Category Archives: loren the amazon princess

A SOTW postmortem

Well, if nothing else, SOTW brought some new awesome characters like Rowinda in Aravorn’s world!

At the time of writing this, will be exactly one week after SOTW Steam release. How it went? ahem, let’s say it didn’t meet my expectations… πŸ˜€

Don’t get me wrong: a lot of people liked the game. But it didn’t do as well as I hoped. In short, game sold, rather well to be honest, but compared to the amount of work I’ve personally put on it, I wouldn’t do it again. Now I’ll get into the details and try to find possible causes of this:

  • game length/price: this was my first mistake. The game, for the length, amount of work and resources put in it, should have been sold for $29.99 (is longer than Loren+DLC!). However, in nowadays market, is really not possible to offer a game at that price, it was better to split it in two, or do a DLC/expansion. So when I finished the game, I was “forced” to price it $25.
  • gameplay: I wanted to put more RPG gameplay on this game, more combat, skills etc than Loren. It wasn’t a bad choice on itself, but the main issue was to put too much REQUIRED combat in it. I’m not talking about the random battles, or grinding. That one was also present in Loren but was entirely optional. If I count the required battles (to advance the plot) of Loren and the ones of SOTW, there are 3 or 4 times more in SOTW!! and most people didn’t like it. Also, the clever AI resulted in longer battles after act2 because they could heal/resurrect. It’s a mechanics that is fun to play once in a while but on every battle (for most people at least, there are exceptions of course). The DLC I’m working on is much more similar to Loren under this aspect.
  • feature-creep disease: haha it is not a real disease, but it affects many game developers. The fight is nice, but why don’t you add custom battlefield conditions? the items are nice, but more variety? let’s add a random items generator! enemies AI is too dumb, let’s recode it completely! OK I’ll stop here, I think you got what I mean πŸ™‚ Adding features is not a bad thing in general, but adding too many, without thinking about all the extra work needed to test? yep.

In conclusion: I am NOT saying that SOTW was a failure, or is a bad game, or anything. I still think is a great game, sold well and without doubts the best RPG I’ve made so far. However, as you know, when running a business you need to consider the time/resources spent vs money earned. You remember when I said that the game sold more than Loren the first month? Now 3 months have passed and comparing the first 3 months of Loren, SOTW sold less (not by much, but less).

And if I take into consideration Steam? Loren outsold SOTW by ten times or more! πŸ™ this might not be about the game itself though, since even other very good games like Roommates didn’t do particularly well after they “opened the floodgates” and several new games are launched daily (Loren could stay in homepage for a whole week, SOTW for less than 8h). It seems you need to put a lot of fanservice to do well with manga games on Valve’s platform (this is a topic for another long post though).

And the problem is that this game budget was twice Loren’s, and the amount of time I’ve spent on it is longer by at least 50%… you do the math πŸ™‚

So what happens now?

Well, I actually had FUN making SOTW. Not always (especially when fixing crazy bugs), but I had fun. However it doesn’t matter much really. If from now I was making always games like SOTW (taking me 10 months of hard work every time), I wouldn’t go out of business, but I would be in serious financial trouble in just 2-3 years… and probably I would be totally burned out (I still am, have problems coding for long hours now).

So I am sorry for those who loved SOTW, but I can say that for sure the upcoming RPGs will be:

  • more focused on the story. After all, all my games are story-based, so makes sense to stick with it.
  • with less required combat! I can leave grinding open as option. But those playing mainly for the story shouldn’t be forced to play 100 fights πŸ™‚
  • more “casual”: an easier interface and rules, so that even non RPG experts can understand and play it. This has nothing to do with actual game difficulty, only with fewer rules, easier to understand. An example: if SOTW was Magic: The Gathering, upcoming games should be Hearthstone πŸ˜‰ Still very fun, but easy to learn and play.
  • better balanced for length/price. Wait, I am not going to make only cheap/short games, I am talking only about my internal management/budget. In practice I need to make sure that I don’t add too much content and spend again so much time/money on a productΒ  that then can’t be sold at the price it should be sold!

Sadly my most precious resource now is my own time. To make an example, if I want to make a game more polished, is better to add 10 new CGs, even if artist takes 2 months toΒ  draw them, than adding feature XYZ using 2 months of my time. Also because, when I do stuff myself, for obvious reasons I can’t multitask and follow other projects as I should.

