Category Archives: Blog

Pricing policy

How the games are priced and why

I wrote this as an answer to all the questions regarding pricing of my games. It applies to all the games released so far (Stellar Monarch and Amberland series). I do not exclude the possibility of another pricing policy for some future titles, but that’s not very likely and overall premise should be universal among all titles.

People ask me various questions, especially frequently “will the be a discount for owners of previous game” or “will those be bundled”. Some of those are not possible to make, like when I have no real information who purchased the previous one, and no tools provided by the platform holder. But, there is a more fundamental reason why those games are priced the way those are priced.

The real and the most important reason is that I make niche games. Those can not and will not sell in high quantities, never. So, those need to be priced higher. Also, it’s crucial to sell as many copies as possible at the full price, otherwise there would be no future sequels. That’s why I try to not discount to too deeply, especially at the beginning and that’s also I do not offer special discount to the most loyal fans. The thing is, we all face a choice, to get it very heap or assure the sequel of a given series (and I know you love those sequels and expansions and so on). That’s the most prosaic reason why it’s priced the way it’s priced.

That being said, it’s perfectly understandable that some have more money and they would not mind at all to pay the full price and some have less many and can not afford it. That’s why there are discounts!

My policy on discounts is pretty simple and standardized. I try to participate in all seasonal discounts and all special theme discounts which are made available by the platform holder. I try to increase the discount gradually over time as the game becomes older, typically and usually (but that’s not a hard rule) for up to 50%.

So, the premise here is that if you are more price sensitive you can still get the game, a bit later, but at a lower price.

My policy on bundles is somewhat less organized. I try to put things that fit together but I avoid putting a new title in a bundle (to assure full price purchases, as mentioned above). It’s again somewhat platform specific since, for example Steam allows to display only 3 bundles at once, so it’s sometimes tricky to include all the combinations that there should be. I don’t have that much flexibility in that regard to be honest.

Regional pricing
Sometimes people ask me why the price in their country has changed (typically when it increases). Well, the truth is I have no clue. In big corporations they have people who observe all the currencies and make pricing policy per region or country. For me, I just try to keep up with the base USD pricing and then keep the rest identical to the recommendation of the platform holder (a small exception is pricing in PLN which I can actually understand since it’s my local currency and I alter it sometimes). That being said if I even have the saying on this. For example recently Steam notified me that they stop taking local currency in some countries and they would charge clients there in USD. Overall, I do not touch those and usually platform holders do not even ask me about regional pricing and do it by their own policy.

Buy the game at full price if you are rich because then there are chances I can make a sequel of your favorite game. If you are very rich, buy all my games, even those you don’t intend to play. If you have less money, wait for discount and/or bundle, I try to put those on discounts frequently and regularly. As for the rest, I’m usually innocent.

Oh yes, also after you played the game, leave a review (reviews are important) and make a post on Reddit or some other social network thing and wishlist all my games, especially upcoming ones. Overall, those are more valuable to me than raw income, since those have a scaling effect.

Thank you for playing the games and for all the support you show me!

Progress report – Legends of Amberland II – 2023, Q3

This is a very boring update since I was working mostly on content so… there is not much to write about really. Very unexciting, yet very important. The short story is I was sitting on my desk making new maps, locations, quests, NPCs and items. And that’s basically it. A steady progress and nothing to write about to be honest.

What was done
Code was finished. New manual was made and around 3/4 of the content was completed. Classes were rebalanced and adjusted a bit.

What’s left
Around 1/4 of the content needs to be done. Then a quality pass needs to be made. Next online achievements, pdf manual and numerous small things. The last part would be linguistic QA and localization, some of it might or might not be done after v1.00. Also preparation of the game code for porting (which is probably a small task since the first game was already ported) and improvement of the gamepad support. Plus a few other things I’m sure have forgotten to put on my todo list.

