Astraverse was born from a desire to play a new Phantasy Star game on modern systems with anyone at any time. It’s also sort of a response to Sega’s “attempts” at trying to brainwash us into forgetting that anything called “Phantasy Star Online” ever happened in the West.
Before I go on–I want to be clear about something important:
This might not be a game for everyone.
Yeah, it’s an action RPG and yeah it’s definitely HEAVILY inspired by PSO and even the other Phantasy Star games. However, at it’s heart, it’s MY game and even though I want to release it and make a living from it for my wife and I during it’s development, it’s really the game that I want to make so I can play it and enjoy it. There are some features that I want to add to it that are unique and even the art style (at least for now) is something that I personally feel I want to use for the game. I’m the main programmer, music composer, developer, 2D artist, 2D animator and level designer on the project so if you have any suggestions, please don’t be rude about it and I promise I’ll listen but I can’t make promises right now that I’ll deliver on everything you’d like to see changed or added–at least, until the project is funded. I hope that makes sense and I really hope that doesn’t steer anybody away. I just know this game is going to be awesome–specifically and especially for someone who loves Phantasy Star.
One day, my brother and I were like “Hey, why don’t we just make ‘our own Phantasy Star?'” and then it just stuck–I’ve been working on it every since. We’re trying to make a game that we love to play but for everybody, too.
One of the goals is to take care of the main problems that Phantasy Star has always had. For example: One big problem with most Phantasy Star games that we remember fondly is the fact that they depend on MMO servers that always get shut down after a few short years.
Now, before anyone says anything, I know about the private servers for PSOBB. I already have accounts for some of those and I’ve played on a couple of those servers. PSU has a private server coming out, too. But, that looks like it’s going to take a LONG time to get up and FULLY running. PSO2 is never coming to the West. We have to face it. You can play it on the Japanese servers–but yeah–I’ve done that too. It’s quite the hassle–even for a hardcore fan such as myself.
The truth is that Phantasy Star is “server-dependent.” On the other hand, Astraverse will not be. One of the main goals with Astraverse is to keep multiplayer and cooperative play one of the core features without depending on (or even using) mmo servers. Capcom’s Monster Hunter series has been doing this for years by using local and host/join multiplayer systems. Phantasy Star Zero as well as Phantasy Star Portable and Portable 2 (all of which I’ve played) all used that same idea but that was only because they were on portable consoles.
I feel like it was done best on the Gamecube with Phantasy Star Online Ep. 1 & 2 where players had the choice of playing online or playing 4-player splitscreen offline mode. I mostly played the offline mode with that one and it was perfect because it was like playing an MMO but without the need of connecting to servers. You had this DEEP level and loot grinding experience that was totally offline and didn’t even need to be connected to another machine, another copy of the game, or the internet to play with up to 4 players.
The plan is to have all of this available in Astraverse. The direct host/join multiplayer and 4-player shared-screen cooperative play. No MMO server needed.
But, Phantasy Star Online isn’t the only game that Astraverse takes inspiration from. There’s also the original series on the Genesis as well as the games that came after Phantasy Star Online (all of which I’ve played as well).
Which brings me to another “issue” that some people have with PSO:
The lore for PSO was pretty deep and it was also pretty immersive. But, the main story was almost non-existent–at least when compared with the original Phantasy Star games on the genesis. It kind of irks me when I hear of people who loved the original games but didn’t enjoy PSO or the games after that–However–I sort of understand where the original series fans are coming from. PSO didn’t have a very engaging main-plot narrative–especially for single-player gaming.
Astraverse will have a main story that will work to not only FEEL immersive (for example: reminding players that they are not the only hero in the story but there are other characters out there–which are played by other players) but also have more depth and presentation–it won’t be a matter of just reading messages left in areas by a character you never see or going to the same NPC after every boss to be told what to do next.
PSU and the games after that all had pretty extensive cutscenes, dialogue, and overall narrative but in my opinion they seemed to lack the intrigue and mysterious feel of Phantasy Star Online and the original series.
My brother is writing the main story for Astraverse and I’m helping with lore. We’re aiming to bring back the overall “vibe” of PSO in the game–including it’s story. Like, for example: what if PSO had a deep single-player (or even multiplayer story?) I would imagine that it would be similar to the longer side missions (such as Seat of the Heart) but that’s exactly what we’ll explore in Astraverse.
There are also other games that Astraverse takes a little inspiration from (like Dragon’s Crown and Sonic Adventure) and I mentioned it a bit in the previous post but I’ll probably cover that a bit more in some later posts.
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