Category Archives: remember me

Never Forget Me beta + Future romance games

luis

First of all Public Service Announcement: my upcoming otome game “Never Forget Me” is now in beta. The only thing missing is the official game main menu and the theme song. Everything else is there and should be working!

For more info, check the forums: http://www.winterwolves.net/viewtopic.php?f=29&t=3937

Expected final release should be end of month or November at the latest, depending how testing goes (however being a visual novel/dating sim, most of the mistakes could be typos or other minor stuff!).

And now I wanted to talk about a topic I find interesting to me:

Romance in future games

After Heirs & Graces release on Steam, there was an interesting discussion in the community forums. To be honest, I expected a much worse reaction, considering the game topic (yaoi/gay only dating sim). I just deleted a couple of obvious stupid threads but not much.

Anyway, here’s what I’m going to do in future games, regarding the romances.

Finding an audience

The most important thing for an indie dev, is finding the audience, the niche. Either you try to make a game in a popular genre (platformer?) but in that case you have to compete against many top indies (and the chances of succeeding are small) or you can try to cater to a smaller but loyal audience. That’s what I’ve always tried to do.

The question is: there’s a gay/yaoi audience on Steam? probably, but it’s very small. It’s not just Steam though: I sell the games directly, but also on mobile. The result though, is thatΒ  Heirs & Graces did much worse than, for example, C14 Dating, on all platforms.

So if I had to make games for an audience, I would stop making BxB games completely. BUT! There’s a big but πŸ™‚ What is my goal? I think everyone should ask themselves what is their goal in life. I did it when I went indie. Originally, I wanted to make simulations and RPGs. Recently, I still want to make RPGs but also make experiments and story-based games. And regarding the stories, my goal is:

“I want as much people as possible to read my stories”

Yes, as simple as it is, that is my goal. Not because I’m arrogant and I think my stories (and those of my writers) are good or better than anyone else (they’re good though!). But simply because I want everyone to read them.

Now in the case of Heirs & Graces, I think it has one of the most beautiful stories of all my games. The father/son relationship, the fun and sad moments, etc. Not just my opinion, but basically of everyone who played the game. And here’s the problem: many people didn’t play the game because is yaoi only. And they missed a great story. This is bad, but honestly I knew it, it was inevitable, as much as some people wouldn’t play a yuri only game, etc.

What is the solution then? Well, the most obvious solution is to make games in which you can play as male/female, and have all kind of romances! On the other hand, doing such games takes a lot more time, as you can imagine. Also, usually you can’t offer 8+ romances (since you need to write them from the male/female point of view! it’s a LOT of work) and then you have complaints like with SOTW, in which people say that the game could have been better than Loren, but because of the few romances, it isn’t πŸ™

Are they to blame either? No. I can understand that as male straight player, perhaps Krimm is not my kind of romance. Or as female player, I could find Jariel just too “nice” (the DLC changes things quite a lot though!). There’s no one to blame, really.

Finding a compromise

So as author I need to ask myself what is the best thing to do. As you can imagine it’s not like I can do all games with male/female main character AND 4+ romances each gender. Then we have situations like Loren 2, Roger Steel or Undead Lily where the game isn’t ready yet after 3+ years! Doh, insanely huge games takes a lot more time to make! Who would have guessed! haha

However, I think perhaps the best way is to try, whenever possible, to have a male/female main character and at least 2 romances for each gender. Sure, there won’t be as many romances as if the game was otome or yaoi or yuri only, but at least this way there are moreΒ  chances that everyone can read my stories. My main goal.

If someone thinks that having maybe only 2 romanceable characters/combos is too few for a full price game, well they can always wait and buy the game discounted later. But at least they will read the story, as long as there’s at least one romance they’re interested in πŸ™‚

Of course, I have a lot of games I started years ago (some even in 2011… ahem) so for those, they could still be yuri only, no straight male romance, etc. Nothing can be done about this, except finish them as they were originally planned.

But for future games, especially bigger ones, that’s what I’ll try to do πŸ™‚

new otome game release and plans for the future

Extrabonus

Good news: Always Remember Me is out of pre-order phase and now the difficulty problem has been solved. The game now on start-up will offer your two playing mode: the Hard mode is the previous one, with some minor adjustments, and is the right choice for dating sims experts. The Normal mode instead is aimed at casual players who I’m sure will appreciate the much reduced failure rate when trying the actions inside the life simulation part!

