Long Live the Queen

November 16th, 2013


There’s an odd genre of games that’s been making the rounds over across the Pacific for ages. Graduation and Princess Maker come to mind as older examples. Basically they’re a choose-your-own-adventure game where you take on the role of a responsible adult trying to guide a child to adulthood. Play involves making a series of decisions, some repetitive, some unique, which result in the child acquiring various characteristics. At the end of play you get a summary of how the child’s life turned out, effectively giving you a scorecard.

The latest addition to this odd little niche is Long Live the Queen, a title by Hanako Games. In it you guide young Elodie, the crown princess of a fantasy kingdom, through the last forty weeks before assuming the crown on her fifteenth birthday.

Each week you may select two courses of classwork for her to study. Upon completion of the coursework you may select how she spends her weekend. The classes affect her skills, the weekend activities affect her mood. Depending on her dominant mood (there are four pairs of opposing moods), she will have an easier time with certain topics. For example, if she’s angy she’ll excel at swordsmanship. If she’s depressed she’ll do better at music.

Overall a successful run through to coronation is a pretty short play-through, but this title is pretty replayable, with several alternate routes through to survival and victory. In addition to choosing her coursework (will she be a military tactician, a cunning court intriguer, a fearsome mage?) a number of events will crop up in classic choose-your-own-adventure style. Others events provide different results depending on the skills Elodie has developed.

The skill check events (and one straight-up bad decision involving a box of chocolates) can result in an array of bad endings for our fair princess. I’ve tripped across the following so far (some intentionally, some not so much):

lltq_death_arrow lltq_death_death_by_chocolate lltq_death_drown lltq_death_kraken lltq_death_magic lltq_death_staff lltq_death_sword

The Steam Achievements list suggests there are another four possible deaths. The hair trigger on this game for killing you off reminds me of the old Sierra games, where you’d get crushed into paste for stepping two pixels too far to the left or clicking on the wrong object on an office desk.

The art is cute but not remarkable, there is no technical triumph to be found here, and the setting isn’t the most inspired bit of worldcraft you’ll see, but at under $10 it’s a good buy and a fun way to burn a few hours trying to figure how how the “save the world with the power of song” or die trying.

Little Witch Academia

April 9th, 2013


Well that was just adorable. Little Witch Academia is a short one-shot anime about a little girl that wants to follow in the footsteps of a performing witch. She gets herself into a prestigious academy for witches, where she she struggles to keep up academically. On top of her problems in class, she learns that the rest of witch culture has a very low opinion of her childhood idol. When a classmate accidentally unleashes a terrible menace from underneath the school, she gets a chance to prove herself and maybe redeem her hero a bit in the process. Good stuff.

Kickstarter is Crazy

February 21st, 2013

Busty Barbarian Bimbos -- Kicktraq Mini

So I made a subdomain for my silly RPG projects back in December, got in touch with several artists and talked them into doing some work for me, and figured I’d test the waters of self-publishing a game by funding my first project on Kickstarter. I put together a modest target value that would cover the costs of printing and shipping the actual books with enough margin to have a really skimpy art budget.

Turns out the modest target value was a bit low. Or the campaign length too long. Take your pick. Either way, not quite a quarter of the way through, we’re already over twice the target value. This means the art budget gets a lot more free and easy, but it also tickles a certain game-player nerve of mine. Kickstarter provides a chart showing your daily progress in dollars. Kicktraq.com makes crazy projections about where the project might end up landing. You see a little number ticking towards a target value and the lizard part of your brain that has been playing video games for the past thirty years wants to keep nudging that number up. And up. And up. You need to shift from “get bare funding” mode to “get product to backers” mode, but with the clock still ticking it’s so monstrously tempting to shift instead into “get even more funding” mode.

The dashboard interface for creators is vastly more enticing than the “discover new projects” interface they have for backers. You get a chart showing pledged dollars over time. You get a pie chart showing how much funding was referred from inside the Kickstarter site as opposed to other sources. You get a table showing which referrers resulting in how many pledge and how much was pledged in total. You get a listing of recent activity, showing individual backers joining in, comment postings, and pledge adjustments. Next thing you know you’re copying and pasting unfamiliar URLs into your browser and finding yourself reading through 21-page flame wars about your project. Eek.

Anyhow, I’m immensely pleased and somewhat conflicted about how this is all working out. I started out doubting that there’d be any support at all, that the campaign would flop and I’d just be crying in a corner overwhelmed by the market’s rejection of my game. Now I’m facing the very real prospect of shipping & handling logistics, quality assurance, and lots more artist collaboration.