I'm sorry to hear about your financial troubles with Heaven's Grave. I'd been looking forward to the release since I heard about it after Rose of Segunda but I couldn't afford it when it came out. But today I bought it because I've been wanting to play the game and support your studio. I hope your luck turns around.
Best Friends Forever - Update #4 - (Possible Kickstarter)
The long version of this post is below the line. It's heartfelt, and explains everything that's happening and my motivations.
The short version is...
Heaven's Grave is falling slowing into a financial abyss and it's dragging the studio to Hell with it.
I.e. it's really, really not selling.
I can't continue working on Best Friends Forever without knowing it's going to cover its costs (and save the studio from the brink of ruin.)
So, I am considering a Kickstarter and I wanted to know people's thoughts on this in general, rewards they'd like, if this is the worst idea ever etc.
Otherwise, all future projects will be put on hiatus while I find other ways of raising the money to cover my losses.
(I'd like to think this would be through high-stakes poker games or wreck-diving for lost pirate treasures, but we all know it's going to be an evening job.)
So, yes, that's where Best Friends Forever is at the moment. Thoughts? Suggestions? Maps to treasure? Please let me know in the comments.
Many thanks for reading
This is a long post, so apologies for that. I’ve written and re-written this so many times and abandoned it completely twice. But I just need to lay it all out there, so here we go! ^_^
As some people may have gathered from other posts alluding to it, Heaven’s Grave is not doing very well in terms of sales.
I’m not here to complain about that – if people don’t want to play the game for whatever reason, then that is completely up to them.
But it has left me in a very poor situation financially.
My studio is small (just me with hired artists etc). Until now I have covered all the costs of making the games myself and had to absorb the losses. This was fine for the smaller games, and up until now, the studio was, overall, breaking even.
But when a larger game like Heaven’s Grave fails to make back (at the time of writing this) even a quarter of its costs, things begin to look bleak.
My next game, Best Friends Forever, is mostly paid for baring a couple of small expenses, but I cannot, in all honesty, afford to spend another three to four months working on this game, when I actually suspect (due to the school setting etc.) it will sell even fewer copies than Heaven’s Grave has.
If I am to continue working on Best Friends Forever, I need some sort of assurance that I will be able to cover my costs at the end of it. Otherwise, I am going to have to put all future projects on hiatus and get myself to the employment office for another job, because I can no longer afford to cover the losses I have already accrued.
So, I was thinking about doing a Kickstarter to cover the costs of Best Friends Forever, and I was wondering what people thought about that in general, whether they'd back it, whether they never back Kickstarters as a rule, what kind of rewards they like to see etc.
I considered explaining the situation and opening pre-orders, but with a Kickstarter it means I won't have to worry about refunds if not enough people are interested and I can set up rewards as incentives as well.
I've never done a Kickstarter, so I'm just looking for some feedback (especially if you've had experience of it yourself) because, at the moment, it's really the only way I can see to continue and I didn't want to just quit and put the game on hiatus without letting anyone know or have a chance to do something about it.
Best Friends Forever cost me a grand total of £6652.21 (Just over $8000 at today's exchange rate)
These are the costs of the art etc only. I have never made enough money to be able to draw any sort of wage from my studio and saw the creation of games as my reward for the time I put into it. All I required was that the games did not cost me money (i.e. they made back in sales what it cost me to make them).
So it would be that sum plus the Kickstarter fees/costs I will be looking to fund.
If the Kickstarter makes its goal, I can continuing making Best Friends Forever on the schedule I have at the moment, and then move on to Thorns of War. If it doesn’t make it's funding goal, well, like I said, I’m going to need to cover my losses one way or another, so getting another job will be my only recourse.
Plus, if the game fails to meet its funding goal, I feel I can predict with some accuracy that the game never would have made enough sales to cover its costs (at least in no tenable timescale) and I would have avoided spending four months of working on it when I could have used that time to secure an alternative income.
So, that's where Best Friends Forever is at the moment. It's not ideal, but I am not willing to give up just yet. I'd love to hear any feedback with regards to Kickstarter or, indeed, any other thoughts people have on the whole situation.
If you've read this far, then thank you for your time - please know that to everyone who bought any one of my games, who left feedback or even just followed me on itch, I really do appreciate the chance people have given me.
Best wishes to you all and many thanks for reading.
Log in with itch.io to leave a comment.
Ah, thank you so much - that's very kind of you, though I hope you didn't leave yourself short.
I really hope you enjoy the game and, if you have the time and inclination, please let me know what you think of it when you are finished.
Thank you again for your support ^_^
I was informed by another user that my survey had been reposted on r/otomegames and I saw it was by you and just wanted to say thanks.
The community on there seems really nice, so I'll be adding it to the list of places I'll post to in future. ^_^
I absolutely love your writing and would be very sorry, if you stopped doing games.
There's a link I came across a whileback about maketing on Kickstarter that could help you a bit
Social media is really important, but tagging is even more so.
If you start a twitter, vnlink and some others tags like wipwednesday or screenshotsaturday might be useful. Or ren'py for the engine.
Or just visulanovel and otome tags.
And I find pictures draw my eye easier than just text. Just a thought.
Some devs make a tumblr to post updates or answer questions, like what are the favourite ice cream flavours of the romances options or lore tidbits.
I know that always keeps my interest alive when the game development takes a while and there no current updates.
Also, tumble searches use only the first five tags I've hear, soemthing to keep in mind.
Ps I hope that doesn't all sound rude, I'm not trying to be. I'd really like you to share your games with a lot more people and those are things I've noticed about my own browsing.
If anything's not clear, I have an awful cold and am not my best currently.
Hello, Sanadi, many thanks for your reply and the link.
And please don't worry about sounding rude - I certainly don't think you did and what you mentioned about the tags is good advice.
I usually use a couple for visual novels/ otome games, but wipwednesday and screenshotsaturday are useful to know and I could probably add more to that as well, like, as you mentioned, the engine etc.
And I certainly agree with you about the visual element on posts. I always try to add something like that, because I think it is much more attention grabbing . It's times like this I really wish I could draw ^_^
"Also, tumblr searches use only the first five tags I've hear, something to keep in mind."
Again, another great piece of information I'd probably not have found out until much later. Thank you.
Well, I hope you cold gets better soon and thanks again for offering your take on things. ^_^
I'm so sorry to hear that! D:
I did buy Heaven's Grave and played it a little. The apocalypse plot is really interesting. I bought it for romance, but stay for the characters (I won't even mind if there isn't any romance at all). What a nice characterization, especially the gods. We perceive god as perfect, majestic, compassionate, and so on so on. But I was surprised to see that the trio were not like that at all. They complained, they were annoying (yes, they were. I nearly punched my laptop every time they complained), they seemed so humane. And I love that. It has been so long since I last played. I wish I can tell you more, but I forgot. I will continue playing it later.
