Monday, 13 October 2014

How I try to develop sexually appealing characters in AIF

This is not a 'how to' guide. I'm saying that upfront because I'm not so conceited as to think I know the 'proper' way to write anything about anything in any format. There are lots of ways to write. Instead, these are just some thoughts I wanted to share about the kind of elements I consider and the thinking process when writing the female characters in AIF games I've developed. A lot of this is stuff you've probably noticed if you've played my games. Maybe you'll have something to say about the method? Maybe you do things differently, or you would do things differently if you were to write a game? Maybe you think I should do things differently? It seems like a discussion that I'd be interested in, at least.

Obviously in AIF there is a particular importance, far beyond what you might find in most other writing, in making sure characters and relationships are sexually appealing. This is because it's ultimately the point of an AIF game to have enjoyable sex scenes (although I'm not saying you couldn't write a good AIF that wasn't designed with that in mind). I actually find this makes things easier, because I always have a clear objective in what character/story elements I'm developing.


I like a nice mix of character types in a game. This means a variety of body types, personalities, ages, roles and sexual identities. In PAC that means you have a strong contrast between such characters as the shy, nerdy, skinny Akemi, the busty and confident Megumi and the athletic and bratty Misato. I don't do this to make it a better game (I can't say for sure that it does), instead I do it because I find it more fun to write characters that are distinct from each other.

Also worthy of note: in Pervert Action games I've had a kind of formula, which I adopted deliberately in order to give the series a sense of thematic identity and continuity. I'll tend to have three younger women in some kind of central thematic role (first students in PAC, trainee pilots in PAF and now maids in PAL), and three other women who are generally more mature and in various other, more adult roles.

Sexual identity

The starting point for any sexual objective character in AIF for me is always what their sexual kink/personality is going to be. What kind of sex scene am I going to have in there? Will it be a romantic tender scene? A rougher, hate-sex scene? Those kind of possibilities are important because then you work backward to know what kind of characters you'll want. That said, I don't necessarily know what the sex scene is actually going to be when I create the character; that can also develop out of the understanding I gain of the character through developing their background and interactions with the player.

Body type also plays into this; there's a big difference in my head between a curvy dominatrix and a slender dominatrix, for example. It helps me to get a sense of who the characters are to know what kind of physique they have. As I said I definitely like to have a range of body types, and one thing I've noticed is that this means different players will automatically gravitate toward characters based on their preferred type.

Most importantly with sexual identity I tend to think about sexual power relationships. There's some quote out there that "everything in life is about sex except sex, which is about power." Is the woman dominant or submissive? Or maybe good natured but still sexually assertive?

Role and personality

This will depend a lot on what the story is, and how these characters fit into it. The fact that Pervert Action games are derived from anime stereotypes/archetypes has inspired a lot of the characters I've written for those games, although I do like to put my own spin on the ideas. There is more than just "the shy girl" or "the mean girl" at play here, though, as they might also be students in the PC's class, or they might be a work superior, or perhaps a peer to the player.

Age plays a big part in determining what kind of person the character is for the story, and not just their age but also their age in relation to the age of the PC. It matters a lot whether a woman is younger or older than the player character in determining how they relate to each other, and I always find age differentials enjoyable in creating sexual relationships.

Anyway, the role/personality and the sexual type probably align a lot. If a woman is a teacher and the PC is a student, then whether she's dominant or submissive will play a huge part in the kind of character story that plays out between her and the PC. Is she a strict teacher? A cool teacher? Is the sex scene going to have a "sex ed" theme? You can go the obvious route (a teacher who is dominant over her student) or you can subvert it (a teacher who gets dominated by her student), but either way I like to be aware of how those roles (teacher/student, in this case) stereotypically interact with each other. This will factor in to how I develop the characters.


I like to sympathise with characters, particularly if I'm supposed to want to screw them. It's easy when trying to make a character sympathetic to make them angsty, however, which I don't want. I find the easiest way to deal with that is to give characters problems but then not have them complain too much about them. In fiction readers don't like a whiny character, and instead tend to respond to someone who at least tries to get past their issues.

All that said, not every character has to be sympathetic. It can be fun to have a sexual target who is actually the opposite, and I think this works best when the character then is very unfriendly, culminating in a sort of break-through moment in the sex scene (maybe a hate-sex scene). I do admit that having a character who is mean and unsympathetic and then bends or relents in a sex scene can come off as a bit misogynistic, but that at least is not the spirit in which it's intended. Instead I see it as room for a character arch, and beyond that I just accept that when writing stuff designed to titillate the reader I probably have to leave some sexual politics issues at the door. The old saying "the heart wants what the heart wants" could easily be modified to "the genitals want what the genitals want." (I had to make that gender non-specific because it applies just as much to women as to men.)

