Monday, 3 February 2014

February Open Thread: Where Did It All Go Wrong?

A stack of notes, an array of beautiful characters, a fully laid out map, exciting plot twists, hot sex scenes, and hours upon hours of work; and then you realize your AIF game just doesn’t work and you have to toss pretty much everything. I’ve been in this spot before, a started/half-finished AIF that after a lot of work I realize just won’t work. Time is spent salvaging what you can, but then you make the decision you have to start back at square one.

Authors, even those who might never have had any published, what are the pitfalls that have sent otherwise promising designs down in flames? What would you do differently if you could do it all over? What are the great ideas that live only on your hard drive because they were impossible to bring to fruition? Let’s air them out so other authors can learn from our mistakes.


  1. The Game
    The Resort: A summer job working at a luxury island resort was an okay gig. Sure, you had to spend your time running requests for the rich patrons, and the little bungalow you were staying in barely covered the basic necessities needed for a shelter, but you were getting paid to spend your summer on a resort. Not bad, except you’ve already blown through your pay and are eagerly anticipating the end of the season.

    Then the ‘flu’ hit. The first few days were awful. People were sick and you were one of the few healthy staff members left standing, so your work load exploded. Then they quarantined the island, the sick were taken for care, but the healthy had to remain to make sure they weren’t carrying the disease. You were surprised that they even kept the resort running, but you were told in no uncertain terms you were expected to show up for work every day. At least there were a lot fewer guests to take care of.

    When you noticed that you were one of the few men left the island, and that all of the female guests left were extremely attractive, it was your first good news in month. Maybe things were finally going to turn around.

    Now, if you could just stop worrying about those creepy old ruins you saw in the jungle that seem to keep calling to you.

    Where it went wrong?
    While at first it might seem like the problem here was that I fell into Biting Off More Than I Could Chew (I think the most common problem that comes up), I actually managed to get the design of the game finished. I had multiple tasks the player could or could not pursue, different endings set up, different sex scenes and fetishes that could or could not be explored based on player desire, and even a combat system.

    The design wasn’t the problem; it just came off as information overload for the player. I violated the ‘Show Some Leg’ idea that BBBen discussed in his First Impressions post. Right before I was going to get into the heavy writing stage I played a rough outline of the first ‘day’. It took me a long time to get through, even though I knew where I was supposed to go, and I only had the briefest descriptions written for what was happening. I couldn’t imagine any player enjoying the experience of starting the game.

    It wasn’t the only AIF game I started that I had to toss, but it was the longest.

    What would I do differently?
    Introduce ideas more slowly and probably simplify some of the concepts. There were a variety of jobs that the player could do, a variety of things he could spend money on from those jobs, and a variety of ways to even play through the game. Certain elements that got a lot of introduction/explanation might be skipped altogether. All of that was introduced up front when it should have either been cut down to the most important choices or introduced over the course of the plot line.

    1. THE RESORT sounds like an incredibly awesome game! I would play it!

  2. Oh god, so many. So many great ideas gone by the wayside.

    What happens to me is, when all the outlining and prep work is done, as I begin to dig into the actual coding process, it slowly dawns on me that my brilliant concept, my three dimensional characters, and my perfectly laid-out plot just don't offer enough in the way of gameplay possibilities.

    Awesome story hooks seem to be a dime-a-dozen for me. I have a text document full of 'em. I suspect a lot of us are in the same boat. Very few of these ideas can actually support a game.

    I think what has to happen is, you have to really think about gameplay potential when conceptualizing a new game. This way you know straight away whether it's worth it to pursue the idea further. It's not possible to operate strictly as a storyteller in the world of AIF, and that's probably where a lot of us fall down. We all have these fantastic stories we want to tell, but then we're like, "Oh shit, I've got to make a game at the same time."

  3. Console Wars. Some may remember me posting briefly about it in the email group. A game that parodied Captain N the Gamemaster as a guy later in life revisiting the world he once called home, and finding out things had not gone so well. Even planned several games in the series following different Gamemasters from different consoles, and there perspective on the war coming, and going.

