wrong perception when making too many games

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jack1974
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wrong perception when making too many games

Post by jack1974 » Sun Dec 31, 2017 9:13 am

I know Steam reviews can be harsh sometimes :) Like everyone, I would like to hear only good things about what I do, but obviously that doesn't happen. However, there was something in a recent Steam review of QoT that I didn't like:
It seems that as the developer starts chugging out more games per year, the quality of them keeps dropping. None of his latter installments can stand up to the original Loren The Amazon Princess.
I wanted to make some points clear:
- the fact that I made 5 games in 2016. I absolutely didn't rush them out!!!!! ALL those games, except PSCD, were in the works since YEARS. It only happened, as pure coincidence, that they were all ready that year. That's it. I'm not rushing anything.
- I would like to have another game standing up to Loren, but guess what, it's not that easy :) but this doesn't mean I am not trying.
- the money spent on games is increasing every year. PSCD or Amber or the recent Cursed Lands has basically 2-3 times the content of Loren (maybe except the writing in Amber's case). Meanwhile, because of the indieapocalpyse, revenues are completely on free-fall. As you can imagine it's not a pleasant situation to be in

Then of course I was the first to admit that I wasn't too happy about my recent releases, and sometimes it also depends on tastes, but for example Heirs & Graces has the highest review score (on Steam) of ALL my games. PSCD after got the manga update is doing VERY well. So it's just like before. After I did Loren, I also released some "less good games" (not bad, but not up to the standards) like Nicole, Bionic Heart 2, Heileen 3. And then I did two ones like Roommates and SOTW that in general were well received. It's just the way it goes, at least for me. I wish ALL my next games were topseller but sadly I can't know :mrgreen:

So what happened in recent years is that I made 5 new games, 2-3 came out good, the other less. I might have made some poor choices in the past, but I always try to do my best, that's sure.

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mastro
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Re: wrong perception when making too many games

Post by mastro » Sun Dec 31, 2017 12:05 pm

Have you considered rewriting some games? QoT and Amber had beautiful art. The gameplay wasn't good (IMHO). But even playing as normal visual novel, both weren't up to your standards. The new CL beta looks fabulous, great writing/story. Maybe worth asking a better writer / editor to rewrite them, keeping the same gameplay but with more/better writing?

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Callista
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Re: wrong perception when making too many games

Post by Callista » Sun Dec 31, 2017 12:42 pm

I'm not sure if it'd be worth rewriting some of the games unless there's a very good chance that would result in better sales. However, quality is important so yeah, it may be good to look outside for a few better writers and editors. Of course, the currently good ones should stay on board and it doesn't hurt to get better. :)
Looking for a high quality editor? Then check out my page here: https://callista.itch.io/

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jack1974
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Re: wrong perception when making too many games

Post by jack1974 » Sun Dec 31, 2017 12:56 pm

Yes I'm not sure. I mean for PSCD redoing the art basically "saved the day" :) Though... art is more instantly noticeable I think, not like writing? I'll think about it but with all the other things I have to do, it's not a priority right now.

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Franka
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Re: wrong perception when making too many games

Post by Franka » Sun Dec 31, 2017 2:12 pm

For both QoT and Amber, I've felt there was a large divide between writing and gameplay, that the two were not connected. This detracted from the overall experience, more so than the writing itself. Also, while I know how much time you've spent developing the game systems, the end result has honestly felt like the games were getting simpler (QoT random robberies and Amber's crafting). For someone who hasn't followed development closely, I can see how they'd think you were just churning out simpler games.

Not PSCD of course. That was a near perfect game.

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jack1974
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Re: wrong perception when making too many games

Post by jack1974 » Sun Dec 31, 2017 2:40 pm

Franka wrote:
Sun Dec 31, 2017 2:12 pm
Not PSCD of course. That was a near perfect game.
Haha I knew you'd say that :lol:
But yes I agree with you on the rest, it's basically what I already said in latest blog post :) No more gameplay heavy or new gameplay if I am no writing the story myself or at least the storyboard.

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Re: wrong perception when making too many games

Post by DunKalar » Mon Jan 01, 2018 12:35 am

I think that the perception of the reviwers is understandable. Most people I know of came to know you because of Loren (which was directly available at that time) and Loren was one of the first story driven 2D RPG at the time, beeing something of a star in the dark sky. Nowadays, a lot of stars are glittering and it is harder to outshine them.

