What makes a good game?

Yesterday the sky was particularly good looking!

First of all: Happy New Year! I am writing this blog when in some places is just a few hours after midnight 🙂

The tradition as the first blog post of the year is to list the possible releases. But I just did that in the previous blog post, and since in the last years when I did it, it didn’t really bring much luck, I’m happy to write about something different this time!

During the holidays I took time to think and read some users comments. Some complained about my potential interest towards making more shorter/smaller sized games. Other said a good story must have some crazy elements to it, others mentioned Roommates as a great example of a good dating sim story. Some people complained about specific characters of specific games or praised for the same reason other characters.

So I asked myself this question: what makes a good VN/dating sim/story based game?

The base idea

The first thing I do when I decide to make a new game, is think about the base idea behind it. Sometimes, I have a scene/character in my mind, and I base everything around it or use it as starting point to get inspiration. Bionic Heart for example: I had this crazy thought “what if somehow a sexy android entered forcefully your life, and your girlfriend didn’t know about it? and if one evening your partner was going to have a romantic dinner in your apartment, where your sexy android is hiding?”.

I thought the idea had a lot of potential, both hilarious, sexy and rather unique. Then I started to think about the rest of the story.

So, while in general there can be even stories based on the classic “college dating sim”, I think the starting idea is one of the most important things when creating a new story for a game.

The characters

Then of course, the characters. As many pointed out, Loren’s setting was nothing particularly original. It was also my first game set in Aravorn, and I hadn’t yet done any research/world building. Everything was a bit rough 🙂 Still, the characters were rather memorable (Draco, Mesphit, Chambara, Loren herself, Karen, Rei… the list goes on) and made that game one of the most popular I made.

SOTW, while focused more on the gameplay, was appreciated too for the characters. Rowinda and the volcano joke will remain forever in my head… 😀

PSCD, while is not yet out at the time of writing this blog, has really some great characters. A great character is not only someone with special powers (Graciela) or particularly good looking (Charlotte/Rigel) but also a “cool” and “pro” like Galina, or a rebel like Kaden 🙂

My conclusion is that even if you can’t find a very original idea, you can still create something good by building interesting characters.

And last but not least, the writing!

Even if is still in beta, PSCD is getting already a lot of praise for its writing!

The writing of course is another very important aspect. Roommates is a dating sim set in college. Original? Not really. The characters are the classic archetypes: there’s the shy girl with glasses (Anne), the nerd/serious guy (Dominic), the hot latina (Isabella), the crazy artist (Rakesh), and so on.

Yet, it’s my most popular dating sim so far! Why? because of the excellent writing. Don’t get me wrong, even many other of my games have good writing! I’m just using this as example because it is really the best combination of classic/unoriginal setting with awesome writing. Already a game like Nicole had a more original setting/plot setup that this one 😀

Of course, other aspects matter too

I have been talking about the writing but of course art, music and gameplay are very important too. But here I wanted to focus mainly on the story-part of the games.

Of the games that will be (hopefully) out this year, I can say that I’m quite enthusiast of all of them, because one way or another (great characters or original idea or good writing) should be a worthwhile addition to every VN/dating sim/story-based game fan 🙂

So, onward to 2016! My new year’s resolution will be to release at least 3 games. Considering both PSCD and C14 Dating are at such good point, I think this time I should make it 🙂

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13 Responses to What makes a good game?

  1. Franka says:

    Merry New Year.

    Card games are the best games. What is this “story” you speak of? :p

    • admin says:

      Haha, I really hope PSCD does at least “well”, so I can make more card games. Now that have the engine ready, I could do them easier/faster 🙂

  2. Miakoda says:

    *fingers crossed* Heh, and one of my resolutions is to try and make sure one you might have one more release later this year 😉

  3. Daharen says:

    hi do you have any plans for plant stronghold 2

  4. Ronda says:

    I love your games because I can find time to play through a route. I have the latest 3 final fantasy games, tales of vesperia, and dragon age but I have not completed or even played them much because they take so much time that when I try to play and get busy and find myself trying to get back into the game and feel lost because I don’t remember were I was in the game I end up restarting and getting nothing done. The frustration makes me quit and the games just sit there. I want them but I just don’t have time for them with 3 kids. but I can buy and play your games and enjoy a great story great characters, and finish a route in my free time while still having a lot of game to play because your games are so good that I want to play all routes to see how they are. And honestly I enjoy the ones that have fluff endings. They give me a reason to smile. …….. PSCD was good enough I replayed it to get ALL endings(even the g/g b/g endings I don’t care about) but the endings were so ……open? or whatever I don’t have any urge to replay to see again. But Loren and Remember me had such good endings I love replaying to see them (even with the galery were replaying is not needed) Roomates has a good storyline and the art is great (also gives a little adult content heee heee ) but some of the endings are so open and ugg I just don’t replay it once for each route was enough. But it was so well written that even though I bought Maxes side just for the BL route I read all routes and had fun. Sorry just trying to let you know why I buy your games and what made me love them.

    • admin says:

      Thanks. I think one of the best feature of my games (and the tool I use to make them, Ren’Py) is that you can quickly skip already seen content, and replay from the exact point you want to play. With the games you mentioned is impossible. I too wanted to try some other romances in various games like DA:I or Witcher 3, but after trying a few minutes… I gave up. Too much time to spend just to get to the point to see the new content 🙁
      So I can totally relate to you! 🙂

    • Ronda says:

      and the walkthroughs!!! I don’t have free time very often. the fact I can come to your site and find a walkthrough so I can get the endings I want in the limeted time I have is another reason I buy your games. spoilers never bother me because it’s not me reading or playing the story. but when I have 2-3 hours to play with no other day in site to get to play walkthroughs save the day

  5. vic says:

    While I didn’t like the sexy clothing, Loren was my favorite game. I loved that I got to talk to everyone and that I didn’t have to have the perfect response to further a romance. I had a romance with Amukiki and I had some mean responses. I was a tsundere and I was successful . I don’t think I could do that in the other games.

    • admin says:

      Cool. I don’t know if you like PSCD setting (sci-fi) but there are some unique romance combo/theme in it too (will officially be out soon).

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