Can everyone survive?
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I played through the game once and will leave a longer comment later, because I have to know the result of every choice, but for now.
Me: Wow, I really love Lemos! He and Nova are already clearly into each other and work really well. I wonder how his route is going to go?
Me: *analyzes what he says*
Me: *reads the lore*
Me: *chuckles* Oh, Nova's in danger.
Just recently finished Anja's Normal and Good ends! I'm with jwl-I need the epilogues! I absolutely loved Anja, which surprised me greatly. I got his Normal end at first, but after skipping through and changing a couple things, I received his Good end with no problem at all. I'm pretty sure I was close to getting it my first go around, actually. I think my issue was that I was prioritizing Mizari's healing abilities and professionalism. I left the castle for the battle (which no doubt lost me Anja points) and told Anja to help with the clinic right away rather than teasing him. I saw that you were having troubles leading players to his Good end, and just wanted to give my two cents on why that may be.
Onto the characters and story! Anja's route pretty obviously endeared him to me, but it also endeared me more to Mimi. He was more my first pick, and seeing the antics he got up to helped satiate me, hahaha. I'm very interested in him and the couple hints to his more ruthless side. The King I'm still fairly neutral on-he comes across as suspicious to me. There are a couple loose story threads I noticed in Anja's route that lead me to give the King the side-eye. Never did get an answer as to what happened to the other healers....him yelling at Issen when Issen mentioned a bride was also a bit strange. I am waiting to see what other skeletons are in his closet, essentially.
As these uncertainties and implications appeared, Anja's honesty shined like a beacon. It could be cruel, rough, and aggressive-but if you ask him directly, Anja would never soften or lie. Again, as a player currently side-eyeing the King, I at this particular moment in the story, appreciate Anja's shameless, unvarnished darkness. Not many people would be so upfront about how one of the ways they de-stress is...that, and...I suppose, on some level, I find that admirable. It's clear why only someone like Mizari could get close to his heart. I enjoyed watching him be proven wrong and softened by Mizari, and how he effectively toughed her up and gave her strength in return. They balance each other out well, and make a truly deadly combination. His, uh, "scenes" were hot too, so hats off to whoever wrote them. Truly had me red in the face and internally screaming.
There's one scene in particular that stuck out in my mind. Before Mizari wakes up from her two day nap, towards the end. Was it a slight meta commentary? Perhaps I am connecting two unrelated dots, but it felt like a reply to those who dismiss Mizari's character from the initial archetype she presents. Flowed into the story at well, as a lot of other characters say similar things about her, but I was just wondering if that extra layer was indeed there.
Ah, another thing about Anja's route I enjoyed, is that I felt equally rewarded for both the Normal and Good ends. I never felt "wrong" per se when I chose an answer that might not be Anja's preference. Sure, it might lead me to the Normal end, but the Normal end is pretty dang satisfying. I was given, to a certain extent, the ability to freely push and change the dynamics of Mizari's and Anja's relationship. For my Normal end route, Anja's and Mizari's relationship was somewhat bumpy. They had three "separations"-the first, Mizari hiding in the torture room and the fallout from that, the second her blowing up at him, and the third, her leaving on the military campaign. After each separation, they got closer. Perhaps it isn't the "ideal", but these added obstacles made each reunion more satisfying.
Hm, I know when I started there was one thing I disliked, but the more I wrote the more I forgot what it was, lol. It was minor, so no big deal. Maybe I'll remember later.
Thank you for this wonderful game! I can't wait for the other routes to release, Mimi's especially. If there's a KS for a fandisc/epilogues, I'll definitely support it.
I agree with you. If they're going to pursue the romantic love point, they need to make it more harmonious with what they established. A stronger leg to stand on in the story. Honestly, the quickest way to do that would be to increase the number of those like MC (therefore have more studies on them) and have them become rare in the recent era or something.
More info on things as a whole is required, really. I kinda wonder if perhaps there's more in the original script, given that I believe it was translated from Russian. This isn't a slight on the translator, translation is extremely difficult, but there's probably been a loss.
I think it'd be better if you were looking at this story not as one based 100% on realism, but rather as a mechanism with specifically chosen decisions made to create certain emotions in the reader, within the writer's own tolerances.