    What didn't go wrong. ADRIFT while a great tool for those who don't know much about coding or anything is limited in scope, and my ambitions far exceeded what it's capable off. Which doesn't leave much room of where to go. TADs while versatile is an alien language to me, and every tutorial I've looked at seems just as alien. I settled for ADRIFT, and worked hard to keep my vision alive. Which lead to similar problem as one of my fellow posters, keeping it focused on gameplay rather then over ambitious story that you occasionally move forward. I'm a slow worker when I finally set down with ADRIFT I got by in spurts, and had my share of rewrites. Even going over whether anyone would think that being able to eat the car would be funny when they got frustrated, and started doing stupid stuff because they were having trouble progressing. Then the worse possible thing happened, hard drive crash. I still got the outlines around because I had them back uped, but nothing murders your mojo like hard work down the drain. Occasionally I get nostalgic about revisiting it. So who knows, maybe someday.

    1. I'd dispute the contention ADRIFT is limited in scope; I'd say you can do more or less anything in it you want to do in TADS (with a few small differences). It's just that getting ADRIFT to do advanced stuff isn't any easier than doing that advanced stuff in TADS, which also has libraries to do a lot of the heavy lifting for you. In TADS you face the learning curve right away, but in ADRIFT it creeps up on you.

      A good conversational menu system is the only thing I really envy from other authoring platforms. I would be interested in what you wanted to do that seemed out of ADRIFT's reach, however (maybe it's just not something I've thought of).

      Actually, I should clarify: I did kind of break ADRIFT 3.9 with PAC, and then had to move it to ADRIFT 4, which still had some multimedia limitations. 5 hasn't got those same boundaries, however, so I haven't had to reign in anything much that I've wanted to do.

    2. I admit they might've been doable. Just not at the angle I was looking at them. This was ADRIFT 3.9.

      1. A Password System - Classic Games did alot of interesting things with this. Planned uses were to use this to unlock character stories, and have them reflect character choices along the way. So Console Wars 2 would have a hidden story that continued the path of Console Wars 1, and all games would have equipment that I either couldn't figure out how to implement story wise, or just felt they better served as extras players stumbled into. Not necessarily hard to do for the most part since you can just type a word in, and have it unlock stuff, but I kinda wanted a special menu area to enter passwords so people knew they were there.

      2. Character Selecting - As of Console Wars 2 I was thinking about two characters who both get themselves sucked into different gaming universes, and then the universes slowly merging. So both characters would have intersecting paths. Character selecting would happen in the beginning, and you would play that character throughout the game. Probably wouldn't have been that hard to implement from that angle, but I couldn't find anything on how to do that with ADRIFT.

      3. Combat - This is especially an odd one because I wasn't done figuring out what I was doing with it myself. So Punch Out would be choices you make based on what the opponent is doing like 1 Left Hook, 2 Uppercut, 3 Right Hook, 4 Left Gut 5 Straight Gut, 6 Right Gut, 7 Block, and 8 Dodge. Probably not that hard since something like this is an IF staple. Till you toss in the Gamemaster controller, and you have the ability to cheat if you wanted to(double tap left to dodge). I was still thinking about implementing a power bar on it, and make it upgradeable. So it wouldn't be an all the time thing. I'm also not sure how it would've effected the other controller options I had in mind. So that's more my limitation.

    3. At the risk of sounding like a parrot, why don't you try Inform 7?

      1) I don't know quite what you mean by "special menu" but there is a Glimmr extension for I7 that allows advanced interfaces.

      2) This is easy to implement in I7:

      "now X is the player"

      Of course, you'd have to customize the default messages, but again there are extensions for that.

      3) Again, with the Glimmr framework a power bar is conceivable. I'm not really sure what you mean by gamemaster controller. Combos would be really easy to implement.

    4. Interesting idea, I like the thought of a modern revisiting of some old elements.

      I think a lot of what you are outlining would just be plain out hard, regardless of system. Multiple interacting variables are difficult; programming wouldn't make it any easier. Just trying to visualize two different systems merging into each other is enough to make my head hurt.

      Character selection can be done, it's just probably more trouble then it is worth. This might not be the ideal path, but you could start the player in a blank room and give them text for two choices. The choice would affect a variable (something like character) to become either one or two. And then when any action was taken that was relevant it would check the character variable. Thus, when talking to the Princess, if character =1 she says 'Hi, John', if character = 2 she says 'Hi Matt'.

      Alternatively, in Adrift 5.0 I believe there is built in support for switching which of the characters is the player, but I've never tried to use it, so not sure how it works.

      Though if you were going to have the character selection affect who gets played all the way through, it might be easier to just release two different games ('John's Story' and 'Matt's Story').

      Combat: Much improved in Adrift 5.

      About BBBen's comment: I too would love to see conversation menus. They seem to be just about the only thing missing.

