in the Details
Here I am with another installment of how to write a one night stand. Let’s start out with a little progress check. At this point you should have your basic game environment ready to go with room and object descriptions. Your NPC should also be fleshing out nicely now that you can fully examine her and even talk to her about at least a few topics. You should have at least a general idea of how the game will go leading up to the sex, and how about that sex? Did you have fun writing it? If you didn’t have at least a little fun with it then you should probably just stop now. Have I mentioned that you aren’t getting paid for writing this thing (I hope that doesn’t come as a shock to anyone) so if you aren’t enjoying yourself then there is really no reason to continue.
Environment, character, descriptions, conversation, and sex. Congratulations, it looks like you have a game there. And I mean that literally. You could take what you have now, plug it into the program, and with a few little tweaks you would have a working, running game. Perhaps a little sparse but it would work. This month I want to revisit some of the sections we’ve already covered with a few more notes that you might want to keep in mind to help push the game above that “a little sparse” area and, as promised, we’ll take a closer look at clothing systems. Ready? Then let’s get to it.
Let’s start out by talking a bit about our plot. Plot might be a bit of a strong term here considering the scope of the game but by now you should have been thinking about the basic premise of your game. What exactly is happening and what does the player need to do to get to the sex? If you haven't been thinking about it then it is time to start.
I’ve already mentioned that there are many ways to write a game. There are no right or wrong ways, just the way that works for you. Some people like to have the whole thing planned out before they start writing anything but that doesn’t work for me. I’ve tried it and it just doesn’t. I usually get what I think is a good idea (sometimes for a whole game and sometimes for just a scene) and start writing. It probably seems like we’re jumping around quite a bit in this tutorial and if there are any of those ‘plan it all out’ authors looking in on this I’m sure it’s almost painful for them to read it.
The thing is, this is how I write games. I jump around a lot, I work on whatever interests me that day, some days I just write text and some days I just work on the programming. It won’t work for everyone, I know that, but it works for me. As I’m writing one thing, I get an idea for something else and make a quick note about it for later. There have been times when I’ve tried to come up with a missing piece for days by thinking about it only to have it come to me when I’m writing something completely unrelated.
What I’m trying to say is don’t get too caught up in trying to plan things out from A to Z if it doesn’t seem to be working. If you’re having trouble getting the flow of the game down just start at the beginning and start writing. Don’t think that anything you write down or type into the computer is written in stone. There have been times when I’ve been 3 or 4 paragraphs into something when I get a good idea and find that I have to delete most of what I just wrote to make it work. So if you haven’t done so already, write your introduction this month. Despite the fact that this is the first thing the player sees, I don’t think it has ever once been the first thing I wrote so don’t worry if you haven’t done it yet. But we’re getting to the point now where you are going to have to have some kind of continuity going through the game so write that first block of text and see where it takes you.
So you have your room descriptions and a few basic objects. Are you done? No, I’m afraid not. I’m sure that you have already thought of a few extra items that need to be added based on what you have written. Go ahead and add them if you haven’t and write the descriptions. Even once you are relatively sure that you have all the objects listed and described you are still not done. Chances are that players are going to try more than just looking at the objects. Ok, skip that “chances are” stuff – they will! They will try looking under things, looking behind them, moving them, taking them, standing/sitting/lying on them, opening, closing, turning, eating, drinking, reading, pushing, pulling, throwing, breaking, and since this is AIF, possibly even fucking them (hey, it takes all kinds). Are your objects set up to handle all these things? No, of course they aren’t. I can’t think of a single object in which every one of the actions listed above would be logical but I also can’t think of an object where none of them would be. Well, maybe if you made something like the sun an object you would want the player to be able to examine it and nothing else but let’s just say it’s rare.
