Amber beta and rest of the year plans

Amber’s beta officially started a few hours after the latest blog post 2 weeks ago, and I’ve made good progress in fixing bugs and adding features, thanks to the usual great testers in my forums. Special thanks in particular to “Franka” for the help in testing the crafting framework so accurately! (it takes a long time lol)

For those who want to try the game, here’s the official page: http://winterwolves.com/ambersmagicshop.htm

The beta is in a very advanced state: the story is finished, and at the time of writing this post no known bugs are left πŸ™‚

Rest of the year plans!

And now, time to talk about the upcoming release of 5 new RPGs this year!!! Haha obviously I am joking πŸ˜€

Having a game I started officially so long ago like Amber in beta is very satisfying, but unfortunately for many of the others there’ll be more to wait because are either RPGs, have an insane amount of romances, or both. Three games in particular, Undead Lily, Planet Stronghold 2 and Loren 2 have all those “problems” πŸ™‚

Anyways, if you remember in the first months of this year I was working on Undead Lily. I asked my coder to do some changes to the card framework and the “good old” RPG framework used in Loren, SOTW, etc.

The first change, on the card framework, would allow the cards to have “skills”. So in practice it would become quite similar to a RPG system, but with the usual easy to understand rock/paper/scissor mechanics typical of a card game.

The second change instead would consist of adding a delay based system with a fixed turn on the RPG framework. Currently the framework has action cost/time (as you know if you played those RPGs) but we cannot measure “a turn”, since it’s all relative to each creature’s speed. So if a party had super-quick creatures, for them the “turn” would pass faster than the others.

Changing it to a fixed timer would allow me to use fixed turns, so have events happening each turn (which would be the same for both the factions involved in the battle) and also some more cool things like having actions that cost less time, so your unit could attack and use a potion in same turn, etc. I would use it mainly to do my Undead Lily experiments but also in future games πŸ™‚ I think it could even allow the implementation of a system similar to Fallout 1-2 or Wasteland 2 “AP points”, in which each action has an AP cost. This last feature though isn’t officially approved by my coder, so might just be my dream πŸ˜€

Regarding which games will come out next this year: I’m currently aiming at releasing at least a dating sim or maybe two. One is Love Bites, while I won’t say what is the other, also because it could be a “cursed game” or a game still unannounced πŸ˜‰

Posted in amber's magic shop, beta demo, dating sims, development screenshot, life simulation | 5 Comments

A typical day of my indie life

First of all PSA: Amber’s beta demo should be finished very soon. Not sure if today or in the weekend, but look at my twitter/forums for an announcement πŸ™‚ As always, it turned out to be a much much bigger/complex game than I thought!

And now, I’ll talk about a typical day in my indie life!

Some people, even fellow devs, wondered what a day of my indie life looks like. Knowing how many projects I do at same time, people are probably curious about how I do it.

Spoiler: to be honest, I don’t know how I do it either!!! πŸ˜› Many days I do things in different order of course, and some days I take a half-day break or even a full day off if I’m particularly tired (like after a big game release or something). Anyways, here’s what a typical day looks like:

7.30-8.00 – it’s when I usually wake up. The first thing I do in the morning is turn on the computer and check the emails. Unless there’s an urgent email, I just read them but don’t reply and instead go downstairs to have breakfast.

8.30 – 12.00 – During the morning it’s where I do most of my work. I am really much more productive in the morning! I usually reply to all the emails first, and then depends on what is the current situation. If I’m working on a game, like doing some coding job or beta testing, then coding/fixing bugs takes the precedence over anything else.
If I’m not currently coding a game instead, I could be writing a storyboard for a new game or doing some game design (ie. new RPG ruleset, gameplay ideas, etc).
In summary I keep all theΒ  coding or creative tasks for the morning, because it’s the moment of the day where I’m more productive and also more “fresh” (not sleepy or tired).

12.30 – 14.30 – After lunch, I usually take a break. Some days I could do trips outside (when weather is good). Even when the weather is not particularly good, as long as it’s not raining, I take 20-30minutes of walk outside in my garden (luckily big enough so that I don’t seem a fool going around in a small circle! :D).