    5. I agree with Archer Fifteen - it sounds like the game might have been hard to make altogether. And yes, I think ADRIFT 5 now has a form of character switching that might be quite straightforward, although I haven't tried it. I did actually use some rather simple methods to do a form of character switching in 3.9 with Crossworlds Part 0; back in 3.9 you generally could do a lot of stuff if you found workarounds.

      On combat, there's not really a combat system built into ADRIFT 5 at the moment; I may one day build a module for something a bit like what's in PAF, but I don't know. The PAF system is so integrated into what was already in the game that it would take a lot of work to rip it out of there, and when you make a module it's got to be pretty clear and well organised.

      Another thing I'd wishlist for ADRIFT 5 is the ability to transfer data from one playthrough to another - like a few variables that apply over all savegames. If you've played the Pervert Action games you'd see how that would work well with the replay system, harem mode, card collecting, etc.

    6. Did you try the "magical miracle" HD "reanimation" trick? Put you dead HD inside a plastic bag, then let it rest for about 4 hours inside your freezer, then connect it again in your PC and luckily you have a "zombie" HD for time enough to rescue your treasure.

  4. I've got several dead game ideas and I'm not sure which one to go with here, but I suppose Nouveau Riche would be the one I did the most work on.

    The premise was that you find an abandoned briefcase with six billion dollars in treasury bonds. A clever friend helps you move the money around so you can spend it freely, and we cut to a couple of years later when you are living a very rich but shallow and lonely life. Then some people finally come looking for the money. The game would have involved traveling between several major cities throughout the world as you solved the mystery.

    Where it went wrong was, of course, on a few fronts. The design was critically incomplete, and I never got a firm idea of how the story should wrap up. The villainess was supposed to be the sexiest character in the game (and only turn out to be evil in the big twist) and yet I found her quite uninteresting. It felt to me like all the story moves I was trying were tired and predictable, and there were only a few good details (I always find good details in a story idea are what get me most excited). My puzzle ideas weren't very good, and the mystery was hard to flesh out. Also, the design I had was starting to seem like a collection of fairly random inspirations and ideas.

    Add to that the fact that my original plan had been to combine sexual fantasy with the old "what would I do if I got amazingly rich?" fantasy. Then I realised that the story skips that whole bit and jumps straight to the disillusionment. The best bits of what I did write were flashbacks from the time when the money was still new, but that wasn't giving the game enough juice.

    I started the game with a sex scene that was mostly written, but was deliberately not very interesting so as to contrast with more interesting sex scenes when the PC's life gets all complicated, and the more emotionally resonant sex with his eventual love interest. Maybe not a bad idea, but I wound up finding pretty much all the sex ideas in the game uninteresting.

    I also wanted pictures in the game but without the ability to make any (at the time - this was back when I was first writing games) I was thinking of just using some that I liked from the Internet. I eventually discarded this idea and concluded that such an approach would never be for me, but that left the game hanging out to dry.

    At one time I believed that Nouveau Riche was a much better prospect than another ambitious game idea I had around the same time, which was then called "Grey Island School for Girls". That project was later renamed "Pervert Action: Crisis", so I guess I was wrong.

  5. Like most long time players and first time authors I've gotten stung by trying to create an interesting story and puzzles whilst at the same time learning the authoring system.
    I've tried TADS and Adrift, realised that the RAGS structure changed the way my game was going to play and so have ended up trying to do something really simple in TWINE just to get that first (only) game out.
    The intention is that the next one is in Inform 7 as that appears both something I can learn and has support within the community.
    So far my TWINE game has stalled at about 80% complete -the finish is within sight but I just don't seem to have the impetus to get over the line.
    Hopefully with the advent of AIF Central I will be reinvigorated and will conquer the empty boxes that litter my story scene
    Cheers and well done on the blog

  6. I'm going to throw out two more games. I've had a lot of ideas go by the wayside, but these two were the only ones I actually began to type up.

    Stormy Night: The player and his sister have inherited a small bed and breakfast. A bad storm has come in during the busy season, chasing away all of their customers. That is until a car breaks down with two college girls right outside their establishment who are intent on having a good time no matter the circumstances.

    This game was supposed to be a mini-comp plus size game. It's primary purpose was that I wanted to try out some ideas of diverse character creation. At the start the player would be asked what the character did in high-school, whether they went to college, and what their interests are. The player could be given one of nine different character types that would affect the how the game played.

