This time, Pig-Min did an e-mail interview with Riva Celso, CEO of Tycoon Games & ex-Winter Wolves.

He's another 1 man army from Italy, but making lots of Visual Novel(!)s very quickly & doing several jobs at once, with hired Artists & even Writers. Very unique case, even for an Indie Game Maker.

This interview could be another fun to read, and you could get some good informations. :)

Korean version of this Interview.



Trailer of [Bionic Heart], his recent Visual Novel work.


1. First of all, please introduce yourself to Pig-Min readers. You have made several games for many years, but we don't know you so well yet.

Well when I was 20-21 years old I worked for a short while in some local gaming companies (in Italy) but producing only minor games for national market only. Then after a long pause of 7 years I learned about shareware and indie games and I decided to try. Since I started I made so many games that is hard to keep track myself, but in my two websites I did:

Winter Wolves : Magic Stones, TV Station Manager, Supernova, The Goalkeeper, Universal Boxing Manager, Universal Soccer Manager 2, Quizland, Spirited Heart

Tycoon Games :Summer Session, Heileen, Supernova 2: Spacewar, Bionic Heart, College Romance


2. In the past, you made some hardcore games with Winter Wolves brand. But from 2008, you made new brand Tycoon Games & started making Casual Games. How come to decide that? Hardcore games as [Magic Stones] didn't sell much as you expected, so that's the reason?

Oh no not at all. Magic Stones didn't sold great but is still selling steady even today. A great thing about indie games is that they're unaffected by portal price wars.

The reason why I tried VN are several, in sparse order:

- making those hardcore games require LOTS of coding/testing. Making VN, since they're more linear, is easier from the coding point of view. After years of coding complex stuff I wanted to relax trying something easier.

- for my sports games, people were complaining about having non-real player / team names. Unfortunately for licensing reasons, I couldn't put them in the game. So that was another major downside in making "hardcore" games like sports simulation

- I love to tell stories, so for me writing 40-50k words (after they're proofreaded by a native english speaker) for a VN isn't a problem. I know that for other people would be a nightmare because they wouldn't know what to say to keep the story interesting!

Beside the reasons above, I have two upcoming games which aren't definitely VNs: Elimination, a strategy/wargame made with Phelios, and Tower Of Destiny that will be a oldschool first person RPG game (one of my favourite genres). To be honest my favourite genre ever is RPG, but it requires lots of effort and probably a full team to make a good one.


3. You don't submit your games to Portal recently, just selling from your own store & do some affiliates. Causal Games are too dedicated to Portals recently, and can you survive against them?

Well first of all VN aren't really casual games. They're not a mass-market IMHO. If you see my games they're all recommended for people 14 and up. In a portal or casual games world you'll NEVER see any game that isn't family friendly ;)

I submitted to portals but none was interested, except DFG and Arcadetown who are probably more open-minded than others. Still I had to make special versions for them eliminating completely the sexy references/images in the games.

I think is perfectly possible to survive without portals, but again my experience with them is very limited. I don't know if I'm missing a lot or not. I know that selling directly and exclusively helped me build a big fanbase overtime, and everyone knows that having a big mailing list is a key element for any online business (not just games).


4. Visual Novel could be another kind of Casual Games, but that's already minor genre only for manias in Japan. It's rarely exported outside Japan, and even exported, only through very limited distribution. Do you really think it's Casual? And how about opinion from others?

Ahah see my reply above. I don't think they're casual at all. In mainstream casual games they started to put VN elements too, like more dialogues and story in other genres (see wandering willows for example).

Other developers friends of mine mostly said that they were quite boring to play :-)


5. After you started making Visual Novels, you released a lot so fast. In fact, I saw your blog posting about making 5 games(!) at once. How come to decide doing that, and how can you do that at once? And doesn't it effect lower quality of each games?

Well since I live in one of the most expensive countries in the world, and with the increasing EURO value and the crisis at all, I had to come up with a plan to stay afloat without portals.

My plan is to TRY releasing many quality games in short development time. Anyone that played my last two games, Spirited Heart and Bionic Heart, said they were very polished (apart for the kind of gameplay that you might like or not). I have hired several artists and also writers, this way there won't be anymore grammar/language errors in games :)


6. Visual Novel is from Japan, but you're from Italy, and games are in English. What are feedbacks from others, about that cultural mixture? And do you have any episodes regarding to that?

Yes, language was a pain more than cultural differences. If you tell a story about a girl in 17th century doesn't matter if you're italian or english for example.

But if you write in bad english it matters. I tried everything: writing in italian and having it translated (very poor results), writing in english and then having it proofreaded (better) or writing just a sort of scene description and let native english people do the real writing (probably the best system).


7. [Bionic Heart] is kinda interesting case. Sci-Fi based / Beauty Girl Visual Novel / with Full Voice dubbing / located in Future of London (not Rome). That's exciting combination. Please share us feedbacks from others about that. Maybe some talked about 'British Accent English'?

Yes some said about the accent. It was my fault since when I picked the actors, I didn't care about the accent (also because I am not even sure I could understand it) but only about the quality of acting.

The reviews I got were all extremely positive about the game, everyone agreed was very polished, and the game also went live on several very popular Japanese websites: like an award of quality.


8. Have you ever tried or heard about Korean Games? If so, please share us your idea.

Hmm I am not sure, but isn't KOEI a korean company? If so I loved their games, in particular romance of three kingdoms and a very old but great game called Balor Evil Eye (I think ,was several years ago so might be wrong).


9. Please recommend us 5 games, and the reason why.

Ok here it is (in no particular order).

The Witcher - because the background story and the atmosphere is fantastic. You feel like living in a real world with people living their lives.

Mass Effect - because I think is a mix with FPS and Visual Novel elements! Lots of shooting but also lots of dialogues and character relationships

C&C Generals Zero Hours - the only RTS I still play nowadays after almost 10 years! A lesson of gameplay balance for everyone

Any of Sid Meier's games - that man is a genius. Any of his games are great, but I liked a lot Colonization and the new remake of Pirates

Spectromancer - similar to my game Magic Stones, but (I have to admit) better. I loved it a lot, more than the official Magic The Gathering games.


10. Please leave message to Pig-Min readers.

Well, check any of my games and see if you like them. I think there's one for every tastes, beside my recent VNs there are RPG, sports simulation and strategy games!


Korean version of this Interview.
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