The main reason why love is what amplifies a dude's abilities is because the alternatives too dark. And the writers don't want to go there, for whatever reason. Maybe it wouldn't be fun or too depressing to write, or they think no one would enjoy reading it. It's clear they want to write darker LIs, but have a personal line drawn.
The other reason I can come up with, as to why they chose that route, is because it helps in creating personal drama. You can love someone and still hate them, after all. Be disgusted with yourself for loving someone you know is manipulating you. Have doubt they actually love you back (which is a fairly justified feeling in this particular story's case).
My impression of the plot is that it's going to be more of a psychological thriller, with the main conflict being of the MC dealing with her situation and the feelings from it. A concentration on the characters versing themselves and each other, rather than them versing an outside force like Atlids. Because of this, I don't think you gonna get what you're hoping for out of this story.
I agree with you that they should try and give the "must love a guy" point a bit stronger a leg to stand on. But I don't believe the writers are gonna remove that plot point, for the reasons above.
About to back, but before I do, I have a suggestion. If it's possible, could you tag the kickstarter under 'Video Games' and 'Games'?
Although the 'Games' category is easier to get to, as it's on the front page, I've always skipped over it because it tends to encompass not only pc games, but tabletop games and figures. I have no interest in the latter, so I just search the 'Video Games' category whenever I am checking what new VN kickstarters popped up. I looked for yours just now and didn't find it, so I wanted to tell you.
Mmm, I think that particular kickstarter post you brought up is part of the issue here.
It’s a story about you, your power, and your role in the world. The love interests are a part of your story—you don't have to just be a part of theirs.
This bit specifically. A lot of people commenting here felt like they didn't have much power in the story, because most endings ended badly. Which....that feeling isn't technically contradicting that tag line-the story is about you and your power in the the world, but the lack of it rather. However, I feel most probably took it to mean the story was about the empowerment of being a vampire, and maybe the consequences of it. So not being able to at least help your LI or having them go off the deep end for seemingly no reason felt like whiplash.
...I had a bit more here but given that it's a psychoanalysis of the writers (aka people I can't even say I know) it feels inappropriate to say anything. The game is what it is, and I hope it finds the folks out there that'll wholly love it.
Eh, I agree with your last point to a certain extent. Visual novel writers should be able to write whatever the heck they want, but not on Kickstarter dime. Though legally the project creator is only beholden to delivering the project, they are expected on a social level to deliver a project that satisfies backers. This is the implicit agreement Kickstarter donors have with project managers when they give them their money. Not doing so incurs social consequences, and depending on the context, these consequences can be justified (i.e. marketing it in Kickstarter as one thing, and delivering it as another).
As to whether RE:H was ever labelled as a romance...I'm not sure? I check otome, dating sim, and romance tags all the time here, so I'm pretty sure that's how I first came across RE:H. Looking at the tags on the product page now though, none of those are there, so...*shrugs* Maybe they changed it or I came across it some other way. If anyone else can chime in on that, I'd appreciate it.
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!
A lot of cool, unique ideas. But the English translation needs a lot of editing. Most of the meaning got across, but the flow was choppy. Some noun adjectives (car red), when it should be adjective noun (red car), for example. I hope this doesn't discourage you. Best of luck to the team!
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 quick response!
I played through the demo a number of times and I really like what y'all made here! Although the protagonists' ignorance on games had me dying of second hand embarrassment. They had the time to look up forum threads on Samurai, but not to watch a youtube video on how the game worked...? Man, they're in over their heads. It's a bit strange reading from their POV-they make note of things I don't even notice anymore. It's weird enough for me I keep attempting to make explanations for it (like the MC is an army vet) , but honestly this probably really is how games seem to complete outsiders. It's fascinating and disorienting at the same time.
I'm not too into the streamer scene but some of these characters are familiar lol. Makes me feel a little weird as I'm playing, though I think that might be necessary to get your commentary on the online gaming community across. Sure, everyone was pretty nice in the "prologue" but you can see the dirty cracks with forcing TwinTails to be MC's partner and New Girl's extremely aggressive attitude.
