Today is the last day of the year, and since I don’t have any exciting plans tonight, I wanted to take some time to look back on where we’ve come in the past year, and where we’re planning to go next year. While there’s plenty to be said about the state of the world or one of the best years of video game releases, I’m going to limit my scope to Silver Bard Games.
The first and biggest change was partnering with AimlessArt and turning my one-man development site into an actual team. Technically, he started last December, but his work didn’t get released until last year. This was frankly a huge stroke of luck for me. When I started looking for an artist to recruit, I wasn’t expecting someone of his experience and skill to respond. I was nowhere near able to pay what his work was worth. He took a big risk partnering with me and I’m glad to finally be able to pay him properly.
The influx of art was a huge boon for Night Games. Character sprites was never something I had planned, but they improved the game far more than the equivalent amount of inline art. I appreciated Nergantre’s portraits, but having a quick visual indicator of the opponents’ state of dress and arousal is a big deal. I think this was a key factor in finding a wider audience for the game.
An event this year that I was quite pleased by, though many of you may not have noticed it, was the release of Trounce Tickle Tease. This was a small rock-paper-scissors game I put together to get some practice with Ren’Py. It was exactly the sort of small, cohesive game that is poison for Patreon, but I always enjoy seeing. I originally wasn’t planning to release the game and just use it as practice, but testing the early build was more fun than I expected. It was also a good tonal match for the other games I had put out, the light-hearted competition of Night Games with the giddy sexual exploration of Seven Minutes in Heaven.
Unfortunately, with AimlessArt busy working on Night Games and the sudden disappearance of the other artist I routinely commissioned, the art for T3 ended up both more expensive and less consistent than I was used to. Still, I’m glad I was able to finish and release it. While the response to the game was very quiet, the people who did play the game seemed to enjoy it. More importantly, it was proof that I could handle a side project while still continuing development of Night Games. Perhaps sometime in the near future, I’ll have the extra art and writing budget to add the additional endings I’ve planned out.
The biggest event of the year as far as our Patreon is concerned was the release of the premium version of Night Games. This was something I had planned before I hired an artist, but I was still concerned about how people would respond. Since I make games as a hobby rather than a career, I want to put out complete and satisfying versions of my games for free whenever possible. However, if we want more out of our games than I can do alone, we need money to hire people. Making a version of the game with some bonus art for our patrons seemed like a reasonable compromise. The fact that our Patreon income tripled the month after releasing it makes me feel like that was the right decision.
As far as other improvements for our flagship project, Night Games, I probably shouldn’t rehash the last several change logs. The game is quite a bit more balanced, stable, and full of content compared to a year ago. At this point I feel comfortable saying the game’s development is not just mature, but within sight of completion. There’s plenty more content we’d love to add both before and after our 1.0 release, but we’re beginning work on the last big milestone. With that in mind, let’s discuss plans for the coming year. I’ll probably post this next part to various forums, for all the people who don’t care about the rambling retrospective I just wrote.
In 2018, we can predict a much higher budget than I’ve been used to working with. Half of that is earmarked for art, which we should be able to put out at a faster rate than usual. I am working on something on a side project, which I’ll talk about later, but I expect most of our art production is going to continue to be for Night Games.
I’m happy to report that the sprites for Reyka and Eve are complete and will be in the next update for the game. Before you get too excited, there’s still plenty of work to do before that update is finished. I asked AimlessArt to finish the sprites first because they were a Patreon goal, but I always plan multiple months worth of content for each update.
Meanwhile, I’ve already told people who have asked what the next gameplay change I’m adding is. Currently participants have matches all seven nights of the week. I figure that’s probably pretty exhausting, so I’m giving everyone Sunday nights off. On this night off, players will have the opportunity for longer, more involved events than they get in the daytime. I haven’t sorted out all the mechanical ramifications of this, but I’m working on it.
In proportion to the whole of Night Games, that’s a fairly minor addition. The big obvious thing the game still needs is an end. I’ve already laid some groundwork for the game’s neutral ending, which is going to focus on investigating and meeting the mysterious Benefactor who is funding everything. However, I figure that’s less interesting to most players than the character specific routes, so I don’t want to implement it first.
A long while back, I storyboarded the events of Mara’s routes and implemented her specialization skillset. I ended up shelving that when I added more work to improving usability, but she’s still probably going to be the route I finish first. I have Cassie’s and Angel’s routes mostly planned out along with their specializations, so one of them will probably be next. The biggest question mark is Jewel. I have some ideas for her, but nothing concrete yet. I may make endings for some of the unlockable opponents, but that’s not planned yet.
On the subject of Night Games, people occasionally ask me for the source code so they can extract scenes or develop mods. I decided to upload the source to Gitlab, since they’re apparently more tolerant of adult content than Github. I’m not storing any of the art in the repository, so you’ll still need to come to either the blog or Patreon to get new builds. I’m also not sure how frequently I’m going to push my local source to the repo. However, if you want to look at my code for whatever reason, you should be able to clone and build from https://gitlab.com/SilverBard/NightGames.
However, Silver Bard Games is more than just Night Games. Before Night Games is done, we need to figure out what will replace it as our main project. To minimize downtime, I plan to start development of the next major game as a side project. As many of you may remember, I’ve put off finishing the 3rd girl for Seven Minutes in Heaven so long that it’s essentially a running gag. I will eventually finish that. I’d also like to add some more endings to Trounce Tickle Tease. However, those are both nice compact games without a lot of room for expansion. Neither of those is going to replace Night Games.
I’m currently working on a proof of concept for an RPG about monster girls, taking a lot of design inspiration from the Monster Hunter franchise. Thematically, it plays with the idea of a non-combat focused adventurer. In most fantasy video games, the vocabulary of the adventurer is all about fighting. However, high fantasy is full of intelligent magical humanoids who probably require more tact than simply hitting them with swords. This is a game about playing a specialist who finds creative solutions to conflicts involving monstergirls, often with seduction.
Mechanically, this will be a turn based RPG, but I want each enemy to be a unique puzzle with multiple solutions, similar to an Undertale pacifist run. Much like the Monster Hunter games research, preparation, and observation of each type of enemy will be critical. There will be no random battles, only quests, so you’ll have the opportunity (and expectation) to prepare for each encounter.
When I say I’m putting together a proof of concept, I’m not talking about a demo. I’ve never seen this type of combat does in a turn based RPG, so I actually do need to make sure it’s viable. If someone else has seen RPG combat done like this, please send me the game title so I can use it as reference. If this prototype is successful, it’ll have plenty of room for expansion and will be a worthy successor to Night Games when that is finished.
There’s probably more I could talk about for the upcoming year, but this post is already incredibly long. If you have any questions or comments, I’m always listening. If you’d like to support Silver Bard Games ongoing work, our Patreon is at https://www.patreon.com/silverbardgames. I’ll end this post with a friendly reminder that all $5+ supporters gain access to a premium version of Night Games containing more than a dozen bonus event CG.