Friday, March 30, 2012

How it's going

How it's going? Well, not really good since I've got wrist pain since 3 days, because of carpal tunnel syndrome :(

However I still managed to code good part of Loren RPG chapter4, and also add the new map. The latest available beta version is the 0.91 which can be downloaded here:

Chapter 4 is coming along very nicely, and we hope to have the final 1.0 release by mid-April! I'm really looking forward to finish this project, the biggest I've ever attempted :)

What about the other games?

As you know, before devoting myself completely to Loren, I had started many projects. Unfortunately, I miscalculated the amount of work I had to put to make a BIG game like Loren, so when the time of the beta came, I realized that I couldn't work in multi-tasking as before (working on several projects at once). This means that I temporarily paused many projects, except those which had already the full storyboard written (like Heileen 3 or Nicole).

Now that Loren is about to be finished, I'm going to get back into managing the other games. Here's a detailed status for each one:

Heileen 3

Art: (100%) is completely done now. I might decide to do two versions, a otome and a yuri one, adding two final CG scenes with two new female romances. Have yet to decide if to do that or not, but I have time since the artist won't be able to make those last 2 scenes before next July!

Writing: (90%) Marie's path is being written right now, and she's the last romanceable character (unless I decide to do what I said above). Game is pretty long, over 150k words, so much bigger than previous titles!

Coding: (25%): Well, it's not that bad actually, since is a dating sim but not very complex. I still need to add a lot of choice changes (based on the 7 cardinal sin/virtues), testing, the scheduler, and so on. Probably 1 month of work.

Amber's Magic Shop

Art: (60%) I need some more backgrounds, and the potion-making interface, but apart this, the sprites are done and only needs to be colored.

Writing: (15%) It's still in the beginning, but several scenes are finished, and Lorelei (the writer) assured she'll resume working on it quickly next month :)

Coding: (10%): I still need to design and implement the potion making interface, that will be the part that needs more coding and testing of the whole game. Also need a "shop" interface, and a lifesim but will probably modify Always Remember Me one. I think about 2 months of coding needed.


Art: (50%) I have some character sprites done, but still missing some, and also missing all the CGs, UI and backgrounds. So there's still quite some work to do art-wise!

Writing: (60%) The last character storyboard is being written now. I might review the whole writing later, to check for plotholes, or add some more scenes (I'm used to make big games now!).

Coding: (50%):I plan to reuse Always Remember Me framework for this game, with some small changes, since will also be a mystery game I want to put some kind of diary in the game. Also want to simulate a sort of computer with college intranet :) So because of those new features, probably need at least 1 month to code everything.


Art: (70%) all characters are done (might add a few more though). The backgrounds are missing, but the ending CGs scenes (8 in total plus some variations/close ups !) are almost finished (saw the sketches already and artist is finishing them right now).

Writing: (5%) Sadly, previous writer disappeared, so I need to look for a replacement. I also need to plan the gameplay better and do the storyboard, but for this kind of game (set in US college) I definitely need to find someone who knows well that kind of reality so can help me with storyboard beside writing scenes!

Coding: (5%): I haven't done much. I am planning to use a mix between Flower Shop scheduler and Always Remember Me various places to visit. Still need to do lot of design though, including the player stats. I'd say around 2 months of work.

Queen Of Thieves

Art: (80%) is missing the final kissing scenes, but artist disappeared since 1st February, and I'm not sure if he can continue working on the game. In any case, there's not much hurry since I need to design the gameplay, interface, and so on. And worse case I can hire someone since are only the kissing scenes missing.

Writing: (50%) This game is a bit different, meaning that there's more gameplay than other life/dating sim, and less texts. About half of the romances are finished though.

Coding: (5%): As I said, this game will have more gameplay than all the others, but I need to think how to implement it. It might include: 2d turn-based tilemap, short RPG battles, shop simulation... so there's still a long way to go. I think minimum 3 months of work!

Planet Stronghold: Warzone

Art: (50%) all the romance CGs are done, but misses all backgrounds, the wargame tilemap, many enemy sprites, so still long way to go.

Writing: (5%) I only wrote the beginning, and while I have the general plot in my mind have yet to write a storyboard for it. Since is a RPG, will take LOONG time to write it, but Aleema already said wants to work on this one :) Still, probably won't be able to work on it before next summer!

Coding: (90%): Even if it's a RPG, since I'm going to reuse most of the first game RPG framework, coding is quite advanced. I need to code the "wargame" map, but that's it (since I already did some coding for it last year).

Undead Lily

Art: (80%) it's missing some backgrounds, but depending how the battles will take place might add some more sprites, and perhaps some more backgrounds.

Writing: (25%) Several characters scenes are finished, but I paused it because need to rethink how to program the main gameplay, so might have to rework what has been already written to simplify it, or change it somehow.

Coding: (10%): Not much done, and while it will be a simpler RPG than Loren or Planet Stronghold, I decided to pause the development for now. Will resume working on it next year!


