Monthly Archives: January 2014

Game development is a puzzle game

Rebecca will help you train to keep in shape…! (from Planet Stronghold 2)

Game development feels like a puzzle game to me. How? Simple, let’s consider one of my games. How many roles/elements are needed to make one?

Let’s try to make a list:

  1. gameplay/rules = work of the game designer
  2. programming/coding = work of the coder
  3. artwork = work of the artist (in many cases, 2 or more for backgrounds and GUI)
  4. story/text = work of the writer
  5. music/sfx = work of the musician
  6. marketing/promotion = work of the PR guy
  7. hosting/demo/support = support / web dev guy

So as you can see, for each of my games there should be the need of 8 people. In reality, I almost always do point 1,2,6,7 myself, and sometimes I also do some GUI and write storyboards for the texts!

In the past I used to to really EVERYTHING on my own (using Poser 3d and royalty free music tracks) but luckily I realized that was much better to hire other people to help 🙂

The main problem when working with external people, is that since to finish a game you need all those roles/elements, often happens that I have some areas covered/completed, while others not. Some people work fast in an aspect of a game, others slow downs in different aspects.

In the end that’s why I say it’s like a puzzle game. You need all the pieces to finish and release the product. Unfortunately very often that takes a lot of effort 😀 but like all things in life, nothing comes easy, you have to sweat and work hard.

Another thing I often have to decide is the scope of the game. For example now I am playing with the great freeware tilemap editor Tiled, trying to make isometric tilemaps. For which game? well for Planet Stronghold 2, but also thinking if to make them for Seasons Of The Wolf.

The idea was to have a big map like Loren, that once clicked would let you zoom-in and explore the areas in more details, rendered as isometric map. I think the idea is great and I’m sure that I can make it, the only problem is: how long will take me? will I need extra tiles, so contact artist to make more?

When making those decisions I need to consider that there are two types of fans: those who wants the games fast and pressure you to finish them, and others that say “take as much time as you need”. But besides what fans say, I need to keep releasing games at regular intervals to survive in the competitive world of indie games, so right now, I am unsure if to use this system.

I set myself a deadline – if I can have the isometric map thing working in 2 weeks I’ll use it, otherwise not. Also because in theory very shortly Roommates public beta should start, and then will have even less time to make tests… 🙂

A stressful week, but it’s over :D

The twins Shea & Althea relaxing with a hot bath in Seasons Of The Wolf

I admit I’d like to be there with Shea & Althea right now. Here outside is freezing, and I really could use a hot bath to relax after one of the most stressful week of my life 😀

Was stressful partly because of the Steam release and also for other personal issues. In practice I had several small things/problems, not big if taken each one singularly, but that coming all together at same time made me go nuts 🙁

Anyway, all seems fine now, so today was able to resume working on Roommates and SOTW! 🙂

About the feedback I got on Loren gameplay, getting your game in front of a huge audience like Steam showed some weak spots in the rules design. I probably underestimated how good are RPG players, or maybe (ahem) I am not much good myself anymore.

Either way, I really think was a good idea to include a fourth difficulty level in the upcoming RPGs Planet Stronghold 2 and SOTW (the Nightmare level!) so that should be a good challenge for every kind of RPG player, even the most experienced who play the game for hours, grinding and finding all possible rule-exploits 😀

SOTW and Roommates quick update

I am currently scripting scene 10 out of 27 of SOTW, but that doesn’t mean that I fully coded 10 scenes: I am first scripting all the music and artwork, so then I have the game fully working as a “plain visual novel” and I can add all the battles in a second time, once even the side-quests are finished, since I’ll need to play those as well to get a proper idea if the difficulty is balanced or not, if the loot is powerful enough, and so on.

Meanwhile Roommates’ writer is doing some final polish, testing the scheduler and adding more “one-liners” sentences. This week delayed a bit everything, but I still think the game could begin beta and pre-orders at end of this month! 🙂

Two new arrivals on iOS

The game Nicole is available:

And Love & Order too:

Loren now on Steam, more iOS games and upcoming releases

Queen Karen sitting on her throne is giving a friendly warning to Steam users! 😉

A Steamy January

Lots of things to talk about! First of all, in case you missed it (but how? I posted everywhere on the net! lol) my VN/RPG game Loren The Amazon Princess is finally on Steam:

please spread the word, upvote the reviews and share between your friends, will help us a lot 🙂

Roleplaying on iOS

Second, more games are available on iOS as promised, including the RPGs. They are:

Heileen 3 (both otome and yuri):

Planet Stronghold (with redesigned GUI):

Loren Amazon Princess:

Bionic Heart:

Bionic Heart 2:

Upcoming releases

Of course, right now I’m rather busy as you can imagine!! But still managed to work a bit on Roommates scheduler. I think in one more week I should be able to finish it, and at end of month start the beta testing, and hopefully release the final game in February 🙂

As for Seasons Of The Wolf, the main script is finished, for a total of about 120,000 words, camp/romance dialogues excluded. Writer will do them and another one will work on the sidequests at same time to speed things up, while I design all the battles.

