First of all Public Service Announcement: my upcoming otome game “Never Forget Me” is now in beta. The only thing missing is the official game main menu and the theme song. Everything else is there and should be working!
For more info, check the forums: http://www.winterwolves.net/viewtopic.php?f=29&t=3937
Expected final release should be end of month or November at the latest, depending how testing goes (however being a visual novel/dating sim, most of the mistakes could be typos or other minor stuff!).
And now I wanted to talk about a topic I find interesting to me:
Romance in future games
After Heirs & Graces release on Steam, there was an interesting discussion in the community forums. To be honest, I expected a much worse reaction, considering the game topic (yaoi/gay only dating sim). I just deleted a couple of obvious stupid threads but not much.
Anyway, here’s what I’m going to do in future games, regarding the romances.
Finding an audience
The most important thing for an indie dev, is finding the audience, the niche. Either you try to make a game in a popular genre (platformer?) but in that case you have to compete against many top indies (and the chances of succeeding are small) or you can try to cater to a smaller but loyal audience. That’s what I’ve always tried to do.
The question is: there’s a gay/yaoi audience on Steam? probably, but it’s very small. It’s not just Steam though: I sell the games directly, but also on mobile. The result though, is that Heirs & Graces did much worse than, for example, C14 Dating, on all platforms.
So if I had to make games for an audience, I would stop making BxB games completely. BUT! There’s a big but 🙂 What is my goal? I think everyone should ask themselves what is their goal in life. I did it when I went indie. Originally, I wanted to make simulations and RPGs. Recently, I still want to make RPGs but also make experiments and story-based games. And regarding the stories, my goal is:
“I want as much people as possible to read my stories”
Yes, as simple as it is, that is my goal. Not because I’m arrogant and I think my stories (and those of my writers) are good or better than anyone else (they’re good though!). But simply because I want everyone to read them.
Now in the case of Heirs & Graces, I think it has one of the most beautiful stories of all my games. The father/son relationship, the fun and sad moments, etc. Not just my opinion, but basically of everyone who played the game. And here’s the problem: many people didn’t play the game because is yaoi only. And they missed a great story. This is bad, but honestly I knew it, it was inevitable, as much as some people wouldn’t play a yuri only game, etc.
What is the solution then? Well, the most obvious solution is to make games in which you can play as male/female, and have all kind of romances! On the other hand, doing such games takes a lot more time, as you can imagine. Also, usually you can’t offer 8+ romances (since you need to write them from the male/female point of view! it’s a LOT of work) and then you have complaints like with SOTW, in which people say that the game could have been better than Loren, but because of the few romances, it isn’t 🙁
Are they to blame either? No. I can understand that as male straight player, perhaps Krimm is not my kind of romance. Or as female player, I could find Jariel just too “nice” (the DLC changes things quite a lot though!). There’s no one to blame, really.
Finding a compromise
So as author I need to ask myself what is the best thing to do. As you can imagine it’s not like I can do all games with male/female main character AND 4+ romances each gender. Then we have situations like Loren 2, Roger Steel or Undead Lily where the game isn’t ready yet after 3+ years! Doh, insanely huge games takes a lot more time to make! Who would have guessed! haha
However, I think perhaps the best way is to try, whenever possible, to have a male/female main character and at least 2 romances for each gender. Sure, there won’t be as many romances as if the game was otome or yaoi or yuri only, but at least this way there are more chances that everyone can read my stories. My main goal.
If someone thinks that having maybe only 2 romanceable characters/combos is too few for a full price game, well they can always wait and buy the game discounted later. But at least they will read the story, as long as there’s at least one romance they’re interested in 🙂
Of course, I have a lot of games I started years ago (some even in 2011… ahem) so for those, they could still be yuri only, no straight male romance, etc. Nothing can be done about this, except finish them as they were originally planned.
But for future games, especially bigger ones, that’s what I’ll try to do 🙂