Friday, July 29, 2011

Winter is coming next week!

At least the pre-orders! No I didn't went insane because of excessive work (even if it's not a remote possibility after all!). I'm talking obviously about The Flower Shop: Winter In Fairbrook, which we're currently testing and polishing. I know in the past I posted the game will be out soon, but this time is really soon. Before starting with pre-orders there are only minor things to do, like adding sprites and some backgrounds but all the assets are ready. So we only need a bit more time to put everything in the right place and test it so that every ending can be reached.

As always, follow my twitter / blog / facebook / google plus for the early announcements! For those who yet haven't played the first game, during this weekend we're running an amazing promotion: the first title, Flower Shop: Summer In Fairbrook will be available for only $9.99 ! Spread the word and if you haven't already, buy the game and play it to get introduced to Fairbrook and its people!

Other news...

Queen of Thieves art is also progressing really well, below you can see Kira, the Warrior. Again, there will be lots of possible character customization available in the final game.


Planet Stonghold: Warzone won't be "an expansion" anymore but a real full-length stand-alone title. I worked already on improving the Psionic Powers by adding Area Of Effect (hits two targets) and mass target (hits all targets). This both for the offensive and defensive Psionics, which means now you can do a "group Heal" to your party or also a "group Harm" to the enemies. Just beware that the enemies won't like this sort of thing and they'll aggro against your poor Psionic very quickly ;)


Friday, July 22, 2011

Spirited Heart Girl's Love: the demon girls

Here we are at the latest blog post regarding Spirited Heart Girl's Love, where we meet the two demon girls, Reid and Hade.

The first video is about Reid. She is without doubt the most sexy character of the game, by her appearance (very undressed as you can see) and for her behavior. I particularly like how the player character personality changes a lot the relationship in this case: both the human and the elf will be disgusted by her actions, while the demon will be actually envy of how she (apparently) manages to obtain everything she wants using her charm. I also like the ending of this romance plot, when you discover Reid's real motivations and ... oops, I'm saying too much! ;)

Lastly, it's the turn of Hade, probably the most original and together with Yana one of my favorite characters of the whole expansion. There's nothing better than the video below to show you her personality. When I told the writer about her, I said: she is a sort of medieval/fantasy geek. And I think the result is excellent: she is a genius beyond equals but also a very fragile person with serious problems having social contacts. I think one of her "bad endings" is one of the best pieces of narrative of the whole game, even if very sad!

So all is left is to... release the game! I am currently waiting for some ending voiceovers and also final scenes, not real CGs since are pencils to display over the parchment like happened in the regular game, but still will need about one month of time. Meanwhile I'm hoping on next friday blog post to finally announce The Flower Shop: Winter In Fairbrook pre-orders... ;)

Friday, July 15, 2011

Spirited Heart Girl's Love: the elven girls

It's now the turn of the elf girls. In the video below you can see Thym: I'm sure that many people will consider her the most annoying of the characters, since she is quite snob and spoiled. However, the romance plot with her is full of cool moments (like "impossible love"), because in the second part of the romance (when you work as maid in her villa) you discover that you have some "serious competition"... :)

Leah's path instead is very different. I think is also probably the most original character of the game. She's older than all the other girls, and I think the sprite manages to picture her perfectly, a very classy and cute person who is excessively obsessed by her age, thinking that she doesn't look attractive like she once was... Also Leah's personality is dominant, and this will lead to very interesting (and different) choices in particular if you choose the elf (she will submit to her) or the demon (she will become the dominant one, obviously!).

I also got some very good news related to my other games in development. Not only Flower Shop: Winter In Fairbrook should be out at end of this month, but the artist of the game Queen Of Thieves, which I announced back in February (time flies!) is finally back and he is working fullspeed to recover the lost time. Below you can admire a few of the many clothing combinations possible for Joanne, the wizard:


Friday, July 8, 2011

Spirited Heart Girl's Love: the human girls

As the official release of the yuri expansion to my game Spirited Heart approaches, I'll make three blog posts featuring short videos of two character of each of the three available races (Human, Elf and Demoness). Today I got the last girl, I am thinking if to commission a few more secodary characters but they're not really required for the expansion. This means that it will be out for sure in August (probably at the end of it).

