Friday, October 28, 2011

The Price is Right


In the picture above, an image of my dwarf rabbit Cleo who decided to travel to the rabbits paradise last week, after 9 years with us.

Why low pricing is wrong for niche games

I'm going to talk briefly about my own experience with low prices. I know that as customer, you'd want the games to be cheaper! who wouldn't want that? however, as I gather data from my little price experimentation, it's quite clear that if I was to sell my games for 4.99 I would be bankrupt in less than one year.

Check the pie-graph below:


On top there's the graph for the number of copies sold. Wow, during the promotional week sale, Heileen1 was almost 1/3 of my total games sold!

However, the enthusiasm quickly fades checking the other graph below, showing the net revenues for the same period: Heileen1 is at the 5th place, below other games.

This is even more "dramatic" if we consider that I sent the newsletter, posted in my twitter/facebook page and so on about the promotion. So in practice, the "regular sales" of my other games (the best selling titles though) were generating more revenues that a super-mega sale...!

I like to do sales, since I know that not everyone can afford to buy my games at full price. Obviously, I'm going to wait several months before I do sales of my recent games, but for games that were released 2-3 years ago (Heileen 1 was released in 2008 for example) it's fine.

But the fact is that unless you have a great exposure, a customer base of millions, like the portals have, undercutting your price is never going to work. You'll only lose money, and if you're not careful, forced to find another job! :D

Heileen 2: Hands Of Fate promotional sale

Speaking of promotions, this week I managed to update Heileen 2, which is on sale until next Sunday (included). Below you find a teasing image of Ebele with the new relationship bar added to that game as well. (Sadly Ebele is not dateable in the game, even if there are some spicy situations with her...)


Since I'm using online activation, I decided to offer two kind of downloads: the "standard" game, without voices, which is 45mb, or the fully voiced game that is 100mb. I'm particularly interested to check the statistics after some time, to see how many people prefer the voiced vs unvoiced version, since I'm considering if to make some more voiced games in future or not.

And the various games in progress? they're all still going fine! This week got some sketches for the Roommates game from a new artist, new finished CG scenes for Planet Stronghold: Warzone, new images/texts for Queen Of Thieves and new texts for Heileen3.

I really am not sure which game will be done first, since mostly depends on artists/writers speed, and what kind of gameplay will choose to implement in some of them (I have a few interesting ideas for Queen Of Thieves but must see if is something that I am able to code or not!).

Friday, October 21, 2011

Queen of Thieves customers


In the image above, my cat Leon seems almost in a meditation pose :)

So, who will be the customers of the game Queen Of Thieves? Take a look below:

Yes, I was talking about the in-game customers! For those unfamiliar with the game (which is still work-in-progress) it will feature a shop simulation similar to the popular Recettear game. But one thing that annoyed me a bit of that game was the fact that there were only 3-4 different customer appearances :) So in my game I asked the artist to draw a sort of doll-dressing game, and as you can see, the combinations can be a lot.

The main variations are by body shape (normal, fat, old) and by social status (poor, middle clas, noble, guards, priest, wizard). And of course there are several minor variations based on face shape, hair and beard color/shape and hats.

Beside the example above, there will also be female customers of course!

The writing is being done right now and art-wise there is really not much left to do. The game will be a bit different from my usual ones, even if I haven't yet decided how I'll do the mission part. I would like to use a sort of 2d boardgame view, where you move your characters in a sort of turn-based strategy game.

I am not sure yet if I'll also include RPG battles, even if the temptation is strong, since I have lots of armor/clothing/weapons ready to use, but the playable characters would be max 3 (the three sisters Joanne, Kira and Thalia) so it would be a somewhat simplified RPG.

So in theory it could be an otome life simulation game with strategy and RPG elements :D I don't want to rush things with this one since I have anyway other games in production, so I'd like to experiment a bit with a different gameplay system. Time will tell, as always!

The other games

Meanwhile, all the other games I announced are progressing, and we're waiting for the UI/skills/items art to finish an alpha build of LorenRPG to release it to public to get feedback about the battle system. I think it could be ready next month, so stay tuned.

Promotional sale

Promo sales: this week promo sale is of the game College Romance: Rise Of The Little Brother that is only 4.99 until Sunday (included).

Friday, October 14, 2011

Four new games in progress!

In the image above, my cat "Micia" back in 2002. She was living with my parents now, and she died last week, at 15 years old. It's kind of sad since she was the first cat I rescued and officially adopted. I want to remember Micia with that funny picture of her in the bath tub :)

Now, speaking about my games, some interesting news:

First of all, I updated both Vera Blanc games, added a new "visual novel mode" (that eliminates the need to solve the minigames) and put on sale until Sunday for 4.99 each. So if you haven't already, check the demos here:

Four new projects!

