Planet Stronghold 2 Cast: Tom Shatz

Tom Shatz

Before joining the army, Tom Shatz was a professional racer. He is still passionate about high speed and vehicles of all types. With modern ships, he likes to turn off the ship AI and take personal control.

Tom strongly believes in the military hierarchy, and will sacrifice soldiers on the frontline to win a battle if necessary. He believes those higher in command have a better picture of what’s going on, and they should be the ones making decisions.

Tom and Rebecca used to date, but that was long before Nelson arrived at the colony Zero-One. Though he may not show it, wrapped up in military matters as he is, Tom would do anything for love, even if he sometimes appears a bit clumsy and inexperienced.

At the end of the first game, Tom was assigned to Colony Zero-Two by the newly promoted Captain Nelson. Tom did so well in the new colony that he was promoted to Captain as well. Nelson and him communicate regularly, discussing matter that only Captains have to face.

Progress Update

I finally finished the crafting screen, that part took me much longer than I thought (sometimes it happens that you greatly underestimate how much adding a “simple” feature as crafting/upgrading might take).

The screen above is the tutorial, as you can see I added also a few other things. Salvaging items to obtain resources is obvious. Datapads work like this: they contain specific item data, you can see a sort of preview of the item but not the exact stats, until you decrypt it. Once a datapad is decrypted, you unlock that item’s blueprint and then you can produce as many as you want (as long as you have enough resources).

This is actually more useful than you might think, especially for armors, or when facing certain battles. For example if you know a boss enemy is weak to Explosive damage, and you have a datapad for an Explosive weapon, you could craft 2-3 of those and equip a good amount of the party with it (of course not all characters could use that weapon).

In general I think the system I made offers a good compromise: I didn’t want crafting to be super powerful, but not useless either. Casual players might even not need it (because the battles will be easier) but I think in Nightmare mode it will be very useful.

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Planet Stronghold 2 Cast: Rebecca Fox

Fun fact: Rebecca was the first character I commissioned for this game back in 2010, after Lisa. Originally the game didn’t have a playable male protagonist, Joshua was named “Gunnar” and was a secondary NPC! Then after some feedback I decided also to add a male protagonist (Planet Stronghold 1 was my first game to feature both a male and female playable character).

Rebecca Fox

Rebecca Fox is considered to be the best scout/sharpshooter of Planet Stronghold even if Philipp might disagree. Despite what one might expect, she doesn’t come from a family with a military background. Her lineage contains famous journalists, actresses, models — nothing to do with shooting targets with deadly accuracy from long range.

Rebecca Fox is very competitive, and spends a lot of time in the gym training and honing her skills. She often encourages others to do so as well, offering to train them. She is not stupid, but sometimes she rushes into battle or takes risks that she would normally avoid trying to impress her companions and reassure herself about her abilities.

She can be quite bold, ignoring the chain of command to speak her mind. However she has never disobeyed a direct order; even when she broke up with Tom Shatz and he was her commander, she never let personal feelings endanger her companions.

Rebecca is a very confident woman, and doesn’t restrain herself from showing off her body. After all those hours spent in the gym, it would be a pity to not show the results, though in matters of love, her aggressiveness has often intimidated more than one man from getting closer.

Rebecca’s sister, Cassidy, was in the army as a field medic but was killed years ago by aliens. While Rebecca doesn’t unconditionally hate all aliens (at least not as much as Philipp does), her sister’s death left a deep mark on her, leading her to distrust most aliens, possibly more so with especially manipulative ones like Queen Shiler.

Meanwhile, work on the game continues. I basically finished the crafting system, I’ll talk about it in details maybe in a future post, but the most interesting feature is the possibility to upgrade the Rare/Legendary items, so if you are attached to a specific item you can keep using it until the end of the game (assuming you find enough resources for the upgrade process!)

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Goodbye Otello

He was very sick (renal issues) since over 1 year, so this wasn’t a sudden loss. We already knew it, even if when the time comes to put a beloved pet to sleep, it’s always a hard choice.

Otello was one of my favorite cats (though I love them all), indeed he appeared in my game “Bionic Heart” back in 2008. Like in my other games, he could talk directly to the player. In one scene, Tanya (the female android, one of the main characters of that game) pets Otello (in the game I used the English variant “Othello”) saying he is a lucky cat, and Otello promptly replies with “Me? Indeed, modestly, I can’t complain about my life…”

And this is what comforts me mostly in this very sad moment: knowing that, even if he’s no longer with us, he was lucky and he lived a good life, surrounded by our love.

Goodbye, Otello

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Planet Stronghold 2 Cast: Joshua/Lisa Nelson

Before you think I’m crazy, let me explain: I am going to do a series of blog posts about Planet Stronghold 2 cast, re-introducing the old characters as well. Why? Well first of all, I never did it before (at the times of making the first game, I wasn’t doing this sort of thing). Second, because over 7 years have passed since the release of the first title (PS1 was out in Spring 2011…!) I can’t say I remember clearly every detail of the characters’ background, personality, story, etc. So it will be helpful also to me. Plus, it will be an excuse to show some of the new outfits I’ve commissioned for the characters! For example the new “gym outfits” below:

During the next months I’ll introduce the old cast and also the new ones. I’ll take some breaks to do the usual end of year/new year blog post, or in case I have a new game announcement to do… 😉

Let’s start of course from the protagonist, Lisa or Joshua Nelson. I’ll write this intro as if they were both present in the story but of course, you can choose to play as either Lisa or Joshua on every playthrough.

