We are pleased to be able to host Lucy Blundell’s recent postmortem of One Night Stand. The postmortem originally appeared on her personal blog here, and has been published on IndieHangover with her permission.
If you’d like to learn more about One Night Stand and Lucy’s journey as an Indie Developer, check out our recent interview with her here.
A One Night Stand Mini-Postmortem
by Lucy Blundell
It’s been a month today since One Night Stand released on Steam, so in this blog post I will be doing a mini postmortem on the game, and then delving into my plans for my future projects!
A month is quite soon to be doing this, but I’m already planning on moving onto my next project. In my last post, I said I’d already begun reworking some of LoveIRL’s script. Well, I got way sidetracked with all the promotional work for ONS that I didn’t get to do much… There were loads of assets and extras to make for Steam (trading cards are coming soon!), many interviews to do, and a ton of journalists and Let’s Players to reach out to, not to mention a few achievement bugs which cropped up and were tricky to fix… Don’t worry, they’re all sorted now! All in all, I think promotion has gone super well! There have been loads of fabulous reviews, articles, interviews and support. Considering I am doing all this for the first time, and I’m an unheard-of indie developer, it’s been really, really successful!
Players are enjoying the game and the rating on Steam has recently just popped to “Very Positive”, which was what I hoped to achieve. I’m really glad people are having fun with the game and they’re walking away feeling glad they had the experience. Some players have even said that the game has helped them emotionally and hit close to their heart. Receiving messages like this is always delightful, in fact, I have a few of them printed and stuck around my work area. It’s nice to remember the positive you do when you work on your own every day… It’s easy to forget who it’s all for.
Making One Night Stand, as a game jam first, turned out to be a really good idea. It gave me limitations, which is almost a must for a creative to actually finish a project. With LoveIRL, I originally aimed for it to be completed in a year, but the project kept growing and ambitions soared. I felt like I was getting lost and losing focus. With ONS, however, I actually completed something that is now supporting me financially. Until now, I’d been supporting myself with savings, so actually earning real money is great; it means I can keep developing games in future… not that it’s going to be a walk in the park! If anything, One Night Stand‘s profits have been a bit of a reality check. When the free game jam version had such a huge impact, I sort of expected the full version to perform just as well when it released. I’ve learnt there is certainly a difference between Youtube success vs game sales, and free vs paid.
It’s popular opinion that demos are a waste of time, but I think because ONS was originally a short, free game (almost demo-like) it meant people were willing to give it a go. As an unknown indie developer, with a weird first game, it’s understandably a risk for people to buy the game… It could easily seem like a waste of money. Also, I think many look at the title One Night Stand and think that it’s not for them; perhaps they haven’t had a one night stand themselves and think it’s irrelevant to them, or they have had one and don’t want to relive it. Really, the game is about waking up not remembering the night before, and realising that you got involved with a real person who has her own life to live. It’s a story that most people can relate to one way or another. I’d never think of changing the name of the game though, but I do believe it gives some people the wrong impression. There is a lot of social stigma around the topic, after all.
Yeah, there are loads of comments saying this in one way or another. I guess there’s an assumption that if a game has sex in it, it must be bad. This is another stigma which ONS faces, but is slowly chipping away at.
Looking at elements of the game… The art style is generally well-liked and players enjoy the rotoscope animations especially. The gameplay is also appreciated, for a visual novel at least, although a few people feel there are too many endings. I can see why as the game was originally designed to only have a few, so replaying can sometimes feel like a chore. Thing is, I never expected players to actually want to play more than a few times. Myself, I only ever really play a game like this once, maybe twice, then I move on. However, I’m seeing crazy play times on some Steam reviews and cannot believe it, it’s incredible! Adding the gallery after a play-through was to ensure players knew there were more endings to unlock, and designing it like a phone matched the theme of the game, but I never expected people to feel compelled to do it.
The music and sound effects occasionally get called out for being basic, and that’s fair too; they’re very simple. However, others love the music, so much that I often get emails asking where people can download the soundtrack. It’s not released yet, but I’ll be putting it on Bandcamp very soon!
The general impression I get from One Night Stand is that people spot it quite easily, with it’s striking name, concept and art style, but then they assume it’ll be bad. There’s not much I can do to stop that… I don’t believe the trailer or screenshots give a false impression of the game or anything, and the people that actually download and play the game turn out to be pleasantly surprised and have a great time with it. Some show their support even more by sending me emails, tips or sharing on social media. It’s been really lovely, and the comments that say they’re excited to see what I make next, really touch me.
One Night Stand is sitting at around 88% positive reviews on Steam and 4.5/5 on itch.io. There’s no metacritic yet (as the sites that have covered it don’t score) but I, myself, feel it’s an 8/10. It has an emotional punch, incredible for its short play time, and can be enjoyed by almost anyone, provided they’re over 18, but it does have faults. It is repetitive and simple in parts. As a first game, though, I’m thrilled with it, but it’s time to move on and make something even better.
So, what’s next? LoveIRL, right? Wrong! I’m actually considering starting a new, shorter project like One Night Stand. Not a game jam this time, but still a short development time, around 6 months or so. Really, this is a financial decision. Earning money from ONS is really helping me out right now and I could use more of it. LoveIRL is such a big project and I still can’t afford to bring someone else in to help me with it, not that getting extra help was really the plan (apart from a musician) but I want the game to be the best it can be, and, as it’s so big, I don’t feel it’s something I can do easily by myself, especially with few funds.
(Really, I have this amazing idea which I’ve been sat on for months… It’s stuck with me and I feel it’d make a great game. It’ll almost be a spiritual successor to One Night Stand, not that it’s a sequel or prequel or anything like that, and I imagine the art style to be rather different too, but it’ll still feel very real. It will be more autobiographical than ONS but remain fictional, though you’ll find out more soon enough. I will be updating this blog with the game’s development, though not as often as I have done previously. I don’t think games should be spoken about too early… This is also something I’ve learnt along the way!)
Our thanks again to Lucy for letting us share this postmortem, and for not only giving us the chance to try and give our thoughts on One Night Stand, but also answering our questions and sharing a bit of insight in an interview.
Independent Game developer eager to share your own postmortem? We’d love to help spread the word and host your writing or analysis. Contact us on twitter @IndieHangover, or reach out to our Editor in Chief directly at jacob(@)indiehangover.com