Yes I know that I said I would talk about games, and I am going to. But first, I need to make a short deviation
I certify I have enough
Recently there has been a BIG drop of direct sales. Probably because of Steam direct, but also I suspect other factors. In summary, in last two months I reached the bottom. Luckily, sales on other platforms (mobile, Steam) while are going down (it’s the Indieapocalypse baby) didn’t totally collapse as the direct sales.
Chatting with other indies, I found out that actually my direct sales so far were much better than the average! lol, so the situation is global, even for very successful indies, there has been a great drop.
Why? Well, most people are used to buy/play on Steam, but the OS have their faults too: indeed both Windows and MacOS, now require apps to be “codesigned”, otherwise they show various warnings and it’s hard just to download the game (not even run, just download it’s difficult!). Yes you could codesign, which means you had to pay a yearly fee to get this “certification”, which IN THEORY should protect users from malicious software. A pity that in reality this doesn’t matter – because the codesign only certifies who made it, but not if there’s any virus/trojan/whatever in it (see what happened recently with a famous registry cleaner tool…).
I was codesigning my games (both on Win/Mac) but recently I am really too overwhelmed by all the stuff to do, so I am considering switching all my downloads to the itch.io platform, which seems well known to visual novel authors. The main reason it’s that it uses really great tools, on par with Steam. I will just mention two things that makes a big difference:
- incremental upload/download, like Steam. If I change one line in a file and it’s 5kb, both me and players only need to upload/download 5kb, and not the whole game installer (which maybe is 170mb). And for the customers who don’t want to use the itchio client, you can always download a .zip file normally. Doing beta testing with that system will be a breeze. How many times in the past I found a bug when it was almost midnight, so I simply posted in forums “sorry, I’ll update the game tomorrow”. Now I can just run a command-line tool and do it in 5 seconds making the update instantly available!
- using the client, the codesign/OS warning don’t show. Since your game exe is launched by Itchio app (similarly to what happens on Steam) the various Windows/MacOS don’t show up those annoying “WAIT ARE YOU SURE!? YOU COULD START WORLD WAR 3!!” messages
Of course, I won’t instantly switch, but I think it’s safe to say that for future games I’ll use itch.io exclusively to sell my games directly.
Speaking of games…
I’ll be the first to admit that I’m not really happy about the current status, by now I hoped to have at least another game in beta testing or even finished. But honestly, this year was a bit crazy, also considering the terrible Summer temperatures I got here where I live, which put me KO for 2 months!
Anyways, let’s see how is the progress of the various games:
Cursed Lands – this game simply became much bigger than I originally thought (lol, a new thing!). I am still coding the various sidequests, and writer said would write the main plot missions in the next weeks/months. When those are done, the game will be very close to completion. It’s going to be another of those 200k+ word RPG games, and I have pushed to add more camp talk and CG (each love interest has two bonus CGs besides the romance CG!). Also, both Vaeril and Nuala are bisex now, and you can romance them both with male or female protagonist. So at least looks like should be worth the wait
Love Bites – it’s half done: half of the game routes are fully scripted. In this case, once the writer finishes them, the gameplay is very simple (there is some stat raising but not like my other games) and it could be “put together” much faster. Depending on how things go, I think this one could be done faster than Cursed Lands. But of course depends when the writing is finished and the last thing I want to do is rush the writing of a game as you can imagine
Volleyball Heaven – luckily the writing is 99% done, but there is still a lot of artwork to draw. So in this case we’re waiting for the artist, who is working hard, but there’s a lot to do. Drawing all those hot CGs takes time, you know
And what about estimate release dates? that’s the big question! Well, for all the 3 games above, I think early 2018 would work. Which means I could be in a fun situation where all of the 3 games above will be almost ready at about the same time. Then I’ll decide in which order to release them, but ideally I’d keep the RPG as last since that will require more testing.
As usual there could be some “surprises”, like games I’m not talking about much that suddenly get a boost and could even be released before the 3 above. You never know what’s going to happen! It’s the magic of working on so many games at once with different people all around the world.