We are quite excited about Cosmic Star Heroine from Zeboyd Games, so we thought it would be a good idea to find out more about it. We caught up with Robert Boyd from the studio to find out more.
Hi Robert, thanks for taking the time to talk to us! Can you tell us a little bit about how you got into developing games and Zeboyd Games?
I’ve wanted to make games ever since I was a kid, but I didn’t get seriously into game development until Microsoft started their Xbox Live Indie Games program. I started off with a couple of text-based adventure games before teaming up with Bill Stiernberg to form Zeboyd Games. Our first game was Breath of Death VII, which was followed by Cthulhu Saves the World, Penny Arcade’s On the Rain-Slick Precipice of Darkness 3 & 4, and now Cosmic Star Heroine.
We are talking today to find out more about Cosmic Star Heroine, you upcoming game. Can you tell us a little bit about it?
It’s a sci-fi RPG starring Alyssa L’Salle, a secret agent for the galactic empire who discovers a grave threat to humanity that she must stop, despite everything being stacked against her. It’s our own take on the late-era 16-bit RPG, inspired by games like Chrono Trigger, Phantasy Star IV, and Lunar: Eternal Blue, mixed liberally with our own style.
What sort of gameplay can gamers expect to encounter as they play?
Turn-based RPG goodness with some twists. For example, we have no MP system – instead most abilities can only be used once and then need to be recharge by using a defend-style command. We try hard for a strong foundation of accessibility (classic games like Chrono Trigger & Phantasy Star IV were very accessible compared to many modern RPGs) while not sacrificing depth.
Exactly how big is the game?
There are over twice as many maps/areas as our last game which was our biggest to date. We’re guessing the game will take about 20 hours to complete, but we won’t know for sure until it’s finished and thoroughly tested.
What made you want to bring the game to Vita?
The Vita is awesome and we’ve never released a true portable game before. Sony came to us wanting our next game on the PS4 so doing the Vita as well was a logical choice.
Have you experienced much difficulty executing your vision on the Vita? Have there had to be any compromises?
We got the game working almost flawless on the PS4 in under a day, however, the first day on the Vita was rough. We’re talking single-digit frame rate, crashes everywhere, the works. We had never really had to worry about optimization before since we were on systems with far more power than we needed for our retro-ish games. Once we started looking at our engine with a focus on efficiency, we discovered a number of places where we could improve things. It took hard work and several weeks, but we finally managed to get the performance on the Vita to where we wanted to. I’m sure if you compared the Vita version to the PS4 version side by side, the PS4 version would come out on top with raw performance, but everyone we’ve shown the Vita version off to has been really pleased with how great the game plays on the Vita.
No compromises – I think it’s going to be one of the highlights of the Vita’s library this year.
What are your thoughts on the Vita as a system? Have you been impressed by any other games?
I’m a huge fan of the Vita – next to my PC, it’s easily my favourite system to game on. Some of my favourite Vita games are Persona 4 Golden, DJ Max Technika Tune, and Gravity Rush.
Is there anything coming up that you like the look of on the Vita?
I’m really looking forward to all the Falcom games (going to doing a Trails marathon when I’m done with Cosmic Star Heroine) and Stranger of Sword City. A few of the indie games I’m looking forward to are Rain World, Salt & Sanctuary, and Heart Forth, Alicia.
Cosmic Star Heroine is not your first title. What are the chances of seeing your earlier projects arrive?
We’ve talked about the possibility of remakes or sequels/prequels to Breath of Death VII & Cthulhu Saves the World, but the games use a completely different engine than what we’re using for Cosmic Star Heroine so it wouldn’t make much sense to try to port them to the Vita (or any other platform for that matter). And with the Penny Arcade games, we have the unique situation of being responsible for the second half of a 4-part series so porting only half the series to Vita doesn’t seem like a great idea. In any case, we’d rather look forward to new titles than spend time porting our older stuff.
Our final question is a tricky one – which Vita model do you think is the best, the OLED or the Slim?
I’m still rocking an OLED, but if it ever breaks, I’m going to switch to the Slim since I’ve heard a lot of praise.
We would like to thank Robert for his time with this interview! Cosmic Star Heroine will be out later this year and is also getting a Limited Run Games release! Have you been keeping an eye on the game?
This article first appeared in April issue of The Vita Lounge Magazine. Look out for more exclusive and magazine first content in the magazine soon!