Friday catblogging – Merry Christmas!

In the picture above, Mirtillo and Othello sleeping together peacefully. I wonder what they’re dreaming ?

I want to wish everyone reading this blog/following me Merry Christmas! :)

Then, a quick status update about Planet Stronghold 0.8 (since is the game I’m currently working on). In the recent weeks had some eyesight problems, so the programming has been slowed considerably. I really hoped to have it ready by Christmas since would have made a great present… but sometimes, real-life problems get in the way and so I had to post-pone the deadline to end of the year!

I’m writing the latest two quest, regarding the Apex Rahn and Arnox races, including two boss fights. I think once you play the game you’ll realize why is taking me so long to make… because the game IS long! The part I’m writing now involves all the races, and if you side with the Empire you have to eliminate them, instead if you side with the King/Shiler you will unify them and form one single alliance.

So this part is the “core” of the game, the biggest one. If you played the demo, this part is basically 5-6 times longer than it…and you can play from two different sides, so some parts are different! That is also why the final release price will be $24.95 (so you have still one week to get it at the deal price of $9.95!). And now, for some postmortem-retrospective about the year that is about to end:

2010, The Year Of The Tiger

I admit I was excited about it (since I am a Wood Tiger in chinese horoscope). Well, my goal for 2010 was to release 5 games, and I was particularly excited about (quoting from my last year post):

And I am producing the art now for a new kind of game style that I hope will be a great success, since I like a lot writing the stories and the storyboards for it. For now I can only say that involves detectives, mystery, and a beautiful blonde girl with a French accent…

I was obviously talking about Vera Blanc, which as you might know, turned out to be a real disappointment in term of sales :D

So, in 2010 I released The Flower Shop, Card Sweethearts, Vera Blanc: Full Moon, Vera Blanc: Ghost In The Castle. Not only I didn’t release 5 games as I had planned (even if I’m almost done with Planet Stronghold), but most of them didn’t sell well at all! So in all honesty, considering also the other real-life problems I had, 2010 was probably my worst year since I was indie. For the first time in 7 years or so, I didn’t grow my business. During the summer and autumn, I thought it was something beyond my control, the global crisis, the return of middlemen and so on (since also many other indies had very low sales during that period) but if I think about it carefully, it was my mistake for producing games without doing proper “market research”.

Vera Blanc got the most positive reviews I had for a game, on famous sites like Gamezebo & Gamertell. And it has some fans that are eagerly waiting a 3rd episode. Still, it would be foolish for me to release another one using the same gameplay system… so even as indie, you can’t simply do any game you want to do (unless it’s an hobby) but you must also identify the market you want to sell to, and make sure you have the right product. Making a good/original game just isn’t enough, if that game has a very small fan-base.

Next friday, more cats pictures and my plan for the 2011 which hopefully will be a better year :)

This entry was posted in card games, card sweethearts, general, indie life, marketing tips, mystery / detective games, planet stronghold, postmortem, preorder, roleplay games, Vera Blanc, winter wolves games. Bookmark the permalink.

11 Responses to Friday catblogging – Merry Christmas!

  1. DaFool says:

    I think it’s just more competition at lower prices. Amazing how much the indie scene exploded in the past few years since 2008, so many choices on XBLIG, App Store, Android, and Free-to-Play browser games.

    I would still go for the niche market, but only start with shorter games (with prices at $10 range). Then make sequels for the successful franchises. Getting into a Humble Indie Bundle or Pay What You Want scheme is an option as well (as long as the organizer guarantees to sell hundreds of thousands).

    Amazing how times have changed. $10 used to be a typical donation to get wallpapers, now you can often get a good game for $1.

    Since I’m just a hobbyist at this point, I would not make a ‘market-researched’ game, since even making my dream game is a challenge enough as it is. Of course, I don’t have plans of becoming a full-time indie unless I achieve massive success.

    • admin says:

      DaFool: Yes, for sure market change COMPLETELY already from 2-3 years ago. I am pretty sure all the indies that had big success in the golden age of shareware (I’d say from 1999 or early to 2001-02) if had to start today would find it immensely more difficult, and most is related to luck or picking the right theme/game at the right time (more competition means also that another similar game but with better production values can come out at same time or earlier)

  2. SpectralTime says:

    I’m sorry that your life doesn’t seem to be going well. All I can say is, good luck, God bless, and merry Christmas!

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  4. Nhu says:

    I have to say that the failure of your games in 2010 do seem to me to be because of the economy. Not to say that you’re not right about the market research thing, though, since my take on Vera Blanc, having played it, is that it doesn’t quite hit any of the available target audiences. Despite good critical reviews, you can see very clearly it has little appeal for a traditional VN market (since there’s not that much text, and I’d venture to say depth). And for the traditional casual market, it’s not something you can play in sporadic bursts or require a lot of player interaction. And for the puzzle solving crowd, not enough puzzle solving.

    I think it was a good game, but it needs to be streamlined. I definitely think you should try for 3rd, but in a different format.

    Anyway, merry christmas to you! Have a fun and relaxing day.

    Sorry about Planet Stronghold, but a few days won’t matter much. Good luck.

    • admin says:

      Nhu: well, it surely had some impact. My main mistake now that I think about it better, was to start the second episode of Vera BEFORE knowing if the first would sell. I would have saved money and 2-3 months of work, which I could have spent on Planet Stronghold instead and have it out by Christmas for sure. So another rule is to never make an episodic game unless the first episode was successful or at least sold decently.
      I want to do a 3rd episode but will have to see if I’ll make it in 2011 or not. As you can imagine I’m not really much motivated considering the low sales vs effort :)

  5. Druon says:

    Don’t worry, there are still (financially) better years to come. And with games the like of Planet Stronghold you can count me among your followers (and customers) in the coming year, too. And please don’t give up on episodic titles yet, just take your time and don’t neglect your other work for any one series. Thus you keep your games diverse with a little something to offer for just about any kind of taste.

    Personally I think episodic games run better if you actually have some solid connectivity from one game to another. Maybe you are familiar with the \Quest for Glory\ series Sierra had running years ago. It was an adventure/roleplay hybrid and players where able to export their hero and start the next game in the series with that one, thus earning light benefits in terms of stats and sometimes items. Of course people still where able to start any one episode with a new character, too. The benefits where minor, but gave a nice edge and I certainly grew attached to my paladin that made the journey from part one to part five. Maybe something similar to that would fit to one of your upcoming RPGs, too?

    Anyway, I hope you can use the holidays to rest a little and enjoy time with friends, family and loved ones. Merry Christmas and a happy new year to you! :)

    • admin says:

      Thanks :) I’m not giving up on episodic titles at all! I think they’re very cool. For example Heileen is doing fine. I only said that was a mistake to start another episode of Vera using the same system before knowing if the first game would do well (since it was not a standard VN but a somewhat new combination).
      I agree about the connectivity between episodes. I plan to store some variables at end of Planet Stronghold so like in Quest for Glory series (I know it well, played it so much when was a teenager!) you can start the 2nd game with some sort of continuity from the first.
      And yes, holidays were good. I feel energized now and ready to resume working. Happy Holidays to you as well!

  6. Igor Savin says:

    Awww, eyesight problems are the worst. Are you using any eye drops? Oxyal are especially good ones, but any others would also do well for a programmer :).

    • admin says:

      Well they thought I had high eye pressure which sucks badly, but another medic said I don’t have it. I’m going to get a third check in next months. For now I’m only using omeopathic eyedrops, since the ones they suggested me makes eye pain worse :D

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