Ariane in Paradise 1.0 on Patreon

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If you sign up for my Patreon at $5 “Dater” level, you can download the official no longer in beta Ariane in Paradise.

https://www.patreon.com/dateariane

Over the last week or two I have meticulously went over the game fixing all the grammar, spelling, graphic glitches, and even one major bug, so that it works well enough to call it “official”.  I even added a new final scene to celebrate.

Walkthroughs are also posted on Patreon.

This version will be posted as a free release in January 2020 here on this page.

Sexual Minorities in Games

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I’m old enough to remember when sexual minorities in media were never talked about.  Anybody wise to sexuality in the 60’s knew that Uncle Arthur on Bewitched was gay but it never got mentioned in the show itself.  It wasn’t until a show called Soap came on in the early 80’s that broke the sexuality taboo and featured an openly gay character played by not gay actor Billy Crystal.

Still it took a while for more openly gay characters to appear in TV and movies, unfortunately many times as the antagonist — often because of their sexuality.  Pretty much all positive portrayals throughout the 80’s and 90’s were also stereotypes.  Gay men were always effeminate, lesbians were always “Tom Boys”, and transgenders were portrayed as deceitful (The Crying Game) and/or just scary (Silence of the Lambs).

Gay and lesbian characters are pretty much mainstream these days, and portrayed as “normal” people, because they are.  It took a good 40 years or so to get that way.  There are still bad transgender stereotypes floating around, but shows like Sense 8, Supergirl and The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina are starting to catch on and do it right.

I bring this up because there are other sexual minorities that don’t get as much attention.  One of them is asexuality.  It’s going through the same phase that gays and lesbians went through in the 80’s and 90’s.  Literary asexual characters like Sherlock Holmes and Jughead Jones get hetero-normalized in TV and Movie portrayals, and the tiny representation of asexuals is either stereotypically naive like Todd on Bojack Horseman, or stereotypically cold and unemotional like Raphael on Shadowhunters.  Still it’s something.

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Rachel Spahr the Asexual 

If you played my third game Rachel Meets Ariane, you know that Rachel is canonically asexual.

This can be confusing to many as Rachel has a sexual fetish, and you can have sex with her in Something’s In The Air if you are willing to indulge that fetish.  The confusion mostly comes over the definition of asexuality: Asexuality is the lack of sexual attraction for any gender.

That’s it, that’s the whole definition.  Sexual drive (aka sexual libido) has nothing to do with it.  Some asexuals are romantic, some are aromantic.  Some masturbate, some don’t.  Some have fetishes, some don’t.  Some are willing to have sex to please their romantic partner, some are uncomfortable with it no matter what.  Asexuality is not the same as celibacy, and it is not a medical condition or a mental disorder to be “cured”.  It is simply a sexual orientation.

Here’s a video with more info:

The trouble with making games or any media with asexual characters is because of all the common myths associated with the orientation.  The general population doesn’t understand it.

If you make a character asexual, or if you mention asexuality in fiction, you have to be very careful to get it right, and not perpetuate the myths.

An example of a negative spin

Part of the reasons for this essay, is that asexuality has appeared in two very recent popular video games.  One does it wrong, one does it right.

The poor example from Death Stranding from Kojima Productions, where we get this text as part of the backstory:

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This is an example of a game maker completely misinterpreting the definition of asexuality, resulting in them making asexuality as one of the causes of the fall of civilization.

Kojima productions is based in Japan, which currently has a problem with decreasing birth rates to the point now where a third of the population of Japan is now over the age of 60.  This is largely due to economic causes as people of child bearing age don’t have the economic means to have families.  We are starting to see this in America as the Millennial generation who are now in their prime child bearing age are not having very many children — mostly because they can’t afford it.

Death Stranding is a sci-fi post apocalyptic game, and it’s reality does not need to match our reality, but to say the decline in births is due to the increase in asexuality is not only unrealistic, but rather offensive to the asexual community.

As a fan of the sci-fi genre, a sharply declining population is an interesting premise.  I consider Children of Men to be one of the best sci-fi movies, and it uses that as a premise.  Specifically it uses a sudden drop in human fertility as a cause for declining population.

I could see a lack of interest in sex as a probable cause as well , but it would logically be due to environmental causes that drop sexual libido.  Libido can be controlled by drugs, or can change in environments or with diet, so a sudden decline in sex due to changing sexual libido is a theoretical possibility.

But as I pointed out above, sexual libido has nothing to do with asexuality.  In fact it is one of most prevalent false myths about asexuality that leads to its misunderstanding.