    I got the character creation designed, but I really had no interest in the rest of the game. The only reason I had designed the game was for that part. Once I figured out how to do it I had no interest in continuing

    School Dreams: Fan Mode: Like many, I wanted to see a continuation of School Dreams and, like a few, I set about about writing an unofficial continuation. This went through many variations because I could never boil down what I wanted it to be.

    In the first version I went way overboard. The player would be playing a character who was playing School Dreams 4 (I had a lot of ideas for how this could come about, from a succubus who went after someone who had played it so often he had summoned her, to it having been found via desperate google searching).

    Now, to make it even more complicated, I wanted it to be both a continuation of ideas portrayed in SD2 and SD3. So the game could either be filled with extremely crazy amount of sex, or just moderately crazy amounts of sex. Further, what the character did in the game would affect how things were going in the 'real world'.

    I tried to figure out how to make that work for longer than I should have before scrapping the idea. I then moved onto to trying to do something 'easy'; a CYOA. I tried putting in so many branching plot lines and outcomes that by the end of the second day of what was supposed to be a five day game it was spiraling out of control.

    I then tried to simplify it down and take a more standard approach.I stopped for two reasons 1) burn out from the earlier failed attempts 2) while I didn't have a problem writing in GoblinBoy's universe, he had given his permission for people to do so, my writing style would make for a very different game and I wasn't even going to attempt doing pictures like he did.

    With GoblinBoy 'officially' retired, I might give it another go at some point, but I'm pretty sure I'd never live up to the original.

  7. "I then moved onto to trying to do something 'easy'; a CYOA."

    Hehe, that's the funny thing about CYOA--it starts out simple but before you know it you find yourself tangled up in a confusing array of branching threads that totally stymie your forward progress. That and all the extra writing required.

  8. The main issue I found is when you see that so many people want different things when playing a game and reading those discussions really puts you off (me especially).

    As much as I tell myself this is your game create it how you want, it's always playing in the back of my mind when I've seen a discussion of how so many people don't want to play a game with many lines of text, too many puzzles, timed puzzles e.g. so many turns to complete, games without images, not enough text/descriptions, descriptions not detailed enough, objects being listed but not interactable, etc... and as I create and play the game the things people pick out just seem to stand out more and I personally find myself going back and deleting amounts of text, removing objects/puzzles and it gets to the point where I just think FFS! and I end up leaving it for months and then coming back to it forgetting how the story was going to pan out.

    1. The only thing you can do is make Your Game. If it's good, most players will like it, regardless of their predisposition. It's going to be hard to follow a project through to completion if you're constantly worried about appeasing others. Don't aim your work at anyone but yourself--not until you've received actual feedback from the community. And I'd suggest trying to take some joy from the creative process, rather than focusing so much on whether people will like your game.

    2. I totally agree with Nick Newman here, the author should only care about making the game HE/SHE wants. Players desires should be completely forgotten. Unless you're making a commercial game. But if it is for free, for sharing, for fun, it is your fun. If someone else likes it too (a lot of people certainly will) it is a plus, a bonus!

    3. As I've said elsewhere, however, I think it's kind of impossible as a writer to not care what your readers want. When making the game you want one of the qualities you'll likely want the game to have is popularity. It's a bit like choosing what clothes to buy. Sure, I'll buy stuff that I like and that I think suits me, but I do care whether other people are going to think it looks good too.

      I'm not saying this is a good thing as such, but it is worth acknowledging that what players want will inevitably have an influence on the game designer. Otherwise you could just sort of play the game in your own head and you'd never need to build it. Also, nobody wants to invest a bunch of time into a game only to release it and find that other people don't like it. In a perfect world maybe we wouldn't care what anybody else thinks, but we all do care.

    4. I'm sure most prospective authors are attempting to create something that falls more-or-less in line with AIF games they have played before. I'm not suggesting that something totally outlandish couldn't be utterly rejected by the community--of course it could. But surely second-guessing yourself based on each and every player's unique tastes and kinks isn't the way forward.

    5. Second guessing yourself is the problem, certainly. It's not easy to dismiss the preferences of players, but you just have to have some perspective. Take a step back, look at your game and consider whether it's actually good - whether it offers something worth offering. That's what I do when I find myself second guessing a project.

  9. I do think author's should take the community into consideration. Maybe I'm not as opinionated as some authors, but there is a lot of things that could be in a game and I'd be okay writing them. Should sex-scenes be interactive or just a cut scene? I have a preference, but I'm fine with either, so it isn't like I'm going against my own ideas. Should the game take place in a high-school, college, corporate office, fantasy world? Any would be fine with me, so what does the audience want?

