Monthly Archives: December 2015

2015 The Year Of … No games!

In the photo above, my cat Grillo under a small Christmas tree ๐Ÿ™‚

Haha the post title sounds a little scary, doesn’t it? ๐Ÿ˜€

But it’s actually the pure truth. This year, as you might know, I didn’t release any new game, since I don’t consider SOTW DLC a “full game” (even if was moderately long), and while PSCD is almost done, it’s still not officially out. Dead But Alive wasn’t made by me so doesn’t count.

Luckily, I still managed to stay afloat because of all the games I made in the past, but my income basically dropped more than half vs 2014! Though I had no hopes to match that year again, getting 14 games both on Steam AND iOS at once… was some rather unique combination!


Talking about the only released game, SOTW DLC, while doing it I realized the big mistake I did with SOTW main game. Yes I know that many people love it. I love it too! But from now on, for obvious budget/time reasons, but also because I don’t want to get burned out, my future games will be much more story focused. Gameplay, sure, but not too complex or breaking the narrative too much.

Back to the post title, what are the reasons behind the lack of releases? Keep reading.

Reasons behind this

Anyway, this is what happened this year: I’ve invested a lot on producing new games, and this also include getting back to work on some old games like Queen Of Thieves or Undead Lily. In practice, I decided was time to finish what I started YEARS ago! Since I don’t like to leave unfinished projects.

It was a very good year because finally I found out several people who I can count on. Artists, writers, musicians, coders. People who are reliable. Wait, I know what you’re thinking: if those people are reliable, how comes that you’ve not released any new games this year? Well, it’s because some of them were busy on long-term projects (like Loren 2) others were hired only recently (you can’t expect to write a 200,000 words game or draw 16 CGs in 4-5 months!) and in general, the quality and amount of content in my games has increased a lot, as you’ve probably noticed.

A bright future!

So while is true that there was no new game out this year, 2016 is looking to be a really “fun” year ๐Ÿ˜‰ Here is what I have estimated. Of course, nothing is set in stone, in this world is really hard to meet the deadlines and there’s always some unexpected problem, so take this list with a grain of salt, but here it goes anyway:

  • January (end of it) – PSCD base game
  • February/March – C14 Dating
  • March/April – PSCD DLC (which will be 1/3 of base game so not so small!)
  • May/June – Never Forget Me and/or Heirs & Graces
  • July/August – Queen Of Thieves (this depends mainly on testing so it’s hard to give an estimate, but I really hope will be out by next Summer!)
  • Fall – the CURSED GAME and/or Undead Lily
  • Winter – Summer In Trigue

Then, at the end of year, I’ll collapse exhausted and die ๐Ÿ˜€ haha joking, of course I’ll need also to reserve some time to take breaks between each game release, to avoid being burned/stressed out. So obviously I won’t release ALL those games above!

But even if I’ll manage to release only half of the games listed, it would still be an amazingly productive year compared to 2015. So, here’s hoping.

And the list above doesn’t even include some secret projects I’ve been working on since a while… so depending how things go, there might be a few surprise announcements!

Happy New Year!

Happy Holidays!

This year the latest blog post of the year will be the Friday 25th, so I’m wishing you happy holidays now ๐Ÿ™‚

About the future : 3 points to survive

I’m going to review this year in the blog post next week, but here I want to talk about the necessary changes I’ll need to do in future.

You may have heard the word “Indieapocalypse” around the net. What is it? Well, some developers (I’m among them) have this theory that it’s going to be a tough future for indies, since the quality bar has raised, the market has been flooded, prices have collapsed, and exposure is really hard to get.

All those things are happening at same time.

While I’m not a big/famous indie, I’ve noticed this phenomenon myself too. Personally, I never had much exposure (I wasn’t on Steam until last year!) but what really changed is the prices drop and the market flood. I honestly think it’s an uncommon situation that will settle itself in the next 4-5 years (lots of devs entered the market thinking to make big bucks, but when they’ll see how hard is to just break even, they’ll probably quit and do something else). But the real challenge will be to survive those next 4-5 years!

Yes, because while for now things for me are “OK”, if the current trend continues like this, I would be likely forced to shut down everything next year around this period or early 2017. And absolutely don’t want ever to write a blog post called “I’m quitting the game business”! ๐Ÿ™

Note added later: it sounds scary but to continue like this, means I shouldn’t release any game even in 2016. I’m fairly confident that it won’t happen! ๐Ÿ™‚ However, I need to do some adjustment to my workflow, described below.

