Dev Blog #1: State of the SBG

So here’s the thing. I am so crap at self-promotion. Seeing the abysmal sales of White Rabbit, a project I poured so many hours of heart and soul into, I’ve spent the last few days scrambling around trying to get some traction somewhere, anywhere! Someone on one marketing website was like, you’ve got to have a dev blog and always be writing about what you’re doing next. That cuts so against the grain for me. I prefer to only talk about projects that are 90+% done, so I don’t look like I’m tooting my own horn and then not delivering. I see so many people talk big and then… nothing. I don’t want to be that person.

But ok, fine. Dev blogs work? They build up hype? Ok fine, let’s see then. I’ll do a dev blog every Thursday and we’ll see how it goes.

This is probably an appropriate time to start this right now, because we’ve reached the natural finishing point of some things, and other things are about to jump off. Let’s talk about them, project by project.

Released projects: White Rabbit and Prince of Cats

So I’ve built a small following through successful Kickstarter campaigns and two good quality major releases. I also have been taking part in game jams on itch.io, specifically the Bitsy monthlies and Nanoreno. I’m not sure where to take it next, except for mobile. Yep, White Rabbit and Prince of Cats are going to come out on Android at the very least, and iOS if I can borrow some equipment to do that too. My goal for this is asap, but particularly before the end of October. Why? I’ll explain soon. (And I think if I do that, I really need to probably pay someone to give me a slick advert to promote those releases!)

Also, I would like to add more art and possibly a few other features to White Rabbit. I’d love to put voice acting in both White Rabbit and Prince of Cats. But we’ll see on that. It may be a while. That’s going to require significant financial outlay.

Some positive news on Prince of Cats. Even though I’ve made no money off it, the Bundle for Racial Justice and Equality on itch.io sold brilliantly, and 1000+ people have downloaded Prince of Cats from it. It was nice to be a part of that. I love the itch.io community.

Future projects (Claire)

My immediate current project is my deluxe remake of my Nanoreno project from earlier this year, Her Jentle Hi-ness. It’s going to have full colour art by local artist Sean Miller. It’s going to have a soundtrack by me and my brother. It is going to have more plotlines and better mechanics than the demo version (here). It is NOT going to have a Kickstarter, because it is a much smaller project which is basically done, and the art budget is manageable without funding this time. And it is going to be out on Steam and hopefully mobile too before the end of October. Why? Read on…

My mid-term goal is my next project, working title Super High. I’ll be working with my high school best friend (appropriately) Law Baker for the art. It will likely be my first non-Renpy based major release! I’m still deciding for sure on the engine. I am very slowly working on this, writing the script a bit at a time every day. I’ll pepper more details in future posts, but this time I will say my major influences for this one are Persona (game series), Twin Peaks (TV series), and The Luminaries (book/TV series). How on earth do those all fit together? You’ll have to wait and see.

What’s James up to?

I’m sure I’ve mentioned it before, but James has a major project going on too. You can find his main Dragon Princes blog here: http://tirenia.blogspot.com/ . He is going to turn all of this into a D&D setting and Kickstart it at… you guessed it… the end of October. Why?! I’ll tell you soon!

To get to this point, and drum up more publicity, he’s going to start posting regular D&D vlogs to our dried-up husk of a Youtube channel. Look out for that in the next couple of weeks!

What, pray tell, is at the end of October?!

I’m so glad you asked. Sky Bear Games is going to have a stall at the Auckland Armageddon Expo. James will be demoing scenarios and mechanics from Tirenia, I’ll be selling my two/hopefully three games at special expo prices along with merch, and Julia from Cheeky Parrot Games will be with us selling Cat Capers and other titles from her collection. Hopefully an artist or two from my games will come along and sign prints. We’ll see.

We’ve set ourselves this challenging deadline to, well, challenge us! I love love to be able to do this full time one day, and you know what? Not to toot my own horn too much, but I think I am worth it! I think my games are pretty fun and unique, and I think there is a bigger audience out there I just haven’t reached yet. All I need is a leg up from someone big, just a day on someone’s front page or something, for people to hear about Sky Bear Games! It is hard to get noticed these days. But delusional or not, I am going to try, and I want to do it honestly, ethically, and for the sake of art and entertainment. For the love of gaming itself.

Geez, sincerity sure whiffs, huh? 😀

Prince of Cats now available on Steam and itch.io

We’ve been building up to it for a couple of months now, and finally I can announce…

Prince of Cats is now available for purchase on Steam and itch.io! https://store.steampowered.com/app/1063110/Prince_of_Cats/ or https://skybeargames.itch.io/prince-of-cats

Get your copy today! And thank you for your support leading up to this release 🙂

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Four days left on our first Kickstarter!

