The main production of the core Harem Wars card game, Harem Combat expansion and other sets and rewards such as dakimakuras, keyrings, postcards, game mats and so on are due to arrive in UK ports on August 30th before being delivered to us for shipping to our backers.
After careful consideration and comparisons with fulfillment companies we have decided to ship items directly from our small office as the best way of proceeding. Therefore shipping of all items currently due will take place across September and October 2018.
We look forward to finally shipping these items out, after which work will continue on the remaining two Fetish Expansion sets, with the aim to kickstarter those by the end of the year and complete the Harem Wars card game series by Spring 2019. After which we will begin development of the Harem Wars Video Game (once all rewards from the Harem Wars campaigns have been completed and shipped to our backers).
Can it be true... Starlight Drifters official release on Steam from Early Access a success?
And the answer is yes, though whether it has actually made a profit is hard to say, Starlight Drifter has been in development hell for around three years in total and suffered a number of problems, at two different points the game has been shut down completely on steam, picked up again and then shut down again due to development problems.
In both instances when we did that we effectively wiped the slate clean. That means we deleted whatever costs we had incurred and accepted those were a loss we would never get back as the game would never be finished. Because of this happening twice we dont truly know how much the game cost in total so we have to judge the game more on sales compared to our other releases and the community response to it.
In the month since release from Early Access the game has sold around 1,500 units on Steam, due to certain issues we have as yet been unable to release it elsewhere, but that will change in August. 1,500 whilst might seem a lot, compared to most of our games it is low. BUT it is not terrible, on our own chart of 17 or so games, it puts it around the middle of the sales chart.
Next, perhaps more importantly than sales are the reviews, and in this it is easy to see the game has been well received on release. The game went from a 40% negative rating (based on bad reviews 1-2 years ago) to a 79% Mostly Positive rating overall and a 84% Very Positive rating for recent reviews. This is a massive shift and shows that in general most new players enjoy the final version of the game.
All of this is on top of the fact that the game was released from Early Access essentially without much fanfare into a overpopulated steam platform, during a sale period, where it is hard to get visibility. Also our final price for Starlight Drifter makes it one of our most expensive games (due to its size and complexity) at $19.99, and yet it continues to sell well, long after its sale period ended.
It is unlikely that Starlight Drifter will break any records for us or warrant a sequel based on its current success, but the fact that a game could go through three years of development hell and come out so well on the other side is something we are very happy about. We hope many of you will continue to enjoy the game we created.
As part of my re-organising, Random Gubbins has been shuttered, essentially I have closed that aspect of Dharker Studios down and I will be taking over the management of Harem Wars the Card Game and the Shizume Figurine until both are completed. Some delays may occur as a result but in general I will do my best to get the figurine out by the end of the year and the Card games first shipping series out by the end of Summer if not end of September.
I may make figurines again in the future for different games, but it is highly unlikely that I will continue the Harem Wars card game once the two remaining expansions are completed. Instead it will become a limited edition collectors card game. Most likely with a max units available of 1000. Expansions will have smaller production numbers and baring a miracle in the future I will not be doing reprints of any past or future add-on sets.
Today I am going to be talking about something that I have been considering for the past couple of months and now have set myself to do. And that is to try and be more transparent about how games are developed within this company, plus my plans for adjusting future developments after 2018 development year has ended.
First though a look at some of the key events of this year:
- At the start of 2018, Steam was undergoing some changes, specifically it opened its doors to everyone, removing greenlight and allowing anyone with $100 (£79) to release a game of Steam.
= This saw the number of games being released increase from 10-20 a week to 40-50 a day (or more) In general we now see that it is much harder to get visibility on steam for a release as a result of this change and the release of so many games.
~ We saw this affect Galaxy Girls in 2017, where on day 1 it sold more copies on day 1 than any other game we have ever released, but on day 2 it sold less copies that any other game. We have never seen such a shift in visibility from the first day to the second. And led to our own disappointment when Galaxy Girls did not go into profit in its month of release, the first game to ever do that (but not the last - Similarly Alexa's Wild Night also did poor on release, however as the art style has an even smaller niche audience it did even poorer and now over six months after release it remains in a negative level costing us money)
All of this meant we needed to adjust the way we develop games, but also find new ways to make money, we therefore began developing a card game 'Harem Wars', we adjusted the way we developed our games and truth is we let a lot of our development teams go, in order to prevent us having a sticky financial situation in 2018. This initially seemed wise, we reduced our outgoings at a time we had smaller income levels. But as time passed we released that this adjustment in turn affected other things... Notably our release plans. Games started to get delayed to the point we are at now where we have not released a full game for around nine months. And so adjustments begin again, we bring back people, we hire more writers and we try our best to get things back under control. We are now at the point where things are starting to come together again. Released will likely occur each month until the end of the year:
- Starlight Drifter - Now out of Early Access and Complete
- Negligee: Love Stories - Due for Release August 2018
- Devil in the Details - Due for Release September 2018
- My Girlfriend - Due for Release October 2018
- Echo Tokyo: Phoenix - Due for Release November 2018
- Negligee: Remastered & Animated - Due for Release December 2018
All of these games have different people working on them, however when they get closer to release they are passed to me directly and I work on them prior to release to get them finalised in a format I am happy with, this is fine for these games, but hardly sustainable.
What Comes Next?
So what comes next is my plan to re-organise the company ready for development of games in 2019. During 2018 we did a number of things which we thought would make life easier for us, we created Random Gubbins, we delayed games, we let go and rehired some people and generally we were a shambles and that is really what has caused delays to our release schedule.
The reorganisation will come into affect in 2019, the full details I am still working on, but suffice it to say it will alter things as follows:
- Only two games will be developed at a time.
- I will now code all games for release (with one exception - Echo Tokyo: Reaper).
- We will have active just two crowdfunded games at any given time.
- Kopi Anget and his Studio of Artists will work on almost all titles.
- RandomGubbins will be shutdown.
- A new kickstarter account will likely be created for 2019 onwards, from that point on we will only use a single account, the basic Dharker Studios Account for all campaigns we do.
- We will also consider private funding for some game developments.
In addition to these I will adjust other things within the company, all of which I am still working out, but simply put the company will becoming 1 development team - Myself. I will code all games. Our larger games will likely have third party contractors to help us design mini-games and special features. But in general I will code everything.
Most game developments will work thus:
- I will workout a full outline, detailing the storyline, choices and other things for a game.
- A writer will then take that and create a full script.
- I will then code the script whilst artists create the backgrounds and characters.
- Once fully coded I will work on bugs and grammar via a beta whilst CG illustrations are created and implemented.
- Music Scores will be created and added and a game finalised for release.
I will be the only person coding in 2019 onwards (with the exception of Echo Tokyo: Reaper) and all other workers will be 3rd party contractors, setting their own rates for the work we hire them for. In general Dharker Studios will become smaller as a company but we will become more reliable as I will oversee, code and run every project of every kind we do.
Welcome to the future.