I feel I need to clarify some things as I'm afraid the conclusion may not have come across as intended. I did not mean to suggest that you were making games to make a quick buck but rather was trying to imply that the focus of your games feels like it's shifting away from telling a compelling story with strongly-defined characters to games where the characters lack definition and bleed into each other and the story takes second stage to gameplay concepts like open world and isometric maps. It also feels sometimes like you're trying too hard to make sure that everybody will be happy that you don't take any risks with the characters and let them actually take a stand, but instead they settle in to a kind of default, anodyne state so that someone won't object to the character. It's like we want the characterization to be as loud as Sylrissa but instead we get Elenor at the start of Loren, too afraid to speak her own mind even when Loren is in trouble. We definitely bear witness to the effort that goes into making the games and enjoy seeing them develop, but it feels like the time and effort goes more into the visual aspect of the game and the novel ends up lacking. That perhaps instead of polishing the characters and the story structure instead the UI is polished and some gameplay element is fine tuned. As someone who has been playing visual novels since before Ren'py was even a twinkle in pytom's eye, I have fallen in love with various characters and come to hate other characters for what they have done and have stayed up late into the night because I simply could not wait until morning to see what was going to happen next. Even if you decry the writing in Heileen, those characters were well-defined, you could tell who was talking without needing to see the image on screen or the nametag because they each spoke with their own voice (and occasionally with an accent as well). Even if the elements could be a bit goofy at times we relished that goofiness and waited eagerly for what zaniness would come next. To put it another way, if you play Cursed Lands, it feels more like you're reading Jariel's diary rather than experiencing it yourself (and what would Seasons of the Wolf have been like if we simply started out with Jariel's diary and never saw any more). You're told what's happening but it doesn't really feel like you're part of the scene and it doesn't really matter anyway because every person who talks sounds just like Jariel. Take, for example, the scene where you help with the assassination. Nowhere do we really feel anything from lasagna; it's just something that happens and oh yeah I suppose we could go kill that person, oh yeah let's kill that boy too, even if he's innocent, he's a witness and I haven't had my morning cup of coffee yet. Or how we simply left Galan rotting in a prison for what felt like weeks when we thought he was going to be executed but nobody cares until hey the timer says we should go pick him up, hope he's still alive. The point is that the writing and the characters have taken a back seat to the gameplay which makes me feel like I'm role-playing a crazy person. Yes, the older games certainly didn't have the odds and ends that you've learned how to do in Ren'py as you've continued to grow as a developer and as you move in the lifecycle of a game from copying and pasting into early builds elements from previous games on to new features that are unique to this particular game and I personally applaud and respect that; it's wonderful that you get better and better in those regards. It's just that it feels like they have taken your focus and attention away from what really is the core of a visual novel or RPG: the characters and the story. Having a well-polished game with unique gameplay not found in other Ren'py games can make the game stand out and can help with sales and there are many, many people who would buy and play through these games for that alone (like how people on Steam will reject RPGMaker games unless they are 100% custom assets), but without the deep characters and without a story that grabs you, drags you in, and holds on to you, it's just not a Winter Wolves game. Nobody is denying that you put a great deal of effort into your games; it shows in the gameplay. We just wish it showed in the story and the characters.
Ah OK sorry if I misunderstood :) As I posted in my forums in this specific game I think allowing full customization to the character might have been the cause, since for a writer (even if I didn't write most of the story) is much easier to write if you have a specific character with past history than trying to write a story that fits both an human, elf, dwarf, etc. Under this aspect I think it's honestly too hard to have a game with a gameplay like open world + full character customization and also write a very compelling story (since I'm limited by the gameplay/system). I feel only if I'll make again VNs for example like Bionic Heart I can concentrate fully on the story without being constricted by gameplay. Thanks