An example of a positive spin

Coincidentally in the last few weeks, we had the first triple A title to come out with an asexual major character.  I’m talking about The Outer Worlds by Obsidian Entertainment.

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Like many of the better RPG games, there are a number of companions you can recruit to your cause and fight along side you.  The first one you are likely to meet, is Parvati, voiced by Ashly Burch (Life is Strange, Horizon Zero Dawn) a female Engineer who is very useful, and also very charming and funny to the point where she is pretty much most player’s favorite.   She is also a biromantic asexual character.

Her sexuality really isn’t relevant, because unlike Dragon Age or Mass Effect, this RPG doesn’t have any romance plots, but occasional positive mainstream representation to help get rid of persistent myths is all the asexual community is asking for.

Other minor sexualities

My interest in this is somewhat personal.  As I mentioned before, I’m an Aromantic.  It is an orientation often associated with asexuality because it involves missing attractions, I’m missing romantic attraction instead of sexual attraction, but the communities are closely linked, because we often deal with the same prejudices and relationship problems.

But where asexuality is finally starting to get some positive representation, aromantics, demisexuals, non-binaries, agenders and many other minor queer orientations are still waiting.

We have our “Uncle Arthur”s, like Mick Rory from DC’s Legends of Tomorrow who shows all the tell tale signs of aromanticism, but no mention of his orientation on the show.  They even gave Mick a hobby of writing erotic romantic fiction last season, a surprisingly common trait among us aromantics, yours truly being a real life example.

Representation is important to us all, especially accurate, positive, and non-stereotypical representation.  I’m not just talking sexual orientation, but race, nationality, religion, and any other category that often divides us.

It is important to break barriers to understanding each other without prejudice.  Popular media, whether it be books, movies, TV, comics, or video games, has proven to be the best way to do it.  We are human and enjoy human stories. Seeing different kind of humans in these stories helps us understand our commonalities.

 

Something’s In The Air: 4th Edition

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I redesigned Something’s In The Air once again to bring it in line with the Date Ariane HD version as well as Rachel Meets Ariane and Ariane in Paradise. All four games now use similar GUI, fonts and 1080p resolution.  The changes are as follows:

High Definition.  The “third edition” is 720p, the “Fourth” is 1080p.  The vast majority of the images were simply enlarged to the new resolution and were not actually re-rendered.  It would take months to re-render and in most cases the difference would not be noticeable.

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Different way to select “last date”.  Since the first release, you could go into preferences and select what happened on the last date with Ariane, or you could select that you went on multiple dates.  I took that out of preferences, and put it into the game itself using the system I created for Rachel Meets Ariane.  When you get to a spot where the story varies based on the last date, it will pause and ask you.  The game feels more interactive this way.

It is now possible to reach all 25 endings without digging into settings.  The SITA Walkthrough page in the Wiki has now been changed with these options in mind.

Common GUI.  I’m using a modified default Renpy 7.0 interface, similar to what I am using in the latest version of the other 3 games.  Choices will appear in the middle of the screen, with the question being asked below it.  It is a little counter intuitive at first, but it is easy to figure out after a while.

The upshot is that this is the same pattern I am using in all four games so you can go from game to game and they all look similar.

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Reduced music.  In the original game I way overdid the music cues, and in the “third edition” I gave you a way to turn most of it off.  Now I have just removed most of it entirely. The music that syncs with dance routines, video games, and flashbacks are still there, but the distracting story soundtrack has been removed.

Some graphics changes.  When I did the graphics update for Date Ariane, I changed some of the models, specifically Rebecca, the convenience store and Ariane’s SUV. I made new renders of any picture involving those models.

This means that two endings (Ariane and Rebecca and Safety Pullout) have mostly new renders.  I also redid all 24 pictures of Rachel’s Photoshoot as well as most of the png sprites in the game.

Some of the more prominent images of Ariane and Rachel were redone as well. Specifically the Drive-N-Dine pictures on the Ariane path and the downtown pictures on the Rachel path were redone.  162 images have been redone for the 4th edition.

Download the new edition from the Something’s In The Air Downloads page.  For now, this version is not available for Android or in any language but English.

Elsaverse Games Now Available in Renpy

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I mentioned a couple of times that I converted the four main Tlaero and Mortze “Elsaverse” games to Renpy, but could not release them because they were not mine to release.  Well I sent the source codes to Tlaero and Mortze personally, and they have released all four of my versions for free download.  Link to thread is here.

Why Renpy? Because if you make a mistake, you can easily go back and try again.  You have about 60 save game slots, you see all the links on the page, and you don’t have to worry about download lag to continue the story.  All the animations work and are much smoother than waiting for all the images to download.

