The wind of change

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Need to give credit to my wife for the nice photo above!

And now after writing this title, I have the good old Scorpions’ song stuck in my mind!

“Listening to the wind of change” or better listening to the critiques, to suggestions by other more experienced indie, and listening to my heart πŸ˜‰

Between this and last year I have learned a lot, and I’ve decided that (after the current “batch” of games is done) it’s time to change:

  • no more “insanely huge epic games”. I know, I know. Everyone would like very big, long games (even if honestly I haven’t finished yet some AAA titles because… they were too long!). Anyway, I’ve realized it’s not possible anymore, with the exception of a few titles like could be Loren 2 and Roger Steel (big RPGs) to make games too big. I’m talking from the story point of view. I want to have a good story, but also add more gameplay. When I talk with more successful indies doing the same kind of games, I’m often surprised to see that their wordcount is always not even half of my most recent titles!
  • story based on the gameplay, and not vice versa. When I will make more “hybrid games”, apart of course the usual VN/Dating sims/RPGs, I will first decide the gameplay and then craft the story around it, or at least design them at same time. This is even more important for “experimental games” like PSCD was. In that case it was a mess (because of first coder quitting) but in general for my own games it’s not wise to have a story written and then have to code the gameplay around it. The result can’t be good. So, first design the gameplay, and then have a story to complement it.
  • much clear separation of genres. One of the strong points of my games (based on what OTHER people say, so it’s not my opinion) has always been the mix with visual novel and other gameplay genres. Well, there will still be this. But if the two genres don’t work well together (like visual novel and card games) doesn’t make sense to mix them, better have two separate games. Or if I still want to have story and gameplay, the story cannot be 200k word long, 10+ romances, etc. It’s just not possible to do that in the current climate, to have a huge story AND good gameplay. I should price the games over $30, and that’s honestly not going to work anymore right now, so it’s not really my choice! So instead of that, a card game for $9.99 and a story-based game for $19.99 for example (just a simple example of what I mean).
  • less grinding, more fun. For the dating/raising sim, one of the major complaints of my past games was the grinding. I’m definitely going to address that. For the record, I don’t consider grinding using a scheduler like Roommates. More like the various activities in Nicole to reach the required stats. Love Bites should be a good example of a dating sim with stat raising but not grinding. For the RPGs instead, I’m going to leave it. Since many RPG players like to grind! πŸ˜‰
  • gameplay-only games. I had already announced this, and it’s also related to future card games. I’ll make more (not just card games, even other genres) games like this to be sold at cheaper price, since I think is good to have a bit of variety over the dating sims/RPGs/VNs.
  • shorter but full of branching story-games. As you know I want to make a CYOA/old gamebook style game in future, illustrated with pictures. Well, that one won’t be 100k words, but even if it’s only 50k words will have a lot of branching. After all Bionic Heart has one of the highest review rating on Steam of all my games, and it’s just a little more than 50k words! Of course, I won’t write the games myself, only the storyboards.

OK I think I’ve explained enough! For many games that will be out (even next year) the things above won’t apply since I started them time ago, so they will still have maybe some grinding or be really “too big” (but of course since the text has been already written, it’s not like I’ll cut it down!).

But in future, doing the things above, I should be able to release games more regularly, and some of them cheaper than usual (which in the current climate seems very important) and even if the word count might be lower, the overall fun (and critic/players reception) will probably be higher. At least that’s what I hope, we’ll see!

