*New Updated Demo* [Does this count?] Astral Throne - A (mostly) Original (Non-Romack, but very heavily inspired by the romhacking community) Roguelike SRPG -- [Demo for an Early Alpha (Now Beta), looking for feedback] -- A "Spire Emblem" if you will

Who are you? What is this?

Hello, I’m McDichael, mostly a lurker of the FE and its hacking community, and I’m part of a small team of friends working on what is kind of a dream project: an original game in the style of Fire Emblem with the structure of some modern Roguelikes- namely Slay the Spire and Chrono Ark, but with the FE/SRPG fixins instead of cards.

Why is this here?

I post this here because a lot of the design is heavily based off of the cool concepts, design patterns, and QoL stuff that this community cooks up, so I thought it would be a good place to share, and more importantly, collect feedback. See, this isn’t just a shill post, we also have got a demo up for the Steam Strategy Fest where we are collecting feedback and impressions. We would all really appreciate if we could get some points about design and inspirations for future development from the passionate people here.

Link to the Demo Download/Steam Page

What kind of feedback are you looking for?

This is a demo open to the public too, so we are aware it is a little on the easy side. We wanted to show off a large enough chunk of the game without scaring people off so we erred on the side of being unchallenging. We hope you can understand that when you play.

It is an original game built from the ground up (well, in Unity), so we are also aware of little technical issues here and there, as well as a bit of a cluttered UI.

We are gauging the core concepts of the design, the gamefeel, and gauging general interest in the project. What does it do well? What does it do poorly? How is the art style? How is the music and sound design? Are we allowed to make and participate in threads asking for examples and feedback on skills and mechanics as we develop the game in the future? That sort of thing.

Here’s the details:

Story Premise

One night, a prosperous island kingdom was struck by a falling star. Ever since, the island has been shrouded in a mysterious starry fog. No one has left the island since this incident, save for some curious investigators. Only some investigators leave, with barely being able to recall what they saw. Vague recollections of a cult-like force that has taken over the royalty, and a strange undefined worship of that fallen star.

Lyra, the heir to the throne, was on a diplomatic mission at the time of the incident and was spared from the cosmic event. Dismayed at the state of her homeland, she has taken it upon herself to infiltrate the island and take it back in her name. She is accompanied by a set of strategic alliances who have various other motivations to visit the island, whether it be to help, make a name for themselves, search for missing family members, discover knowledge, or even plunders it treasures.

Mechanics
  • A Roguelike, really?

Yes, have you ever played Slay the Spire? It’s hot.
But really, Roguelike hacks and concepts for them have been floating around the community, but tend to not go particularly far due to the issue with random map design. So, we have no random map design.

  • So how does that work?

Like StS and Chrono Ark, you progress by following a world map where you can only progress forward, usually given a choice of which path you want to take. Sometimes you will hit a map, sometimes a random event that gives you something.

Each map is largely handcrafted, with pockets of random variance here and there, like some enemy spawn formations (though not really in this demo), chests and their rewards, recruits, loot, and some other stuff I’m forgetting, ask the lead designer.

  • Is the tactics gameplay the same as Fire Emblem though?

Mostly. There has been a bit of rebalancing and tweaking of character stats and how they work, but the move → act → combat → end turn → end phase thing is largely intact. There are some changes to UI and some QoL that we are trying to fit around these new mechanics, namely the focus on skills.

  • Skill Emblem?

Yes, but Roguelike-ified! The big difference between Astral Throne and Fire Emblem’s Unit progression is that in Astral Throne, each unit’s stats gain experience independently. When levelling up enough stats, your unit will gain a unit level, which raises their maximum HP and grants a choice from a pool of various skills.

We are trying to make these skills interesting and reward! They are the hardest thing to develop and we have plans for interesting mechanics synergies. There is a taste of those synergies in the demo, but we would like some feedback first before we go whole hog on them.

  • Weapon Triangles?

