Friday, December 28, 2012

2012 the year of Loren

As usual I'm doing the end of the year blog post, in which I talk how it was the year that is about to end for me. Looking back at the post I wrote in 2011, lots of things went better.

First of all, and most importantly, I didn't had so many losses like last year. In April I lost my cat Orpheus, but luckily it was the only loss.

The year of RPGs and Loren

Personal life apart, the main event of this year for me as you can guess was the release of the RPG Loren The Amazon Princess. I already did a postmortem about it, but now that more than 6 months passed after its release, the response of people that are playing/discovering it is still amazing, and I can absolutely say that will do more RPGs in future :)

Does it means that I will do only RPGs? No, of course! I need some simpler games from time to time to take a break and recharge batteries. Heileen 3 was good on this regard, because while is true that making it was still working, it felt almost relaxing to have "just to design and code some simple life simulation rules" instead of balancing 60 skills and testing endless battles like I did for Loren :D

I'll still put some RPG mechanics in the other games though, like the leveling skills of Heileen 3 (which I think was something relatively new, at least in the OELVN?) or the "crafting gameplay" that will be present in Amber's Magic Shop.

This year was my best since I went indie, and this means that I must thank first everyone who is supporting my games (I'm not on any big portal, so every little sale count!) and also a special thanks to all my valid collaborators/partners who are helping me so much to make better games! In no order and using a mix of names/nicknames: Aleema, Anima, Sarah, Megan, Michael, Franklin, George, Deji, Ayu, Matthew, Eddy, Slamet and everyone else who probably missed but that helped me making games.

Future improvements

I think that the artwork of my games is already at good levels, even if will try to have more quantity/variety of images or scenes. However, there are two crucial aspects that I plan to improve in the next year games:

Custom soundtracks

It's something so obvious that is quite embarrassing for me to say it. In the past games I always used royalty free audio tracks. A bit because I couldn't afford to hire a musician, and also because I have hard time to explain exactly what music I need, because of language barrier.

However as I've seen by the response to Heileen 3 custom track bonus, people really like that. So for all future games I'll have full soundtracks made and have them available as mp3 bonus content.

Professionally made logos

A friend of mine pointed out that while the art of my games is in general quite good, the logos sucks. Indeed, I made most of the logos myself! :) That's why I asked M.Beatriz Garcia also known as Deji to create logos for all the next games, so for sure they will look much better!

It might seem a minor detail, but I must say that people often judge games by first impressions. And surely a professionally done logo has much better impact than my current ones.

In conclusion

Even for this year the show is over! I want to wish everyone a Happy New Year, and I'm looking forward to work on the next year games. Stay tuned!

Friday, December 21, 2012

Heileen 3 released, Merry Christmas and the end of the world

Heileen 3 is finally out

First of all, Heileen 3: New Horizon was officially released a couple days ago. Here's the official trailer with the theme song:

For more info and demos, check the official game page:

I'm working on the yuri version right now which will be called "Heileen 3: Sea Maidens" and should be out very soon, probably mid-January. Will do a postmortem about the game once that version is out.

Merry Christmas!

Second, I want to wish you Merry Christmas and like every year, I'm doing it by offering a generous discount on all my games (except Heileen 3 of course since it was just released!).

Use the coupon code: XMAS to get 50% off any single game. Remember that the coupon is not cumulable with other offers, so for example it won't work if you try to buy game bundles which have an automatic discount already (Spirited Heart + Girl's Love, The Flower Shop games, and so on).

...the end of the world ?

As you know, today Friday 21st December 2012 the world should end. I hope not, since I was just starting to have fun working on my games! :) Besides, I have so many interesting projects for next year that it would be really a pity. Check for yourself:

What's coming next year from Winter Wolves

January: As said, the plan is to get Heileen 3 yuri version out. Will also probably announce officially a new Steampunk RPG project ;)

February: Release of Bionic Heart 2 or at least begin the preorder/beta testing phase

Rest of the year: Depending how things go, the release of Planet Stronghold 2 and/or the Steampunk RPG, and maybe one or more of the other dating / life sims currently in progress like Nicole, Roommates, Amber Magic Shop or Spirited Heart 2, but that's too early to tell!

