Demo and Release Considerations

I’m very excited to demo Serafina’s Crown at the upcoming Six-Pack Demo Night at Earthbound Brewery on February 18th. Demoing one of my games will be a new experience for me. I’ve had friends play the game while I watch, which is a blast, but that’s quite different from presenting it to total newcomers in short bouts of play-time.

The challenge with show-casing a visual novel, of course, is that it’s a heavily story-based game, and most of the “playing” aspect comes in the form of reading large sections of text. So how should I present Serafina’s Crown in a way that’s quick and accessible, but still gives the player a good sense of the story and overall feel of the game?

The best plan I can formulate right now is to include a video at my demo station that provides a general idea of the story and play style – in other words, a trailer:

Then, the sections I will open for demos will be the Duma Debate sections, which involve using the Divinity Dial to pick numbers that will beat your opponents’.

I am excited to demo the game, and in addition to that, I’ve started to think seriously about my release plan for this title. I’ll be frank with any of you reading this: I don’t make enough money from my games or books combined to support myself. That’s probably no huge surprise. Although I’ve had successes here and there, I’m far from producing a massively popular hit. I don’t charge much money for my books or games, and some of them are completely free. That’s because I want my creations to be accessible to a wide range of people, and also because these days, a lot of players and readers expect to get things for free. So it’s often the only way to get exposure.

But I’m nearing a crossroads of sorts. With Serafina’s Crown, I need to start making enough money to legitimize my company as a sustainable business, or I need to focus on a full-time job (or lots more freelance work) and set this aside as more of a hobby. It pains me to say that, but otherwise I just can’t justify spending as much time and effort on projects that pay me next to nothing in return.

With my re-release of Serafina’s Saga, I added in-app purchases in the form of costumes. These have provided some revenue, but nothing significant. So that leaves me to wonder whether I should continue to add more in-app purchases, perhaps in the form of story content such as additional plot paths, or whether I should abandon that model altogether and sell my game at a set price. It’s going to be a difficult decision. And if you’re reading this as one of my players, or perhaps a fellow game developer, I hope you’ll give me your opinion.