Monthly Archives: July 2019

Good, fast and cheap

since some people complained about Cursed Lands’ enemies lack of personality, I’m adding several talks with them like Cullen in this case

There’s this famous saying about a product (or even a service) that uses the three keywords: good, fast and cheap and says “pick two”.

Applied to a game, we could say that I could produce a cheap game, quickly (fast) but that is not good, because I would need to hurry, and if the game is sold cheap I couldn’t spend a lot of money on assets or even myself. Or another variant could be: a good game and release it fast, but not cheaply, since I would need to hire the best team possible who could draw/write/code all at once to produce a good result in a short time.

Those are just random examples (in real life even if you have the money to pay a team of professionals, it’s hard to coordinate everything anyway!) but I am talking about this to introduce the topic of this post: future games.

Future games (unannounced ones)

This regards only future games of course, not the ones already announced or that are already in the works. In practice the thing is – after Loren, and its insane amount of romances (and since the game was very popular) I thought it was possible to repeat that. It is possible for sure but it’s extremely hard. Even if Cursed Lands did very well, it was really difficult to finish it and I’m not sure if doing such games is still commercially viable, or even if I can still make them without going insane lol.

I’ll try to explain better, since it’s of course something seen from the point of view of the developer, but also of the players. Doing a game which has a big gameplay part (like a RPG) AND also has a big number of love interests (I consider big anything over 4-5 love interests) it’s a HUGE amount of work as you can imagine.

It’s really hard to write, and there’s the risk of getting burned out, maybe making some of the romance path unsatisfying (even if so far almost everyone loved Cursed Lands and I hope the same is for Planet Stronghold 2). And even if everything it’s done properly, it will take a LOONG time. When things take a long time it’s bad since I don’t see any money until the game is out, and all sort of bad things can happen like writers dropping in middle of the development and so on. A long project is inherently riskier.

this main menu image was ready back in 2014 and still the game is far from being finished

If Loren 2 didn’t had so many love interests, it would probably have been already finished 3-4 years ago. It’s too late to change anything now, but for sure having so many romances planned was a TOTALLY FOOLISH idea. I don’t need to sell dreams like many people on Kickstarter do, to get the money immediately and then maybe not even deliver a product after years. Indeed I don’t want people’s money until I have at least a beta version. So if I announce something I want to keep the promise and deliver the best product I can.

But when I did, somehow I made a mistake and I hadn’t clear exactly what I was doing – if I could go back in time, I wouldn’t have done this again for sure! And believe me I even thought to cancel it, but I have spent already so much time and money on it, that I really can’t.

I will still do my best of course, but from now on, I will NEVER make a game with more than 4-5 love interest. Never. Because it’s not going to work, even if you have 50 love interest there’ll be always someone who complains about something. It’s much better to have “only” 4-5 love interest but with well done, satisfying romance paths instead.

Challenge accepted

the new Fatigue system I introduced on Planet Stronghold 2 beta

When making my RPGs, I always found myself asking the question: do people play only for the romances, or also for the RPG gameplay part ?

Initially, I thought the most requested feature was romances, and I still think it’s one of the most important things people look for in my RPGs. After all, there are plenty of other RPGs with much better gameplay, but not many with also a good amount of romances (or like in Planet Stronghold 2, SIX love interest for each playable gender!).

However, as time passed by, I also noticed that there’s a good amount of people who play also for the roleplay element. I’m not saying they only play for that, but beside a good story and romances they’re also looking for a challenge. This was especially obvious during Seasons Of The Wolf development, with people who replayed the game like… 10 times!

The Fatigue System

And this brings me to the post title and to the new feature I recently added to my game Planet Stronghold 2 (still in beta/development): the ‘fatigue system’.

In short: while testing the game last year, I had a “deteriorating armor system”, which meant the armor wasn’t regenerating after each fight. Since armor is very important in this game, it would force the player to go back to the colony after several fights.

I was then forced to remove that system since was messing up with the items (I should have each single armor have a defense value that could go down… sort of “condition” of items, but that was a bit too much). The result was that during the beta, I had some player clear the first three quests of chapter 1 in a single day.

This clearly wasn’t working anymore as it should: if you design a game so that there’s a deadline and you must run against time to finish it (if you don’t finish the quests, it’s not a game over), and then people can complete all quests in a single day, then they have 7-10 days to fill in which they do nothing but clicking “End Day”.

A similar problem happened to Cursed Lands, but that was more due to how the plot structure was made. In this case, the gameplay mechanic was broken. So I sort of re-introduced a similar feature to the deteriorating armor called “Fatigue system”. In practice each party member has a Fatigue counter that increases as they fight, and the counter reduces the HP/PP of the character in percentage. It cannot go above 30%, but already 30% less makes a lot of difference especially when playing in Hard difficulty.

It’s a medium-impact change, because it doesn’t make the battles themselves harder, indeed if you go back to the colony you can rest and recover fully. So if there’s a difficult battle you can simply rest and try later. But it makes the whole experience more challenging and at the same time more immersive: it was really jarring to read the story in which clearly the player’s colony was short on resources, there was a war going on, desperate situation, etc and then… the protagonist could kill everyone and solve all quests in a single day ! lol


In conclusion, I think this addition was a good idea, since people who are interested only in the story, can play the game in the Visual Novel Mode or even the full RPG experience but in Easy mode, which makes most battles really trivial! I tested it and I could win 90% of the fights just upgrading equipment and using auto-combat without any use of the party skills or items!

Those instead who want a challenge, with Hard/Nightmare difficulty and this new addition will find it.