Saturday, 16 April 2016

Two topics: Abstract Challenges and Pictures

Here are two topics I’m interested in hearing people’s thoughts on. This isn’t quite an Open Thread as usually with those I put out a topic to stir discussion; this post is more for elements I have been considering. Most of this is based on elements I have seen in other adult products (hentai games and RAG AIFs)

1: How do people feel about abstract challenges (by challenge I mean the obstacle between the player and the goal, in AIF usually sex)? Most AIFs in this community require the player to do something story related to get the girl. For example, in School Dreams the player’s relationship with Molly is affected by presents, good dates, etc. On the other hand, games like Hunniepop or Seduce Me replace the date/interaction with a puzzle game.

Now while I like the current system (and think it is the best when implemented well) it does have three problems (my opinion). The first is that it sometimes over simplifies things. Many people have pointed out that AIF can boil down to, “Hey, you found the thingy I wanted, let’s have sex”. Second, AIF rarely does a good job simulating romantic engagements (dates). Did you get a good present and choose a good location? Well, the date goes well unless the player messes it up (which generally requires an intentional action). I think this makes sense because actually trying to simulate a real date would involve many choices and a lot of conversation. For example, see how Let Me In revolves around a single conversation, now picture trying to do that for as many times as a player interacts with an NPC in an AIF. Third, from an author prospective, it can add a lot of complexity to the game if multiple options are being presented.

An abstract system replaces (or is in addition to) that with either a game/puzzle or a dice roll. For example, how good the player is at seduction in comparison to how open the target is to being seduced. Beat Blades Haruka does something like this with simple die rolls against a difficulty target. If you play the game well/roll well, then that reflects how well you did. The player can still improve his odds as by improving skills/buying gifts, but the actual success of the task will come down to a random chance (the earlier system is a yes/no, either you have done enough or you haven’t, there isn’t any middle ground where you have a chance of success or failure).

I am okay with the above (it doesn’t in anyway pull me out of the game) and am curious how other people feel about it.

2: Pictures. While pictures have been gaining ground in engines like Adrift, they have been standard with engines like RAGs for a long time. Most of the games designed on such a system do not make images with DAZ, but choose a different source for pictures:
A: Use pictures of famous people. In the game the ‘character’ may be representing a character from a fictional work, may be themselves, or (and this is what I see the most) is just a stand in for a character created by the game. As an example: the player’s hot neighbor is named Jenny, but for pictures Kate Upton is used.
This frequently, though not always, involves the use of photoshop for sex scenes.
Generic New York Apartment (I think that was the name) is a game that did something like this.
B: Porn stars. Like the above, but adult actresses/actors are used. This makes it a lot easier to convey the sexual content. It makes a connection to any type of fan fiction impossible, which can be a pro or con depending on the player.
C: Other animated works (anime). Instead of using a real person, a previously created animated character is used. A quick look on deviant art can return tens of thousands of results for popular characters.

Now I don’t think any of the above is as good as creating your own images, but how would you respond to any of the above being used in an AIF?


  1. Hard for me to add much to the pictures discussion right now, except to say that A, B and C all tend to take me out of the game a little bit.

    On the other thing, I'd say I am personally happy enough with abstract gameplay elements leading to sex, although I think I probably prefer it to be more story oriented wherever possible. I like gameplay and story to interweave with each other.

    If it's a style of game I'd like to play anyway, however, I don't really mind the idea of having a sexual story woven around it; I'd just prefer if it's a story where the sex makes sense in context with the gameplay. If you want to make a real time strategy game as a sex story then maybe you have to command an army to defeat hordes of monster girls? I don't know, that's just off the top of my head as an example.

  2. As a blind person, I don't know (or care) about pictures. However, I do have an opinion about abstract challenges.
    Challenges like "You found my magic mcguffin, let's have sex!" really take me out of the game. I don't have a problem with other types of challenges. In fact, I prefer! that there be an obstacle in the way of me having sex with the girl. I like the idea of a dice roll system when it comes to simulating a date or something (although I can't name any AIF game that uses it off the top of my head).

    1. What are some of your favorite AIFs?

    2. I play a lot of AIF. However, I tend to prefer parser-based games. Authors that I particularly enjoy include, but are not limited to: A. Bomire (especially games like "the Backlot" and "Dexter Dixon"), GoblinBoy (especially the "Gifts of Phallius" series), BBBen (especially the "Crossworlds" series), and NewKid (especially "Ideal High School" and "Generic New York Apartment Building").

    3. Thanks for the answer! :)

  3. Depends a lot on the type of game you're trying to get. The problem with abstract is (imo) that it takes away much of the storytelling and attachment to characters. It can work in a simulation-like game(something like NewLife comes to mind): some kind of open world with open interactions and no preset storyline.
    It's an approach that takes away from immersion but gives more in terms of freedom.

  4. I think with the challenges they are all totally viable, though it is hard for me not to say they don't change the tone of the game a bit. In a fetch-quest, quick to sex, huge variety romp, it is unlikely I am going to be pulled in by a meaningful plot or feel for the characters the same way I would in a more story driven game. May not be impossible, but unlikely. Doesn't mean it can't be fun to play and sexy to read!

    Likewise, matching games, dodging/collecting, and all the other stuff that make up the minigames can work just fine. There can be a good fun story and sexy characters between each and it can be a great time. But, it definitely is going to feel more 'gamey' because of it.