Of course you will still need to find the right actions to do, and the correct “path” for each character. Some scenes are very well hidden requiring you to be at a specific day/time on a specific place. I will probably write a sort of walkthrough on my forums later next week (since the game is just out I don’t want to spoil the fun!!).

In case you haven’t tried the game demo yet, check it now: http://www.winterwolves.com/rememberme.htm

(and yes, I changed only slightly the name adding “Always”, to differentiate the game title from the movie).

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In this week cats picture, Gilda and Grillo are sleeping peacefully together.

As indie developer instead, I can never sleep so peacefully! Numerous dangers lurk in the night… portals lowering price so much that soon they’ll start paying people to play games, your server that goes down after hackers attack at midnight, some mysterious new bug appear in your latest released game and so on! But… the most feared of all is surely this: artists that disappear in the middle of development process! πŸ˜€

Almost every indie I know had this problem, exception for those that use professional teams (but I’ve heard some problems even in those cases). Also most games don’t really need much art like visual novels/dating sims, or even better just need 3d models: in this case you can commission them even from different people, since in 3d is much harder to notice a difference in style (while in 2d is immediately evident).

Anyway I’m not here to complain, but I find myself in a fun situation, where I have lots of story texts and game design ready for 3-4 games, but they’re all on hold because of artists. Not everyone disappeared, some of them just took a break, others are busy doing commissions for other people (this is last time I give away my artists contacts!) , other moved full-time into comics and so on. That’s why I start so many projects at once, unless you’re making a game where you just need a few portraits (thinking about the RPGMaker XP games haha) is really hard to be sure that the person you hired for 2-3 months of will finish everything as planned.

I just finished 3 games this year so now I’m taking a break to see what I can do next. I think I could probably start working on the sequel of Spirited Heart. It has all the art done, but I wanted to wait until I was skilled enough to do a online game using Monkey (a new language that allows people to code games for HTML5/Flash without knowing JS/AS3). Problem is… I’m too used to Ren’Py now, and any other language looks too slow to develop with! πŸ™‚

I really cannot imagine myself coding in something where I cannot immediately test the changes I just made with a keystroke to reload all the script, like I do with Ren’Py. That’s just too much time-saving! The only other thing I know that can do that is VisualC, the system I was using before, but that would mean to leave out Linux from the target platforms and I don’t like that, since I’d like to support my “penguin friends” πŸ™‚

Speaking about that, a friend of mine, Neil (who runs a successful zombie-MMO) told me an interesting thing:

the question is, if you were to use Flash for example, would the result be anywhere near as good as with python? How much longer would it take? If it’s going to take 2x longer then I’d say stick with what you know since I doubt the difference in conversions between web player and download will be more than 50%.

sometimes you really need an external point of view to fuly realize the situation, the pro and cons. That’s why I always ask for advice and feedback for my games and my choices in general, because it really helps. My friend is basically right, it’s not use to me to try making a game using another language if takes me x2-3 time more than just using Ren’Py and python (even if that means I need to have that damn auto-updater done!).

For now I’m still thinking how to design the game – probably there will be a normal offline part, and then a big online integration, though since I’m new to all of this I have to see how it works, and if I can actually make it without going mad πŸ™‚

Meanwhile, the other projects like Loren RPG are on hold (even if the story is about 30% finished), while Planet Stronghold’s add-on shouldΒ  (not completely sure yet) see the light around July/August, since the artist said she would take time to finish the new images, even if she is quite busy with convention and school. Undead Lily game is also slowly progressing, but there’s still a lot of art to be done, so probably won’t be done quickly.

The only thing that’s 100% sure to come out is Flower Shop: Winter In Fairbrook, since all the art is done, and will be released before the summer. More info about the game coming soon in the next weeks!

Remember Me pre-orders available!

Kissingaaron

Those who follow my blog/twitter might know that I’ve been working since beginning of March on a new otome dating / life simulation game called “Remember Me”. I am probably going to change the game name when is officially released with “Always Remember Me” just to avoid confusion with a movie that was out last year (not for copyright reasons since are completely different things).

So, today can announce that the game is officially available as pre-order! Some of you might wonder what does it means? It means that the game is complete, but there might be some small bug, or some unbalanced gameplay or other minor text errors. But since I’ve been getting numerous request to play this game as soon as possible, I decided to open a beta pre-order stage: you pay and can start playing the game immediately, and if you want you can help to improve it by posting feedback/suggestions in the game’s own forums which you can find here. Obviously, once you buy you’re entitled to lifetime free upgrades, so you’ll be able to redownload the final version without bugs.

