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Q&A about games, releasing dates, etc

Posted: Mon Feb 06, 2017 12:51 pm
by jack1974
I thought to make this sticky post explaining better some "behind the scenes" things :)
I do it in the Question/Answer format since I think works well. Let's start:

Q: When game XZY will be out? (probably the most popular question ever!)
A: I don't know. OK, let me explain a bit how it works: unfortunately (or fortunately, depending on the point of view!) I cannot write my own games myself anymore. I tried to in the beginning, but then I realized that writing in a foreign language was a bit too much for me :) So, I hire writers. Obviously being a broke indie I cannot afford pro-rates (just the writing would eat up all the game budget!) so I need to use semi-pro or amateur writers. Amateurs doesn't mean bad. You can judge the games writing yourself. But the main thing, is that they usually are studying, or have a daily job, and so aren't as much reliable as pro writers.
Also, by Murphy's law, from time to time, super curses will be cast upon my writers. I joke, but some of them had really serious health issues. So... even if someone IS realiable, anything could happen to slow him/her down, or prevent him/her from working for SEVERAL MONTHS.

We can all agree that to write a good story, you need time. You cannot really write a good game over 100k words (the usual minimum my game are in length) in less than 4-5 months. Maybe it's possible, but it's a kind of record. And some games are 200k+ words... :mrgreen:

So imagine when one of those problems happens. The writer cannot work anymore. What do I do? replace him/her? or wait to see if things improve?

No matter what I choose, time is wasted: if I get a new one, he/she needs to review everything that has been written, maybe change some parts, tweaks them, get to know the characters, bla bla bla. That takes TIME.
If I keep waiting for the old one, maybe he/she can resume writing but only after X months have passed.

Meanwhile, I'm powerless, since the only choice I can do is if to keep the writer or change him/her. Oh, and don't assume that the replacement writer won't have any issues either. And the circle begins...

Q: Why are you starting a new game instead of finishing the current ones?
A: Because I want to release something each year. Of course, I am not starting 15000 new games. But as you can imagine, it's not uncommon to be in the situation above: writer stuck with a game. Sometimes new writers show up. They are good or worse than current ones (though I always try to select them as best as possible!) but what matters, is that they're FREE. They have time to write. In that specific moment, they're productive.

Once again the only thing I can do is choose: do I give them a task, a new game story to write, or wait? maybe wait and use them as replacement writers for the other stuck games? but of course, I cannot change 1 writer every week on a game, so this decisional process will last some time, a month, two. Time passes: and that time could have been used to put them to work on a new game story from the start.

As I said, there's a LIMIT, I am not going to start a new game every time someone shows up. It would be crazy. But many times it feels like the best decision to me, as old games gets finished, to start a new one.
Or I could do like in 2015, when I didn't want to start new games, and meanwhile a whole year passed without any new releases, and that REALLY HURT BADLY my business. 2-3 more years like that and I could have been forced to quit. People often ignore the business point of view of what I do :)

Q: Why there is only 2-3-4-5 romance choices? Or <insert missing features here> You should make bigger games bla bla
A: My games are already quite big and the bigger a game becomes, the harder is to finish it. Because of what I wrote above, I am ABSOLUTELY SURE, that after Loren 2, Roger Steel and Undead Lily are finished, I will NOT make again a game with more than 3 romances for each gender (or maybe even 2). Especially if they ALSO have a complex gameplay like RPG combat or something.

Let's look at what competition does. Indies I mean, not AAA companies :) Very few make RPG+VN games. I am not saying this to brag - but if you look around a bit in an impartial way, very few indies make a game that is a RPG, has 10+ romances, 200k words, 10 CG+ etc etc. I can make them, but it should be like a game every 4-5 years maybe? like other indies do? not more often!

Sure, both Loren and PSCD were done in about a year and both have all the things above. But now I realize that those were some kind of miracles :lol: I had some "divine intervention" happening so that everything went smoothly. Like, EVERYTHING (well, for PSCD I could have used another art style, but we all know that haha).

Those are very big exceptions. Not the rule. That's why Loren 2 or PS2 aren't out after 5 years from the first one.
Also, there's my personal health. I really cannot make complex games like RPGs too often, they're REALLY consuming! Design rules, skills, implement, test, tweak, balance etc. It's a big effort. In most cases, it's not EVEN WORTH the effort :) I do them beacuse I like RPGs, but if I had to say that all the time I spent doing it was worth it? Uhm, no sorry.

For me the best would be to have 1 big RPG every 3-4 years maybe, and then 1-2 "normal" games each year. By normal games I mean stuff like Roommates, Nicole, but even some simulations/hybrid like Amber's Magic Shop. The crafting thing took some time, but not as complex as a full blown RPG.

OK I think those were the most common questions. I just wanted to offer an insider view on what is happening behind the scenes and believe me, finishing a game is a real achievement! :P

Re: Q&A about games, releasing dates, etc

Posted: Mon Feb 06, 2017 9:00 pm
by Franka
Q: Why can't you just get your cats to make the games for you?

Re: Q&A about games, releasing dates, etc

Posted: Mon Feb 06, 2017 10:10 pm
by jack1974
That's a good question!! :lol:

Re: Q&A about games, releasing dates, etc

Posted: Mon Feb 06, 2017 10:36 pm
by BobTheMob
jack1974 wrote:unfortunately (or fortunately, depending on the point of view!) I cannot write my own games myself anymore. I tried to in the beginning, but then I realized that writing in a foreign language was a bit too much for me :) ... ay&first=1

(My apologies; I don't know how to post gifs.)

But the point is, regardless of whether or not ya ever do write character's lines in your games again, don't talk that way: self-doubt is the fist step to defeat, and as I've said before, the games I've played of yours that ya wrote--especially BH--had owned. :)

Re: Q&A about games, releasing dates, etc

Posted: Tue Feb 07, 2017 7:41 am
by jack1974
Yes but even if I resumed writing them, would take me longer because it's harder to write in a foreign language :)
Anyway we'll see, I got several new good writers submissions recently, so maybe things will improve this year!