For those wondering about the progress on games, I made a sort of estimate release schedule in my forums, which I copy paste here:

END OF MARCH
– launch C14 Dating on my site “soft release”. Probably on Steam towards end of April or early May
– finish all the QoT romance coding (not much left)

APRIL
– Forsaken and artist should finish the last scenes/CG for QoT
– I will take a look on Heirs & Graces and probably code the gameplay and start the beta maybe (though could be delayed to May)
– decide what to do with Undead Lily gameplay, possibly a RPG. Make a detailed storyboard this time :)
– probably do the PSCD extra romances free add-on (though could slip into May)

MAY
– Heirs & Graces beta
– Queen Of Thieves beta

JUNE
– hopefully release of both Heirs & Graces and Queen Of Thieves, but this last one could be delayed to July

JULY-AUGUST
– it’s likely that will be too hot to work as usual, plus I might want to take a break considering the insane amount of releases this year! I might do a few prototypes for new games though

SEPTEMBER
– Love Bites beta (though it’s just too early to say it now)

That’s all for now! Happy Easter by the way πŸ™‚

This entry was posted in card games, dating sims, development tricks, game design, general, indie life, life simulation, other games, otome games, roleplay games, simulation games, strategy games. Bookmark the permalink.

18 Responses to The wind of change

  1. Missy says:

    I hear you on huge epic games. Don’t get me wrong, I LOVE them but it’s thanks to them that my gaming backlog is so long.

    I’m an avid RPG gamer that has never been a big fan of grinding. I wouldn’t have said Roomates was grinding but I did find it difficult being balanced and getting the stats I needed for various endings.

    I have most of your games and am looking forward to everything you have coming down the pipe.

    • admin says:

      I don’t mind a bit of grinding, as long as it’s optional, not “forced”. If you want to kill 100 rats to raise your stats and make next battles easier, then that’s fine by me. But being forced to do it, no πŸ˜›

      • Missy says:

        That’s exactly what I mean. If I CHOOSE to grind to make later things easier for myself or for money or whatever that’s fine. Forced grinding either deliberate (something you HAVE to do) or faulty design (good luck beating the next section if you DON’T spend time doing it) I don’t like.

  2. Troyen says:

    I like the big epic games, but not every game has to be big or epic. It’s nice to have fun, shorter games that are easy to pick up and get into.

    I’m curious to see how you’re going to make stat-raising interesting. Spirited Heart was technically the first WW game I bought, but I never ended up finishing any endings because the stat grinding on easy was just a big annoyance.

    I don’t recall Nicole being nearly as bad (and it’s been a long time since I played), but the big problem is that it also gets really repetitive. If you’re scheduling the same activities in April that you did in October – March, then I don’t think there’s any depth to the stat raising; you just want to click through as fast as you can to pass the time (VN mode plz). A game like Magic Diary you sometimes had to adjust your schedule to make sure you had the spells you needed for the next test. And while it wasn’t perfect, I think the stat raising there was a big step in the right direction. I don’t know if HuniePop counts as a stat-raising game, but if so, that was also an entertaining take.

    The dating/simulation genre is one that I would really like to see some crazy innovation in. The concept behind it is interesting, but the executions are often meh.

    • admin says:

      Well I meant “less grinding” πŸ˜€
      If you don’t like stat raising in general… I think is hard. A bit like those who don’t like grinding in RPGs.
      Less grinding could mean:
      – not having to do too many clicks to do actions
      – do actions that change the story (new branches/texts show up)
      – not have a “fixed pattern”. You should change the scheduler based on events, stats, etc
      etc etc. Roommates did some of those things well I think. Repetitiveness is inevitable in most games. Like the Steam hit Stardew Valley, you have to repeat a lot of tasks, but overall the experience is fun, so players don’t mind it (of course if you really don’t like the genre, then you won’t like it).
      Innovating the dating sim is possible but also very hard, I’ll try to do something in future, though I think is easier to innovate in a RPG πŸ™‚

  3. Xarena says:

    Ok don’t get me wrong I understand why some people would want a more simple game that’s just about the fun but I’ll bet basically anything that Loren is your best selling game and that one is huge and epic and I love it and I love the games like that the issue I had with that Winter wolves game was that there was way to many battles and not enough story it never really slowed down to let the player or the character’s breath and when it did it was incredibility forced now I understand if that was kind of your first game where you wanted to focus more on the game play and that’s fine I understand a lot of people prefer those kind of games and I understand their cheaper and easier to make half the time but please don’t give up entirely on your huge epic story games their what drew me to your site in the first place I was never really a gamer and am still not I really only like and enjoy your games other then the ones I find on my kindle that are like choose your own adventure books but you get my point I hope you don’t give up on the the games like Loren or Cinder’s even Roommates maybe just make a huge epic game like that every once in a blue moon when you know you have the money and the resources.