In this blog post, let's see the human girls:

In the video above, Ria is the first human girl I wrote for Spirited Heart Girl's Love. She is a "tough chick", and apparently also a tomb raider. But as you'll get to know her better, you'll find out that down deep she is a very different person than what she appears at first glance. This character was particularly interesting to write because the Elf or Human are very scared / intimidated from her aggressive behaviour, while the Demoness is the only one that can keep up with her.

In this other video instead one of my favorite characters of the whole expansion, the always day-dreaming all-around artist Yana! At first she seems a lazy, spoiled girl that sleeps all day while his father has to pay other people to do the work that she was supposed to do. Later in the story, she will reveal the true self, in all possible meaning (by this I mean there will be a more transparent version of the actual dress, but no nudity!).

Friday, July 1, 2011

Can the free to play business model work for story-based games?

In case you haven't noticed, the whole games market is moving towards the so called "Free to play" business model. It started in the asian countries and now it seems that it's going to be the "next big thing". On Facebook games is already the "norm".

How it works? quite simple. Instead of having the traditional time/feature limited demo and one-time fee to get the game fullversion, here you can "in theory" play for free as long as you want. In practice, the gameplay is crafted in such a way that first draws you into the game, and then when you're just about to have fun, it starts cutting off your fun by telling you how lame you are because you didn't spend 500 "virtual gold" to buy a new horse, or how the "platinum membership" would make the game much more fun.

Personally I don't like it, I tried a few games but the fact that the designer had to design the gameplay around this system restrict the gameplay innovation. Indeed this system works well mostly on RPG (MMORPG) or strategy/simulation games. But what will happen to story-based games? Visual Novel, Dating Sims or maybe even just FPS with a good story like Max Payne or Assassin Creed?

I really don't think is possible to successfully implement this in a heavy story-driven game. What would you do, show one chapter at time and ask for a small microtransaction every chapter? why don't just ask people to "pay upfront" the amount and be done with it? or in a dating sim for example, ask $5 each dateable character? what would be the fun in spending $5 to date only 1 character in a game? it seems quite silly to me, especially since we're talking about very low amount of money. I don't need to make again the classic example that if you go out with friends to watch a movie you easily spend in drinks, fuel, and extras x2-3 times the amount of a regular indie game ($20) and have fun for one day, instead of weeks or in some cases months.

And in all other F2P games you can play free, but in practice the experience is so awful that either you pay nothing, play a few hours/days and quit, or you decide to invest your time (and money) in the game and then you'll easily exceed $20 ... by a lot! That's fine of course, everyone can do what they want with their money.

But speaking about a possible implementation of F2P in story-based games, my answer it's still: no. I really think it wouldn't make much sense at all.

Also I really don't believe that in few years ALL games (even RPG/strategy games) will become F2P. There are many downsides to that (being always online, annoying multiplayer experiences, the worst value for money as player, lots of maintenance as developers, possible hackers attack, and I could go on) and in general not everyone wants to make a game that has severe gameplay/game design restrictions. At least, I hope! :)

And now enough talking about the game business and here are some news about the current games in development!

Spirited Heart Girl's Love

That's how I'm going to officially call the Spirited Heart expansion. I will also change the purchase options: you can buy either the "normal" version or the Girl's Love for $19.99, or if you have already bought the original game the expansion will cost $9.99. If you don't have either and you buy them together, the final price will be $29.99 (so still only $9.99 more than the normal version). The game will expand the original one with 6 different (and unique!) dateable girls and also the endings reflect your race now (even for the males). So if you were disappointed by Frebo ending in the original game, this time pick a human or even better a demoness and you'll see that will be better :)

The Spirited Heart expansion is at very good point (all plot is finished) and will be surely out by August if not sooner.

Loren The Amazon Princess

Things are going well: I decided was time to ask the help of someone that knows coding better than me, and we're building up a RPG Framework so that I can reuse it for future titles. As you can see from the gallery screen below, the game interface is taking shape and we'll have a skilltree with several specializations, a full inventory with many equippable slots (yes I changed my mind about the inventory!) and a very good quest screen, with the possibility of having sub-quests (so more powerful than the Planet Stronghold one for example).

While things are going forward at good speed, because this game will use a completely new system will need good testing and also the plot still needs to be written in good part, so it's very unlikely that I'll have even just beta preorders before September (and even that is an optimistic date). Much will depend on artist/writer/coder speed as always!

Finally, I want to leave you with a nice graph showing all the romance possibilities of Loren RPG: