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!
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!
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.
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!
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).
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!