  4. Helene says:

    Wish you the very best of luck with your upcoming games πŸ™‚

    So much to play now, C14 (love the art+story!) really looking forward to Queen of Thieves and Nicole (the game most of your fans are begging you for?) tooo
    Keep up the fantastic work you awesome Winter Wolf-people

    *waves from Britain*

  5. daikiraikimi says:

    I remember you talking about some of these goals in previous updates, particularly regarding shorter games. I have to say, I generally don’t have time to finish larger games, and then definitely not replaying them multiple times. (Which I like to do with shorter ones.)

    I love all your games, and I know some folks may be disappointed at not having longer ones, but there are also those of us who are thankful for it. Lots of us aren’t able to handle long games due to time, health, or other factors– I know that I have often put off long games just because I knew I didn’t have the ability to play it until the end. (And I hate the feeling of having a game unfinished.)

    Smaller games are easier to commit to, and play in one sitting. That also helps ease my guilt over having so many unplayed games piled up, haha.

    • admin says:

      Yes same for me as player. I finished Witcher 3, but I had to skip a lot of sidequests and play at Easy level, otherwise was too long. I still haven’t finished Fallout 4 and I don’t know if I ever will… too long! πŸ˜€

      • Missy says:

        I started playing big epic games on easy too. The completionist in me won’t let me skip side-quests that I find which is why I still haven’t beaten Witcher 3 OR Fallout 4.

  6. Luki says:

    I love your games and I’m looking forward to your releases this year. I was hoping for more news about Nicole Yuri version though since a lot of progress is done on your estimate thread.

    • lilypuff says:

      Sssh! Thou shalt not take into thy mouth the game which must not be named! Lest the curse shall grow deeper and spread its roots of rot, programmer shall betray programmer, and coding share the fate of the cursed tower of Babel. Speak not of it, because every letter spelled drips of poison and love turned murder most foul.

  7. Xarena says:

    Am curious what exactly is a beta?

    • admin says:

      A game which is finished or just missing a few features (though this varies from developer to developer) and players can already test and report any bug they find πŸ™‚

  8. anon says:

    “But if the two genres don’t work well together (like visual novel and card games) doesn’t make sense to mix them, better have two separate games.”

    I’d question this — card mechanics and VNs can and have been, imo successfully, combined before. Princess Waltz with its card-based combat comes to mind here. Not to mention the most obvious approach, where the VN is simply set in a world revolving around card game. Think “Yu-Gi-Oh, a VN”.

    So a take away from this would be, if you think two genres don’t work well together, before you dismiss the combination, think about them again and harder; there just might be a way that’s not _immediately_ obvious, but it is there πŸ˜‰

    regarding “grinding”, my personal pet peeve with certain stat-raising games (but also many VNs in general) is the way they set ‘stat requirements’ so high the game essentially forces you to pick the same activity or two (or a person) over and over and over the entire time, in order to get the ending. There’s simply nothing interesting in such approach — it doesn’t require any thought, and the whole mechanic becomes pointless; like a platformer which can only be completed by holding down ‘move right’ the entire time and nothing else.

    • admin says:

      Yeah two valid points πŸ™‚
      I’ll give a try again at card game + story. I think the real mistake of PSCD (beside the art haha) was to make such a big game. When you do something new the first rule is to try with something small, and if works, go on from there. For sure I won’t repeat this mistake in future “experiments” !
      Regarding the grinding yes I understand what you mean. In my upcoming game Heirs & Graces it’s a bit different since you also need to raise skills to pass some skill check to get the best endings. I plan to use that system and evolve from it in future dating sims/stat raising.

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