Friday, April 29, 2011

Always Remember Me competition!

Today I am officially announcing the game Always Remember Me with a press release, and also starting a karaoke competition.

Do you like anime? Manga? Video games? Music?? Win a free copy of 'Always Remember Me' video game by doing your best performance of the Cristina Vee theme song! Check the official game video below:

The contest rules are very simple. Go to this page:

  1. Sign up for Winter Wolves newsletter (you can unsubscribe anytime) - this step is essential since we'll announce the winners through the mailing list, so if you're not subscribed you might miss the winning notification!
  2. In the contest page you'll find download links for the karaoke track and the lyrics
  3. Record your best karaoke vocal performance of 'Remember Me' song. MP3 or YouTube / Facebook video links are both acceptable formats (though videos are preferred).
  4. Let us know about your work. You can find email / contacts info on the competition page, but if you made a Youtube or Facebook video the best way is to post a message about it on winterwolves facebook page
  5. the competition deadline is 31st May 2011 at midnight GMT. So you have one full month to send your entry!


Entries will be judged based on quality of musical performance, production, entertainment value and overall quality.


Top 3 winners will win a free copy of the game 'Always Remember Me.'

Top 3 first prize winners will also have their song or video featured on Winterwolves website, in the official game page.


And now, lets see what's coming in next months...

Flower Shop: Winter In Fairbrook - work in progress new screenshots!

Of course, the next game to be released in collaboration with Sakevisual is Flower Shop: Winter In Fairbrook. As you can see from the beautiful pictures below, chibis are going to dominate the life/dating sim world! :)

For now all I can show is those two screenshots, but from mid-May I should also be able to start uploading some gameplay / scene videos on youtube. Stay tuned for more news also about my other games (roleplay, sports sim, strategy)!

Friday, April 22, 2011

new otome game release and plans for the future

Good news: Always Remember Me is out of pre-order phase and now the difficulty problem has been solved. The game now on start-up will offer your two playing mode: the Hard mode is the previous one, with some minor adjustments, and is the right choice for dating sims experts. The Normal mode instead is aimed at casual players who I'm sure will appreciate the much reduced failure rate when trying the actions inside the life simulation part!

Of course you will still need to find the right actions to do, and the correct "path" for each character. Some scenes are very well hidden requiring you to be at a specific day/time on a specific place. I will probably write a sort of walkthrough on my forums later next week (since the game is just out I don't want to spoil the fun!!).

In case you haven't tried the game demo yet, check it now:

(and yes, I changed only slightly the name adding "Always", to differentiate the game title from the movie).


In this week cats picture, Gilda and Grillo are sleeping peacefully together.

As indie developer instead, I can never sleep so peacefully! Numerous dangers lurk in the night... portals lowering price so much that soon they'll start paying people to play games, your server that goes down after hackers attack at midnight, some mysterious new bug appear in your latest released game and so on! But... the most feared of all is surely this: artists that disappear in the middle of development process! :D

Almost every indie I know had this problem, exception for those that use professional teams (but I've heard some problems even in those cases). Also most games don't really need much art like visual novels/dating sims, or even better just need 3d models: in this case you can commission them even from different people, since in 3d is much harder to notice a difference in style (while in 2d is immediately evident).

Anyway I'm not here to complain, but I find myself in a fun situation, where I have lots of story texts and game design ready for 3-4 games, but they're all on hold because of artists. Not everyone disappeared, some of them just took a break, others are busy doing commissions for other people (this is last time I give away my artists contacts!) , other moved full-time into comics and so on. That's why I start so many projects at once, unless you're making a game where you just need a few portraits (thinking about the RPGMaker XP games haha) is really hard to be sure that the person you hired for 2-3 months of will finish everything as planned.

