Category Archives: simulation games

The wind of change

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Need to give credit to my wife for the nice photo above!

And now after writing this title, I have the good old Scorpions’ song stuck in my mind!

“Listening to the wind of change” or better listening to the critiques, to suggestions by other more experienced indie, and listening to my heart 😉

Between this and last year I have learned a lot, and I’ve decided that (after the current “batch” of games is done) it’s time to change:

  • no more “insanely huge epic games”. I know, I know. Everyone would like very big, long games (even if honestly I haven’t finished yet some AAA titles because… they were too long!). Anyway, I’ve realized it’s not possible anymore, with the exception of a few titles like could be Loren 2 and Roger Steel (big RPGs) to make games too big. I’m talking from the story point of view. I want to have a good story, but also add more gameplay. When I talk with more successful indies doing the same kind of games, I’m often surprised to see that their wordcount is always not even half of my most recent titles!
  • story based on the gameplay, and not vice versa. When I will make more “hybrid games”, apart of course the usual VN/Dating sims/RPGs, I will first decide the gameplay and then craft the story around it, or at least design them at same time. This is even more important for “experimental games” like PSCD was. In that case it was a mess (because of first coder quitting) but in general for my own games it’s not wise to have a story written and then have to code the gameplay around it. The result can’t be good. So, first design the gameplay, and then have a story to complement it.
  • much clear separation of genres. One of the strong points of my games (based on what OTHER people say, so it’s not my opinion) has always been the mix with visual novel and other gameplay genres. Well, there will still be this. But if the two genres don’t work well together (like visual novel and card games) doesn’t make sense to mix them, better have two separate games. Or if I still want to have story and gameplay, the story cannot be 200k word long, 10+ romances, etc. It’s just not possible to do that in the current climate, to have a huge story AND good gameplay. I should price the games over $30, and that’s honestly not going to work anymore right now, so it’s not really my choice! So instead of that, a card game for $9.99 and a story-based game for $19.99 for example (just a simple example of what I mean).
  • less grinding, more fun. For the dating/raising sim, one of the major complaints of my past games was the grinding. I’m definitely going to address that. For the record, I don’t consider grinding using a scheduler like Roommates. More like the various activities in Nicole to reach the required stats. Love Bites should be a good example of a dating sim with stat raising but not grinding. For the RPGs instead, I’m going to leave it. Since many RPG players like to grind! 😉
  • gameplay-only games. I had already announced this, and it’s also related to future card games. I’ll make more (not just card games, even other genres) games like this to be sold at cheaper price, since I think is good to have a bit of variety over the dating sims/RPGs/VNs.
  • shorter but full of branching story-games. As you know I want to make a CYOA/old gamebook style game in future, illustrated with pictures. Well, that one won’t be 100k words, but even if it’s only 50k words will have a lot of branching. After all Bionic Heart has one of the highest review rating on Steam of all my games, and it’s just a little more than 50k words! Of course, I won’t write the games myself, only the storyboards.

OK I think I’ve explained enough! For many games that will be out (even next year) the things above won’t apply since I started them time ago, so they will still have maybe some grinding or be really “too big” (but of course since the text has been already written, it’s not like I’ll cut it down!).

But in future, doing the things above, I should be able to release games more regularly, and some of them cheaper than usual (which in the current climate seems very important) and even if the word count might be lower, the overall fun (and critic/players reception) will probably be higher. At least that’s what I hope, we’ll see!

For those wondering about the progress on games, I made a sort of estimate release schedule in my forums, which I copy paste here:

END OF MARCH
– launch C14 Dating on my site “soft release”. Probably on Steam towards end of April or early May
– finish all the QoT romance coding (not much left)

APRIL
– Forsaken and artist should finish the last scenes/CG for QoT
– I will take a look on Heirs & Graces and probably code the gameplay and start the beta maybe (though could be delayed to May)
– decide what to do with Undead Lily gameplay, possibly a RPG. Make a detailed storyboard this time :)
– probably do the PSCD extra romances free add-on (though could slip into May)

MAY
– Heirs & Graces beta
– Queen Of Thieves beta

JUNE
– hopefully release of both Heirs & Graces and Queen Of Thieves, but this last one could be delayed to July

JULY-AUGUST
– it’s likely that will be too hot to work as usual, plus I might want to take a break considering the insane amount of releases this year! I might do a few prototypes for new games though

SEPTEMBER
– Love Bites beta (though it’s just too early to say it now)

That’s all for now! Happy Easter by the way 🙂

A cute weekend


The official trailer for Flower Shop: Summer In Fairbrook redone for Steam launch

This weekend will be full of cute stuff. First of all, one of my first non-otome dating sims, Flower Shop: Summer In Fairbrook, will launch on Steam today.

