Tuesday, July 02, 2013

Somebody said "romance"?

Because I didn't! I swear! Admittedly, though, romances got some more content right now. To give you some details, now you can start dating Piper (you get the usual 3 scenes that you go through in order to initiate the romance plus 1 sex scene afterward). I think that for the moment, it should be fine as it is, while I think how I want the romance for Piper to be like. To explain what I mean, let's consider the other two love interests:

 Malena is very railroaded, the scenes will always play in the same order, there is no way to really do wrong on the dates, and the real choice there is between following her passively, or trying to keep her crazy ideas at bay a little).

Jane has dates you can choice, and you can improve your relationship more or less depending on what you do during the dates. While there are some scenes that trigger without players having a say in the matter, it's certainly more free form.

As far as Piper goes, though, I am not sure what I want to do, right now. I might play it out like the opposite of Malena's romance, where you can keep her dependant on you, or try to make her grow as a more independant person, but leaving this stuff up to the romance is kind of tricky, as it would make an eventual character arc entirely decided by the choices of the players, which means that I'd have to track the player's decisions on this all the way to the end of the game, and it would also prevent players that don't want to have Piper as their girlfriend from getting into something big for the plot.

And I wouldn't want for it to play like too much like the other romances, either. While the characters are different enough, gameplay goes a long way on keeping things fresh. I don't know if I'll come up with something interesting, or if I'll end up just playing  it safe, but I thought about bringing this up, so that if you guys have some good idea, I would be willing to listen (just write something in the comments).

I also added another scene to Malena's romance. I believe I should add another one, and maybe make it so that you can give her one of the matching rings, so that her romance will start to take a more definitive form, and then I should be done with it.

Which means that a new closed beta shouldn't be too far off, so we can see where I stand on several things, and possibly improve where it's needed. I wrote those scenes quickly enough, because I had the ideas roaming around my head for a while, and hopefully writing those 2 scenes for Malena won't take too long, either. My only regret is that I had found an amazing picture of Celeste on a leash, and I planned on using for Malena's romance, but I can't seem to find it anymore. If anyone sees a picture of Celeste on a leash, please let me know, I might need it.

This is about it for the game, it was interesting to work on Piper's romance, because it was the first one I had in mind, and hopefully I made it decent enough (I still feel like romances are very hard to write, so I end up worrying a lot about how well they'll be received).

Now, for this week's anime intro/review! Today I bring you... The vision of Escaflowne!

You get the Japanese version, because it was the one we got in Italy, and because the US one gave it a very different vibe

Escaflowne would be a fairly standard fantasy anime (The protagonist, a girl named Hitomi, gets sucked in a foreign magical land, and adventures happen! Also, two potential love interests, because that's how we roll), but it has magical giant robots in it, which alone should probably be reason enough to watch it. It also features some interesting, less generic elements, that might not be obvious at a first glance. I'd say it's an overall solid anime. While not exactly top notch in any department, everything works well together (or at least that's how I remember it, it's been a while since I last watched it! XD), and make for an overall enjoyable experience, in my opinion, so it gets my approval.

That's it for this week. Thank you for reading this far, until next time! ^_^


  1. An old Dungeon Master trick I picked up running D&D sessions long ago: ultimately your players should be able to, within reason, always get what they want... just not always when, where, or how they want it.

    Let the character romance her per usual if they want. However, while she may be appreciative of your attempt to help her grow independent and even "try it on for size" eventually she will tell the player she really is perfectly happy the way she is. Pushing her further just makes her uncomfortable even if she pretends at it.

    However, when her character arc shows up later Piper might be faced with deciding to be independent or not because of forces beyond the players control. When she looks to the player, her captain (and *possibly* lover), for advice the player can choose to tell her they like her as she is or to extol the virtues of being an independent person.

    The rest of her character arc plays out... and then if the player chose to keep her the same nothing changes. If the player chose to push her to be more independent a series of additional scenes proc over time that show this transformation.

    This way any character arc after the romance sequence will be mostly the same regardless of romance status. At most you might toss in an additional bonus based on relationship status to see if she listens to what you say... but not enough for it to be the final word in her decision (or maybe it is *shrug*).

    Then after that character arc whatever changes happen to Piper would not be an issue (unless there is another character arc for her... but well... at that point I got nothin')

    In other words, give your players all the choices they want... but be sure all roads lead where you need them. But to make sure they aren't frustrated by it, let them get what they want in the end any way... just not in a way that makes your life unreasonably difficult.

    Just an idea.

    1. I see what you mean, and I think you are right, for the most part. I still would prefere for the choices I present to the players to be meaningful, one way or the other, so on the specific problem of putting together her romance, I'll probably need to think of something.

      As for her character arc, I do have a way to make it happen (sort of), so I am not too worried about it. Oh well, I'll go back to thinking about it once I have some free time, and nothing too complex to work on, probably.