Point 1 – release games more often

If you have noticed, my newer games feature a LOT more content than before, and I kept more or less the same prices as before. But what I really need to do, is go back to releasing at least two games in a year. That is of course impossible, if one of those two games is a big RPG like SOTW, or a complex card game like PSCD ๐Ÿ™‚

Which means, I really need to go back making more visual novel/dating sims. I have already a lot of them started to be honest (as you might know) but I need to get personally involved in some. Never Forget Me is one of those: I did all the storyboard myself, which was quite helpful for the writer since she is almost finished in about 10 months (and she had some troubles during Summer, otherwise would have been faster!).

This method works well because writers don’t need to imagine each scene or think about the story or anything else: I do that, and then they expand the storyboard I write. Luckily I don’t lack imagination, so I can do the storyboard rather quickly: I did Never Forget Me in a month. Of course writers still have a lot of freedom about writing the scenes. But is definitely easier for them this way.

So in the coming years I will need to make sure to have at least 2 games out each year, like I always did in the past.

From what I’m writing it seems that making a good visual novel or dating sim is easy: not at all!! But it’s just that… compared to a RPG/card game or similar, it’s honestly MUCH easier, for obvious reasons (think that just the balancing part of SOTW took me 4-5 months… lol).

Another possibility of course is to still do the usual games, but on a smaller scope. Long Live The Queen by my dev friend Hanako is the perfect example of something smaller, but still definitely fun to play.

Point 2 – I’m done with bundles

One of the big mistakes I did in the past 2 years was to do too many bundles. I thought it was harmless and a way to get more fans/attention, but the long term impact of doing too many is really disastrous and apparent now. No surprise there, it’s all my fault. So it’s safe to say that you’ll never see again another “Winterwolves Bundle” because was a total loss of money for me, thinking long-term.

The only bundle I might still consider is Humble, but anyway it won’t happen as often as before for sure.

Point 3 – moderate discounts

I still want to offer discounts to people, since I know not everyone can afford to buy my games at full price. However even in this case I need to be a bit more careful, and never go higher than 50% discount. Why? also because luckily there are still several people buying the games when they’re just out at full price, and I want to “reward” them. It’s not cool to see the game you bought at full price discounted by 50% shortly after. To be fair, I always waited at least 1 year before doing a big discount (for example SOTW was out in November 2014, and the first 50% discount was indeed last month, not sooner).

So it’s not like I’m doing what too many other indies do, starting to discount the game already after 6 months. But in future I’ll stick to smaller discounts and go up to 50% only when a title is really old.


The points above might make me look like a greedy person. The reality is that it’s what I think I need to do to survive ๐Ÿ™‚ I see a dangerous trend recently in which everyone is bundling and discounting everything, without thinking about the future. And while I don’t know about the others, I plan to stick around for several more years to come.

The Queen Of Thieves – Lord Raul Capello

And now, the last character introduction for Queen Of Thieves. If you thought that Tomas Jingoli was bad, read Lord Raul’s profile…

Lord Raul Capello, โ€˜The Tyrant of Ahkraโ€™

Raul is the latest head of the powerful and wealthy Capello family. They have ruled the city of Ahkra and the surrounding country for nearly twenty generations. As the next heir, Raul was raised to be merciless in the execution of his responsibilities and to brook no compromise with any of his opponents. He had maintain the pre-eminence of the Capello family at all times even if it meant trampling over the innocent. Any costs was worth protecting the strength of the family and, by extension, the country itself. Raul took to these lessons easily and quickly gained a reputation for being ruthless even by his familyโ€™s standards.

When he took over the running of the country, he quickly started stamping down on any perceived rebellion whether real or imagined. To maintain his armies, he increased taxes and began hoarding the money to pay for the many โ€˜projectsโ€™ which he believed would ensure that his country would be forever the strongest and most prosperous of all. While he was bringing in all this money, he was sure to send some of it to the nobility to keep them on side as he knew upsetting them could destroy his rule. This led to the poor complaining that only they were suffering from his taxes but he ignored their please. They did not understand he was ensuring their future prosperity and only cared about themselves.

In person, Raul comes across as a rather charming albeit intense person. He is utterly convinced that his actions are correct even if he can see they are hurting others. There has only been one person he has truly loved in his life and that person broke his heart by rejecting him. He has remained single ever since, apparently uninterested in finding himself a wife. The lord claims finding a woman would distract him too much from his grand work but others suspect he might have something, or someone, else that is distracting him from the important task of creating an heir.

