly – luckily Steam let’s me specify that it’s Brazilian-Portuguese)
One thing that went very well was, uh, Flash! Flash handles special characters and text related stuff very well. So I never had any problems putting weird non-English characters in my games. The default fonts seem to handle everything.
So, in the end, was translating worth it? Well… kind of? It took me about a month to organise and implement EBF4′s translations, which also includes countless hours of work by the translators and proofreaders. The Steam sales for German (8%) and French (4%) are reasonably high, so from a financial perspective, those languages were worth doing, maybe even if I had to pay professionals instead of volunteers. But even though tons of Spanish and Portuguese speaking people played the free versions of EBF4, very few of them bought the game on Steam (less than 1% of Steam sales each), so if I was translating just for money, I wouldn’t have done those languages.
EBF4 was overall very successful on Steam, with around 100K sales in total – so 8% more sales is a lot in the end (well, I’m sure a lot of Germans speak English, and may have bought the game without a translation, but whatever). My other game, Bullet Heaven 2, on the other hand, was not so successful. The game wasn’t a flop – but it’s not far from it. Even though it had much less text to translate, I think translating that game was a waste of time – it just wasn’t worth the extra work. And if I had paid professional translators, I would have lost a LOT of money on it.
So I think that’s what it all comes down to for me. If I have a lot of fans in some region, and they want to volunteer to translate EBF5, I’m perfectly happy to work with them and make it happen so that more people can enjoy the game. But I wouldn’t bet on the translations to be worth it financially if I had to pay professionals. I guess I just don’t like taking too many risks. It’s also not particularly fun to program my games to support multiple languages.
Anyway, I’m almost ready to start translating. I’ll start doing research and asking for volunteers soon-ish. German, French, Spanish, and Portuguese are coming back, and the new languages I’m strongly considering are Chinese, Russian, Polish and Vietnamese. Feel free to suggest others, but I think those are the most likely. Of course, I can always add more languages after the game is released, as the new infrastructure makes that much easier than in previous games.
I’m interested to hear what you all think.
tl;dr: I translate for the fans, as it’s probably not worth translating a text-heavy indie RPG for financial gain, except maybe to German.
Please follow the game and add it to your wish-list, so it gets ranked above other stuff. (and obviously buy and review it when it comes out!) EBF5 will *probably* release on Steam first, for $15, with the free web version coming a few weeks later. The steam version adds about 33% more content, in the form of super hard optional dungeons, which includes the evil player battles.
In other news, the EBF Discord server now has new creative channels, including: Misc Art, Lego, and Minecraft. The EBF-Fanart channel has been quite popular so far, so if you’re a creative person and want to chat with others about stuff you’ve made, check it out: discordapp.com/invite/5gnkTvE
I'm planning to have the narration voiced and to tidy things up a bit.
What do you think? Did I miss out anything important?
Public beta coming soon-ish!
Hey guys, I’ve been without internet for over two weeks, but I’m back now. I guess I have to start off with a write-up of the Play Expo.
It went really well! Not a single thing went wrong!
Setting up was easy. I just brought in my computer, two monitors, a poster, an old pile of Kongregate stickers I got from Mochi London, some cute business cards to give out, and that was about it. The venue was conveniently 10 minutes away from my home. At first I didn’t have anywhere to put up my poster, but the guys next to us left very early so we essentially got a 2nd table just for that. Me and Ronja took turns manning the stall, so we didn’t tire ourselves out. (I also got to try some VR stuff on my break, woop!)
EBF5 never crashed. Both days it ran non-stop for 8 hours without any problems, which was pretty cool, but also what I would have hoped for since the demo was just the most basic parts of the battle system. On the second monitor I had my YouTube videos of EBF5 running on loop forever.
The audience was a bit different from what I expected. EGX in England was mostly for gaming enthusiasts, but while this event still had some of those, it was generally much more casual and family oriented. There were a lot of really young kids, but also a lot of parents and grandparents who weren’t even into video games at all. I ended up showing off EBF5 to a huge variety of people, and it was a very educational social experience for me. I learned how to talk to kids, disabled people, and a lot of very socially-awkward people.