So does that mean that you have to write a whole bunch more descriptions for all those things? Luckily, it doesn’t. Some of them will be handled automatically when we get to the programming. If we make a bed, the player will already be able to lie down on it. If we make a dresser, it will allow him to open and close it, and so on. Some commands just don’t make any sense to try and in my opinion, if it’s not at least somewhat logical then the author has no responsibility to allow for it. For example, if you have a television set then the player might very well try to switch it on. That’s logical and even if you don’t want the TV on, you should explain why. On the other hand, if there is a book, it makes no sense to ‘turn on book’ so don’t worry about that one. Of course if it’s a book then you should be able to read it.
All this is not going to be quite as much work as it might sound like. Again, a lot of things will be handled by the way we set them up when we program them. I mentioned last month that default responses are not always the best way to go but when you are talking about ‘turn on book’ they usually work fine. For right now, what you need to be thinking about are the actions that you can do with your objects and especially anything that is going to be out of the ordinary. Don’t worry about how you’re going to do it right now, just figure out what you want to happen and write it down.
More About Sex
Last month you should have gotten some basic sexual commands down. Now that you’ve gotten your feet wet (or whatever wet, I don’t want to know about it) it’s time to think about a few other things. Are you going to have any extra actions? Are you going to allow sex in more than one room, and if so how different is that going to make the responses? Are they going to be pretty much the same or completely different? Are you going to try to add different positions? Are you going to have any sex toys? There are a lot of things to think about here and I imagine that you’ve played enough of these games to know the options (although don’t ever be afraid to try something new either). What I really want to talk about however is more of an overriding issue in the scene as a whole. The question? Cut-scenes or arousal system?
You already know what I’m talking about here even if you don’t recognize the terms but let me try to explain what I mean a bit more. Take for example the ‘fuck girl’ command. In a cut-scene approach this would print out a block of text describing the whole process of the PC fucking the girl all the way through the point where one or both of them have an orgasm. An arousal system on the other hand keeps track of how aroused the character is. She must be at a certain level before you can fuck her at all. Once at that level, she must reach a higher level before she has an orgasm. As for the PC, his arousal must be so high for his penis to be erect and again, higher for his orgasm.
I’m just going to come right out and say that I have never particularly cared for arousal systems. This is not to say that I haven’t enjoyed several games that have used them but I have found that in some cases my enjoyment was in spite of, not because of, the arousal system. By keeping track of the characters’ arousal and only letting certain things happen at certain levels the system strives to be more realistic and true to real sex. More often than not, it just doesn’t work out that way. Why? Because this is a game, not real sex. In real sex it make perfect sense that you would want to engage in a little foreplay before getting on to the main event and this also makes sense in a game so what’s the problem?
Here is the problem as I see it. In real sex, there is touching, kissing and licking all leading up to some (hopefully) great sex and a blissful orgasm. Then what? Some snuggling, some pillow talk, and some sleep. In a games there is touching, kissing, and licking leading up to sex. Then what? More touching, kissing, and licking leading up to more sex, leading to touching, kissing, and licking . . . and so on. In real life most guys do not have more than two or three orgasms (at most) in a night. Let’s have a show of hands guys. Who has had more than 15 in a single session? More that 10? I didn’t think so, but in a game that is usually what happens. If you played the game how you really had sex it would be beautiful but we don’t. When I’m playing a game I want to see everything that’s there. After all, the author went to the trouble of writing all those responses so the least I can do is put in the effort to read them all.
There at least 7 basic sexual actions that I can think of off the top of my head (a lot more if we’re adding different commands, positions, toys, or whatever) that lead to an orgasm by one or both of the participants. To see all of these usually means that you are becoming very friendly with that ‘again’ command and are seeing repeated text over and over again before getting to the new stuff. There have been better and worse examples of this in games but they all have at least some of it.