    And the completely story driven can do a lot, too. Make you connect with characters, build up a desire, and get you invested. But it can also feel awkward at time as it tries to balance realism and sexy-time. Again, none of this is bad - they are all great - but it can alter how the game plays out.

    When you work with random rolls, some people love that kind of stuff and others know it is only going to mean reloading a lot until it suceeds. It seems less of a big deal in the old styled dating types many flash games had, or any really where you are often doing repetitive actions in pump up stats and can keep trying until you succeed without consequences. These definitely lean towards the 'gamey' end of the spectrum. It usually becomes more about spamming activities to either reach thresholds or get that roll to continue on.

    As for the pictures my own personal thoughts lean towards 'no' for the real images. Not that I can't enjoy one or that it makes a game a failure, but they rarely ever work for me. Pretending someone famous is another character is probably the worst - I already know who they are, and in the game they aren't acting but supposed to represent this fictional person. It just puts me off.

    If it is instead a fantasy game where the person is themself it isn't as big of a deal. And if it is an amateur I have no clue about, then it is even easier to believe. Even so, most of the photos are a part of a big photoshoot in order to make up the images you need for various scenes or parts of scenes. Usually they look way too fake and set up (which makes sense when they are part of a set) and that doesn't really do anything for me either. The person may be attractive, and that is great, but besides maybe giving me a name to look up later, it doesn't really help pull me into the game or character.

    Of course that's just my opinion. Some people love those kinds of games and some have got really positive feedback (such as Palmer's past game), so there is certainly an audience for it.

  5. There is an option "D" for pictures: Use real pics found online but choose subjects who aren't widely recognizable. Didn't Palmer go this route in Emily: Sister Attraction?

    1. Yeah, that could be done. I actually considered this part of option B, as I have a pretty broad definition of 'porn star' as basically anyone that has porn (the star being somewhat sarcastic), but I should have been clearer.

      With how much porn is online even if a subject who was fairly popular was used many still might not recognize them.

  6. Although Hunie Pop and Seduce Me both used puzzle systems to simulate dates/conversations, only one of these games used it well.

    Hunie Pop had simple Candy Crush-like system. With each correct matching of the symbols the girl would give a pleasurable reply and she would be showered with hearts. As the game didn't require a lot of deep strategy it left the player able to absorb the sights and sounds and increase their excitement. Although abstract, the minigame and the story (developing relationship with the girl) were well connected.

    I didn't enjoy the card games in Seduce Me. Although that might be because I don't play cards often and found them difficult and frustrating. I was putting so much mental effort into strategy that when I received the prize (a ver short erotic comic strip) I was not in a willing mood.

    It also felt like the creators had one game idea for a series of card games, and also had a set of erotic comics lying around, and just decided to duct tape them together. The connection between the two elements of the game was not well established.

  7. Puzzles: I'll take fetch-and-screw in a romp, without much complaint. In a game with more ambition, I want the "puzzles" to be plot-driven. For example, in SD3, there are some fairly familiar puzzles (distract Gary so you can ask Molly out) and some less traditional puzzles (don't go too far with Becky in the closet if you want to win Molly; don't be a jerk with Alison regarding the blackmail material) that rely on behavioral decisions, but they're all plot-driven and plot-supporting. The invisible scoring system that regulates how each NPC feels about the PC is being adjusted by the solutions to these puzzles, but you don't really know that until the end except for Becky's descriptions, and it's actually far more important to the overall game than the in-the-moment actions (e.g. I can lift Molly's skirt in the alley, but should I ogle the waitress?). It actually forces a roleplaying-type thought process onto the PC, which I think is a good thing.

    I'm actually OK with randomness if it's recoverable, in that I don't have to start from the beginning if I got a bad roll. Randomness plus a disabled save? Nonstarter for me. But if it's modified -- again, like roleplaying games -- by plot choices, the idea that one playthrough might get you a quick peck on the cheek, and the next might get you a thirteen-person orgy with camels and daiquiris, is generally OK. All depends how it's implemented.

    As for pictures: original, please, or I'd rather not have them. Truly obscure models are somewhat acceptable, and in fact -- as has been tried once or twice -- paying for a custom modeling solution might be a lot more possible in these days of crowdfunding. Still, it's back to the debate about enforced characterization vs. open characterization, and I think actual people makes that a stronger test. Famous real people -- like porn stars -- is, for me, a non-starter. I mean, you might hit on one I love, but if you don't...I'm out.

    -- thundergod

  8. Unless the pictures are created to match the words, or the words are written to match the pictures, there is a disconnect between the two which is worse than doing without pictures altogether.

    1. I'm inclined to agree with that, although I'd say it's probably not always the case. It's what stopped me from using pictures for a really long time; I had some plans in the early days to make Pervert Action: Crisis with 'found' anime images, but because of copyright and even more so because of the disconnection you mention, I decided against it.

  9. AIF over simplifies dating/sexual realtionships ? I'm glad it does, otherwise I would not bother and I'd spend the time dating real women instead !

    About pictures, I like them all as long as the quality is good. Good quality pornstar pictures are easy to find. There are some awesome fake celebrities pictures, but they have to be chosen carefully because there are some really bad too.
    3d art can be excellent as we all know already from previous AIF games.
    I don't know why, but I'm not really into anime pictures in AIF which is really weird since I like playing japanese hentai games. But maybe it's just because no one made a great AIF game with traditional hentai pictures.