Anyway, with everything I’ve said, I’m quite optimistic for SOTW DLC, because it’s like Loren: it focuses on story/romance, has a lot of character romantic interactions, a few battles, a lot of lore and “tough choices” and plot twists πŸ™‚ Hopefully will be out after the Summer!

Loren now on Steam, more iOS games and upcoming releases

Queen Karen sitting on her throne is giving a friendly warning to Steam users! πŸ˜‰

A Steamy January

Lots of things to talk about! First of all, in case you missed it (but how? I posted everywhere on the net! lol) my VN/RPG game Loren The Amazon Princess is finally on Steam:

please spread the word, upvote the reviews and share between your friends, will help us a lot πŸ™‚

Roleplaying on iOS

Second, more games are available on iOS as promised, including the RPGs. They are:

Heileen 3 (both otome and yuri):

Planet Stronghold (with redesigned GUI):

Loren Amazon Princess:

Bionic Heart:

Bionic Heart 2:

Upcoming releases

Of course, right now I’m rather busy as you can imagine!! But still managed to work a bit on Roommates scheduler. I think in one more week I should be able to finish it, and at end of month start the beta testing, and hopefully release the final game in February πŸ™‚

As for Seasons Of The Wolf, the main script is finished, for a total of about 120,000 words, camp/romance dialogues excluded. Writer will do them and another one will work on the sidequests at same time to speed things up, while I design all the battles.

I plan to start the beta around March/April, when probably I’ll have fully coded at least the first two Seasons/Chapters. Of course they’re only estimated deadlines, but I feel confident enough to say that I should manage to met them!

Happy Halloween

My cat Gilda is wondering how high she must jump to catch them…

Happy Halloween to everyone! This was an incredible week for me.

First of all, Nicole is officially out (but you probably already know this). In any case, I just want to remember that you can grab the free demo here:

The game was very well received and if continues this way it could become my most popular otome game so far πŸ™‚

But the real news was the approval (finally!) of my RPG Loren The Amazon Princess on Steam! πŸ˜€ it was a bit shocking to be honest: not because I wasn’t expecting it, at the pace they’re greenlighting new games I knew it would eventually get in, but I thought it would need more time.

Anyway what does this means? my life is changed? I’m going to retire? Nope.

Steam gives a very big exposure but I’m an old indie (ahem) and I know well that you must not get too big expectations, and that if your game doesn’t match Steam audience you might not even earn that much. In other words if the game is good, will probably do well, but there are a thousands other factors that can influence the outcome.

Here comes my decision to take it easier and wait to release it. From now until Christmas will be an insane rush to release new games, top AAA titles, and so on. The biggest amount of money you make on Steam (as well on any other platform, including your own site) is at launch. So if I launch the game together with 3-4 new titles, and maybe one of them is a big AAA title, and then a week later there’s the Thanksgiving/Christmas sale, it could pretty much screw up everything.

Also, I want to polish the game a bit: I’m redoing the soundtrack to have only custom music, will put the latest version there, I want to include achievements and possibly use the DLC system for the N’Mar expansion.

So as you can imagine is a lot of work to do, since I need to learn everything from scratch and the last thing I want is to rush things!

Ah before I forget: I’ll also add a “censored version” for all the romances. So the game available on Steam will be playable by everyone and not require any age ratings. I was forced to take this decision because getting an official rating (ESRB, PEGI) is out of discussion for a small indie like me (too expensive, too much paperwork). The best way will be to buy the game from my site so you know you can play the “naughty version” if you want, and still get a free steam CD-key πŸ˜‰

In short, Loren will be on Steam but very likely after Christmas, since I think that is the best for my game πŸ™‚ Meanwhile, maybe some other titles will get in… both Planet Stronghold and Spirited Heart are close to the top100, so you might go and vote for those games as well:

Next week, will talk about the Roommates and SOTW status/progresses… stay tuned! πŸ˜‰

The importance of custom soundtracks

My dog Skipper in his usual begging face

In the past, I used to have royalty free music in my games. Partly because I couldn’t afford to hire musicians, partly because I didn’t think that having original music was so important.

But one day, I saw this quote by Friedrich Nietzsche on a website:

Without music, life would be a mistake.

