future games :)

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jack1974
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future games :)

Post by jack1974 »

I just made a blog post today:
blog/2016/03/the-wind-of-change/

it's based on a mix of things I've learned last year, talks with other very successful indies doing games similar to mine, market analysis, and cats, especially cats. (I'm joking in case wasn't clear :lol:)

In short: I will still keep making games. Just make them slower and thinking more about the gameplay itself, rather than starting 15+ projects at once like in the past. I have now found a good "team" of people which seems reliable so I just need to get back doing what I do best: design the games and a story to complement the gameplay. That's it :)
Rebly82
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Re: future games :)

Post by Rebly82 »

Good blog post, Jack! :)

I know you mentioned this new decision is for brand new games. But, I'm kind of curious and would like to know if any of your games in the queue will be affected (if any). I read that you said "Loren 2" and "Roger Steel" are safe and will still be nice-sized (long and good) games for it's genre. But how about the others? For example:

Cursed Lands
Planet Stronghold 2
Amber Magic Shop
Spirited Heart 2
Summer In Trigue
Love Bites

(Of course, it's obvious I'm interested in them. :lol: )
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jack1974
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Re: future games :)

Post by jack1974 »

Love Bites already follows the "new rules". So, definitely less grinding. Doesn't make sense to make the game longer, if the extra time spent is repeating actions to raise stats :wink:
Summer In Trigue is actually more like a visual novel with choices, I haven't made a final decision yet, but maybe there could be a scheduler, but not very gameplay focused.
Spirited Heart 2 should be more like princess maker. The insane amount of romances could be a problem, but for now that game is not in the high-priority list. I don't think will be out before 2020 (seriously :lol:)
Amber's is already done as structure. I think will be rewritten to be shorter. The old writer made some scenes long 9k words. A SINGLE SCENE, 9k words. That's a good example of a mistake to not repeat again haha. There will be the alchemy gameplay though.
Cursed Lands is going well, slower than I wanted but I think it has one of the best writing of all my upcoming games (of course, I'm not a great judge though). It will have more gameplay stuff than usual, even if will probably get working on it later this year.

Lastly, PS2 ! I want to get Miakoda to write it, since she is familiar with the world after having done a great job with PSCD. In that case, I want it to be more like the first game: lot of gameplay, choices. Still romances of course, but not superlong. To be very clear: PS1 was 60k words! Just 60k words. And beside the fact it was written by me, people really enjoyed it because of the story+gameplay mix. A good example of a game that doesn't need to be 1 million words to be fun to play :) So I want to repeat this for the sequel too. But of course this one won't get done before next year for sure!
Rebly82
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Re: future games :)

Post by Rebly82 »

Just one more question! How long was the total word count for "Roomates" game? :)
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jack1974
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Re: future games :)

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That was super big, I think over 200k for sure!
But people shouldn't judge games by wordcount. A story can be short and be more fun than a longer one, or have more gameplay, etc. In any case, even if I make my stories shorter, they would still be as big as the competition (the average is 100k words). So it's not like that I'm making my games smaller than the other VN. Simply not insanely big as before, because I realized I couldn't go on anymore like that for various reasons (market changed, too long to write so a game takes years, other problems) :lol:
Troyen
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Re: future games :)

Post by Troyen »

How are you measuring word count? Total words in the script?

PS1 had about the right story length, but the side character interactions were all really short. Yet, even adding 1k for each character pairing would add 8k to your total. I don't seem to recall the story part of SotW taking significantly longer than PS1 (just all the battles and gameplay mechanics), but you had a lot more character interaction. I assume the same with PSCD too.

I think a good measurement is what the player would read on a single play-through. So story count + character count, and then see if that level is too high or too low. (Keeping in mind that a "long" fantasy novel is approx 100k.) Some of your games have been on the long side, but it would also be a shame to overcorrect and go back to really short one-on-one character sequences, because those are often where we actually get acquainted with the other characters.
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Re: future games :)

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Ren'Py has a useful built-in function to calculate the wordcount. It doesn't catch EVERYTHING, but 90% of the stuff yes (like messagebox or texts in gameplay part for example, won't catch those, but is a minor part).
Yes PS1 character relationship were 5 scenes each if I remember well. If we don't go insane anymore with a 10+ romanceable character cast (something that no other indie game has BTW :lol:) is definitely possible to have 10 scenes each character, or even more.
The biggest problem is having a huge cast to be fair (if we want to romance all of them).

Just think this: even if I HALVED the amount of story of my recent games, they would still be as long as the competition, in some cases even higher. I honestly can't afford to give people double the amount of what others give, and keep prices the same, or maybe $19.99 instead of $14.99 (but with double word amount). And as I wrote in the blog, I cannot even price games $30 :mrgreen:

That said, there will be exceptions. I mean, beside the games already in production. I can have a 200k word game every 2 years or so. But if try to I make ALL of them so long, then no surprise if some years nothing comes out, or if some games like... ahem... *that* cursed game takes so long :wink:
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Re: future games :)

Post by Troyen »

I'm not saying 200k is the right amount, but I definitely agree the growing number of characters makes it harder to go in-depth with each one (and I've argued elsewhere 16 major characters is too many for story quality reasons as well). Hanako often gets by with around four, but she's also not trying to do every combination in a single game (her protagonists are usually one gender). Maybe try eight again?

You may have data on how many routes players finish in your games. If most people only pick one or two, that's a huge amount of written content going unappreciated with a 16-character cast.

A lot of "what feels right" will ultimately come down to the specific story being told and the specific author's style. But perhaps you do need to be stricter at keeping the length within the target range instead of allowing open-ended expansion. If there really are so many cool ideas to add on, perhaps some of that could be moved to DLC.
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jack1974
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Re: future games :)

Post by jack1974 »

Yes indeed, if something works I can always add a DLC.
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