I’m glad I had EBF5 configured in work-safe mode, and I’m happy I made that option available in the first place. Bouncing anime breasts were not out of place at the event, but I think it would have been a bit awkward with the game’s default settings, especially when young girls came to play.
A related point that surprised me was the lack of PC gamers! I think EBF5 was one of the only mouse-controlled games there, and a lot of kids were confused when they couldn’t find the controller or keyboard. Quite a few people had trouble using the mouse accurately, and double-clicking when single-clicks were fine. But besides that people picked up the game very easily. I just told them to pick commands and hit the baddies, and that was all they needed to know really. I only intervened to tell them how to heal when their health got low.
Besides all that we also got to know some of the other exhibitors, including Mega Cat Studios, who make modern NES games, Wrench Games who make card games, and Oi Oi Games who are a store for retro games (their Mario Maker stall dominated the area at first and sort of overshadowed us – not fair!). I don’t think there was anyone particularly famous there – there wasn’t even any official presence from the big gaming companies. It was all quite local and modest. A reporter from The Sun talked to me briefly, but in the end I don’t think he actually wrote anything about me.
I had around 5 people tell me they were fans of the EBF games, and another 5 or so who said they’ve probably played them at some point in the past. So that’s not bad – I’m not a total nobody!
Anyway, it was all a lot of fun and I’d love to do it again if I get more chances to do it so cheaply. (Grand total spent on the event: £89 and around 3 days of preparation)
Hey guys, me and Ronja will be exhibiting EBF5 at the Play Expo in Glasgow on the 9th and 10th of June! They’re nice enough to give free tables to small local game devs, so I have to take advantage of that. It’s our first time exhibiting, so we’ll probably embarrass ourselves. I wonder how many fans I have in Glasgow… probably enough for at least a few people to recognise me I hope. Mostly I’m expecting the kinds of comments I get on YouTube: “I remember EBF3, I didn’t know the series was still around!”
The timing is a bit unfortunate, as I’m in the middle of moving and would also need a bit more time to finish the EBF5 beta. I’ll probably just polish the Battle Demo a little bit and make it more presentable. It would have been nice to get feedback on the beta, but oh well!
Anyway, the Play Expo is pretty cool. It’s not as big as some of the events in England, but it’s got a lot of fun stuff to see like classic consoles, arcade games and pinball machines, and can easily keep you entertained for at least a day. If you live near Glasgow, you have no excuse not to go now.
Something a lot of people requested for Newgame+ was additional challenges, like perks for monsters or different upgrade options. I’m not going to lock content like that behind a 2nd playthrough. Instead an idea I’ve had for a while is “Challenge Run” settings that you can set at the start of the game and cannot change after that. Ideas I’ve got so far are:
• Randomised locations of equipment.
• Alternative weather throughout the game.
• Different foes appearing in battles.
• Perks for foes such as more resistances.
• Dead players lose their turn, additional cooldowns, or other handicaps.
Basically stuff that will make the game feel fresh if you want to play it again, but you won’t feel like you’re missing out if you only play through it once. It doesn’t involve any new content, just a bit of remixing.
This won’t be a feature at launch though. I’m saving it for a future update if sales are good.
(along with lots of other leftover ideas, such as bringing back old bosses and making some totally new enemies!)
Hey guys, all the battles in EBF5 have been defined. Most of what’s left to do is stitching all of the parts together, the title menu, tons of testing and balancing, translations, and the final boss. Then after that there’s still some promotional stuff like trailers and store pages etc. But it’s getting there. People who have volunteered to translate are getting a bit impatient, but I’ll get round to contacting you soon-ish. Still need a month or so before I’m ready to organise that.
