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Cassette Beasts

Hi folks! It’s Tom and Jay of Bytten Studio here! You might have seen our previous release as a studio: Lenna’s Inception–a procedurally-generated action-adventure RPG, with a branching narrative and two complete art styles. Other games we’ve worked on include Stardew Valley, Starbound and Wargroove!

Today we’re revealing our new project: Cassette Beasts. This has been in the works since late last year–keeping it quiet all this time has been quite a challenge to say the least! So without further ado…

Grab your cassette player, it’s time to transform!

Collect awesome monster forms to use during turn-based battles in our indie open-world RPG. Combine any two monster forms using Cassette Beasts’ Fusion System to create unique and powerful new ones!

Welcome to New Wirral, a remote island inhabited by creatures you’ve only dreamed of, nightmares you hopefully haven’t, and a cast of brave folks who use cassette tapes to transform for battle. To find a way home you’ll need to explore every inch of the island, and record monsters to tape to gain their abilities!

Transform into monsters using… retro cassette tapes?!
Faced with the constant threat of monster attacks, the residents of Harbourtown, New Wirral choose to fight fire with fire. Record a monster to tape, then play it back to take on its form for battle!

Fuse monster forms
Getting close to your companion has benefits–while transformed you can combine your strengths to gain the upper handle in battle! Any two monster forms can be fused to produce unique, fully-animated new fusion forms.

Explore a rich open world
Certain monster abilities can be used in human form. You’ll need these to help you get around, solve puzzles, and locate dungeons. Glide, fly, swim, climb, dash, go invisible, or turn magnetic!

Travel alongside a diverse cast of human companions
Never fight alone! Form bonds, spend time together, and help your selected partner complete personal goals to become a better team. The strength of your relationship determines how well you’re able to fuse!

Master a deep battle system
Take advantage of elemental chemistry to apply extra buffs or debuffs alongside your attack, or even alter your opponent’s elemental type!

🌟 Coming to Windows & Linux! Consoles TBC 🌟
Price & Release Date: TBA

Cassette Beasts is something of a dream game for us. We can’t wait to share it with you all! 🙂

We’re currently looking for funding and publishing partners. If you’re as excited about Cassette Beasts as we are, you can help spread the word by sharing this post!

PS. For anyone wondering if this announcement changes it–the 1.1 update we announced for Lenna’s Inception is still on the way.

Fusion

Fusion is our headline feature for Cassette Beasts. It’s something that is so rarely available in the monster-collecting genre, but frequently requested by the fanbase! There are so many pieces of awesome Pokémon fusion fan art out there…

To get a feel for how Cassette Beasts’ fusions look, and what sort of variety you get out of just 6 basic monsters, check out our interactive online demo. In the final game we estimate there will be 120 basic monsters, which gives us a total of 120², or 14,400, unique fusions. If you include all of the bootlegs as well–rare monsters with alternative palettes, types and learnsets–the total comes to… a lot more: 2.8 million. (Caveat: specific numbers are quite likely to change before release!)

Springbomb
Pomrattle

Big numbers are all well and good, but what does fusion actually mean to the gameplay?

Fusion works like a temporary evolution during battle. After transforming your player character and companion into monsters, you can fuse them into a single battler! For the remainder of the battle (or until you un-fuse) the two characters work as one, with dual typing, combined stats, and access to both sets of moves.

Fusion works in tandem with several other systems in the game:

  • Relationships
  • Action points
  • Procedural bosses

Relationships

When you battle in Cassette Beasts, you’re not fighting alone. There are several companion characters you can meet and travel with. By completing personal tasks for your companion you can improve your relationship with them. The strength of your relationship determines whether you can fuse, and how strong your fusion is!

In fact, Fusion Power, the most powerful attack in the game, can only be used by maxing out your relationship and then fusing. Fusion Power’s exact effects vary depending on which two monsters you’ve combined.

Stardibomb

Action points

In a lot of turn-based RPGs, attacks cost a certain amount of a resource to use. This resource is often called something like stamina, MP or PP. Designers use these costs to encourage you to do some tactical decision making. Spamming your highest-power attack every time is boring, after all! Unfortunately, the designers are not always successful at achieving this.

In Pokémon, PP doesn’t matter at all unless you’re in a long dungeon or facing the Elite Four. Even then, recent games are so generous with Ethers and Elixirs that you don’t ever have to worry about running out of PP. During the story, it’s pointless to use anything other than your highest-power damaging moves.

Games with MP systems often run into this too. Eventually you level up enough that your MP limit or your MP regeneration rate is so high that you never need to use anything other than your highest power spell. Instead of giving you more options and more challenging tactical decisions, the game effectively takes options away as you progress because using anything other than your highest-power attack is pointless.

To work around this, some developers add cooldowns on top of MP or PP systems, but IMHO this is inelegant. It can be needlessly tiresome to plan several turns ahead when you have to consider cooldowns as well as points.

Dandykrab

For Cassette Beasts, we’re taking inspiration from board games–we’ve chosen a variation on Action Points.

Battle starts with every character on 0 AP. At the start of each round everyone gains 2 AP (up to their maximum). Then, they can all choose one move to use that turn. Each move costs a certain amount of AP: lower-power attacks are cheap (or free), while high-power ones can cost as much as 10 AP.

Every turn you’re faced with the decision of whether to save or spend your AP. Balanced around AP like this, every move in the game has its place in the battle system. There are no useless moves, because the weaker, cheaper moves let you save up AP for your big attacks.

A legitimate criticism of AP systems is that they can make battles slow. This would be a major problem for a game that bombards the player with repetitive random encounters, but that’s not our intent anyhow.

So anyway, when you’re fused you gain the same total amount of AP (i.e. 4 AP) each turn. However since it’s all on one character now, you build up points towards your most powerful attacks quicker.

Fusing lets you unleash more powerful attacks sooner. It’s such a little thing, but it makes a huge change to the feeling of fusion battles!

Procedural bosses

The player character is not the only one who can use fusion–certain NPCs can as well! And one plan we have for late- and post-game content involves creating boss fights out of fused monsters.

(We have pretty wild ideas for non-procedural bosses too. If you’ve played our other game Lenna’s Inception and liked the bosses there, you won’t be disappointed!)

Springgrade

Anyway, that’s all I want to share for now. Let us know what you think in the comments and don’t forget to share this post if you enjoyed it! ❤︎

Monsters

Hi folks! Wondering what monsters you’ll meet in Cassette Beasts? I’m here to reveal the first six!

Traffikrab

Please meet our first Plastic-type monster, Traffikrab!

For decades, plastic traffic cones have been washing up on the shores of New Wirral, which doesn’t have much actual traffic itself! Nature was quick to take advantage of this plastic waste. However, I don’t think I could tell you what the ‘krabs look like without the cone.

Traffikrabs can be found on beaches, and near the Cast Iron Shore.

Out in the world, Traffikrabs have quite a temper. Thankfully they’re less active at night.

Traffikrab’s signature move is Traffic Jam, which reduces the speed of all the other fighters in the battle.

Traffikrab is also known to possess:

  • Undertow: target’s priority and turn order are reversed.
  • Inflame: a weak, ranged Fire-type attack.
  • Water Coating: changes the target’s type to Water.

Dandylion

Type: Plant

Dandylions are loyal, defensive guardians. They’re typically found standing at the entrances to important caves in the grassy plains of New Wirral. If you find one with no cave nearby, it may be a hint that something is hidden!

Dandylion’s signature move is Cotton-On, a move that guarantees the next attack to target it will miss.

Dandylion is also known to possess:

  • Elemental Wall: creates a wall of the user’s type, which will block a certain number of incoming hits.
    • More information about how walls work in Cassette Beasts will be shared at a later date.
  • Doc Leaf: gives the target Healing status.
  • Snooze Spore: puts the target to sleep.
    • More information about how sleep works in Cassette Beasts will be shared at a later date.

