Friday, February 15, 2013


Deadlines are part of almost every job. With indie games, and in particular small/single indies like me, deadlines are usually self-imposed.

When I used to work in a (small) software house, we had deadlines and was a bit crazy. Every time, we had to do last-minute "crunch mode" which basically meant working 12h a day for the last weeks before the deadline. Not a great experience as you can imagine, and lots of stress!

Thank God, now that I'm indie I have more flexibility! But that still doesn't mean that I can take as much time as I want to finish a proejct of course! A delay of one or more months will have both economical consequences (I need to regularly release new games to keep the cash flow) and also could damage my credibility (missing deadlines or delaying games is never a cool thing).

Even if I have to say that my followers are absolutely awesome and even when they ask me "when will be game XYZ be out!!?" they do it only because they're eager to play it :)

Speaking of deadlines let's see what could be some estimate release dates for upcoming games. Note how estimate is written in bold!

Bionic Heart 2


Is the game closest to completion. At beginning of month, everything was going smoothly and I was thinking that the game might be finished by the end of February as I originally planned. However there have been some problems, so I can already say that I won't be able to release it by that date.

In any case, I really think that March will finally see the release of the sequel of one of my first visual novels, Bionic Heart ! By the way, I recently lowered the first game price to $9.99 to promote the upcoming release of the sequel, so if you never played it, now is a good time :)


Everything is going well on this game, even if there's still a lot of work to do! I managed to make two new "fact file" for Isabella and Rakesh, the latest two romanceable character of the game:

Writing is going steady, but still need to commission all backgrounds (though I have already an artist ready for it) and of course code the gameplay, script the scenes, and so on, so is very unlikely that this will be out before June/July :)

Planet Stronghold 2

Well I would be lying if I was saying that everything is going well :D however, this game will be a big step forward compared to the first, both in term of gameplay (a much better RPG system) and writing. Good things needs time though! At least all the romance scenes are done, below you can see a sneak peek of Joshua's romances:

Art-wise there's still a few more enemies to finish, and some extra "camp talk" sprite poses, where each character will be in their favorite environment (guess where Philipp will be?) when you visit them to talk. I decided to do that since talking with the characters standing up like in previous game was a bit weird!

Also showing the character in a normal life situation with normal clothes and various poses will be more realistic and also more "interesting", for example if you go visit Rebecca at the gym, or the new hot guy Milo while he's training... understand what I mean? ;)

Friday, February 8, 2013

A week as webdesigner

Probably not many of you know that before going indie, I was a (rather poor to be fair) webdesigner. Many people probably think that being a webdesigner is a creative job but the reality is that after you do the 100th website, you start to have enough... :)

Anyway, this week I was waiting for some people to send me assets (writing, art, music, etc) so I was idle. If wasn't Winter I would have use this unexpected "free time" to do some trips around here to relax, but since it is, I thought to finally begin the redesign of my website, something I've been procrastinating for too long!

You can see a "sneak peek" here:

It's still largely unfinished and many links are broken, but that's more or less how the new homepage will look, I think a big improvement over the current one.

Roger Steel: Arthur point of view

After the big reveal of Winter Wolves' new steampunk graphic adventure romance RPG Roger Steel and the Human Element on this illustrious blog last week, Ann's younger brother Arthur was somewhat miffed that most of the razzamatazz focused on her. He wants you to know his side of the story, so ...

When Arthur Trevelyan's sister Ann falls for the wrong boy yet again, he is asked to accompany her to Srinagar, the capital of Kashmir, to keep her out of mischief.

But looking after Ann proves to be a challenge even with the help of lifelong friends, Neville and Christina Mortimer.

When she is inevitably kidnapped by a new flame, it is up to Arthur to rescue her and ponder the immortal question – how can two dorky friends and six perfect strangers with hidden agendas possibly be any more trouble than one headstrong big sister?

And if you want to read more, check the forums:

Bionic Heart 2

This week reached scene15, which probably won't tell you much. For me means line 5799 out of about 11.000 so we're about halfway coding the game, which means that it could be out around end of the month, speaking of the beta version of course! Then there's the testing phase and because this game has so much branching options, is going to take a while...

