Fran Bow and the Mortem-Post

Hello lovely gamers and developers! <3

I’m Natalia Figueroa, co-creator of Fran Bow and co-founder of Killmonday Games.
The other half of Killmonday Games and co-creator, husband and best friend is Isak Martinsson.
As you might already know, we released Fran Bow on August 27th, after 3 years of development and we wanted to share with you what we have learned through this journey.

You can listen to the Fran Bow Soundtrack here while reading this post, if you like <3

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Finishing the game

Finishing the game was one of the hardest part of development, there is always things you can improve in the game, but on the other hand time and money wasn’t on our side.
When you have a total amount of 28,000 dollars in a country like Sweden, you have very little to go around. We were too positive about that amount when we asked for 20,000 dollars on IndieGOGO and we were really, really, really new in the whole “making games” industry, so we knew nothing! But those 28,000 dollar were stretched so much, that we ended up living with 1,200 dollars a month, from which 700 of it went to rent, 400 to bills and 100 for food. We weren’t even riding the bus or meeting people because that was a TOO expensive. But you know what? We learned that having this little amount of money each month was great, we had everything we needed and it taught us to be more responsible with our resources. Personally I felt responsible for my acts and that was a very illuminating experience.

When we were about half of the game, Isak’s grandfather died and it was pretty hard times for us both. I felt so much for Isak and his family. One of the nicest things was that Isak’s grandfather left him a part of his life’s savings which also helped to develop the other half of Fran Bow, because the IndieGOGO money were almost gone. We saw a light at the same time we saw somebody fading away and we are greatly thankful for him and knowing that his savings went to a dream come true for us!

The journey of Fran Bow has been an amazing, both sad and happy.

When we were coming to the end of development, Isak and I had an extreme break up. The stress that money gives is… satanical! It destroys so much of the beauty. The survival instincts don’t see love or compassion at all! But we came back together when we realized that life’s meaning is the one we give, we felt that; fuck the system! We didn’t want to follow the absurd rules of consuming and social status, so we kind of just forgot about money, we still had very little to finish the game and we were so positive about Fran Bow and we trusted in Fran Bow fans!!! And at the end, we were still alive, and if we needed to give up our home, we luckily still had our moms to go to! So we came back together and tried with our best efforts to finish the game!

After a few months of testing, changing and adding small details, the game was already out.
We almost couldn’t believe it until today and that’s why I’m writing now… After one month I can say that I feel happy that we completed this game and that the journey itself was the biggest reward I’ve received in my entire life and I speak for Isak too.


  • Gameplay:
    In a puzzle game, you just don’t want to have puzzles coming from no-where. I really wanted to play a game that felt like everything was connected and highly organized and that’s what I worked the hardest on to achieve in Fran Bow.
    My goal was: To write a story that felt complex, both in lore and characters. The problems in the story are what I would transform into puzzles and in that way progress in the game without going outside the story. It’s very time consuming making a story-puzzle based game but I think is my favorite thing to do at this point of my life and Isak’s too.
  • Time and organisation:
    Time is absolutely the most valuable thing we have. Life evolves around it and making Fran Bow was an eye opening experience when it comes to time. We were working around 12 to 14 hours a day, 7 days a week. We had to change many of the old habits we had when it came to food, exercising and resting. First, we became vegan, so we could improve our health. Within a week of being vegan, our heads felt so much clearer and we had boost of energy! We also started to exercise daily, because we were sitting too much and our bodies were feeling anxious because of that. So that also helped a lot to improve our health and mood. We also stopped consuming legal drugs as, cigarettes, alcohol and “snus” which is a Swedish tobacco thing, very gross.We had a monthly schedule where we planned what time to go up, eat, etc so we could use the time in a very effective way. It wasn’t hard because we really wanted to do the best we could to achieve this game. It actually was amazing and we felt proud of ourselves being able to manage our own rules.
  • Technology:
    The technology utilized in Fran Bow is pretty simple.
    We have 2 computers with Windows, each with two screens. Only one of these screens was bought at full price, because the other 3 were second hand purchases.
    A Mac-mini and one laptop with Linux.
    Isak used GameMaker Studio from Yoyo Games to program the game.
    I used Photoshop to draw and animate some things, like water and effects.
    AnimeStudio to animate characters.
    A Bamboo Wacom tablet, to draw.
    H4nd Zoom; sound recorder
    One midi-keyboard to make music.
    Cubase, music program to edit and record music.
    WorkstationPublic relations and Availability:
    When it comes to get your game noticed, damn! It’s a great casino. Sometimes it works, sometimes it feels like you are doing everything against a wall. We kind of tried our own ways, making what felt honest to do. That’s why we did some videos, introduced Mr. Red to the world and we tried to have fun with something we think is not so fun, like asking you please, to buy our game.We didn’t have money to spend on ads or a PR company actually, not a single penny. So it was mainly the whole time just us two e-mailing magazines, trying to reach out somehow or the other, but always in a very open and honest way and we are amazingly thankful for those who put their time to play and give a review of the game. Many of our fans write to tell us that we should get more attention, but we don’t know what else to do.
    We send e-mails from MailChimp and from there you can see who opens the e-mails and who doesn’t. So we know that the majority we’ve send information, have opened the e-mail even more than once but even so, haven’t answered to us or written an article on the game.Thanks to the fans, we got the game Greenlit  and because of that, the game is available on Steam. GOG also accepted the game and after release we turned to Itch.io and Humble store. Right now we are talking to get the game into GreeManGaming as well.
    Many of sales are because of word of mouth spreading and we are super thankful about that!
  • Money spent:
    IndieGOGO : 28,000 US dollars
    Personal savings: 24,000 US dollars
    Total: 52,000 US dollars.
  • Sales:
    Under the first month we have sold around 10,000 copies of Fran Bow. Yay! Woho! Super hyper!!!!