I tried to put them in order of a possible release: however, there's no guarantee about the release order, with the exception of Heileen 3 that will almost surely be out this summer! :)

Friday, March 23, 2012

Crunch mode

In the image above, the map (still work in progress) with the new fog feature. When you start the game it will look like in the image on top but as you discover new locations, it will slowly become like the image at the bottom.

Why Crunch Mode ?

Today's blog post will be short, because I'm in a sort of "crunch mode". Those who worked in companies know well what does it means - it's a period (usually lasts some days or weeks) during which you work non-stop like crazy to finish an important project.

Obviously in my case, the project is Loren The Amazon Princess :) But also, I need to get back on managing the various other projects going on, since I've been "away" (busy working on Loren) for too long!

For a small indie like me, releasing games regularly is very important, since it's one of the most effective way to get attention. The last game I've released is in December (Winter In Fairbrook), so not too long ago, however if I look back at the past year, during this period (end of March) I had already released Love & Order and was about to finish Planet Stronghold!

Now I know I'm not a machine, so I need to take breaks sometimes, but I usually reserve the summer for that (when it's too hot to work much anyway).

So my goal would be to release 0.9 this weekend, or no later than end of the month. Today I managed to finish scripting the 3rd chapter of Loren, and will take tomorrow to test it again. Meanwhile Aleema is finishing the last touches to the romance scenes, since we're trying to include many of them for the next beta update, the 0.9.

The Bionic Heart sequel

Bionic Heart was one of my early visual novels, but also one that was most popular (was featured in some big japanese websites and that was the first time for a VN made in the west). However, commercially speaking, it wasn't a big success.

Almost 3 years later, I think I know the reasons. It was a pure visual novel, aimed at males, and with my writing (lol). Definitely I don't want to repeat the same mistakes in the sequel, even if I want to make this game mainly for my personal satisfaction than money.

In the image above you see sketches of the main characters, plus there will be new ones which I don't want to show yet. I have written already a generic basic plot, but need to go in the details. For now all I can say is:

  • won't be a pure visual novel, but will have statistics, even if won't be a RPG
  • you'll be able to play as different characters (differently from the first game)
  • it will contain nudity, both male / female
  • will have all possible romances (straight & gay / male & female)
  • will have lots of endings :)

Now remember, I am NOT working on this game right now, but I am producing / supervising the art production. I don't know yet when I'll have time to start working on this, maybe for Christmas, or maybe later next year!

"Nicole" game

Nicole's plot continues to make progress, and I got also a new characters images. Below you can admire Nicole in her various outfits (yes, cheerleader is also an option!):


That's all for now! Stay tuned, since next month I plan to definitely release something :)

Friday, March 16, 2012

World at War

"World at War" is the subtitle of Loren The Amazon Princess second chapter. The war is between the human and the elves: can Loren and her party stop the madness?


In the picture above, while Myrth and Apolimesho shake hands, Rei asks a vital question: "Can the elves really work together with the humans?" that's what you'll have to find for yourself playing the new game update, which can be downloaded from here:

As always, if you find any bugs, please report them in the game official forums.

Of course, there's much more beside the new chapter. The game has been improved under various aspects, many bugs fixed and things tweaked. For example, during the final scenes of second chapter, there's a sequence of battles that you have to fight without the automatic healing option. And I found that the party setup was missing a clear indication of each party member HP and SP.


So in the picture above you can see the new improved party setup screen, that shows the HP/SP for the members you have currently selected to fight.

Another complaint/suggestion I got from the player/testers was about the level up screen. It wasn't really clear which skills you could learn since all the skills were displayed in full color.


So as you can see in the screen above, the greyed-out skills are the ones that you cannot learn yet. I think it's much clear now. Also you might have noticed that I put a reset button, so if the attributes picked by the auto-assign doesn't satisfy you, you can retry as much as you want or allocate them manually.

Another big change is that I found a bug in the vendor screen, so that the vendors inventories weren't updating. Now, if you visit the same shop from time to time (you need to advance the plot a bit every time) you'll see new interesting items available.

There are LOTS more changes in the new version of course, but I cannot list them all! :)

I am not satisfied yet by the skills power level setup in the battle, since is easy to forget that you have 3 levels, and using the numbered buttons is not very intuitive, so I still need to tweak it, but except that I believe the battles, the skills and the classes now are really well balanced.

The mages now deal lots of damage, and since the vendors are fixed, you can buy some SP regenerating items and they can become really powerful. Warriors still have the highest HP and can absorb lot of damage, while Thieves are very versatile and now can use their skills more often.

As for the plot, it's already 140,000 words, so already more than double Planet Stronghold's plot! There's still the end of chapter4 and some romances left, so I think will reach 150,000 words for sure, becoming my biggest game ever! And it's not even a pure VN, but a RPG... definitely people won't be able to complain about the game length ;)

Other games update!

