Switching genres and creative struggles

This year has been a particular year for me. Many things happened behind the scenes, and most of them weren’t good things at all! But I’m not here to talk about this in general, but about one thing in particular.

The “other games” dilemma

I hope one day one of my games is featured on Vapor!

One of the main things I’ve doing this year was to review what I’ve done so far as indie, and what else I could do. I’ve already discussed in past blog posts the possibility to do other kind of games. They say that to make a good game you should be passionate about it yourself first. And I think there’s definitely some truth in it. However, it’s not so simple, because even if you like a particular genre, then you also need to be able to develop a decent game (for indie standards at least) in said genre!

For example, as player, I always liked tower defense games. But making one, it’s not so easy as it seems. I’d also love to do a realtime 3D game, nothing complex as a FPS, but something like an adventure, or even a story-based game like those walking simulators.

So during this year I did various experiments, and while I can’t say that I would never be able to do one, the real question is if I would be able to do a good/decent one! And, after some experiments, I think the answer is: maybe, but it’s hard.

Of course, many things are hard to make, not just games! But there’s more: as I was doing those tests, obviously I couldn’t use the engine I love, Ren’Py, to do them. I briefly looked at Gamemaker, Unity and even Unreal tutorials and examples.

I even had some fun prototypes working, but the process was painful. If you ask any indie, they’ll all tell you the same thing: that switching engine/system once you learn it, is really hard! And even doing the same things becomes harder. I know I have personally spoken with some people that moved from Ren’Py to Unity, and they said that to make the same GUI screen (for example an inventory, level up, skilltree screen) it takes you x3 the amount of time in Unity.

Does this mean that Unity is bad, is worse than Ren’Py? Haha of course not! But once you’re used to something, you can get much faster results. Switching engines means switching not just languages, interface, etc but also mentality and losing a series of things you’re used to.

Leaving a “legacy”

Another thing I also considered when I encountered those difficulties is: why I want to make different kind of games? For personal growth, sure. To break the monotony, yes. But it’s because I’m tired of making story-based games? No, definitely not.

Amber’s Magic Shop gameplay could have been better but I still liked doing it

I realized that I can still do things differently even if I stick to story based games, and I stick to Ren’Py. The RPG/VN I’m making, like Planet Stronghold 2 (by the way, it’s going to be content complete soon! I hope to be celebrating it the next blog post) or even various experiments (more or less successful) like PSCD, Amber’s Magic Shop and so on.

And even when doing “simpler” games like VN/dating sims, I can still do things that I enjoy making: comedy games like Roommates, mystery games like Nicole, and so on.

The “secret yuri game” I have been working since last Summer it’s like this. While I can’t reveal too much yet, the game has probably the most diverse cast of all my games: a disabled young lady, a latina MMA female fighter and a MILF 😛

But I have already some ideas about games that mix VN with other form of gameplay, an idea in particular that I think is very original (of course this doesn’t mean that will be surely good).

At the same time, during the recent months, I got a lot of positive feedback and supportive messages! On the social media, by email, as comments to my blog, etc. Thank you, thank you all! It was really enlightening: it was like “what you’re doing now is good, please keep at it!

In summary, people expect me to deliver story-based games and I think I should keep doing this in future. Maybe mix the VN with other forms of gameplay as I always do (and not necessarily RPGs) but keep doing this kind of games. Switching genres completely probably is not the answer to my creative struggles 🙂

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2 Responses to Switching genres and creative struggles

  1. just another developer says:

    hi, if you go the unity path, consider buying the corresponding asset eg Tower Defense asset or third person shooter asset, it will save you time.

    I am a programmer, it took me 20 years to do a crappy game = 200k $ cost.
    I could have bought the corresponding asset from unity for 20$ and have instant results. In the end my game sucked, because i didn’t focus in other important areas. good programming, does not buy you more customers. Learned that the hard way.

    Do not be stupid and choose the path of ‘roll your own code’. You will never finish it and die out of funds. The costs of learning something new are insane. Takes 4-10 years to learn programming. Takes 2 years to learn unity. Takes 4-8 years to construct a bad program architecture etc… You want to learn ‘3d modeling’ too add 4-6 years to learn that.

    With my suggestion, you can focus on your ‘strong points’ like story. And neglect your weakness, eg buy assets that you lack skills. Ignore the crybabbies that cry about asset flip. You are indie, you cannot afford to ‘overexpand’ in too many areas.

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