I really love Rose of Segunda too. But I will save my thought for my review in the game's devlog instead. And I'm waiting for the sequel. The game has booked my money, don't worry >,<
You are a great writer, therefore my follow for you in itch.io. I'm so sorry I can't back you in the Kickstarter/Patreon, but I will try sparing a little money I have to help you a bit. I really don't have any knowledge about marketing, but I agree with the people who think it's important. Maybe try to update progress really often here and in tumblr? Actually I don't know how the marketing for indie visual novel works, because usually I just scroll some games in itch.io and just click whatever caught my eyes (usually it's the art). But I never found you until someone recommend your game in a thread. I don't know how this helps, but just giving you my perspective I guess?
Nevertheless, please don't give up and have a future success! And have a little bit of luck as well! I will still follow your works!
Sorry for the late reply - I'm not sure how I missed this.
Thank you for your kind feedback - I'm glad to hear you enjoyed Heaven's Grave and TROS.
Please don't apologise if you can't back the kickstarter. I would never want anyone to do so unless they comfortably could and, of course, wanted to. ^_^
Just knowing I have people's support is great and very heartening.
And thank you for your insights into the marketing. It seems 'word of mouth' still plays a part in people finding my games, so I should look into that side of things, as well.
I won't give up, though a little bit of luck would likely help too! ^_^
Many thanks and all the best
Wow sorry to hear that, I had no idea the studio was having problems. Thank you for being so open. As fans of your work I hope we can give you some ideas. Marketing is definitely important. I'm not much of a social media person myself but I work in a company and know it's vital for the sales. My suggestion is to put your game out in sites like https://www.englishotomegames.net/ me and many other otome fans visit sites like those. Maybe make a tumblr page and a DeviantArt page? You could get word out that way.
As of Kickstarters, I don't really know what people are wary of, I've backed many projects in there and would happily back Bff and thorns of war. As far as rewards go, exclusive wallpaper, digital icons etc. are good rewards for starters. I like the plot of both games, being a fan of high school themed games (Makes me wish I had that romance when I was in high school) and Victorian era themed (I love movies like Pride and prejudice and the way things used to be in that era.)
I've played Heaven's grave. (I won it :D) I liked the game, the writing was amazing! I love the way people talked in those times, you're writing was very time accurate. As of now I've only played Suiza, as that's the type I usually go for. And I enjoyed his route, their banters and relationship and how he developed as a character. My only complaint would be that I didn't feel they had all that many romantic scenes. I don't even remember the protagonist thinking she had feelings for him, I understand the world is ending but it would still be nice to see her even be attracted to him. So it was kind of surprising to hear her say I love you to him after he kissed her at the end(Spoiler oops.) The romance felt rushed at the end, the game focused too much on the plot of the world ending and did not focus on their romance, at least in my opinion. I'm hoping to see more romance on the other games. The romance was also lacking a bit on Rose of Segunda but it was smaller compared to Heaven's grave. I hope it gets expanded on the sequel.
But nevertheless I love all your games! I've played all of your games and will continue playing all the ones to come. I hope you don't give up or postpone BFF or thorns of war, they both seem like good games. Also maybe you should ask other devs on what they do? I'm sure they can give you tips. I'm not a dev so that's all I can tell you as an otome player. But I wish you the best of luck! Don't give up!
Many thanks for your advice and support.
I'm glad to hear you enjoyed the writing in Heaven's Grave overall (Suiza's romance is a lot more low-key than, say, Kien's so if you plan to play one of the other routes, perhaps his could be the one you try.)
I already have a tumblr page, though I likely don't post on there as often as I should, so that is something I can remedy.
And knowing what people look for in Kickstarter rewards is always useful, so I will definitely make note of the ones you've mentioned.
Thanks again and, rest assured, I won't be giving up any time soon ^_^
I actually actively went looking to see if you had a Tumblr page, but since it wasn't linked to on your official website (which is what popped up when I googled the company) or here on Itch, I assumed you didn't. Linking to your social media accounts wherever it makes sense is super helpful for fans!
Oh, I'm so sorry to hear it! You're such an amazing writer and developer and you certainly deserve better than this.
All the things I say below are solely from a player's and supporter's perspective, as I don't know how things work from the other side. But still.
I'm not sure about supporting a Kickstarter (I don't even have an account), but for you I'd certainly try :D I'd also most definitely back TTOW (rooting for Sophie and Bastien here!)
Also I'd definitely join your Patreon (I'm not sure if I'm able to give much more than $1-2 per month condtantly, but if there are many people like me - that's a sum). Also I could suggest putting up a Ko-Fi page, it seems convenient to send small sums there.
Social media presence is also a powerful thing and a great tool to build community (so that there's a convenient place to link people to, to share stuff, to let people exchange opinions, etc - I'm not seeing itch as such a tool, maybe because I'm new here, but still).
I wish I could help more practically, but the social network I'm most versed in is Russian (as I'm from there) and finding Russian people here who are fluent in English and would be able to enjoy English-language VNs is a whole another story (I know they're there, though). I also dabble in targeted ads, but that's in that very same network and not even in Instagram, unfortunately.
I can try and write a post about some of your games (or maybe your studio in general) in a group that shares content about women and girls in games, films, etc. Unfortunately, HG doesn't have FxF romance routes so I'm not sure if I'll be recommending specifically that, but still.
Anyway - I wish you the best luck. And please know we're there with you.
Thank you for your kind words and your advice
Ah, another vote for a TTOW kickstarter - it looks like a survey could be in order.
I've feel there is a good community on itch, but that is probably because I post most of my updates on here. If I put that same focus into other platforms, maybe I can find small pockets of community elsewhere too. ^_^
And I would appreciate anything you could do to spread the word about my games, but please only do so if you feel comfortable with it. Perhaps, if the group's interest is as you say, you could mention BFF or TTOW instead, if a kickstarter does indeed come to pass, since they may be better suited with their GXG routes.
Though, as I said, only if you want to - promotion is my responsibly, after all, and I don't want anyone to feel like they are obligated to do the work for me. Honestly, it is enough just to know I have people's support.
Many thanks again for your well wishes.
Ah, this is unfortunate. : /
Don't really have anything to add that hasn't been said by others already (very good points, too), so I'll just chime in by adding my support for a possible kickstarter. I've been burned by them in the past so I'm wary of backing any; however, given you've released a few VNs already (bought and enjoyed them!), I'd be willing to toss some money your way. The premise for BFF is different enough from the usual setting for me to give it a chance, despite it being years since I was in high school.
... Also, just saying, but I would absolutely give money to a TToW kickstarter if you happen to go that route. More Leopold, please!
Thanks for your kind words and for letting me know you'd be willing to support a Kickstarter, especially since you are (like a lot of people, I think) more wary of them now.