New members of C14 dating cast revealed!

Those are secondary characters, but still important for the story. I am officially in love with Joan, because… freckles! 😉 Click each portrait below to see a full body image!

sherriSherri Keller
Occupation: Professor (anthropology department)
Languages: English, French
Melissa’s professor and mentor, who specializes in zooarchaeology and human remains. She will be supervising Melissa during the field school and providing feedback on her performance. With her informal method of teaching, students find it easy to seek her guidance.

rosemarieRosemarie Brenner
Occupation: Archaeologist and lithics expert
Languages: German, English, a little Dutch
Originally from Germany, Rosemarie joins the Calen Cave team during the summer excavations. Although she may clash with the staff over ideals and procedures, she’s dedicated to her work on stone tools. She’s energetic and demonstrative, with a teasing side to match.

joanJoan Petit
Occupation: 1st year music student
Languages: French, some English
Joan is a bashful, but amiable girl, and Chantal’s close friend. She is currently learning English, but will often get lost during conversations, leaving Chantal to translate for her.
Plays flute.

dupontAugustin Dupont
Occupation: Chief archaeologist
Languages: French, English
Head of Calen Cave, Augustin has been supervising the excavation for over twenty years. As the leading expert, he’s devoted to meticulously recording the history of the cave. Although passionate, he can be strict and overbearing depending on how the students perform.

chantalChantal Masson
Occupation: 1st year archaeology student
Languages: French, English, a little Spanish
Chantal is a frank girl who’d rather be diving for shipwrecks than be stuck digging in a dank cave. She can be blunt at times, but she’s supportive of her friends.

 

The game is still in the works, but could be out sometimes this Summer. More info in the next weeks 🙂

A game that instead has been finished is Autumn’s Journey. Is not my game, but many people who collaborated/partnered with me in the past/present worked on it:

– Deji – she did most of the art of the game, and she worked on my Flower Shop games, did some extra sprites for Spirited Heart yuri, and of course she’s working on C14 and will also do sprites for Spirited Heart 2. One of the best manga artist around 😉
– KittyKatStar – She wrote it and helped Arowana with some of the coding. For me, she worked on Heileen 3 yuri romances, she is writing C14, will write some of Spirited Heart 2 romances, and helped editing a lot of games including the upcoming SOTW. A hard worker! 😀
– Arowana – she coded and edited the game and she started to collaborate with me recently, coding/editing SOTW and C14
– Nellie –  She helped with the GUI, organized the music/voices, and drew chibis. When working for me, she did the Heileen 3 chibis.

So what are you waiting for, go check it. Is free 🙂

And last but not least, to celebrate this cute weekend, here’s the romance scenes sneak peek for Seasons Of The Wolf, currently under development 🙂

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Almost there!

Working on Heileen 3 has been my main focus in the past week. I finally managed to finish coding the simulation part. Below you can see the “Professions Screen”:

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The game will feature 14 unique “profession ending” with associate image

As you see to reach every ending you’ll need to master an advanced skill (currently set at level 10 but during beta testing the value might change) and also have the required sin or virtue. Initially I didn’t want to reveal them, but while playing I figured out that the combinations are so many that would have been more frustrating than fun for the player to discover all of them!

You’ll be able to change your virtue/sin “alignment” through the various cutscenes in the game.

So getting the profession ending definitely won’t be as easy as in my other raising sim, Spirited Heart 😉 but I think will be more rewarding.

Breakthrough

The infamous wheel of time and a chibi during the simulation

In the screenshot above instead you see what happens after you choose your daily activity: the “wheel of time” will start spinning and advance through the various parts of the day: morning, midday, evening, night. In some cases at a specific time of the day a cutscene will appear, and you’ll be able to play it to change your virtues/sins or the relationship with other characters.

The simulation part is all automated, since I didn’t want to overcomplicate the game too much. However there is still some strategy involved, like inviting one of the character to join you. This can give you a positive or negative bonus (or simply give no bonus). In this case you’ll have to find out the best character for each activity 😉

Also, each “land activity” (those that raise the advanced skills) will have two skill requirements. For example, the activity Dancer will require two basic skills: Charisma at level 3 and Endurance at level 1. Which means that first you need to raise Charisma at level 3. The value will change as you level up, so Dancer level 2 will require Charisma at level 4 and Endurance at level 2, and so on. In my playthrough I was able to reach level 10 in one advanced skill in 258 days of in-game time.

I titled the post “almost there” because the game is really almost finished, all that is left (beside testing) is some background art and more chibis, and the addition of a few more scenes.

I hope to be able to start testing/preordering the next weekend (8-9th December) and release the game by mid-December!

