Developing the Character
Did everyone finish your homework? Please pass it to the front of the class. Hmm, it looks like several of you decided not to participate today. Well, that’s ok. I’m feeling lenient and you still have time to catch up with the rest of the class. If you have done your homework then what you should have at this point is a basic description of the characters and setting of your new game. In this lesson we will be taking a look at developing the character a bit more. I want to start by discussing some conversational systems and then we’ll get into the sex. Are you all ready? Good, then turn in your textbooks to page 143 and we’ll begin.
Chatting with the Chick
Anyone who has played one of these games knows that talking to the various characters is something that you expect to be able to do. There are several different kinds of conversational systems that have been used. First of all, let me just say that I will be going through this rather quickly. BBBen has written a very excellent article discussing the pros and cons of each system and I highly recommend that you read it. You can find it on his website at http://bbben.aifcommunity.org/talktovsaskabout.htm.
The first type is simply “talk to [character]”. In this system you would type in “Talk to Kes” and a block of text would print out describing what the two of you say. In some games this is the same block of text all the way through the game, while in others it changes with the situation. In either case, this is the easiest system to use, both for the player and the author. What you give up is the feeling of real interaction that you get with some of the other systems.
The ask/tell type system is probably the most popular. In this system you would type “Ask Kes about bio bed” and she would respond to the question. This is a much harder system to use from a writing point of view and possibly from the player’s point of view as well depending on how much effort the author has put into it. If your entire list of topics amounts to three or four things then it can be very frustrating for the player as they try to guess which ones you have included. However, if done right this is by far the most immersive system and can greatly add to the feeling of the game.
The third type is a menu system. In this case you would usually just talk to the character and would then be presented with a list of topics that you can talk about. This can be much easier for the player than the ask/tell system while still giving a lot of the same benefits of that system. It can be a bit more complicated to program as you want to make sure to get the topics to display at the right time so that you don’t have topics listed before they are relevant or ones that give away future parts of the game.
The system I favor is really sort of a combination between the first and second. I like to have a ‘talk to’ or ‘greet’ command to open the conversation but also include several topics that can be perused for more information. Since I’m the one writing this tutorial we will be using my system here but like I said, there are other options out there. You just have to find what works for you.
The problems that I mentioned above about the menu system can apply here as well but you can usually get away with a bit more. For instance, say that locating and acquiring the Platinum Pomegranate of Passion is a goal in your game. With the menu system, you would not want that topic to come up until the player had either seen, or at least heard about the PPP. In the ask/tell system it should really be disallowed as a topic as well but since it is not very likely that the player will “Ask Kes about pomegranate” out of the blue, you can probably get away with not doing it here.
All that is probably a bit beyond our scope at the moment. For right now, just come up with a list of topics that you think the player should be able to ask about. I personally believe that when this system is used, the player should always be able to ask any other character about (at least) themselves, and the PC. Some other suggestions are objects in the environment, other locations, body parts, and of course, sex.
There are a couple of things to keep in mind here. First, often times the response to one question can raise new subjects. For example, lets say we ask Kes about the bio bed and she says something like this.
“Every time I look at this bed I remember the time that Nelix was strapped down on it and couldn’t move when those aliens removed his lungs.”
Oh oh, now we have other things to write. She mentioned Nelix. Is Nelix in our game? No, he isn’t but the fact that she mentioned him means that we should now be able to ask for more information. The same with the aliens and maybe even ‘lungs.’ The point here is be careful. If the response to each question suggests two others then you could soon be looking at 40, 50, 60 different topics, and while this might be nice to see in a game, I don’t suggest you try it your first time out.
The second thing to keep in mind is that some responses to topics will change as circumstances do. If we want to ask Kes about sex then it would make sense to get a different response before we have sex with her than we do afterwards. There are exceptions to this but it’s just another thing to think about.
So in my case, my list might look something like this (again, when I really do it on my word processor I would list the topic as “ASK KES ABOUT BIO BED” so as not to confuse them with object descriptions or whatever but here I will just list the topics):
ME, HER, BIO BED, DISPLAY, MEDICAL SUPPLIES, COMPUTER, DRESS, TITS, ASS, PUSSY, LEGS, HAIR, EARS, OCAMPA, DOCTOR, SICKBAY, SEX.
This is not a comprehensive list and you should not be trying for one at this point. As with the objects, other things will come up as you go along. Just get some main ones down and write the responses.