As I mentioned in a previous reply (to leogrl19), a Kickstarter for TTOW is certain something I am considering, and I think it's something I will have to decide over the next week or so as things become clearer.
Many thanks for your support
Well. Now I'm Really Glad I decided to follow you; I likely never would have been Aware of these troubles otherwise. :/ I'm so sorry one of your games isn't Meeting Expectations financially; I Hope you at least gain comfort from those fans who *Did* purchase/Enjoyed it Immensely.
Going to play Devil's Advocate here: A lot of people have mentioned lack of marketing/social media presence -- and I'm sure they're informed. Sadly(or not for some) - that's the world we live in now: social media usage is not only Expected but all but Required for most any type of commercial success. I honestly Hate the idea you can only be successful/profitable by utilizing it -- I just think there are people who either Plain don't Like sm (one of them) or aren't comfortable in utilizing it for exposure. All that to 'say', while ramping up your sm Presence may help, I think you should stick with where you're comfortable. For updates on the game? Sure. SM away. But Beyond posts that link back to methods you're at ease with (itch, blog - etc), 1. I wouldn't religiously follow them and 2. It wouldn't affect my purchase decision. I know as a creative, there's this awful Choice that has to be made with social media regarding your work: How Personal you want it to be. Is it about You or is it about your Craft? Where's the Line? People tend to blur them; at the end of the Day, You have to make that Choice. Decide how Little/how Much you're willing to put out there for hope of a higher fanbase/greater profit. Perhaps the other suggestion of trying to connect with other indie creatives (who know the same struggles) is Best in my mind; to work within and establish yourself in that Strong network. Whether they can give you reviews, tips, endorsements, etc--and you can do the same. But it just makes Sense to me that That's what that Community should be For. For game devs, new and old, to Learn, Talk and be Discovered.
Now, personally: I held no interest in playing Heaven's Grave because there were only male LIs. I don't have anything against GxB romance, but I often find female LIs more mentally stimulating. A lot of male LIs tend to fall flat (for me)/embrace well Established stereotypes [the arrogant one, the cold one, the jerk one, the nerdy one - etc.]. This is no way meant to imply You write male LIs in such a fashion - or even that Heaven's Grave has those types(No way to know on my end since I haven't played); but from what I know of your writing from ROS, I know you're very Dedicated to portraying multi-layered characters -- and that doesn't Stop with romanceable/side characters: Your Main character has Depth as well. As for a Kickstarter - I don't know. Like others, I have little experience with either creating or backing; honestly - I'd just give you money Straight Up. I don't necessarily need a Kickstarter to want to donate. I think providing incentives to specific 'tiers' is cool, but since you're Known to Deliver (without use of kickstarters, no less) I don't see why just getting the Game isn't Incentive Enough. By All Means, do your due diligence and research Successful cases - but a simple way to just provide support/donations would be fine with me.
Since it seems a Big part of your current Following knows/loves Rose, maybe you should Focus on the sequel of one of your most popular games -- For now -- instead of Pooling resources into games with different worlds/little backing? That seem Hit or Miss with quite a few people(several folks not liking the school theme, for example). I know you want a Kickstarter for BFF - and that you wanted HG and BFF to fund ToW, but perhaps if you Do do one, it wouldn't be a bad idea to start with Rose's sequel first. I absolutely Love that you know no Boundaries when it comes to your craft, yet Strategy on What and When to release is just as Important. I know you've utilized polls before -- I think that could Continue to be Effective. Just to have an ear to the ground on what fans are willing to invest in/purchase and Why.
Devil's Advocate aside: I hope this helps in even some small way. And that you don't feel too Discouraged. From what I've read, Heaven's Grave is some of your Best writing -- I'm actually sad it's not my cup. I'm Very Familiar with having to moonlight while trying to live your Dream - but I hope it doesn't come to that for you. Whatever you decide, I'm personally Willing to Help out any way I'm able. All the Love, dear. <3
Many thanks for your support and advice.
I agree that making connections with other VN devs would be a help, but I do think I do need to do more work my social media presence, as well. I'm not going to pretend it comes easily to me, but I think there are aspects of every job that you invariable don't enjoy, and with any luck, the parts you like outweigh them.
Before, I had the marketing strategy (if you can even call it that) of 'if you build it, they will come' and it seemed to work fine for TROS and my previous, smaller titles. But the same is not working for Heaven's Grave for whatever reason, and so I need to change things up. Whether getting my studio more visible through social media will help or not I can't say, I doubt it will hurt.
Yes, I did wonder if it was the fact there are no female LIs in Heaven's Grave that was a factor affect it's performance. It's certainly something to consider for future titles.
And you are not the only one who has suggested doing a TTOW kickstarter instead, since it is most likely the more popular of the two games.
I certainly wouldn't be opposed to the idea, but I do want to do right by those who have been patiently waiting for BFF.
At the moment, unless something significant changes in the next week or so, I will likely do a survey (as I did before with TTOW) and find out who would support either kickstarter, one or the other, or neither and then go from there.
Many thanks again for your kind words and I appreciate the time you took to give feedback on the matter. ^_^
Oh, to be Clear: I'm not saying you shouldn't do social media marketing -- it's obviously Necessary in your particular niche and as you wrote, it can't hurt you at this point. What I'm more so suggesting is to be cognizant of how you approach it. Step up your game(punny)if you believe it's necessary; but I'd also make sure to research given your general audience and those you'd like to target in the future. For example, I run an artist studio and out of ALL the sm options out there, FB is most effective for getting sales and beats other sm sites by Miles. As a small team, wield your energy wisely. Go for the sm sites that will give you the most proverbial 'Bang for you buck'; ask/see what other devs are using that's effective. But also figure out your 'Lines'.
As for Heaven's Grave being GxB only - I mean you're Always going to Limit when you restrict romance options -- but there's a HUGE GxB otome base out there so I don't think that was a major setback. I also believe you mentioned something about an all GxG(which I would support the HECK out of)you had in mind; as long as you provide a fair amount of all options in your games, I don't see an issue.
It's Absolutely Fair that you want to get BFF out for those who've waited; yet I'm worried(as I'm sure you are) you may end up having another HG situation on your hands. A Kickstarter may help - but there seems to be a lot of distrust there. Since ToW is a sequel - at the Very Least you're not starting completely Fresh: You have a Dedicated fanbase (who all have their respective baes) that have already enjoyed RoS and are Very willing to see the Continuation of their adventures. From a Risk standpoint, it's a Lot lower than BFF--given your financial situation. Again - I think a poll/survey is the way to go (to Start) and I hope it gives some valuable insight. Then you can see where the winds are blowing. (If BFF fans are willing to wait if it means getting ToW sooner, etc.)
Ah, okay. Sorry if I misunderstood. And good advice about tailor social media methods/sites depending on the audience.
Yes, I think I am leaning more and more towards a survey to determine which course would be the most well-received.
