Thank you so much! That was our goal. While we won't be creating any more games with this large team, many of us are working on other games, comics, stories, and other media with queer themes and older women.
Recent community posts
That's awesome to hear! We're glad you enjoyed it! Unfortunately, our team was formed just for making a self-contained mom dating sim for Yuri Game Jam this year. While we don't have plans to expand on this game, we will be releasing an artbook/development PDF in the near future! Keep an eye out for it :9
Love on the Peacock Express: A Fairly Smooth Ride
Hey friends! My name is J, and I'm the producer on Peacock Express. This is one of the first projects I've worked on as a producer, and I wanted to compile a list of strategies that I think worked as well as ways that I would improve a team's process in the future. I think the majority of things that went right in this project could be attributed to the entire team's hard work and effort, as well as smart scope. Although we maybe have been a little more comfortable with one more week for deadline, the game's development was fairly smooth with generally few complications
What went right
Before I go into what went well, it's good to remember that when something goes right you generally take it for granted. (I took a lot of things for granted on this project.)
On the team
Experienced leads who knew multiple areas
Working with leads who are professionals in their respective areas is awesome. Working with leads who are professionals in their areas but also understand other leads' areas is incredibly awesome. All of the leads had some spread experience with visual novels and often made sure to keep other aspects of development in mind. For example, Queenie (art director) had an understanding of how to make imagemaps for renpy. In another instance, Ivory (lead writer) explained that in an inconsistency between art and writing, revising writing was easier than revising art.
Discord had useful surprises
Using a discord server for a team project was an easy decision, but I actually learned some new things on this project. For example, you can set up Github webhooks--when anyone pushes to the repo it spits out a discord message in the #programming channel, giving me helpful notifs when I'm working at the same time as our other programmer. When I was setting up roles for artists, writers, and programmers, I thought I'd try something new and include roles for pronouns. As people joined the server, they were given all of their roles such as artist, writer, programmer, etc. as well as an "add pronouns" role. This role sat above pronoun tags like "she/her" and "they/them". Team members could choose to add as many pronouns as they liked. This was a pretty unobtrusive and accessible way to communicate pronouns to teammates.
On the process
Trello is good......... actually
If you're already familiar with why Trello Is Usually Good, Actually, skip this paragraph. We tracked the current status of art (sprites, backgrounds) and development (particles, bugs, scripts) using trello boards with the kanban method. Kanban's core workflow involves separating tasks into lists of "To do", "Doing", and "Done", but you can customize it for your art pipeline. This helped the team (art director + me especially) to see the current progress of every asset. How many more sprites needed to be assigned to artists? Do we have enough artists free for CGs? Which interactive screens still need to be put into the game? Unlike gdrive or 20 email threads or a groupchat or GOD FORBID 20 dms, trello gave us immediate insight into the project's overall status.
We also had artists attaching final assets to cards instead of uploading to drive which saved going between sites trying to be sure that the two aligned. I think this also needs an additional disclaimer: On a larger project it would be worth teaching your artists how to put their assets into the project with source control. For something fairly small with a manageable number of assets (which usually weren't too large in filesize), this worked fine.
Also despite what artists tell you....... they CAN learn trello (ok they may hate it for a month but it's fine).
We prioritized what the game needed to ship
Even though we managed to finish all of our planned features for release, we made sure that our highest priority assets— backgrounds, character sprites, and script made it into game builds first.
On the game
The game was really well scoped
I have never typed that sentence before in my life. We estimated the game's length and amount of assets in the design stage and created a timeline to ensure high priority tasks were completed in the first month. In addition, we created core game systems in preproduction (although these would be later streamlined to fit the length of the game).
Dream Daddy created a market (that already existed tbh)
While I didn't play Dream Daddy, I was definitely among the people thinking, dang, how about a mom version though? Our game is not exactly a mirror of Dream Daddy, but we hoped to create a game with content that appealed to wlw and queer people in a similar vein. The game's concept, close enough to "mom version of Dream Daddy", helped it spread through social media and by word of mouth. I think our timing gave us enough space to let Dream Daddy breathe but was still fresh in people's interests. (Though I also believe that there's still an opportunity for a Mom Dating Sim....... Yuri Game Jam 2018 maybe???)
We had a deadline
One of the top killers for small + independent game projects is no hard deadlines. I saw an opportunity in Yuri Game Jam to take advantage of a hard deadline to prevent this project from dragging out into an eternal dev limbo. Even if the game needed tweaks or polish when it was submitted, we would at least have some kind of alpha product.
Visual novels are (generally) low risk
Like most other dating sims submitted to this jam, LotPE was made in Ren'py which streamlined development. Not having to worry about bugs in a bunch of complex custom systems made shipping the game a lot less risky than other types of games.
What could have been better
On the team
Ask people how to best reach them
Our communication channels were actually mostly done right... except when people missed emails. Or didn't sign up for discord. I don't know what the best communication method is or should be, but I think going forward it would be a good idea to ask people what channel they can be can reached fastest.
On the process
Gdrive doc organization sux (OR: Make documents and resources as accessible as possible)
Despite Literally Every Project I've been on using gdrive... I actually hate using it. You're probably thinking--what the hell is there to even hate about drive? It's google. It's the most inoffensive file management site ever. You just make folders and put your docs in those folders.
