Monthly Archives: August 2010

Au revoir, Vera Blanc

In other words, the second episode of Vera Blanc, “Ghost In The Castle”, is officially out. To find more about it, just visit the game official page at
This time, Vera must investigate a mysterious ghost that is haunting a old castle in the italian town of Bargi. It’s the ghost real or is a myth? is Roberto Anastasi, the man who hired you for this case, hiding something? why Eva and the Master are still following you?

You’ll find answers to all those questions in the second and for now last episode. As I said before, it’s very unlikely that a 3rd chapter of the game will be released in this format, since the production costs are much higher than those of a traditional visual novel, but maybe next year something might change. I would like to make a “real adventure game” based on Vera Blanc character since I think would be perfect for that kind of game.

Imagine something similar to those good old Lucasfilm adventures with many puzzles to solve, less texts to read, and maybe a fully voiced version.

However, first need to finish several other projects I’ve started (many RPGs and otome games) and then next year we’ll see. Meanwhile, if you like the games I’m producing, and if you like the character of Vera Blanc, please buy the game and spread the word so the chances of having a 3rd great episode will increase πŸ™‚

So for now, au revoir Vera Blanc. Hopefully she’ll come back next year in a completely new gameplay system, and why not, maybe with a more manga-oriented style!

New Planet Stronghold Alpha ready!

The download links are the same:

Note that since I updated to the latest stable Ren’Py release (6.11) I was forced to give up autoupdating from older versions. So you have to redownload this whole thing again, even if you downloaded previous versions. Sorry about that.

From now on I plan to use the autoupdater for all the next updates. Unless I get many users having troubles with it, in that case I probably will give up with that system. But so far only a minority had troubles with the autopatcher and the previous version was more buggy than it is now!

The things improved are MANY. The most visible is battle feedback, with each damage type represented on the battle, and several minor improvements like the ability to attack by just clicking at the enemy target (much faster than using the Attack button every time). Another major change is the difficulty level. You can choose between 3 different levels:

  • easy – what casual player should choose. Pick this if you’re more interested in reading the story than actually having fun with the battles. This is NOT recommended to anyone even a bit familiar with RPG or more complex games
  • normal – what I suggest to use. The really difficult battles won’t be many, especially in the Alpha so far, since fights get tougher as the game story goes on. Also, while you’re in the base you’ll start each battle with HP/PP fully restored. This might change in future though (for sure if you get outside)
  • hard – if you’re familiar with RPG, you must pick this option. Seriously. Otherwise you won’t have any fun in the easier modes. In this setting, even if you should be able to pass most battles, you might face some difficulties in keeping all the heroes alone, or have to change strategy in certain fights

the difficulty influences enemy attacks, hit points, the number of skill points you get when leveling up, and several minor things.

Regarding the plot, you get to know almost all the main characters, and get new quests. Though you can’t finish any quest for now in the Alpha, you can make progress in some. I have also changed the quest system: before it sued a True/False method, meaning that you could either succeed or fail a quest. Now, you can fail it, but to solve a quest you need to complete several steps in sequence, which is a method more interesting and that increases game longevity.

You’ll also be able to see how the level up works before finishing the alpha πŸ™‚

That’s it, if you find any bug or have any suggestion, you can reach me on twitter, email, forums. However the preferred method is in my forums, since this way everyone can see the discussion and make suggestions/remarks about what is being said.

Minisurvey about VN/Dating sims results

Disclaimer: speaking with some friends who knows more about statistics than me, they said that the data collected might be not really reliable. I know, I made it mostly for fun with no intention of providing the “ultimate guide to make visual novels” for game developer πŸ™‚

However, from my personal experience (I’ve made many VN/Dating Sims in past 3 years) I have to admit was quite surprised by the results, because they match completely my experience regarding which games sells more. The data collected comes mostly from Lemmasoft, Amaranthia, my own twitter, my forums, and indiegamer forums.

The total people who answered is 126, but recently has been progressing of only 1 new person a day, so I guess is time to draw conclusiong and post results.

I’ve made a PNG image of the final result, so anyone can link to it or share it easily, look on the right side of this post for the clickable thumbnail. As you can see, the standard Otome and Bish?jo are the most popular genres (well, no surprise here). As for art-style, detailed manga (I suppose like Heileen, Bionic Heart) wins hands on over all other art genres. People don’t like american comic style and cartoon style (I wish I did this survey before making Vera Blanc, I would have used manga art for that game too!).

As for setting, again no surprise: fantasy settings are always the most popular in any kind of games, not just VN/Dating Sims, so really I expected that. The other settings are more or less equivalent, only the modern drama/slice of life is slightly more popular (and yes, sci-fi isn’t much popular!).

Sexyness in games is a bit surprising, and probably the result less reliable IMHO. From my experience is always safer to go with family friendly (if you’re interested in maximizing revenues) for the simple fact that most big portal/sites wouldn’t accept your game otherwise. If you are making the game just as hobby or with direct sales in mind only, then you can ignore it πŸ™‚ So far most of my games fall into the 2nd category from top, sexy stuff, but I have many family friendly games coming out next. One day I would like to make a very sexy, almost erotic game though. Maybe when I have enough funds to make Bionic Heart 2 as I have in mind of doing it.

The extras question is really a surprise. And I believe is very accurate: Most people don’t want to mix genres. If they want to play a minigame, they can find plenty of them in casual games. I really think VN/dating sims should focus more on typical dating sims elements and statistics. Or just let the players to read the story. You can also argue that if you put too many minigames in a VN, then it isn’t a real VN anymore but a “game with a story” πŸ˜‰ It’s somewhat hybrid territory here.

