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A story about the idea and development of a game with cute monster girls and ancient revolvers.

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What will we get if we add up Stephen King’s The Dark Tower, monster girls and a date sim/card battler mix (shaken, not just stirred)? We will get Princess Hunter, a peculiar blend of various settings and mechanics I’ve been working on as a side project for the past year or so. If you are not repulsed by such experiments, then make yourself comfortable and be ready for images and words of equal worth!

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But first, a short introduction. My story is nothing extraordinary; I first started designing games as soon as I was able to hold a pencil and write on wallpaper. Fortunately, my parents didn’t think their game designing son was a disgrace to the family and decided not to put me up for adoption. Over the years, my hobby only intensified. At school, me and my pals were inventing our own tabletop RPGs by merging D&D and GURPS with other systems; were trying to program a S.T.A.L.K.E.R-like game using QBASIC. As I started college, I co-created a couple point-and-click adventures using AGS, and after I got my degree, I finally succeeded at turning my hobby into a career. Since then, I’ve been working on F2P social games and later mobile games. Those were no AAA projects, but still I think my dream did come true.

Over the years, I’ve seen my former pals burning out and stopping designing games. Some went into banking, some took to binge drinking. Many married and started families, turning their attention to other priorities. Still, I’ve never lost my desire to create stories and mechanics, and share them with others. After a number of failed attempts, I formed my own vision of how to approach an indie project.

And then, I saw Helltaker - a simple sokoban-style game, where you complete levels in order to capture demon girls. It was kind of a revelation, making me finally understand what I’ve already known for a long time. That is, a good game doesn’t have to revolutionize the industry or boast 120-hour-long gameplay in an open world; a good story and sound mechanics would do just as well. Grasping at the first concept that crossed my mind, I began adding in details:

The Gunslinger, the last of legendary warriors, is called to serve the Scarlet King. The decrepit monarch orders his vassal to bring him princesses from all corners of the Multiverse. Among them, he wants to choose one that will be worthy to continue his lineage. The hero starts his journey, unaware that his treacherous suzerain has already found a bride…

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Just as I was breathlessly describing the concept to my artist friend, her responses went from “What kind of joke is this?” to “He must be trolling me…”, but eventually I got through to her. Before I could finish explaining how the Multiverse works and tell her about the princesses living there, she sketched one of them--a shy owl-harpy.

This sketched is dear to me because it marks the beginning of this project.


Then the work started in earnest. A programmer friend of mine proposed to turn my ideas into code, while I was busy developing the story, quests, dialogues, and gameplay. Before zeroing in on actual core mechanics, we tried out several prototypes, formulating three main pillars along the way.

The first pillar is Area Exploration.

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The edge of the magical forest.


Each chapter is a separate world with its own features, quests and denizens, both friendly and not. Below you can see a small piece of the first world called Wyrdwood. A level consists of a number of "clearings" connected by paths. In each such clearing, the Gunslinger will find useful items, interactive objects, talkative NPCs, or aggressive mobs. Moving between clearings and levels, he will have to complete quests in order to achieve the main goal of the chapter, which is getting the local princess into the squad.

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Upon encountering a hostile mob, a turn-based battle starts, which is heavily inspired by The Guild of Dungeoneering. I decided to take this simplistic system, which, however, offers some tactical freedom, so as to appeal to a wider audience than hardcore gamers like myself.

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The rules are simple: the mob goes first, playing the top card from its deck. Then, the player selects one card from his hand in order to respond to the attack as effectively as possible.

As per usual in such games, you will be able to improve your base cards as well as add new ones to the deck.

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In addition, the Gunslinger can equip Artifacts that give useful traits, somewhat resembling charms from Hollow Knight. The artifact loadout can be changed only at the camp, so think carefully which ones you are going to need during the exploration phase!

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Ah, the Camp. What can be better than a pleasant conversation by the campfire after a hard day? Having had enough of exploration, the tired Gunslinger will have to find a safe place to set up the camp. There he would be able not only to restore health and manage his deck and/or squad, but also to get to know his companions better.

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Each princess has her own temper, so you will need to find a “key" for each of them. If you're lucky, you can become friends with each character... or even closer!

Although the interface of these chats may remind you of classical visual novels, they are closer to non-linear RPG dialogues offering much variability. Also, the game being a date sim, you may romance everything that moves… or move it first and then romance. However, you may just as easily turn your companions against yourself.

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Currently, all mechanics described above have been implemented in-game, not just as fake screens. Arts, texts, and animations are mostly ready, too. We really wanted to have a demo version ready in time for the Steam Next Fest in October, but our small team took a serious hit, when our programmer decided to quit all of a sudden. Fortunately, we’ve found a replacement, but the chances that we’d be able to finish and test it properly are slim. Therefore, we decided to focus on quality rather than meeting deadlines. If all goes well, we’ll participate in the next event!

As of today, the project has been in development for just over a year. Our current team consists of me (game design/narrative design/management), an artist, and a programmer. In Spring, our trio was joined by an animator, who has made our static sprites alive. Many other people assist us occasionally as well.

As I’ve mentioned above, this is a side project, and I’m funding it myself. The heading isn’t a clickbait; in order to pay for the animations, I had to sell my car! We have enough money to polish a demo, and then everything will depend on players’ reception and publishers’ interest.

We are aiming at the “Teen” ESRB rating and don’t want to get into “Mature” or “Adult Only” space (despite may requests to do so). In this respect, Hades is one of the references, which has adult and erotic content, but it is not emphasized in any way. My personal belief is:

Give a man some porn and you satisfy him for a day. Give him some hints and fuel for imagination, and he will be churning out fan work for his lifetime!

If you liked Princess Hunter, you can add it to the Wishlist on Steam and follow us in Twitter!

Thanks!

mel-chibi-idle

Comments
ozbayemrah
ozbayemrah - - 9 comments

You have really cool work. I also sold my car to support my game, but from my perspective everything goes well =)
I hope you will have success on ur project.. Arts and drawings are really cool.

Reply Good karma Bad karma+3 votes
An_dante Author
An_dante - - 1 comments

Tnx! Very happy to get positive feedback =)

Reply Good karma+2 votes
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