Yes, 2! A physical one and a magic one!

  • Must I rout the enemy?

Nope! That might be a thing you have the option of doing on some maps in the future, but we do want to have things be a little more varied than that. Plus, we feel Roguelikes like this should encourage a quicker pace.

Units and Classes
  • Your main form of power progression is building a team of units
  • Each unit has a specific class, base stats, growths, usable weapon types, and a name and a face :smiley:
  • However there are 2 types of units: Heroes and Militia.
  • Hero units are the sort of main characters. They have special weapons, abilities, growth rates, and art. They are like Lords.
  • Militia units build out your party. They can be a variety of different classes (e.g. Myrmidons and Fighters though we use slightly different words ;))
  • You start a run by picking a hero as a leader, and depending on who you pick, there will be some mechanical bonuses and a couple Militia in your starting party
  • You recruit militia within maps, and collect items for them as loot or through random events on the world map
Known Issues
  • This is an Alpha, it’s still fairly early on in development which is a good time to get feedback, though there is some jank here and there
  • Some edge cases in terms of what order you perform certain actions in have not been thoroughly tested and might cause a unit’s turn to not end. You can get around this by hitting the “End Phase” button most of the time
  • Very rarely the game will lock up for no apparent reason
  • The game is also missing some minor QoL features, but nothing is dysfunctional in the UI (unless it’s a bug we haven’t caught…)
The Future
  • We hope to continue being present in this community so we can collect some good feedback and make the game the best we can
  • We will continue to develop the game for however long and release it at a reasonable price when we feel it’s done; no early access, that’s what the demos are fore
  • To make the game really the best it can be, we are also looking for a publisher for development support. The game was just made public recently, so now that we are out there, we feel we can start the search eventually
  • Also, if you like what you play, give it a wishlist, it will be a good show of support :slight_smile:
Links

Demo Download/Steam Page
Dev Twitter, before the site collapses
Discord, if you want
Apparently mailing lists are still in vogue

Some Screenshots to Catch your Eye






38 Likes

This looks really cool, and I would definitely say it “counts” lol.

Great job!

4 Likes

Haha thanks!
Just making sure

Damn this looks amazing! I’ll check this one out

1 Like

I’ve been hungrily consuming roguelike FE content, glad for more.
World map graphics look really nice. Like the combat graphics less, but I am also biased against 3D.

Act 1 seems fairly chill. When enemies charge seems well-paced, and I didn’t feel overwhelmed at any points. Enemies didn’t seem to scale much, so I was comfortable with Isolde soloing sides on her own.
All my units felt pretty strong, appreciate the archer that does good damage.

The skills seem impactful, though the pool doesn’t seem like much yet. Got a good bit of use of starfall and vigilant.

While it is cool that HP doesn’t automatically regenerate, how free and available Vega’s healing means that I’d end every fight on full HP anyways. Doesn’t quite have the same tension slay the spire or embrace of the fog has, though maybe this might change in later acts where I don’t have the action economy to be spamming heal. Maybe cooldown or limited amount per map would make things more difficult.

Some minor stuff:
-Wish I could play everything using just the keyboard. Doesn’t seem to be keybinding yet?
-Kinda want an option to not have the map zoom, would speed things up.
-Hard to tell if an enemy has already been highlighted with danger zone, maybe make highlighted enemies more red.
-Couldn’t figure out how to give stat booster in preparations/caravan.
-Text cut off for item mouseover near bottom of the screen in caravan.

2 Likes

Just from the screenshots, I think you could ease up on the shadows. Since you have a low-poly, kinda-janky look going, having those smooth shadows makes it look kinda Baldi’s Basics - and, more importantly, it takes up more CPU/GPU resources.

Thanks for the extensive feedback!
Yeah to be clear, the demo is purposefully easier than what the final game would be. I agree the tension should definitely kick in sooner.
The plan for healing is like you said, but to also have tight round limits as the big limiting factor. Combining that with different objectives to choose from in each map will hopefully produce some cool decision making, but that doesn’t really come across here. But we’ll try!