It's doesn't guarantee either game will be funded, of course, but if I am going to run a kickstarter, especially now when faith in the platform has been somewhat tarnished, I will need to go with the option that has the best chance of success.
Very sad to read this. I wish I could offer advice, but I don't really have any knowledge to help with this. I can only say I would certainly back you on Kickstarter and on Patroen. I would be very disappointed if this game did not see the light of day or the pitch of night.
Ah, thanks, Ollie4, and please don't be sad. I imagine the game will come out eventually, it's more a case of having to cover my losses, one way or another, before that can happen. ^_^
And thank you, too, for your support.
Hey there! I have to agree with everyone else here that marketing is a big issue. I am constantly on the prowl for otome games or similar, so I found Heaven's Grave on itch.io pretty quick. But on the otome social media groups I follow, there was radio silence. Your games are well-written and a great price. They deserve to be doing well imo, so hearing they're not is a real shame. Another person you can ask to do a review (of either the demo or the game) is https://blerdyotome.com/. They're fairly active and have pretty reasonable reviews.
I understand the lack of media presence. I'm not very into social media myself, so I get your reasons. Unfortunately when it comes to commercial games, social media is life blood. Especially in this environment. I've been into otome games for a long time (15 years give or take) and there's been a huge shift in content between then and now. A lot of indies are interested in doing VNs now. And while the audience has certainly grown, I feel the market has outpaced it. If you do a kickstarter, please do this-check when other otome-like games are running theirs. I've seen promising kickstarters fail not because they were bad necessarily, but because multiple otome games were running at the same time. People with limited money are forced to pick and choose between games they may have supported at another time.
Kickstarter in general has also shifted...I've been supporting otome games for a long time (will support yours when/if you do it) and I feel people used to support more in the past. This was partly due to the lack of any otome games whatsoever, but also because Kickstarter was brand new, and had people's trust. However, people using it to scam others out of their money, never delivering what they promised, or giving out refunds, has shattered that trust. People are very wary now. I hate telling you this because I don't think there is much you can do about the current state of affairs, but I think the one thing you can do is talk about your previous games. If you do the Best Friends Forever kickstarter, link your other finished games, talk about them, show potential backers you have delivered in the past. That gamedev isn't a new field for you-you're reliable. It's great press not only for BFF, but your past works as well. Oh, and of course, have a demo. I can't remember where at the moment, but there was a survey/study people did that showed kickstarters with demos did a lot better than those that did not.
Another option I've noticed some indie VN devs do is Patreon. I believe Royal Alchemist does it as well as Fablesoft. I don't think this will get you a lot of money, but any is better than none.
As you are alone, you need to add marketing into your work time. Marketing and word of mouth takes time and that needs to be added into your game release estimate. If you Kickstart, be fairly active in updating your funders-monthly would be ideal. Even if you don't feel like you have any updates to give. People just want communication. If it helps, make a little percentage progress graphic with things like writing, editing, backgrounds, etc. Even if you don't have a lot of progress to report, just seeing the writing bar change from 55% to 60% helps both you and the backers realize work got done.
Another Kickstarter suggestion is to mix up the pricing of your tiers. Do not be afraid to have a couple really big, costly tiers ($200+) with a lot of smaller ones. I've seen Kickstarters where the max cost tier was $ 60. The Kickstarter would then fail because people would refuse to give more. There are big funders out there, but they won't give more unless there is a clearly stated option to. They must feel like they're getting their money's worth even if in reality, the product to cost ratio is much more favorable to you (like an extra character they designed getting added to the game, with all the other previous tiers rewards). If you say a tier reward is $60, it's $60 dollars. That's it's declared value. Some kind backers may give up to $75, maybe even $80 for it, but beyond that? People's lizard brains kick in. They get stingy. They start to realize how much they're actually giving and rationalize that it's not worth it.
Have 1 dollar tiers! A lot of people use 1 dollar tiers as little reminders to update their pledge, and again, some money is better than none. Usually these tiers are thank you notes or names in the credits...Basically, just have a lot of tier options. The more, the better. Some people may want an artbook but not key chains, or two itch.io keys instead of one, etc.
As someone else said on here, talk/follow other VN devs. I can't say if there are deeper issues, as I am not a game dev, but on the surface at least, VN game devs really want to help each other. Over time they post snippets of their own financial situations, of what helped them and what didn't, game resources, advice for fellow indies, etc. One such person I'd follow is Winter Wolves dev. They are very honest about what works for them and what doesn't, have info on the ins and outs of Steam (lemme just say-your failure on Steam is likely not your fault, the algorithm has changed and fucked with A LOT of indies sales, even more prominent ones), and have been here since the beginning of the VN scene. While I wouldn't take all their advice as gospel (we have different definitions of what good writing is, haha) they are a font of knowledge on the business side of game dev. Check out all their social media, such as their wordpress too.
Further, tap into their playerbase! Host other people's indie games on your site! Have them host your game on theirs! Encourage each other. Having a central "hub" outside of itch.io would help with that and marketing.
I'm sure I have more advice to give, but my brain's blank at the moment. If I remember anything further, I'll drop it in. I hope you were able to find this useful.
Thank you for the detailed response and your support - the things you mentioned with regards to Kickstarter and other devs I found especially useful.
I messaged Blerdy Otome this morning, so I'm looking forward to seeing if Heaven's Grave is a game they would be interested in.
The tips you gave for the Kickstarter campaign - particularly on having many tiers, 1$ tiers, and the more-expensive tiers - were definitely mistakes I could see myself making before, so thank you.
The way you explained the more-expensive tiers makes perfect sense, but I never would have looked at it like and would have likely avoided very expensive tiers before as asking for that much makes me feel a little (possibly irrationally) uncomfortable.
And I'll certainly check out Winter Wolves and the other devs social medias, as well.
Many thanks for your advice - I really do appreciate you taking the time out of your day to offer your thoughts.
I really can't rec Winter Wolves enough-even if, for some reason, you can't follow them, they're a very good gateway to other indie dev studios. Just by going on their twitter page has twitter recommending me other indie devs to follow. Which leads to more once you follow those devs, and so on and so forth.
Crescent made a good point on the 1 dollar tiers, just want to point it out to you as I'm not sure how itch.io threading notifications work. Don't want you to miss it.
As to feeling uncomfortable/irrational about asking for more expensive tiers, don't feel bad about it. That just means you have a strong moral center. Business is...fraught with ethical questions to say the least. Stores put milk in the back so the customer walks past all their other products and gets tempted. Is that wrong? You'll get many different opinions on that. But like. You're just trying to make a living, not get super rich, so. Honestly, just value yourself and your work. You make excellent games, you put a lot of hard work into them. The relationship you have with backers is much more equal than you think it to be.