And now for the visual novel / dating sim fans, here's an unusual outfit for Ebele that you'll be able to admire in the upcoming Heileen3:

[[posterous-content:pid___1]]The game is already over 120,000 words, and almost all the 100 scenes have been written. Lora's path is complete, and only Marie's one is left. If everything goes well, expect it sometimes this summer :)

Also, the artist working on mystery/otome game Nicole had some computer problems, so the art production was delayed by a few weeks, but now she resumed working regularly. Even for this other game, expect a release sometimes this summer!

Friday, March 9, 2012

Past, present and future

The Past


Don't worry, the picture above is NOT of any upcoming games! ;) It's from one of my early fantasy/RPG games called Magic Stones, which has still a special place in my heart because was the first game I made to become relatively successful. That though represent the past, what I was doing several years ago. I used royalty free poser 3d models because I couldn't afford decent artists.

The Present

The present is of course represented well by my recent manga games, and Loren in particular. I never invested so much time and resources in a game before, but now that the game is currently in beta stage, I can say it was definitely worth it!


In case you missed my Twitter/Facebook announcement, I released version 0.8 which lets you play through the whole chapter 1. The game has also a very long demo, so you can try it before preordering it!

We have added a lot of new features to version 0.8 based on early tester/players' feedback, and I must say that the game now is much better. I liked a lot in particular the feature to double-click to repeat last action (very useful in battles, making them much more smooth to play!) and the new "Tasks" feature, in which you can play battles to raise your Fame in a specific town, to obtain discounts in the town's vendor.


The. plot is also going on very well, with Aleema (the writer) finishing the last chapter. I can assure you that the final battle will be something epic, and also have a surprising end! But for now, I'm concentrating on finishing the chapter2, since adding all the new enemies and battles is quite time consuming, since I have to test them all.

I also reduced the difficulty on the Easy level so much, that I can say that playing Loren at easy level is almost like playing a normal visual novel. So I think that even if you don't like RPGs, you should try playing it in easy mode just to read the story, which I think is very good!

The Future

As I said, after Loren I plan to take a break from very detailed RPGs. But of course, Planet Stronghold sequel will be still done this year, since in this case the RPG framework is already tested and finished (and also, is more simplified vs Loren).

Below you can admire a new sketch from the artist for a Marada Shaman enemy:


Planet Stronghold: Warzone should be out this summer, though is more likely will be this fall. As for my other projects, beside Heileen 3 and Nicole, I didn't make much progresses, since my last two months were completely absorbed by Loren!

But hopefully once Loren is out, will have more time to devote to those games, which compared to the complexity of making a RPG could even be considered "relaxing"! ;)

I also have more surprises coming out next months: might do my first online/webgame, and if I can find the right partner also a webcomic. Stay tuned!

Friday, March 2, 2012


If you follow Loren RPG development on twitter and in my forums, you already know that I failed to met the deadilne of the new version for the 1st March. It was a self-imposed deadline, but I wanted to met it because I am used to keep my word, so I am a bit disappointed at myself...

However, I have a pretty good excuse for not meeting it! The version 0.8 which will be online maximum next weekend (10-11 March) will have LOTS of new features!

Just to name a few major changes (but there are many others):

- new resistance icons, say goodbye to my poorly drawn ones!
- new quick equip item from the character inventory (drag&drop would be too much, better to just use 1 single click!)
- you can now access inventory from the battle. Maybe less realistic, but many people asked for it and I admit is bad to restart a game/load a saved game only because you forgot to equip your character!
- new minigame by the writer Aleema, when you select your character: PC will tell the backstory of his/her slavery, and you choice will determine the starting statistics (a bit like my other game Spirited Heart)
- new redesigned battle UI. You can choose between big or small icons, and the left panel now shows target statistics or resistances. Added tooltips all around the battle to help players understand what's going on.
- added new playing style "Tactics". Player starts with 5 skills but get a new one every 3 levels rather than 2. Also eliminated all the level restrictions for the skills, since they higher ones are balanced by the higher SP requirement
- new "smart slot" system, so that you have a slot for weapon, a slot for offhand/shield, and a slot for ranged weapon. During battle you'll be able to attack (with appropriate penalties) using melee or missile as you prefer
- added city tasks and Fame system. Perform city tasks (predefined battles with specific rules) to get Fame. Fame helps in getting a discount on buying/selling items in the respective town's vendor
- added double-click to repeat the last action. This works both with offensive but also defensive skills, making the battle flow much faster!

I also made a video showing the new "Character Creation":

So that's all for now - stay tuned because next friday (if not sooner!) very likely version 0.8 will be out.

Heileen 3

I also want to talk about my other games, otherwise you might think that in 2012 I will release only Loren. But don't worry, have other more "casual" and "girly" games in the work! One of them, probably the most awaited, is Heileen 3, which is coming out very nicely. The dialogues are totally hilarious, and I can already say that is going to be one of my most funny games ever.

The artist Rebecca sent me also the last two romance endings, with Marie and Lora, and they're beautiful. Unfortunately, to see them you must wait until this summer when the game will be out! But I can already show you a sneak peek:

The one with Lora is really beautiful, with a field of sunflowers as background :)