So that’s what I don’t like about arousal systems. Does that mean that cut-scenes are flawless and always the way to go? Yes! Well, no, not really, just making sure you were still awake. The cut-scene approach has its share of problems as well. While it can give the author more control over what is happening and when, this has the effect of taking some of that control away from the player. Also, if there is no arousal system at all in place, in other words, if the player can actually do the various commands in any order they want then it is hard to get a gradual progression through the scene. What I mean is that if the player is limited at first to foreplay commands (rubbing and licking various body parts) before being able to consummate the relationship it helps to make sure that the scene reaches its climax at the same time as the participants. If, on the other hand, the player can fuck the girl before anything else then (unless a lot of care is taken) the other commands are liable to seem out of place and tame by comparison.
After mentioning all the drawbacks of this approach (where every command is available from the beginning of the scene) let me say that I have used it myself in a couple of games. Here was my reasoning for not putting any restrictions on it. As already mentioned, in real sex there is usually some foreplay involved before getting to the main course, but this is not always the case. There are times when you can skip it and get right to the fucking. However, this is not likely to make for a very fulfilling experience for either person. Likewise in a game, even if you can fuck the girl before anything else, this does not mean that it is the best way to go about things. I wanted to give the player the freedom to do actions in any order but if they choose to ignore common sense (or at least my view of it) and as a result don’t get as much enjoyment out of the game as they could have, then they deserve what they get. Or, if you don’t like that answer we can go with my short one for why I did it this way. I was lazy.
At any rate, as is so often the case, the best answer to this question probably lies somewhere between the two extremes. A sort of limited arousal system that might make is so that a certain amount of foreplay is necessary to get to the initial sex but after that, everything is open. I did something like this in another of my games. I was writing this one in ADRIFT and I created a value for the girl’s arousal. Then I made every ‘foreplay’ task (rub/lick/kiss whatever body part) increase the value by 1. The player could not fuck the girl until the value was at, I believe I put it at 4. So it made the player wait for the first sex command, but let them choose the preliminary commands in whatever order they wished. Since this value was always more than 4 once it hit that number, any command was forever after open to the player. This was a very simple way of doing it and it could have been taken a lot further than I took it. For instance, having a different response to “rub tits” depending on whether or not the girl has been fucked, or whatever. But you can say one thing about this approach. Of all the different ways out there to handle this situation, this is definitely one of them.
Another way of handling it might be to use a full arousal system with a couple of adjustments. The way arousal systems usually work is that numbers values are tracked for the PC and all other characters. These increase during sex until the character reaches climax at which time the value is usually reduced back to a lower number and must then be built up again. You could simply change this so that the values are not reset after climax. Then you would have the full buildup to the first orgasm but it would eliminate most or all of the repeating text and let the player do whatever they wished from that point on.
Of course, that approach isn’t perfect either but that’s really the point – none of them are. I don’t even know exactly which type I prefer playing most. Honestly, it has a lot more to do with the content and quality of the writing than it does with which system is used. Let me put it this way, if A. Bomire were to write a game using my least favorite system, I would still enjoy it ultimately more than Vachon coming back and writing one using my favorite. Even if you figure out what you think is the best system, there are going to be a lot of people out there that disagree with you (as well as those who agree with you). So the answer to the question of which system to use really comes down to personal preference. Which one fits your writing style and the content of the game best?
So what all this really means is that I have just spent the last – oh crap, 1500 words (did I really write that much?) telling you that I have no idea which system you should use. Hopefully the discussion of some of the questions involved will get you thinking in the right direction to find a system that works for you. If not, tell me it did anyway so you don’t hurt my feelings, ok?
Dresses and Panties and Bras, Oh My!
There are several different ways to handle clothing in your game. There are numerous ways that you could classify them but here I am going to break them down into two broad categories: Those that have actual clothing items and those that don't. There are certainly other ways that you could organize the systems and the following is hardly a comprehensive list but it should give you a good overview.
No Clothes Clothing System
Probably the easiest way to handle clothing is just not to have it. No, I don't mean that everyone is just running around naked (although that would be kind of cool huh?). What I mean is that it is generally accepted that the characters are wearing clothes and in fact, descriptions of the characters might include mention of clothing, but there are no actual clothing items programmed. When the player goes to, shall we say engage in sexual intercourse, it is assumed that the parties involved got out of their clothes to do the deed and then promptly put them back on before walking out onto the street.