And thanks for the minor points, we’re also aware of most of those but they take dev time and we wanted to get this out sooner rather than later. Don’t be afraid to speak up about more of stuff like that though since I don’t think we know everything lol
Could you explain what you mean by “map zoom” though? Like the camera moving around?

Though one thing I don’t really have an answer for is using the stat boosters in the caravan. It’s intentional since they take a turn, and we feel that’s a valid choice considering it’s an action you might have to think about. If it is really annoying though we’ll definitely reconsider that!

Yeah I get what you mean, we haven’t full nailed down an atmosphere yet but we did consider having and not having shadows. We thought long shadows would be good to look like it’s taking place at dusk but we’ll have to work on them looking less indie-game-y lol

Actually I have a question for you since there’s a bit of internal debate within the team about this. Would you rather have the default keyboard control scheme be arrow keys to navigate or WASD?

Personally I prefer arrow keys since that’s what emulator defaults are, but I dunno if that’s the video game default.

By camera zoom I just meant the camera moving.

1 Like

Got it, thanks!

Played a little bit of it, had fun.

I’m a little concerned about the number of skills though. Each hero seems to start with 2, plus there’s an extra one on most weapons, and of course you get them from leveling up. I feel like very quickly this is going to get confusing. I can’t speak for other people, but I’ve played a ton of fire emblem, and planning around more than 2 or 3 skills per unit is exhausting. I forgot that healed allies got a small buff almost immediately, and I’m sure there were a few other skills I didn’t use properly.

Like, you cite Slay the Spire as an inspiration. Slay the Spire’s characters all start with one fairly simple passive ability, and most early relics are designed to either be one-and-done abilities (smooth stone, vajra, bottles, anchor) or marginal passives that help you throughout the run automatically (white beast statue, healing flower, etc.). The skills in this game are both more plentiful and more complex, and I wish there was something to ease the learning curve a bit, either a tutorial you could replay at any time, or maybe like a training wheels character that forgoes some of their skills for higher raw stats or some easier to understand bonuses. Just something to ease a newer player in and allow them to learn a few mechanics at a time

To be clear, I enjoyed my time with the demo and I will be watching with great interest for when the game comes out

1 Like

Maybe I’m biased because my arrow keys are broken but I 100% would prefer WASD. Maybe leave it as a customization option?

I played it and gave my feedback at the end. Good demo! I

like the experience mechanic, but I wonder if the fixed growths might hurt replayability (which is a huge deal in these kind of games). Units might feel the same, randomised skills and weapons might not give you enough variability. An important aspect in Fire Emblem is that sometimes you just get unlucky or lucky in some stats.

However, this isn’t some inherent problem. If you handle it well, you can make it work.

2 Likes

I enjoyed my experience with the demo, but the font is hard to read.

1 Like

If you wanna continue with the pixelated textures invoking the PSX era, I’d suggest forgoing global lighting shadows, only applying them locally on models. Environment shadows can be baked in, although that’d require much more effort, unfortunately. At the same time, vertex shading as with Vagrant Story would make environments much more vibrant without having to remake any textures or models.

Edit: To that end you’d probably want some sort of height map generator for terrain, just to make the battleground a bit less flat, since making it less flat otherwise would probably involve cluttering the space with props. The height map thingie I’m talking about is kinda like what you see when messing with WC3Edit. There’s probably a Unity plugin, even

2 Likes

Do I know you?

Hello, I’m a lurker here and around half a year ago I made a thread about a project a few friends and I are working on: a very-FE-y SRPG Roguelike. (Roguelite?) We had released a demo and were looking for feedback from the very design-inclined people on this forum. We were also featured in the last FEE3, which was great all around!

So what’s up now?

Well, it’s been a few months and now we’re back with another demo and looking for more feedback.

Link to the Demo Download/Steam Page

What’s different?