I was supposed to be buying a house, but the seller is having trouble moving, so that’s been delayed. I’m moving back in with my parents for now – hopefully not for too long, but who knows. Maybe it will be a chance to take a break from work.
But while that’s happening, you guys can tell me what you want from Newgame+ in EBF5. Like usual, I don’t want to put much work into it, but I do want it to be a fun way to replay the game. Did you prefer it in EBF3 where you could just rush through the game again with super powerful players? Or did you like EBF4′s version where monsters got much stronger and you could keep levelling up for longer? If I do that again I’ll have to balance it a bit better.
In other news, I’ve been suffering quite heavily from nostalgia lately, and have been playing lots of games on Kongregate and Newgrounds again – old stuff and new. I’m probably too young to feel this way, but it feels like a huge part of my life is over. Flash games and whatever replaces them will still be around, yet I feel that some of the magic is gone, now that they’re no longer the cutting-edge of the creative space. I feel like the old man who doesn’t like what kids these days are into, because I had better entertainment in my day. Oh well. Maybe I’ll just have to keep making games in my style and prove it.
I read through my EBF4 postmortem, and I really need to update that soon. Back when I wrote that I felt like EBF4 was a failure and that I didn’t have much future making PC games, but since then EBF4 came out and Steam and was hugely successful there. Now my problem is that EBF4 might have been the height of my career and I won’t manage to make another game that’s so successful. That’s a bit silly of thing to worry about, I suppose.
I really need to blog more. It’s very therapeutic and a nice way to connect with people. I’ve got a few long ones that I’ve been meaning to write for a while, so maybe while I’m stranded at my parents house I can write some of those. I know I’m not the best at replying to comments, but I do read them all and appreciate them.
I found a super cool speed run of Epic Battle Fantasy 4 that was done a while ago. I’ve only watched the first 10 minutes and I’m already very impressed, so watch at least that much if not the whole thing.
There’s a very interesting bug being exploited here.
I didn’t think EBF had interesting speedrun potential, but this video shows otherwise.
If anyone knows other cool videos of my games that I might have missed, let me now!
Please subscribe to my YouTube channel, I’m almost at 9,000 subs, and I don’t post very often so I won’t be annoying!
Yesterday was the snowiest day in the UK in literally decades, and half the country shut down!
The police told everyone to stay home and car insurance companies voided everyone’s insurance!
People were panic buying and supermarkets ran out of bread and other supplies!
It was wonderful.
I got stranded at my parents house for two nights and built stuff.
I made this fort with my mum, and expanded it with an archway once my brother arrived to help – that part was tricky.
The fort seemed sturdy enough, but some of it collapsed overnight, and the rest was slowly on its way down, so I mercy-killed it for safety.
In total the fort weighed 700kg. I’m super exhausted, but I have no regrets now.
Hey guys, my first ever Dungeons and Dragons character has reached retirement, so I figured I’d do a big write up of his story. A lot has obviously been cut out, to save time.
Salazar Ratkin was a scruffy druid who lived in the sewers for many years after his home town was wiped out by war and disease. He wielded his father’s thigh-bone as a magical staff, and learned to survive by eating rats and other small creatures. He could speak with plants and animals, but found that rats always had the most interesting tales to tell.
While on a routine visit to the surface world, Ratkin encountered a party of travellers who had been hired as caravan guards. Among them was Beorn, son of Beorn, a tough barbarian who would in time become Ratkin’s greatest friend and business partner. Although not one for socialising, Ratkin craved to see more of the world, and his magical abilities were an asset, so he was invited to join the party in their travels.
They uncovered hints that a great evil known as the Devourer was consuming the souls of the dead – and had set its sights on consuming the Gods themselves. But this story is not really about that party and their quest to save the world. Ratkin would go with them on many adventures, but his heart was always in a different place – he was on a search for meaning, and to find his place in the world.
Having been completely isolated from the outside world for so long, Ratkin was very distrusting and often racist towards anyone who wasn’t a human – sometimes even wasting critical time in battle to mock elves and halflings. He gradually became more accepting of others during his travels, but he continued to see every slight against him as part of some greater conspiracy, so occasionally fell back into his old ways.
