Hey folks! We wanted to show off a bit of how Cassette Beasts operates “under the hood”. Putting together a game like this with only two full-time developers is no easy feat, so we wanted to show a bit of our process, and how we’re able to use technology and software to put it all together!
All our level design starts at the top, with a “high-level” (i.e. low detail) design for the entire overworld. There are many reasons for this, but mostly we’re very aware that with the scale of the world we have planned, small mistakes can add up to a mountain of work at the end. More up-front planning helps us avoid those mistakes.
Although Cassette Beasts is a 3D game (or 2.5D if you like), the fixed camera angle and grid-based terrain mean that maps are mostly designed as if for a 2D top-down game.
The overworld is split the world up into a grid of 16×8 evenly-sized chunks of 32×32 tiles to make it manageable. For reference, that makes the size of New Wirral equal to two of Hyrule from A Link to the Past side-by-side. We’re not Nintendo, we’re just two guys, so we necessarily have to be cautious with how we spend our time. For that reason, a lot of our design iteration takes place in PNGs and on paper before anything is implemented into the game!
A second reason to plan a high level design holistically like this is that we want Harbourtown to function as a sort of hub that the player will revisit over and over. One of the ways we plan to achieve that is to design the world as a series of concentric loops that converge on the town. Like Rome, all most roads lead to Harbourtown!
We can only ensure those concentric loops become traversable if we figure out how the chunks fit together ahead of time. That’s how the “high-level” design helps us.
From that high-level design, we drill down to more detailed sketches of individual areas. These go through several reviews and iterations before we commit to a design. New Wirral Park especially went through many iterations, both because it’s early in the game, and because it acts as a gateway to 4-5 other areas. It was important to get it to feel like an interesting location with lots of things to do and discover.
A typical way we evaluate a design is by tracing out the flow network. More routes through the area–especially loops and one-way paths–give it a sense of “having a lot of stuff”. This was a trick we picked up by analysing other games. Using the A Link to the Past example again (a frequent point of reference for us!), Hyrule manages to feel big despite being only 256 tiles wide. You could walk across it in a minute or two if there was nothing in your way–and that’s exactly the thing: barriers create the feeling of the space!
If New Wirral Park was basically flat with no barriers, you’d pass through it in 30 seconds, see barely 10% of it, and never look back. What the barriers do is set up alternative paths, which creates player choice, and a reason to backtrack. The loops these paths set up serve to gently guide the player back towards the paths they missed.
Of course, it goes without saying that each path must also have something to make it worth travelling!
Since we announced the project, we’ve made no secret of the fact that we’ve been using Godot to develop it. Godot has many advantages (and disadvantages) over the alternatives, but one thing we’ve really enjoyed using is its GridMaps.
GridMaps work sort of like 3 dimensional versions of tilemaps used in 2D games. They’re a great way to rapidly build a map up from a collection of meshes. They automatically batch draw calls for their meshes, and make setting up the physics of tiles super easy. My only complaint about GridMaps is the lack of autotiling, but that’s something we’ve learned to live with.
To go with our pixel art characters, the 3D model “tiles” are made in a voxel editor. We use Qubicle, which exports to Godot with little issue. Since we don’t have autotiling, we have to manually place tiles for use cases such as corners, transitions between tile “theme” (eg. grass, snow) and so on. Because we use lots of “pixel art textures”, getting the tiles to look right when next to each other is fairly straightforward. I’m not sure how easy creating seamless textures like this would be in a game with a more “realistic” art style, but the gridmaps work out well for us at least!
As mentioned, our overworld is split up into many chunks to keep things manageable. Another important reason for this is to keep the game’s memory and CPU usage down. We have a script that monitors the player’s position on the overworld and is responsible for loading, instancing, and adding visible chunks to the scene.
The script works to a limited extent in the editor too, so we can preview the chunks we’re working on in the context of the chunks surrounding them.
Using Godot has helped us in two ways here: writing engine plugins is super simple; and having access to the source code has allowed me to optimise GridMap’s code for our use case.
We usually wait to add detail like puzzles, chests, and spawners until after we’re basically happy with the shape of the GridMap. Decorations like grass and trees are typically placed later on. Doing things in this order helps keep us from having to constantly reposition the decorations!
Hi everyone, I’ve got two new monsters to show you this week!
Nevermort, the poison-type bird, is a pest common to the south of the island of New Wirral. Nevermort are most feared for their disease-spreading dive-bombing of passersby, and cacophonous squawks, but also pose a minor nuisance on Piper Farm in the west. Regardless, it’s best not to get on their bad side if you don’t want to be outnumbered–they’re known for calling to each other for help when in need!