It all seems good, going slower than expected but within reasonable limits. I guess, if it was a life threating issue, like if someone put the gun to my head, I could release the game in two weeks. I would not do it of course since I want to polish it a bit but overall, playability wise, it’s almost ready in the rough form. So, the game is going to be released somewhere this year, as planned. I would say around the beginning of December but it might or might not be released earlier.

New content planned for Legends of Amberland II

After I wrote the “new features” piece it occurred to me that a similar one about “new content” is in order. After all, RPGs are not just about mechanics, they are also about the world, story, mood & feeling, exploration, quests, NPCs, items and so on.

New content introduced in the sequel

The sequel got a bunch of content related improvements. Music, art and a different, presumably better, approach to the locations and story construction. So, here it goes, the list of content related improvements.

That part of the game content would be the most significantly different, in short, music was totally redone. I have contracted a composer, Christopher Loza, to arrange a set of custom made tunes, made to fit the mood and feel of Amberland world. The instructions provided was to make it feel like tunes from those old games from the 90s era but at the some time without technical limitations of the era. I think it worked out great, while those who love 90s era RPGs would be delighted those who are not into it that much still will find it very decent. This also means that a soundtrack DLC is possible.

A bunch of improvements of existing tiles and new tiles as well. Animated portals, animated lava, new tile types for farmlands, more plants, flowers, gardens and so on.

Before I started designing the sequel, first I gathered all the feedback on the first Amberland I could. The conclusion was that overworld was awesome while dungeons were merely passable (with some weirdos saying dungeons were great, but I don’t believe it personally). So, I decided to strike it from both sides. First, strengthen the strong (which means making the player spend more time outdoors: bigger overworld, mixed indoor/outdoor locations, gardens inside location) and second to improve the weak (improving design of dungeons). Judging from the feedback gathered from the demo it seems it worked out well, now the consensus is the dungeons were significantly or greatly improved.

In addition I took a different approach to designing locations, before those were heavily gameplay focused (dungeons filled with monsters, bosses and treasures). Now I allowed a decent number of smaller locations intended for purpose of the mood of the game not gameplay. So there are some, even very tiny, locations which serve only as a mean to convey the lore, in places that are logical to have those (example: abandoned hideouts of sorcerers and the like).

There is also significantly more locations overall (but fear now, there are additional tools provided for players to keep track of it, like new tiny map of the overworld which makes navigating much easier).

The common criticism of the underground locations in the first Amberland as compared the ave of the overworld made me reexamine my approach to constructing those. Based on the demo feedback it seems that it worked out and those were greatly improved.

Environmental storytelling
Much higher priority was given to environmental storytelling. Like environment takes into considerations what should be where in relation to the world and story. In addition, there is now more reactivity of NPCs to changes (like: you kill the dragon and the people start to repopulate previously abandoned area which is safe now).

Story (lore, characters and plot)
The conclusion of the predecessor’s feedback analysis was that lore of the game world is awesome, no change needed at all, that NPC characters are very good, so again the same route should be taken and that plot is, well, the weakest part of it all. So, I redirected all efforts and focus to the plot part when it comes to story. First, I decided to do it 100% my way this time, without taking into account critics, worrying about cliche and the like, all this proved to be a way to nowhere previously. So, now I’m using the same approach as I had with lore and characters, I write it the way I like it and we will see how it turns out. Second, the story was split more evenly between NPCs to simplify interactions with individual character (I’m looking at you Royal Wizard, who have stolen half the camera time in the first Amberland).

The shift was made from using only predefined to a mix of predefined and randomly generated items. This alone provides much higher variety of items. While handcrafted items sound nice in theory, in practice a more algorithmic approach works better. In addition, it freed some mental energy resources of me as a developer which allowed to add more variety to the semi generated stuff.

In the first Amberland I was obsessed with removing the fat, to assure the game does not drag too long. To my surprise, no one complained the game was too long. Ever. So, now I’m taking a more relaxed approach, allowing some parts that do not have the optimal playtime to fun ratio. It seems that’s what basically all of you wish for. Of course this still means Amberland stays as one of the most compressed games in terms of removal of boring parts, that does not change. Overall, I think the total playtime will be longer than in the first one, but it’s just my guess at this point.

