As you probably already know if you follow me on social media, my latest dating sim, The Curse Of Mantras, is out on itchio.
It’s out since about a week so it’s too early to draw conclusions even if early numbers are encouraging. To be honest, I’m already happy that I’ve managed to finish it!
If you backed it on Kickstarter, you should have got a private message with the itchio links. I’m also going to send you the Steam keys in the next days, since the release on Steam is coming soon too.
The Adult Content dilemma (again)
I hoped we would be done talking about this, but sadly, when I submitted the game to Steam, they put it in the “Adult Only” category: https://store.steampowered.com/app/618000/The_Curse_Of_Mantras/
Which is bad for two reasons: people browsing that category usually expect much more explicit stuff, while the game has nudity but in general very tasteful love scenes, and second because it prevents the game being viewed, or worse even purchased, in certain countries like Germany (this isn’t due to Steam but to some Germany laws I think).
The same thing already happened in the past for my games Volleyball Heaven and At Your Feet. But in this case it’s a pity, since it’s not just a plain visual novel focused only on romance/sex relationships: the game also has a very complex, detailed and fun card battling game, and I think it’s really bad if people can’t even try it because it’s labeled Adult Only.
Why this game was important to me
This is not a postmortem since as I said it’s too early and I can’t draw any conclusions about the game performance and so on. It did a successful Kickstarter, but that money was barely enough to cover its development costs (not even including my own time).
But this game was important for a lot of reasons: it was a game in development since around 2013-14. I had this idea of the afterlife/limbo, but at the time it was supposed to be a sort of Pokemon-style battle game. I hadn’t a clear idea how the game would be, but since I put out the first sketches/concept art, fans seemed enthusiast about the idea. I admit I was a fool to let myself carry by this enthusiasm too, because you can’t do that, it’s dangerous. And indeed, until 2018-19 I still had no idea which gameplay to use, until I finally made my mind and picked card battles.
The main issue was that in 2020 I released Planet Stronghold 2 which, despite being one of my biggest/better games, greatly underperformed compared to my expectations. So it was clear that the market had changed, and maybe such big games weren’t profitable anymore. But I had already started doing it, already invested time and money.
At the beginning of last year, I was still struggling with a bad burn-out, and even if I didn’t post about this in public at the time, I thought to cancel the game. Yes, even after I had already spent so much efforts, I briefly considered that.
Why? Because I couldn’t see a reason to finish it. It was a dying genre of games – big games with a lot of romances that had to be sold at a proper price, since it’s not one of those silly porn VN with 3 scenes and no plot, no character development, etc.
Also, because I was tired, burned out, and I feared of working months and months only to get the same results, if not worse, than making one of the games mentioned above – short, silly porn games that seems to sell well on Steam nowadays.
In the end, I thought this: this year (2021) I’ll make a few shorter games, to give myself some breath, both economically (those games are usually profitable) and also to relax, not having to code anything complex.
It worked: TFTU – Hazel, At Your Feet, Summer In Trigue and Love Notes were all fun, good games but not a huge, epic, 10 love interest game with ALSO a complex gameplay. So that was good, and by the end of the year I was ready to resume working and finishing The Curse Of Mantras.
This game will decide the kind of future games I’ll do?
Honestly? Probably. I mean, I’m definitely going to do the 4 Loren spin-off games in any case (indeed I’ve already started working on the first game in the series), but all those games have “only” 4 love interests each. I think, unless The Curse Of Mantras does extremely well, this will be my last “big game” I’ll ever make. For the reasons above. I love being indie and making my fans happy doing those big games, but I also need to keep an eye both on my health and finances.