And yet... literally any time wants the design doc we go digging through chat history for links. We make a directory for design docs with the best of intentions. And then someone makes a doc that isn't in the folder. And then someone makes another directory for the next stage. And then somehow we lose to each of these. When I go to drive I have to switch accounts, dig through a tree of 20 subfolders (that take like 5 seconds to load each), and it's enough that I just don't do it (ever).
Trello file limits also suck
Here's the obvious solution that we did end up using: gdrive links........... attached to trello cards. The accessibility of trello with the file limits of gdrive.
Leave time for testing
I don't think I've been on an independent project that had adequate testing, but it's worth bringing up again with emphasis. We released the first build with a fatal crash in the save/load system that we didn't catch because particles were finished the few days before the deadline.
Lock systems in preproduction if possible
This is a part two of the above note, but it's worth reiterating that it's important to implement and test features/systems in your game as soon as possible. This leaves time to tweak and fix bugs.
Hana here! Progress is going strong! Most of the art and writing is finished, and we already have a playable build of the game.
We put together some character profiles which we're going to post daily on our official twitter for the days leading up to the end. Here's the first one, introducing our protagonist:
But first... Let's go back in time to long, long ago... (September)
The first mockups I made in Photoshop with some ideas about where to put the UI.
Still a very rough UI concept I slapped together in Photoshop, but with finished assets subbed in!
BUT... We can't rely on mock-ups forever.... so thanks to our crack team of coders and writers, our prologue is coming along beautifully! Let's check out how it looks in game so far (UI not final):
Sprites are moving along well, too! Every character's sprites are complete save for one. Some samples of the finished sprites so far:
PI by Queenie
Diva, by Becky
??? by Cynthia
Wow, what a group of wonderful, unsuspicious characters!
Next on our list is finishing up some gameplay assets, wrapping up the scripts, and then shoving everything into the code. Whew, we've come a long way but there's still more to come... let's go, full steam ahead! But for now, toodles <3
Hey this is Queenie AKA NNChan, the humble Art Lead (and Art Director??) of Love on the Peacock Express
"Hey Queenie why is the art team so big"
Because we were blessed with many wonderful, talented artists!! So many!! All united in the common goal of bringing life to this dating game where you date MILFs. Here's a preview of some of the work that's been produced so far, it is all gorgeous and lovely.
Train Passageway BG by Mika
CEO Smirk Lineart by Bev
Diva Flirt Lineart by Becky
Grifter Expressions Concepts by Krystine
Conductor Draft by Queenie
This is just a hint of what's to come. WELCOME TO MILF ISLAND, PLEASE ENJOY YOUR STAY!!
Love on the Peacock Express: A Mystery MILF Dating Game
As a private investigator you’ve always been interested in two things: solving mysteries, and kissing hot older women. Now you’re on a train with as many mysteries as there are hot older women. Are you in paradise? Well, that’s going to be up to you.
Choose one of three women to spend time with on the train, each of whom is deeply embroiled her own mystery. Flirt and investigate through dialogue options and observation in order to solve your chosen woman’s mystery and find your way into her heart. Love on the Peacock Express features three possible romance routes, each with two unique endings.
PI: Young, feisty, a real go-getter--these are all words the PI uses to describe herself on her website where she offers her detective services. The PI is never one to let an unsolved mystery go uninvestigated. (Concept by Queenie)
Grifter: Open, friendly, and down-to-earth, there’s nothing the grifter loves more than getting to know new people. Well, maybe there’s one thing, but she won’t give up her secrets so easily. (Concept by Eliot)
Diva: Despite her many years of fame and fortune, the diva remains kind and nurturing. Could there be a reason for her nervousness other than the possibility of paparazzi showing up? (Concept by V)
CEO: A very important person who has little patience for petty distraction. You’ll have to prove yourself worthy before she’ll be willing to take you into her confidence. (Concept by Bev)
Conductor: The conductor on the train. She takes your ticket when you first get on board and helps you find the correct train car. (Concept by Queenie)
Through dialogue choices, the PI will attempt to get to know their chosen love interest and find the answer to her mystery. Near the end of each route, the PI will have a Final Confrontation with the love interest about the answer to her mystery. Earlier choices in the game can grant either an advantage or disadvantage in this confrontation, but choices in the confrontation itself are what will ultimately decide the ending of the game.
Each route will also feature a brief point-and-click sequence, in which the PI investigates a scene in order to learn more about the mystery.
Here's everyone who's working on Love on the Peacock Express
- Producer: J (cloudhime on itchio)
- Art Lead: Queenie (@nnchan on twitter)
- Writing Lead: Ivory (@sixfeetzen on twitter)
- Design Lead: Hana (@hana_pouter on twitter) (is the one writing this post)
- Michelle (@dooberlane on twitter)
- Mika (@honeyguro on twitter)
- Rho (@rhosovia on twitter)
- V (@nesynn on twitter)
- Bev (@beverlylove on twitter)
- Eliot (@eliot_small on twitter)
- Lok (@mangotcha@mangotcha on twitter)
- Becky (@ghoulg1rl on twitter)
- Cynthia (mythridate on ithio)
- Alex (@horreurscopes on twitter)
- Lysander (lycnths on tumblr)