Tanya meets with a mysterious geek boy. Who is he?


Time for two new reports, this time Sally and Dominic (straight romances only).

Writer is working on the Spring Break scenes, featuring all characters in swimsuits ;) Unofficial rumours says that the game plot might be finished by the end of this month: however don't get too much excited, since there's still a lot of work to be done, scripting, coding, testing... and all the background art to do. So a more realistic estimate release date could be this Summer!

Friday, February 1, 2013

Announcing "Roger Steel and the Human Element"

The steampunk RPG

"It's 1936 and the sun is still shining brightly on a steam-powered British Empire.

Ann Trevelyan, a naïve but headstrong 21-year-old English girl, is exiled to Kashmir from the sultry streets of Calcutta in the aftermath of a forbidden love affair. Accompanied by her technology-obsessed brother, Arthur, who has been coerced into chaperoning her, and their lifelong Welsh friends, Christina and Neville Mortimer, the four expect nothing but boredom away from the glamour of the big city.

But a chance meeting with a charismatic local results in one of the siblings being kidnapped and spirited away to a fate worse than death. Now it's up to Ann or Arthur and the Mortimers to unite a fractious group of strangers with deadly secrets – including the legendary agent of Empire, Roger Steel – in a race against time across the roof of the world."

That's the introduction to the new Steampunk RPG in the works! :) I told you was about to announce a new RPG and its development has officially started. Now before you ask me about any estimate release date, all I'll tell you is "maybe this year". I don't want to promise anything at this stage ;)

The writer and I decided to reveal the game step by step through several blog/forums post. If you're interested in a more detailed background, involving an alternate reality of the history, check the official forum thread:

Unfortunately I don't have any artwork to show yet, since the development has just started, however we could have something towards the end of this month, so stay tuned!

Roommates game and Bionic Heart 2

At the same time, the development of other games goes forward in a surprisingly steady way! (surprisingly because you know well how many things can happen that delay the process).

For Roommates, we decided to make some kind of report for each character, introducing his/her personality during the interview. People seemed to love them, so I'm posting them again in the blog even if I already showed them on Twitter/Facebook:

Both Anne and Max will have big character development during the game. Max will learn to be less lazy and Anne to be less shy.

For Bionic Heart 2, I'm at about 30% of the whole game script, which is a good thing since is only the beginning of February. Crossing fingers, the game might be finished before the end of the month, even if has so many branching that will require a very accurate testing!

Below you can see a really funny video of Tom trying to evade Sarah Masters questions during one of the game "Social Boss Fight".

That's everything for now, have a nice weekend everybody!

Friday, January 25, 2013

Heileen 3 postmortem


With the official release of Heileen 3: Sea Maidens, the development of Heileen 3 ends. As always, both the otome (GxB) and the yuri (GxG) versions are merged in one single download and then you can choose what version to buy and play (or both!).

More info on the official page:

I just did an update this morning to address a problem playing in Hard mode (getting a profession ending was really too difficult) but the rest of the game was unchanged and has been in testing since over two weeks, so decided to release it officially.

Heileen postmortem

The Heileen series ends with this third chapter, and I'm overall satisfied by it. Without doubts it's the best game of the series under several aspects: the longest, the most funny, the one with more variety of romances, the one with more artwork, the first one with a custom soundtrack and theme song, and the list goes on.

Of course, it's still not comparable with my bigger budget RPG games in terms of gameplay, complexity or mechanics. I did it mostly because I wanted to make it - I knew already beforehand that probably it wouldn't have been a big success, but even as indie sometimes you make games only because you want to do them for yourself :)

Ideally, the games you enjoy making for yourself are also a commercial success, but very often that's not the case...

Anyway I don't regret making it, but for sure I have no plans to make any more games in Heileen world, also because I feel I wouldn't have anything else to add, and I don't want to drag it too long, like happens in some TV series, where you think "why they didn't end the story in this season? Making another one makes no sense.". That's what I think about Heileen 3 too.