Connect the dots

When writing I tend not to work in a linear fashion. It's not like that idea of a sculptor who looks at the block of marble and sees a statue - they just have to chip away the bits of marble that are in the way. Instead I tend to work a lot more intuitively; I come up with a bunch of ideas on a general theme and then start trying to connect the dots. It's only when I get to the end, or maybe about halfway through and I look at it and say, "oh, it's a tiger!" That means that I often need to cut out quite a few good ideas along the way just because they don't really fit what I'm trying to do.


So that's pretty much my recipe for character creation in AIF. I don't necessarily think this is a toolkit you can port to any writing approach; it's led by sexual considerations because the sex is the driving factor in an AIF game. Because I know the goal of my character design is to create desirable NPCs I build them from the ground up trying to achieve that goal, but this becomes a little bit more complicated when you're working on non-smutty writing. Maybe working in comedy you can take the approach that the character needs to be funny, but that's the closest analogue I can think of.

Do you think this is a good approach? Is it too formulaic? Is there more that I should be thinking about that I haven't put in here? Let me know in the comments.


  1. I'll start by saying that I'm going to answer this in the context of 'games like yours', That is games wherein the player is presented with a number of female characters, all of who can be slept with and 'partnered with' at the end of the game (for the most part). I really like that style, but just mentioning it here because the answers might vary if it was a different type of game (single girl, romp, or a goblin boy style were there are multiple sexual partners, but only a few girls who are available as the ending 'goal')

    I'm going to take this category by category.

    Variety: I think any game with multiple designated lust objects benefits from variety. I understand some people are narrow in their attractions (being primarily attracted to a certain type of person) who might prefer characters of similar 'type', but I like the variety. It makes the replays much more worthwhile.

    Sexual Identity: I think this is similiar to variety in that having an assortment of scenes is desirable so it doesn't feel repetitive, with the same pros and cons.

    Power relationships is the issue that is most difficult for me to describe what I either want to put in a scene or get out of one. To me there is a wide array of points between 'female dominant' and 'male dominant', with some points falling out of the range completely.

    I do enjoy scenes that play out in "reverse" where the strong character is the submissive one during sex (Misato), while the weak is dominant, or the quiet girl is actually the sexually aggressive one (though that latter one is practically cliche).

    Role and Personality: I can't think of anything here that doesn't fall under the previous category.

    Sympathy: I'm going to file this under character development to be a little more broad. I think this is very important, especially for 'main' designated lust objects. When thinking about not just your games, but all AIF games, the characters that stand out the most where ones that I as the player "wanted", though it could be for very different reasons. Having "filler" characters is fine (I'm thinking of some of the side characters in Meteor who seemed to just drop in for a sex scene and then disappear), but if I'm going to "pursue" a character, I wanted to have more of a feel of who she is than just a physical description.

    Connect the dots: I can't speak for your particular approach, though it certainly sounds reasonable. I can only offer my own. I tend to try and build the game in layers. First I'll work out a setting, then come up with a general plot, start thinking of some interesting events that might happen, then begin to populate with characters, and then start adding in events for the characters (being I only have one completed mini-comp and many failed projects, this might not be a good approach).

    Conclusion: I think having sexual considerations front and center is a good strategy. We're designing AIF and not IF; if it isn't sexually stimulating, why was sex ever in it.

    I will add that there have some good hentai games I've played where there has been a really long build to the sex scenes. The "payoff" for those is heightened, however, I've seen a lot more games/visual novels that I considered unenjoyable because I didn't find the story particularly compelling, but if they had just gotten to the sex quicker I would have liked it.

    1. I think this approach is something I'd use with any multiple-sexual-partner AIF game, even if only a few could be pursued for an ending; variety is always good as far as I'm concerned. I do find players have tended to respond strongly to different characters when I do this approach, meaning different players have their own favourites. In PAF I might have got the most positive feedback for Ayane, but I know that Yuri, Taka and Chiemi are all favourites for other players.

      Connect the dots: I sort of start with setting too, although when I say "setting" I'm also talking about what is usually a sort of vague bundle of thematic ideas, i.e. a space setting based very loosely on Neon Genesis Evangelion-style anime, with giant robots, etc. Where I probably diverge is that I usually populate with characters next, based on what the setting and themes are. Plot generally comes later for me, although I'm not a really hard plot writer, I think, by which I mean my plots tend not to be structurally perfect, but just take me through events I want to explore and end where I want them to.

      Building to sex scenes: The amount of time before you get the payoff is really a balancing act. A sex scene is generally far less interesting if it has no build-up, although including only a small amount of build-up can still work really well. A long build-up can offer a much better payoff, but only if you can sustain the reader's patience, so that's always been something to struggle with, I've found.

      Role and personality: One thing I forgot to mention here is that I find it a lot of fun to create a place for most of the characters (for example robot pilots) and have other characters fit in neatly around them, but then include an 'outsider' or two; a character who doesn't quite fit with the others for some reason. It really spices things up for me to consider how a character might be a lateral move away from others in a cast. Chiemi had a job on the space station in PAF, but she didn't have any place in the social order; Minami was an outright villain.

      When designing Pervert Action: Legacy I enjoyed first thinking about how three characters could give different takes on being a maid, and then thinking about what characters could be substantially different from the maids, and how they could be made to not fit into that dynamic.

    2. Connect the dots: Here's an outline of how I approach it. This is the starting notes for a game idea I had recently:

      Setting: Space Ship
      Plot: A princess is traveling to a diplomatic conference.
      Player character: A reluctant spy/assassin who has been sent to break up the conference (reluctant because he is being forced into it, maybe his friends are being threatened, maybe an implanted chip is forcing him to do it)
      Plot: The character has two weeks (could change) to accomplish his mission, or figure a way out of it.
      Sex premise: The princess has an all female guard and the ship is mostly crewed by females. The male is a master of seduction, which is why he was chosen. He must seduce crew to get closer to the princess.
      Plot events: The player is not the only one sent to break up this conference. He must either assist or break up other plots.

      From there I would begin to fill in elements if I kept going with the idea. I'd make specific crew members with variable characteristics. I'd then work on individual plot elements (like, on day eight there is an explosion in the engine room). There would be a lot more back and forth on what was getting designed.

      One thing that occurred to me while I was writing this: Something I try and create, and something I like about the Pervert Action series, is a limited setting. As in the story takes place somewhere with a reason why there is a limited number of characters and places the player can go (an island, a space station, a mansion).

    3. Not that it's the same every time for me, but I'd probably differ in that I'd go: Setting/themes/sex premise first (all tied together) then this tells my who my main sexual objective characters will be, then the plot, then all the above tells me who the PC should be.

      I agree about the limited setting, too. It can be quite fun, and I've always quite liked stuff that has a REALLY limited setting (like the movies "Cube" or "Phone Booth" for example). It gives you a lot more focus and puts you in complete control of that little world. Then you can deepen that setting rather than widening it - make it more complex and interesting as you go.

  2. I agree that variety is always nice. Sometimes it can see almost *too* 'normal' when dealing with games containing plenty of sexual partners, but I don't mind it. That is to say, when there are lots of girls it isn't quite down to a science but few things surprise you. Ok, we have the mature girl (often with big tits), your young lolita-esque, and your girl-next-door with average everything.

    That isn't to say it is a bad thing. It is a way to differentiate the girls. Same with kinks. It isn't surprising in AIF for some girls to have a kink, even though it is rare to see several sharing one (unless it is at the core of the stor/game), just to give some differences in the scenes.

    It also can depend on what kind of story you are presenting. I don't think many people have problems with the above sort of thing, some even expect it. Sort of how most people don't bat an eye at the fact that you can ejaculate 30x in a row as the player. Some games try to explain this, others just let it go as it is a common thing, and I think most people don't mind.

    You can try to change all these things up of course, but as Archer touched on, it usually isn't going to matter. In that, I mean most people see a big-breasted girl and expect her to be a sex pot. Make her into a bashful girl, shy and a virgin, and it is just as expected - or rather it isn't all that surprising. The aggressive girl could turn out to be sensitive and shy in bed. Or a dominatrix. Fairly opposite, but neither is often a big shocker.

    What is most important, I think, is how you lay out these 'samey' characters. It's kind of like a story on something well known. I am sure there are tons of examples, but the quickest I thought of was the movie Titanic. Everyone with knowledge of it KNEW what was going to happen, but it was how it happened and the experiences in between that mattered. It is the experience the reader/player has with the game.

    That is where many of the other things you mentioned can come into play: the personality of the character, how they fit into the world, the build up, and the sex scenes themselves. As for how much importance this holds, it depends on the kind of game you are going for and the kind of game the player is looking for.

    In the end I think if you can find a process that works for you, that is the biggest thing.

    1. I agree that it's always the details of the execution that matter most of all in telling a story. The most cliched, weird or just plain dumb-sounding idea can make a great story if executed in a fresh and clever way, and good ideas can easily fall flat.

      On the subject of archetypes, in the Pervert Action series in particular I opted to really go head first into an archetype/stereotype-heavy setting(s) because it's a genre pastiche. Therefore I particularly do try to acknowledge the player's expectations about a given character when writing it, either to play to those expectations or subvert them.