Category Archives: bionic heart

Roger steel world: meet Neville

neville

Here’s Neville, a new character from the Steampunk RPG Roger Steel.
Like for the other characters, the art is not definitive yet. In particular we’re going to change a bit the clothes colors, since both the writer, the artist and I noticed there’s too much “brown” in them πŸ˜€

But now, Neville’s introduction by the writer:

Introducing Neville – Itinerant Inventor

This week we meet Neville, Christina’s brother, Arthur’s best friend, and all-round steampunk nerd. Neville much prefers machines to people (less complicated; far easier to fix), but somehow clicked with the effervescent Arthur and holds a shy, cautious regard for mercurial Ann.

If you need equipment repaired, upgraded or just plain invented, Neville is your guy. Handy with a wrench, a wizard with a lathe, and most at home in a fully equipped forge pounding the bejesus out of some hapless piece of metal, adventures aren’t really Neville’s thing – but friendship and a protective instinct for his sister can lure a man far out of his comfort zone.

However, Neville is far more than he appears and, as Ann or Arthur perhaps discover, even friends you have known for years hold can dark secrets close to their hearts.

Bionic Heart on Steam

Speaking of dark secrets: my sci-fi visual novel Bionic Heart is now out on Steam. As always if you bought it directly you can redeem a Steam key from this site:

http://bestanimegames.com/steam/

and if you decide to buy it, buy directly from me to get a DRM-free version plus the Steam key πŸ˜‰

Deadlines

Deadlines are part of almost every job. With indie games, and in particular small/single indies like me, deadlines are usually self-imposed.

When I used to work in a (small) software house, we had deadlines and was a bit crazy. Every time, we had to do last-minute “crunch mode” which basically meant working 12h a day for the last weeks before the deadline. Not a great experience as you can imagine, and lots of stress!

Thank God, now that I’m indie I have more flexibility! But that still doesn’t mean that I can take as much time as I want to finish a proejct of course! A delay of one or more months will have both economical consequences (I need to regularly release new games to keep the cash flow) and also could damage my credibility (missing deadlines or delaying games is never a cool thing).

Even if I have to say that my followers are absolutely awesome and even when they ask me “when will be game XYZ be out!!?” they do it only because they’re eager to play it πŸ™‚

Speaking of deadlines let’s see what could be some estimate release dates for upcoming games. Note how estimate is written in bold!

Bionic Heart 2

Hyppocratesresearch

Is the game closest to completion. At beginning of month, everything was going smoothly and I was thinking that the game might be finished by the end of February as I originally planned. However there have been some problems, so I can already say that I won’t be able to release it by that date.

In any case, I really think that March will finally see the release of the sequel of one of my first visual novels, Bionic Heart ! By the way, I recently lowered the first game price to $9.99 to promote the upcoming release of the sequel, so if you never played it, now is a good time πŸ™‚

Roommates

Everything is going well on this game, even if there’s still a lot of work to do! I managed to make two new “fact file” for Isabella and Rakesh, the latest two romanceable character of the game:

Rakeshfile Isabellafile

Writing is going steady, but still need to commission all backgrounds (though I have already an artist ready for it) and of course code the gameplay, script the scenes, and so on, so is very unlikely that this will be out before June/July πŸ™‚

Planet Stronghold 2

Well I would be lying if I was saying that everything is going well πŸ˜€ however, this game will be a big step forward compared to the first, both in term of gameplay (a much better RPG system) and writing. Good things needs time though! At least all the romance scenes are done, below you can see a sneak peek of Joshua’s romances:

Joshuaromances

Art-wise there’s still a few more enemies to finish, and some extra “camp talk” sprite poses, where each character will be in their favorite environment (guess where Philipp will be?) when you visit them to talk. I decided to do that since talking with the characters standing up like in previous game was a bit weird!

Also showing the character in a normal life situation with normal clothes and various poses will be more realistic and also more “interesting”, for example if you go visit Rebecca at the gym, or the new hot guy Milo while he’s training… understand what I mean? πŸ˜‰

Bionic Heart 2 and moving past visual novels

Right now I’m finishing Heileen 3, but I’m also working on two sci-fi games: Bionic Heart 2 and Planet Stronghold 2. As the title suggests, both are sequels. Bionic Heart was one of my first visual novel, and if I compare the artwork and the writing of that first title with the new one, the difference is immediately noticeable:

Bh2mars

One of the first scenes of Bionic Heart 2, the shuttle to Mars

I am not hiding that the first Bionic Heart game was a very controversial game. Was one of the first western visual novels to get some attention in many japanese sites (probably the combo of the sexy android + romance did it) but also one of my worst selling games ever (beaten only by Vera Blanc!).

So why I made this sequel you might ask? Well first of all, I am indie because I have a passion for games. Even if I need to make money to live, I still have room to make some “game experiments” from time to time. Bionic Heart 2 will be one of them.

Second, because I never knew if the insuccess of the first game was because of the sci-fi theme, which typically appeals men more, or because of the game quality that, overall, wasn’t really good.

Apart for some “social boss fights” that are some kind of mini games to be fight picking sentences in the right order, the game plays like a regular visual novel, albeit with multiple point of views. I can say already that unless the game does pretty well, it will be my last visual novel ever.

