Category Archives: dating sims

Planet Stronghold 2 Cast: Prince Cliff Neuville

Prince Cliff was the first male gay character to appear in my games. I really like his design even if I know some yaoi fans prefer more muscular men. But you haven’t seen Cliff naked yet! Even if you wouldn’t bet on it, he has some nice muscles too. You’ll see, since Planet Stronghold 2 will feature optional fully naked romance CGs!

Prince Cliff Neuville

Prince Cliff has very little in common with his father, King Oscar. Cliff is very tolerant about the alien races and will always seek a compromise or even an alliance over a full scale war.

He is a daydreamer; more interested in culture and the arts. Though he isn’t a skilled warrior, don’t mistake Prince Cliff for a weakling or coward. He is a cunning strategist and will react to any threat to himself or his people with maximum force.

If you chose to side with the rebels in the first game, Prince Cliff imprisoned his father and took over the colony’s command in consort with Queen Shiler. After the final victory, Shiler returned to her people and while the two continued to have a good relationship, Cliff couldn’t help but notice how quickly new Maradan towns appeared.

If you sided with the Empire, Cliff would be imprisoned at the end of the war by his own father and sent to a prison on the planet Omega. However, he disappeared as soon as he arrived and nobody knows what happened to him.

If you started a romantic relationship after the final victory, Joshua and Cliff were burdened with additional responsibilities. Despite this, they were determined to make their relationship work because they knew it was special.

Volleyball Heaven Update

As you can see from the screenshot above, this game language/theme is much more mature than my usual ones!

Since I announced this game, a lot of things happened. I will assure you though that this won’t be another “cursed” game (I’m talking of course about the canceled Nicole yuri). Also because the story is fully written already, but there are so many outfits/scenes that scripting is taking a while, and also writer is reviewing and polishing every scene.

As I already said it won’t be out this year, but next year for sure! It will be my first title with very mature themes (and not just in the super hot romance CGs but also language, etc) so I’m curious how it will do.

The pre-match show featuring the two team

Contrarily to what I said before, a “full Visual Novel Mode” version won’t be possible, but this only means that the scheduler will always be present. You’ll be able to skip the match completely with an instant result.

The gameplay will matter to reach certain achievements but in general, you should be able to unlock all the romance CGs. I also know the writer is preparing a full walkthrough 😉

Love Bites bonus DLC: Introducing Ashley!

Surprise, surprise! I’m proud to announce that we’re working on a bonus DLC for the game “Love Bites”. And the best news is that the DLC will be included for free in the base game!

The DLC will add Ashley to the pool of the romanceable characters. Since both the writer and I loved her (for the appearance and personality as you’ll read below) we decided that would have been a pity to not add her. Like the other love interests, she’ll be available both to Kaitlyn and Brandon.

Now I can of course imagine that some people will be disappointed that there’s only one extra female, but also for technical reasons (like there simply wasn’t enough space to add more characters in the scheduler! and other things) we can only add one more, and after some recent events (cancellation of Nicole yuri, long time since I made a BxG game) I think if I had to add one character only, it should have been a female.

However, we might explore Love Bites world again in future, maybe in another game, and we’ll make sure to include some handsome boys too. Everything depends also on Rebecca’s (the artist) availability since she’s very busy.

The DLC writing has been already finished, but it still needs to be scripted and tested. I hope to have it ready next month.

And now, Ashley’s character introduction follows below:

Ashley Harrington

Age: 26

Ashley is a soft-spoken, gentle woman who is much tougher than she looks. She has a deep abiding love for nature, and animals in particular. As such, Ashley is pursuing a graduate degree in environmental studies, and hopes to get a job as a botanist afterwards.

However, school is far from cheap, and to curb some of the soaring costs, Ashley works as an exotic dancer. The job is a means to an end, but her family is less accepting. This bothers the normally upbeat Ashley more than she likes to let on.

In such instances, Ashley takes solace in the nearby woods, spending entire weekends communing with nature alone. An avid outdoorswoman, Ashley knows the best parts to go camping, the best place to pick flowers, or the tastiest patch for berry picking. In the great outdoors she feels truly at peace…which should come as no surprise as she is also a werewolf.