Also the first 50 pre-orders will benefit of a generous 20% discount simply entering the following coupon code on the order page: BOIO000X9

Check the official game page – where you can find more information and download the beta demo to play the game!

I plan to have the game on pre-order until the end of the month, when I really should be able to make the official release: considering that the game, while very detailed, is surely not as complex as Planet Stronghold who required almost 1 month and half of playtesting!.

The making of Remember Me

The main game idea was born last summer, while my girlfriend was watching an episode of the TV series “Ghost Whisperer”. I don’t follow it so I’m not sure if those were main characters or anything, but basically there was a man who lost his memory and forgot who was his girlfriend, and his girlfriend for some reason couldn’t force him to remember. I found this situation particularly interesting from the storytelling point of view, so immediately started to brainstorm about a possible otome dating sim plot.

This time I decided to outsource all the games texts (most of it anyway) to external native English speaker so there would be less grammar/texts mistakes, and I think it was a wise decision, since it also allowed me to concentrate more on the gameplay, which is much more advanced than other dating sim I made in the past. In practice, there is a full life simulation game, with several places and several activities to do, which can change based on your current energy/morale levels, on your skills, on specific plot conditions, on week of the day, and more! πŸ˜€

So one of the key aspect of the game is that the players will have to explore the game world and discover all the secrets, to find the best tactics to win the hearts of the four dateable characters. Of course the “best ending” would be the one that reunites Amy and Aaron, but being a dating sim I have also to allow the player to pursue other boys πŸ™‚ I also think all the boys have distinct personalities, and you’ll have lot of fun discovering them in the various scenes where you’ll have to pick a choice to influence their relationship.

I must admit I had lot of fun coding this game, thinking about all the possible various activities on each place, and then putting together all the scenes at the right moment/place. If the game will be successful, I have already in mind another story which can use the same gameplay system πŸ™‚

Is going to be a hot spring

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In the picture above, Lilli sleeping over some straw πŸ™‚

Spring is my favourite season. The blossoming flowers, the nature that wakes up, warm but not too hot climate (at least, for now) and so on. They say that the season you like most, is the season you’re born in. Indeed, next monday will be my birthday…so maybe is true! I have lots of things going on, so this post is going to be made in form of “news”. First news is…

Loren to be a manga game too

Yes, after thinking about it a lot, and after seeing that the actual comic author wasn’t doing a great job (sigh…) I’ve decided to use manga art even for this game. I am not sure yet who will do the art but is likely will be the same artist of Undead Lily, so I’ll need to finish that game first (since artist still need to do a lot of art for that game).

I realized I was about to make the same mistake I made with Vera Blanc, but at least this time I changed direction in time πŸ˜‰

I’m also going to change the gameplay, from card-rpg battle to some more real-time stuff and perhaps even isometric battlefield! But right now is too early to talk about it, since the game is officially on hiatus for now.

Remember Me out very soon + new title!

My new life / dating sim will be almost surely out for pre-orders next weekend (of the next week I mean)! I have finished testing the romance arc of Lawrence, so there are only 3 more characters to check. Obiously the pre-order version might contain a few bugs and some unbalanced gameplay, and the texts won’t be completely proofread, even if the main story was written by a native English speaker, so there are only minor things that aren’t proofread.

Yesterday spent the whole day testing it and I believe is going to be a good game, the “normal” endings are easy enough to get, once you find the right dialog choices (like in my other games) but the special ones are going to be tricky. You’ll need to understand which actions raises which stats, and is going to be fun to discover them all (some happens only at specifc day/hour).

Flower Shop: Winter In Fairbrook out… this summer!

Technically might be out even this Spring, since Summer starts the 21st June and if I understood well, Ayu of Sakevisual wants to have the game ready by the first days of June πŸ™‚ You can see a nice gallery of pictures of the game below… this otome game is going to be quite interesting!

Screen_sonotinnocent Screen_susanajacob Screen_travisryan

So far the word count amounts at around 25,000 words, which is not bad already. There is going to be the usual farming sim, this time with flowers instead, but have yet to discuss about this with Ayu so don’t know exactly how it will be done. More detailed information about this game will come in the next weeks!