And here I get to my title. I’m definitely moving past visual novels, at least in the immediate future (God only knkows what I’ll do in 5 years from now!). But don’t worry, by that I mean the “pure visual novels”, like the first two Heileen games. Dating / life sims like Always Remember Me or Spirited Heart are another thing.

Why I made that decision? Because I want to focus more on the gameplay, play mechanics, to reach a broader audience. I always liked to design gameplay, life simulations, and RPGs. While for RPGs I said I won’t release more than one a year, for dating/life sims I plan to do them more often.

Also who knows, maybe I could try my hand in future in making a classic adventure game, either first or third person view. Or do something different, but still story-based.

This of course, unless Bionic Heart 2 does really well. It should be out at the beginning of the 2013 so I’ll find that out pretty soon πŸ™‚

Inspiration is everywhere

Being indie is a creative job (obviously) assuming you’re trying to make your own games and not cloning others πŸ™‚

The last weeks finishing Loren Amazon Princess have been quite stressful, and it’s fun because in theory there wasn’t any deadline set in stone except for the one self-imposed by me – but I always do that πŸ™‚

Anyway, it was stressing! So while I’m working on the expansion, I decided to take it easier and work only half day on that, and in the other half day do more creative tasks like writing the storyboard of the new scenes for the other games, or “monkey” tasks like creating the icons, banners, preparing the HTML pages of the future games.

This is something I always do, even if the game in question will be out maybe next year – in the moments where I am too tired to code or write I do such tasks that still needs to be done anyway, but require no brain work. So when the time comes, I have them done already.

Also, last week I went to IKEA shopping with my girlfriend and curiously, I got the inspiration for Bionic Heart 2 main menu image! I know, inspiration is really bizarre and comes when you less expect it.

You might wonder “what the frak” IKEA has to do with the sequel of my sci-fi horror/romance game Bionic Heart? Nothing, but there was an image that inspired me, the one in the SOLMYRA picture, which you can see below, and on the right the sketch made by the artist for the main menu image following my indications:

Ssht

of course, the copyright of the left image belongs to IKEA and the artist who made that image, Deborah Azzopardi. On the right you see my vision – the beautiful and deadly Tanya who seems to say “silence”, with her robotic finger covered in blood (once the image is finalized and colored, it will be more evident!).

Speaking of Bionic Heart 2, I’m getting the various characters remade with the new art style. I made an interesting comparison of the old vs new version of the same character, except for Luke since he never appeared on the first game:

Newluke Oldvsnewtanya Newvsoldhelen Oldvsnewtom Oldvsnewtina

I particularly like the new Helen and Tina, but to be honest I like all the new versions of the old characters πŸ™‚ Maybe the only one that looks worse, or at least different, is Tom. But he’ll have a very different role in this sequel!

On the other games front, I made progresses on Queen Of Thieves, Heileen 3, Roommates and Nicole. For this last one I’m probably going to rework the plot adding more scenes and also more characters, since is a mystery otome game and I want to add more variety and red herrings to the story πŸ˜‰

About RPGs, beside Loren’s expansion, I’m getting lots of art done for Planet Stronghold 2 and starting to think how to implement the famous steampunk / horror rpg I’ve been talking about lately on Twitter…

Getting covered

I’m not talking about getting coverage as indie, but getting the characters of Loren RPG covered! As you can see below, was enough a spell by Apolimesho the Archwizard to give a proper cover to those excessively undressed fantasy heroes:

Coveredspell

…no exceptions…

Morecovers

Jokes apart, I decided to put more cover to some characters based on customer’s feedback. Initially I admit I wasn’t much convinced, I kept thinking “well, I’m an indie, so I should do what I feel right”. However some friends and my writer Aleema convinced me that having an OPTION (because you can still play the game without any cover of course!) was not a bad idea. For example some users in my forums mentioned being quite embarassed to play the game on netbooks while traveling in public places, or when some family members were asking what they were doing…I pictured the scene in my head:

– “What are you doing, son?”
– “Hi dad! I’m playing an awesome indie RPG game!”
– “Oh! RPGs? You mean those games with mages, swords, dragons and… wait. What is that? Boobs!?”
– “…” (covers face in shame)

So, since there was already an option to skip the ending romance scenes, we have tied it to showing covered characters, but you can conveniently toggle it on/off with 2 mouse clicks πŸ˜‰

I also got the battle voices, and made a very short video showing some of them:

I know I know that now the question is… when the next version will be out? the one with the voices? the one with many bugfixes? the one with the full plot/romance implemented?

Well, while I cannot say for sure, it should be out this weekend! As usual follow me on twitter or Facebook to be updated in real-time πŸ™‚

Bionic Heart 2 prototype

Bh2prototype

During some pauses in Loren development I started prototyping the dialog system for Bionic Heart 2. My goal is to make a sort of RPG-style dialog system, similar to those seen in classics like Fallout: some choices will be tied to specific skills and on the left will be displayed a sort of scheme of the dialog, showing the various possible paths (icons represent a choice that needs a specific skill).

I’m still in the early design stages though, and since Loren has full priority I’m working on this only during the pauses. I know, working on another game when you have a free moment is a bit weird but… πŸ˜€

By the way, speaking of Bionic Heart, I made the port to Android even of that game. You can play the demo here.