Cursed Lands postmortem

One of the many endings / epilogues of the game. This one is not a big spoiler since we know already about Loren and Breza from Loren first game!

As promised, here is the postmortem of my latest RPG Cursed Lands. The game was released in May this year after about 3 years of development. Personally I was involved in coding and writing it from past year, starting around April/May until May this year, so I spent about one year of work on it (not always full time though, since February to May was mostly bugfixing).

The gameplay

For the gameplay, I reused my RPG engine with the changes done for Queen Of Thieves, of which the biggest were:

– no front/back row and no position swap during fights
– possibility to damage target’s defense to increase damage done and hit/miss chances reducing normal damage done
– portraits showing on the map when you can talk to a character
– non lethal battles

but at the same time I also introduced several new gameplay elements:

– “first person view” with the possibility to have bigger enemy sprites and monsters of varying sizes
– the social talent system with a series of new things like enemies attacking each other, fleeing battle, giving items to player
– the deteriorating defense system, so that over time the defense would go down as target takes hits, to avoid the battles dragging out too long
– skill checks outside the battle
– items with associated skills (like a magic book casting a spell, usable even by non magic users)

now I admit that some changes were mostly cosmetic, like the “first person view” of the combat, but I think it looks really better than before. In a way it’s like my first RPG Planet Stronghold in which you could see the enemies fully, and not just portraits. I know that some people disliked it (not this change in particular but the removal of front/back rows).

I agree that from the tactical point of view removing the front/back row is a step down, and I will probably re-introduce it in Loren 2. I’ll also try at same time to have a nice visual, so perhaps still “first person view” like in Cursed Lands, but with the enemies placed in a front/back row, and the party as well. The screen will be a bit crowded though 😉 Anyway, there’s time to think about this.

The numbers

Cursed Lands numbers are very impressive:

– a plot of over 300,000 words with a lot of branching paths
– character creation system with over 1 million possible combos
– over 100 unique item designs (not 500 as I erroneously posted on twitter a while ago)
– if we consider color variations, over 250 different items (this means I reused same icon design but tweaked the colors to create a new item)
– a soundtrack of 21 tracks + theme song
– 5 love interests for each gender (though 4 bisex characters, the nagas, Nuala and Vaeril)

it is hands down the biggest game I’ve ever made: biggest story, soundtrack, items. SOTW has more combat and enemy variants, while Loren had more love interests, but overall this one was the biggest.

Bigger is not always better

That’s what they say, right? Well, in this case of course some people liked it a lot, others were neutral, and another group disliked it. But they are just people’s opinions, what interests me mostly are the hard facts, the statistics/figures, so let’s see some numbers:

– during the first week on Steam, Cursed Lands sold twice the amount of SOTW
– during the first 3 months, Cursed Lands sold more than Queen Of Thieves in 2 years
– during its first month of direct sales, Cursed Lands sold slightly more than Loren

I don’t think comparing it to Loren is fair though, since those were really different times. Indeed Loren sold about the same amount each month for longer, while nowadays after the launch month, it’s really rare for a full price game to keep selling the same amount for many consecutive months.

So it was a success? Yes, I think it was, especially considering the big “indieapocalypse situation” and for my modest standards of course. I know other indies that made twice the money with simple porn yuri dating sims of not even 1/5 of the size of my game and, of course, zero gameplay and complex coding. I love doing RPGs so I’m a special case, but if you’re after the money I definitely wouldn’t recommend doing one!

Anyway, I am personally satisfied of the job I’ve done with the help of the various collaborators and I’d like to think that maybe one day I’ll be remembered by the RPGs gameplay and not just by nice art/sexy contents.

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10 Responses to Cursed Lands postmortem

  1. Matthew Stemwell says:

    Having a story driven game that puts at least a few major choices in the players hands (and making those choices matter) is always a good value. Cursed lands was a very enjoyable game. My only regret is not much of a mage choice for player class. Still a good value though.

    • admin says:

      Yes like Loren the main character had a very specific role (in Loren was healer, here was with the talents skill).
      For Planet Stronghold 2 there will be full customization and I hope to have something like that for Loren 2 as well 🙂

  2. Bob "The Mob" says:

    “I agree that from the tactical point of view removing the front/back row is a step down, and I will probably re-introduce it in Loren 2.”

    Meaning we’ll see that game out soon? Loren was my 1st game from you guys and I’ve been DYIN to see what’s next! 🙂

    (Apologies for this having little to do w/ this post.)

  3. Nacht says:

    I really enjoy the complexity of the whole Aravorn’s series, it was like reading a chronicle. I tried to compile a timeline of each events and see they’re connected together and get really satisfied when I discover something unexpected. Please continue making more games like these! Thank you.

  4. Stephanie Blitz says:

    I loved the game, although I’ve only played it through once so far–it has lots of replay value, like Loren and SOTW. I admire the amount of thought you put into everyone’s backstory and motivations. If I have one complaint, it is that with the exception of the two Nagas we didn’t get to see the characters interacting with each other very much, only with the main character. I would have liked to see more group scenes or a camp setting like in Loren. I missed the humour of seeing characters bicker and flirt with each other.

    Other than that, well done!

    • admin says:

      Yes this is mainly by how the game was made, so that you could never recruit some characters – for example you could do the whole game without ever meeting Jasper, or you could never recruit the “other” dwarf/elf/naga, so that made hard (almost impossible) to have party banter. But for example in PS2 that I’m working on now, there won’t be this issue so there will be “party banter” 🙂

      • Troyen says:

        It can be done. It doesn’t need to be a full nexus of interaction like the 16-character shouting matches in PSCD, but you could have a few talk scenes between various character pairs and only show them if the player recruited both players in the scene. Then you can have one of the dwarves trying to get along with a naga or something like that. Or Leena bickering with one of the humans.

        But it costs more to add some mild (though admittedly cool) benefit, so I can understand not wanting to make an already big game like Cursed Lands even bigger!

        Good to hear the game did well. VN RPGs are a vanishing breed under the onslaught of pixel RPGMaker-type games, which are a completely different type of gameplay.

        • admin says:

          Yes it can be done but Cursed Lands is my only RPG in which you can completely skip to recruit HALF of the characters! 😛 I think it’s something I’ll never repeat this in future RPGs because doesn’t add any special benefits, since writing scenes checking every time which characters are available is a pain (and also leads to error).

          VN RPGs are a vanishing breed under the onslaught of pixel RPGMaker-type games, which are a completely different type of gameplay.

          Well probably because RPGMaker games need 1/10 of the time and money to make vs the VN/RPG style I do 😉
          (I know a dev friend doing them and never spent more than $500 to make one!! lol)

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