Merry Christmas and Best of 2011

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In the photo above, my cat Othello sleeping peacefully in a basket with a cushion 🙂

Merry Christmas to everyone! To celebrate, from today until the 25th December EST timezone, you can get a single game from the whole Winter Wolves catalog for 50% off, using the coupon “XMAS“.

And what about the title “Best of 2011”? Well in the last week I’ve seen around internet lots of “Best of…” by almost all sites. The fun thing, is that they talk always about the same games! I don’t want to argue about Minecraft or Skyrim being the best games. However, I want to remind that there are small niches, who don’t care at all about those two games, and there’s nothing wrong with it!

Personally I TRIED playing Minecraft but I quit after 5 minutes. I know many other people who did the same. Does it means that it sucks? Of course not, but while that game entertained lots of people, there is a minority (a niche) that maybe preferred to play other kind of games, maybe one of my games.

So of the games I have released this year, I want to make three “Best Of”. I talk about my games because sadly this year I was so busy with work and real-life stuff that I really didn’t had time to play accurately ANY other game (including AAA titles) so I cannot judge anything.

Best Art

1. Planet Stronghold
2. Winter In Fairbrook
3. Always Remember Me
4. Love & Order
5. Spirited Heart Girl’s Love

The first two places are very close. However, while in Winter In Fairbrook the character art by Deji is lovely as always, the backgrounds are definitely worse than Planet Stronghold ones (they also had a different budget, so it’s normal!). Always Remember Me has slightly better backgrounds than Love & Order (and same character artist) while Spirited Heart Girl’s Love had the beautiful characters drawn by Meago, but it was an add-on, so it mostly reused the old game art.

Best Writing

1. Spirited Heart Girl’s Love
2. Winter In Fairbrook
3. Always Remember Me
4. Love & Order
5. Planet Stronghold

Ok I know that everyone loves Ayu’s writing. I do too 😀 But I think that Aleema writing on SHGL was a bit overlooked because of the game theme (yuri) which is much less popular than WiF one (otome). I might be also biased because obviously I like more yuri than otome 😀 Anyway, was a close call and depends on tastes. Always Remember Me writing was nice I think, while Love & Order was good but definitely short and not well developed in the romance scenes. Planet Stronghold…<coughs> I know, that’s the weakest point of the game, but the sequel won’t be written by me, I swear! 🙂

Best Gameplay

1. Always Remember Me
2. Planet Stronghold
3. Love & Order
4. Spirited Heart Girl’s Love
5. Winter In Fairbrook

Well, there are no doubts that Planet Stronghold has the most complex gameplay, however I think that even Always Remember Me life simulation system, with the map and time of the day was not bad. A close call really, but Planet Stonghold probably was too much niche for most people. But again depends on tastes!
Love & Order wasn’t bad even if maybe a bit too much repetitive. The last two places could be considered a tie, since they were using the gameplay of the original title without much innovation.

Queen of Thieves customers

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In the image above, my cat Leon seems almost in a meditation pose 🙂

So, who will be the customers of the game Queen Of Thieves? Take a look below:

Customers Customers2

Yes, I was talking about the in-game customers! For those unfamiliar with the game (which is still work-in-progress) it will feature a shop simulation similar to the popular Recettear game. But one thing that annoyed me a bit of that game was the fact that there were only 3-4 different customer appearances 🙂 So in my game I asked the artist to draw a sort of doll-dressing game, and as you can see, the combinations can be a lot.

The main variations are by body shape (normal, fat, old) and by social status (poor, middle clas, noble, guards, priest, wizard). And of course there are several minor variations based on face shape, hair and beard color/shape and hats.

Beside the example above, there will also be female customers of course!

The writing is being done right now and art-wise there is really not much left to do. The game will be a bit different from my usual ones, even if I haven’t yet decided how I’ll do the mission part. I would like to use a sort of 2d boardgame view, where you move your characters in a sort of turn-based strategy game.

I am not sure yet if I’ll also include RPG battles, even if the temptation is strong, since I have lots of armor/clothing/weapons ready to use, but the playable characters would be max 3 (the three sisters Joanne, Kira and Thalia) so it would be a somewhat simplified RPG.

So in theory it could be an otome life simulation game with strategy and RPG elements 😀 I don’t want to rush things with this one since I have anyway other games in production, so I’d like to experiment a bit with a different gameplay system. Time will tell, as always!

The other games

Meanwhile, all the other games I announced are progressing, and we’re waiting for the UI/skills/items art to finish an alpha build of LorenRPG to release it to public to get feedback about the battle system. I think it could be ready next month, so stay tuned.

Promotional sale

Promo sales: this week promo sale is of the game College Romance: Rise Of The Little Brother that is only 4.99 until Sunday (included).