Sometimes when this system is used you will see mention of the clothing being taken off during responses to the various sexual commands. While this might appear to be a good idea at first, if we take a closer look at it I think you will see that it has some major problems. Let's take the woman's breasts. No, that's not what I meant, I mean let's take a look at the woman's breasts. No, that's not it, what I’m trying to say is let's examine the sexual commands relating to the woman's breasts as an example. Yeah, that'll work.
Now, it might seem completely logical to you to suck her breasts before fucking them. So your write a neat little description of ripping open her shirt and pulling up her bra in your frenzied haste to get at her lovely globes (Hot stuff there. Good job). Then you go on to write the description of fucking said lovely globes and since her clothes are now pleasantly out of the way you make no mention of the hateful items. You compile the game, play through it and it works perfectly.
Ah, but now what happens when some degenerate anarchist out there insists of messing with the natural order of things. First he fucks her tits, getting no mention of clothing but that's ok since she must have removed them (see above). The problem comes when he then goes to suck her tits and is treated to your frenzied ripping and tearing and starts talking to himself, “Wait a minute, did she have her clothes on this whole time? Did I just fuck her tits through her shirt and bra?”
I've already beaten this into the ground and you get the point. About the only way that this would work is if you limited the player's options so that he couldn't do the second command before doing the first. If it were only these two commands then that wouldn't be terrible but you would have to put similar restrictions on nearly every other sexual command and forcing the player to go through a sex scene in one predetermined order is a very, very bad idea.
Another way to handle this type of situation is to write a description of the character stripping at the beginning of the scene. This is a better idea because it acknowledges the fact that she was wearing clothes but you don't have to worry about them once the scene has started. You could even make it into a description of a striptease that she performs for the PC, which could add a sexy little prelude to the actual sex. Just don’t use this approach every time or it could get pretty boring.
Yet another way to handle it is to let the characters dress and undress on command. There are still no actual clothing items here but you would use some kind of flag to track whether the character is dressed or not and some of the descriptions and actions would change accordingly. This is an all or nothing situation. The character is either completely dressed, or naked. So while this does involve a bit more work than the systems above, it's still simple enough to keep it manageable. This is the system that I was going to suggest (and in fact, still am suggesting) you use for your first game. However, because of some interest I've received via e-mail I will go into some other systems below.
Easy to implement and write. You also have fewer descriptions to write since you don't have to worry about touching/rubbing/licking/sucking various body parts in various stages of dress.
It gives the player less control over the scene. It could also be seen as less realistic. Of course, some may argue that just the opposite is true, that it is actually more realistic. After all, most of time when you are having sex clothes are not the goal, they are an obstacle to get out of the way as fast as possible to get her naked on the bed (or couch, or kitchen table, or . . . well you get the idea). You don't usually think, "Ok, now I'm removing her blouse, now I'm removing her bra." On the other hand, sometimes you do, sometimes undressing each other is part of the sex so maybe both camps have a point here.
She Is Currently Wearing . . .
In the second type of system there are actual clothing items that can be worn, removed, examined, etc. This can be taken to different extremes but at its most basic each character, including the PC, would have one or two pieces of clothing. Here your girl would be wearing, for instance, jeans and a t-shirt. There wouldn't be any underwear implemented but that's ok since in real life women seldom wear bras or panties anyway, (or has porn lied to me again?). This type of clothing is actually pretty simple to program. Just about any program you are using will have a way to make an object wearable and from there the game engine itself will handle letting you put things on and take them off. However, as we get more complicated this is not the case.
Which brings us to layered clothing, the ultimate simulated clothing experience. As the name suggests, (and as you probably already know) this system deals with having multiple layers of clothing. Here your girl could still be wearing that t-shirt, but now she can have a bra on underneath (whatever) and a sweater over the top of it all.