14.30 – 18.00 – This is my “afternoon working time”. Here I usually try to do tasks that I still need to do, but that doesn’t require particular attention/concentration. Of course, as I said in the beginning, I also did coding in that period many times. During SOTW beta I was coding almost every day even during these hours. But it’s not something I’d like to do again! πŸ™‚
So usually I do stuff like: answering emails of artists, musicians or writers asking for feedback or suggesting examples/stuff to work on next. For musics I browse youtube videos as references. For art, I google images around (many artists aren’t native English speaker, so a photo/image reference works better than trying to describe the situation!). For writers, I sometimes send them random ideas/feedback on what they showed me.
This is also when I usually read stuff. There are some periods where I get even 20-25,000 words to read in a day (having so many projects at same time…). And as you can imagine takes some time for me to read them all! After reading them I send my feedback (usually positive) to the writers or in some cases I ask for some changes. Same thing for art and music, though at least those take much less time! For art, it’s obvious if a sketch is not good, and for music I listen to the track in a loop several times before giving the feedback to the artist.
Other tasks involve: updating my website, preparing banners for Steam, fixing some small art mistakes (like a wrongly colored outfit or something that’s easier to fix myself than ask the artist), and of course scripting the games, which takes some time even if luckily it’s not a complex task.
During those hours, when I’m particularly tired, I also play games and watch movies/tv series. I know it sounds like an excuse but that’s still “work”!
I took many ideas for my games from those activities. For RPGs, I took inspiration by playing other titles. SOTW isomap was made after playing some Spiderweb RPGs. Loren and Planet Stronghold were clearly inspired by Bioware’s Dragon Age and Mass Effect series. Amber’s crafting is based both on Atelier series and Guild Wars 2. And so on πŸ™‚
Even tv series give me a lot of ideas for the stories of my games. Like some years ago “ah interesting so this character was her boyfriend, but now he lost his memory?” bam, Always Remember Me plot started forming in my mind!

19.00 – 22.00 – After dinner, I might still do some activities if it’s a particularly intense period. Still, no coding (unless it’s really an emergency, like a new Steam release with a crashing bug!). I was doing coding in the past, but at these late hours, I found I was having a very hard time to sleep afterwards. So I would end waking up the next day very tired and less productive in the morning. Because of this I stopped doing very “brain-intensive” tasks at those hours. I could say that 21 PM it’s when I stop completely working, but it’s a lie since sometimes because of timezones, I get emails at 22-23 PM from my collaborators and usually I can’t resist replying to them if they have any questions πŸ™‚

As you can see, in practice I could say I work 12hours every day. Oh yes I forgot: this is Monday to … Sunday πŸ™‚ I work every day like this. There are no weekends or holidays for me. Even if as I said, sometimes I take a day or two off to recharge batteries, because overworking yourself it’s never a good idea! But my friends doing regular jobs think I’m crazy for not taking even a single week of holidays. Who knows maybe in a distant future I will, but for now… that’s it.

You could say that in the afternoon besides doing some “monkey tasks”, I also gather ideas, inspiration for new games. And in the morning I put to practice all those ideas/rules/designs, working hard to keep releasing at least 2 games every year, which is quite an achievement for today’s standards πŸ™‚

I hope someone will find this post interesting. Of course it’s just how I do it, but there isn’t “a single way to do it properly”. However I think having a sort of fixed schedule really helps to stay productive in the long run and taking regular breaks helps to not get burned out too fast.

Posted in development tricks, general, indie life | 8 Comments

Spring Sale until 31st March


My cat Lilly seems to enjoy this warm Spring

Just a short blog post to announce that I’m doing a Spring sale, from now until the end of the month included.

The games released before 2016 are discounted by 66%! While the games released last year are discounted by 25%!

No need to enter any code, the discount will be automatically applied on checkout.

Posted in promo sales | 2 Comments

Amber’s update


Ehm, maybe I won’t keep the messagebox above in the final game, however…

As you know well if you follow me on twitter or read my forums, I’m currently working at fullspeed to get my next game, Amber’s Magic Shop, out.

Unfortunately, it turned out to be a much bigger game than I originally thought. But on the other hand I think will be worth the wait! The plot is almost entirely scripted (it was already written long time ago, but I needed to script it), and the gameplay coding is progressing well too, but it’s really much more detailed/complex than I originally planned. Hopefully means it’s also more fun to play πŸ™‚

For example, above you see one of the various screens I coded this week, the “Unfinished Tasks”. Tasks will be like quests for the RPGs: you’ll have a limited amount of time to craft amount X of item Y, and of a minimum quality Z (in the game depending on the ingredients you mix, you’ll obtain different item quality). Rewards will be variable, money (obviously) but also “Reputation points” or new items/recipes.

I am also planning to leave a lot of freedom, especially during the “adult age”. In the young age, since Amber is an apprentice in Haros’ shop, she won’t be able to take many decisions, but once she gets to run her own shop (in the adult age indeed) she will have a much bigger variety of available actions in each game location, and will also be able to build her own magic shop.

I honestly hoped to have the beta out by the time I wrote this post: however, the last thing I want to do is hurry the game now, after all the efforts that have been put in it. Hmm, the next blog post will be the 31st March… maybe that will be a good day to announce the game in beta! πŸ˜‰

While you wait, listen to a preview of one of the tracks from the game, “Gothic Doll”. Talk to you soon!

