Cyberstep Needs to Up their Game for CosmicLeague Part 1 – Reflection on CosmicBreak

CosmicLeague is a Futuristic PvP-based Third Person Shooter with Mecha and Mecha Musume developed by Cyberstep. I’ve played its prequel, CosmicBreak, ever since the first beta test of the English server (CBEN) was released and I really liked its concept however, as time went on the game was mismanaged and many players left in droves. I remember there were 6 channels and there would be over 1000 players in Channel and the hustle and bustle of the lobby while people waited to play the Arena, those were the good times I’ve had with the game but those times didn’t last. The game fell into the trap of becoming yet another Japanese F2P title with a Pay2Win business model in over 90% of anything you wanted to buy everything decided by the discretion of RNGesus. The people I used to play with disappeared and were never to be seen again, and today the server barely even reaches 150 players at any given moment. Just how could such a tragedy happen to this game? What lessons can there be learned so that CosmicLeague will succeed?

Many Japanese F2P titles often monetize through a luck of a draw, in which you pay a certain amount of in game paid currency and you get a random prize. CosmicBreak was no exception, it had the Garapon which was dreaded by the entirety of the English community (CBEN). All of the new characters were always Overpowered, and were released as the highest grade prizes of each Garapon. Often if you wanted to get what you want, you had to pay hundreds of dollars to get the top prize but even then it won’t guarantee you success. The Garapon swallowed money like a greedy pig and spat out mediocre prizes and it relunctantly gives away its gold from time to time while you listened to that dreaded tune, I fucking hate that tune. You see people feeling jealous of those who can afford to gamble their money away, while those who spent so much money and still weren’t able to get their prize felt betrayed by the game, especially when someone paid only $10 and got what they wanted straight away. Given the overpowered nature of each individual top gold ball character, people who used them were often ridiculed by the elitists who used mecha characters which had interchangable parts as opposed to the “pre-built” gold-ball characters which only require tuning. With all this jealousy and the insults being thrown everywhere, the community became one of the most toxic I’ve ever seen.

Speaking of tuning, it’s the enhancing system that allows you tune upgrade your character stats, and add special status effects which activate during certain conditions. The way this is done is that each component on your character (Arms, Legs, Head, Boosters, Weapons) had up to 3 “slots” which would contain your tune. Tunes were also chance based, and if you ever failed a tune, you can break a slot and you will never be able to use that slot again, nor can you fix it. There were these items called “slot protectors” which stops your slots from being broken, and the Alpha versions disappear after 1 use regardless of outcome while the Omega versions are reusable until a tune fails. There were also items called “Harmonics” which you can use to boost your success of the tune succeeding but whether or not these actually work, are quite questionable. All slot protectors and the better harmonics which gave extra 20% or more chance of success were not free to obtain, you had to pay real money to buy them which made it difficult to fully enhance any characters you get. The free players did not have the luxury of having a fully-tuned character and thus could not keep up with the paying players.

The rate of the updates where shockingly fast as well, as the developers rushed content in order to keep making bucket loads of money before they could even think about balancing. Not that they wanted to because they thought that nerfing the overpowered characters is betraying the customer. With each additional release, the power creep kept inflating and in the meta kept shifting so erratically that it was impossible to keep up. Every new character had new gimmicks and tricks up their sleeves that it was a nightmare to keep track of any new mechanics and status effects, I can’t even remember the last time I could recall all of the human characters’ names. In order to stay relevant in the metagame you will have to constantly adapt however given that Garapon is not reliable in giving you what you need to stay up to date, and the tuning process made it even more expensive and slow to upgrade your characters, you had to keep paying money to keep your leg in the competition which is not a fun experience to have. All the free players were heavily alienated and it wasn’t fun to play the losing game all the time with characters that can’t compete and so they were all squeezed out by the paying community, there was no room to accomodate them. Many paying players quit because they fast saw the items and characters they pay for simply become outdated and there were no updates to keep them relevant.

Given the amount of rushed content, there were so many bugs and glitches to be fixed and many of them eventually do actually get swatted however there were also a sizeable amount that go undetected. There are still positional glitches that should have been fixed during the alpha test of the game but are still at large. Seriously? You could intentionally take advantage of these glitches and get yourself to dive right through the geometry in some areas and often the lag and latency will make people teleport. In the lobby, it’s not much of an issue however in PvP matches, it made those with high latency just invincible. It was impossible to aim at a lagger let alone having your hits register. Further making the lag and latency problem worse was that each match allowed for more than 7 players per team, and players outside the match could join at any time while it was running. It’s hard enough for the servers to keep the 12 players in the match battling it out so smoothly, but allowing to players join the matches or quit them halfway (by exiting the game)? Not only is it had to hit people or dodge attacks you can’t even see, you also have frame-skips caused by players entering and leaving during a match. So did this problem ever get fixed? There were a few puny and futile attempts but these just always made the situation worse.

Eventually Cyberstep buckled, and started becoming more generous, and in CBEN they’re overcompensating by releasing campaigns that forces you to spam and grind those PvP matches in order to get free stuff. The releases and updates have slowed, and they are constantly doing balance updates which is definitely a step forward but it’s all too late. So the best thing they can do is let players enjoy as much of the game as possible before finally shutting it down. It has been a crazy ride with CosmicBreak, I had fun mucking around and spamming #em3 at random people and making friends doing so. There used to be monthly calendars released to show all the fun and events that would occur and there were radio events in which you could joke around with the GMs. I miss those times, and those were the good old days of CBEN. Now the server is a ghost town, only a handful of misfits who stayed despite all the shortcomings of the game. There was a kickstarter to bring CosmicBreak 2 (now known as CosmicLeague) to the English audience but the backing has failed because there simply weren’t enough players who would trust Cyberstep again. Given that their games, GetAmpted, C21, CosmicBreak included and many other titles were complete flops. All I could ask for in CosmicBreak is to turn back time, and let the game have a second chance at life by taking a different direction. Despite the failed crowdfunding, the CosmicLeague was still released in English, and this is the second chance that CyberStep really needs in order to succeed, and they cannot take it for granted.

Well that’s enough sad talk and back tracking, please enjoy my Piano cover on one of the best songs to be released from CosmicBreak. I’ll see you in the next article, where I highlight and what needs to be done to push CosmicLeague forward in order to be successful.

Good Luck, Have Fun!

~Hayashi Sora (林空)

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