I just finished 3 games this year so now I'm taking a break to see what I can do next. I think I could probably start working on the sequel of Spirited Heart. It has all the art done, but I wanted to wait until I was skilled enough to do a online game using Monkey (a new language that allows people to code games for HTML5/Flash without knowing JS/AS3). Problem is... I'm too used to Ren'Py now, and any other language looks too slow to develop with! :)

I really cannot imagine myself coding in something where I cannot immediately test the changes I just made with a keystroke to reload all the script, like I do with Ren'Py. That's just too much time-saving! The only other thing I know that can do that is VisualC, the system I was using before, but that would mean to leave out Linux from the target platforms and I don't like that, since I'd like to support my "penguin friends" :)

Speaking about that, a friend of mine, Neil (who runs a successful zombie-MMO) told me an interesting thing:

the question is, if you were to use Flash for example, would the result be anywhere near as good as with python? How much longer would it take? If it's going to take 2x longer then I'd say stick with what you know since I doubt the difference in conversions between web player and download will be more than 50%.

sometimes you really need an external point of view to fuly realize the situation, the pro and cons. That's why I always ask for advice and feedback for my games and my choices in general, because it really helps. My friend is basically right, it's not use to me to try making a game using another language if takes me x2-3 time more than just using Ren'Py and python (even if that means I need to have that damn auto-updater done!).

For now I'm still thinking how to design the game - probably there will be a normal offline part, and then a big online integration, though since I'm new to all of this I have to see how it works, and if I can actually make it without going mad :)

Meanwhile, the other projects like Loren RPG are on hold (even if the story is about 30% finished), while Planet Stronghold's add-on should  (not completely sure yet) see the light around July/August, since the artist said she would take time to finish the new images, even if she is quite busy with convention and school. Undead Lily game is also slowly progressing, but there's still a lot of art to be done, so probably won't be done quickly.

The only thing that's 100% sure to come out is Flower Shop: Winter In Fairbrook, since all the art is done, and will be released before the summer. More info about the game coming soon in the next weeks!

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Remember Me pre-orders available!


Those who follow my blog/twitter might know that I've been working since beginning of March on a new otome dating / life simulation game called "Remember Me". I am probably going to change the game name when is officially released with "Always Remember Me" just to avoid confusion with a movie that was out last year (not for copyright reasons since are completely different things).

So, today can announce that the game is officially available as pre-order! Some of you might wonder what does it means? It means that the game is complete, but there might be some small bug, or some unbalanced gameplay or other minor text errors. But since I've been getting numerous request to play this game as soon as possible, I decided to open a beta pre-order stage: you pay and can start playing the game immediately, and if you want you can help to improve it by posting feedback/suggestions in the game's own forums which you can find here. Obviously, once you buy you're entitled to lifetime free upgrades, so you'll be able to redownload the final version without bugs.

Also the first 50 pre-orders will benefit of a generous 20% discount simply entering the following coupon code on the order page: BOIO000X9

Check the official game page - where you can find more information and download the beta demo to play the game!

I plan to have the game on pre-order until the end of the month, when I really should be able to make the official release: considering that the game, while very detailed, is surely not as complex as Planet Stronghold who required almost 1 month and half of playtesting!.

The making of Remember Me

The main game idea was born last summer, while my girlfriend was watching an episode of the TV series "Ghost Whisperer". I don't follow it so I'm not sure if those were main characters or anything, but basically there was a man who lost his memory and forgot who was his girlfriend, and his girlfriend for some reason couldn't force him to remember. I found this situation particularly interesting from the storytelling point of view, so immediately started to brainstorm about a possible otome dating sim plot.

This time I decided to outsource all the games texts (most of it anyway) to external native English speaker so there would be less grammar/texts mistakes, and I think it was a wise decision, since it also allowed me to concentrate more on the gameplay, which is much more advanced than other dating sim I made in the past. In practice, there is a full life simulation game, with several places and several activities to do, which can change based on your current energy/morale levels, on your skills, on specific plot conditions, on week of the day, and more! :D

So one of the key aspect of the game is that the players will have to explore the game world and discover all the secrets, to find the best tactics to win the hearts of the four dateable characters. Of course the "best ending" would be the one that reunites Amy and Aaron, but being a dating sim I have also to allow the player to pursue other boys :) I also think all the boys have distinct personalities, and you'll have lot of fun discovering them in the various scenes where you'll have to pick a choice to influence their relationship.

