Sunday, 14 February 2016

Valentine’s Day Open Thread: AIF and Love

Being it is Valentine’s Day I thought I would ask: what are your thoughts on love in AIF? By this I mean what impact does a believable intimate relationship between the player and a character(s) add to the game. AIF has sex, but do those sex scenes become better if the characters have developed a deeper relationship?

Feel free to give your opinion on the topic, but some suggested questions to answer:
Does a believable relationship add a lot to a game, a little, or is it unnecessary?
What are some things authors have done/can do to make great relationships in AIF?
What elements of AIF detract from believable relationships?
What is your favorite AIF relationship?


  1. I've always wondered about this myself. I think I probably use love a bit more often than the average AIF author, so I'm not impartial and don't really know what players might prefer. I think the most important thing is that there is unresolved sexual tension between the characters to build up to a sex scene; whether that's framed in the context of two people falling in love or not is probably optional.

    As for believability, that's more down to the tone o the storytelling for me. Generally I think the most important thing is to ensure all sexual participants have an 'inner life'. Male or female you want to know how interested they are in the relationship and why.

  2. Romance/love adds A LOT imo, raucous sex romps are great, no question but a realistic romance brings it to a whole new level. As evidenced by the recent Redemption for Jessika by Tlaero, (not 100% aif, but close enough.) which had probably the first characters in any erotic game that I even remotely cared about, in a literary sense. The anticipation of a relationship/sex made my choices as a player much weightier.

    Of course, pulling this off is MUCH harder than just writing a random fuckfest! Another example of one done well, the first Camping Trip by Goblinboy had some nice romantic tension with Becky and by having this backstory it added a lot to her relationship with the character in School Dreams 3, and made her character path much more poignant when you chose it over the colossal fuckfest.

    I'm a new AIF author currently working on a game and this topic has been on my mind, I'm thinking of having a long running romance plotline to it in addition to all the random sexcapes

  3. I don't think a deep connection between characters is essential, but I think it is one of the best ways to arrive at a few other things that can help AIF. The first is slow developed sex scenes: the characters that stand out the most to me in AIF had a build from when they were introduced to the eventual sex scene. Having a relationship develop if one of the best ways to have the character and sex progress over the game. The second is that it adds depth to the characters so that the sex scene has more of a purpose and impact behind it.

    On a non-adult content front, I think love and feelings of connection can help develop an AIF from an enjoyable adult work to an overall enjoyable work. I think about Alyson in SD3 and many people who followed her path, though being nice to her and getting her ending actually decreases the sex scenes that occur.

    I think the hardest thing to write is a believable relationship and an AIF that still involves sex with a lot of characters. To continue with GoblinBoy works, I really enjoyed the relationship between the player and Becky because in context the player sleeping around makes sense. when I followed a path where Becky leaves I feel like a jerk. However, the player and Anna didn't have the same kind of connection in Meteor. On my play throughs were things don't go well with Anna I don't really care because I'm never as invested in that relationship as in say the relationships between the player and his sisters which get more build.

    I also believe love and feelings of connection might be why Palmer got what seemed like the entire AIF community caring about his product after only a demo. Even in just the short build of the early game it was very clear how and why the player and his sister cared for each other.

    1. Sorry to be off topic, but I really liked your demo of your X-Men game and I wondered if you are still working on it.

      About the topic itself, I think it depends on the game. I can find a game absolutely amazing without love at all, but depending on the story it can become a necessity. If the author really want to build a relationship between characters, he will have to work hard doing so.

    2. To answer the off topic: No, but I might start up again. That work was part of the reason I switched from Adrift to Twine and it would probably be a lot quicker to write the code out now.

      Short answer to what derailed it: I tried to take BBBen's Pervert Action designs, improve on it by adding a few more layers, and those layers came crashing down on me when they made the game unreasonably complex to write.

      Longer answer: I wanted the game to do too much, especially given my experience at the time with design. I stopped working when I was writing out combat rules and realized that my design made it so the player could completely skip combat if they pursued certain paths (as in there wasn't just one way to avoid combat and still succeed, but multiple). While I wanted (and still want) a non-linear approach, there was just too much work going into it that people might never see (and that is assuming that I could get all of the different pieces to work together).

      If I get back to it the base story will stay the same but the longer story will have more structure.

  4. I think it absolutely depends on the tone of the story and the way it wants it told. There are very few that take the most extreme of realistic approaches - mainly because people are itching for a sex scene (usually many) where it doesn't just mesh well with real life. In that way, there always seems to be some goofiness to it.

    It doesn't mean love can't be a thing, but they often have to be done one of a couple ways. They can be hastily created through times you want to bone the main character but can't. This definitely builds up anticipation, and while that can be amazing, I think that is usually all it is in the majority of games: it makes the player more eager to have sex with the character and ends with a greater sense of satisfaction. At the same time, it usually doesn't come off as believable love, but rather a raunchy start of a relationship.

    Another way is to shoehorn some backstory in hopes of getting the player to feel one way or another. She was always the girl next door he had a crush on, they were married for four years and loved every minute of it (or for seven and things were falling apart). This often hinges on the reader to feel what they are meant to. You miss out on all that slow building that got them to the place they are, but with careful writing it can help make it more acceptable and believable.

    There are other ways, of course: trying to have key plot points where the characters slowly open up to each other and fall in love, so we can share that quest for feelings with them. You can put a likable character in a bad spot to try and make the reader feel for them and want to succeed to help them. All kinds of other things, no doubt.