I've started 4 new games. Yes, four! I'm crazy, I know. But as you know I'm now using external writers, so I'm "only" writing the scenes and doing the games storyboard. Obviously I won't release all those games this year, also because I expect some of those writers to quit/disappear halfway, like usually happens...
Of those 4, only one has already some art ready and is the Queen Of Thieves game, which will be a fantasy RPG/lifesim (though I have yet to think about the gameplay in detail).
The other 3 are: "The Hospital" a horror game, "Amber's Magic Shop" another fantasy lifesim/potion making game with both good/bad endings, and "Roommates" a more light themed game with college settings.

All the game titles are temporary names which might change.

The Queen Of Thieves game

Is being rewritten by another person, which hopefully won't disappear from one day to another. I am sorry for previous writer since she was doing a good job, but I can't keep chasing everyone, especially if they don't email for 2 months ^_^;

I want to push this game hard since as I said is the one where I have most of the art done (still need to be finished though) and it could be one of my next games to be released, alongside with Loren and Planet Stronghold: Warzone.

Amber's Magic Shop game

As you have noticed, recently I released mostly light-themed games and all of them had happy endings. While I like them of course, I also like games that offers sad/bad endings. Sometimes, a bittersweet ending or even a sad ending can be more rewarding (story-wise) than the more "classic" happy endings.

So in the fantasy life/potion sim game I'm writing right now, I'll have bad endings, since the overall game setting is dark fantasy. I wanted to try with one game to see how the public would react, since honestly I'm a bit tired of writing only happy ending games! Besides, there will be happy ending even in this game, alongside with the sad ones.

The Hospital game

This is a kind of an experiment, I admit it. I have absolutely no clue how a horror VN game can sell. It will be probably shorter (and so cheaper) than my other games, and still have some romance options as well, but obviously quite different from my other light-themed games. The game starts and you wake up in a hospital bed, with no memories of who your are...

(I know, not the most original start, but the rest of the story I think it will be!)

The Roommates game

I got lots of feedback from people who wanted a game with college/light setting. I am designing one right now, which will include both male and female main character. So you'll be able to play it as GxB, GxG or BxG, BxB. In practice, all relationship tastes included!


Loren RPG framework status

We made lots of progresses this month so far. Right now, we're waiting for some new icons/UI for the equipment screen and then we'll be able to post a public alpha preview, which will be very useful to find some possible nasty hidden bugs. I tested the battle a lot, but I only recently added many new items, and I also want to start creating some new enemies, so is likely that some bugs could pop-up.

In the image above you can see the equipment screen mockup, which obviously is not final but just a work-in-progress.

Obviously my other games like Heileen 3 and Planet Stronghold: Warzone are progressing as well, with the former getting lots of the 100-scenes done, and the latter almost all the romance CGs finished.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Warning: Promo Sales Ahead!

In the photo above, my cat Orfeo (italian name for Orpheus) in a curious pose (to say the least)!

What's about the promo sales in the title? Well, the game engine I used for all my recent manga games, Ren'Py, got a big update recently, improving the speed, compatibility and adding the DirectX support (requires DX9 installed though).

So I am slowly rebuilding all the games I've developed with it in the past years. The first one to be updated was Heileen 1, the first visual novel I developed myself. For each game update, I'll have the game on sale at very big discount, with the idea that many people will buy it and report eventual problems (there really shouldn't be any, but you never know!)

As I'm rebuilding the games I am also adding some small features, like for example I added the infamous relationship bar (see the image below) that was missing on the first two Heileen games.

I'm also going to switch all the old one to the new popular online activation, with the exception of big games with voices like Heileen 2 or Bionic Heart (which would require demos of over 100mb, and it's a bit too much!).

To buy the game for only 4.99, simply head to the game purchase page. You don't need any code, but be careful since the offer expires next sunday!

What other games I will update? well, all of them, but I'm taking it slowly, so not more than one every week or better every 10-15 days. The next ones I have scheduled are Heileen 2, then will be the turn of Bionic Heart, Flower Shop, and so on.

The best way to know when the promotional sale is on is to follow me on Twitter or Facebook, since I announce the offers there first, while I update the blog only once a week.

Apart the promotional sales, I'm working hard on the various games in progress: I've written half of the 100 scenes for Heileen 3, the RPG framework for Loren RPG is at good point, and I got new art and ending images for Planet Stronghold: Warzone and Undead Lily.

And, "sometimes before Christmas", Flower Shop: Winter In Fairbrook will finally be released (we decided to add a bonus extra scene to compensate the long wait!).