Monday, 7 April 2014

April Open Thread: Rub/Luck/ Fuck; any other options and/or how could it be better?

AIF has gone through a lot of changes and improvements over the years. Images, better engines, improvements in stories, but one of the (almost) constants has been the sex scenes. You rub the appropriate body parts, then lick them, then fuck (or suck, depending upon the body part). They don’t always need to be done in that order, sometimes the order will play into how each action is described, there may be multiple descriptions (orgasms), and authors may add in other actions (spanking) or body parts (hair). The steps of the sex scene are one of the most constant and similar activities between AIF games.

So, is there anything better that could be done? Cut scenes are an option (the entire sex scene described in one go), but from what I’ve seen in the past people find them less than ideal. Is there a different method that could be tried?

I’ll be upfront that this is one of my least favorite aspects of AIF; in many games I just enter all of the commands in a single go and then go back and read the text. I realize that I might be of the minority opinion here, so if you think the current system is great, but that the content could be improved, feel free to chime in with those ideas.


  1. Commands that guide the flow of the scene.

    The above is an idea that has kicked around my head for years, but I’ve never really been able to iron it out into something that I think could work. The basic idea would be the player would enter commands to decide how they wanted their character to act, for example if the character was making out with the designated lust object in a car typing go further would have him try and get to the next ‘base’, while hold back would continue with the kissing. This would not just affect the scene, but maybe future interactions with the character(s) as well.

    There was a twofold problem; first it required creating a little interactive sex story for each sex scene which added to the work load, secondly I thought most players would just go through the options, then use undo, then go through again, thus negating the purpose of splitting things up.

    A similar idea was to consolidate commands into: foreplay, oral (giving and receiving), and fucking (as an example, I’ve tried multiple variations). Foreplay would deal with all of the rubs and licks, oral with blowjobs and cunnilingus, and fucking with the obvious. I like this idea in concept, but the few test runs I’ve tried haven’t really felt any better. I feel like the idea is correct, splitting sex scene up into component concepts instead of specific actions, but haven’t hit the right mix.

  2. I've experimented with that issue quite a bit and never really come up with anything that fundamentally broke the mold but still worked. The traditional interactive sex scene has two advantages: 1) it's interactive, which is an important advantage of the medium, and 2) it's quite easy to implement. The interactivity allows players to choose to some extent what kind of sex scene they're getting, and the ease of implementation is good for new and seasoned authors. Other ideas always tend to revolve around more complex structures that fall apart when you try to get them working.

    I tried once to get a system going where both the player and the NPC were both acting independently. Ultimately the results were underwhelming - it didn't really look much different to a traditional sex scene with a little bit of text randomisation, while it did increase the complexity of designing it.

    The best available alternative sex scene structure I've seen, I think, would be branching CYOA style. In this one you may still get the same sort of commands, but limited choices and probably longer, more detailed responses. I tried this for the first sex scene in PAF, and I think it worked okay, although it was never something people pointed out as a highlight of the game (and ultimately the scene was rather smaller than the other sex scenes). The good thing about this method is that it can encourage a scenario to break out of strict "sex scene mode" and allow sexual activity to integrate more fluidly into the rest of the game. "Ashley's Story" might be an example of that.

    You could also make sex an activity going on automatically over a series of turns, while your objective is something else (like solving a puzzle). This kind of thing has been used by Lucilla Frost - it suits the kind of scenarios where British Fox had to escape the clutches of villains while they had their way with her.

    The simplest thing I've found to do to freshen up interactive sex scenes is to limit the scope of the scene by disallowing some key actions. This isn't always a good idea - it can be frustrating. I have found several times, however, that scenes I've done where activities were limited by the scenario have been regarded as highlights. The Akemi sex scene in PAC was one example, and the Lin scene in the bakery all the way back in Crossworlds 1 spring to mind. The most obvious way to do it is to have one partner be reluctant to do something, and that can either work or be a bit of a let down, depending on the action, what else is in the scene and whether there's any pay-off later.

  3. A larger set of mechanics (e.g. Goblin Boy's sticky-until-undone "penetrate" and "finger," etc., and all the permutations those allow) would be fantastic, but of course it's a dramatic escalation in both writing and programming.

    A larger set of potential actions is something I've already mentioned, but again it requires more writing (and some additional programming).

