Category Archives: development screenshot

Planet Stronghold 2 alpha demo

In the screenshot above: like the old times, fighting malfunctioning Roboant in the tutorial battle!

Time for an update on the RPG I’m currently working on (personally, I have other writers working on other games right now, like Volleyball Heaven and other “secret stuff”).

Last month I ran a short alpha-testing in my forums (though it was open, everyone could try the prototype) to get some early feedback on the combat. It was very useful since I already added some tweaks/features. In case you missed it, you can still try the prototype here:

It’s slightly outdated since I’ve changed a few things on my side already, but of course if you find more bugs or have suggestions feel free to let me know.

I think in general the RPG part of the game it’s at good point, of course I’ll do a lot of tweaks and updates like I did for my past RPGs during beta, however the base/core system is there. Now my goal is to get the isometric map working so that I can playtest myself all the missions (and side-missions) of the whole first chapter.

Currently the plan is to have the game divided into 4 chapters (not all of same length!) and have the game demo end at the end of 1st chapter with one of my usual cliffhanger scenes ๐Ÿ˜‰

The main difficulty is that I’ll have to deal with a lot of things plot-wise:

  • the fact that you can begin the game either as loyal or rebel
  • the possibility to continue an existing romance, or start a new one (either with old/new characters)
  • using the non-combat skills to solve the missions in various/different ways
  • and last but not least, some more branching scenes depending on the choices

while the RPG part of this game is complex, I’d say that the plot part is not easy either! So I am first planning everything before I jump into writing scenes that maybe I have to discard later on, because I didn’t consider this path or this variable or this plot hole and so on. Maybe it doesn’t seem, and you probably won’t even notice while playing the final game, but it can be really complex and drive you nuts, believe me!

Once I have the first draft of the plot finished I’ll then start scripting the game and at the same time also code the various battles and quests, and probably add a few more along the way since I always get an inspiration to write new sidequests as I code the main game. My goal is also to have personal quests for each character, since it’s also a classic of RPG (and almost all my RPGs had this personal quest feature).

I still don’t think I’ll have the game beta finished before end of year, also because I hope to be “distracted” from working on this because I need to publish Corona Borealis and Volleyball Heaven since I know many people are waiting for those games as well ๐Ÿ™‚

Using different artists in a game

A complaint I heard (not too often to be honest) about Cursed Lands, was that some CG look different. Indeed, another artist did them, so that’s the reason.

When writing the game, the original content was much less (in truth it’s hilarious to say this, considering it was still around 200,000 words!!!). In case you don’t know, I added about 30-33% more content myself, in particular “extra romance scenes”. I felt the original script while was good telling the main story and characters backgrounds, didn’t go deep enough in the romances, and especially the “after”. In many games (including mine) the romance subpath ends when you make love/kiss/unlock the final scene with the love interest.

In Cursed Lands (and I plan to do the same also in future games) I wanted to break this system, since I also think romance scenes in which you’re already engaged or in a deep relationship with the love interest could be a nice bonus.

However, I faced a problem: the art was made by the same artist as Loren, who unfortunately doesn’t work for me anymore (luckily I managed to ask him all the art for Loren sequel and several more NPC/character art before he left). So the only option was to find a replacement artist for these new CGs. I think she did a good job, even if she clearly draws females better than males. Sylrissa and Nuala extra CGs in particular looks very good, while I think for example Jasper’s could have been better.

I think overall I made the right call, since from the feedback I got, the vast majority of players didn’t mind to have a different art in exchange of more content for the game. I could have just written the scenes without art, but would have been worse in my opinion.

More outfits, please!

A different situation instead is when you only add more outfit/poses to existing characters, and that’s what I’m doing with Planet Stronghold 2. I’ve already posted in the social media some images of character with new outfits (like Damien finally in a proper uniform suit).

Haha the image above shows one of the most fun bugs (though for some it might be a feature…lol) that is using a wrong variable to set the outfit of a character! Anyway, the nice underwear Lisa is wearing is one of the many new outfits added by another artist to the existing characters. Also a bit harder to notice, but even Rebecca’s pose is new: the old characters only had one pose, holding his gun in one hand. This one with both her hands on her hips is a new one.

They’re small details and maybe not immediately noticeable (well apart in specific situations like above haha) but they all add variety and if you can find an artist who has a very similarย  coloring style (like in this case) the result is always going to be worth it!