    Now, you shouldn't go against what you want. I like harem games. If I ever actually finish another game, it will definitely involve a lot of sexual partners because that's the type of game I like to play and would like to write. However, I'm completely open to whether there should be a few main characters and many supporting (Meteor), or all of roughly equal importance (PAF).

    A more identifiable example might be incest games. Some people love them, some hate them, and many could take it or leave it.If you are an author in the third category, it makes perfect sense to look to see what others want.

    I think when people worry about the 'community' it isn't that they are trying to change their views, but that sometimes they are trying to put too much into the game. This isn't limited to just the community itself, but a general problem of authors trying projects. No game can satisfy everyone (nor should it try to), so it is better to look at who you are gearing the game toward and follow that path.

  10. It seems to me that being an author is a bit of a tightrope walk. On the one hand you want to encourage your audience to provide feedback, since that's the most tangible reward that you'll receive for your hard work (and some of it will potentially be useful to you). That means at the very least appearing to be open to suggestions and constructive criticism, because no one is going to provide feedback if they think it's just going to be ignored.

    On the other hand it's the author doing all the work, so they're the only one whose happiness actually matters. As others have said, the only way to ensure that happiness is to make the game you want to make, so you shouldn't be letting the audience drive the design process (especially as they'll want lots of different things). That probably means ignoring certain suggestions if they're counter to what you want for the game. But if you want to keep the audience feedback coming in, you need to politely explain why you've decided to ignore a particular suggestion rather than dismissing it out of hand.

    If modding ever becomes a thing in AIF the above dynamic will probably change, but either way it's all swings and roundabouts.

    1. Bit of a tangent here. I once saw a Neil Gaimen quote that ran something like, "When someone tells you something is wrong [with your writing] they're almost always right. When they tell you how to fix it they're almost always wrong." I find that very good advice as a general rule of thumb. Not dismissing suggestions, mind you, but trying to work out what the core problem is that is being identified and how it could best be fixed.

      It can of course sometimes be hard to identify the problem. I tried quite hard to indicate to players in PAF that they'd need to do more than just type "attack" over and over in combat, but some still didn't get that message. I even got one response complaining that they should be able to win just by typing "attack" over and over, which sounds like the most boring combat system in the world.

      Generally, though, I am able to pick up on what people object to and address it more directly. If people consistently want more of element x (say, more sex scenes) then it means they're probably not fully satisfied with what you've included. It could be partially a good thing: it means people like the scenario or your writing enough to want more, but you might want to bolster those sex scenes a little if you have no room or time to create any more. This is something you always have to judge for yourself, however; it may well be that leaving the player hanging a bit in those sex scenes is what's making them work in the first place - most players will not be totally conscious of every subtle technique and strategy you're employing.

    2. A point of clarification: on that example I listed above of the player who wanted to just be able to type "attack" repeatedly to win, if I was trying to fix the problem for him I would probably just remove the combat system altogether. Clearly if the player wants to take away all challenge and engagement with the system then he is not interested in it at all, and it would be a pointless element if it was so simplified.

      I also got another complaint that the game was far too wordy. In a text game. I know the problem of text dumping all too well and I used various measures to mitigate the impact of it, from text formatting (with the ... line breaks) to breaking up text with regular and early interactivity. In both of these cases I concluded that the game was just fundamentally not for those players, and I shouldn't worry too much about the complaints. You can't satisfy everyone.

  11. My albatross AIF game is called ROOM SERVICE. It's a farce set in a downgrade hotel in a resort town that masquerades as being much more upscale than it is. You are a bellboy who has traded shifts to work overtime to make enough money to impress your girlfriend on her birthday, and you've got to manage a mountain of confusing luggage and an officious hotel Manager who is on edge due to a wedding party and an earlier bomb threat that threatens to evacuate the building on the night the Hotel Inspector is due.

    On your floor are a bride and groom, a famous American action movie star, a lesbian artist/photographer and her model, the Austrian Women's bobsled team, and a roomful of Filipino nuns. Your only ally for the evening is a chambermaid named Esperanza who has a tenuous grasp on the language and a prescription to keep her "nymphos manias" in check. Eventually things get serious when a suspicious suitcase with some wires and blinking lights visible through a tear in the side shows up for you to deliver with no destination, and a no-nonsense government interrogator arrives to sort things out.