    One variable that seems to have gone somewhat by the wayside in recent years is how certain variations on acts resulted in different levels of enthusiasm, or even aggression. In a lot of games, "DLO, suck cock" would produce a regular blowjob and "fuck mouth" would lead to a more forceful version. "Rub pussy" would be gentle and exploratory while "finger pussy" would be vigorous. And so forth. I'd like to see that return.

    A DLO with changing levels of enthusiasm because of the sex is also something we don't see often enough. A good example of what I mean would be "Winter Break," in which the DLO's interest in sex with the PC goes from casual to obsessed, and by the time anal is introduced she's in a virtual frenzy, up for absolutely anything. (There have been counter-examples, too, in which certain sex acts bring the DLO's enthusiasm down.) Most scenes are, to me, written as if the DLO is about as enthusiastic about the anal (if that's happening) as she was about the first kiss. It's the sex scene equivalent of music with no dynamics.

    -- thundergod

  4. I would, also, greatly encourage authors to spend more time differentiating the type of sex their NPCs (if there's more than one) enjoy. One might need gentle, careful cajoling and cautious lovemaking, another might want to be tied up and spanked before she'll agree to the next act in the progression. Varying the language is good, and it's harder than most people realize, but it'd be nice to see more than the language varied...rather, to see the entire feeling and shape of a scene change from NPC to NPC.

    This could also work with single-DLO games if there's more than one sex scene. Despite SD3's many qualities, it always felt off to me that identical actions while on a date with Molly and while taking her virginity at her birthday orgy resulted in essentially the same descriptions; all that changes is that she's open to more acts.

    To extend that last thought even further, it might be interesting if the way a previous sex scene went changed how future scenes went. Again, I'm asking for a whole bunch of additional writing and programming, but: consider a typical game in which the PC is wooing a virgin, and that will have three sex scenes. It might be possible to run through absolutely every sex act in the first scene, or at least try, but maybe this convinces the DLO that the PC is too pushy and aggressive, and thus she'll be more restrictive in later scenes. On the other hand, if the PC does the right things in the first scene, perhaps stopping at the right time, it might open up more options later, because she trusts the PC and because her first experience was more positive. (The easier way to do this would be to write later scenes as non- or semi-interactive, of course.) I don't think I've ever seen that in a game, with the possible exception of...what was it called? One Girl? the game where her whole attitude changed based on whether you were being considerate or forcing her into things...she'd still do them, but with increasing reluctance? Anyway, I don't recall seeing it elsewhere.

    I also really agree with BBBen (and I've mentioned this before): sex scenes seem almost entirely separate from the gameplay these days. Lucilla Frost was excellent at integrating them into the plot and the puzzles, and BBBen has gotten really good at this as well. I think a lot of interest is added back to a scene if it's not like one of those late-night cable softcore shows, in which there's a cutaway to a sex scene and then another cutaway so they can start "acting" again. That never, ever adds to the scene.

    -- thundergod

  5. "The best available alternative sex scene structure I've seen, I think, would be branching CYOA style." --BBBen

    Yeah, I am thinking along the same lines. There's so much more that can be done when sex scenes are presented in a CYOA style. Not only does CYOA allow for better control over the pace and flow of the action, but it also lets authors implement non-traditional commands and contextual interaction more easily.

    1. I hate to self-promote (who am I kidding? I love to) but Adult CYOA in the AIF toolkit is designed for precisely this.

  6. I think most of it delves into the same issues as depth of gameplay discussed earlier. Everyone has mentioned some pretty good ideas, but it usually adds to workload. This can be fine, of course, if the author is willing to put forth the time, or keep the game a more focused on as opposed to sex all over the place.

    I also agree with the variations of actions certain NPCs would have. This has been semi discussed elsewhere. Some people could be better at certain sex acts or dislike certain ones.

    Maybe a girl wants to please you but about squeezes you to death during a handy. Or another girl thinks dicks are 'icky' and doesn't want to touch them or have them in her mouth, but still will give sex.

    Not a huge deal, and some people may actually like it, but it is easy to fall into generic roles if you don't watch out when doing this. Sort of the way anime has all the stereotypical characters far more often than not.