Posted in amber's magic shop, dating sims, development screenshot, life simulation, otome games | 6 Comments

Future games plans!

Haha, it’s going to be a long post! My apologies in advance πŸ™‚

I ran out of “characters introduction posts” (at least for the upcoming games), and I wanted to explain what will happen in future regarding both the games and also how I’ll interact publicly. For those who want the short version:

  1. I’ll still make RPGs, but maybe one every 2 or 3 years. Not one every year!
  2. I’m going to offer optional sexy stuff in most of the future games
  3. From now on, I’ll talk about a new game in public only when it’s almost ready

And now for the long version, keep reading!

A RPG a Year… it’s too much

That’s the conclusion I came to recently. After last year, which was very productive, I was really drained out. I’ve rarely felt like that before (only when SOTW was finished! lol). Anyway the thing is, I cannot make a RPG every year. It’s too much, also considering I release other games meanwhile. If I was like Spiderweb, doing RPGs only, then maybe I could do one every 12/18 months. But right now, in my situation, that wouldn’t be possible. It would be hard for me to survive as indie with just one game a year.

Besides, money apart, even if you love something (and I really like to make RPGs) if you push it too hard, it becomes boring. And I want to avoid that, I want to work also on something different. That’s why I did Amber crafting system, the shop builder minigame, etc. As a developer / creative person, I cannot force myself to do only a specific kind of game, as much as I like it.

In summary, since I think to make a decent RPG (not even good, just decent) you need at least 4-5 months for the game design only, as you can imagine it’s hard to make one a year. It’s hard already one every two years to be honest πŸ˜›

Right now, I have planned the following RPGs: Loren 2 (which is even split in two parts!), Planet Stronghold 2, Roger Steel, Undead Lily & Cursed Lands. Even if by miracle I did one a year, it would take me 5 years to release them all (and that’s in a super-very-optimist case lol).

So I am thinking maybe to change some of those (maybe UL or RS) to be different, simplified. I haven’t made my mind yet though. The thing is that people can’t expect RPGs which are: long, with male/female protagonists, many romances, multiple branching, a good combat system, inventory, skills system AND expect that I make one a year/every 18 months. I would probably need to clone myself to accomplish this πŸ˜€

That said, I will of course stillΒ  make RPGs until I can, because I like doing them. It’s only that I realized I cannot afford to do them so often for my own physical/mental health!

Hot stuff!

We can all agree that one of the most common compliment people pay me, is that I listen to people, customers, fans. Of course, not just a small minority. But in general, if a good amount of people ask me a specific thing, and it’s something I can do (not like “hey you should make a full 3D MMORPG”) I try to do it.

I don’t know if it’s because of the hentai games invasion on Steam or something else, but I’ve been getting a lot of request to have more sexy stuff in my games. I want to reassure people who don’t like that kind of content: unless explicitly mentioned both in the game page and description, all the future games will still work like Loren: with completely optional “suggestive content”. And of course, I’ll still make some games like C14 Dating and similar, more on the cute/fluffy side of things. So don’t worry πŸ™‚

The only thing that will change is that the “suggestive content” option which is already present in some games, will be… more suggestive! lol. Imagine for example games like SOTW, Planet Stronghold or PSCD which already had a suggestive option on/off, with an even hotter “suggestive CGs”. That’s it!

Since it’s a simple change for me to do, and it’s optional, I thought was worth doing to make (or at least try to make) everyone happy, as usual.

No pressure!

I recently noticed that announcing a game “too early” it’s not a good thing anymore. Of course on my Patreon I’ll still keep posting preview stuff on the thing I’m working on at the moment, but in public I am not going to announce a new game anymore until it’s basically done. Like if all the story is written and only needs to be scripted (usually 2-3 months of work max) or similar.

Of course for the already announced games this doesn’t matter.

Why? First of all, for the pressure. Really, I know that most people ask “when game XZY will be out?” because they are eager to play it, but it still has some sort of “psychological pressure”, if not on me in particular, on the writers maybe. Also, I think it’s going to damage my reputation, if happens like… <the cursed game> or even other games like PS2, Undead Lily, etc.

If I never talked about those in public too early (like 99% of other indies do, by the way) nobody could know they’re “late” by several years.

This business is really unpredictable. As I said many times in the past, now I have a good group of external collaborators, but sadly anything can happen. Even someone that’s good at his/her job, could have an accident, get hired by some big company, etc in short for any reason that person could need months of break, couldn’t work as fast as before, or not at all.

So of course this doesn’t mean I’ll make less games, I’ll still work like now. Only that instead of announcing a game as soon as it starts (like I did for many games in the past) I’ll talk about it when I’m basically 99% sure that it will be out in the next months. Isn’t it better even for you, the players? πŸ˜‰

I really think so.

Posted in development tricks, general | 11 Comments