In an ideal world, you would first write all the story, and then commission the art. However, during my career so far, I found out that this is a risky approach if you want to be able to release at least a game a year. Artists can disappear, or take long time. So maybe you wait 1 year for the big 150,000+ words script to be finished. Then, once it’s done, you commission an artist, who can take another 6 months or more (depending on how much art is needed of course). As you can see while it can work, it will delay the release, instead of using the approach to produce the art in parallel or almost with the writing (even if this has other problems too).

And it’s not uncommon to find yourself adding more content to the game as you write/code it. It happened to me for example in my old game Spirited Heart, in which to be honest the different art styles shows clearly too much (it was one of my first games though…).

Personally I’m not sure what is the best method. Whenever I found a good artist I commissioned him/her a lot of art, and then adapted the story to the existing art (I had already a basic plot planned though). After all, that’s what we did with Loren and it has worked well it seems ๐Ÿ™‚

Merry Christmas

First of all, Merry Christmas / Happy Holidays to you all! ๐Ÿ™‚ Like every year I’m doing a promo sale for the holidays, on and on Steam.

Planet Stronghold 2

In the past weeks I also made very good progress on this game. As you know, I am currently focusingย  on the rules first, and I decided to use a random items generation system (plus probably some fixed “Legendaryย  Items”) like I did in SOTW. The results so far are good:

As you can see, the item stats on bottom-right should be familiar to anyone who played SOTW. I decided though, thanks to my time spent playing-ahem, doing research with Destiny 2, to display in the inventory a big number for the item “power”, and the damage type/rarity and finally level. This way players can find the desired weapon more quickly and with less clicks than my other RPGs!

With the armors I do something similar, I display the overall item power, the higher resistance (like in the first game there will be energy, explosive, armor piercing, acid and psionic damage), the quality and level.

For the armors and determining the damage, I have decided to use a system derived from the Cursed Lands’ one, which at least judging from beta-tester feedback seems good. I already posted in details in forums, so if you want to know more you can visit them, but in summary the defense value will deteriorate through the course of the fight, while the resistances are percentage based and determine the amount of damage absorbed (depending on the weapon attack type obviously).

In the next weeks I’ll go on with my tests, though of course as soon as I get new content for Cursed Lands or Love Bites, I’m going to work on them since they have the priority.

Speaking of Cursed Lands and Love Bites

To speed things up, in agreement with the writer, I am working on the nagas storyline for Cursed Lands myself with the help of Heirs & Graces writer, and Love Bites writer just finished the last “solo player” scenes: like in other dating sims, you can choose to not romance anyone if you want. But since in this game the goal is to survive/find the cure for your curse, we needed to give the players the possibility to find it even if they don’t romance anyone ๐Ÿ™‚

Expect an update for both games in the next weeks (in particular for Love Bites I should be able to have half of the whole game content in beta next month for sure).

See you next week for the end of year/summary post (I’m going to break my a post every 2 weeks rule to do that). And again, Happy Holidays!

Some good news + future plans

Last time I said I was hoping to bring some good news, and here they are! Let’s proceed in order.

Cursed Lands

If you missed my announcement in the social media, a beta version featuring the full first chapter except the Nagas rescue mission (until the end of first full moon) is now available on here:

All the usual disclaimers apply when talking about a beta: savegames “should” be compatible, there WILL be bugs (but if you tell me about them I’ll fix them), I might tweak things (not story-related though). As of now I haven’t added a “visual novel mode” yet, though you can always try playing in Easy mode.

Meanwhile I finished coding some more stuff for the second chapter, including an epic boss fight against the Kraken! It’s optional, so you don’t need to do it, but it’s very hard and has probably the best loot reward of the whole game:

So might be worth trying, don’t you think? Especially if you like to use the two nagas characters (two items are exclusively for them).

Currently I’m waiting for the writer to send me the new texts necessary for the second chapter, however as you see from the images above, I have already coded a LOT of things: all the rescue missions, the kraken fight, a tomb exploration sidequest, etc etc. It has the biggest amount of content of all the three chapters probably. Of course being an “open world” rpg, you don’t necessarily NEED to do all those quests in the second chapter, some can be completed also in the third.

