Sunday, 19 June 2016

Writing Salon Week 8: Program the Character Descriptions

This post is for the June 19-25 writing event of the 2016 AIF Writing Salon.

Add character descriptions to your game so that your characters can be looked at. Many beginner authors have "simulationist tendencies." They feel that they need to simulate the real world. Every body part needs to be examinable. Each piece of clothing can be individually removed. This is very difficult and time-consuming to do. It can also be tedious to write and tedious to read. It can get boring coming up with an interesting description of a woman's breasts and vagina all the time.

Avoid making a clothing system for your game unless you actually have a lot of extra time. Unless there's a narrative reason that individual body parts need to be examinable, make your life easier and don't include it.

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  1. I've programmed up my character descriptions here:

    I'm not using a full clothing system in my game, but I do have some limited clothing actions. I don't like the extra work, but I will need it due to the way the sex unfolds in my game.

    1. I like the descriptions here, it adds enough to give some characterization without overwhelming with detail. Or maybe I've just watched enough regency era movies to picture the characters well. The only thing that throws me off is the "medium bosom" part, it seems a little dry and "medium" seems too simple a descriptor in my opinion.

    2. I agree. I'm never good with body part descriptions. I never know what to say. They're breasts! Isn't that good enough for you? They're not particularly big or perky or droopy or lopsided or asymmetric. Do you want measurements? Do you want the dreaded fruit analogies?

      Then I read someone else's description of breasts, and they're so good that I feel like I could skip the actual sex scene. I could get off from just the description of the breasts alone.

    3. It's tricky! I prefer text over images in AIF games but being able to just show an image instead of coming up with elaborate ways of saying "these are rad tits dude" is a big advantage.

    4. As far a body part descriptions go, i think its not so much thats its important to describe every every inch of what they look like (in just text, its better to leave something for the imagination, for pictures, well.. they have pictures), but more to describe the feelings of the character seeing them, if it's a highschool crush, talking about the fact he always wanted to see them, and how they are better than what he had imagined, something like that is better than just a dry descriptions in my eyes.

  2. Here's a small demo from my game,

    I've used a very simple clothing system (basically clothed or naked for each character) and the ability to examine individual body parts.

    1. Good work. I noticed a few very minor things.

      1. The clothed descriptions don't say what clothing the characters are wearing. You do describe the clothing when the player examines individual body parts, so you could just copy them from there.

      2. When you get dressed again, the character and body part descriptions are still for the naked versions (not that important since I doubt characters will get dressed again in the game).

      3. For some reason, the triangle thing kept throwing me off. It took me a while to realize that they were tan lines. I kept thinking of two triangles sitting on her breasts, and I couldn't figure out what was going on. Was this some sci-fi bra thing?. Also, I think triangle is one of the least sexy words in the English language. ☺️

    2. Ah, good tips. I actually copied the text from my full game into this little one and it got tricky remembering what I had copied back and forth. Same with the clothing, as you mentioned adding removable clothing ups the complexity a lot, but it's a feature I really like having. Just gotta double check stuff like that!

      I agree about the triangles, I changed it up in the description. (now it's octagons)

  3. Apologies for the lack of involvement lately. I don't have anything else to show off that I haven't already posted in previous weeks.

    HOWEVER. May I solicit some opinions?

    Which of these sounds the more compelling for a female PC:

    a. an assassin who struggles to keep her emotions in check;
    b. an assassin with social awkwardness or anxiety;
    (or c. an assassin who [insert character flaw])?

    I ask because I can't seem to come up with choices for the game that make narrative sense. Since this is all to be written from her POV, I'm finding I need to balance out her high technical competency with some kind of personality flaw; otherwise, why is there even the option for non-optimal choices if she already knows the best course of action? If I introduce something to make her doubt herself and her abilities, or cloud her judgement, that should make the player feel more involved in being delegated those decisions on her behalf.

    I can't really do descriptions or a sex scene without writing enough of what goes on beforehand first, and this is the only thing getting in the way of that.

    1. > a. an assassin who struggles to keep her emotions in check;
      sounds like it could be offensive if done wrong, but even if it were offensive the average male player probably wouldn't care.

      > b. an assassin with social awkwardness or anxiety;
      having a socially awkward assassin struggle with conversations seems like it would be really entertaining.

      I'll throw a few darts for character flaws: a lack of body confidence, compulsive lying disorder, alcoholism, a fear of public nudity, germophobia.

    2. Many highly competent people I know suffer from overconfidence. This can manifest themselves in many different ways depending on the person. Many believe that they are very rational and logical people even though emotions and preconceived notions often cloud their judgements. Sometimes their extreme skill in one area leads them to believe they are skilled in areas where they are not skilled at all. Sometimes they are haughty and dismissive of people who don't fit their view of someone competent. Some can't admit failure and will somehow lie to themselves and others that things happened differently than what actually happened. Some are optimistic and just assume that their plans will turn out well.