While we’re on the subject, what exactly should those responses look like? Probably the most common thing is to just get the text that the character says in response to the question. So if we ask about the display, we might get something like:
“The display shows the medical readings of whoever is lying on the bio bed.”
Which is fine, but another option would be to add the actual question into the response like this.
“What do all these things on the display mean?” you ask.
“They show the medical readings of whoever is lying on the bio bed.” Kes replies.
Some people may not like this because it seems to put words into the PC’s mouth but we are really doing that no matter how we word the response. I like this method because it gives the conversation a more natural flow and also makes it clear to the player exactly what the question was. This may sound silly considering the fact that the player is the one asking the question but think about it. Let’s stay with that display example. Is the player asking what it is, what the readings mean, if the readings are different for different people or other species, how to operate it, how much it costs, if it comes in other colors, or whatever else? There are so many things that “Ask Kes about display” could mean. Adding both sides of the conversation also gives a better sense of continuity if you plan on having more than one response to some topics. Let’s say you ask her about the display and get the above response. If you ask her again you might get something like:
“What does that reading mean?” you ask pointing to one indicator pushing toward the top of the grid.
“Oh, that measures your, ah, sexual arousal.” She replies with a comforting smile.
“It even measures that?” you exclaim, a bit embarrassed.
“Yes it does,” she says, then glancing down at your crotch she adds, “Of course, I didn’t need the display to tell me that particular reading would be high.”
Anyway, this point probably isn’t worth the time I’m devoting to it but you get the idea. The way you go is mostly just a matter of preference, just get something down for now and you can always change it later if you need to.
Getting to the Sex
Here we are at the sex scene. We won’t go into extreme depth this month but since this is really the main goal and purpose of the game we should start thinking about it. I guess the first thing to consider when approaching the sex is ‘How did we get here?’ What does the player have to do to get to the sex? Is it all set up in the introduction or does he have some work to do? Are there obstacles or puzzles in the way? Does he need to talk to her? Or is she ready right now? These are clearly questions that need to be answered. In fact, others may say that they are questions that should have been answered last month, before we started working on anything else. Well, others are quite welcome to write a tutorial themselves if they want but for now, here we are. So what do we do?
In the original game of this type, A Night With Troi the introduction just says that you have been striving after her since you came on board and now you are finally alone with her in her cabin. The very first command you type can be ‘fuck troi’ and if it is, that’s exactly what you do. This is certainly the easiest way to go about it but a bit of buildup at the onset can make the payoff all the sweeter. The scope of this type of game does not usually allow for elaborate and lengthy puzzles but that is not to say that you can’t throw in an obstacle or two if you want.
I can’t really tell you what to do here in your own game since every one is going to be different. If you want to run some ideas by me individually, feel free to e-mail me. In my own case I was thinking that the game would go something like this.
The PC comes to sickbay because of an injury. Nothing major, maybe a sprained wrist or something from an accident on that death trap of theirs, the holodeck. The doctor isn’t there at the moment but Kes certainly doesn’t need help treating something as simple as a sprained wrist. She treats the injury (a few simple steps involved here) and soon our hero is as good as new. So then, how do we get to the sex? We can go about this in several different ways. In the show, Kes is fairly reserved and also devoted to that ugly warthog, Nelix. She would never just jump into the sack with a random crewmember, I mean this guy doesn’t even get his name in the opening credits. In the original series he probably would have been wearing a red shirt and you know what happens to anyone beaming down to a planet in a red shirt if their name isn’t Scotty? Yep, ZZZZaaaapppp! Kirk looses another one.
Anyway, this is our game and we don’t have to follow the rules of the show at all. We can just make Kes a little less reserved, a little less devoted, and Boom-chika-boom-boom, we’re on our way. However, in this case, since we’re talking about Star Trek, we have a better way. We can just pull out that catchall for anything strange or out of the ordinary that may happen. That’s right, it’s your friend and mine, the spatial anomaly. So enter the spatial anomaly and exit all our inhibitions. Nice and simple and it makes perfect sense. Or at least as much as the rest of Star Trek makes. I haven’t ironed out all the details yet but I have the general process in mind, which is important as we move forward.