It must be noted that the Nevermort does not have a beak—rather, it is wearing what appears to be a porcelain plague doctor mask. What face lies beneath the mask is something better left undiscovered.
Whether the metal-type Allseer is a machine from elsewhere, or a creature native to New Wirral is impossible to tell. Allseer are mostly seen at night, around large bodies of water and dense forests, hovering several meters off the ground. They get their name from their unnerving behaviour, wherein they appear to silently observe passing humans with a single unblinking scarlet “eye”. Their motivations, and their underwater activities, remain a mystery.
Hey folks! This week we’re showing off another new monster from Cassette Beasts!
Southpaw is a fast-moving, fast punching metal-type beast. Their bodies are coated with a lightweight and flexible metal that allow them to withstand attacks and deliver swift attacks. Unlike Palangolin, which use heavy armour plating and long-range weapons to fight, transforming into Southpaw gives you a lightweight and aggressive form that allows for a more agile approach to battle.
It makes you wonder: what if Palangolin and Southpaw fused in battle?
While most of the monsters in Cassette Beasts are designed in-house at Bytten Studio, Southpaw was designed for us by character artist Sami Briggs (Smai). Sami has drawn some really cool art for the project, and Southpaw’s pixel art sprite was drawn based on her initial concept below:
When asked about her thoughts when designing Southpaw, Sami said: “I love creating things that look cool, sharp and sometimes exaggerated, so I really wanted to design a beast that represents my style and tastes! I felt a half-wolf, half-robot boxer would be an interesting combo that best reflected what I was after!”
All good adventurers need time to rest, and what better way to chill out than by sitting down to chat with your companion? In Cassette Beasts, when you need to heal up, you’ll locate a campfire to sit down at, and spend some quality time with your travelling partner!
The campfire spots across New Wirral mark areas that it’s safe to set up camp. At these locations, you’ll get a chance to heal yourself, rewind your tapes, and transfer tapes in and out of storage.
Spending time with your buddy strengthens your relationship with them. Strong friendships create strong fusions, so this is not something to be underestimated. And who knows, maybe it’ll lead to something more… 💕
Hey folks! Today I’m going to run you through how you’ll be able to configure your monster tapes with new moves and abilities! Scroll down if you’re just here to check out the new beast, Palangolin.
In Cassette Beasts you’ll fight by using your cassette tapes to transform into the monsters you’ve recorded. At first, your tapes won’t have many moves to use in battle, but as you spend more time using them they’ll unlock new ones. If you don’t like the moves a tape gets by default you can always replace them using stickers! A move you don’t want can be peeled off as a sticker, freeing up an empty slot for you to put a different move sticker down!
You’ll get move stickers in a few ways (including by peeling them off of other tapes), but what’s important is that you can always easily peel and apply them to customise your combat abilities. In some ways, finding a good set of stickers is just as important as finding a good set of tapes. Not all stickers are compatible with all tapes of course, so if a particular strategy you have in mind requires certain moves, you may need to take that into consideration when choosing your tapes.
Some stickers provide a passive ability instead of a regular attack. And some stickers affect which branch your tape will take when evolved. So they’re pretty useful things with wide variety of effects!
Occasionally, you’ll come across a sticker marked as ‘Uncommon’ or ‘Rare.’ These stickers come with added randomised attributes that provide bonuses over the regular ‘Common’ version of the sticker, such as increased damage, or a chance to provide a buff, or inflict a debuff.
Here are some more examples (click to zoom):
Smack is a basic attacking move that costs no AP. You’ll use this when you’re saving up AP for your big attacks. In addition, it’s typeless, so here it’s getting the Plastic type from my Traffikrab.
This version of Smack has two uncommon attributes: one that will sometimes let your attack go before others, and one that gives you a higher critical hit rate the more sticker slots you leave empty. Fully upgraded and evolved tapes have up to 8 sticker slots, so this is quite good!
AP Refund is a passive ability, a kind of move that you don’t use manually, but is triggered automatically by certain conditions. This AP Refund sticker has one uncommon (green) and one rare (blue) attribute. The uncommon attribute increases the chance of AP Refund taking effect after I use another move. The rare one passively increases my Melee Attack stat by 3%. As long as I have the tape and the sticker equipped my Melee Attack stat is higher!