As soon as writer sends me the missing scenes I’ll update the beta again, unlocking the whole second chapter. For now, have fun with the first ๐Ÿ™‚

Love Bites

Things are progressing well for this game too. The “half-game” beta shouldn’t be much away from now! Not sure about the exact release date yet, but should be out before Christmas, with the final/full game out first quarter of 2018.

…and Planet Stronghold 2

Haha yes you read it well! Since I am now waiting for Cursed Lands’ remaining writing, what there is better to do than start working on another RPG!? Jokes apart, yes, I think it’s a good idea for two reasons: first, I’m in “RPG design mode”, I am working with the RPG framework code, so I’m fresh / familiar with it, and second because it’s about time to finish that game (I announced it back in 2011-2012!).

As I posted in forums, I’m going to plan the ruleset, gameplay etc, still using the good old framework but once again, it will play differently from the previous RPGs. I’m planning to try having randomized items again (like in Seasons Of The Wolf, since it seems players liked it) but still have only 2-3 equipment slots each character to reduce micro-management. Anyways it’s still early days but managed to update the old character creation code with the new GUI and I think the result it’s very good:

The soldier class info screen

Choose your side at start of the story

As announced at beginning of the story you’ll be able to choose who you sided with (Empire/Rebellion) and who you romanced (if any) in the previous game.

This will inevitably require a lot of branching in writing the story so I’m doing this part myself, but of course will ask the help of Miakoda (who wrote PSCD) for editing/proofread and writing the new romance scenes. I’m only writing this first part myself since it’s going to be a pain with all the gameplay and multiple beginning/branching!

Obviously there’s no estimate release date, I’ll just work on it whenever I’m waiting for the other two games currently in active development above. But at least I’m not wasting time ๐Ÿ™‚

Choose Your Own Portrait

First of all, public service announcement: Amber’s Magic Shop is out on Steam! If you bought it directly, you can as always redeem the free Steam keys from this site:

About this blog: I know I said I would announce a new yuri only dating sim today, but I decided to wait a bit more. The game is going well but I realized that even if I had all the assets (writing, art, music) ready TODAY (and that’s not the case), it would still take me at least 2 months to have the first beta version. For this reason, I decided to wait a bit more, even if the writing it’s at very good point. Also because while I’m not a superstitious person, announcing the games early didn’t really work well in the past, didn’t it? ๐Ÿ˜€

Cursed Lands character creation

This is what I’m working right now. I’ve finished the intro part of the game, where you’re recruited by the Human Empire, just before the big “open world” part which will be hard to code but also fun. For sure was fun to code the character creation so far!

The eternal 2D dilemma

Originally, this game was supposed to not have the protagonist displayed, seen in first person view. This because in a 2D game, you can’t have both character customization and romance CG scenes! Just imagine how many variants of each CG the artist should draw if the protagonist was displayed. So far I didn’t do this in all my games, but this was limiting the choice a lot. In Loren, SOTW, Queen Of Thieves you started with predefined characters. You could change their stats/skills but not their appearances. In Queen Of Thieves you could at least change their outfits (and it was a very popular option!).

A randomized head using the new character creation system. I think I was lucky!

In Cursed Lands, I decided to at least have the portrait of your protagonist shown, as you can see in the screenshot above ๐Ÿ™‚ It will be displayed in the battles and inventory/character screen of course, not in the game scenes which will still be seen in first person (including the romance CGs).

Combo master!

However just creating your character, even if will be displayed only in those parts of the game, it’s already a lot of fun! I originally calculated 1080 different combinations but then I let myself go a bit when creating the color variations for hair/eyes, so now the unique combinations is over 10.000 ๐Ÿ˜€ Of course, several hair/eye colors are quite similar, but I’m already proud of what I’ve managed to do, since it also includes the possibility to create characters with darker skin ๐Ÿ™‚

Once I have everything working I’ll make a public alpha so people can play with it and reach the end of the intro of the game. Still a long way to go (need to code a LOT of things !) but I’d say that I’m on the right track for this game so far: the character portrait system is very nice, and the in-game character creation (including a sort of personality test after the intro scenes) it’s interesting as well! ๐Ÿ™‚

After the initial character creation, a familiar face will ask us a few questions to determine better our personality…

I also spoke with the writer and we’re considering making both Nuala and Vaeril romanceable by both genders to make more options available to the players (as said the romance CG would stay the same but would only change the texts).