Monthly Archives: July 2013

I sense some incoming preorders…

First let me introduce the last two party-member characters of the Seasons Of The Wolf RPG:
Chalassa is the GxG (yuri) romance of this RPG

Chalassa the deadly assassin. You’ll encounter her later in the game, but she’ll have her impact on the story, be sure of it πŸ˜‰

Vaelis is like a second father for Althea & Shea, so… no romance sorry!

Vaelis is one of the first characters you can recruit, a very useful Mercenary (front line combatant).

Nicole’s incoming preorders

Check Nicole’s temporary official webpage here:

The download links don’t work yet, but the buy links yes πŸ˜‰ I’m opening the preorders even if there’s still a character route and some chibi/icon art missing, plus the extra final scene when you solve the mystery still to write. The writer said would send me the last route next week, and artist should be able to do the same with the art.

So seems that there isn’t much left to do, that’s why I decided to start accepting orders for the game (otome version only for now!) since you can play the game two ways: solving the mystery, or ignoring it completely. Once I get the last route, the game can be completely played in the second mode, and that’s what the people who preordered will probably get around mid-August, while we finish writing the mystery part and the various different final scenes (will be a different final scene depending who you romanced).

Gameplay-wise, the game will use a system similar to Always Remember Me, with a daily cycle, several places to visit and several actions to do, though there’ll be less variety of choices than in that game. But on the other hand, the story is VERY long, much more thanΒ Always Remember Me (is around 100,000 words already, and is missing a route as I said).

If you get the bonus content edition you’ll be able to download the official soundtrack, the chibis at bigger size and several wallpapers including both the male and female characters.

You can see a preview below:



Of course, you can wait until a demo is available before buying! There won’t be any difference between the preorders and the final version. I’m only doing it since some people repeatedly asked for preorders πŸ˜‰

The importance of variety

my cat Othello relaxing on the ground

I’m referring to the importance of variety in the characters present in games. Quite often when you see manga art, “stylized manga” in particular, is a bit annoying to see all the characters basically look the same, with only different hair/eye colors but same face and build type.

I’m not saying that there shouldn’t be classic pin-up characters in games. There can be, but there should also be other types. Not ugly or unattractive, in particular if they are a love interest, but simply different because even in real-life, people have different tastes.

For example, even if in my games often the women are busty, in real life I prefer the more slim type. Yes there are men who likes small breasted women! πŸ˜‰

So it was my mistake for not trying so far to have different character, more variety. Of course, in some cases is also because the artist themselves have difficulties drawing different body types. I understand them, since I’m sure that is not simple. However, if all the games had the same pin-up characters it would be a bit boring!

So let me introduce you two new character from Seasons Of The Wolf game:

Krimm, a barbarian woman with muscular body

A request I got from my forum users was to have a strong, tall woman like Loren, but that was also more muscular. So here’s Krimm the BxG romance! I’m also pleased by her face, since is quite different from the “standard” shape you see in my other games. A curiosity, as reference to use for her face, I sent the artist a picture of Jessica Alba πŸ™‚

Riley the illusionist: don’t underestimate the sexyness of the BEARD!

When I read in my forums people whining “you never have males with beard!” I admit at first was laughing. Beard? like… Ramas the dwarf? πŸ˜€ But then I understood what they really meant, so I commissioned Riley, the illusionist and BxB romance of this game.

I have to admit that when properly done, the beard makes the characters really more intriguing, so expect more bearded characters in future πŸ˜‰

In other news, I will very likely start preorders for the otome sim game Nicole towards the end of the month! The chibi artist resumed working, so once she has finished all the activities icon the base gameplay will be done. Writer is still working on Jeff’s route, and the mystery paths are to be done yet, but the current texts are already close to 100,000 words, so more than enough to start preorders πŸ˜‰

How do you plan for your games?

Not even Chambara’s divination skills can predict which one of my games will be out next!

As you probably know if you follow me, I’m working on several games at the same time. Often people (both other indie devs or simple players) approach me asking “why/how do you make it”?