The development

The game development started in Summer 2011, I wrote the full storyboard of it between July and September of that year. Then I started commissioning the new artwork, and the original writer started with the story. In the course of 2012, several things happened:

  • the original idea was to have four male romance options, and two females. But talking with people in forums I agreed that didn't make much sense, so I decided to divide the game in a otome and a yuri version, adding two extra female romances (Ebele and by popular demand, Juliet)
  • writer had to quit about mid-way, so I found another one, Sarah, to replace her and finish the game, in particular the new yuri romances and several extra scenes. I was really lucky to find her, since she worked hard and without her help I wouldn't have met the deadline for sure!
  • the last months of development were really frantic, with some extra art needed, background artists that quit, and the usual mess associated with developing a game when you have a deadline: finish the otome version before Christmas :)

In the end I didn't had to make many compromises, maybe I would have added more sprite poses if had more time, but in the end as I said I'm happy enough of the final result, considering the kind of game (light comedy) and the primary target market (teens/young adult).

Now, the next challege is to finish Bionic Heart 2 before March... :)

Friday, January 18, 2013

Heileen 3: Sea Maidens in beta

Despite being buried in snow and recovering from a flu, this week still managed to finish the beta version of Heileen 3: Sea Maidens, the yuri version of Heileen 3.

Direct download link (BETA) (Windows) (Mac) (Linux)

Buy/Preorder links (normal yuri version) (yuri version with Bonus Content. Note that the Bonus Content is IDENTICAL to the "otome" version, so if you already bought that, you already have all the extra content!)

Anyone who bought already the normal version has the right to a 50% discount (that is what I'll offer as bundle once the yuri version is officially released, a discount of 25% on the whole order so it's the equivalent of 50% of one item). So if you bought the normal version already simply email me and will send you the discount code :)

If you find any bugs feel free to report them in my forums here:

Note that the new downloads contains both the otome and yuri versions, similarly to what happens for Spirited Heart. Also there are new scenes for the otome version too.

Other games

Now that Heileen 3 is getting towards the final release, I am going to get back to the other games. The next one to be released should be Bionic Heart 2. Then there are several games in the works, and one of the most important is Planet Stronghold 2. Speaking of it, check this interesting sneak peek of Lisa romances:

I will post the Joshua sneak peek as soon as artist finishes the last CG scene, Joshua/Cliff ;) but rest assured that they're very good too. Meanwhile the coding and design for the new RPG framework continues, and next week I might officially announce a new RPG game... stay tuned.

Friday, January 11, 2013

A crazy week

I'm writing this blog still half-broken because of a flu I got early this week. Fun because I had one around the same time last year too, even if was much lighter!

Heileen 3: Sea Maidens slightly delayed

Now first of all, as you can imagine, I wasn't able to work on Heileen 3 yuri version. I feel better but not good enough to code, which requires concentration to avoid making lots of mistakes. However, the writers have basically finished reviewing the texts, so I think the beta could start the coming week.

Spirited Heart 2 - Religious Wars

That is the provisory title. What?? :D I'm joking of course! A rather crazy thing happened though, that is the current character artist for that game refused to draw the girls for the yuri version. For "religious reasons" because he's a Christian.

I don't want to get into a debate, however my uncle was a Catholic priest and always said about homosexual people that "the important thing is that they love each other". My uncle was a better man than many others.

In defense of that artist (which I won't name), when we originally started the project, it was to be just a standard GxB game. Indeed work on it started in 2009, shortly after the first game, and since then lots of things changed (positively I think) in the content you can find in my games.

So while I don't agree on what he says, I respected his decision. What happened next?

Here comes el salvador!

Haha I'm not sure if the title above is correct but I can always blame my illness ;) So after this drawback was unsure what to do. I had already invested a consistent amount of time and money (few thousands) on that art, but I didn't want to disappoint my fans, which is the thing I consider more when doing my job.

M.Beatriz Garcia, who worked with me already in the Flower Shops series, was supposed to draw the chibis for the game already, starting this month. So I thought to ask her if she could work on the rest of the art needed for the game, and the answer was positive! :) She has no problems to draw any kind of romance, so the game will have all combos, hetero and homosexual. Of course we're talking about a very soft game, not sexy like Loren (I thought it was obvious, but...).