Layered clothing systems are a lot of work from both a programming and a writing point of view. On the programming side you have to make sure that, in the above example, she can't remove the shirt while wearing the sweater, and can't remove the bra while wearing either the shirt or the sweater. Have you thought about the possibility that she might want to put her clothes back on? Yeah, I know, where does she get off? But if she does then you have to make sure that everything goes back on in the right order. If she puts on the shirt without first wearing the bra that's fine, but she should not then be able to put the bra on over the shirt. While this is technically possible to do, it's just a bit silly don't you think?
Sound complicated? Actually, it is extremely simple, in real life that is. In real life I've been dressing myself for months now and have never once got the order wrong. Well, there was that one time back in college when I wore the underpants around on my head but I'd rather not talk about that thank you. On the other hand, from a programming point of view you're right, it is complicated. Luckily, there are extensions, written by smarter people than me, that will handle nearly all of these things. As long as you set the clothing up correctly then the extension will help the game system in handling all the layers and getting everything in the right order.
So, if all the programming (or at least most of it) has already been done for you then are we finished? That really depends on you. If all you want is a general description of the girl with a tag at the end saying, "She is wearing jeans and a t-shirt" then yeah, you're done, but I guess I just don't see the point of going through the whole layered clothing thing to begin with if that's all you want. In my opinion, the fun here is being able to examine and touch the girl and all her various bits and pieces in the varying states of dress. If this is what you want then you have a lot of work left ahead of you. Remember that description you wrote for rubbing her breasts? Now you need three more (for when she is wearing the bra, the t-shirt, and the sweater). The same thing goes for the descriptions of her and her individual body parts.
But wait, there's more. In addition to all the different layers of clothing you can add yet another level of realism and allow the player to lift, lower, unbutton, unzip, open, and close various clothing items. Again, the extension will handle a lot of this for you but it is yet another thing that you have to keep in mind as you are writing your descriptions. There are shortcuts that you can use for some of it but the bottom line is that the thing that makes this system so cool, also makes it a lot of work.
This system (especially the layered system) gives the player a lot of control and also adds the potential for some real hot descriptions and scenes.
The layered clothing system is either a lot of work or a whole hell of a lot of work to implement well. Even when an extension is used to shoulder a lot of the weight of the actual programming there still remains a lot left for the author to do. Also, if it’s poorly done then it can actually be more annoying from a player’s point of view than not having it at all.
I’ve dumped a lot of information on you here. This month is where the illusion that these games are easy to write falls apart. If you have been following along for the last three months then I’m guessing that here will be the point where I loose a few of you. You thought you were done with rooms and objects but now I’ve said you’re not. You thought you were done with sex but now I’ve said there is more to do. By now you have a lot of basics down and that will help a lot as you continue through but unless you want the absolute minimum in quantity and quality, you’re not finished yet. There is a lot of work left to do, a lot of text to write, a lot of details to see to. If these games really were easy, you wouldn’t need to read this tutorial because you would probably already have written a game and we would have a lot more games to play. All I can say is stick with it and if you feel yourself slipping, get some help. Either contact me or find someone else that you can use to bounce ideas off of and get feedback. Don’t quit at the first sign of it turning difficult, it just makes it all the sweeter when you finish.
For the most part, this concludes the general discussion part of the tutorial. In the next (probably two) months we will be talking about programming the game using Inform 7. Wait! Come back, it’s ok. I realize that I have not always kept this tutorial quite as ‘simple’ as I was planning but I honestly believe that anyone who wants to can use I7 to write a game. The fact that the remainder of the tutorial deals with programming does not necessarily mean that there will be no benefit to reading those installment if you are not planning to use that system, but that will be the primary focus. Good luck in whatever you decide and as always, work hard, have fun, and think dirty thoughts.
Go to Part 4
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