Yesterday the sky was particularly good looking!
First of all: Happy New Year! I am writing this blog when in some places is just a few hours after midnight 🙂
The tradition as the first blog post of the year is to list the possible releases. But I just did that in the previous blog post, and since in the last years when I did it, it didn’t really bring much luck, I’m happy to write about something different this time!
During the holidays I took time to think and read some users comments. Some complained about my potential interest towards making more shorter/smaller sized games. Other said a good story must have some crazy elements to it, others mentioned Roommates as a great example of a good dating sim story. Some people complained about specific characters of specific games or praised for the same reason other characters.
So I asked myself this question: what makes a good VN/dating sim/story based game?
The base idea
The first thing I do when I decide to make a new game, is think about the base idea behind it. Sometimes, I have a scene/character in my mind, and I base everything around it or use it as starting point to get inspiration. Bionic Heart for example: I had this crazy thought “what if somehow a sexy android entered forcefully your life, and your girlfriend didn’t know about it? and if one evening your partner was going to have a romantic dinner in your apartment, where your sexy android is hiding?”.
I thought the idea had a lot of potential, both hilarious, sexy and rather unique. Then I started to think about the rest of the story.
So, while in general there can be even stories based on the classic “college dating sim”, I think the starting idea is one of the most important things when creating a new story for a game.
Then of course, the characters. As many pointed out, Loren’s setting was nothing particularly original. It was also my first game set in Aravorn, and I hadn’t yet done any research/world building. Everything was a bit rough 🙂 Still, the characters were rather memorable (Draco, Mesphit, Chambara, Loren herself, Karen, Rei… the list goes on) and made that game one of the most popular I made.
SOTW, while focused more on the gameplay, was appreciated too for the characters. Rowinda and the volcano joke will remain forever in my head… 😀
PSCD, while is not yet out at the time of writing this blog, has really some great characters. A great character is not only someone with special powers (Graciela) or particularly good looking (Charlotte/Rigel) but also a “cool” and “pro” like Galina, or a rebel like Kaden 🙂
My conclusion is that even if you can’t find a very original idea, you can still create something good by building interesting characters.
And last but not least, the writing!
Even if is still in beta, PSCD is getting already a lot of praise for its writing!
The writing of course is another very important aspect. Roommates is a dating sim set in college. Original? Not really. The characters are the classic archetypes: there’s the shy girl with glasses (Anne), the nerd/serious guy (Dominic), the hot latina (Isabella), the crazy artist (Rakesh), and so on.
Yet, it’s my most popular dating sim so far! Why? because of the excellent writing. Don’t get me wrong, even many other of my games have good writing! I’m just using this as example because it is really the best combination of classic/unoriginal setting with awesome writing. Already a game like Nicole had a more original setting/plot setup that this one 😀
Of course, other aspects matter too
I have been talking about the writing but of course art, music and gameplay are very important too. But here I wanted to focus mainly on the story-part of the games.
Of the games that will be (hopefully) out this year, I can say that I’m quite enthusiast of all of them, because one way or another (great characters or original idea or good writing) should be a worthwhile addition to every VN/dating sim/story-based game fan 🙂
So, onward to 2016! My new year’s resolution will be to release at least 3 games. Considering both PSCD and C14 Dating are at such good point, I think this time I should make it 🙂