Here's some kickstarters I thought you'd might want to take inspiration from. Some have delivered, and others not, but either way, how they set-up their kickstarter got their project funded. I'll note which ones have delivered and which haven't, as that may factor in which you choose to look at.
https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/argentgames/red-embrace-hollywooda-vampire-visual-novel/description - a pretty recently done kickstarter, they have delivered. Notable in that a lot of their tiers seem to be digital focused.
https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/896740058/wishes-in-pen-chrysanthemums-in-august-otome-visua/description - I believe this was run sometime last year, haven't delivered yet. You can take inspiration from the tiers, but honestly I think their whole "About Campaign" section is what really shines.
https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/2046671315/dead-wishes-a-visual-novel/description - Delivered. I find the "designing/adding to a background" to be a noticeable digital reward.
https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/steamberrystudio/changeling-gxb-mystery-romance-visual-novel/description - Delivered. Most of the tier rewards are digital based.
https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/traumendesmadchen/chronotopia-a-dark-fairytale-visual-novel/description - Not delivered, but pretty close to completion. Overall kickstarter and tiers are good to look at for inspiration, overall.
https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/490618601/queens-crown/description - Ahahaha damn this one hurts to post but. Anyway, likely never getting delivered, but regardless I still think the kickstarter overall is pretty good inspiration,
https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/329540171/seven-kingdoms-the-princess-problem/description - Very close to completion. Of interest to you is the tiers, a lot of which promises character scenes as rewards.
Lastly...don't overwhelmed! There's a lot here I linked you to but you don't have to follow to the letter. The above kickstarters are just suggestions for what you want to do and offer. I will keep trying to help so long as you keep wanting it. Best of luck to you!
Yes, I would have likely missed crescentblade's reply if you hadn't mentioned it, as itch didn't notify me, so thanks to you both.
And thank you, as well, for all the links. I was planning to have a look around and see how other people are doing things before I began, so you've really help me there - especially with the comments you've given on which parts you believe deserve the focus - so many thanks for that.
With the advice I'm getting from everyone here (thank you all!), with regards to tiers and rewards, I'm beginning to get a good idea of what kind of things are going to help make for a successful kickstarter if it comes to that.
Thanks again for the help you have provided so far - whatever happens, I can say have I been truly touched by the understanding and kindness show by everyone here. ^_^
Yeeeessss those cute little $1-5 tiers can help pull people back in if the project is close to being backed but isn't near to the dead-line. Giving small little increments that people can go up from with a small reward can really make the difference on pushing over the edge or not.
I have personally seen people throw down for a $100-200 tier if it included something very meaningful like having a character in the game with a personality they could choose or the appearance of a character that they could influence. Which I personally think is nuts but there are totally those kind of people out there lol.
Yes, I'd seen those design a character type tiers as well and thought they could be one I could use, so I'm glad to see someone else thinks it could work, as well.
My games tend to have large casts anyway, so it wouldn't feel like they were just being shoehorned in to fulfil the reward. It could actually be quite interesting to see what characters people come up with and then fit them into the game. ^_^
Beware incoming wall of text. I had a lot of feelings about this.
Oh man, I am so sorry to hear this. I'm sorry I haven't left a comment before, but I tend to be a lurker more than a participator in discussions, but I felt like I needed to comment on this. I just want to say that I love your work. I've bought and played all of your games, both free and commercial. And I've loved all of them. I first found your games when I was scrolling through the romance tag on itch.io
because I'm desperate for some otomes, I think I've already read all the good ones and came across The Rose of Segunda. I absolutely loved it. The art is beautiful (as it is for all your games) and the story and writing are great. Loved the setting regency era is always good and the romances were well put together Leopold is bae, he's so badass and hot, and gotta love a tragic backstory, despite the general shortness of the game and the somewhat choppiness of the events; I think it worked for that setting, and it didn't detract from the goodness of the game for me, especially when it was free. I was actually shocked to see a game of TROS's quality be free; I know I've definitely paid for games of lower quality. I was definitely excited for the sequel and I'm gonna be sad if you're unable to complete it. :( I need more Leopold in my life
After I read TROS, I made sure to look up other games that you made, since I liked your writing, and I saw that you had only the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea released at that time. I saw that it was commercial, but that didn't stop me; I had faith in your writing at this point. So I bought it, and oh boy, it's seriously one of my favorite games. There's just something about it. I know it's kinda short, but the way it was written really flows and it feels less choppy than TROS, which works for this setting. Speaking of the setting
aliens? let's go with aliens, I think that might be one of the reasons I love it so much. It's just so interesting, and I believe that this otome is the only one with a setting like this one (at least that I've heard of, and I've played a lot I have no life). I also really like the characters, and their romances. There may not have been a lot of characters, but I feel like that just made them all the more fleshed out Karl is bae, I love jerks with a heart of gold. I seriously love this game and come back to replay it at least every few months.
After that game, I made sure to make your itch.io page one of the ones that I frequently come back to keep rechecking a few times a month. I saw your works-in-progress Heaven's Grave and Best Friends Forever, and I was seriously super excited. Quality, affordable otomes that actually get completed and released on a timely bases are kinda hard to come by these days, at least it feels like that to me, so I've been waiting on those games with bated breath. As soon as HG came out, I made sure to buy it and play it. And oh boy, I think you broke me with that game. Holy crap, what a game. It's seriously your best piece of work yet, no joke. The writing and story is amazing, and the setting is really interesting (I love Japanese-inspired stories
totally not a weeaboo). I'm seriously appalled that this game hasn't done better, it's a travesty. Everyone should play this game. It made me have so many feelings. I was immediately invested in the story, and man, I totally cried multiple times, this game seriously made me so emotional. It's so deep and meaningful, but also so heavy and depressing, not that that's a bad thing. However, if I had to speculate on why this one might not be selling as well (besides your lack of social media presence), I wonder if the very heavy and sometimes downright depressing setting might be a reason? I hope that's not it, because I feel like it's really a deep and meaningful story ( I feel kinda repetitive, synonyms are hard) that's definitely worth reading. And the characters! Oh man, you know it's good when I can't pick which is my favorite. I like them all for different reasons. They each have good and bad qualities, and each have good character development throughout the story. There were things about each of them that really made me like them and made them feel really fleshed out and real. And the events of the story itself, wow. I kinda feel like it's one of those stories that I won't be able to replay as often as the other games due to just how heavy the plot is, but it's totally worth it to play through all the routes at least once.
