A clarification about Loren 2

Don’t worry ladies, Rei will be back soon!

Today I wanted to clarify since many people wondered about Loren 2’s fate. Yes, Loren 2 will not exist anymore as originally intended: a single, huge, impossible to write and code game with 16 love interests (seriously, what I was thinking when I planned it?). But I got an idea, so keep reading and don’t worry.

Remember that Planet Stronghold 2 took me one full year (working full time on it, while I usually work on 2-3 games at same time) and it has 10 love interests. Loren 2 originally had 16 planned, so even 6 more than PS2!!

Even if I already thought to split the game in two parts, in the end everything had still to match together, since they both were still part of a single story. So I had to pay attention to plot-holes, branching, romances, etc.

Planet Stronghold 2 has some of the best reviews and overall review rating of ALL my games. And yet, it wasn’t worth it from a commercial point of view (which sadly, since I cannot pay bills with “review score” is important lol). Market change, “high” price, sci-fi setting curse or simply bad luck: one day I’ll do a full postmortem about that game, including the super-weird Steam traffic graph which might have completely broken the release exposure. Yes, you heard it well, it might have been just “bad luck”.

Whatever the reasons, the conclusion is: I cannot risk doing this again, last but not least for mental/physical reasons – after finishing PS2 I was completely burned out, in a way that it never happened before to me. To be honest, I’m still a bit burned out even right now, 3 months after the game release. Think that I even thought about quitting making games after 15 years! Yeah, definitely not an experience I want to repeat !

When you see the credits of those big branching RPGs like Bioware, you see there are like 10-20 writers (in addition to all the coders). I am alone just using some part-time external collaborators. It’s just crazy to think about it already. I cannot be so cocky to think that I can do what 10 people do and not get burned out…!

But wait! Not all is lost!

This doesn’t mean though, that I can’t make more “normal games” with the same characters! I recently spoke with Aleema (Loren’s original writer), and we brainstormed the possibility to split the old+new cast into 4 games with 4 love interests each. It’s a much better solution under all aspects, since will let us make a better job with each character and give them the space they deserve.

Yes, because even if I’m doing it mainly because after Planet Stronghold 2 burn-out and stress I know I wouldn’t want to do it again for my own health, in the end it will be even better for players because they’ll be able to finally get their games, and the smaller cast will reduce the time I need to spend making sure there are no plot holes, and at the same time give each character more scenes than they would get if was a single big game.

Indeed not having to worry about a huge cast will make development easier, since I don’t need to remember what character X said to character Y or the current world situation, etc etc. so I can focus my efforts on creating content instead of worrying about breaking existing storylines (PS2 was really crazy under that aspect!!).

A fair treatment for everyone

Just think for example that while Karen was listed in the romances, already in the draft of the original sequel story her “screen time” was considerably shorter than others. It was hard to justify her presence for longer parts in the story when I had SO MANY MORE CHARACTERS, old and new to deal with πŸ˜‰ Now instead? She’ll be part on a specific new story with 3 other romances and she’ll get same treatment, as a true TOP MILF like her clearly deserves!!!!! Lol jokes apart, it’s really better even for each single romance route.

Last but not least, only because there will be 4 romances each game, doesn’t mean the other characters cannot be present in the story: they can be, but they will appear as secondary characters. Of course as always I’ll make sure to indicate clearly on each game which romances are available in the game page description.

One of those 4 games will still be about the demons’ threat and will feature Jul of course. I will be able to reuse a good amount of texts already written for the main story originally done for Loren 2. The others? They will be about different topics/settings but still feature a good mix of some old characters and the new ones.

Conclusions

I know that probably some of you won’t like this, but really, it was either this way or I was ready to cancel the game. It’s not about what I want to do or not, but is about my mental/physical health and it’s not something to take lightly, trust me.

Of course we’re still talking a few years in future because first I need to finish Curse of Mantras, but after that one I will start to work on one of those games. And this time won’t take me many years to finish and it won’t drive me crazy because they’re too big for me to do them alone! πŸ™‚

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56 Responses to A clarification about Loren 2

  1. Cay Reet says:

    It’s fine to split the story up, if you can make it work (which, I’m sure, you’ve figured out already). Four smaller Loren games (I play your games mostly for the story, not for the RPG aspects, honestly) will be just as good or even better than one big game.