I plan to start the beta around March/April, when probably I’ll have fully coded at least the first two Seasons/Chapters. Of course they’re only estimated deadlines, but I feel confident enough to say that I should manage to met them!

Some of my games available for iOS!

The popular Tom Shatz showing his face on my iPad mini! 😉

One of the first surprises of this year (and we’re just starting!) is the availability of many of my games for iOS, ported by a very good coder/friend (that’s why you see them under his name on the itunes store). Currently there are the following games:

Heileen 2
Always Remember Me
Flower Shop: Winter In Fairbrook
Spirited Heart (both versions, you can choose which one to buy)

they all use in-app purchase so you can play them for a while to make sure they work fine on your device 🙂

More games will follow in the next weeks, including the RPGs, however in the case of Planet Stronghold I had to redesign the GUI a lot because was almost unplayable on the mini iPad. I am not bothering with iPhone since I honestly don’t think anyone can play games with complex GUI on those devices with such TINY screens! 😀 Besides, I should redesign the games completely for those devices and I really don’t have the time: however the game themselves will work, you can try if you want.

New games progress

Regarding the new releases, Roommates is getting a new scheduler screen, much better than the one I poorly designed myself (strange eh, that an artist is more skilled than me with GUI!):


I’m still coding it so is not 100% working but should be soon. I’m making progresses also with Seasons Of The Wolf, currently coded scene 07 out of… 26-27 😮

I know, is taking long time but remember that I started this game only last Summer, and I had still to work on Nicole and other games in the meanwhile! Anyway, I’ve got another writer working on the side-quests to speed things up 🙂


The good thing is that the artist who took 2 months break, is working on the romance scenes now, so I can definitely tell you that SOTW will be out this year, very likely the next RPG to be done!

2014: New Year Plan

My cat Mirtillo sleeping in an unusual way 😀

2014! Happy New Year!

I’m going to change completely my way of working. From now on, I’ll only make games in my native language, Italian.

Heh, good joke uh? 😀

The real plan

OK jokes apart the real plan is:

1) Release Loren on Steam. This is going to happen soon ! Took a bit of time to the coder to implement the achievements on all the OSes, but now everything works. The DLC Castle Of N’Mar will also be released, a few days later.
2) Finish Roommates. The game is long and the writer Michael tested it a lot, but I really think the best solution is start the preorders and the public beta testing, this way thanks to the awesome users in my forums the testing will go much faster. In the next weeks will fix all the issues found and code the scheduler, which will be similar to Flower Shop one.
3) Finish Nicole Yuri version – though this mainly depends on the writer to be honest 🙂 my job in this case will be to motivate her!
4) Release another otome game that for now I’m still keeping “under the hood”, but that I’ll announce in the first months of this year.
5) And of course, finish Seasons Of The Wolf and Planet Stronghold 2. Both games are quite big, but this time I shouldn’t be distracted by other things and will make sure to motivate and help the writer and coder appropriately 😉
6) At this point we will probably be in late 2014. Depending on the situation, either start working on Spirited Heart 2, Undead Lily, Loren 2 or something else. In this case is impossible to make any kind of prediction since there are too many factors and people involved.

Better integration with the story

Looking back at past year, one thing I didn’t do properly was to support the writers more. This doesn’t mean telling them exactly what to write line by line, but (for those who needed/wanted it of course) be more involved in the process as they write.

Some writers are happy to work on their own at their own pace with minimum need of my support/feedback: but in any case I need to check what they do to make sure that the final product reflects my vision and most importantly players’ expectations, and that works with gameplay.

And also I need to integrate the story more with the gameplay, though probably this can be done only by planning better the whole thing from start and writing a good amount of draft/storyboards myself, so will need more time for this.

Always Remember Me on

If you missed my Christmas sale, you can still get a good deal for my game Always Remember Me at! Expires in the next 2 days (approximately, there’s a counter on the site).

I have many other interesting things going on in the next weeks, stay tuned 😉