Monthly Archives: April 2019

Fifteen years indie

Indie since 1896! 😛

Happy Birthday to me! Well it actually was earlier this month, the day before the previous blog post. But here I’m celebrating my 15th birthday as indie! I already wrote about my journey in my previous post of five years ago, so if you want to know more about it read here:

The present

Now, five years have passed since that post, and things changed, changed a lot. In practice, everything has become insanely harder. I had to start a Patreon, because things are so tough recently that I felt I needed some help to finish the next games. Once again your response was really overwhelming for me, and I want to thank you all for your support!

Why things got harder? there are many factors but in the last weeks I thought about it a lot, and basically it’s due to a single main factor: “the gatekeepers”.

Back in 2004 when I started, you could sell directly from your site. I even knew people making six figures a year directly. And consider that amount using vendors which takes around 8-10%, not modern portals which take 30-35%…! But wasn’t only in 2004, I was still selling fine direct even when I wrote my previous blog post back in 2014, so 5 years ago.

In recent years instead, we had two different big changes:

  • the advent of mobile devices
  • Steam accepting all games and becoming “de facto” the most common way to discover/buy/play new games

In the first case, a new market opened, so thanks to Ren’Py I decided to try, and even if the money is really low compared to desktop, at least with Ren’Py doing the mobile ports is easy (except iOS, because of course everything Apple-related must be a pain in the ass, forcing me to hire an external coder!).

But in any case, even if probably some people who before were playing my games on desktop, now play them on mobile, for sure there are also new people/players who were introduced to my games (except for RPGs, I don’t know how you can play one of my RPGs on the tiny tablets! seems impossible) thanks to mobile devices. So that probably balanced things out in the end.

The ‘Steam tax’

But Steam? That is a different matter. Now, I am not “anti-Steam”. I am neutral, and I welcome the new Epic store because a monopoly is never a good thing (I can say it being neutral since there are 0% chances any of my games ever being accepted on Epic store lol).

As a matter of fact though, when before you could make a game, and say “I have 1000 true fans who will buy my next game. This new RPG costs $24.99, I’ll make around $25k and after vendor costs will be around $22-23.000.” now this reasoning is no longer valid. First of all the competition is crazy. Second, the discovery is a big problem on Steam right now due to non-working algorithm (I keep getting flight simulator games shown to me, even if I never bought one in my life!). But even if we consider that the same amount of people (the true fans) will buy my RPG, the problem is the fee: of those $25k in sales, less than $17k will end in my pocket after Steam’s cut. Such a difference for small indies like me is a lot, means less money to invest in the next game, more worries, etc.

Many of you still buy direct from me, and once again I thank you (I get almost 30% more each sale!) but the vast majority will obviously buy on Steam. I am not blaming users, since it’s not really their fault.

It’s what I call “the Steam tax” – basically when in 2014 Steam started Greenlight, IF your game got accepted on the store, you would get GOOD exposure. Really, really good, millions of views. Totally worth the 30% commission they asked in exchange of such visibility. Now? It’s almost like selling more or less to the same amount of people that before were buying on your own site, but of course you earn 30% less than before. Not a good thing as you can imagine!

The future

I won’t be lying and for the first time since I’m indie, I am not sure if I’ll still be here five years from now to write a new blog post. I mean, I probably will because even if this ended up becoming an hobby for me, I would still find the time to do it.

Things in life change, and nobody can really know what will happen in future, but the situation right now is rather tough. And it’s not just me, the mr nobody indie! I know of friends who made MILLIONS (literally millions) back in 2010-2014 on Steam that right now are not earning enough to make a decent salary (indeed many quit full time indie and took a daily job instead).

Haha this post turned out rather sad, didn’t it? It wasn’t my plan I swear, but if I had to write about the current situation, this is it. I hope nobody thinks I’m giving up or anything: I’m doing my best with my skills and resources. But I’m also living day by day, without much expectation about what will happen.

Hopefully we’ll see again in five years and I’ll still be a full time indie!

Corona Borealis beta begins

the lovely main menu of Corona Borealis with the full cast

The game beta is finally ready! You can find it here:

No demo reasons

In case you’re wondering, I’m not going to have a demo for this game for a simple reason: during the scheduling part, you can talk with the person you’re working with. There’s a series of questions you can ask, and even if some questions are restricted to certain conditions of the game, you can actually play and discover most of them in the first part of the story (before the 4th of July event).

Also, this game is small, much smaller compared to my usual games: as you can see the price also reflects this, since it’s the chepest game I released in the last 9-10 years! Of course, you can replay it and unlock two different endings for each character, so the game length should also consider replaying the story, but still a demo wouldn’t have worked even in this case.

In summary the way the game is structured, prevents me from making a demo, a bit like what happened many years ago with one of my first dating sim games ever: Summer Session.

The game

That said, the game has 12 beautiful CGs, so actually the same amount or more than many other games I’ve made, so if you’re there for the art, you won’t be disappointed! The artist (Deji) really did a great job there.

The writing is really funny and lovely at the same time too. I’d say it’s a sort of spiritual successor of my early otome games, the Flower Shop series (even if the writer is different of course, it reminded me of those games).

If you’re looking for a simple, funny but at times also dramatic (because there are really some… unexpected events!) story, I’d say you can’t go wrong. Personally I’m really happy that Jill asked me to help her finishing this game because now that I see the final result my initial thoughts are confirmed: it really was worth doing it. Have fun!


Miele 2001-2019

Not even a month after my beloved Nina passed away, and I’m here writing about another cat, Miele, who died due to renal failure. Unfortunately having so many old cats, it’s not something entirely unexpected.

In this case at least he lived a long life for a cat, he is the pet of mine that lived most, 18 years! Though we’re not sure about the exact birth date, since we rescued him in 2002 and he was already no longer a kitty.

He was a shy, a bit crazy cat – he would never stand still inside our house. Always exploring the surroundings, but finding time to go back and show his affection, especially in the evening when I was watching the TV.

It’s sad for me for two reasons: the first one obviously that I lost him. The second because he was the first pet my wife and I adopted together, and that’s also when I really fell in love with her beautiful soul.

Goodbye Miele, it has been a good and long ride!