Below is a preliminary sketch of the 3 main female characters:

Note that they're in undergarments only because the game will allow a lot of customization in clothes, accessories, hats, and so on, like a "paperdoll". I really like how the personality of each race is already transparent from that sketch!

My name is Roger Steele

This crazy week ended when yesterday I got the first draft of the storyboard for a "mysterious RPG game" that I will officially announce in the next weeks. Those reading my forums or following me on twitter already know what it is the setting though ;) For now I'll leave you wondering who is that Roger Steele? (but don't worry the game will be playable as male or female main character).

Friday, January 4, 2013

2013 the year of challenges

Happy New 2013 to everyone!

Before making this post I've read what I wrote last year, calling 2012 the "year of relax":

Well, definitely it wasn't a relaxing year, even if I released only 3 games (I consider The Castle Of N'Mar, Loren's expansion, as a separate game because of its size!).

It wasn't a relaxing year because was worried that with Loren I tried to bite off more than I can chew, and I also had to make a real marathon to finish Heileen 3 in time for Christmas.

Looking back to that post, it's a bit funny to observe how many titles that were already in progress at those times, from Planet Stronghold 2, to Nicole, to Roommates, are still in progress right now! But well, making games takes time! And in particular if there are problems. And as you can imagine, there are ALWAYS going to be problems! ;)

Good news

Anyway, I have some early good news for this year: Heileen 3 yuri version is at very good point, and I might start the beta testing even next week, since I'm aiming to release it around the mid-January.

More good news are that even Bionic Heart 2 is at good point, I'm only waiting for the proofreader to finish checking the script, and I have 90% of the art & music finished already.

The RPG challenge

As for the future games later this year, I'm really eager to start working on Planet Stronghold 2 even if will be a real challenge, because has much more features compared to the first title, and also compared to Loren. Some features include:

  • a small but detailed colony building simulation (think of it like a sort of Sim City on a very small scale) that will impact the gameplay (but I am thinking to make it optional so that you can skip it if you want)
  • lots of weapons that can be used with dual wield (like two pistols)
  • weapons with different ammo types (in the first game the ammo was unlimited). So the combo of possible weapons and ammo is very big!
  • more use of the non-combat skills in the various missions of the game
  • lots of more art, including some extra "talk poses"
  • full soundtrack of 10 songs

and so on, so as you can see is a very big project.

Being able to work on the RPG and at same time still follow the other projects will be a challenge as well, since differently from what happened with Loren, I don't want to "abandon" completely all the other games while working on the RPG. It won't be easy at all, but I will try!

The appstore challenge

The biggest challenge though will be to see what happens with the Windows/MacOS situation. It's fun how some fellow indie devs who before ignored completely the question, are now starting to panic because they get emails from customers saying "the game doesn't run on Mountain Lion, says the download is corrupted!" or they get big warning screens from Windows 8 when trying to open/install a game.

What's going on? Well in practice, unless you were a bit prevident like me and codesigned all your game apps/installers, the end users are going to see scary messages from their favorite OSes (except Linux of course!) telling them that they're trying to install the worst evil on Earth: an independently produced game!!! :O

And that's not a good thing because this way small indies like me can continue to survive and rescue stray cats and dogs! Fools, you should help the already rich corporations to become even richer! They're going to spend the money in a much better way, like buying a new Ferrari ;)

Ok, jokes apart (I was joking in case it wasn't clear!!) the situation is definitely NOT good for indies like me who can't get on Steam. The long term alternatives to retain our freedom exist, like using HTML5 engines, but that means that instead of seeing 3-4 games a year from me, you'd see 1 a year at most (they take much longer to make). I really hope the new appstores won't become the only way to distribute apps on Windows/Mac computers, since that would mean no freedom to choose which language to use (python), which content to put in my games (no sexy stuff is allowed on appstores), and maybe have them rejected lots of times for silly reasons like happened to A LOT of friends on the various iOS/Win8 appstores.

Anyway, at least for now codesigning the executables will let you play all my games even on the new versions of the OSes. But I'm pretty sure that a big challenge for us indies lies ahead...! Better be ready for it :)