I must admit I had lot of fun coding this game, thinking about all the possible various activities on each place, and then putting together all the scenes at the right moment/place. If the game will be successful, I have already in mind another story which can use the same gameplay system :)

Friday, April 15, 2011

the year of the rabbit


Today was supposed to announce the release of Remember Me, but I had a last-minute problem with my dwarf rabbit Cleo that you see pictured above (nothing serious, only a minor surgery at the teeth). She's 9 years old and is quite a record for a dwarf rabbit!

So I won't be able to release the beta version of game today, but since the game is basically finished, I will spend 1 or 2 days to do some extra testing and make sure everything works as it should. Even if is just a beta pre-order I am a perfectionist and don't want to put something online in a rush ;)

As the title says, this year is the year of the rabbit in the Chinese Zodiac. Curiously, last year was the year of the Tiger, which is my sign in the chinese zodiac, but overall was one of the worst years since I was indie! This year luckily is much better, thanks also to my decision to switch from simple visual novels to some more complex life simulations and RPG games.

Well, that's it for now - check my twitter and watch this blog and my forums for the announcement of Remember Me pre-orders during this weekend!

Friday, April 8, 2011

Is going to be a hot spring


In the picture above, Lilli sleeping over some straw :)

Spring is my favourite season. The blossoming flowers, the nature that wakes up, warm but not too hot climate (at least, for now) and so on. They say that the season you like most, is the season you're born in. Indeed, next monday will be my maybe is true! I have lots of things going on, so this post is going to be made in form of "news". First news is...

Loren to be a manga game too

Yes, after thinking about it a lot, and after seeing that the actual comic author wasn't doing a great job (sigh...) I've decided to use manga art even for this game. I am not sure yet who will do the art but is likely will be the same artist of Undead Lily, so I'll need to finish that game first (since artist still need to do a lot of art for that game).

I realized I was about to make the same mistake I made with Vera Blanc, but at least this time I changed direction in time ;)

I'm also going to change the gameplay, from card-rpg battle to some more real-time stuff and perhaps even isometric battlefield! But right now is too early to talk about it, since the game is officially on hiatus for now.

Remember Me out very soon + new title!

My new life / dating sim will be almost surely out for pre-orders next weekend! I have finished testing the romance arc of Lawrence, so there are only 3 more characters to check. Obiously the pre-order version might contain a few bugs and some unbalanced gameplay, and the texts won't be completely proofread, even if the main story was written by a native English speaker, so there are only minor things that aren't proofread.

Yesterday spent the whole day testing it and I believe is going to be a good game, the "normal" endings are easy enough to get, once you find the right dialog choices (like in my other games) but the special ones are going to be tricky. You'll need to understand which actions raises which stats, and is going to be fun to discover them all (some happens only at specifc day/hour).

A less positive note: I'll have to change the game name, since I just discovered that a movie from 2010 has the same name "Remember Me" :( Couldn't have they waited 1 more year before releasing it?!!? Anyway, I'm open to any suggestion, though I am thinking to simply add a subtitle or use something like "Will you Remember Me?" or something similar. Will suck compared to the original title, but unfortunately have to change it...

Flower Shop: Winter In Fairbrook out... this summer!

Technically might be out even this Spring, since Summer starts the 21st June and if I understood well, Ayu of Sakevisual wants to have the game ready by the first days of June :) You can see a nice gallery of pictures of the game below... this otome game is going to be quite interesting!

So far the word count amounts at around 25,000 words, which is not bad already. There is going to be the usual farming sim, this time with flowers instead, but have yet to discuss about this with Ayu so don't know exactly how it will be done. More detailed information about this game will come in the next weeks!

So... what's the plan again?