Friday, December 14, 2012

The importance of 2012 for visual novels

Only three Friday left before the end of the Year! If we want to believe the Mayans, only two and curiously next Friday is the 21st :)

I'm used to make some generic posts at the end of the year talking about how my year was and the future projects. Heileen 3 testing is going forward even if (luckily!) being a dating/life sim is going much smoother than Loren (which took 3 months to test in practice!).

For those that don't know yet, there's a beta demo available here:

and well, in practice the game is done except a few short scenes that we're trying to add before the official release date (but might be added in an update later).

What I want to talk about in this post is the most important events in 2012 regarding visual novels / story-based games.

The importance of Analogue: A Hate Story

Unless you've been living on the Moon, you probably heard about that game. But in my opinion was very important mostly because it was the first visual novel made in the west (probably the first visual novel ever, since Recettear is more a simulation/RPG) to appear on Steam.

And it did well. That's quite interesting, since showed that with the right product/marketing you can compete with other more popular indie genres. Yes, indies don't make only platformers! ;)

Shortly after even Magical Diary appeared (even if I know that it was accepted long before, but for some reasons was delayed for months). It is more a life sim than a plain visual novel, but it did well too and showed that there's a market beside the classic FPS or multiplayer games.

The importance of Cinders

Another very important event happened, the release of the VN Cinders by Moacube. When Tom first approached me I knew him a bit because we used to viist the same forums, but I really had no clue that he was involved in some top selling HOG (Hidden Object Games) made in the previous years. I also admit that I had no clue who Vinegaria (the artist) was :D

So imagine my surprise when he showed me some early work in progress of the game! Top quality art and music in a visual novel? No manga style artwork? that was never seen before as far as I know (well I tried with Vera Blanc but wasn't really top quality!)

I admit I had some doubts on the potential public reactions, because I thought that manga artwork and focus on romance were both key part to make a selling visual novel, but the success of Cinders proved me wrong. And I'm happy to be wrong, since it was because of that if I decided to make Bionic Heart 2, trying to focus more on story / mystery and not just romance, spending more money on art and with custom soundtrack.

The importance of Walking Dead

It amuses me when people talk about Telltale game and define it "an adventure". Yes sure, there are a few puzzles that requires some thinking, a few items you can carry, some short action scenes, but you spend 80% (if not more) of the gameplay time doing two things: reading dialogues/story and making choices!

How is called that game genre that is based on dialogues and choices that affect future outcomes? Hmm yes, I think is called Visual Novels!!! ;)

That game is receiving tons of prizes and awards, and once again shows that people are ready to spend money on a very well done story-based game. Of course such level of polish is beyond reach for most indie teams since is full 3d, with realtime animations and so on. But I was happy to see it do well (also because I'd like to play more games like that myself!).

In conclusion

This year was really important for visual novel and story-based games. And I didn't even mention To The Moon (released last year but appeared on Steam this year too), or the various Wadjet Eye adventures for example.

Of course, it was also a good year for me, mainly because of my game Loren The Amazon Princess, but I'll talk about it in detail in another post before the end of the year :)

Friday, December 7, 2012

Heileen 3 now available for preorder!

I put up the preorder page here:

Please note that the game beta demo is not yet available for download!

However, it should be this Sunday, 9th December 2012. Once the demo is available, you'll only have to download it and enter your email to activate the full game, and start playing the beta version.

Of course if you prefer you can preorder and then wait for the game to be officially released since during the beta there might still be some bugs present.

I decided to put the page up now since I got some requests from people to be able to preorder earlier, so there you go. I also put a special version with extra bonus content, since the game has 6 custom audio tracks (1 theme song + 5 audio tracks). In the bonus content you also get the game chibi at higher resolution, several wallpapers images, and some exclusive images from Heileen 2 at higher resolution. The extra content is immediately available, so you can listen to the music while you wait for next Sunday ;)

Apart the extra content, there is no difference between the base game and the one with the bonus content.

In the video above you get an idea of the gameplay including the raising sim, the Virtues/Sins system and more.

Excuse me for the very short post, but I'm going back to work now to make sure the demo is available next Sunday!! :)