In terms of fighting ability, Ratkin’s signature move was summoning giant bear-like rats to fight alongside him – which could easily overwhelm or corner enemies. He was also a talented healer, and a collector of powerful poisons and body parts. He considered himself a doctor and scientist, but many others would look at him an see a depraved lunatic. In the end his greatest talent was simply staying alive – he seems to have been born with naturally high stamina and good health, and could use many utility spells to escape from dangerous situations (such as climbing on walls like a spider, or transforming into an eagle).
After watching his stoutly religious ally, Justice Whamfore, die a worthless death in battle, Ratkin began to doubt the motives and eventually the existence of the Gods that many worshipped. There are so many types of powerful magic in the world, he figured, and yet the Gods could only communicate by… sending cryptic messages, granting good luck, or by changing the weather? If this was the extent of their power, they were not worth any praise, and could even be explained away entirely as the hallucinations of madmen and users of strange mushrooms, or just plain old chance happenings.
Ratkin became obsessed with the idea that the All-Faith, the world government, were using stories about non-existent Gods to control the population, and leading many believers wrongly to their deaths. He began to discuss his ideas with people like himself – the dirty lowlife of city slums. Many of them were instantly receptive of his teachings, as they saw hope for the first time in their lives, and they began to repeat them to others. Ratkin’s teachings however had no effect on men of higher social standing – they almost always proved to be resistant to conversion, and remained faithful to their delusions. Ratkin became wary of the upper classes, as they would certainly not support what he was doing. And so the cult of atheism began to slowly spread among the lowest classes of major cities, who began to live underground in an attempt to avoid attention. The members of the cult communicated through rats – by attaching messages to them, or by speaking directly to them.
Ratkin’s followers were not intelligent people. Attempts to integrate them with the party and put them to work had always backfired. They brought weapons to meetings and tried to indiscriminately shank anyone who did not bow down to Ratkin. In battle, they only focused on defending Ratkin, and often died swiftly. The only tasks they were exceptionally good at were simple suicide missions – such as burning down a building to destroy evidence. Ratkin began to have doubts about where his cult was heading, and if its members were even capable of functioning in any constructive way. However, a man named Lule had distinguished himself as the cult’s most talented manager. He seemed to take initiative and plan ahead, unlike the others. He had orchestrated the murder of a royal guard who came to investigate the cult. News of this event greatly troubled Ratkin, as it meant that the All-Faith were becoming aware of his activities, and he had just given them another reason to come after him. Ratkin used his magic to meld the guard’s body into a large stone in the sewers, hoping that it would never be found. Ratkin made a pact with Lule, giving him some of his magic powers, and creating a warlock. This was very illegal.
Lule was promoted and taken on a dungeon-crawl with the party to test his skills. He drew a short straw and was ordered to touch a cursed mirror, which promptly sucked out his soul and reduced him to an empty shell of a human. Upon completing the dungeon and slaying the boss, the party found an obsidian heart, full of many souls, including Lule’s. This was a phylactery that was being used to create a lich, so the obvious reaction should have been to destroy it immediately. For the first time, Ratkin began to feel responsible for his followers, and guilt-tripped the party into keeping the obsidian heart. With the help of Dennick, a powerful necromancer (who also happened to be the mayor of the city), Ratkin performed a resurrection spell to bring Lule’s soul back into his body. Resurrections were assumed to be impossible (on account of the Devourer eating souls), and attempting them was also very illegal. Lule immediately returned to the cult to spread word of his master’s divine deed.