The new release schedule is:

Mid-April - Remember Me pre-orders
End-April -  Remember Me Official Release

End-May or Early June - Flower Shop: Winter In Fairbrook

I'm going to list only the games almost ready from now on, since for the others in production many things can happen that can change completely the schedule. I'm also probably going to find the time to release an add-on for Planet Stronghold sometime before next Summer! Featuring the so-much-requested romance options: Lisa - Prince Cliff and Joshua - Queen Shiler!

Friday, April 1, 2011

Loren Amazon Princess game features revealed!


In the picture above, a big close-up picture of my cat Nina. I wanted her to be present in the game Remember Me, but she's quite hard to draw. The resulting sprite inside the game only vaguely resembles her... :)

Today will talk mainly of the decisions I'm making for my next RPG called "Loren - the amazon princess". But first a quick update about my next otome / life sim game:

Remember Me

Things are going smoothly - all the texts are done, and are being proofread again (even if they were already written by a native English speaker!). I have still to link all the events together, make sure everything works as it's supposed (some scenes happens only after others) and other minor things, but seems very likely that will be able to do pre-orders at mid-April! :)

Loren - the amazon princess

In the picture below, the two playable characters: Saren, the human male slave and Elenor, the elf female slave.


I am still writing the plot/storyboard that then will be transformed into script by writers. But I want to talk about the rules first. I'm still brainstorming the ideas but that's what I have so far:

  1. shared inventory. After finishing Planet Stronghold, I had the chance to play some recent RPGs and... well, having a separate inventory for each character is really bad :( In this game, I'll have a shared inventory!
  2. character customization. Each character will have access only to a specific weapon, like Dragon Age 2. I know this might sound limiting, but in my case I'm doing this for budget reasons: having different sprites drawn with each possible weapon is out of discussion. I think though that it makes more interesting the gameplay and gives each character a specific set of skills related to his weapon choice. For example, Loren will be a massive damage dealer: she uses two swords (dual wield power!) and does tremendous critical strikes. The downside of course is that she'll have low HP, but thankfully your player character will be a healer!
  3. character creation. Again, not much freedom for race and name - for plot reasons you'll have ot be either Saren (human male slave), or Elenor (elf female slave). Also, you'll be a healer. You might wonder then "wtf I cannot even choose my class!". Yes, but you'll be able to choose the specialization skills. Even if you're primarily a healer, at low level, as you go on you'll be able to become several different things: a sort of Templar (warrior/healer) that fight and also heal a bit, a sort of Druid (wizard/healer) who can cast offensive/buff spells and heal a bit, or you can choose to keep your path and become a powerful healer. So as you see, you still have a choice at later levels
  4. skill system. I absolutely fell in love with the multiple tree/branches skills! I want to use that method in this game. I have already started designing them and I'm quite happy so far about the variety and results. Each character will have a common skill based on the class (warrior, magic user, scout) and a unique personal skill set, so each character will be somehow unique :) I think this feature should make the game much more replayable since you might want to experiment with all the various characters skills.
  5. romance. There will be of course romances subplots! The main one will be between Loren and your Playable Character, but I plan also to allow some other romance between other minor characters. They'll be optional like in Planet Stronghold, but I'm not sure yet they'll have specific quest too.
  6. endings. I'd like also to have several different endings, I mean quite different between each other. But is perhaps still a bit too early to talk about this (also, I won't really talk about this since don't want to make spoilers!)
  7. battle system. This game is more for the "hardcore fans" than casual RPG player, so I'm thinking to move from the first person view of Planet Stronghold and try some card-RPG battle view. You can see a very ugly looking (hey it's programmer's art) test layout below:
    I'm going to do this for several reasons: more epic battles, you can fight against 12 goblins if you want :D Also, more tactical choices and the position will influence the battle. The first rows will be the one in direct contact, but all the heroes in the second rows won't be directly attackable by enemies unless they have ranged attacks. Also, I can have area of effect spells/skills, and you can swap positions of the heroes, like move in the back lines if your fighter is injured to heal him, and so on. Will be much more fun I think, even if inevitably is going to make battle more complex (but as I said, I think the target market for this kind of game will appreciate it).

That's all for now, as you can see there's already quite some features to talk about ;)