Sexing Her Up
Now let’s talk about the basic commands. If you’ve played more than zero of these games then you should already know what some of them are. Starting simple here we’ll begin with three that almost everyone is going to expect to be there. These three are rub, lick, and fuck. This immediately raises some questions. Is rub the same thing as touch or are they different actions? Are lick, suck, and kiss the same? You can split these apart if you want to, it has been done before. In fact, I’ve done it myself. In my game A Dream Come True, I wanted to put in as much detail as possible so all of the above were separate actions. Here is the whole list I came up with. Touch/caress, rub, tickle, scratch, pinch, finger, kiss, lick, suck, nibble, and fuck. I think I got them all there.
Ok, so now let’s talk about why you shouldn’t do that for you first game. Let’s say that you are going to stick with just the three I mentioned first and you’ve decided to just give her the ‘big three’ body parts. Three actions, times three body parts equals nine responses you have to write, that’s it. Now let’s say you took my advice from part one and gave her a few extra bits and pieces so that the lucky girl actually has six body parts. 6*3=18 responses. Still not too bad. But wait a minute, she has clothes on part of the time. Should the responses be different if she is dressed or not dressed? Yep, you’re probably right so we double that to 36 responses. That is with just 3 actions and 6 body parts. What if you want to give more than one response to certain actions or if you are using a clothing system that allows her to be something other than fully dressed or naked? More responses.
In my game the girl also had twenty some body parts. I’ll let you do the math but let’s just say that it added up to a butt load of responses. And that’s with me cheating by making sure they were both already naked when the sex started and by giving every action just a single response.
I know that some people out there are saying, “Wait a minute, that’s not really accurate. You don’t have to have a response for every combination of action and body part, some of them don’t even make sense. And some of her body parts aren’t covered by clothing so you wouldn’t need separate responses there either.” Well those are good points my friend, I’m glad you brought them up. You’re right, you don’t need responses for all of them but no response is a response in itself. Let’s look at Kes’ ears. We might want to allow ‘lick ears.’ That make sense, I would probably translate it to nibble ears and maybe we even find out that those alien ears of hers are more sensitive than human ones. However, ‘fuck ears’ just makes no sense at all, but what response does it give us? “You can’t fuck Kes’ ears,” or “I don’t understand what you want to do with Kes’ ears,” or “I only understood you as far as wanting to fuck something.” If you are not happy with these default responses (and in many cases you shouldn’t be) then you have to write a response for why you don’t get a response. Sound confusing?
Let’s look at something a bit more basic, anal sex is a good example. Maybe you don’t like it and don’t want to include it in your game. That’s fine but you have to realize that 99% of the people playing the game are going to try it. Even if they aren’t really into it, most people will still try it just to see if it works. If they can’t do it, that’s ok but you need to say why they can’t. She doesn’t want to or whatever. Any time something is logical (or at least physically possible) for the PC to try, it should respond with something other than a default response. Now, that’s a good little rule there. It’s also completely impossible to follow all the time. You are simply not going to think of every possibility and your beta testers aren’t going to think of them all either (although they will come up with more than you do) but you should at least try to cover the main ones.
I’m not trying to discourage you here and I’m not saying that you shouldn’t add a couple of extra body parts or actions if you want to. I’m just pointing out that it all adds up to more work and while these may be good things to have in a game (they probably are) you don’t want to go overboard on your first one. Remember our motto, “Keep it simple.”
So for right now, keep all that in mind but just get some basics down on paper. Your homework for this section is to write a response for every combination of rub/lick/fuck with each body part that your girl has. As already mentioned, some of these won’t make sense but write them anyway. Think about the kind of response you would like to see in a game if you tried that. Also think about clothing. You should probably be able to rub all her body parts even if she is clothed although licking and fucking might be a different matter.
Many of these responses will change as the game develops and some you probably won’t end up using at all but in addition to getting some specific descriptions, this will also help you to discover the general mood that the scene will take. We have more to talk about in the sex area but that (combined with the conversational topics) should give you plenty to work on this month.
Next month we’ll talk some more about the sex and check back in with our game environment to see how things are shaping up. I’ll also touch briefly on arousal systems vs. cut-scenes is the sex scene. I was going to suggest that you stick to a very simple clothing system. Something like just dressed or undressed to keep it simple. However, two different people have written me about layered clothing systems so I’m kind of rethinking that. At any rate, I’ll go into the options in a bit more depth next month. Until then, work hard, have fun, and think dirty thoughts.
Go to Part 3
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