    As I said though, whether it is important at all seems a lot to do with the story and how it is told. AIF in general tends to have a lot of unbelievable things thrown at you at once, what with all the sex and everyone wanting you over anyone else, but even then there is varying degrees to it which can alter how easy (or difficult) it is to believe in a character's love.

    And sometimes, as far as a good sex romp game is concerned, it shouldn't be needed. Some of the best games I have played were little than solving general puzzles and hooking up with every person I ran into. It was a blast, and I went in not expecting a moving or touching story and my only goal was to find out how to get the next scene going.

    But, if someone can make a truly touching, emotional game that tugs at your heart strings and makes you care about the characters, I think that is great, too. I'm not sure I've experienced it to that big of a degree in any AIF yet, but some have certainly came off more believable than others.

    I know I'm blabbering and 99% of people stopped reading by now, but wanted to touch on "What elements of AIF detract from believable relationships?". I think it is simply that for the most part it is simply that most AIF revolves around sleeping with, at the least, a handful of people. Having only 1-3 can make it much more realistic depending how you handle things, but trying to make a realistic and touching love story where the player makes it his goal to lay with a dozen girls the same day of announcing his love for the girl of his dreams (and hopes he did enough in the story to score an anal scene) just doesn't tend to lend well to most of our realities. =D

  5. 1) depends on the mood, no relationship can kill it , but so can a poorly constructed one.
    2) Pacing is key such that events caused by the PC affect the relationship.
    3) Skipping to sex (or all sex) too quickly. I like games with more than just vanilla sex, but there has to be a reason. A virgin school girl doesn't have anal sex just because.
    4) Really liked all three NPC females in the Magician's Nephew.

  6. Personally I like romantic kind of sex as opposite to sex by the means of threat, violence or cheating. The most erotic psychological side of a sex scene is complicity. When both are eager to do it together. So, the answer is YES, a believable relationship between the game partners adds a lot to the game.

    What are some things authors have done/can do to make great relationships in AIF?

    - One option is to show for a period of time the couple daily interactions. An example: In "School Dreams-3" we had the PC picking up his girlfriend before going to school. In the same game we had his dates.

    What elements of AIF detract from believable relationships?

    - 1-Everybody is ready for a threesome.
    2-Usually the guy tends to forgive his cheating partner.

    What is your favorite AIF relationship?

    - 1 Molly and PC (School Dreams-3) and
    2 Emily and PC (Emily: Sister Attraction)

  7. GoblinBoy's In Darkness still blows my mind. Yes, it was a tragedy, but the time jumps created a back story with gravitas that took the ending to an understandable dramatic conclusion. Unhealthy, obsessive, mind bending romantic love that destroys was a welcome originality amid a sea of tawdry, meaningless, but fun Steamy Sex Scenes. -GP

  8. I realize 'true love' is a common trope in sex games, but I don't really find pre-existing love all that sexy in AIF. It's something clearly out of the player's hands, so for me it takes away from the satisfaction of seduction or solving a puzzle to have a handicap like that.

    In my opinion, a sex scene is always more interesting if there's a meaningful barrier that one or the other participant has to overcome to make it happen. Frequently this is a gameplay question (dialogue tree, fetch quest, advancing the main quest), but I think the more interesting barriers have to do with the relationship itself.

    One of my favorite examples of this is A Goblin's Life. In that case, the game is about an ugly little goblin trying to bang a pretty elf who hates goblins. The barrier is obvious: the elf is too pretty to give the goblin the time of day, goblins are notoriously jerks, and she's a strong melee fighter who he can't even approach without getting straight murdered. So you trick her, or tie her up, or you cast a spell on her, and you sleep with her at varying levels of consent. Depending on how this plays out, you get various different endings. For me, all those things add up to a very satisfying set of sex scenes.

    What this means to me is that it's not so much a question of establishing meaningful relationships as meaningfully overcoming real obstacles. That means for example ugly protagonists, or overcoming an incest taboo, or coercing a bitchy girl into sex, or pretty much anything that happens in the woefully underrated Rachel's Bad Day. On the other hand, the biggest boner killer in fiction is a girl explaining that she's had a secret crush on the protagonist forever and only decided to act on it today for whatever contrived reason.

  9. "In Darkness" is one of the best uses of love in AIF that I've ever seen. It sets up the history, it sets up the emotion, it jeopardizes it, and then it blows it up.

    Which, for me, points to the only way that love actually works in AIF: it has to be tested. It isn't that a game has to be about consequence-free romping while the spouse stays home, none the wiser (or engages in his or her own romping). It's that there has to be a tension between one choice or another. The consequences have to be real. If there aren't going to be tests, pressures, and consequences, it's better to establish any existing relationship as "open," or to just characterize the PC as an indifferent cad. Love requires that there be a significant dilemma if there are temptations and choices.

    This, for me, was the great failure of Life With Keeley. OK, they're in love. Where's the jeopardy? Where's the conflict? The sex scenes have to be pretty damned amazing for me to not care that the tension can't actually break the relationship. And they weren't. Whereas, in a game like School Dreams 3, the reward for betraying the "love" relationship is an amazing sex scene, and the reward for pursuing that same scene in a more twisted and indifferent way is an even more amazing sex scene...except that both detonate the established relationship. The player has agency, and choices matter.

    -- thundergod