Some months later, upon returning to the cult’s headquarters, Ratkin discovered that Lule had been hard at work, creating a race of rat-men. Ratkin’s followers had come to see him as a new god, capable of miraculous deeds. The cult’s membership was now several hundred strong, and Dennick had become aware of its existence. Dennick, being a friend of Ratkin’s (and also being culpable in some illegal activities), gave him two days to deal with this problem, before a crackdown would commence. Things had grown out of timid Ratkin’s control, and he was pushed forward by the zealousness of his followers. Ratkin only wished for the survival of his new family, and so ordered them to migrate to the slums of every town and city on the map. Many would not survive the journey, but those who did would continue to spread his teachings in the filthy depths.
Shortly afterwards, Ratkin recieved a letter urging him to meet with the All-Faith, to settle this matter once and for all. Ratkin sensed a trap, and set up fortifications in a nearby ruined monastery. He was accompanied by Lule, Beorn, and a selection of the finest warriors from the cult. They ate a mighty feast to boost their morale, and prepared natural traps – fog, vines, and living trees that would smash intruders. Ratkin had become a dungeon boss, and sent a counter-offer and invitation to the All-Faith.
The All-Faith had sent their most fanatical faction, the Purifiers, who’s mission it was to destroy heretics. They offered Ratkin a chance to surrender and be magically imprisoned for 1,000 years, in exchange for the lives of his followers. Ratkin strongly considered this offer, as several of his followers began to surrender. Chances of victory in battle were slim – but Ratkin had felt an untapped power building up inside of him, and this would be his only chance to use it. As the Purifiers rushed into the monastery, Ratkin ordered his followers to pray for him, while he began to mutilate himself – casting necrotic spells, and throwing himself onto the swords of the enemy soldiers. An angel appeared – a twisted abomination with many sets of limbs – and attempted to intervene. But it was too late, the ritual had succeeded, and Ratkin took on a new celestial form – half rat, half man, with wings and huge claws, and much larger than before. Ratkin and Beorn wrestled with the angel, while the cultists, living trees, and Purifiers duked it out and played support roles. It was an evenly matched battle, but Ratkin destroyed the angel with his last ounce of strength – ripping it apart with his claws while rats crawled out from his open wounds. The greatest symbol of the All-Faith had been defeated by sewer vermin.
The leader of the Purifiers made one final call for divine intervention, but no one came.
Ratkin gave his final orders – that his followers should look after each other and believe in themselves.
He then faded away and ascended to the celestial plane, to join the other Gods.
I got a ton of responses to my last blog about EBF5′s writing, so here’s a summary of what I’ve heard:
• A reasonable amount of Flanderization/character quirks is good
• Character personalities shouldn’t change much (they won’t)
• People like the writing silly, but a few serious moments are good
• Hint at relationships forming, but not too much
• More backstory and motivations for each character
• More world building and lore – characters should figure it out, not already know it all
• Some internal conflicts between the characters, but also give reasons for each pair to get along
• People like the sound of multiple endings, so I’ll give that a go (to a minor extent)
• People like the in-battle dialogue/reactions, are sad that it eventually runs out (will do more)
• Don’t forget about things established in previous games (the universe is almost the same)
• Try to tie in some continuity with previous games (alternate universes, yo?)
Your concerns have been noted.
Hey guys, I’ve started writing the main character/story dialogue for EBF5, and now’s your chance to to tell me what you want to see there.
Some criticisms of my writing in the past include:
• EBF4 took existing character quirks and focused a bit too much on those. (see Flanderization)
• Bullet Heaven 2′s dialogue was a bit too silly in general and didn’t have a real plot – people seem to actually like a concrete plot, even if it’s quite shallow.
• A lack of character development in general, especially when it comes to relationships.
I think I’ve mentioned this before, but EBF5′s story is not a continuation of previous games. All the characters are starting at level 1 and meeting each other for the first time, and they’ve all got homes now. So I think that already guarantees there’s going to be more character development than before. Whether everyone likes how it turns out, who knows? But I’m aiming to have all of the characters grow and act a lot different by the end of the game. (Maybe also some small variations on the ending depending on how you play the game.)
Thoughts and expectations?
We’ve been working together for almost 10 years and this is the first time we’ve met, so that was fun.