Unlike movie lore, most werewolves are not cursed, but born that way. While her bestial side didn’t come as a surprise since her older siblings are also werewolves, Ashley has a hard time reconciling her animal nature with her human side.

Unfortunately, many people can sense when there is a predator in their midst, no matter how well-hidden, and this means Ashley has found it hard to make any close friends, let alone lovers. Those who aren’t put off by her, find they have a friend for life.

This isn’t to say Ashley hates her wolf nature, far from it, but she is learning that sometimes she has to let the wolf loose…or else, it will do so of its own accord, especially when the moon grows full.

In those instances, Ashley will usually head for the woods. While more than capable of defending herself, she’s also learned she isn’t the only person with a secret to hide.

During one incident in which a drunken, belligerent patron decided he could take advantage of a fellow dancer, Ashley intervened…and nearly lost her arm in the process to a young woman with black and purple hair. The woman said she wouldn’t allow Ashley to hunt among her charges.

Things might have escalated, except the dancer came to Ashley’s aid, pointing out how wrong the raven-haired woman was. Embarrassed, the young woman fled, but from that day forward, Ashley kept a closer eye on her friends and coworkers.

Love Bites postmortem

Only a few months have passed since Love Bites’ release but I can already draw some conclusions about it. I’m planning to do a postmortem also for Cursed Lands later this year.

A smooth experience

As I posted already when I announced the game official release, the whole development experience went really smooth. I already knew about the work ethics of both Miakoda (the writer) and Rebecca (the main artist), but considering they both had some serious real-life issues along the road, it’s even more amazing. But everyone involved did a good job, from Matthew (the musician) to Aleema who did the GUI and trailer, the person who scripted it, etc.

When such things happens, a game gets released in a reasonable time-frame. Yes, I know that since the announcement (February 2016) to official release (May 2018) there are two years, but honestly it’s not such a long time to produce a quality game of a good size like this one, in which you can play as male or female (Nicole took more or less same amount and you can play only as female for example).

No stat raising

This was also a new choice for me, and thinking back, I should have done this sooner. In practice I already saw many complaints for some of my past games (Nicole, Roommates) in which several players didn’t really enjoy the stat-raising part, despite being a classic of dating sims. However, reading all the feedback, it seemed clear that for the vast majority of players, not only it wasn’t a required feature, but was preventing them from enjoying the story!

Keeping my theory of the “vocal minority” in mind, I still wanted to try to not have a complex scheduler and NO stat raising at all and see what happened. It went well!

I’m not saying that I’ll never do games anymore with stat raising, since in certain situation it can work, but for normal dating sims probably not. More complex games in general like raising-sims can benefit from stat raising, in particular to unlock specific scenes or gameplay features (new job, new class, new area, etc) but for games where the main goal is to advance in the story and unlock romances, probably it’s not such a good idea.

No erotic stuff

This wasn’t really a possibility since this artist doesn’t draw adult stuff, so even if in future we’ll do more games with her art, they’ll feature  sexy content at best. Personally I still love the art style and in some cases even if there’s no frontal nudity the CG can be beautiful (if you played the game and saw for example Nadia/Brandon romance you know what I mean).

Still, I was a bit worried that this could have an impact on sales/public reception, and instead it went well. I mean, I can’t know if it also had an optional full nudity patch what could have happened 😛 But I’m still happy about the results as they were.

Conclusions

I am very happy how everything went and the game was a success in my point of view. Of course considering the rising competition and the fact that non-porn VNs on Steam have really a hard time, but especially all those things considered, it could have been a disappointment. Instead the game did better than some titles I relased back in 2016 and I was positively surprised 🙂

Mid-Year Point of Situation


Planet Stronghold 2 character creation: pick custom skills

We’re mid-way through this 2018 and I wanted to make the point of situation. As you’re well aware if you already follow me, this year I managed to release two games already: Cursed Lands and Love Bites.

So, what’s next ? Let’s see!

