Monthly Archives: June 2016

Queen Of Thieves beta


Yes, finally the game beta is ready! You can get more info and pre-purchase here:

Like always, during beta you need to visit my forums to know the download link, since it always changes based on the game version.

Of course even if it’s a simplified RPG, it’s still a RPG: so expect a longer beta testing period than my previous two games (C14 Dating and Heirs And Graces) ! However if you’re willing to help me and try the beta and report bugs, I will be very thankful 🙂


Non RPG players will also be happy to know that I’ve added a “Visual Novel Mode” even to this game, since it’s a feature that seems popular. Besides those who don’t like or aren’t good with RPGs, VN Mode is also useful to replay the game quickly, maybe to try other romances / alternate endings.

As I posted in the forums already, what I’m looking for mostly is feedback about the game pacing: since in the story you need to unlock several scenes by reaching a certain money threshold every time (like 1000 gold, 2500 gold, etc). I want to know if the amount of time needed to reach each step is OK, or could be made faster (or maybe slower).

I am also thinking that maybe I could even add in the options screen a sort of slider to adjust the game pacing:

Slow: you get less money and experience from fights
Fast: you get more money and more experience from fights

This way if you like to play the battles and unlock the skills slowly (in practice if you like grinding!) you could pick the first option, otherwise the second. It’s just an idea of course so I don’t know if I’ll actually add this feature, but I think could make sense to do that.

The game is still missing a few main plot CGs and some background images, but in the past days a lot of testing has been done already, and I got several people that reached the end successfully.

The last famous 10%

weaponroomIn the development screenshot above, one of the scenes of the main plot missions

What is this “famous last 10%”? In indie development, it’s usually how you refer to the last finishing touches, the polishing, the last bits of coding/art/music/etc you need to add to the game before you call it “finished”.

You could argue that nowadays a game is rarely finished, especially a complex one as a RPG, since new bugs always come out  even months after the “official release”. Or simply the developer makes patches and updates.

But anyway, in my case I am referring to the beta version, so not even the release. And I’m obviously talking about the game Queen Of Thieves.

Yes, I know that I said I would take it easy after all the games I released already this year (PSCD, C14 Dating, Heirs and Graces and the PSCD DLC just last week!) but… if you have the inspiration and especially if the weather is incredibly mild this year so far, why wait? 😉

I must admit that while normally I hate this “last 10%”, what they say it’s true: it’s one of the most important part of indie development. In case of a RPG, it can turn an average/mediocre RPG into a good/fun one.

For example, I’ve been tweaking the battles a lot recently. I even made a video!

In the video (the battles are speed up by 50% otherwise was too long) I show how the same battle can have very different outcomes. Obviously already having different skills will lead to different outcomes. But in this case, I wanted to see if I could beat this main plot boss fight without using any potion and without using the guard skill of Kira. I am playing in Normal difficulty, I leave the Hard/Nightmare one to crazy-ahem, “veteran” RPG players 😉

In the first attempt I do what was a good strategy in many cases: concentrate fire on the boss enemy to take him down first. But in this case, it’s not a good move. Instead, spreading the attack to weaken multiple targets it’s the winning strategy, together with paralyze on the boss.

Paralyze is very powerful spell, that’s why some bosses have high resistance to it (but they can be paralyzed for one turn anyway). I like how Kira’s strikes to lower the defense/armor value, combined with Thalia’s poison, can basically slowly weaken/kill multiple targets at once.

I am not sure how the beta testing will go yet, but being able to beat the bosses with different strategies surely it’s a good thing for any RPG!

Testing/tweaking battles apart, I’m adding a lot of minor details, including:

  • small background animations (for example in the forest during the day there’s a flying buterfly)
  • tweaking the amount of gold required to advance in the story, and the money you can earn. Yes, because as the story progresses, you’ll also earn more money running the shop or doing the robberies. This way even if the money required is every time higher, it shouldn’t take too long to reach the next goal.
  • possibility to sell gems to the shops, to earn more money quickly. Also increased the values of many gems
  • adding visual indicators on the map, so portraits of the love interests present in each location will be immediately visible
  • adding a step by step tutorial for first time players (something I didn’t have in my other games)
  • adding more backgrounds and unique sound effects

and the list goes on. It’s a bit frustrating to be honest, because it seems you’re working, but not making many progress really! This because they are all small details, hard to notice if taken singularly. But hopefully when you put all of them together, the effort I’m putting into this game will be apparent!

If all goes well, a beta at end of June seems a realistic goal 🙂

PSCD free DLC is now out!

As you can see from the screenshot above, there will be some very “tough choices” in the free DLC! 😉

Jokes apart, I’m pleased to announce that I’ve updated the PSCD live version on my site, which you can download from this page: with the promised free DLC update contents.

Note: If you have already bought and activated the base game with email/serial, you’ll need to do it again in the game main menu to access the new content!