PSCD update, and card games vs RPGs

One of the many changes: showing the enemy bounty value directly on the battle screen

So even this week I did yet-another-insanely-big update to PSCD. Seriously the changelog is pages-long!! ๐Ÿ˜€

I must confess that it’s a sort of deja-vรน, it brought me back memories of last year when was going insane with SOTW. But in reality, it’s not that bad. The “self-contained” nature of the card games makes it a bit easier.

Don’t get me wrong, the PSCD system is really complex, for sure the most complex framework/engine ever made for my games (and I dare to say of all Ren’Py games, since I’m the only one using it to make unconventional games! lol).

But if I compare it to a RPG, I don’t need to worry about several things:

– characters level up. I added an upgrading system on my cards, but is only 3 levels.
– skill balancing. Each card has an ability, but it’s fixed. Compare it with a RPG, in which the party skills can change based on players choices or skills will unlock with certain prerequisites!
– inventory/items. Doesn’t matter if you have a RPG with 10 inventory slots, or just 3. Still, players can swap the items and lead to different results & combos.

I’ll stop here but you understand what I mean. Doing a card game is easier than a RPG (luckily!). I’m working hard to meet the January deadline, but I think in the next weeks I’ll slow down, since I feel a bit burned out, and I don’t want that to happen again (it happened after SOTW last year and early this year).


In the last 2 days for example I coded all the romance CGs, achievements, gallery screen and jealousy scenes, and tested them all. It was relaxing and fun, because the jealousy scenes of this game are awesome. Here’s a screenshot:

boyfriendsHaha I love their grumpy/angry faces! and Alex’s shocked one… ๐Ÿ˜€
(also, what is Rigel going to do with that big pipe wrench? watch out, Alex!)

The Queen Of Thieves – Tomas Jingoli

tomasjingoliThis week is the turn of another secondary character, one of the “bad guys” (very very bad!), General Tomas Jingoli (I foresee an interesting boss fight with him in the game).

General Tomas Jingoli, the โ€˜Kin Killerโ€™

Born the bastard son of one of the noble families of Ahkra, Tomas was cast out as an embarrassment along with his servant mother. He was raised a peasant well aware of his noble origins and how they had spurned him. It made him angry and that rage simmered within him for all of his young life. Leaving home as an adult, he joined a mercenary company passing through the city and left to fight across the world in more battles than he could count.

He returned many years later to find his fatherโ€™s family out of favour with the latest ruler of the country and he saw an opportunity. Entering the castle, he pledged allegiance to Raul and promised that he would cleanse his family of all disloyal members. He failed to mention that he was a bastard son and not an actual son of the Jingoli family, but such facts he deemed unnecessary to what he planned to do.

Entering the estate of his father, Tomas roved through the manor and slew everyone he came across. None could stand against and in the end every member of the household, servant and noble, laid dead at his feet. His display impressed Raul who immediately appointed him as the general of his armies and ordered him to pursue the Queen of Thieves that the Jingoli family had previously failed to stop during her latest robbery.

Tomas is utterly consumed with the hatred and rage that fed him his whole life. Even with the object of his hatred dead, he cannot let go of the anger inside him. Every slight, real and imagined, has to be answered with lethal force and it has led to the point that even his most trusted men live in utter terror of him. Despite that, no one would dare cross him and so, for now, all of Raulโ€™s soldiers are completely obedient to Tomas Jingoli, the Kin Killer.

PSCD update

For those who don’t read the forums or follow me on twitter, I made more updates on PSCD. You can already play several missions/scenes beside the free demo now ๐Ÿ™‚

As always the best way to download the demo is from my forums:


Besides the main plot missions, I have also added over 16 NPC missions. They’re specific missions with one of the various characters present in the game (including Remi/Alicia), as you can see from the screenshot above.

You’ll get 3 random NPC missions each time, so not all at once like in the image (it was a test I did during development). They’re mostly for the gameplay-fans, though there are also some small scenes in each of them (but really small, not like the team talk ones).

So far everything seems on schedule, the theme song is done (and it’s beautiful, can’t wait to show it to the public) and the video trailer is already being made. Barring unforeseen circumstances, the January 2016 release of the final game seems definitely possible ๐Ÿ™‚

After the base game is out, I’ll probably take a break and publish one of the dating sim (very likely C14 Dating!) and then get back to work on the DLC. After that, I’ll resume working on Queen Of Thieves, and other games (depending on their advancement status).

Speaking of C14 Dating… have you seen how beautiful the new CGs are?? no? here’s a sneak preview: