Just released: Knights of San Francisco (iOS/Android)

Since some of the ideas for the game stemmed from discussions on this forum (exhibits A B C), I thought I should plug it here first before I go to other places.

The game is my attempt of having deep simulation (to the level of individual body parts) yet simple UI. It’s also an attempt at having a text game that’s mainstream (to some extent) and yet still keeps some of the IF format (i.e. it’s not F2P, or full of high quality illustrations). It is a direct descendant of my IFCOMP 2017 game, Insignificant Little Vermin.

Here’s the trailer:

And here’s the game’s page:

egamebook.com/knights

It’s $2.99 on iOS and Android. I’m 99% sure the whole project will be a flop (see also: IF economics) but, thankfully, I didn’t really spend much money on it. (Time, though? Yes. A lot of it.) The important thing, for me, is that I wasn’t forced to compromise, and that I stuck to the “premium app” approach instead of releasing it for free. Not sure if this particular game deserves a price tag, but IF in general does. Normalize paying for content.

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This is great and I love it. Wait, I need to say more than that or I’ll sound like a shill.

  • Funneling down a Dwarf Fortressesque combat model into a simple interface is not easy. Making the interface simple and attractive is as much harder again! In fact, people who haven’t fought in the vietnam war of ui design won’t ever appreciate the effort you put in it, and isn’t that tragic.
  • On the other hand, tapping the skull ten thousand times per paragraph to advance text sucks. It feels like some last vestige of visual novel dna left in the design. It’s not good.
  • The dynamic dungeon-exploring monster-slaying bits were fun. The walking around town grinding exposition text from npcs parts were dull. You probably already know that. Who has ever liked those bits?
  • Being a necromancer was great, but the design clearly called out for a bunch of player classes. You probably know that already too.
  • Although the dungeon was fun, the sense of danger was nonexistant. The final boss went down in one hit, before my army of allies could act. The inventory full of healing items went unused. I wasn’t playing very minmaxily. It’s just a bit easy.
  • I don’t know how I feel about it offering free unconditional take-backs from every point of the game, but then not mentioning it until after you complete the game. That was definitely a bold move, technologically and design-ically.

Though I don’t love all of the game, I do love it as a whole. It feels like an artifact from a future where interactive fiction is more confident and polished than it is now, and I want to see more of that future.

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Thank you, Hatless! It’s interesting how different people like & dislike very different parts of the game. I’ve heard both high praise and complaints (from different people) about: combat, music, illustrations, story arch, length, difficulty, the NPC dialogue, and the UI.

Thankfully for me, most people agree that, as a sum of its parts, it’s a good game overall (at least if I go by early press, streamers, and store ratings). What I love the most is that, often, people say something like “I don’t normally play this stuff” — and then they go on to say they really enjoyed it.

There’s still so much to explore in the space of “mainstream-accessible IF” (I’m sure there’s a better term for it). And I’m sure there are a million good approaches. The one I took is just one of many, and it’s probably not good enough to make a lasting mark. But it’s great to have been able to make my own decisions, as a solo dev, without having to conform to market pressures, and still release a reasonably successful game.

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Are there plans to release it on home computers (e.g. itch.io)? If no, I suppose I could buy it on my Android phone, but I usually prefer to play on my computer.

(But I understand more platforms means more work! And even if you release it on itch tomorrow, I won’t buy it right away, so take your time.)

Hi Nathanaël, thanks for considering the game! I wouldn’t call them “plans” yet, but I have an idea of releasing the game on desktop. But that’ll take several months — the layout and the control scheme will have to be reworked. Everything about the game is optimized for mobile devices right now.

In other words: it’s possible there’ll be a PC version, but not in the next few months.

No problem!

I have been following the discussions that stemmed the game and I’m interested to see the result!

If I get some time, I’ll consider buying it for mobile, except if a desktop version comes before, of course.