In case you haven’t noticed, the whole games market is moving towards the so called “Free to play” business model. It started in the asian countries and now it seems that it’s going to be the “next big thing”. On Facebook games is already the “norm”.
How it works? quite simple. Instead of having the traditional time/feature limited demo and one-time fee to get the game fullversion, here you can “in theory” play for free as long as you want. In practice, the gameplay is crafted in such a way that first draws you into the game, and then when you’re just about to have fun, it starts cutting off your fun by telling you how lame you are because you didn’t spend 500 “virtual gold” to buy a new horse, or how the “platinum membership” would make the game much more fun.
Personally I don’t like it, I tried a few games but the fact that the designer had to design the gameplay around this system restrict the gameplay innovation. Indeed this system works well mostly on RPG (MMORPG) or strategy/simulation games. But what will happen to story-based games? Visual Novel, Dating Sims or maybe even just FPS with a good story like Max Payne or Assassin Creed?
I really don’t think is possible to successfully implement this in a heavy story-driven game. What would you do, show one chapter at time and ask for a small microtransaction every chapter? why don’t just ask people to “pay upfront” the amount and be done with it? or in a dating sim for example, ask $5 each dateable character? what would be the fun in spending $5 to date only 1 character in a game? it seems quite silly to me, especially since we’re talking about very low amount of money. I don’t need to make again the classic example that if you go out with friends to watch a movie you easily spend in drinks, fuel, and extras x2-3 times the amount of a regular indie game ($20) and have fun for one day, instead of weeks or in some cases months.
And in all other F2P games you can play free, but in practice the experience is so awful that either you pay nothing, play a few hours/days and quit, or you decide to invest your time (and money) in the game and then you’ll easily exceed $20 … by a lot! That’s fine of course, everyone can do what they want with their money.
But speaking about a possible implementation of F2P in story-based games, my answer it’s still: no. I really think it wouldn’t make much sense at all.
Also I really don’t believe that in few years ALL games (even RPG/strategy games) will become F2P. There are many downsides to that (being always online, annoying multiplayer experiences, the worst value for money as player, lots of maintenance as developers, possible hackers attack, and I could go on) and in general not everyone wants to make a game that has severe gameplay/game design restrictions. At least, I hope! 🙂
And now enough talking about the game business and here are some news about the current games in development!
Spirited Heart Girl’s Love
That’s how I’m going to officially call the Spirited Heart expansion. I will also change the purchase options: you can buy either the “normal” version or the Girl’s Love for $19.99, or if you have already bought the original game the expansion will cost $9.99. If you don’t have either and you buy them together, the final price will be $29.99 (so still only $9.99 more than the normal version). The game will expand the original one with 6 different (and unique!) dateable girls and also the endings reflect your race now (even for the males). So if you were disappointed by Frebo ending in the original game, this time pick a human or even better a demoness and you’ll see that will be better 🙂
The Spirited Heart expansion is at very good point (all plot is finished) and will be surely out by August if not sooner.
Things are going well: I decided was time to ask the help of someone that knows coding better than me, and we’re building up a RPG Framework so that I can reuse it for future titles. As you can see from the gallery screen below, the game interface is taking shape and we’ll have a skilltree with several specializations, a full inventory with many equippable slots (yes I changed my mind about the inventory!) and a very good quest screen, with the possibility of having sub-quests (so more powerful than the Planet Stronghold one for example).
While things are going forward at good speed, because this game will use a completely new system will need good testing and also the plot still needs to be written in good part, so it’s very unlikely that I’ll have even just beta preorders before September (and even that is an optimistic date). Much will depend on artist/writer/coder speed as always!
Finally, I want to leave you with a nice graph showing all the romance possibilities of Loren RPG: