Monthly Archives: December 2021

Happy Holidays and year review

Happy Holidays to everyone! As usual in this post I’m going to review what happened in the course of the year.

But first, of course, let’s talk about the hot stuff that is happening right now: The Curse Of Mantras Kickstarter went live about a week ago and it’s going well! Below, the game trailer:

To see more info about it and the latest development, please check the Kickstarter page!

Year Review

I started this year still feeling burned out from all the work on Planet Stronghold 2 in the previous year! Yes, seems crazy but it wasn’t until May/June that I’d feel like working on complex coding again. I promised to myself to never get burned out again, and I plan to keep this promise!

The Nameless God is my favorite omniscent narrator now

Anyway, in March I finally released TFTU: Hazel, which had a very good reception. I was very pleased with its sales, even if for some mysterious way the review amount on Steam was super low compared to my other games. Later after talking with other indies I found out that this appears to be the new norm. But anyway what matters is that it was a very profitable game and gave me a breath of air after the so-so 2020.

One of my favorite ending scenes!

After Hazel release I revealed to the world the craziest idea I ever had (probably too crazy lol): At Your Feet. The KS was successful, albeit I raised way less of Hazel. Direct sales had a slow start: on the opposite, on Steam it did rather well, much better than I thought! It’s still to early to draw conclusions of course, but it definitely overperformed vs my expectations, also considering the particular kink.

In summary, that game definitely was in the “experiments” category, and considering the crazy idea, it did well!

Alex is really one of the cutest character to ever appear in my games

Summer In Trigue on the other hand was much more like my “classic games”, funny writing/situations, with some more serious/deep moments etc but in general comedy setting (and without weird kinks lol). And I was very pleased by the results, even if because it was still one of the “old games”, in development since years, didn’t do any Kickstarter AND also because I decided to redo the art (was totally worth it though!), the game hasn’t yet recouped its cost (which instead with Hazel and At Your Feet happened within the launch week).

Ducks are the scariest animal ever!

In autumn I also did the Kickstarter for Love Notes, and it went as expected: yes, it didn’t raise a lot, but I knew it beforehand. The main thing is that the game is very tame (this artist doesn’t draw naughty stuff) and nowadays to have success doing a dating sim you MUST have at least optional nudity.

About Curse Of Mantras, I’ve already talked about it. I have registered for the next Steam Fest, so my next goal is to have a playable demo by end of February (not with all content but with at least 10-20 battles).

Conclusions (aka what the market wants)

Like always, some things worked and some didn’t. The important I think is to have fun while you doing what you do. And I certanily had fun!

Which lessons I’ve learned this year? Well, first that I should trust more my data. If out of 3-4 games I made with sci-fi setting, they ALL underperformed vs the game quality/lenght etc, it means that setting doesn’t work. So from now on, no more sci-fi games from me (I might do more sci-fi stuff like Black Mirror though, just not sci-fi meaning space, aliens and so on).

I was also pleasantly surprised to see, that at least for plain visual novels, releasing them during the “cursed periods” of September to December (when most AAA titles come out) had no noticeable impact on sales. So in future I won’t hold anymore a game release if it’s ready during this period. Maybe not if it’s a RPG since those could be more in direct competition with other bigger titles.

Another thing I’ve learned, is that I need to adapt to the market/platforms. As I said, At Your Feet did very well on Steam, very close to Hazel results. This is probably not related to the game kink, but the yuri/adult stuff power. On Steam (and on Kickstarter too to be honest), anything yuri + adult seems to sell twice other genres. Once again it doesn’t matter my personal tastes, I need to survive and follow what sells on each platform.

I’ve plenty of games with all romance combos in the works, like all the Loren spin off games, Curse Of Mantras, etc. However I decided that for all other smaller titles, I’ll likely go with the yuri only formula, including the next Tales from The Under-Realm game which I hope to work on later next year.

Next year is going to be “fun” since I have some very complex games to finish… but we’ll talk about this on next blog post at the beginning of the year.

Wishing you Merry Christmas/Happy Holidays and Happy New Year!

Originality vs mass market product

Rachel and Jesse

Before I go on with the blog post topic, a small announcement: Love Notes beta is now live on itchio! You can check it out here. The game content is complete, expect only some minor bugs.

Later this month I’ll have my usual “end of year review” post. But today, I want to discuss about two different approaches to storytelling: making a very original story/plot or a mass market product.

Of course, it’s really hard (if not impossible) to come up with a completely original story. So let’s say “original enough” story ! And for mass-market product I mean a product that’s going to appeal to the masses, at expense of originality.

You can obviously have an idea for a product that is both original and appeal to the masses (ie Minecraft) but it’s not like it’s going to happen for 99% of us, right? 🙂

I’m going to take as example some of my games.

Bionic Heart vs Always Remember Me

Tanya and Helen from Bionic Heart

Bionic Heart was undoubtely one of my most original stories to date. Even the game flow itself, with its many choices and branching, is probably unmatched by my most recent products. Of course it had its problems, for example it was one of my early works, I didn’t use editors or external writers yet, indeed the first draft was even made in italian, my native language! So here I’m not talking about the “writing quality”, but about the originality of that game’s story.

the beginning of the game Always Remember Me

I am comparing it with Always Remember Me, which is a much more mass product instead. Yes it has some originality (the main premise of your boyfriend losing the memory is “moderately” original) but for the rest is a classic dating sim.

Now, Bionic Heart was appreciated, despite its flaws, by a LOT of people. Even fellow indies who normally don’t even play my games, asked me for free keys (we sometimes exchange free copies). Steam reviews are good enough, etc. So, for “the critics” this was a good game at the time (consider that it came out 12 year ago).

Always Remember Me instead wasn’t considered particularly original, or innovative, or anything, and yet, it was way more popular. We need to take into consideration that at the times (was 2011) mobile gaming was still in its early years and most of female players were still on PC (while now I think most of otome/dating sim players have moved to mobile/console). Anyways, it was a huge success. I am not even comparing the two financially because would be insane, since Bionic Heart sold maybe 1/50 of Always Remember Me.

How to explain this? Simple, Bionic Heart was perhaps a more original and interesting story but was for a much smaller target market. Also, it was sci-fi, the worst genre ever to write a visual novel, and since had a male protagonist, also a different target market. Always Remember Me instead had a less original story but it had a much bigger potential market, and for that market the game was good enough.

In summary: you can even make a masterpiece (it’s just an example, not referring to my own games) but if it targets the 0,1% of gaming population might become a sort of cult game, but it won’t make you rich.

An average game instead, but that can appeal the 99% of the gaming population, won’t give you big reviews or appreciation but can still make you WAY more money than a niche product.


For some of you reading this, it might seem obvious, and in practice it’s what happens also in books/movies, but I still wanted to talk about it for those who wonders how it works.

Now with crowdfunding luckily it’s a bit less risky (I wish I could have done one for Planet Stronghold 2 at the times). For example At Your Feet was definitely an original idea (no other foot fetish lesbian game around before I launched my KS) but it will be also a good seller? Early numbers are encouraging but it’s still too early (to see the real potential of a game you need to wait 6 months or one full year): but even if it won’t be, having done a succesful KS has somewhat mitigated the potential losses.

That’s why when you see developers doing yet again the same unoriginal “good vs evil” fantasy story, or short yuri games, or adult only games, etc etc there’s a reason: they are “safer” to do, guaranteeing a minimum amount of sales.