And I immediately jumped on my seat and realized how wrong I was!!! πŸ˜€

Jokes apart, it wasn’t such an enlightening moment but pretty close. I used to have theme songs in some past games (Always Remember Me for example) but wasn’t until Heileen 3 that I decided to have a full custom soundtrack. And when I saw how much people appreciated that, and the possibility to download the music tracks (along with other bonus stuff) in the “bonus content” version of the games, I realized that indeed before I made a big mistake.

So what does this mean? it means that, always keeping an eye on budget, I’m going to have full soundtracks and in certain cases even theme songs for all my future games!

For example, you can hear a snipped of Undead Lily theme song below (is weird and scary but because of the game theme):

and Roommates will have a custom theme song + full soundtrack as well (can’t post a preview of that one though, sorry).

Seasons Of The Wolf

One of the early scenes of the game. Althea, Shea and Vaelis meet Riley for the first time

Is this game going to have a custom soundtrack? Yes, and also a theme song! Speaking of the game, I’ve finally started coding the game story itself as you can see from the screenshot above. Is still the early battles and I’m tweaking a lot of things, but I’m making progresses fast.

Short news

I know many people are eagerly waiting for Nicole & Roommates. Nicole writing is finished, though I still have to get the last scenes from writer. Some art is also missing which should be done in a week or so. I really hope to have the game finished for Halloween!

As for Roommates, there are only a few backgrounds and some CG scenes left, but most of the work is done. Will take a while only because the game is very long so needs time to be coded, but it’s at good point too.

One last news, I’m also thinking to redo Loren soundtrack, because is one of my biggest games and sucks a bit to have royalty free music in it (even if the tracks I picked were particularly good). So on the next game update you might hear a very different music πŸ˜‰

2012 the year of Loren

As usual I’m doing the end of the year blog post, in which I talk how it was the year that is about to end for me. Looking back at the post I wrote in 2011, lots of things went better.

First of all, and most importantly, I didn’t had so many losses like last year. In April I lost my cat Orpheus, but luckily it was the only loss.

The year of RPGs and Loren

Personal life apart, the main event of this year for me as you can guess was the release of the RPG Loren The Amazon Princess. I already did a postmortem about it, but now that more than 6 months passed after its release, the response of people that are playing/discovering it is still amazing, and I can absolutely say that will do more RPGs in future πŸ™‚

Does it means that I will do only RPGs? No, of course! I need some simpler games from time to time to take a break and recharge batteries. Heileen 3 was good on this regard, because while is true that making it was still working, it felt almost relaxing to have “just to design and code some simple life simulation rules” instead of balancing 60 skills and testing endless battles like I did for Loren πŸ˜€

I’ll still put some RPG mechanics in the other games though, like the leveling skills of Heileen 3 (which I think was something relatively new, at least in the OELVN?) or the “crafting gameplay” that will be present in Amber’s Magic Shop.

This year was my best since I went indie, and this means that I must thank first everyone who is supporting my games (I’m not on any big portal, so every little sale count!) and also a special thanks to all my valid collaborators/partners who are helping me so much to make better games! In no order and using a mix of names/nicknames: Aleema, Anima, Sarah, Megan, Michael, Franklin, George, Deji, Ayu, Matthew, Eddy, Slamet and everyone else who probably missed but that helped me making games.

Future improvements

I think that the artwork of my games is already at good levels, even if will try to have more quantity/variety of images or scenes. However, there are two crucial aspects that I plan to improve in the next year games:

Custom soundtracks

It’s something so obvious that is quite embarrassing for me to say it. In the past games I always used royalty free audio tracks. A bit because I couldn’t afford to hire a musician, and also because I have hard time to explain exactly what music I need, because of language barrier.

However as I’ve seen by the response to Heileen 3 custom track bonus, people really like that. So for all future games I’ll have full soundtracks made and have them available as mp3 bonus content.

Professionally made logos

A friend of mine pointed out that while the art of my games is in general quite good, the logos sucks. Indeed, I made most of the logos myself! πŸ™‚ That’s why I asked M.Beatriz Garcia also known as Deji to create logos for all the next games, so for sure they will look much better!

It might seem a minor detail, but I must say that people often judge games by first impressions. And surely a professionally done logo has much better impact than my current ones.

In conclusion

Even for this year the show is over! I want to wish everyone a Happy New Year, and I’m looking forward to work on the next year games. Stay tuned!