Lisa and Joshua Nelson

Lisa/Joshua doesn’t remember much about their parents who were assassinated on the colony of Mars when they were only five. Raised in an orphanage, once they reached the age of adulthood, they joined the military.

They graduated as the top recruit of the wole military academy, and shortly thereafter were assigned to the colony on Planet Stronghold. Once there, they discovered that their father worked at the colony as a scientist, and their grandfather did as well. Albeit the official records were destroyed during a ferocious war, the legend of John Nelson is very popular on Planet Stronghold, and everyone, Lisa/Joshua included, started to think that they were the true descendant of John Nelson.

Lisa/Joshua played a key role in the events following their arrival, until they defeated the fearsome Descorian, a race of sentient robots.

Because of their exceptional performance, Lisa/Joshua were promoted to colony Captain of the colony Zero-One, while Tom Shatz, the current captain, was reassigned to Zero-Two, the second biggest colony on Planet Stronghold.

With great power comes greater responsibilities they say, and this case is no exception. The story begins several years after the victory against the Descorian, and we find an exhaused Lisa/Joshua trying to keep everything together while the colony seems to be collapsing at every turn: food and water scarcity, revolts, and mysterious earthquakes shattering Planet Stronghold’s surface.

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Cursed Lands postmortem

One of the many endings / epilogues of the game. This one is not a big spoiler since we know already about Loren and Breza from Loren first game!

As promised, here is the postmortem of my latest RPG Cursed Lands. The game was released in May this year after about 3 years of development. Personally I was involved in coding and writing it from past year, starting around April/May until May this year, so I spent about one year of work on it (not always full time though, since February to May was mostly bugfixing).

The gameplay

For the gameplay, I reused my RPG engine with the changes done for Queen Of Thieves, of which the biggest were:

– no front/back row and no position swap during fights
– possibility to damage target’s defense to increase damage done and hit/miss chances reducing normal damage done
– portraits showing on the map when you can talk to a character
– non lethal battles

but at the same time I also introduced several new gameplay elements:

– “first person view” with the possibility to have bigger enemy sprites and monsters of varying sizes
– the social talent system with a series of new things like enemies attacking each other, fleeing battle, giving items to player
– the deteriorating defense system, so that over time the defense would go down as target takes hits, to avoid the battles dragging out too long
– skill checks outside the battle
– items with associated skills (like a magic book casting a spell, usable even by non magic users)

now I admit that some changes were mostly cosmetic, like the “first person view” of the combat, but I think it looks really better than before. In a way it’s like my first RPG Planet Stronghold in which you could see the enemies fully, and not just portraits. I know that some people disliked it (not this change in particular but the removal of front/back rows).

I agree that from the tactical point of view removing the front/back row is a step down, and I will probably re-introduce it in Loren 2. I’ll also try at same time to have a nice visual, so perhaps still “first person view” like in Cursed Lands, but with the enemies placed in a front/back row, and the party as well. The screen will be a bit crowded though 😉 Anyway, there’s time to think about this.

The numbers

Cursed Lands numbers are very impressive:

– a plot of over 300,000 words with a lot of branching paths
– character creation system with over 1 million possible combos
– over 100 unique item designs (not 500 as I erroneously posted on twitter a while ago)
– if we consider color variations, over 250 different items (this means I reused same icon design but tweaked the colors to create a new item)
– a soundtrack of 21 tracks + theme song
– 5 love interests for each gender (though 4 bisex characters, the nagas, Nuala and Vaeril)

it is hands down the biggest game I’ve ever made: biggest story, soundtrack, items. SOTW has more combat and enemy variants, while Loren had more love interests, but overall this one was the biggest.

Bigger is not always better

That’s what they say, right? Well, in this case of course some people liked it a lot, others were neutral, and another group disliked it. But they are just people’s opinions, what interests me mostly are the hard facts, the statistics/figures, so let’s see some numbers:

– during the first week on Steam, Cursed Lands sold twice the amount of SOTW
– during the first 3 months, Cursed Lands sold more than Queen Of Thieves in 2 years
– during its first month of direct sales, Cursed Lands sold slightly more than Loren

I don’t think comparing it to Loren is fair though, since those were really different times. Indeed Loren sold about the same amount each month for longer, while nowadays after the launch month, it’s really rare for a full price game to keep selling the same amount for many consecutive months.

So it was a success? Yes, I think it was, especially considering the big “indieapocalypse situation” and for my modest standards of course. I know other indies that made twice the money with simple porn yuri dating sims of not even 1/5 of the size of my game and, of course, zero gameplay and complex coding. I love doing RPGs so I’m a special case, but if you’re after the money I definitely wouldn’t recommend doing one!

Anyway, I am personally satisfied of the job I’ve done with the help of the various collaborators and I’d like to think that maybe one day I’ll be remembered by the RPGs gameplay and not just by nice art/sexy contents.

Posted in Cursed lands, general, postmortem, roleplay games | 10 Comments