Special zones
I have experimented with special environmental and magical zones. Now ships require navigation skill to access some sea areas with strong wind, snow zones might have areas with extreme cold you need to prepare for and there are parts where magic work differently. This allowed me to craft outdoor zones which feel even more diverse.

Quests descriptions
I got several reports that people were sometimes confused where to go next in the predecessor. So, now all quests descriptions include the name of the area or location where you need to go (if it’s known of course) and the overworld sector designation.

There are also new monsters, dungeon features and probably some other minor stuff not listed above. Overall, I think you will see a significant improvement when it comes to locations and overall feel of the game compared to the predecessor.

New features planned for Legends of Amberland II

First, I wanted to stress out the design philosophy. There are no changes for the sake of changes. The game overall feels and plays the same. The changes are not revolutionary but evolutionary. Only features that actually improve the game, without destroying everything for the sake of novelty, were added.

New features in the sequel

The list below contains only features that are already implemented and tested. Those are not all the changes. But what is listed is guaranteed to be in the game.

Item suffixes
The whole items system was redesigned. Now items can have suffixes (like “Shield {of Fire Resistance}”) which greatly increases the diversity of items. In addition there are 3 quality tiers for items (so “Shield {of Fire Resistance} [II]” is better than “Shield {of Fire Resistance} [I]”, even though those share the same set of abilities). Also, the random treasures generator was rebalanced to give more equal ratio of various items. And the last thing, because people will ask, yes, there will be magic staves to be found.

There are 4 types of shops now. Regular shops which provide trivial items. Guild shops which provide random set of items, Pawn shop where you can sell and buy back unneeded items and Magic shop where they accept crystals only. Shops have separate stock on a per town basis and further towns have higher tier shops (better and more expensive items).

Resistances system
Now resistances are not 0/1 but are value based. So, as the monsters become tougher you need to obtain higher resistance values (with extra options for temporary boosts). Next, Acid was replaced with Sorcery which makes it more thematic and some resistances were merged (for a total of 8 resistances).

Towns as separate locations
Widely requested yet quite a simple thing, towns are now not as a menu but as full fledged maps you can explore.

There are party skills and trainers scatted around the world which teach such skills. Those provide nice bonuses and an excuse to explore the world even further.

New dungeon features
Extra features in dungeons like illusionary walls, doors locked by keys, etc.

More complex connections between locations
It might be not instantly visible to you as a player, but it’s very important for designing maps for me. Now there are two way exits from locations and inter locations portals. This allows me as a designer to make interesting topography like you enter a cave in one place and exit it in a completely different place on the overworld or you enter a portal in a tower and exit inside a dungeon on the other side of the map deep below ground.

Wells function the same as in the predecessor (healing), but fountains were redesigned and now grant temporary bonuses (resistances, attributes, etc).

Griffin travel rules change
There are subtle, yet important changes to the way travel via griffins work. For example, now griffin travel takes time, which effectively means you can not use it to go and visit every single spot with free buffs (because first temporary buffs will expire after a several griffin runs). Also, griffins can no longer land on lava or desert, making traversing dangerous terrain much more tricky.

Resting rules adjustment
You can no longer rest on lava, which combined with new griffin rules means that lava terrain becomes a real challenge. Oh yes, also now you can rest in inn without using food by paying the fee directly (which was requested like by everyone).

Map shows a tiny minimap with overworld
Now you can see the whole shape of the overworld at a glance by looking at a tiny map which was added on the full map. Very handy, you will love. Trust me.

Field of view extended (unfogging minimap)
Another small, yet highly requested feature. Now you don’t need to physically enter every single tile, surrounding will auto mark as “seen”. What’s best, the information what you visited physically is not lost since a tile is displayed differently if you visited it or merely saw it.