This is an overall about the personal journey while developing the game. We also did a series of development videos while making the game if you are interested.
Development videos:

You can also check out Fran Bow website and help us spread the word about Fran Bow <3 Thank you!

Thank you for reading this post and thank you for your support and we hope, if you already played Fran Bow, that you liked it. Isak send his greetings and hugs to you!
Many hugs and love to you!
Have a lovely time!
Natalia
<3

BzspymnIAAAOn88
Killmonday Games

0 Comments Add yours

  1. Ayline says:

    Maybe there will be a fran bow 2? (・∀・)love the game so much I can’t believe that i have it done
    Soooo respect to you its so awesome!!!!
    (Sry for wrong spelling im from germany)
    Greetings o(〃^▽^〃)o

  2. Felix says:

    A tough story with a happy ending. I am very pleased the game has done well for you two. I am very much looking forward to whatever you decide to do next.

  3. Felix says:

    Also, if you have time, I hope you will post a detailed post-mortem of the game’s development on Gamasutra.com (a game development website). I would love to read more about how you were able to struggle through Fran Bow’s creation, and the readers there love stories like these when game developers manage to find success after a difficult time.

    1. Yeah this is something we would want to do 🙂

  4. Great post mortem!!!

    Considering I’m more or less in the same position (a new developer creating an adventure game), I feel greatly connected to what you’ve said.

    Such as the financial side (fortunately I saved a lot of money from my previous life and bought a small apartment, which allows me to spend very little each month!) and the hard work (I’m spending about 10h each day on Demetrios currently, but I still need to sleep!)

    Congratulations on the success of your game, well deserved!!!

    I just bought it this morning, as a thank you for pledging on my Kickstarter 🙂 Can’t wait to play!!!

  5. AlienMind says:

    Now you’ve done it. I love you all and everybody who sees something in this game which is more than the sum of its parts. <3

  6. Olive Mae Barlan says:

    I wish that there will be a Fran Bow 2 and a merchandise of it in every country, that would be delightful!! 😍😍😍 Cos I like the main character there. (Fran Bow) but.. Is Fran Bow Dagenhart’s true? Cos the wikipidea says she’s true (i don’t think so) and she was born in December 17, 1934 (happy birthday fran)! And died in July 22nd, 1944 (poor fran) wow then … She died in 10 years old with a hallucinations…?? Hm.. I’m so confused… Wow.. 😍😍😵😵

  7. Dude says:

    Bought a copy for myself and one for a friend. I loved every minute of it. Thank you for pouring your heart and soul into it. It was a truly amazing experience, and it really sets a new high water mark for the genre.

    I hope you are not too scarred from the experience and can make more games. I would also love to see high res art, maybe in an artbook or something.

    <333333

  8. Ben says:

    to be honest a fab and emotional game to some of us but the end is like a clff hanger what dos fran do next the story needs to continue with another game or update

  9. Bie says:

    OMG! There is just so much to say. I really think you’re making a sequel… I really need it! We all need a Fran Bow 2! First because as simple as the game is, is really good and adictive, second because the history left us hanging and there are so many question. I’m sure, at least I think, no one understood or will understand much of it. Fran Bow is the guardian of the key, what key? Mr. Midnight is a Traitor, why? What is he? Her parentes were also “traitors” I think, because they were trying to hide Fran from them (the aunt and the doctor), but why? Because her brain is special? Special how? She’s the guardian of the key and there are five realities, but is that why her brain is special? But how do they know that? How do they know about the supernatural, Mabuka, Remor? Why were they in the fifth reality? What are they? What about that scene when Palontras were dark and weird? I for moment thought he was a Kamala or something like that, but different! I’d like to know more about the 5 realities, what are those “red beans”, what is Itward… for a “human world” he was her imaginary friend, but clearly he’s not imaginary, he is something. Probably from one of the realities with supernatural powers, obvious, but I want to know better, I want to fully understand the story and be extreamely satisfied with it. What is the experiment? Why were they doing that to the twins? What are the twins? Why did they have some kind of “power” in the well… and there are still a lot more… and in the end, what is Fran Bow going to do next, how is her life going to be like… anyway. I guess you didn’t have much time or much investment for a greater game than what already is and also you wanted to know what will be the acceptance of the public, that’s what’s in my mind anyway. So I think you are making a second game, at least I hope so! Congrats. I loved the game and I wish you the best!

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