Well, first of all, it’s not really my choice. In the past, I was making a game at time, like most of my other indie developers colleagues. But at those times I was doing everything on my own, coding, (terrible) art using Poser and other 3d tools, royalty free music tracks and so on.

Compare that to my modern games, where in almost all of them there is:

  • one or more artists. Usually two, one for the backgrounds and another for the sprites. In some cases though, even 4 or 5 like in Loren (item/GUI/interface artists + colorists).
  • an extra coder for the most tricky parts, like Anima for Loren RPG Framework, or even only to speed up production like Aleema helping out withΒ  some parts of Planet Stronghold 2 (codex, colony sim, etc)
  • a dedicated musician to do a custom soundtrack, so that my games don’t look cheap (hey I’ve heard that main menu theme song already! I think it was in a free flash porn game! ROFL)
  • a writer who writes the story in a proper way
  • an editor/proofreader that checks the (usually very LONG) texts of the story
  • someone that does a bit of marketing (I usually do that myself) posting images/videos in the social network, doing blog posts with progress updates, etc

…and probably I’m forgetting something. As you can see, a lot of people involved, even for low-budget indie games like mine. And do you think that everything always goes smoothly?


In 99% of cases, something will happen. This might vary from a small problem that will delay the production for a few days, to a complete disaster that delays the game by months or in some (luckily rare) cases, the total disappearance of one of the key figures (writer, main artist, and so on).

The only solution I’ve found, was to start several project, to balance the inevitable problems that will arise. This way if project A was on hold, there was project B that could still go on. I am probably at project Z by now πŸ˜€ jokes apart, as I said is not a great thing, because managing everything is a total pain in the ass, but I found no other practical solution if I want to be able to release several games in a year, which is something that I must do because differently from many other indies I know, my games aren’t on Steam.

Now luckily, after some years, I have made a good selection of people I trust and that I can count on. I usually always give to everyone second chances, but when people repeatedly fail me (and in some cases with lame excuses) I’m forced to put a cross under their names… after all I run a business, and businessmen are notoriously ruthless ! πŸ˜‰ (well I am not, not really).

Anyway, all this explanation will hopefully enlighten some people about the process, and how in practice I cannot really know myself exactly when a game will be out, apart for some “indicative release dates”.

Next week will resume talking about Seasons Of The Wolf with new character previews! But meanwhile, I got this letter dispatched by a pigeon from Roger Steel writer:

What lies beneath the surface …

Although you haven’t heard from me for months – and even Jack only slightly more frequently – it’s not because Roger Steel has ground to a halt. There has hardly been a day in which I haven’t been thinking of some aspect of the game, if not doing some actual writing. Like a great intangible Rubik’s cube being manipulated in the limited confines of my mind, I have been thinking not only of Roger Steel’s narrative, but also the title’s mechanics and gameplay, and how those relate to the story being told.

Designing and writing a game is always a matter of choices and compromises. From the engine in which it is written to the genre in which it is set, each choice entails its own set of consequences, some of which might manifest themselves only far later in the development cycle. But in order to develop games economically – that is with a view to making a profit at the end of the day – it is the game development team’s job to foresee as far as possible the consequences of the choices being made even in a project’s earliest stages. Changing direction due to unforeseen circumstances late in development is often fatal to a game’s profitability and the studio’s survival.

Making an RPG is particularly tough in this regard. Players expect a modicum of choice in traversing the plot and flexibility in building their characters. Meeting just these two expectations – which, while necessary for a successful game, is not itself going to win plaudits from critics – entails a whole lot of effort. With this in mind, it is instructive as a game designer not only to look at successful games but also the unsuccessful.

Let’s take as an example, Arcania – Gothic 4 – a game universally panned by the critics and gamers as little more than an adventure game masquerading as an RPG and a grievous insult to its illustrious namesakes. For me as a game designer, it’s instructive to play through Arcania and see what went wrong. The graphics are good, the world detailed, and the player character development decent.