Masquerattle

Type: Poison

Masquerattle is a real mean creature. With its high speed and highly offensive learnset, it’s definitely not something you want to accidentally tread on.

Masquerattle’s signature move is Hydra, a move that raises the user’s Melee Attack every time it takes damage.

Masquerattle is also known to possess:

  • Action Steal: reduces the target’s AP by one, and raises the user’s by one.
  • Revenge Strike: a passive, weak attack that has a small chance to automatically be used whenever the owner takes damage.
  • Parry Stance: reflects damage received that turn.

Pombomb

Type: Fire

Pombomb is a lovable, but dumb beast. Some residents of Harbourtown used to keep them as pets, but their tendency to cause fires means most are now unfortunately feral.

Pombomb’s signature move is Dog Years, which doubles the remaining duration of the status effects on the target.

Pombomb is also known to possess:

  • Hot Potato: plants a bomb on the target that will explode at the end of their next turn, if it is not passed on by a melee attack.
  • Sure-Fire: gives the target Locked On status, which guarantees their next attack will hit, regardless of accuracy and evasion.
  • Zoomies: a weak Beast-type melee attack with priority (i.e. it always goes first, before all other moves that don’t have priority, regardless of each fighter’s Speed stat).

Springheel

Type: Beast

Springheel gets its name from its surprising resemblance to Victorian London reports of Spring-heeled Jack. Springheel is an imp-like creature that hunts by shocking its prey into fainting. It can be found behind trees, large rocks, and inside your closet at night.

Springheel’s signature move is Jump Scare, an attack that has a 50% chance to cause its target to flinch.

Springheel is also known to possess:

  • Deja Vu: gives the user Multistrike status. With this status, each move the user selects gets used twice if there is enough AP for it.
  • Bish Bash Bosh: a medium-strength typeless attack that hits the entire opposing team.
  • Dodge: raises the user’s Evasion stat.

Stardigrade

Type: Astral

I know what this looks like. There’s no need to say it out loud!

Do you ever wonder what happens to the tardigrades that survive their journeys through space? After re-hydration they get bigger, stronger, and marginally more intelligent. Meet Stardigrade, master of both meditation and hibernation.

Stardigrade’s signature move is Hibernate, a move that puts the user to sleep and heals 25% of its maximum HP every turn that it’s asleep.

Stardigrade is also known to possess:

  • Meditate: a move that puts the user to sleep and increases all its attack and defense stats every turn that it’s asleep.
  • Mind-Meld: provides the user’s ally with access to all the moves the user has (except for Mind-Meld).
  • Spear of Longinus: a medium-power Astral-type ranged attack that cannot be evaded.

That’s all for today! We’ll be posting more about the monsters in Cassette Beasts in due time… Let us know what you think in the comments, and please share this post if you like it! 🙏

Chemistry

We’ve covered the Fusion System already, which allows you to combine any two monster forms into a more powerful form during battle. Now I want to give you some detail on the chemistry system in Cassette Beasts.

So what is chemistry? In Cassette Beasts, chemistry replaces the systems of type effectiveness you typically see in RPGs. Instead of providing numerical damage multipliers, type match-ups generate different status effects. These status effects can be beneficial to you if you get it right, or to your opponent if you get it wrong!

Type match-ups

In Cassette Beasts, every monster has one elemental type, and every attack has one elemental type. There are 14 types in Cassette Beasts, which you can see in the type chart below. Some of them might feel familiar, while others might seem bizarre!

Plastic and Glass types are as you’d expect; they’re made possible by the chemistry system. ‘Astral’ is our paranormal / space / cosmic type. And as for Glitter, read on…

This chart might change a lot before release

So how do you read this chart? Basically, after an attack lands on a monster, the type of the attack and the defending monster are compared. One of four things can happen, depending on the color of the cell:

  • Green: the defender gets a buff (the attack was ‘weak’ against them). A buff is a positive status effect, which might increase the defender’s stats, or give it a temporary immunity or healing effect.
    Example: using a Fire-type move on a Water-type monster gives it a shroud of steam that passively heals it.
  • Red: the defender gets a debuff (the attack was ‘strong’ against them). A debuff is a negative status effect, which might do something like reduce the defender’s stats or drain its health over several turns.
    Example: using a Water-type move on a Fire-type monster extinguishes it, reducing its Melee and Ranged Attack stats.
  • Yellow: the defender is transmuted, changing its type. Different chemistry will apply the next time they’re hit!
    Example: using a Fire-type move on a Plastic-type monster melts the monster, transmuting it into Poison-type.
  • Blank: no extra effect.