Aside from a bunch of new content, we’ve fully overhauled the game’s artstyle and UI.

Changes include:

  • New maps and objectives
  • New weapons and weapon types
  • New consumable items and potions
  • New skills
  • New “Memories”
  • New “?” events
  • Major rebalancing of combat and skills
  • More and harder difficulty levels
  • An introduction to the storytelling

So we’re asking how we did with the changes and how we can improve them even further.

More details:

Story and Narrative Design

One night, a prosperous archipelago was struck by a falling star, blanketing the isles in a memory-stealing fog. Those fortunate enough to leave the island report it being taken over by a cult-like force.

Take control of a Hero Unit and infiltrate the island to investigate the incident and accomplish your own personal goals.

The story follows the roguelike structure of starting from zero each time and can change depending on who you recruit and certain actions you take. Take the noble heiress to the throne as a leader and recruit a ne’er-do-well thief? You can probably expect some friction between these two characters and how that reveals parts of the overarching story and world that you wouldn’t get between two other characters.

Mechanics

It plays a lot like Fire Emblem! That’s kinda it :wink:

…but the structure is that of a modern Roguelike/lite like FTL or Into the Breach. We are also inspired by deckbuilders like Slay the Spire and Chrono Ark, but we don’t have cards. Instead you will be getting varied loot, recruitable “Militia” Units, and skills to add to your units.

It has all of your favourite Fire Emblem features, too:

  • Grid-based turn-based combat
  • Permadeath
  • A convoy/stockpile
  • Shops
  • Weapon triangle
  • Healing items that come in stacks of 3
  • Naive lordlings
  • A second weapon triangle
  • And no “rout the enemy” objective type!
Units and Classes

Your main form of power progression is building a team of units. Each unit has a specific class, base stats, growths, usable weapon types, and a name and a face :smiley:

However there are 2 types of units: Heroes and Militia.

  • Hero units are the sort of main characters. They have special weapons, abilities, growth rates, and art. They are like Lords.
  • Militia units build out your party. They can be a variety of different classes.

You start a run by picking a hero as a leader, and depending on who you pick, there will be some mechanical bonuses and a couple Militia in your starting party. You recruit militia within maps, and collect items for them as loot, in shops, or through random events on the world map.

Known Issues

This is still a beta, so you might run into some general jank, especially with regards to some of the controls and camera. If you are familiar with the alpha, this is a lot more stable. If your game locks up or does something really weird, please let us know so we can fix it!

Otherwise, the demo lacks a lot of content that would be in the full game, so despite being a roguelike, its replayability is kind of low. This is partially due to the fact that certain things are not done yet, some things are not designed yet, and some stuff hasn’t even been thought of yet. Additionally we feel if we give too much away for free, no one’s gonna want to buy the game when it comes out for real! Haha…

Oh also, there’s no controller support at the moment, sorry. This will definitely be in the full release and we’ll try to get it in a future demo.

The Future

We have a lot of plans to make the game the best it can be, but we think we could do a much better job with open and honest feedback. Previously, I had planned to ask design questions and spitball things more on this forum, but I found it really hard to word what I wanted to say since a post lacks the context that would be found by playing the game. So, here it is now!

Links

Demo Download/Steam Page
Dev Twitter
Discord, if you want to join

If you find yourself interested in the game, please also feel free to wishlist it!
Thanks in advance for your feedback, I really do hope you enjoy the game!

Screenshots that look better than last time






15 Likes

will try the new demo

1 Like

I enjoyed the new demo! The game ran well and the flow of tutorials had a comfortable pace. I think the direction that the game is going in is excellent!

We pushed another update to the demo with a lot more content and polish. It was also part of a digital expo, which was fun, but our true hearts are with FEE3 :pray:

8 Likes

I think I’m gonna download this demo today. :slight_smile: It looks fun and the graphics remind me of if we got an FE on Nintendo 64 and I love it. :sunny:

1 Like