    Farce hijinks ensue, including drunken karaoke, getting stuck in the elevator, carrying out the wishes of the persnickety hotel manager, a broken suitcase full of toothbrushes, trying to get tipped enough to take your girlfriend someplace nice and deciding whether it's worth participating in some outrageous sexual escapades that can earn you the most cash but might lose you girlfriend altogether.

    What went wrong? I intended a romp, but grew more enamored with the intricate plot mechanics. The logical (?) places the plot could end up got more and more outrageous and I wasn't quite sure how to avoid combinatorial explosion with the number of potential outcomes and variables that farce puts into play. My tester was more interested in the story than the sex.

  12. Oh, and my mechanic that decided whether you were holding something that was stolen from someone else would *not* work. That soured me on the whole thing.

  13. One idea that I've been wrestling with revolves around controlling a female character at a bachelorette party gone terribly wrong.

    Here's where I'd like some advice from you guys:

    What's the best way, when writing a female PC, to dissuade the player from simply choosing the sex option every time? Goblinboy achieved this in GoP2 by making the princess' virginity an important plot device and as a result the option simply wasn't available to have conventional sex. This worked in GB's fantasy setting, but making it work for me seems a) derivative and b) silly.

    So how do I write a female AIF character who isn't a total slut?


    1. You could make it so certain NPC's presence in the same room might disuade the player. It could be a friend of that NPC who they perhaps have a crush on and so everytime the player tries to interact sexually their conscience blocks them.
      Could be an NPC's sister (or brother if there is strippers) and so the NPC doesn't wan't to see you interacting. So as soon as the player tries "kiss Suchandsuch" the NPC gives them a warning which will block the player no matter what room there in. You could also turn that into a puzzle, thinking about trying to get the relative out the way.
      There are quite a few ways to explain to the player why that path is blocked that I can think of. Only listed 2 of them to try and give you an idea to work around rather than you thinking "I'm putting into 'my' game what 'someone else' has thought off!" just incase that disuades you from working further.
      Hope that helps!

    2. At the risk of answering a question with a question, why don't you want the PC to be a total slut (aka a typical AIF PC)? Is it only because she's female? Most players would say that choosing the sex option every time is the entire point of AIF, so you need an answer that's convincing to the player (which is obviously difficult).

      Most games with female PCs tend to handle that particular conundrum by placing the PC in situations where they're 'coerced' into sex (either literally, or because it's the only way to achieve a particular goal). I don't particularly like that option because it reduces the character's agency and makes it seem like women couldn't possibly choose to have sex for pleasure, but it does relieve male players of the burden of feeling sexual attraction by proxy to male NPCs.

      Failing that, I think there are three options:
      a) build a convincing reason into either the plot of the PC's character (eg. pre-existing relationships, as Fensome7 mentions above)
      b) provide a reward for not having sex (eg. if the PC resists temptation it leads to a better scene further down the line)
      c) provide a penalty for having sex (eg. if the PC doesn't resist temptation it makes another NPC inaccessible or leads to a bad ending)

      The risk of option (a) is that if you don't pull it off, it will seem arbitrary and the player will resent you for impinging on their agency. Option (b) is obviously the one most likely to win the player over, although only if they're aware of the reward. Option (c) verges into authorial fiat territory, but it can work if it's backed up by how the plot and/or characters are written. Also, not giving the player everything they want forces them to make choices, and in my opinion it's choices that make games memorable (although not necessarily more popular, cf. SD3 vs Meteor).

    3. "At the risk of answering a question with a question, why don't you want the PC to be a total slut (aka a typical AIF PC)? Is it only because she's female?"

      Not at all. The problem is that I would be dealing with an established character. She wouldn't be a simple "blank slate". Certain sexual actions, at certain times, just wouldn't make sense contextually from either a character or story standpoint.

      I can sort of understand why so many female PC's have been cast in the victim role. It makes things so much simpler. Instead of having to convince the player that choosing sex might not be the best option in every situation, just remove choice from the equation. As a bonus, the awkwardness some players feel when they have to initiate a sex scene with a male NPC is neatly avoided. Done and dusted.

      Of the three options you have presented (all of which could work if implemented properly), Option B interests me the most. A compelling enough reason for the player to "resist temptation" is exactly what I'm after. Of course, as you point out, there are risks with each approach and non-invasive implementation is the real challenge.

  14. By the way, if anyone wants a post set up for discussing an in progress game, let me know.