      I think my main problem is really that most of the game is an open world, and so I can't set the pacing properly, and leaving it up to the players actions inevitably shows the limits of my planning. >_> <_< >_<

      I'll have to figure out a way to properly set these things up, if I ever make another open world game. The easiest way woul be to keep eventual companions mostly free of changes, so that romances and similar content can happen more or less in a void, away from the protagonist's adventures. Or let the choices be much more subtle, so that it is justifiable that they affect only limited (although not necessarily unimportant) parts of the game.

      Of course, just separating the game in chapters would simplify my work greatly, so there is always that option, for future games...

  2. How about the character forces major decisions onto the player. For example, maybe she cheats on the player (or some events take place that make it appear that way) ad how the player reacts could strongly influence the nature of the relationship thereafter. e.g. an invisible trust measure that influences how events play out.

    Just thoughts though. Keep up the good work.

    1. Well, for the most part, there is already a visible stat which tracks your relationship with some of the main characters, although that's more of a "friendship" value, rather than romantic love.

      Considering how Malena has an invisible stat which does measure how you behave with her, I think it would end up playing too similarly, if I also did it for Piper, but it's not a bad suggestion, I might give some thought about it.

  3. One of the things I liked the least about Jack in Mass Effect 2 was that to really have the maximum amount of character development with her required playing a male shepard and being willing to bone her.

    I think romance arcs can add to character development but I think if there was outside character development arcs for romanceable characters, the romances could enhance those rather than being the sole decider of if the character grows through the story.

    1. Yeah, that's what I want to avoid, too. Denying an entire arc based on who you date is a bit silly, so that won't happen for sure.

      Hopefully, I'll think of something to do. ^_^

  4. Ciao MDQP!

    I'm not sure if I had said before, but I think it would be pretty interesting if that Piper becomes dependant on you, you get a sort of mistress/sub relationship within the boundaries of love of course, but if Piper becomes independant you grow dependant to her. Afterall, it was implied in the Red light place that something was wrong whenever you where around with her before.

    I don't remember that part very well. But I think it would lead to a sort of nice game over, if not done well the relationship! It shouldn't be too much complicated in terms of storytelling in the game.

    Hugs and Kisses Alectra

    1. I already have something similar with Malena (at least the part where you can get dependant on her), so I am not too keen on doing this over. Also Malena is exclusively a love interest (which means all her character arc has to come from there), while Piper is one of the main characters, which screws things over for those who don't romance her, since they won't see an important development in her character.

      Next time, if I talk about multiple romances for a game, just punch me in the face... -_-

  5. http://www.flickr.com/photos/pa_diablo/5466123090/

    That the one?



    1. Yes!!! Whoever you are, I love you! ^_^ ^_^ ^_^

  6. It's the classic trade-off between player agency and story. The more choice you give them, the more work it takes to build upon it, obviously, but then the less you get to tell one specific story of how things go without railroading them. The more you focus on a central story, the less players have any agency to shape the story with their choices. This is pretty much your Piper dilemma, and to a certain extent you Jane development dilemma.

    You can have Jane develop outside of the romance, but then what does that mean for people who chose to romance her? You can have Piper have specific growth in her romance, but what does that mean for people who skip that part of the story? What is the story that is left? Is it satisfying? What story is central to the experience? What is worth leaving the possibility for missing in the name of letting players craft their own story? These are never easy questions for a game designer to answer, especially in a labor of love.

    Of course, you can just allow players to cheat and romance them both, but somehow I don't think you'd find that very satisfactory.

    The only advice I have to give is to set boundaries and and write where necessary to fill within them. What could your learn of and develop in Piper without romancing her? Is that fulfilling? If not can you add anything that would make it so? What would you only be able to learn/develop through romance? Is that fulfilling? If not can you add anything to make it so? Do these two parts fit cohesively together. Now look at Jane. Repeat. Also, ask yourself, what does fulfilling mean in this context for your story?

    So yeah, work. Dedicate yourself, and I'm sure you'll do fine, but it does take some dedication. Also, thanks for the game.

  7. Just the thoughts of a lowly gamer and fan.
    Ever think about unlocking multiple romances at once, just make the player work harder to keep the girls happy at the same time. You could set it up so that if the player already has one romance and activates another, the relationship for the first would drop a set amount, but wouldn't need to end, just get back that relationship value over time, and say the player activates a 3rd romance, the 1st and 2nd romances would lose relationship values by a set amount, etc. So it really would be doable to a degree just extremely difficult.

    1. It would be much harder to code, I am afraid. It's already hard as it is to keep track of who are you dating, and, if they are available, to trigger the appropriate scenes. Also, Piper and Jane are part of your crew, which means that you have a lot of scenes with them, and you can imagine just how much having a relationship might affect all of this.

      Basically, I am already at my limit as it is, if I had planned the game's mechanics beforehand to include those options, maybe it could have been possible, but it would be a nightmare for me to go back to it and change the way romances work.