For those who still don’t know, the free update (which was supposed to be a paid DLC) adds the possibility to romance Kaden, Galina, Lola and Christophe. All four characters are bisex, so in practice this adds EIGHT new romance routes. For free. Yeah, don’t get used to get free stuff like this, since it won’t ever happen again! 🙂

It also adds the “Quick Play” mode, which lets you do quick matches against ten predefined enemy decks. You can also tweak the AI resources, so you can tailor the game’s difficulty to your skills.

Other platforms

The update will come shortly to the Steam version (maybe even next week), since if you bought it only there and not also on my site, you won’t be able to get the extra content yet. I still want to promote it as a DLC (but of course a free one) on Steam, hoping to get some extra visibility for the game, something that it didn’t get on launch.

As for mobile, I wanted to wait for all the content to be ready so I could do the port in a single step (since updating on mobile is a bit of a pain). I am also waiting for an update on Ren’Py libraries (that’s why C14 Dating is not out on mobile too).

Anyway all things considered I think it should be available on Android/iOS/Kindle maybe next month, for sure during this Summer.

Why a free update?

It was a mistake on my part – I was so sure that the game would have been a hit, that I planned a DLC already. Something that you should never do until the game is out 😉

Now I know the game will never be a hit, but not a bad seller either. It’s just that has been much harder to make money as indie in general, vs a few years ago.

Anyway since I had already the romance CGs and all the romance routes written, I didn’t want to throw it away. But of course, I didn’t bother to code all the DLC story (yes, a sort of mini-story of 11 missions was also planned to go along this DLC) even if I still managed to add the Quick Play mode.

As I already posted in my forums, even if I enjoyed a lot working on this card game, unfortunately I couldn’t justify spending more time on this than I already have. My revenues from the game so far (divided by the months I spent working on it) are way below the minimum wage here in my country 😀

But I’m still happy, since now I have a card framework which I can reuse in future games, and I’ve learned a things or two about what people want in term of artwork (hint: cute manga art, avoid uncanny valley effect, etc). I’m an optimist by nature, so even for the projects that didn’t come out well, I think they still provided me valuable info and I’ve always learned something.

As some wise man said (Confucius): “He who learns but does not think, is lost! He who thinks but does not learn is in great danger.”

Heirs & Graces officially out!

I’m pleased to announce that Heirs & Graces is now officially out! You can see the game trailer above. For more info, screenshots and a free demo visit this page:

This game is my 3rd released game this year so far. I am not being lazy this year, am I? 😉

Jokes apart, it’s not like the three games in question (PSCD, C14 Dating and Heirs & Graces) were all created this year! I started working on them long time ago. In more detail:

  • Planet Stronghold: Colonial Defense started in Fall 2014. Originally a tower defense game without romance, it turned into a card game/dating sim hybrid!
  • C14 Dating was a project started back in 2013 (the original plot and writing)! then for various reasons was delayed until this year
  • Heirs & Graces was another “side project” started back in 2014, and it’s out now

So as you can see all the three games took a lot of time to make. But there’s no shortcut: if you want something to be good AND long (all three games have a script over 120.000 words, PSCD passes even the 200.000 mark!) you need to wait!

And now, a short postmortem for this game.

Heirs & Graces short postmortem

It’s obviously too early to say how it will do, also considering I have planned to release it on Steam later (to avoid the Summer Sale that as you know happens every year).

However, so far the reaction from people and the feedback/sales I got from my own site gives me hope. I was really unsure since it is my first yaoi-only dating sim, so I had no clue how it could do. I can say that I feel more relaxed now 🙂

That said, as I explained also in my forums, I really don’t think I’m going to do anymore games with a single romance combo in future. No yaoi only, yuri only, otome only, etc. Simply because making a game it’s already a lot of effort, and people need to wait years, I want at least to try offering something for everyone 🙂

This doesn’t change anything for the games already in production of course. So Never Forget Me will be a straight otome, Summer In Trigue a yuri only, etc.

Back to Heirs & Graces, I think the fantasy setting combined with dating sim was a good move. I just realized now that beside Spirited Heart, all my other dating sims aren’t using a fantasy theme. So I believe I should do more dating sims like this.

And I’ve already talked about the “no more grinding” in dating sim, and the scheduler system I used in this game was perfect I think: requiring some strategy to pass the main plot checks, but never grindy even replaying the game several times. I must reuse this system even in future games whenever possible!

Another thing that went well with the game was the “bittersweet theme”. It might be personal tastes of course, but I personally I prefer when there are funny/light scenes mixed with more serious/sad/melancholic ones (those who already played the game know what I am referring to!).

So except for games that are meant to be pure comedy (see Roommates!) I believe adding some more serious/mature/sad scenes to the story could help overall. As long as there is some way to get a happy ending 😉