Customers are used to be flooded with games every year. Additionally, people are used to have "advanced grafics" in 3D and stuff. So having just "crappy 2D VN grafics" cannot "take that much time to finish". Unfortunately, most customers have no clue of the required amount of work that is needed for these games. You can see this on Kickstarter. This platform is showing an increasing number of VN / Ren'Py based games. Interestingly, an increasing number is never finished because people run out of money or - like with your games - publish after a several year long delay. That shows to me, that most people underestimate the required work amount.

But I think that the problem does not just hit you indies hard. Customers got spoiled in the last maybe 6-7 years. A lot of good games that were years in the making came out and raised the standards. Those franchises were always followed up by 2-4 titles that where not that bad themselves, but could not reach the impact of the first title and thus earned their portion of disappointment. Mass Effect (1 good, 2 - 3 dissapointing mostly, andromeda officially called beeing a disaster), Dragon Age (Origins good, 2 + Inquisition could not reach up), Elder Scrolls (Skyrim awesome, ESO went ftp pretty quickly), name your brand and they all suffer from these problems. So don't take it too much to heart. It is not meant personally ;-D People are this way.

I think you created a bit of frustration with the games that are years in the making and do not seem to be available soon like Loren 2. I strongly suggest to focus on these games instead of starting yet another collection of games. Because at some point, people will lose interest.
My experience based suggestion: Try not to be too late with these games to place them in the market, when the market does not have need for them anymore. I do not (!) want to discourage you or sound to be too negative here. But I get the (personal) impression that this situation might happen and I would hate to see that all this time and money spend on the current development would be wasted and might bringt you into problems if sales cannot keep up. Your games have been awesome and it would be sad if games like Loren 2 or PS 2 would end up beeing "just another Ren'Py game out there".

So if you need support, just call for it. I think there are enough fans here who want to see these games done and are willing to roll up their sleeves for you :-)
#ChambarasArmy #ChalassasFreedomFighters

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jack1974
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Re: wrong perception when making too many games

Post by jack1974 » Mon Jan 01, 2018 6:11 am

Well I've already explained many times why I was completely forced to start new games. It was the only chance I had to keep going. Now, the situation has got to a point that I am back writing the games myself. Will the result up to previous standards? I don't know. But I can't see any other option right now. I know for certain that if I was writing the games myself, both Loren 2 and PS2 would have been already out since long time. It's not meant to be an attack to writers, there can be a variety of reasons why they can't keep up (daily job, family stuff, motivation, etc). Also for RPGs I need to write at least the storyboard myself (like I did for Loren for example). And of course I can't afford pro writers when my fans expect to pay $20-25 max for a 300k words game :lol:

But I have my impression that no matter what I'll do, a good amount of people will still think that "the original was better". I mean there are people who say that PS1 was better than PSCD, which in all honesty seems just a crazy thing to say. Personally I'll be happy to just finish those games, and then (as I said several times) I'll never make sequels again anymore, not worth the trouble!

In any case I know already it's going to be tough, and I'm ready for anything, the competition it's just too much right now, many indie friends are quitting, etc. If I "just survive" I'll be happy already :wink: I only wanted to make clear that I'm not putting less effort in the new games at all, that's it.

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mastro
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Re: wrong perception when making too many games

Post by mastro » Mon Jan 01, 2018 7:37 am

And that's why the only solution for an indie doing VN, is to write the games himself. That's what all the successful authors are doing, like C.Love, Hanako, etc. Having 1-2 external written titles (especially if have good writing quality like PSCD) is OK, but outsource all of them it's a bad idea as you ahve already figured out.
And no, PS1 is not better than PSCD in any way. Maybe it was for the artwork initially, but now with the manga update is good.

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jack1974
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Re: wrong perception when making too many games

Post by jack1974 » Mon Jan 01, 2018 8:01 am

On the other hand, Roommates and Loren would have never happened if I didn't use external writers. So all this discussion is a bit pointless :wink:
I really think my only mistake was posting too much things in public. If I never told anyone that Loren 2 was in the work, people just wouldn't know, and when the game will finally be out they'll be happy of the nice surprise.

Anyway, enough talk, what I wanted to say I already said it :) now going back to work on my games. Ideally I'd like to have PS2 in beta this year, and Loren 2 in beta next. Then maybe I'll be able to relax a bit! :lol:

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