As for BFF, I've honestly been looking forward to this game even more than HG. I'm honestly shocked that more people don't seem interested in the setting. I'm definitely too old to still be school age, but that doesn't turn me off the game at all. I actually don't mind games with a school setting, as that's usually only a part of the setting anyway. Like for BFF, it may be set in a school, but what I really find interesting about the setting and plot is the fact that the MC just straight up dies in the beginning, and you play the game as a ghost with other ghost companions (Switch seems like he might be my favorite, but I also like Lance too). But then it doesn't even stop there, because you can plan out the life of your ghost MC's still-living BFF. So while the fact that they happen to be in a school may have been done before, I feel like the rest of the plot hasn't really been done in most other otomes I can think of. I'm sad that it looks like people aren't looking past the school setting to see what potential this game really has. I'll be really super sad if you're unable to finish it. Like, really sad. :(
As for the kickstarter, I've never really done that before, as it's typically been my policy to never put any money into a game that isn't already finished, since it's so hard to tell if the game will actually get completed when it comes to indie devs. But recently, I actually pre-ordered an otome from a dev that I'm really looking forward to and trust, and I feel like I can trust you too. And believe me, I'm definitely looking forward to BFF. So I definitely wouldn't mind supporting your kickstarter. I don't know that I can afford to offer much money right now, probably no more than $25, as that looks like that equates to about £20. And honestly, I don't really care much about the rewards that would get me, as I'm only really doing it to support you so that you'll be able to finish the game.
As for getting better sales, I've already mentioned earlier (as have almost everyone else it seems) that you should try to have more of a presence on social media. Like maybe a tumblr devlog, or a discord channel for your games. It doesn't always have to be an major update about specific progress in the game; sometimes occasional little things about the game/characters/plot could keep the game relevant and draw more people in, especially if they feel like they were there with you in the writing process and watched it grow from the ground up. Even just posting about your life, or about your thoughts that day, or how you were feeling as you were writing. Things like that could get people more interested in not just your game, but in you as a developer. It could endear you more to the readers and make them more invested in you and your projects.
Anyways, sorry for the book I just wrote. I hope that I've helped you in some way, but at the very least I hope you know how much I've loved your games and how much I've been looking forward to more from you. And how sad I'll be if you're unable to finish them. Sending you my love~! <3
Thank you for the 'wall of text' and your support. ^_^
It was lovely to hear you've enjoyed all the games you've played so far. Please don't worry about not usually leaving comments - I know it's not for everyone.
And I'm grateful you'd trust me enough to support a Kickstarter campaign against your usual policy. Even if nothing more comes of this, it is heartening to know that people believe in the studio and know we would deliver on what we promise.
And you raise an interesting point about posting more about myself on social media. I tend to keep anything I put up quite games focused, but I wonder if I should relax that a little and talk about myself a bit more. If anyone else has any thoughts on this, I'd love to hear them.
Many thanks for getting in touch and all the best.
I read through the posts and I have to agree I think marketing is a big weakness. I'm pretty sure the only reason I found you and your games was by doing a search for Otome games and checking out Rose. I snagged HG as soon as the pre-orders opened but I haven't bought any of your other games.
I will absolutely be buying the second Rose game and if you ran a kickstarter I'd also get this one. I'm not fascinated by the story, school settings feel done to death & I'm in my 30's so it's getting harder and harder to connect with characters in them. However, I like supporting Otomes in general, the concept is unique, and you've proven yourself as a good writer to me so I'll spare money on something I'm not sure if I'll enjoy or not.
If not many reviewers got back to you maybe try reaching out to some other VN devs? The community seems pretty tight even if they won't promote they might give advice themselves. I can't comment much because I'm the only person I know that doesn't have any social media accounts. I technically have a Tumblr but I only check it once every two or three months. I do use Discord but I'm not sure that falls into a social media category or not.
On top of Kickstarter I support a few artists on Patreon but I'm not sure how well that would work. I only support artists I already know/like and essentially I only buy them a cup of coffee once a month. I never get physical KS items, just the game and maybe artbook/making of/lore or name in credits only. KS can be good for publicity, even if it doesn't succeed it might draw eyes to the rest of your work and help the liquidity issue.
I'll typically lay down something between $5-30 for a non-guaranteed item depending on my level of interest. For a few examples I backed A Foretold Affair at $25, Zodiac-Axis at $20, Boyfriend Dungeon at $50 (embarassing now that I look at it), Royal Alchemist at $25... Better references, they have school settings: Band Camp Boyfriend I only pledged $10 and Reimei no Gakuen I only put down £22. The most I put in on any KS was $65 for Crossroads Inn and I -REALLY- wanted that game.
The prices for the content I got for both games felt fair, I don't recommend discounting further. (OK I'm 30 plus minutes in to writing this, initiating full stop.)
Thanks for the advice there. Talking to other VN devs is something I probably wouldn't have considered.
And I appreciate the details you gave on your levels of support - that at least gives me a good idea of the tiers I should be thinking about if this goes ahead.
I'm glad that you feel the games are currently priced fairly, though I suppose that one is always going to be subjective. ^_^
Many thanks for taking the time to let me know your thoughts
Oof, this got long, sorry about that.
Man, I first found you when someone posted TROS's demo in the otome thread on the ChoiceofGames forum, and I've downloaded and loved every game you've published. Hearing that Heaven's Grave isn't doing well is incredibly disheartening. I teared up multiple times while playing---something that I rarely do---and thought it had some of the strongest, most complex writing you've done so far.
IMO, it's not the price of HG that is affecting sales---$15-20 USD is fairly standard for indie otome I've seen and a godsend when you can't afford $30-60 commercial games---nor is it the art, which may not be commercial-game quality but is very clean and pretty, or the story since fantasy otome always seem to be popular. Like another commenter has said, it's most likely the promotion of the game. I don't recall seeing your games promoted (much) by the otome blogs/twitters I follow, and it might have taken longer for me to find you if not for the COG forum. I definitely think that for future games, you should try to increase your social media presence and post frequency and then ask prominent otome/VN blogs to reblog/follow you.
Moving on to BFF, I've never supported games on Kickstarter, even if it's a game I'm excited for or a creator I really like, usually because the predicted release of the game is too far away for me to feel confident that they'll deliver and/or it's their first big game. However, you pump out quality games fairly quickly for such a small studio and keep in constant communication with players, providing regular updates and replying to all comments. Because of that, I have a lot of faith and trust in you as a fan and would be perfectly comfortable supporting BFF on Kickstarter, even though I'm much more of a fantasy/historical-fiction kind of person. For tier rewards, if you don't want physical items, you could do things like backer-exclusive DLC (which I would be happy to pay for), custom messages from a chosen love interest, backer-exclusive art, custom written scenarios chosen by the backer, access to the beta, digital art books with concept sketches and dev notes... And not sure if this would be possible, but maybe you could offer artbooks/rewards from your previous games? I, for one, would love to hear more about the worlds of TROS and HG.
