Monthly Archives: October 2017

Release plan and older games

First of all, PSA: I released a collection of my older games (really old, some of them date back to 2004!!!) on and Steam for the low price of $4.99! The collection includes some of my early sports sims and the two Vera Blanc games. I only put the games I was 100% sure would work under Windows 10 (no Mac or Linux, sorry).

I decided to to it since some people asked for it, and besides at such low price I think could be a good value for money (especially Universal Boxing Manager or TV Station Manager).

Also as you probably saw already, there’s the usual Halloween Steam sale with my various games discounted πŸ™‚

Release plan

We’re almost at the end of October, so time to look back at what happened this year so far and what to expect. As usual in this business, was a year of quick changes. As I wrote in previous blog post, for this year I won’t probably be able to finish any other game, even if I currently have 3 games at very good point: Cursed Lands, Volleyball Heaven and Love Bites.

If things go as planned, I will probably release Love Bites first. Half game is basically ready, so I could even try to do a pre-order/beta version with that relatively soon. I’m only waiting for the main trailer and some endings scenes: if I put the beta out with Sabrina and Viktor routes I’d like to have the ending CGs and the epilogues, so people experience the “full path” for each character at least.

For Volleyball Heaven, once the artist finishes the remaining CGs, everything else is pretty much ready, but scripting it will take a couple of months I think, also because (as usual lol) what originally started as 75k words max game became almost double that… πŸ˜€

Cursed Lands should be the last one to be released simply because, being a RPG with several innovations like the talent system and boss battles with dialogues/choices, it requires much more testing and coding than a simple dating sim. So even if I had all finished texts by end of year, I would probably need 3-4 months more to do the coding/testing/balancing.

A new way of working

Once I finish the 3 games above, with some exceptions for a few games already written/started but that I haven’t publicly announced yet, I am going to change how I work in future. In practice I’ll still be using a few selected external writers who have proven to be reliable and also skilled, but mostly I’ll be back writing the games myself and use editors only. I am already experimenting with this for Cursed Lands, adding some more camp talk scenes, and I think honestly the end result is good and progress are fast.

Fast, because I write them myself, and I always wrote things fast. And this doesn’t mean that what I write is set in stone, but I noticed that the writer while editing/reviewing the scene, often get ideas for more dialogues or even future scenes. It’s weird to explain but it’s a sort of brainstorming and exchange of ideas. I think this system works much better than an isolated writer writing on his/her own, no matter how good is.

Also after all those years, I know well what my players want, how much important is for them romance, relationships, sexy elements, jokes, etc.Β  And since I’d write the game as I’m coding it, the game story will feel much more integrated with the gameplay (a problem that some of my recent games like Amber or Queen Of Thieves had).

I believe that with a good editor/writer reviewing all the scenes, tweaking what I wrote, or even reworking/rewriting completely whole sentences, the ending result should also be of a decent level regarding grammar and writing quality! And most importantly with this system I shouldn’t have anymore delays of YEARS since I announced a game and its release. Yes, I know that’s a very common thing in the game development business, but honestly I don’t like it (and for sure my players don’t like it either).

Status update, codesign and other amenities

Yes I know that I said I would talk about games, and I am going to. But first, I need to make a short deviation πŸ™‚

I certify I have enough

Recently there has been a BIG drop of direct sales. Probably because of Steam direct, but also I suspect other factors. In summary, in last two months I reached the bottom. Luckily, sales on other platforms (mobile, Steam) while are going down (it’s the Indieapocalypse baby) didn’t totally collapse as the direct sales.

Chatting with other indies, I found out that actually my direct sales so far were much better than the average! lol, so the situation is global, even for very successful indies, there has been a great drop.

Why? Well, most people are used to buy/play on Steam, but the OS have their faults too: indeed both Windows and MacOS, now require apps to be “codesigned”, otherwise they show various warnings and it’s hard just to download the game (not even run, just download it’s difficult!). Yes you could codesign, which means you had to pay a yearly fee to get this “certification”, which IN THEORY should protect users from malicious software. A pity that in reality this doesn’t matter – because the codesign only certifies who made it, but not if there’s any virus/trojan/whatever in it (see what happened recently with a famous registry cleaner tool…).

I was codesigning my games (both on Win/Mac) but recently I am really too overwhelmed by all the stuff to do, so I am considering switching all my downloads to the platform, which seems well known to visual novel authors. The main reason it’s that it uses really great tools, on par with Steam. I will just mention two things that makes a big difference:

  1. incremental upload/download, like Steam. If I change one line in a file and it’s 5kb, both me and players only need to upload/download 5kb, and not the whole game installer (which maybe is 170mb). And for the customers who don’t want to use the itchio client, you can always download a .zip file normally. Doing beta testing with that system will be a breeze. How many times in the past I found a bug when it was almost midnight, so I simply posted in forums “sorry, I’ll update the game tomorrow”. Now I can just run a command-line tool andΒ  do it in 5 seconds making the update instantly available! πŸ™‚
  2. using the client, the codesign/OS warning don’t show. Since your game exe is launched by Itchio app (similarly to what happens on Steam) the various Windows/MacOS don’t show up those annoying “WAIT ARE YOU SURE!? YOU COULD START WORLD WAR 3!!” messages πŸ˜€

Of course, I won’t instantly switch, but I think it’s safe to say that for future games I’ll use exclusively to sell my games directly.

Speaking of games…

I’ll be the first to admit that I’m not really happy about the current status, by now I hoped to have at least another game in beta testing or even finished. But honestly, this year was a bit crazy, also considering the terrible Summer temperatures I got here where I live, which put me KO for 2 months!

Anyways, let’s see how is the progress of the various games:

Cursed Lands – this game simply became much bigger than I originally thought (lol, a new thing!). I am still coding the various sidequests, and writer said would write the main plot missions in the next weeks/months. When those are done, the game will be very close to completion. It’s going to be another of those 200k+ word RPG games, and I have pushed to add more camp talk and CG (each love interest has two bonus CGs besides the romance CG!). Also, both Vaeril and Nuala are bisex now, and you can romance them both with male or female protagonist. So at least looks like should be worth the wait πŸ˜‰

Love Bites – it’s half done: half of the game routes are fully scripted. In this case, once the writer finishes them, the gameplay is very simple (there is some stat raising but not like my other games) and it could be “put together” much faster. Depending on how things go, I think this one could be done faster than Cursed Lands. But of course depends when the writing is finished and the last thing I want to do is rush the writing of a game as you can imagine πŸ™‚

Volleyball Heaven – luckily the writing is 99% done, but there is still a lot of artwork to draw. So in this case we’re waiting for the artist, who is working hard, but there’s a lot to do. Drawing all those hot CGs takes time, you know πŸ˜‰

And what about estimate release dates? that’s the big question! Well, for all the 3 games above, I think early 2018 would work. Which means I could be in a fun situation where all of the 3 games above will be almost ready at about the same time. Then I’ll decide in which order to release them, but ideally I’d keep the RPG as last since that will require more testing.

As usual there could be some “surprises”, like games I’m not talking about much that suddenly get a boost and could even be released before the 3 above. You never know what’s going to happen! It’s the magic of working on so many games at once with different people all around the world.