Magical barriers
Those were rebalanced and divided into three grades (with distinct graphics so you can clearly see the danger level of each barrier) now posing a much greater threat. Basically, those can wipe out an unprepared party and are used in locations to slow down your progress or even make you turn back. Lightning resistance is of high value now since it can greatly reduce the magical barriers damage. Overall, now magical barriers are a serious threat which will make you reconsider how you explore dungeons.

Small adjustments that go well together
There are other small changes which bring synergy, for example drinking from fountains takes one hour which combined with the added time for griffin travel and the fact that temporary buffs expire at midnight let you use griffin to visit 2-3 fountains before an important fight but not to visit any number of those. At the same time drinking from wells (healing) takes mere minutes so it can be used as an effective local healing in a series of fights without the fear of expiring party bonuses.

Many small improvements
There are many other small things not mentioned here. Additional art assets, animations for portals, etc.

Possible other features
Since only things that are already implemented and tested were listed above it means there are decent odds those are not all the changes that will end up in the final game.

Progress report – Legends of Amberland II – 2023, Q2

So, the quarter almost ends, therefore, it’s time for the quarterly progress report. Overall, it all goes smoothly, but with unexpected delays, so pretty boring and standard I would say. Coding in almost done, the game went into internal alpha testing and a demo was made for the Steam Next Fest. Due to the need for testing and demo release I adjusted my plans and started making content earlier than originally planned, so the starting continent is basically playable and even a bit polished (but not 100% finished yet).

What was done
All core features were implemented, well, a few are still missing but those are minor. There are several more new features I would like to see, but those are not critical. Actually, I could finish the code in like a week now, so what’s left is content. I have created the first game zone with a bunch of locations (it seems there will be more locations than in the first Amberland, but smaller ones, it just feel more lively that way, also those locations are more thematic).

Porting progress
I was told that all technical problems were successfully dealt with and that the alpha version of the game works on target consoles flawlessly and at a required speed. So, it seems the game will be released on other consoles than Nintendo Switch this time. But there will be a separate announcement about it with exact details later.

Alpha testing conclusions
There was a build made for a limited number of trusted testers. There were several iterations of the build, with fixes, feedback on new features and the like (BTW, thanks to all my testers! It’s a real pleasure making a game this way!), it all seems solid now.

Demo conclusions
That was surprising, but the reception of the demo was very good, way better than I anticipated. It was released on 7th June, a few weeks before Steam Next Fest and it included the first continent with surrounding islands. Exactly one bug was reported so far, which makes me very happy. At first I was worried about the new features and the changes introduced, but it seems it all worked out very well. I observed that the people who had some objections to those features during Alpha, revoked those objections after playing the demo. In short, it all seems ready to go without any redesign… which is a new thing to me, it never happened before, not that I complain of course.

Originally, I planned for a release somewhere around this summer, but as I was talking with partners I kind of got convinced to simultaneous launch for all platforms. Which is not guaranteed/decided yet, but I think, it’s worth to give it a try. Therefore, in such scenario, the safest date would be late Q4, mostly due to the need of localization, QA, submissions and so on. But we will see, for now the official release date stays “somewhere in 2023”.

The design philosophy of sequel to Legends of Amberland

This is an overview of the design direction for Legends of Amberland II. It does not list exact features, but more like design principles on a more abstract level. Probably this would be most interesting to game designers and developers than regular players, but who knows.

Overall, it’s a direct sequel, like 90% code will be reused. If you liked the first game there are extremely high odds you will like that one too, if you hated the predecessor you will hate that one as well. But if you liked the first one but found it lacking there are decent odds the parts you did not like would be improved. As a principle, it’s an evolution, not a revolution. It will be basically a very similar game with various improvements, adjustments, slight changes in the design principles and other changes, but the nature and premise will stay the same.