Planet Stronghold 2

This is the game I’m working on mainly right now. It’s another RPG, and I’m just at the beginning (you can see a screenshot of the character creation) so don’t expect this to be out this year (but should definitely be out next).

I’m having fun so far, even if I’ll need to rewrite a good amount of code to follow the new rules (different shot types for example). The game story is currently at 50,000 words, with a general plot outline and a few character scenes done, but I’m still tweaking it.

While this game won’t be another 300,000 words game like Cursed Lands, it won’t be a small one either (I don’t know yet but probably still around 200,000 words).

So as you can see there’s still a lot of work left to do, both coding and story-wise!

Corona Borealis

This will become my first really TRUE small game in a while 🙂 However I’ve asked the writer to add a few more texts to develop the characters personalities more and get to know them better.

I don’t know yet how long will take to finish this but I think it could be out before end of year.

Volleyball Heaven

In this case the romance CGs are taking longer than expected, but as you can see from the close-up preview above (yes that’s zoomed in, despite the quality, the image is much bigger) the final result will be worth the wait 😉 also in light of recent events, we’re going to have the game playable both in censored/uncensored mode. Before we didn’t think to provide a censored / tame mode, but in the end it’s probably better to do this so will reach a broader audience.

To do this we need to do some minor adjustments both to the CGs (provide a “covered version”) and texts.

The game scripting should also start very shortly and I’ll be posting some screenshot previews as usual on the social media when I start testing it myself!

Love Bites is officially out!

Special thanks to Aleema for the awesome trailer video above. For sure the best trailer I’ve ever done for all my games!

You can find out more and purchase the game here: http://www.winterwolves.com/lovebites.htm

This game is a perfect example of a project where “everything went smoothly”. I know, it’s rare in the real world (and even more in the game development world!) but happens when you put together reliable people!

Brainstorming / planning

Miakoda, the game writer, had just finished writing the epic PSCD (over 240k words of text) and I wanted her to do something smaller (even if Love Bites is definitely not “small”, but you know how it goes, right?) and most importantly, simpler for me to code. I knew I would be doing more RPGs and complex games after PSCD (indeed I did Queen Of Thieves and Cursed Lands! Two RPGs, and now I’m working on a third, Planet Stronghold 2).

So I definitely didn’t want to have to deal with some more games with complex gameplay at the moment, and after some quick brainstorming, we decided to go with a game involving supernatural, horror, and romance. Seems a good combination!

Artwork

At the same time, I got in touch again with Rebecca Gunter, the artist who did my first games (Heileen and Bionic Heart series) and despite the very busy schedule, she said would have time to do the art for a new game.

Personally I love her style (might also be because I’ve a sentimental attachment to them) but if I try to be objective for a moment I think perhaps her best skills are with males, and I think yaoi fans will like this game in particular… even if both the females (Sabrina and Nadia) are hot too! The only downside is that she doesn’t draw full nudity, but you can’t have everything.

Writing

On the writing side, I think the game features the right mix of seriousness, jokes, and sexual innuendo. I also think the use of the “inner voice” (during the game, as your curse grows stronger, you start to hear a voice telling you… to do “things”…) was a brilliant idea by Miakoda and really adds to the game “something more”.

Gameplay

As mentioned above, I wanted to keep things simple. Originally I was going to use a weekly planner similar to Roommates, but then after some preliminary testing, and remembering well what people told me, I thought…”why?” 😛

So I reviewed everything and kept things simple. I didn’t bother to add a “visual novel mode” in this game simply because there’s no need. Yes you can trigger some early endings, and yes reaching a certain amount of money will play a slightly different text endings and so on, but overall you can definitely finish the game without going crazy with stat raising like my other dating sims.

This choice was almost universally well received and I think I’ll keep doing this also for future games: either I have some gameplay that works well with the story, or there’s no point in going crazy with coding when it’s not needed or doesn’t work well, just for the sake of it.

Conclusions

As you can guess I’m really happy about how things went with this project, and the previous one (Cursed Lands) as well. If you asked me in Summer last year I’d have never imagined that I would have two games out in the first half of 2018! Next stop is Planet Stronghold 2 and then, finally I’ll start working on Loren 2 🙂