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Roll the Tape!

This week, we’re going to take a look at the ins and outs of monster transformation. Cassette tapes? Recording? What does it all mean?


Transformation

If you’ve been following so far, you’ll know that in the world of New Wirral, the residents transform using cassette players. Each cassette tape contains the essence of one monster form, that its listener can transform into to battle.

Transforming into a monster is the best way to fight back against the hostile monsters that roam this strange island! But how does one obtain new monster forms?

Recording

The built-in microphone on the cassette players can be used to record the essence of a wild monster. This isn’t straightforward and it comes with its own risks. In order to record a monster, you must return to human form – which means you are vulnerable to attack.

When you select the “Record” option in battle, you are given the option to choose a blank tape, and also the wild monster you wish to target. For the next turn of combat, the party member who is recording will return to human form, establishing a recording connection with the target.

Let’s try and record a copy of this monster! Wait… is this piracy?

A percentage meter will appear above the heads of the target – this displays the chance of a successful recording. This likelihood can be raised or lowered before the turn ends, and is influenced by several things:

  • The quality of the blank tape
  • How much HP they had when recording begins
  • How much damage is done to the target in rest of the turn
  • How much damage is done to the recorder in the rest of the turn

A successful recording will net you a new tape, and a new bestiary entry for your collection if you’ve not obtained this monster form before!

It may look cute, but the Thwackalope’s big makeshift club gives it access to some strong attacks.

That’s the gist of it! Whilst most monster forms can be obtained from wild monsters, there are some that you might have to add to your collection through other means.


Next Time

For our next blog post, we’ll look at the battle system with more depth, as well as how fusion works. Which begs the question – what does a fusion of Thwackalope and Bansheep look like?

As always, you can come chat to us on the official Discord and follow us on Twitter!
Until next time!

Home Sweet Home…?

We’re back from summer hiatus (and sunny weather) to take another dive into Cassette Beasts! In today’s blog post, we wanted to take a look at the world of the game.


New Wirral

The game is set on the island of New Wirral, a mysterious land inhabited by, as you might have guessed, beasts. The player begins the game having washed ashore on the beaches of New Wirral, and you soon learn of the predicament you are in.

New Wirral holds many environments, dangers and secrets. On your quest to find your way back home, you’ll explore the island at your own pace.

It must be said that there is nothing unique about your arrival – the other residents of the island also found their way there in the same way.

When the first people to find themselves on New Wirral arrived, they eventually founded a town – a town that stands to this very day! Which is…


Harbourtown

Harbourtown is the home for all residents of the island, and is a place you’ll be returning to often. Built as a community that accepts everyone, Harbourtown is a place you can:

  • Heal up without having to use wood for a campfire
  • Swap out your adventuring partner for another
  • Catch up on the latest town gossip
  • Exchange resources for new moves to use in battle
  • And more!

Rumors

In regards to gossip, the townsfolk will often have rumours to impart to you. These can tip you off about new monster locations, quests and other information that will help you explore the island!

Town Hall

The Town Hall is the HQ of the rangers, who help keep the island safe. Here you can unlock certain unique upgrades for your cassette player that help you in battle.

The residents of Harbourtown may be strangers at first, but the more you get to know them, the more you’ll learn about this strange world you’ve found yourself in!


That’s all for this blog! If you have any further questions, why not join our growing Discord community? There you can get the latest info on Cassette Beasts, as well as participate in exclusive events and gameplay streams!

We have lots of exciting news coming soon, so keep your eyes peeled!

Fusion System Highlight & New Gameplay Showcase Trailer

In our last Steam Blog we talked about the in-depth fusion system, a powerful game system that allows you to fuse two different monster forms into a unique fully-animated sprite combination. This system can generate over fourteen thousand unique fusions that will allow you as a player to fully customize your team to fit your unique style!

As part of the Guerrilla Collective digital games showcase we now have more details and new gameplay footage to share!

Click the Wishlist and Follow buttons on Cassette Beasts’ store page to help support us! You can also join our growing Discord community to be a part of exclusive streams, Q&A sessions, and keep abreast of the latest info.

Gameplay Session

Hi folks! On Friday Jay and I hosted a streamed gameplay session of Cassette Beasts on our Discord server. If you missed it, the event was recorded and can now been seen on our YouTube channel:

Shown in this stream was:

  • The opening of the game
  • Character creation options
  • One of the two starters monsters!
  • How to record a monster
  • Voice acting

We also talked about mechanics and some general design philosophy.

If you like what you see, wishlist and follow Cassette Beasts on Steam, and join our Discord to be part of the next stream!

While you’re here, if you missed it back in March, we released a new trailer showing off some of the cosy vibes of New Wirral:

We also showed off a new monster: Puppercut.

Technical Look: The Park

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!

New Wirral Park, the first major open area you arrive at after the tutorial in Cassette Beasts.

Design

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.

The high-level design of the overworld, an island called New Wirral. Spoilery bits are blurred out! The rest of this post focuses on the New Wirral Park area.

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!

The flow network for New Wirral Park, showing the unique paths through the area.

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!

Using Godot

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!

Don’t worry about the shadow person. He’s just helpfully marking the position of a quest spawner in the editor! He won’t show up in-game.

Thanks for reading! As always don’t forget to wishlist Cassette Beasts and join our Discord community! Finally, if you want to see New Wirral Park in action, check out the video we tweeted out back in September:

Quoth the Raven, Nevermort

Hi everyone, I’ve got two new monsters to show you this week!

Nevermort, the plague-bearer.

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.

Allseer, the curious watcher.

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.

That’s all for this week. As always, don’t forget to wishlist Cassette Beasts, join the growing community on our Discord server, and keep up with Cassette Beasts news on Twitter! Catch you all later!

Unwind & Rewind

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… 💕

If you’re excited for Cassette Beasts, make sure to head over to our Steam page and wishlist the game! We hope to have some big announcements coming sooner rather than later, so stay tuned! You can follow us on Twitter, and join our growing Discord community!

Collecting Stickers

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.

This ‘rare’ version of Shield Bash also puts the target to sleep.

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!

Inflame is a ranged Fire-type attack. This one has two uncommon attributes that work really well together: one increases the damage dealt by critical hits, while the other guarantees a critical hit when you’re at a type advantage (in addition to the usual debuffs type advantaged-attacks inflict).

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!

Palangolin

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.

Palangolin, the heroic paladin pangolin.

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!

A Fight To The Glitter End

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!

Glitter-type bootleg Dandylion transmutes Dominoth.

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!