I've been exceptionally quiet on social media and this site for a while now. Behind the scenes I've been hard at work on a new game for the past year. It's one I'd like to have announced sooner but it's the kind of game where there's no easy "vertical slice" to show people until basically the whole game was finished. It's also probably going to seem pretty far removed from my past games. So today I'm finally ready to reveal my new game, Cosplay Maker.
Cosplay Maker is a cosplaying management and dating simulation game. Primarily it's the kind of simulation game where you're making choices how to balance your week between various activities. As a cosplayer you're managing between working on your costumes, with part time jobs, relaxation time and a social life. In an ideal world you'd spend all week making your costumes the best they can be but you need money for your supplies and if you burn out from working all the time you'll make things slower and of worse quality. And the quality is important if you want to take your costumes to events and win competitions.
Although I'm not a cosplayer myself I've lived with cosplayers for most of my adult life and have been around that scene here in the UK long enough to pick up more than enough knowledge to try and make it as authentic as possible. In fact the original concept for the game came from a cosplaying friend of mine who wanted to make a game like the old Princess Maker series but for cosplay. She didn't have the time to work on it herself so agreed to let me make it. I've also spent time consulting with cosplayers to make sure a lot of the details are correct about how the costumes are made, what materials and skills are involved.
If it seems a big step away from what I did with Kairo, well it is and isn't. I've always been interested in different ways of telling stories through games. the white chamber was me trying to tell a story through one of my favourite classic genres, the point and click adventure game. In Kairo I wanted to explore how I could tell a story without text or dialogue, purely through the world. In Journal I wanted to push as far as possible in the opposite direction telling a story purely through dialogue without puzzles or other gameplay elements. Cosplay Maker is along those same lines, I've always enjoyed simulation games and couldn't count how many hours I dropped into Game Dev Story. I liked the idea of a Cosplay management sim a lot and so I've tried to explore how to use that genre to tell an interesting story.
Talking about the story I should mention this is probably one of my longest most elaborate yet. There's thousands of lines of dialogue devoted to the game's dating system alone but also there's a huge main story scenario that plays out as you progress through the cosplay world. I've tried to tell a story that gives some insight into the kind of dramas and events that genuinely do play out in the cosplay scene, though obviously for narrative purposes I've heightened them up to more overly dramatic levels than the reality. I'm hoping it's a story people who cosplay will recognise moments from things that have happend to them or their friends and to people who don't it might give them a bit of insight into a fandom they've never explored. For that reason the story does go to some slightly darker places than the game's visual style might otherwise suggest.
Anyway the good news is the game is almost done, I've still got some dialogue left to write but otherwise I'm just testing and polishing now. So unless something huge goes wrong the game should be out next month. Much quicker turn around from announcement to release than I'm used to but I really didn't want to spend a year on the road with this game taking it to all the events around the world. That might bite me the ass eventually but that kind of long PR run for indie games is expensive and exhausting and this time I just wanted to spend my time focusing on the game and seeing if I can still find an audience without all that. I guess I'll know soon enough.
If you've got any questions about the game you can always e-mail me or hit me up on twitter. Otherwise keep an eye out next month for a Steam release covering Windows, OSX and Linux. It may go to other platforms eventually but I'll have to wait and see how well it does on Steam first.