    I personally don't mind the 'usual' style, though I do like it when not everything always goes smoothly. Not everyone has to give in and absolutely love how anal feels. Some might not want it at all, or give in and still not like it or get enjoyment from it. I know it is also about fantasy, so it depends on the author, but I like that bit of variation in my games.

  7. What about a scene involving a game where actions are forced upon a player? Similar to drawing a card in 4play (

    As the game progresses, the actions get more intimate, from making out to foreplay to intercourse.

    The player would still go through the basic stages of a typical AIF scene, but would not really have any direct control over what happens.

    Since the main goal of an AIF scene is generally to find all possible combinations of commands, it makes sense to forgo much of the inputting of commands and just let the player enjoy the scene.

    1. I guess it depends on how much the interactivity (ie. choosing what to do) contributes to the player's enjoyment and sense of involvement.

  8. There are two aspects of AIF sex that strike me as wasted opportunities:

    • In most of the AIF sex I've seen, the order of actions has no effect -- there is no difference between "rub ass, rub tits" and "rub tits, rub ass."
    • In many games, you can use minor sexual activities (like "lick nipple") to ramp up the arousal meter until the character becomes barely coherent -- but there's no payoff to doing this; when you switch to the harder stuff, the orgasm that you trigger is no different from the orgasm you trigger by any other means.

    All of these have something in common: AIF sex treats each command like a separate event. I think there would be benefits to linking the commands more organically.

    The second point is trivially fixed: write a couple of different descriptions of the marquee sexual acts, one that's triggered if you do an adequate amount of foreplay, and one that's triggered if you do an excessive amount of foreplay. (Depending on the girl, one or the other of these could be the "good" version.) And by all means, give the guy different versions too. If the player's arousal meter is so high that he orgasms immediately upon penetration, shouldn't that elicit some sort of reaction? (Not the reaction that it would elicit in real life, of course! But the porno-world version of the same.)

    The first point would be harder to fix. But I'm thinking of the scene in Friends where Monica explains the mechanisms of female desire to Chandler: "Three. Two Six. Seven. Two Seven. Three Seven. Seven. Seven. Seven!" Yes? It would be possible, without deviating from the standard Rub/Lick/Fuck commands, to have *chains* of commands that are more than the sum of their parts. They would trigger different descriptions, raise the arousal meter higher than otherwise possible, open up new sexual options. Sex would therefore have more of a game-like aspect: the player would have to discover what works on a particular girl by trying different permutations. And in a WELL designed scene, of course, you wouldn't have to discover the combinations by doing a brute-force randomization: aspects of the girl's personality, or of her responses to individual commands, would give you hints as to the right way to proceed. Some scenes already do this, in that the girls will say stuff like "you can touch me lower down, if you want to…", but as far as I can tell this is all flavor text. Ignoring their suggestions doesn't give you a different response. (And of course, with the right girl, ignoring her suggestions might be the RIGHT thing to do.)

    And then of course you could combine this with the second point. What if getting up to the really high arousal levels wasn't a matter of just typing "Kiss girl" a thousand times, but a puzzle that needed to be unlocked in every scene? What if AIF sex required the player to try to figure out which sexual commands the girl would actually *react* to? What if successfully getting to those higher levels resulted in a different outcome from the scene -- different descriptions of the events, to be sure, but also a change in the character's future attitude towards the protagonist?

    What I am asking here, essentially: what if it was possible for the player character to be GOOD at sex?

    1. All excellent points.

      I hadn't given much thought to the possibilities of chaining certain commands in certain orders. Goblin Boy did, though. There's a quick example with the art class model, and a more elaborate version with Ashlee, but in a larger sense many of the scenes in SD2 implement the mechanics of what you're describing, though the followup text is mixed in terms of outcome.

      I can't, at the moment, think of another game that did so. I feel like one of the British Fox games might have, but I don't remember for sure. There are plenty of games where a sufficient number of [rub part]s were necessary to move on to the next step, but that's not really the same thing.

      PAF did a thing that we've both asked for -- NPCs with different sexual tastes -- but didn't apply that to the interactivity; ultimately, everything that particular NPC will do is available in whichever order the PC wants to pursue it.

      But essentially, what you're asking for is the sexual equivalent of discovering UUDDLRLRBA (sorry, oldster geek reference) for each character. And frankly, I think that's a great idea.

      -- thundergod