To gain the advantage in battle, you’ll want to land as many debuffs onto your opponent as possible, while avoiding having debuffs placed onto you. You can change your type (through chemistry, switching form, or using certain moves) to trick your opponent into giving you a buff. Or in a pinch, you can deliberately hit your ally with a weak attack to give them a quick buff!

Pombomb’s Fire-type attack melts Plastic-type Traffikrab into Poison–a transmutation.

Understanding the system

If you’re used to Pokémon, and expect to understand the entirety of the system from the beginning of the game, it might seem daunting to have to learn every individual status effect that can be produced! That’s because in Pokémon, in order to battle competently, you do have to master the type effectiveness system–i.e. learn it entirely. In Cassette Beasts, competence and mastery are two separate steps.

In Cassette Beasts you can competently use the chemistry system by just knowing where the green, red and yellow cells are on the type chart. However there is always a tactical advantage to be gained by mastering it–learning each individual effect. This might only come to you much later in your experience with the game!

And of course the game helps you find your way around this by previewing the effects of your attack.

After you choose an attack, the target menu previews the chemistry effect with icons. The ring below the selected target glows red for debuffs, green for buffs, and yellow for transmutations or mixed effects.

I can’t be the only person to find a game boring after I’ve learned how its systems works. Anything that delays mastery until later can only help the game keep some level of mystery. 😉

Typeless moves

OK, I lied earlier when I said each monster and each move has only one type. Fusions have two types (although this might change), and certain common moves are typeless.

Typeless moves such as Smack, the basic melee attack, and Spit, the basic ranged attack, inherit their typing from the monster that uses them. So a Fire-type monster using Smack deals Fire damage, while a Water-type monster using Smack deals Water damage.

This adds a little more versatility to the chemistry system. You can change your own type to better land debuffs on your opponent, or defensively change your opponent’s type to turn their attacks into ones that deliver you buffs.

Glitter type?? WTF

If you’re wondering what that row of yellow in the type chart is, here’s a hint: think about what happens to things you touch for weeks after you get hit with a glitter bomb. Yes, that’s right, they get covered in glitter too!

That’s how it works in Cassette Beasts: anything you hit with a Glitter-type attack becomes Glitter-type itself. The column of yellow, where Glitter is defending does the opposite: Glitter-type monsters change type to whatever the type of the attack they received was.

There are no natural Glitter-type monsters, and there is only one Glitter-type attack: Glitter Bomb. This is a move you might use when the chemistry system puts you at a severe disadvantage against your opponent, or if you just like making a sticky, sparkly mess and irritating everybody.

Glass actually is another fun type, but we’ll go over that another time.

Chemistry vs damage multipliers

I mentioned delaying mastery as one advantage of this chemistry system, but there actually several reasons we’ve decided to try this out:

  • It helps give certain types and monsters strong personality. Glass, Glitter and Plastic all have really strong personalities thanks to the mini mechanical narratives that can be told with chemistry effects.
  • It encourages synergistic strategies with your partner. With the right choice of types, monsters and moves you gain access to a huge set of status effects to inflict, even though you might only have a few moves between you!

And finally, a lot of the decisions we’re making for the battle system come down to whether it helps us balance the battle system in the context of an open world game. Frequently, we’re finding that part of the answer is shifting slightly away from purely vertical (i.e. numerical) progression, and towards systems mastery and horizontal systems of progression.

Anyway, I hope that all makes sense, and sounds interesting to you. Let us know what you think in the comments. And don’t forget to share this post if you like it! 🙏