I think is time for an overdue update on Heileen 3 status. First I said would be ready last Summer, then this Fall... well, tecnically could still be out this Fall, since Winter begins the 21st December 2012, and I really hope to have finished the game by then! :)
You might wonder why such delay... well first of all, even if is not a RPG, Heileen 3 is probably one of the most important titles of my visual novel/dating sim category. So I am trying to make it more polished than previous titles. Check the two screenshots below:
Heileen on the ship bridge by night, nice atmosphere
Heileen and Marie in a farm / flower plantation
As you can notice I hired a pro artist to do the backgrounds this time, since they always were a weak point of my past games. While not super detailed I think they look quite good with the characters in the foreground.
The downside is that since I found the artist only last month, and such backgrounds require some time, only the backgrounds will probably take 1 month of work. However it's not artist's fault, but mine because I waited too long before starting commissioning the backgrounds.
Yesterday also decided to have a full OST for Heileen 3, not with many tracks, but beside the main theme song, even the other 4-5 tracks in the game will be custom. I plan to offer the OST as download during the pre-order phase.
Finally, in case you missed it, the game is not going to be a pure visual novel, but more a life sim. You'll be able to learn several skills and like in my other game Spirited Heart, you'll be able to get either a romance ending with one of the 4 boys (and later the yuri version will be released which adds 4 girls) or you can get a "profession ending". Indeed, if you raise your skill high enough in a particular field, you'll become a master in that profession and the game will end.
Just to complicate the things, each profession ending is tied to the virtue/sin system. For example, to become a nun, not only you need to have a high Faith skill, but obviously you also need to have a high Chastity virtue. We could argue that a good nun shouldn't have any "high sin level", but well for sure the Chastity is the most important! (and for gameplay reason I need only 1 virtue/sin associated to each job)
So as you can see even coding this part is not going to be quick to do. While is not a complex RPG like Loren, it still requires some extra coding/testing before I can start the pre-order stage, which should only reveal some well hidden bugs.
I'd dare to say that my estimate release date for Heileen3 is the first week of December, approximately 3 years after the second chapter! crossing fingers :)