Estimated Length, Better Sidequests, More Variety, and E3
Based on our current plans for the game's main story & sidequests and our previous experience on our other games, we're guessing that Cosmic Star Heroine will be in the 15-25 hour range (depending on difficulty chosen, playstyle, and how much optional content you complete) making it our longest game ever. Of course, this is just a guess and we'll have a better idea when the game is nearly done but we think it'll fall somewhere around there.
In particular, we've really been focusing on improving the optional content in the game. Many of our optional quests in our previous games could scarcely be called that and consisted primarily of bonus caves filled with a few enemies and treasure chest. We definitely want to avoid that so we're making sure that all of the sidequests in the game have a story and/or character significance and aren't just a way to get extra loot.
In both the main story & the sidequests, we want to avoid the game just being a series of town, dungeon, boss, repeat, and will have more interesting scenarios. In particular, Final Fantasy VI is a big inspiration as situations like Defending Narshe, the Opera House, the Raft Escape, frequently changing party lineups, and more helped to add a lot of variety to the traditional RPG format. And yes, we're planning on having at least one multi-party dungeon as well as a turn-based hacking mini-game.
Finally, we just wanted to let everyone know that we're planning on sharing some gameplay footage for the game during E3. Please be excited.