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 😉
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! 😉
- 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)
– 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)
– Heirs & Graces beta
– Queen Of Thieves beta
– hopefully release of both Heirs & Graces and Queen Of Thieves, but this last one could be delayed to July
– 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
– Love Bites beta (though it’s just too early to say it now)
That’s all for now! Happy Easter by the way 🙂