    • admin says:

      Yes also people won’t refer to it as “Loren’s sequel” since they really won’t be. There’s this curse when making sequels that I think damage the games or makes people prejudiced towards the game, constantly comparing to the previous title. Despite PS2 being 50x times better than the first title (after 9 years I can be so bold to say that I’ve improved haha) some people still needed to compare the two lol
      I’d like them to consider them for what they’ll be, good or (gasp I hope not) bad ^_^;

  2. ACRONYM says:

    Better a healthy dev and a split game than a broken dev and an unfinished game.

  3. Arcmyst says:

    Loren had a potentially perfect ending (if the player was smart). As long as you don’t ruin the satisfaction that came from that you will already be ahead of half the sequels out there for stories and games.

    • admin says:

      What is the perfect ending you refer to? You can put spoilers since I think is safe to say that everyone reading this has played the first game πŸ˜›
      I guess the one where no-one dies?

      • Huo Fang says:

        As long isn’t the romance Loren x Elenor, I think all the other endings are actually great.

        • admin says:

          Ahah you’re the same person on twitter right? πŸ˜› could you elaborate? I think I know, it’s Elenor epilogue if you romanced Loren? Or something else?

      • Arcmyst says:

        well to elaborate on the term perfect ending, like the game mass effect there was potential to lose teamates or even the main character or worse even Loren. Smart playing or careful choices saves team members (which is why seasons of the wolf annoyed me, as a male there is no saving everyone). Now if you began this next chapter with they all died any way, its going to spoil playing Loren 1. Another example would be the movie Aliens 2 where the protaganist busts her tail to save a little girl and teamate, then when Aliens 3 begins you find out the girl and the teamate are dead and the protaganist screwed herself. To me thats just shit story telling and can ruin a previously good tale.

        • admin says:

          Haha no, nobody is dead at beginning of each of the four games πŸ™‚
          But in my case is a bit different since you could consider them like parallel universes because of choices. I think I wrote a blog post about it a while ago, in practice except for canon ending/stuff, everything else is open because depends on players choices.

  4. Franka says:

    I don’t miss a direct sequel to Loren at all, since you’ve put out spinoff games like Seasons of the Wolf and Cursed Lands. I’m happy just to get more fantasy RPGs from you, even if I’ve gotten a bit tired of the combat system.

    • admin says:

      Yes, one of my goals would also be to try a different system. Even reusing the existing framework I think I could tweak it so that battles play rather differently πŸ™‚

  5. Huo_Fang says:

    This actually seems pretty amazing, and if this get the same art I’ve seen on the forums, OMG, and all I care is having my Karen with my Elenor back. I miss my beautiful lady already.

  6. Mirror says:

    I’m a little confused? When you say 4 separate games do you mean actual separate kinda like (for example) Fire Emblem fates had Birthright and Conquest? Or do you mean it’s like how the first game had DLC with 2 new romances and storylines that went with the main story?
    Also is it possible for us to see a Male Dwarf romance option? It’s just that I extremely rarely see them as a option in a lot of games and would like to romance one.
    Thanks for reading my question and looking forward to this a lot! Loren was the very first game I ever played of yours.

    • admin says:

      I haven’t played the games you mention πŸ˜€ But I thought was clear from the text? Instead of a single story, there’ll be 4 games, each featuring 4 love interests (and a mix of old+new characters, which means usually 2 old and 2 new each game). One game will be about demons again but the other 3 will be about different stories happening in different moments in time.
      As for male dwarf no the romances are still the one already planned sorry ! I can’t do more art since this artist doesn’t work for me anymore.

  7. Arjonet says:

    Really hope for more balanced romances. It was my biggest issue with Planet Stronghold 2 with Cliff. He is the only romance option from the first game that is not a party member, has continuing romance only on one path, there is limited interactions with him as there isn’t any group scenes with him and others characters (except for Shiler which is another problem there too much of her in his romance).Also a little disappointing that there is’t gay male alien romance and that there isn’t any side m/m romance only m/f and f/f (this was also this way in Planet Stronghold Colonial Defence). Other than this small gripes love Planet Stronghold 2 very much and one of thwe best gaming experinces for me this year. Thank you very much and good luck in any future projects.

    • admin says:

      We spent many hours to make sure that each game has not only same amount of romances, but same for each gender and both straight/homosex (of course considering some characters are bisex). So I think for that it should work!

      About Cliff though consider he is one of the romances with most scenes of all πŸ˜› It might not seem, but he has a bit more than others. Though I agree of course that not being a party member is missing several “regular” scenes (not romance ones). This is also a reason I preferred to split and also in future games rarely I’ll have more than 4 romances, since I want to do them very well each one. Thanks

      • Arjonet says:

        While at it want to ask can you start romance with Cliff if you start on Loyal path?