Going back to when I mentioned ChoiceofGames, I don't know if you've explored the forum at all but have you considered using Choicescript to tell your stories? As a CYOA, you wouldn't need art (but can include some if wanted), music, or GUI, although it would need more writing to make up for the lack of visuals and the most I've seen a Choicescript game charge for is $5-7 USD for a 150,000-300,000 word game, which COG's publishing company Hosted Games takes a cut of. But COG does provide a forum for users to post their WIPs and get exposure and feedback, and also will promote the games they receive for publishing. I've seen people who've turned their VNs into CYOA and vice-versa, but it's not the right format for everyone; I just wanted to recommend you look into it if you ever need to.
In any case, thank you for your hard work and I hope everything works out well for you and BFF, I'll be supporting you no matter what!
"Oof, this got long, sorry about that."
Long is great (er... O_o) and I appreciate any advice people are willing to give.
Hmm, another mention of social media presence / promotion. Perhaps this is the sticking point for Heaven's Grave (and I know any Kickstarter will rely on this too).
I have contacted a few of the otome blogs/sites - Otomesweetheart has very kindly agreed to do a review of Heaven's Grave when they have a moment https://otomesweetheart.tumblr.com
I've had less luck with the others I messaged so far (it's very early days yet ), but it's not like they owe me anything so I'm not complaining. I'm less sure about twitter since I don't have any sort of presence there.
And thank you for your support with regards to a potential Kickstarter and your suggestions of rewards - I'm not sure about art books considering I don't produce the art myself and the games are already finished, but I could certainly offer more backstory/world information if it will draw interest.
Actually a move to Choicescript was one of my long term considerations if I couldn't make the visual novel venture cover its costs. Makes sense after all - in situations like this, you either have to increase sales or reduce costs. ^_^
I'm really sorry to hear that! I loved Rose of Segunda and the only reason I haven't played my copy of Heaven's Grave yet is because I'm burnt out on VNs and needed a break to play something more traditionally game-y.
Thank you for being open about the situation, down to the finances. I think that kind of openness actually really helps fans realize how much support is needed, rather than pretending everything is a-okay and then suddenly folding with no warning. This is going to be quite a long response, but I hope you find some of it helpful.
General thoughts on Kickstarter: make sure you know what you're getting into when it comes to being able to deliver the rewards you've promised. I've heard lots of stories of people promising posters or something without realizing how much work they'd need to put into organizing, printing and shipping. Also think about the extra expenses you'll be racking up, e.g. money for a good trailer if you aren't making it yourself, the Kickstarter fees.
That said, lots of indie devs rely on Kickstarter to basically pre-sell copies of their games and gauge interest! You wouldn't be alone there, and if you only need a small amount, there's no reason not to ask for it. I'm actually impressed you never Kickstarted any of your previous games.
Kickstarters also double as a way of advertising your games, and I'd say an affordable otome that shows promise, especially if you emphasize that you're an experienced dev that's delivered previous titles without any issues before, could do pretty well.
Ask for more money than you need, because some people are not going to pay up when it's successful. Have both a good trailer and an obvious link to the demo for people to give a whirl. Advertise shamelessly on every possible avenue. Post links to subreddits like /r/otomegames and stay active in the threads. Steal quotes from some of the more effusive reviews to show how much people love your work in the trailer. Whatever it takes.
Kickstarter Rewards: I back Kickstarters regularly. The two reward tiers I go for in games are wallpaper packs, generally ~$5, and digital copies of the game, generally ~$10-15. In your case, BFF has solid art (the best of your games, I think!), but not spectacular, so I probably wouldn't buy the wallpaper tier. (I usually go straight for a digital copy for projects I'm excited about anyway, which I would in this case.)
I'm also more likely to support right away when there's an "early bird" tier for digital copies, where you get a discount if you're within the first X number of people to support that tier.
I know other games usually offer stickers, keychains, posters, etc., but since I don't buy those I'll let others chime in with what they'd want. What I would totally pay extra for is additional backer-only story content of some kind, using the same assets you already have. It would have to be a bonus, rather than gating away main story content, obviously. Maybe epilogues a few years into the future for each route (only if you don't intend to include those as endings already), or bonus scenes that backers get to vote on to choose, e.g. a scene from an AU where the accident never happened. Alternatively, you could use those as stretch goals.
Thoughts on Heaven's Grave: I can think of a handful of reasons why it wouldn't be selling well. One is price—at $17 CAD, you're competing with commercial VNs like WILL: A Wonderful World. That said, I don't want to encourage indie devs to devalue their labour, especially when Heaven's Grave has such a high wordcount.
It might also help to upload the demo to Steam, if you haven't already!
Many thanks for your detailed response, I appreciate you taking the time to give advice.
I'm glad you think the openness is helpful - I was worried it would just come across as entitled and whiny.
And I've made note of all the points you raised for the Kickstarter campaign. Ideally, I won't be offering any rewards that need to be shipped physically (no Mr Gaspard body pillows - sorry) and my initial thoughts were for rewards like extra game content, either within the game or in emails etc.
Basically anything that would cost me time, but not much else since I don't want to increase my funding goal any more than I have to.
And thanks for mentioning that some people don't pay what they've pledged. I have heard of more than a couple of Kickstarters that didn't deliver on what was promised, but I didn't know it could work the other way as well.
Hmm, yes, the pricing of Heaven's Grave was a concern of mine.
I tried to see if the price was the cause of the low sales by running a couple of discounts both here and on Steam, but sales didn't appear to improve much so I wondered if it was the premise that was putting people off, or the writing, art or something else.
Perhaps it's a combination of things including the price. It's certainly something to look at in future (and the only thing I can affect now the game is released, ^_^)
Anyway, thank you again for your insight - at least, I've a better idea of things going forward whatever path I end up taking.
I'm glad you found it helpful!
It would be unusual to do a Kickstarter with no physical rewards. But if that's the case, maybe check out The Masquerade Killer's campaign, which I believe used 100% digital rewards: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1022740540/the-masquerade-killer
You could also consider bundling your completed games together and offering them as a tier!
WARNING LONG AND RAMBLY ALSO UPDATED WITH A FEW NEW PARAGRAPHS TOWARDS THE MIDDLE so if you read it before seeing this warning you might want to skim down to revisit my new thoughts lol, sorry I thought of stuff to add.
You are perhaps the only studio in the world (besides my best friend who is also a VN dev) who I'd ever even consider backing on kickstarter, I just don't trust it at all. That said, while I loved Heaven's Grave (and left a steam review detailing why so I won't ramble on here.), I really was honestly planning on skipping playing BFF (the first of your studio's commercial games I wasn't planning on playing at all actually, I haven't done homecoming either for what will soon become obvious momentarily) precisely because of what you detailed here, it's a school setting and I'm 23 years old so I don't really play those kinds of games any more.
If you do decide to kickstart it then I would probably get a lower tier just because I want to support you (I've LOVED DDBS TROS HG and so desperately can't wait to see what other ideas you come up with), that said, I think you're right to be cautious. Idk, I guess overall I'm saying that I personally don't think school range otomes have as much clout with the general demographic who can afford to back in the first place.
