Planet Stronghold: Colonial Defense postmortem

So first the great announcement: Planet Stronghold: Colonial Defense IS OUT!!!!!!!

To get the game or try the free demo, visit this page:
Like always, buying direct will grant you a free Steam key when the game will be out on that platform (probably around March, not sure yet).

It was basically done since early January, but I wanted to wait to get some extra voices added for some cards. I think it was worth the wait, check some previews:

A postmortem aka “The Miracle”

The story of PSCD is a very troubled one. It all started back in autumn 2014, when I had the crazy idea of combining the tower defense gameplay with a visual novel. Yes you read it right: originally the game was to be a tower defense game! :O

Then for various reasons, I gave up the idea (I had to use a custom engine, learn new stuff, etc etc, doing those kind of games is harder than it looks). So, what could I do? Already the whole base plot was written by Miakoda, the game writer, and I had to find something that could fit. I had this enlightening moment: since for Undead Lily I wanted to have a collectible card gameplay, why not use it also in PSCD?

This way, once the coder had built the system, I could have used it at least on two games (more in case it was well received). I’m a big fan of making engines/frameworks and reusing them, as you can see with what I did with Loren’s framework: I reused it on SOTW (adding 31298 new features! lol) and I am reusing it in a different way for Queen Of Thieves as well.

Anyway, I had made my mind. Unfortunately, the coder couldn’t work until August on it. The situation was a bit weird last year, since I had so many games in production, and SOTW was a “relative flop” (would still be a good seller if only I hadn’t used 10 months of my own time coding it!!). I needed to get at least one game out, since as you can imagine until I release the games, I can’t recover the money I’ve invested. At some point, I can’t keep investing in new games if I don’t release anything new! 🙂

Of the other games, while they were making progresses, none was really advanced as PSCD. The other one, Queen Of Thieves, was at good point but still missing all the scripting and romance CGs and there are MANY of those 😉

That hot Summer, and the Fall/Winter rush

Seems a porn movie’s title, doesn’t it? haha nothing like that though! Summer 2015 here was insane, with temperatures over 39°C (and I live at 800m on sea level!!!). As result I couldn’t regularly work for almost 1 month and half. Then, at end of August / beginning of September, it cooled off and it all started.

As of the 1st September 2015, PSCD was just a prototype of the deck building screen.
By the end of that year, PSCD was basically finished!

I think it was an amazing achievement, to do such a game in 3 months!! Of course I already had most of the writing and art done, so I am talking about the coding part on my side, but still there were so many things that could have been gone wrong!

Thanks to some dedicated forum users (among them I want to mention Franka the master of CCG, and Troyen who is always willing to help with typos/proofreading) I was able to test the game, and I also made a very smart move adding a “VN Mode”, so everyone could play the game, even those interested only in the story/romances (and there are really some interesting ones in the game!).

The work done by Anima (the coder) and Miakoda (the writer) together with Dennis (main artist) was amazing. Without their help I surely wouldn’t have made it!

What is even more fun, it’s that this was the latest (or maybe one of the latest) game I started, and was the first to be finished! And surely not because it’s small, rather the opposite: 200k words of story (not including the DLC!), complex optional gameplay, lot of romance CGs and ending CGs!

It is also the most expensive game to date I’ve made, and I think it shows (the quality of art, music, everything put this among the best games I’ve done I think).


I can only draw a conclusion from this experience: if you are motivated, and work with people who are motivated/professional as well, nothing is impossible. On the opposite, if you work with amateurs/unmotivated people, even doing the simplest task becomes impossible.

I don’t know yet how the game will do in the next months: I hope well enough, since beside recovering all the money/time I’ve spent, I really enjoyed designing the cards and the gameplay in general. And I have already Undead Lily that will use this system. But I hope in future I’ll be able to do even more card games beside that one 🙂

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16 Responses to Planet Stronghold: Colonial Defense postmortem

  1. Franka says:

    Grats on reaching release date! I think this is a game that should be able to do well on steam, I know there’s interest for single player CCG style games. I’ll spend some time writing a review to be ready for the steam release.

    When you get to DLC and more Undead Lily, I’ll be happy to assist with balancing and card text again (as time permits).

    • admin says:

      Thanks, I hope will do well on Steam and on my site. On mobile sadly I tried and the card part runs really too slow… but maybe people will play it in VN Mode 🙂
      As for the DLC and UL, will start them very likely after I’m finished with Queen Of Thieves, but surely hope you’ll be able to test/balancing since your help was really precious!!

  2. 0xrenx0 says:

    39 degrees is insane, I’m surprised you didn’t melt. :/

    • admin says:

      I went in the “crypt” (my house cellars), which usually had -5°C vs the house but I could barely work even there 🙁

  3. Kurizu208 says:

    I hope you do use the system in other future games. Really enjoyed it in the demo especially how you make a deck from two of the main cast. (Samuel and Xaiver was my fav in the demo.)

    Hope to get the full version soon.

  4. Eva Tar says:

    When I try to download the Windows Demo, I get an error message from Windows saying “signature on file is corrupt.” Clicking on “Read more” gives warnings about accepting downloads from unknown publishers… However, Norton Utilities coded this file as “safe.” … Just a heads up.

    • admin says:

      That’s weird, I had another user with this issue, but I think it’s actually that the file wasn’t downloaded correctly (like truncated before downloaded completely). Can you try again and see if still happens ?

      • admin says:

        Nevermind I found the issue: microsoft automatically blacklist any new .exe (indeed this happens only in Internet Explorer/Edge). After the file has been downloaded by many people, then it’s “OK” 😀
        If you try to download the same file with Chrome or Firefox, you’ll see no problems 🙂

        • candesco says:

          Well, i got the issue that Windows started to nag once i wanted to open it. Luckily there is a tab called read more and by clicking on that you can choose to ignore the warning. I run Windowns 8.1.

  5. redsimon says:

    Is the sync achievements button in PSCD designed to add the achievements to the Steam version?

    • admin says:

      Yes exactly, so for now doesn’t work 🙂 but when the game is on Steam you can use it (I haven’t tested yet, will do it before uploading there).

  6. candesco says:

    I wouldn’t call SOTW a flop. I enjoyed it at least. Granted, it ain’t like Loren, but it ain’t bad. It’s a solid game. I have seen worser.
    As for PSCD; well, i downloaded the demo, installed it and played for a while.
    It reminds me a bit to Etherlords, where you also have cards and have to make a deck. I’m not that good in cardgames. Game itself is quite fun.

    • admin says:

      Indeed I said “flop” only because of the high amount of time I spent on it. Apart that, it sold quite well. But if you consider that for PSCD I spent just 3 months of my own time… it’s 3 times less, and of those 3 months I wasn’t even working full-time (especially in December). So that’s quite a difference vs 10 months coding 8h/day 😛
      About PSCD I think to offer a VN Mode was a good idea, this way if you don’t like the card game you can still enjoy it!

      • candesco says:

        I just went with the classic option (i think it’s called that), so i use the card game anyway. I do like the cardmode, but i’m just not a pro in it. Though i have to say it’s easier then etherlords. Have to start over sometimes, because of a bad choice, but i think i know now how it works.

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