        • admin says:

          No since in the original game you could romance him only as rebel ^_^;
          Or you mean if you can start alone (no romance) and then start a romance with him later in the story? in that case yes, is possible, but you’ll miss some early romance dialogues.

  8. Sergey Semenov says:

    Thanks, yeah i meant start without romance, and start romance later.

    • crystal says:

      wow So happy to hear that,I so love the game,I played male protagonist and gay romanced Mesphit ,and I so miss him!I really want their love will have happy ending in sequel.and you’re so talented writer I wanna say thank you, the story and romance all so good, and yes healthy is very very important thing, please take good care of yourself and take your time!

  9. Jaeger says:

    If all 16 character are meant to be fleshed out and have significant involvement in the plot, splitting the cast into multiple titles is preferable in my opinion. It’s harder to give the story focus when you have a crowd of characters fighting for screen time.

    • admin says:

      Yes indeed. If some people says that some characters in PS2 don’t have enough scenes, and PS2 is 350,000 words, seems hard that I could make a game with 16 romances without going nuts πŸ˜€

  10. Choklad says:

    I actually think this sounds great!

  11. James Ldvic says:

    I’ve asked this before but will Karen be romancable as a male, cause frankly she is probably my number one romance option. And I really felt sad we couldn’t in the first game. Since you’re splitting the game now, is there hope for a Saren and Karen romance?

    • admin says:

      No it’s not possible, also because while I have all the art ready for this game, this artist doesn’t work for me anymore. So even if I wanted I couldn’t add the necessary art so…

      • James Ldvic says:

        I see, that’s too bad. Still I wish you the best of luck and hope you can recover from your burnout. It’s very sad when people get tired of doing something they love. I shall look forwards to your future projects and thank you for all that you have given until now.

  12. SirSlothMan says:

    A few questions if you dont mind, how will the games be released and does it have a chronological order on them? Will they released as an episodic adventure, where you’d start at episode one, potentially romance someone, and then move on to the next game/episode, which would connect the previous game’s story, or be completely disconnected in a separate universe?

    And how would romance work if you romance someone in the first episode/game, then go for other romance in the follow up episodes/games, or would those be an alternate universe, ‘only one of these episodes ever actually happened’, or ‘all these episodes happened in the canon, but Eleanor/Saren only romance one person’, kind of thing?

    And finally, would all the prior romances be picking up assuming you had romanced them in the first game, excluding of course, the new romances like Jul? Just curious here if it’ll continue prior romances *and* have the possibility of romancing them for the first time.

    Thanks for reading ^^

    • admin says:

      They’ll appear in a specific order, but are single episodes. So of course you won’t continue romances from a game to another, otherwise it wouldn’t be easier at all πŸ˜›
      The best definition is indeed alternate universe. After all they’re VN with choices. So while there can be canon endings for certain events (like nobody died at end of first game), for romances there isn’t a standard outcome since depends on choices in the end.

      In short: EACH of the four game will offer 2 old and 2 new romances (took LONG time but we managed to split them evenly). The old romances continues for the whole story, so not like PS2. You pick a starting romance and play it to the end. For the new ones instead, you can start as single and romance them.

      Hope is more clear, I’ll do more post in future with examples explaining it more in detail though!

      • SirSlothMan says:

        Thanks for the answers! So each episode/game is its own little universe, separated and disconnected from the others huh, kinda revolving around the romance you choose at the beginning of the episode/game right? And again, thanks for the answers!

        • admin says:

          Well not totally disconnected but won’t be necessary to have played the other. For example in 1st you should meet with Lydia (as love interest) and learn about her, the moon elves, etc. Then later she might be present as NPC in another game. I probably will do a sort of summary of who she is (or maybe even implement a codex if possible!). So having played that episode will be helpful but not “necessary”, since I understand that some games might not be appealing to everyone because of the love interest picked. (even if a true fan should play them all nonetheless! :P)

          • SirSlothMan says:

            I guess what I was trying to ask is if you romance someone in game 1, then move onto game 2, 3, and 4. All those episodes will still have happened for Eleanor/Seren, but only one romance is ever chosen by them (at the start of each episode), so if you romance Karen in the first episode, then see her in the second, having selected Jul as your romance for that episode, Karen wont register as having been your romance?

          • admin says:

            Yes correct!

  13. Seenstar says:

    I actually love this idea and am excited to play them!!

    I can’t wait to finally romance my cannibalistic succubus queen;) I am also looking forward to Selith. Between her and Sylrissa you are the best at making sexy reptile babes.

    Do you have an idea about how long each game would be or is that still being worked on?

    On an unrelated note I want to get updated clients of some of you older games, but some don’t have demos in Itch.io. Is there another way to get them?

    • admin says:

      I am not sure, but very likely around 150k words each game. But they won’t be same length, because for example one has more bisex character so there will be more scenes for sure, or the main plot might be more long to write. So take that 150k figure with a grain of salt πŸ˜› But for sure overall will be longer than if I had done a single game.
      For the old games just email me with purchase receipt, I don’t do demos anymore (not worth it) so now I use only itchio/Steam.

  14. Natalie says:

    I have a question that’s been bothering me for a long time. I really loved Loren and SoTW, but for some reason I’ve never liked Cursed Lands, the writing and pacing just feel too different. That said, I know Cursed Lands did really well for you, so my question is, will Loren 2 be more like old games or closer to Cursed Lands?
    I really loved the first game, but I don’t want to get my hopes too high in case it ends up being like Cursed Lands.

    • admin says:

      Cursed Lands was written by 2/3 by a new writer and the remaining by me+editor. I’ll probably write Loren 2 myself and use the same editor. I don’t know if you played PS2, but if you did that probably is a good idea how the result will be. Also since there will be 4 episodes it will depend also on setting/theme and which characters are present.

      • Natalie says:

        I haven’t had a chance to play PS2, but I’m glad to hear that. I also love the idea of making 4 games. It’s really nice to know that each character will have a good chance to shine, and I’m glad to hear you’ve found a way of doing this that’s less stressful for you.

        • admin says:

          Thanks πŸ™‚ By the way I guess you didn’t like the slowest pacing of Cursed Lands for the dialogues mainly or the main plot too? just curious.

          • Natalie says:

            It was both the dialogues and the plot for me. I really like have small moments of dialogue with party members normally, but it just felt like that was most of the game. And because of the way the recruitment worked, each characters story felt like an island since there wasn’t any room for others to appear.

            As for the plot I felt like it progressed a little too slowly, what with all the dialogue, and I didn’t get such a grand sense of adventure like I did with Loren.

            I will also admit I haven’t had a chance to beat the game yet, so my opinion may change, but this was definitely my first impression.

          • admin says:

            Ah OK, thanks was useful. Of that game I wrote the Naga storylines (except intro) and all the epilogues, jealousy + some romance scenes.

  15. Sara says:

    SUPER excited about this, totally cool with 4 games imma buy them all and play all the routes like I did the original HAHA keep up the god work and I’m glad you’ve found a solution that takes into account both the players interest and your mental health.

    • admin says:

      Thanks πŸ™‚ And yes because if I exaggerate too much and get burned out then I can’t make games at all, so it’s not worth it πŸ˜€

  16. Xatius says:

    I really applaud you taking time to establish the boundaries you need to make sure you balance your dedication and passion for your work and creativity with reasonable goals for yourself.

    I have been a HUGE fan of your stories for a long time and I can only imagine all of the work, revisions and constant bug fixes you have has to do to get each looking as good as so many people have come to expect when they purchase something.

    But, if I could make a suggestion, don’t be afraid to enlist the help of some of your fans with certain things.

    For example, spelling errors, grammar or even maybe getting input on different ways on how to resolve a critical moment can save a HUGE amount of time off your schedule and allow your fans to help to shoulder some of that for you.

    After all, without you, we wouldn’t be able to enjoy your work, and without us, you wouldn’t be able to financially support your passion. After all, you are totally right, review scores don’t pay the bills.

    So, don’t feel weird or hesitant to ask if there are things we can do, as a number of us are here for you would be happy to help you out whenever you need, with what we can, myself included.

    • admin says:

      Thanks, I’ve done something like that in the past, like asking for feedback on writing with some early drafts, and people regularly report typos during beta testing (when you write games as long as mine is impossible to spot all of them! :P).

  17. Das Boot says:

    Scared me for a moment. Thought Loren 2 was cancelled after reading the first two sentences.

    • admin says:

      Haha. That’s why I immediately wrote “But I got an idea, so keep reading and don’t worry.” πŸ˜›

  18. Meener says:

    Ok so Jull is still the option right? if so then iam in, Karen and Jull have to be special i believe.

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