So… what’s the plan again?

The new release schedule is:

Mid-April – Remember Me pre-orders
End-April –Β  Remember Me Official Release

End-May or Early June – Flower Shop: Winter In Fairbrook

I’m going to list only the games almost ready from now on, since for the others in production many things can happen that can change completely the schedule. I’m also probably going to find the time to release an add-on for Planet Stronghold sometime before next Summer! Featuring the so-much-requested romance options: Lisa – Prince Cliff and Joshua – Queen Shiler!

Loren Amazon Princess game features revealed!

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In the picture above, a big close-up picture of my cat Nina. I wanted her to be present in the game Remember Me, but she’s quite hard to draw. The resulting sprite inside the game only vaguely resembles her… πŸ™‚

Today will talk mainly of the decisions I’m making for my next RPG called “Loren – the amazon princess”. But first a quick update about my next otome / life sim game:

Remember Me

Things are going smoothly – all the texts are done, and are being proofread again (even if they were already written by a native English speaker!). I have still to link all the events together, make sure everything works as it’s supposed (some scenes happens only after others) and other minor things, but seems very likely that will be able to do pre-orders at mid-April! πŸ™‚

Loren – the amazon princess

In the picture below, the two playable characters: Saren, the human male slave and Elenor, the elf female slave.

Choice

I am still writing the plot/storyboard that then will be transformed into script by writers. But I want to talk about the rules first. I’m still brainstorming the ideas but that’s what I have so far:

  1. shared inventory. After finishing Planet Stronghold, I had the chance to play some recent RPGs and… well, having a separate inventory for each character is really bad πŸ™ In this game, I’ll have a shared inventory!
  2. character customization. Each character will have access only to a specific weapon, like Dragon Age 2. I know this might sound limiting, but in my case I’m doing this for budget reasons: having different sprites drawn with each possible weapon is out of discussion. I think though that it makes more interesting the gameplay and gives each character a specific set of skills related to his weapon choice. For example, Loren will be a massive damage dealer: she uses two swords (dual wield power!) and does tremendous critical strikes. The downside of course is that she’ll have low HP, but thankfully your player character will be a healer!
  3. character creation. Again, not much freedom for race and name – for plot reasons you’ll have ot be either Saren (human male slave), or Elenor (elf female slave). Also, you’ll be a healer. You might wonder then “wtf I cannot even choose my class!”. Yes, but you’ll be able to choose the specialization skills. Even if you’re primarily a healer, at low level, as you go on you’ll be able to become several different things: a sort of Templar (warrior/healer) that fight and also heal a bit, a sort of Druid (wizard/healer) who can cast offensive/buff spells and heal a bit, or you can choose to keep your path and become a powerful healer. So as you see, you still have a choice at later levels
  4. skill system. I absolutely fell in love with the multiple tree/branches skills! I want to use that method in this game. I have already started designing them and I’m quite happy so far about the variety and results. Each character will have a common skill based on the class (warrior, magic user, scout) and a unique personal skill set, so each character will be somehow unique πŸ™‚ I think this feature should make the game much more replayable since you might want to experiment with all the various characters skills.
  5. romance. There will be of course romances subplots! The main one will be between Loren and your Playable Character, but I plan also to allow some other romance between other minor characters. They’ll be optional like in Planet Stronghold, but I’m not sure yet they’ll have specific quest too.
  6. endings. I’d like also to have several different endings, I mean quite different between each other. But is perhaps still a bit too early to talk about this (also, I won’t really talk about this since don’t want to make spoilers!)
  7. battle system. This game is more for the “hardcore fans” than casual RPG player, so I’m thinking to move from the first person view of Planet Stronghold and try some card-RPG battle view. You can see a very ugly looking (hey it’s programmer’s art) test layout below:
    Battlescreenwip

    I’m going to do this for several reasons: more epic battles, you can fight against 12 goblins if you want πŸ˜€ Also, more tactical choices and the position will influence the battle. The first rows will be the one in direct contact, but all the heroes in the second rows won’t be directly attackable by enemies unless they have ranged attacks. Also, I can have area of effect spells/skills, and you can swap positions of the heroes, like move in the back lines if your fighter is injured to heal him, and so on. Will be much more fun I think, even if inevitably is going to make battle more complex (but as I said, I think the target market for this kind of game will appreciate it).

That’s all for now, as you can see there’s already quite some features to talk about πŸ˜‰