As for rewards... Well. Nothing really jumps out at me, like I said I've only backed my friend before and if I back you it will still be more out of just wanting to support rather than any particular reward. Also I have a specific budget so you unfortunately wouldn't be able to tempt me into a higher tier at this time.
That said, KS is like the other reviewer said free advertising, and a way to guage interest without putting everything on the line, I'm surprised you've never done it before and still been so successful!
Also I'm gonna be honest, I don't remember how the heck I found you and that may be an contributing factor as to why you're not getting so much attention. I don't think I ever see you on tumblr (except the rare release post) or twitter and idk, I wonder if you're not getting as much of a following as you could be if you utilized those tools and did more advertising. Sorry if that was totally unsolicited, I may not even know what I'm talking about, maybe I'm following old accounts or something but I figured I'd throw it out there...
SORRY I DON'T KNOW IF THAT MADE ANY SENSE OR ANYTHING but those are just my thoughts. I really hope HG turns around, it might possibly be my favorite one to date even considering the fact that TROS had two advantages over it a: royal court setting and b: childhood friend LI, it was just that good. I just feel like you can really see your improvement as you've gotten more comfortable with the VN scene. Especially in pacing.
Whatever you decide, know that I 100% support doing what's best for you, you've given us some great games already and it's important you take care of yourself.
Thank you for taking the time to give your thoughts - long and rambly is always welcome. ^_^
I completely understand the general distrust of Kickstarter - I think too many people have been burned by it now - so I am grateful to hear you'd consider backing this one. Especially so, since it seems you're really not interested in the actual game.
I'm never really sure how to reply to it when I hear about the seemingly common dislike of games set in school.
I'd honestly never heard about it when I began the game - BFF was actually the first game I began to properly work on (what feels like a lifetime ago). Perhaps I missed it at the time, or perhaps the dislike came afterwards.
Can I ask (and you certainly don't have to answer) have you played the demo?
I'm not trying to convince you to, if you haven't. I'm more trying to see if the problem I am having is the way I am marketing/presenting the game or the game itself.
Yes, the social media presence. I have to hold my hands up and admit I am terrible at this. It's not like I don't know it needs to be done, more that... I just feel like I'm wasting people's time if I'm not posting something significant.
Perhaps that is something I can do more research into and try to get my presence a little more well-known - I'll certainly have to if I expect to get a Kickstarter campaign anywhere.
Anyway, thanks, as always, for your continued support.
I haven't played the demo, but I'm willing to give it a shot and report back! I just, as a general rule, don't tend to be attracted to the kind of character arcs and stories that go hand in hand with school games.
Don't get me wrong, I used to play them (my candy love comes to mind during my high school days), but I found my patience for certain tropes and stories running shorter as I got older so I stopped touching them, even in college setting sims. Also honestly I just feel... icky, dating ( fictionally) anyone under 18/19 at this point, even if the MC is of a similar age. I know it's irrational, but I've found it's just something that I personally struggle with now that I'm heading towards my mid 20s and would never, ever, date someone even below 20 in real life.
I don't know what to say on the social media presence (I'm not a creator so not familiar with the particular challenges that would be there unfortunately), except I don't think any update is a waste of time. I love hearing what's been going on, even if it's just that a scene got written or that you have a cropped background to share or something. It keeps me excited and in the forefront of my brain.
Regardless of what you do, I will absolutely check out the demo now because I realize my blanket ban is kind of unfair, especially since I've liked your other work so much. I'll also keep an eye out for news of the KS if you do one, I'd at the very least get a game tier, whatever that would be at.
Chiming in yet again to agree that social media presence is extremely important for any indie studio to be successful, even if it's just having a personal Tumblr or Twitter account people can follow where you also occasionally post news about the game. Aside from letting people find your work and giving fans a place they can interact with you, it makes the studio look more legit.
And you definitely don't have to update people on the game when you post! You can talk about other people's games, write about general developer stuff, drop little snippets about the characters, whatever.
Good point! Just little blurbs work too, or talking about other stuff, the main thing is just connecting with people. Which... I don't really know how to do, but yeah basically I agree with this person. Also tumblr is great because if you feel up for it you can have asks which is a good way to share more info about the characters and stuff and build a bond/seem responsive to the community.
And I've reached my limit for advice, I know nothing, just what I've picked up from my friend on her own journey :')
Well, it would certainly be useful to me to hear your opinion about the demo - clearly the presentation of the game at the moment makes people think a certain way about it, and if I can get your opinion as to whether your assumptions going in were accurate or off-base, it would give me a clear indication of whether I need to change the way I'm marketing it, or leave it as it is.
That said, I really don't want you to feel gross, so please don't force yourself - your advice and support has been more than enough.
I'm trying at the moment to draw together ideas for social media posts I can make - I have Tumblr / facebook / lemmasoft accounts already, though no twitter as yet.
Someone suggested to me privately 'character profiles' are popular, as well as the usual progress updates, and I might speak to the game artist and see if I can purchase a few more sketches from her.
AGH one last thing I want to clarify, because I realize now that I may have worded it badly. I don't think you're icky or writing school romance or other people enjoying it (regardless of their age), I just battle with OCD and one of my obsessions is an intense fear of accidentally taking advantage of someone or ruining their life and I find that's something that triggers it because for a little while I 'am' the character, but I'm still me? So I'm 23 but it feels like I'm preying on someone underage yeah. BUT YEAH. SORRY I didn't think of my wording as being so rude when I wrote it and that it probably needed context. Also I worry a lot with being misunderstood and tend to over explain so sorry if this was totally unneeded lol.
And yes character profiles are always popular! Help people know more what kind of characters there are and if there's one in particular that grabs their interest they may be more likely to buy the game.
For some positive news one thing I do want to mention that I LOVE that you do is those little sketches you have for updates. They're so cute!! And really, I do love your writing, I've noticed your games getting longer as time goes on and I'll admit that makes me happy because it means I get more time with your games!
Anyway, good luck! I promise I won't make you listen to anymore long winded comments until later. Have a good day and good luck!
OH SORRY ONE LAST THING. Someone else mentioned patreon, I'd totally support you there too if you went that route. Tragically I can't be a super rich donor, but I'd definitely grab a $5 or $10 tier!
Please don't worry. I can't speak for anyone else, but I certainly didn't read it that way and I wasn't offended in the slightest. I do understand where you're coming from - Ken from Persona 3 gave me similar feelings.
And I'm glad you like the sketches - I think the artist, ayachin, does a lovely job of really bringing the characters to life.
Thank you for your continued support - I may consider Patreon if other courses fail, though I am not sure how it would work rewarding people when I make games (since it is such a long time between outputs) and I would not like being sponsored for 'nothing' as it were, though perhaps there is something in the way it works that I am missing - I confess it is probably the avenue I know the least about right now. ^_^