Lessons learned from the first Legends of Amberland

While I was reading various articles, reviews and forum posts about Amberland I noticed an interesting thing. The things I had fun to make were valued very high by the players, while things that I did not enjoyed making were valued as poor or mediocre. Take as an example the overworld map (which I had blast making) vs underground levels (which I did not enjoy making that much). Overworld was evaluated as super fun to travel while dungeons were frequently evaluated as merely passable. It applies to other aspects of the game as well. Which lead me to a decision to alter the development process by adding an additional criteria, which is “do I have fun making it?”. Of course this would not apply to to UI, bug fixing, technical stuff, which obviously has to be done and it’s always tiresome and boring. But for the gameplay related things I would add such step and I feel it should result in a better game.

Another observation, all design goals I wanted to achieve were actually achieved, but… Sometimes, the cure was worse than the disease. For example “make shop items useful and make them decently priced so there is a decision to be made what should be bought” was achieved, everyone wants to buy the additional Girdle of Carrying and its price is far from trivial even in the late game. So, yes, I was able to “fix” the long lasting problems of basically any other RPG… but it resulted in side effects that negated the whole gain. Basically, a non trivial amount of players was simply sad they can not afford everything (which was the goal mind you, perfectly executed). Therefore, I decided to more carefully examine my design goals, especially if those were contrary to classic RPG design choices in other games. It made me realize that many, very stupid at a glance, limitations and cliches of RPGs are there for a reason, usually an important one and not visible at the surface. Definitely more care needs to be taken when it comes to innovation and wild ideas on this field.

Story of the first Amberland had two strong pillars (world lore and characters) and one weak pillar (plot). Lore was evaluated as super consistent, logical and with an excellent mood, not a single complain, a lot of praise, no alteration here needed at all. Characters (NPCs) were frequently valued highly for their lines and personality, no complains, can carry on with the same style. Plot was the part that many people evaluated as mediocre, some even as poor. While there were no terrible ratings of the plot there definitely is a problem with that aspect of the story. I was thinking about the reasons for a longer while, so I could made whole separate post about it, but the short analysis is this. The plot was too complex and too subtle (most people did not understood it, especially the relation between the spell of forgetfulness and the crown) and therefore it was classified as cliche (yes, not something one could guess is even possible). Next problem was related to lack of the final boss, which was confusing (yep, there was no final boss in first Amberland, the one you meet at the end is not the final boss), also environmental storytelling was lacking. The interesting thing is that when I inquired players and asked “what you think was the real story behind all those events” they did guess it right, despite at first claiming something else, so it’s not that it was too subtle or confusing… Anyway, definitely a different approach to plot is needed.

Many other small things. The list could go on much longer, there are other smaller observations like the Great Desert perceived unbalance, lack of magical staves, etc. These all were taken into consideration and many (maybe most?) of those are planned to be addressed in some form or another.

Design choices for Legends of Amberland II

I decided to alter my approach to the sequel design based on the analysis above. Note it will not list any exact features, it’s more like a general direction or a mindset I’m using for the sequel.

1. Respect the players’ time but do not obsess over it.

To my surprise I got zero, null, not a single one complain that the game was too long. I strived hard to compress the experience and remove every single boring part or potentially boring part. It proved too be too excessive, a more lenient approach would be better. Especially since all my games are anty micro-management in principle, so actually there is no real danger of me ever making a game that is heavy on the grind side, even if I tried and was paid a lot of money. My default game designer’s mindset prevent me from it. So, a more lenient approach, where I merely respect the player’s time but not obsess over it should result in a better game.

2. More RPG and less roguelike.

My background is from the roguelikes community, I do love resources management. I feel I might have leaned slightly too much towards a roguelike in the first Amberland (for example I knew during the development how much gold total is in the game and how many shop items the player can afford, a bit too excessive). So I decided to go more in the RPG direction. With a more lenient economy and less control over experience/gold, especially since the core balance turned out to be better than I expected. Also, the pillar of the game is “exploration” not resources management, so I will align other features to support it.

3. Observe the classic RPG design principles.

While innovation is nice I will now double check the validity of each decision especially if such decision is contrary to the classic RPG design. For example the damage/HP ratio problem, which was intended as an innovation and later had to be patched. Now each such decision will be accompanied with “why they did it that way” question before being implemented.