Elemental Wall is a status effect move that a lot of monsters can get access to. It creates a wall in front of the user can block incoming hits for a while. There are various ways of countering walls with type chemistry, multi-hit attacks and so on, but what’s interesting here is its rare attribute: it has a chance to automatically be used (for free) at the start of battle!
And that’s just a taste of the moves and attributes available! So far the game has more than 170 moves with plans for more, and over 60 different kinds of attributes.
Rare and uncommon stickers can be obtained by upgrading your tapes through combat, and from certain chests and merchants. Bootleg monsters have a slightly higher chance of unlocking rare and uncommon stickers when upgraded!
You might have noticed a new monster in the video above. It’s Palangolin, chivalric knight of principles and honour. Palangolins wield striking golden halberds, which they use to defend their allies in the heat of battle.
Finally, in case you missed them, here are a couple of little videos we’ve tweeted over the last few weeks–including a quick look at the bestiary, and a timelapse of the day-night cycle! And hey, while you’re here, don’t forget to wishlist Cassette Beasts on Steam!
What is the creature that shuffles across the empty expanse of a long-abandoned mall? The being which saunters onwards endlessly, despite losing much of its polyester stuffing? Some say you can occasionally hear them crying–but perhaps that’s just the sound they make when they’re devouring some unlucky soul with their zipper maws.
Mascotoy proves that plastic-type beasts aren’t all fun and games. Once some sort of character costume, the Mascotoy is now closer to a shambling corpse. Whilst it’s slow, you wouldn’t want to be on the pointy end of its oversized claw. Perhaps if one were to record it, however, this unnerving entity would make for a formidable form to take in battle.
We’ve got some big and exciting Cassette Beasts news to announce soon, so you should keep an eye on our Twitter page! We’ll sometimes show off some exclusive looks at the game there, such as this sneak peek at the character creation:
Happy new year everyone! I hope you all managed to get some rest and keep safe over the holidays. Today I want to celebrate the shiny new year by showing you a shiny new visual effect!
We introduced Cassette Beasts’ Glitter type back in our Elemental Chemistry post. If you want more info about the types go back and check out that post, but otherwise here’s a quick summary:
There are 14 elemental types in Cassette Beasts, including some you’d expect, such as Fire and Water, and some you wouldn’t, such as Plastic and Glass. Out of all of them, the strangest is Glitter.
Type match-ups in Cassette Beasts produce status effects that can be either buffs or debuffs depending on which type is strong against which. In some cases the status effect can temporarily ‘transmute’ (change) the target’s elemental type. An example is Fire melting Ice-type into Water-type.
The Glitter type is unique in that it transmutes all types to Glitter (and is transmuted by all types). It kind of emulates glitter in real life–once glitter gets onto something everything that thing touches gets covered in glitter too! Tactically, it can be used when your monsters’ types put you at a disadvantage, but can go quite wrong if you get the turn order wrong and are hit with glitter yourself!
There are no natural Glitter-type monsters so your options for making use of Glitter are to obtain the Glitter Bomb attack, or to find and record a rare bootleg monster.
Bootleg monsters are monsters with alternative color schemes, types and movesets. They have a very low spawn rate, so are sort of analogous to ‘shinies’ in other games. Although normally Plant-type, the Dandylion in the GIF above is a Glitter-type bootleg, making it a literally shiny shiny!
Hey folks, here’s a little look at what I’ve been working on since last week: caves! Before I go into much detail though, keep in mind that Cassette Beasts is still under development and anything mentioned here could change before its release.
Side quests in Cassette Beasts can often take you to caves in any part of the island of New Wirral. Caves can be entered at any time though, so if you’re looking for valuable resources, rare monsters, or just new routes and shortcuts across the island, you may want to explore them anyway.
The contents of caves vary a lot. Some simply contain one of the caches the rangers leave around to encourage exploration. Others contains puzzles to solve, or test your skill with your movement abilities!
But one thing all caves have in common is that they’re inhabited by some quite fearsome monsters. Rogue Fusions–minibosses that are half one monster and half another–can be found here. These ferocious beasts attack on sight, and when they get to the surface can cause drastic weather and ecological disturbances. Part of the reason the rangers were set up in New Wirral was to keep these creatures under control!
Defeating a rogue fusion splits it into its two component monsters, who will then be able to have a chance at regular monster life.
Rogue fusions are a good source of bootleg monsters to record for your tape collection. Bootlegs have altered colour schemes, types, and movesets. Having one in your party can open up a ton of new battle strategies!
There are several much more substantial dungeons (and bosses!) to find around New Wirral, but we’ll write about those another time.
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