Ah, that was another wonderful aspect to this game. I love it when the unpicked protagonist is a character unto themselves. The difference between New Girl and Parker was so extreme, although as a girl, I understand why. Still threw me pretty hard when I played as dude!MC though. I very much was expecting just a generic, fumbling noob with paranoia like back when I picked lady!MC, so it was a great surprise.
All the characters were endearing, but I am partial to Midnight. Just a decent dude, ya know? Parker also seemed sweet. Not gonna win the royale, but sweet. Wish we coulda seen more of Striker and Holly, but given the set-up it makes sense. TwinTails story with her sister and Striker intrigues me. Overall I'm hoping for some good drama to play out between members of the cast. After all, isn't that what streamers are famous for, only sometimes second to games? :P
Really looking forward to the updated demo and full game release. Keep it up!
Re: suspending their account and them just remaking- yes, what you speculated does indeed happen. People/companies have been caught doing that and basically they either vanish or have to be hunted down and hounded for refunds. It's behavior like this which makes indie kickstarters fail more often nowadays.
Backers don't really have a safety net, so they're super careful which projects they fund now. Agashi's seemed so promising because she was so into it and active, even the more cautious types probably gave it a try...I hope she understands that her actions have harmed not only the trust her backers have in her, but the trust all kickstarter backers have to any future projects.
As to Kickstarter contacting the creator...not really. Not beyond what info the creator themselves gave, and perhaps a bank account (that could be defunct by the time people ask for refunds).
Hi there, I played through the demo once with Matt's ending. I got a couple critiques/questions.
1. With the camera, was there an option (perhaps with enough focus?) to delete the photos/ask them to be deleted/take the video card? That struck me as something someone would ask in that situation. The photos could be backed up if they're still needed plot-wise.
2. My memory might be wrong, but there was no mention of Noah in Matt's ending. Given how personal the connection he has with the MC is, I think he should be mentioned in every ending. Doesn't have to be long, just a line or two about his condition. Or about how the MC has been avoiding him, if that's what you want. Goes to show the MC still cares.
This game was fun, and I hope to see the other characters released too!
Just finished playing this demo for the first time! I had a lot of fun with it, it's very cute.
- Which character did you like the best and why?
Somewhat serious answer: Cian, he hits a lot of character weak spot of mine, but alas! He's an ever out-of-my-reach NPC!
Completely serious answer: Juna. I like how him and the MC are on the same page for a lot of stuff even though they barely know each other. I like quiet, instant understanding connections like that-not necessarily love at first sight, but like meeting an old friend again.
I'm skipping the 2nd question since I didn't play the old one...
- If there were to be an Ask Me Anything with me and/or the characters from this game/Vestr's Story, would you rather have it be through itch.io or through Tumblr?
I'd rather have it on itch.io because tumblr is somewhat on the outs...Either one would work, but I think you would get more engagement on tumblr thanks to the anon function.
- How could I make things more interactive for fans of this game and Vestr's Story (ex. Twitter, Discord, Tumblr, etc.)? Would you like it to be more interactive?
Discord, as that's where everything is moving to at the moment. Tumblr would be good too, but I think it's better for announcements rather than direct engagement.
The update has a lot of good new stuff in it! Love the updated UI. The new choices at the beginning are cool, I just wanna ask if that's just for fun or do they also impact the bf's personality?
Felt the edited script-not sure how I feel about it. I think it was made more jokey? Which I'm sorta "eh" on. The take on this premise at first was a bit more evenly distributed between the inherent ridiculousness of it and realistic responses to it actually happening. It's a fine line to toe though, and everyone's line is different, so I'm likely nit-picking.
I'm willing to wait a bit longer for the regular CG artist. I liked their art a lot, and they're what originally drew me in to the game.
I think I hit a bizarre bug.
Quick overview of my choices: flirting with Bell at the start, saved him, margaret died the first night, took Lu in. Shifted to trying to romance Lu the moment he arrives. Get the shell scene, which can lead into Lu dying and taking me to an actual ending (a not very happy one) with the affection choice.
Or, I can pick the say nothing option, wait out the timer, have the guide hurt, fight through, and then....nothing. It gets to the Guide saying "We need to start walking, we already lost enough time as it is." and bam, I'm brought to the main menu. Everything just stops there.