4. Advanced mechanics.

The encumbrance system was very, very well received. Such modern systems, easy to explain and deep in concept are good to be integrated with the game and those do not hinder the nostalgia feel of the game at all. While there is not much space to include many more such mechanics, the overall direction is good and more such mechanics can be considered for addition. Overall, examining the feedback, I feel the players would be willing to process a few more such intuitive yet deep mechanics so I feel I can afford to grab deeper into my designer’s chest and grab a few slightly heavier parts without making the game too complex if needed.

Getting into the mood, the proper mindset is the key to success.


There will be changes in some mechanics, but not to the extend of changing the nature of the game but rather for the purpose of replacing the parts that were not that great in hindsight (for example items will be a mixture of semi randomly generated regular items and a bunch of handcrafted unique items). Definitely I want to avoid “hey, let’s making something new here for the sake of being new” and only incorporate stuff that truly enrich the gameplay. In addition, the approach to several design philosophies will be changed to better suit the strong points of the game and the genre. Overall, the goal is to make the same kind of game as the first one, but even better and even more fun.

Dropping support for Windows 8 and 8.1

Windows 8 and 8.1 is no longer officially supported (all games)

Historically, most technical problems reported were related to Win 8/8.1. By this I mean like more than 50% reports total among all games, ever reported. I would say, it’s the most troublesome system ever released. In addition a very minuscule number of people use it nowadays, and even those who do, seem to have a second OS on another machine anyway. Which also means, I have harder and harder time to find testers to test it on that machine. The last thing is, I use various third party software for the engine and, well, let’s say that the maintainers of this software do not treat Win 8/8.1 support as a priority. All this combined lead me to decide it’s time to stop supporting this OS.

Note that Windows XP is still supported (at least for now).

Currently supported:
Windows 11, Windows 10, Windows 7, Windows XP.
Linux (flawless emulation on Linux via any compatibility layer, especially Proton, regularly tested).
Mac (unconfirmed, but I got reports it runs without problems on M1 Mac via emulation).

The secret story behind pixel sizes

Yesterday, Legends of Amberland got an update upscaling all 3D view assets to 64px on all platforms (Steam, GOG, Nintendo Switch). Here is the full story behind the scenes of this interesting & important decision.

It goes like this. A long, long time ago I started the Legends of Amberland project with an assumption that all 3D view assets (landscape, monsters, map features, dungeons, etc) would be made as 16×16 pixels. It was consistent and it was looking unique in the artistic sense, I liked it. I posted some screenshots on a few forums (mostly RPG Codex) to get feedback, the response was rather positive with the exception of artistic style which was mixed. Still, I resisted for a while to adjust it, my main objection was that if I up it to 32×32 pixels then soon people will complain they want 64×64 and then 128×128 pixels. Then I went to Pixel Connect 2018 in Warsaw, it’s a very tiny but nice expo for industry members only, and exhibited the prototype of Legends of Amberland. I got a quite positive feedback but… the feedback regarding visuals was interesting. Some people hated it and some said “they don’t play such games for art”, in short people either disliked the art or were indifferent to it, no one, or very few have fallen in love with it. That’s when I decided to go for 32×32 pixel size.

So, the game was launched in Early Access with 32×32 pixels art assets. The reaction to the art style was much better than to 16×16, now some people loathed it, some didn’t care and some loved it. Which is a desired outcome for an indie developer who does not aim for mass market, you care about how many people love your work not how many hate it and definitely you don’t want to make it feel “average” or “compatible with tastes of the most people” as AAA companies are forced to do. Some people loved the art style which meant for me that it serves its purpose. Anyway, it was a good art style for the project and I thought it would be the end of the story.

As time went on and the game became more and more popular one thing occurred to me. There was a portion of potential players who would enjoy the game but the art style made them unable to play it and that there was some portion of the fan base who played the game despite the art style, they enjoyed the overall experience but they were suffering due to incompatible aesthetic. I don’t like when my loyal players suffer, so it made me sad. That’s when I started to think about the possibility of upscaling the graphics yet again. Maybe for a sequel as I thought at the time.