There’s only four days left to get in on the Kickstarter campaign for our first computer game release! If you’ve been holding back, now’s the time to get in before your chance is up. Hopefully we can reach the next stretch goal before then 🙂

https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/skybeargames/prince-of-cats-a-shakespearean-fairy-tale-visual-n/posts/2473395

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First stretch goal reached!

Our Prince of Cats kickstarter has managed to reach its first stretch goal! I’m really excited to be able to bring you ten new images (plus one freebie to celebrate) which will decorate the end of each unique storyline in the game and be unlockable in the main menu gallery as game collectibles. You can check out more, including exclusive hints to unlock certain plot lines, on our latest Kickstarter update.

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100% funded less than 24 hours in

Hi Sky Bear fans,

We made it to our goal in less than 24 hours over on our Kickstarter for Prince of Cats. Thanks so much to those of your who backed us and spread the word! This went beyond my wildest dreams. I really didn’t expect such a rush of excitement for the game.

If you head on over there, you can check out the ideas we’re considering for stretch goals, and join in on our community play through of the game on Facebook.

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Prince of Cats – Now Live on Kickstarter… and a Project they Love!!

It’s time!

Get in quick for the limited spaces for unique art of yourself and/or your cat. Or just get the game at a cheaper price than what it will be when it comes out.

https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/skybeargames/prince-of-cats-a-shakespearean-fairy-tale-visual-n

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Also we are totally stoked to be featured as one of Kickstarter’s “Projects We Love”!

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Prince of Cats Kickstarter goes live tomorrow!

Hi loyal Sky Bear fans,

I don’t much like tooting my own horn much, so it might come as a surprise to you to know I’ve been working on a computer game since 2015. I like to keep things quiet until I actually have something to show for my work.

Tomorrow I launch the Kickstarter for my game Prince of Cats. It’s about a faerie from the Court of the Cat Prince, who has to find her master who is lost in the mortal world. While there, she sees a lot of familiar characters from the plays of Shakespeare. It’s in the visual novel/life sim genre, and has many different endings and achievements to unlock.

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The game was actually mostly finished in 2015, but being a poor student at the time, I didn’t have the budget for the artwork I really wanted. Now, working in the IT industry and in a better position, I have been paying the wonderful Jade du Preez of Forrest Creative and she’s been making the game beautiful for the last five months (yes, the same artist we used for Cat Capers!). Also my brother Brent Ahuriri, who created the music for my award-nominated play Dracula, is steadily working away at the soundtrack for the game.

I’m super thrilled to be bringing this game out finally. It will be finished, whether the Kickstarter is successful or not, it will just take a bit longer if we don’t get the funding. But this is your chance to get the game really cheap ($10NZD), or to get some of the nice bonuses, like your cat in the background artwork, or even your face for one of the characters!

I’ll make a new post tomorrow with the Kickstarter link once we’ve launched, but for now, please Like the page on Facebook https://www.facebook.com/princeofcatsgame and you’ll get to see lots of new art as I update it.

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Prince of Cats – an anime-ish life-sim game

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Tomorrow, March 1st, is the start of something called NaNoRenO. Along the same lines as NaNoWriMo for novels and NaGaDeMon for game design, it’s a contest where you basically compete against your own procrastination and create something in one month. NaNoRenO is the version where contestants use the Ren’Py game engine to create a visual novel and/or life simulation (or dating sim) game. Think about games like Magical Diary or Long Live the Queen (or yes, even Hatoful Boyfriend…)

And I intend to take part!

Last year for a little bit I worked on a game in the Ren’Py engine and I found it wonderfully intuitive to work with. On the forums people said things like “Go out and make your first game, then throw it in the bin, cos it will be rubbish”. Well that’s certainly true, my first game was pretty terrible but it taught me how to use the system and how to make a better game.

So now I am coming back to it with my experience and further research into the genre, and starting tomorrow I will be making a game called “Prince of Cats”. You play a female cat-spirit, in the Fae court of cats (or cat-like things). The Prince of Cats has gone missing and you fear that without his protection your place in the court is too dangerous, so you venture into the mortal world to find him. What will become of you in the mortal world? Will you retain your spirit powers, or forget them and become a simple animal cat? Will you find the Prince? Does he even want to go home?

My rough timetable for making this will be along these lines:
1. Work out the event scheduling system
2. Work out the stats
3. Work out the different possible endings (there will be many, in the style of Princess Maker 2)
4. Write the events
5. Write any leftover bits of the story
6. Create character art
7. Create background art
8. Create music (or find free music)
9. Create a gallery so you can look back at all your achievements and endings
10. Create custom UI

And all within a month! But I’m really looking forward to starting. Wish me luck!