Restart from scratch

Lana’s route is the one who got most changes in the new beta

First, an announcement! Volleyball Heaven new beta is out: https://winter-wolves.itch.io/volleyball-heaven

The base story is the same but we’ve made several adjustments to a certain abrasive character (Lana lol) and fixed some endings (like Zoe’s final kiss scene for example). Also, it should be generally easier to win all the volleyball matches to unlock all the beautiful CG scenes. For a full list of changes check my forums or itch.io latest version.

All the changes were based on the feedback we received from the first early beta versions, thank you all !

Being stubborn doesn’t always pay off

In today’s blog (or better I should say this month’s blog, since I’ve started blogging regularly only monthly from this year) I want to talk about something I wish I had done more times: when a game, an idea, is not working, in most cases it’s better to cancel it and start something completely new.

I did this only once so far in my indie career, and it was when I canceled Nicole yuri, but I can count at least 2-3 other cases in which I stubbornly finished the games, but it would have been better to not do it.

I am going to make some examples, but for all those games it’s only my fault, since in the end I was the one who took all the important decisions. No one else is to blame.

A classic situation was when I made a series of games, without knowing how the first did. It’s crazy. Doing sequels in general is not a good idea (I made a blog post long time ago talking about that) but sometimes it can be worth it, like Planet Stronghold 2 since I wanted to explore more that world and I felt that enough players were still interested in it. The very high review scores seems to indicate that the final result wasn’t bad !

But other times I did sequels, or even series of games set in a world, when it was really better if I paused first and looked at the numbers before going on, like with Vera Blanc for example.

The “cursed” games!

Other times instead, it’s even hard to find a reason why the project isn’t working. It can really be just bad luck. You know, when every single thing you do, doesn’t work. And maybe you start thinking it’s the writer, or artist, or it’s you, or you picked a wrong genre, or any other reason, but the reality is, and you might laugh at it but I swear is 100% true, that there are project that are lucky, and others that aren’t!

For example, when I did Loren, or Cursed Lands, I knew already from the very first steps that I was going in the right direction, not that there weren’t any obstacles or problems (those are ALWAYS present in any game I made) but that I knew I would overcome them, it’s hard to explain by words but was like I had faith, trust in the game. And then it continued, with first beta versions that people were really loving it, strong early sales, good Steam reception and so on.

But the same can be said in the opposite case. Games that starts badly, replacing writers/artists 2-3 times for example, or having hard time to design/plan a good gameplay or story, cold reactions even from fans when I post some previews, and so on. In those cases, I should have stopped and reconsidered everything.

Get early feedback

Another tip, even if it’s not always easy especially when doing story-based games (because it largely depends on personal tastes), is to get early feedback. Both during beta (like we did with Volleyball Heaven) but also in the very early stages, if you’re not sure about something.

For example last month I had an idea for a fantasy story, but as I was writing it myself, I had some doubts. It turned out more grimdark than what I usually do, and there were also other problems. I showed it to some trusted writer friends and their feedback was super enlightening.

Basically by doing so I saved myself a lot of time (rewriting /adapting it when it was only in the early stages was much simpler than doing it after I wrote 50-60k words!!) and I also understood how I had to write the remaining part.

From now on I think I’ll be doing this (asking private feedback) whenever I have some serious doubts about a story I’m doing. So in short: don’t have fear of cancelling games, or question your own ideas even in the early stages. It will pay off in the long run!

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4 Responses to Restart from scratch

  1. Jaeger says:

    I can sympathize. I had experiences with art and machining projects that got botched beyond repair after spending a significant amount of time on them, sometimes near completion. I agree it’s better to stop/fail early rather finding out much later things won’t work out.

    That being said, if you plan to use crowdfunding, backing out of a project is going to be a lot harder.

    • admin says:

      Yes and that’s why I’m going to do crowdfunding only when I’m 100% sure about an idea, ie I have a working advanced prototype of gameplay or a good plot outline done 🙂

  2. Andrew Wooldridge says:

    Thanks for these insights. Having followed your games from the original Heileen and Loren and seeing you grow as a developer, it really gives me hope that I can make games and your persistence and tenacity always reminds me what a great developer you are. Your games have a special place in my heart and I want to thank you for all the fun they have provided me.

    • admin says:

      Thank you for your nice words!
      Yes I think that maybe the main lesson you can take observing my work is that tenacity and persistence is as much important (or more) than programming/writing/artists skills 😛

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