      Not really over-confidence, but afflictions that are related to technically competent are that some are pessimistic and assume that none of their plans will work. Others are over-analytical and will analyze a situation to death and suffer analysis paralysis (over-analytical and pessimistic is an interesting combination too). Combinations with introversion and extroversion are also interesting too.

      A common trope is the highly competent person who lacks empathy or emotion or something like that.

    3. Yet another trope is the highly analytical person who is resistant to change. They make elaborate plans, something in the plan doesn't work or unfolds differently than they expected, and they fall apart or freeze up because they can't improvise it. They keep trying to force things back to their original plan while things get worse and worse.

    4. Highly competent person with a deathwish? Really, being highly competent mixes well with many other personality traits.

      You're also assuming that being highly competent means you have access to full information, can analyze it correctly, know your own strengths, can choose the "best" solution in an objective way, and nothing will go wrong. That isn't true.

    5. Thanks all. I've gone for mostly b) with a bit of a).

      She's socially awkward, someone who prefers to act alone from the shadows and avoid unfamiliar social situations if possible, and sort of naive in talking to new people. She's not intentionally rude, just verging on the shy through a lack of experience. Nothing crippling, but with the potential for her to screw it up. Compared to traditional assassins, she has "normal people" emotions, which can either be a hindrance or a blessing.

      As an example: the stripping scene - usually an assassin would be calm, professional, dispassionate. They wouldn't hesitate to get up on stage and do what needed to be done to serve their aims. But without emotions, would it be *sexy*? Here, she'd need a push to start and perform the right moves, but once into it she'd be more convincing to pass as a real stripper.

      On the other hand, she might show too much concern and compassion for hurting an innocent, potentially jeopardizing the mission.

      The player will have the opportunity to increase her confidence, snowballing as it allows them to push her to the more risky (and risqué) actions that she'd normally refuse or not even consider.

  4. This makes me a little sad... i really liked body part descriptions in these games, just seeing what the responces to me interacting with the world on my own terms, i also really enjoy just being perv.

    1. The Writing Salon posts are merely my personal advice about difficulties that beginner authors face that often lead to them abandoning their projects. The goal is not to make inferior games. The goal is to actually finish making games. Authors can do whatever they want. I personally think that body part descriptions and deep interactions should be added last because they are time-consuming, and very frustrating to program. I have had to abandon several projects at this stage because the complexity was too much.

      You're thinking about games from the perspective of the readers. The Writing Salon is for the writers.

    2. Body part descriptions are surprisingly tedious to write sometimes, too. I know that while I'd been working on PAL for more than 18 months, I still hadn't actually written the body parts for the game until a few months ago when I was a little bored on holiday and did it in the evenings. I still haven't quite finished all of them.

    3. Ahhh, but don't writers write for the readers? ;)

      I am currently working on something, so i know its extra work.

      In Adrift at least, its not that complex or frustrating, quite easy actually, but like BBBen said, its often tedious and the main source of any "writers block" i face. But from a personal perspective (a readers perspective, i guess) i think they are worth the trouble...

      You can have some fun with them too, not only can they can also be a source for character development (for the player and the npc) you can also write some fun reactions, maybe some humor at the PC's expense, that sort of thing.

    4. No, writers write for themselves. They write for the same reasons that runners run marathons. The fame, the countless offers of kinky sex, the millions of dollars, and the free car that I get as an AIF writer are nice, but they are just gravy on top.

      Having body descriptions and clothing are fun. But the choice isn't between a game with body descriptions and a game without body descriptions. For beginner authors, the choice is between a game without body descriptions and no game. You yourself have said that the body descriptions are giving you writer's block and preventing you from finishing your game.

      One of my goals for the Writing Salon is to free writers from the yoke of reader expectations. I haven't been too successful though. There is nothing wrong with short, shallow games. Readers demand too much and it is limiting the games we get. It prevents experimentation. It makes it less fun for the authors. A full clothing and body part system can be the same amount of work as a second sex scene. Why should writers spend all their time writing body part descriptions when they could work on something more interesting? If authors think that body part descriptions are an important part of their game, they should add them. They shouldn't feel obligated to add them just because some readers like them.

    5. I'm just trying to help people find ways to make that part of writing more enjoyable, and how they can tie into the rest of the game.

      and of course, i agree, people should write what they want to write, my comment about writing for the readers was supposed to be tongue in cheek, since the point of making this easier is so they can be released... to the readers.

      I think cutting them is one option, but mostly for people who don't want to write them anyway, and those people should never feel obliged to do so, whether they are experienced, popular authors or new authors... i think we both agree with that.

      But for people who do want them, its good to know they are appreciated and hopefully they find ways to make them interesting to write at that point when you start have that writers block.