However, when it comes to plot or open world exploration, the game utterly fails. The player is forced to progress through a linear sequence of plot points which match perfectly to a linear sequence of locations. Dialogue is banal, NPCs boring cardboard cut-outs with paint-by-numbers characterization, and interactive elements placed in the world (beds, workbenches, drums) which hark back to the original games but are stripped of all functionality. Arcania provides no incentive for the player to return, or even to complete the journey.

Contrast this to Two Worlds, a game with rough graphics, dubious voice acting, and unfinished, rudimentary character development. It also met with a very mixed reception, yet because it had a functioning open world (ignoring the plot, the player can explore freely to his or her heart’s content while dodging the rather lethal wildlife and bandits) it is objectively a far more interesting game.

Clearly Arcania’s developers ran out of funding before much more than the game engine had been completed, while those who developed Two Worlds apportioned a limited budget to deliver the best game they could which would at least meet the minimal expectations of open-world RPG aficionados.

In Indie development, the compromises are tough and the economics unyielding. The engine we are using inflicts its own limitations on the story we can tell and the methods we can use to tell it. Roger Steel won’t bear any resemblance to Baldur’s Gate, The Witcher, nor even Arcania or Two Worlds. Neither will it resemble The Broken Sword series, The Last Express, or the Blade Runner adventure from the late nineties. It will, however, carry within its DNA fragments of each of those inspirations, albeit often twisted beyond all recognition. And hopefully, it will meet the expectations of players like yourselves in that it delivers an interesting, dynamic, rewarding, and polished experience which is worth returning to in order to explore different plot paths, relationship options, and character development strategies.

Introducing the main characters of Seasons Of The Wolf

Althea & Shea, the snow elven twins are the two playable characters of the game

During the game, you can play as one of the two twins. Like my previous RPGs, the main story doesn’t change based on who you pick, but the romance dialogues do.

Speaking of romances, this game will have one for each sexual preference. I know is much less than previous RPGs but I had to do this if I wanted this game to be out this year. I can always release DLC/expansions adding more romances later πŸ˜‰

In this game though, differently from Loren, you can choose three classes: Ranger (the equivalent of Warrior class), Hunter (the equivalent of Thief class) and Druid (the equivalent of Mage class). So as you can see there will be more freedom of choices regarding your character class.

The character creation will let you customize your character, or pick some predefined builds (for those who want a quick-start). I am thinking to allow the same choices for the other twin: you can decide his/her skills or pick some ready-made builds.

The only restriction will be that both twins can’t have same Class, for balance reasons. As much as it could be fun to have two Rangers or two Druids, I am not confident that I can balance the battles for such situation. I might still allow the option for the more adventurous players, displaying a big warning though!

While I haven’t decided yet how the gameplay will be outside the battles, I plan to have a map with more “free roaming” than Loren’s one, have randomized encounters in specific places, some opportunity to grinding using a new system which I called “leveled grinding”.

In what it does consist? Let’s say that the plot is divided into “key points” that you must reach to advance in the story, and of course we’ll have different difficulty levels.

In practice:

beginning -> until key point of the story 1 = you can level up skills up to tier 1
-> until key point of the story 2 = you can level up skills up to tier 2
-> until key point of the story 3 = you can level up skills up to tier 3
this way maybe it would be possible in Easy/Normal mode to not reach the level cap for the next “key point” but still be powerful enough to go on, while playing in Hard mode it would be recommended or maybe even needed to get past. This system would let me balance the various fights much better since I would know exactly which skills the players CANNOT use in certain battles πŸ˜‰

…and the other games?

Ahem, I have a good and a bad news. The good news is that Nicole will be a much bigger game than I thought (only the otome part will be over 100k words!) and Roommates background artist has started working. The bad news is that for sure I won’t be able to release those two games soon, because there’s still quite a lot of work left to do.

If I really must give a date, I’d say that probably one of the two games should be in beta towards the end of August, but I’m not 100% sure of that… so please wait, I assure you that will be worth it!