Yup! When you're in the weekly scheduler, roll your mouse over your character portrait. Your stats will appear on the left. Do the same thing with the Prince's portraits and you'll see their progress as well.
Just a quick question, since I suspect this may be the case...
For Serin's demo ending, is he supposed to be trained in light and wood? I have wind and wood come up as checks, have been training him in them a lot, but keep failing,
Planning to donate to the kickstarter soon, I liked what I saw so far of the game. Can't wait for MC's pic of the heir in some shady back alley to come back and kick her in the ass. A quick suggestion, you should put the kickstarter link on the page near the top, probably below the discord! Some people might only check the game page.
Bought this today, finished up Charlotte's and Sofia's routes-I have a quick q, does Sofia only have 3 CGs? Charlotte's has four, so I'm assuming every LI does.
(I'm enjoying the game so far! I just wanna give a proper review after I finish all the routes.)
Hi all~! I basically just made this topic to talk about what I liked about the game. I finished all the routes earlier today, and I'm really excited for episode 2!
The two characters I liked best were Saleos and Kali. These two seem to hit Lilim's issues and past the hardest in my opinion, so they stood out to me as more emotional than the other routes. Anzu was interesting but felt distant-which is obviously on purpose, it doesn't surprise me the character whose age is ????? is like that. She didn't BS when it came to Lilim's delusions, going straight for the jugular. I honestly can't wait to hear more about her as there's clearly a lot more going on under the surface. I don't like how she treats Kali though.
My favorite scenes were in Saleos' and Kali's routes, obviously. For Saleos specifically, it was the House scene. It's clear to me that being in a vampire House is more than just being a family, but given everything I couldn't help but view it as a touch romantic. Lilim, despite her obsession with Lucifer, considered for a moment following and staying with Saleos. He then popped that bubble like a idiot but it was a major character moment for Lilim which stood out to me. As a whole, I viewed this route as pretty sweet - Saleos and Lilim are both outsiders looking for honest companionship and they seem to provide each other that.
For Kali, her whole ending was wonderful to me. I won't go into too much but it was nice seeing Lilim and her break free of the things that bound them, even for a moment. The two are parallels with each other and it's interesting seeing how the two of them contrast. Kali and Lilim seem to better each other and I love that quality quite deeply. It's also pretty funny to me how Lilim is STILL so oblivious to how she feels about Saleos in his route but got it right away in Kali's lmao. Makes sense, given that Anzu's presence would speed that realization up quicker, but still. Also, Kali legit has the best design in the game imo-Anzu is not wrong when she says Kali is the prettiest thing she owns. I could look at her sprite for hours, she's so aesthetically pleasing. And cute!
Gaki is.....Gaki. His route was the funniest but also I never really like pervert characters. So he already had the deck stacked against him. Just...those endings....poor Lilim.
As to the game itself, ghosts seem to matter a lot. I have some theories, but I'll leave them to myself for now. :D I loved how the world was shown subtly! The player is not explained everything and there are a lot of moments in-game where there's a clear implication the characters get that the player does not. It leaves everything very mysterious and I want to get to know more.
So, thank you devs for this wonderful game! I enjoyed it a lot !
SPOILERS, YA'LL. DON'T READ UNLESS YOU PLAYED
Hahaha dang, I knew this game was dark but the Twins really hammered that point in. They were the scariest out of the bunch, imo. The other two bachelors I can kinda see them having genuine desire for a companion, but the Twins? Nope. That poor girl is going to be taxidermied sooner or later. She's their "pet" now.
The epilogue was super intriguing! Really scary too, if I'm understanding it right. How is there such a huge cover up for missing persons? Makes me think of all those classical stories where girls are offered as virgin sacrifices to the dragon. Just keep throwing girls at them and maybe they'll go away? lol I wonder what happens to the women who survive their possible 'life partners' bad ends...I can only imagine them either being forcefully inducted into the MCIP or killed by them later...
This world is really intriguing and fun, I hope you'll continue making more stories for this universe in some form or another!
I figured it out about an hour before you posted this, orz. But I really appreciate you replying! I found a few other surprising ends along the way, so it was a good thing I tried it again on my own. There are still a couple other endings I'm missing, but I haven't spent all that much time on getting them yet. Marco's ending was really nice, I'm glad I was able to see it! Thank you!