“What is most important” result is also interesting. The most important thing is WRITING! Not art, as I was always thinking. Also, the starting idea, and I agree completely. If the starting idea is good, and the writing too, you have all the elements needed for a good VN. That’s the reason why I’m not personally writing my future games anymore πŸ˜€
Also is interesting that most people don’t care about voice overs. I had already given up on that because of too many unreliable voice-artists, and the result somehow comforts me. People don’t seem to care too much about the number of endings as well. Maybe better to make a more linear story, but longer to play ?

Based on the next question, “Do you really replay dating sim/visual novels to see all the possible endings?” it really seems so. Not many people are obsessed about unlocking all endings, apparently. I sort of agree since I do the same. I did the same also for AAA titles like Dragon Age / mass effect 2. I simply went to youtube and looked for videos for the other possible endings πŸ™‚

About the remaining results, people seems to like game series (after a slow start I am now getting good results with Heileen 1+2 bundles), most people use a PC to play, and they don’t seem too much enthusiast about the idea of having to be connected to play a game.

That’s all! Again, this is not the holy-bible-of-VNs, but I found the results quite interesting and in many cases matching my own experience.

It means that you should all make fantasy based VN with stats and RPG elements? Well no, I believe that any game that is GOOD can sell: is your choice if you want to try to appeal mainstream (but have more competition) or niches (smaller market but much less competition). Personally I’d like to see more horror VNs, for example! πŸ™‚

How long is it?

Today many other indies like cliffski are making a post about the “game length” problem. Indeed, a question I often heard in forums when talking about games is “How long is it”? Like if long=good!

I know this well because I make games that, typically, are very short to play, since they’re story-based and are very similar to books, movies, comics. I think it’s totally absurd to judge a game by the length (unless it lasts 15 minutes of course!!!). For several reasons, most of them already very well explained by Cliff.

Making some comparison: you’d rather watch a dull, boring long movie, or a short but exciting, innovative, interesting one? This might look like an idiot question (and, it is) but then, why some people complain about games length, IF the game story is good? (I’m talking specifically about VN/dating sims).

One of the best recent examples is the game Jisei by Sakevisual. The game IS short. If you play it all at once, will last an hour or so. Yet, has an interesting plot, has high production values and good voice acting. You would rather play a very long but banal visual novel instead? Of course I know you might say: I want an interesting AND long story. Well, that’s what everyone would like to play, but since writing VN is like writing a book or a comic, you can well imagine that is not easy at all to make a story at same time interesting AND long.

On the opposite, there are many examples in tv-series that insisted on length (starting a new season when they should have stopped) and the result was that they produced a very crap result, reducing the overall interest of their fans.

Beside, most new games that comes out are based on the MMORPG/social system. Basically to make each action you must wait several minutes, or repeat certain tasks. While those games are fun, especially at the beginning (I played a lot Everquest for example), after a while they’re super boring, and really would be better shorter but with better gameplay/variety.

Just yesterday I wanted to buy a game on steam. I browsed all the various FPS, but I found really nothing interesting and ended up buying an adventure game (Alter Ego) because I enjoyed the atmosphere, description, the quality. I am still playing it so not sure how long it is, but for sure I’m enjoying it much more than any of those all-identic FPS games that comes out today.

Introducing “Remember Me” Otome game

As I wrote in previous posts, I decided to move my otome games production to a more girly site (which I’m still building though). As you can imagine the name “Winter Wolves” doesn’t recall exactly a romantic, cute, girly atmosphere πŸ˜€

There are already some games “in progress”, but theΒ  first game that is likely going to be released will be called “Remember Me”, and will be a dating sim. I have yet to decide if it will also incorporate a minigame (time management) like the farming sim. If you want let me know your opinion on this with comments or forum posts: should the game be a plain dating sim or have also a minigame?

I don’t want to reveal too much info about it yet, but it will have all the required elements to be a true otome game:

  • Romance – the game will be VERY romantic. The starting situation already is very romantic even if a bit dramatic.
  • No Sex – the game will be absolutely family friendly like all the games I’ll release on that new domain/brand. For the men reading, don’t worry, if I can find more reliable writer/artists I plan to make some more male-oriented ones to put them in Tycoon Games website πŸ˜‰
  • Manga art – the art will be cute manga, Flower Shop style. I might even combine some comic scenes like Vera Blanc game but still keeping a cute/girly manga style.
  • Handsome boys to date – there will be plenty of cool, handsome boys to date. Some will be romantic, some will be workaholics, others will be shallow but who knows, maybe with your help they might change their attitude?
  • Cuteness power – flowers, pets like young kitties and puppies. Poems, romantic situations. You got the idea.
  • Good writing – I’ll completely outsource the writing so hopefully the quality and style will be much better than my past attempts.

Speaking of this first game, the main character is a sort of homage to a friend developer of mine, Amanda Fitch. Indeed, in this game you’ll control the character of “Amarantha”. A very uncommon name for a girl, it comes from the amaranth flower, which is derived from Greek (amarantos) meaning “unfading”.

She works in a ice cream parlor during summer, she likes to write poems, and her friends call her Amy.

The one below happens right before the main game scene, as you see things doesn’t seem to start particularly well but… with an Otome game the Happy End is guaranteed!

Your gentle touch
The warmth of your embrace
The passion of your kiss
Precious times
That felt ever so divine

I though that they would never leave
Even though I can’t reach you anymore
I can’t open my eyes to find you there
I’ll always have my memories

Though they are not as warm as the hands
That always made me feel so safe
I know they will never disappear
As you now have

My beloved,
My heart is forever yours
Even if you’re lost
Beyond where my trembling voice
Can reach you

Even if your memories fade
Or disappear into the darkness
I’ll never forget the precious times
When we faced the world together

My beloved,
For today,
For tomorrow,
For the days that may never return,
Never forget the words we once exchanged…
“I love you…”