Then, one day, when I was on a walk with my wife and the small one, I got a call from Wojtek Kubiak (CEO of Pineapple Works, the company which made the port of Legends of Amberland for Nintendo Switch), he listed several well thought reasons why it would be great to upscale the art assets a bit. Great, I thought to myself, if he independently thought about the same thing I had, since I never mentioned it to him, it is a no brainer. I answered that I will look into the feasibility of doing it, agreed on the optimal deadline and then I hang up. Next I have chosen the number to Krzysztof “Pixel” Matys (my primary pixel artist for monsters and humanoids) and said to him “Do you remember when we talk about possible 64px upscaling? We are going to try it earlier. Can you redo all monsters in one month?” he sighted heavily and promised he will deliver it on time (that’s one advantage of having trusted long term contractors). This settled the hardest part of it since monsters were the most tricky and work intense of this upscaling. I continued to enjoy my evening walk with my family happy I managed to basically finish my part. The next day I looked through remaining assets (landscape, walls, doors, chests, objects, etc) and I contacted Maciej Mrowicki (my another pixel artist who so far did smaller assets) and asked if he can handle upscaling the rest, he said it’s no problem (he delivered it much earlier that I expected and without any fuss, which earned him +2 levels on my “artists’ spreadsheet”, so expect more art assets from him on my future projects). In short, I was on a walk, answered one call, made one call, sent one email and then got most of the glory & love from all this upscaling thing while others did 97% of the hard work.

In a few days they delivered me the example upscaled assets, now there was the critical part, do I go for it or not. I assembled it all in the game and… requested changes 😀 I got the revised assets, tried again and… yeah, it was looking good and it was consistent. I gave the green light to the new art style and started collecting incoming assets. Soon it was all done.

Overall, the tricky part was that a significant player base was already happy with the 32px assets version and the game was already released, so the upscaling to 64px was only an option if it was compatible in aesthetic sense with the existing look and feel. Fortunately, the 64px version was very similar regarding the feeling and the impression of pixelated graphics was not lost during upscaling, so it was not a problem. Another tricky part was the simultaneous update on all platforms (Steam, GOG, Nintendo Switch), not an easy task to synchronize it, but we managed to do it.

Oh yes, there was also another reason for the upscaling thing, a tiny little one I have not mentioned to anyone… It got under my skin that some unnice people were implying that the art style choice was just a result of my cheapness and lack of proper budget of my games not a conscious artistic decision. Now you can’t say so, you complainful personas! And I still manged to retain my artistic vision and aesthetics without bowing to your boring generic artistic taste!

In the end, my first suspicion that if I agree to upscale from 16px to 32px they will still want to go further was correct and indeed players wanted to do the thing *again*, so I ended up with a second upscaling from 32px to 64px. Now I wonder, will they try to persuade me to upscale it again to 128px, 256px and so on? Only time will tell…

Expansion packs/DLC policy

I was thinking about the promised expansion pack for Stellar Monarch and decided to write first my views on expansion packs/DLCs in general. It is intended for Stellar Monarch’s expansion but it should apply to all my games I suppose, maybe with some exceptions/differences. So here it is, my policy on expansion packs.

The premise of an expansion pack is to extend the base game, not to fix it or make it playable. The base game comes first, it must stand on its own and be complete. Once that’s achieved an expansion can be introduced.

Rules of an expansion pack:

  • expansion pack CAN NOT be a fix or balance related (it belongs to the base game)
  • expansion pack CAN NOT be about improving interface (it belongs to the base game)
  • it is possible for an expansion to introduce more complex mechanics for example concepts that I have decided to not include in the base game due to additional complexity (still it must be within reasonable limits, so the game with an expansions does not turn into a complex monster)
  • it is possible for an expansion to include new content (races, audience events, technologies, etc)