These games are in 1280×960 resolution.  Because they were designed for HTML, they are not widescreen, and the need to lower bandwidth means the images are not high res.  Like the HTML games, the text appears above the image, and the choices below, but unlike the HTML games, sometimes the text bleeds into the image.

To fix this, I sometimes split text into two different pages, so if you don’t see any links below the image, just click on the image to continue.

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Dreaming With Elsa was the first of these games.  The original game allowed you to play as a White Hat good guy or a Black Hat dirty minded sex hound. If you successfully played your role you get different versions of scenes. I changed it where you can up front decide to play “Black” or “White” and watch your score reflect it.

The scoring system is a little different and more forgiving. You can get bonus points for achievements which make up for missed choices.

There is also a “Gray” mode that unlocks a Chloe scene. I didn’t implement this the same way. Taking advantage of the multiple opportunities to ogle Chloe will unlock it instead.

In “Preferences” you can also turn on “Story Mode” which is basically a cheat mode and gives you the selected version of the story no matter what your choices are.

There is a bonus scene if you hit all the achievements, but there is no achievement page on this one.  Playing both black and white should unlock the bonus.

It also includes “Learning to Fly” and “Dreaming of the Dead”, two fun short stories that came after the main game.

Download PC version
Download Mac version

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Redemption for Jessika is a little more straightforward than DwE. The hard part was some of the interactive sex scenes which I had to fudge a little, so they are not as interactive but it works OK.  HTML games can have links embedded in the images. Renpy can theoretically do that, but it is difficult, and I wasn’t interested in perfect conversions, just playable versions.

Bottom line (and this is true of all four of these games) is that any embedded links in the image will either appear below the image as a link, or if it is a single “continue” link, it will not appear as a link, and you can simply click the image to advance the story.

This one has 9 achievements which are easier to get since the hidden links aren’t hidden. There is a bonus scene available on the achievements page once you do them all.

Download PC version
Download Mac version

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Finding Miranda I managed to convert nearly flawlessly except the scene where you go thorough your apartment looking for date ideas.  I had to convert it to a menu.  This might be my favorite game graphically as Mortze used the iRay renderer which wasn’t available while making the first two games.

The only downside is that instead of two versions of the story there are four, but doing all four, along with the other 5 achievements, unlocks an important bonus scene.

There is also a short story “Royal Guard: A Xara Origin Story”

Download PC version
Download Mac version

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My conversion of Saving Chloe is damn near perfect.  There are some built in HTML mini games in the original that I managed to simulate flawlessly in my Renpy version.  After getting all 9 endings, go to the ending gallery to see the biggest bonus in the series.  There is no “Story” mode on this one because it is not needed.  It’s all about the endings that you can get to following my map.

This is the finale of the series, though there is one more game Darkness Falls which serves as an epilogue and fills in some of the blanks as well as a few text only short stories that fill in more gaps.  (Yes I have an incomplete conversion of Darkness Falls, but I got busy with Ariane in Paradise and haven’t finished it yet.)

Download PC version
Download Mac version

Dark Mode

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Felt like my website needed a change, so I thought I’d join the trend of implementing a “Dark Mode”, or more accurately a dark palate.  My “Plane” theme I have been using does not have such a mode, so I changed to a “Hemingway Rewritten” theme.  It’s a nice theme except that it displays the website title in a big black box over the header image, covering most of the header.

I decided the title really isn’t needed. I prefer the random header images as the prominent thing on the front page.

I’m not sure if dark mode is really superior to light mode.  I’ve read that lighter pages are generally easier to read, and that is why I have never tried it, but I’m just enjoying the novelty.

I also set my Firefox browser to dark mode (click on the menu button, then customize, then themes at the bottom, and select dark), and put some of my favorite sites like Reddit (click on your name and toggle night mode) into dark mode.  For websites like Facebook that do not have a dark theme yet, I use a browser add-on called “Dark Reader” that turns dark mode on for every website if you want.

Tell me what you think.

Could a Female Player Character work in DA and SITA?

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It seems that every time I make a new game with new innovations, I want to go back and change my older games to add those same innovations.

One of the new innovations in Ariane in Paradise is that you can play as a male or a female. In fact you can switch genders mid stream, though this may cause odd things to happen, but it is doable.

There have been requests to do the same to Date Ariane and Something’s In The Air, and what this post is about is to discuss the feasibility of this.

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Canon: Player Character is Male

Ironically, the one game that will not work with a female player character is Rachel Meets Ariane.  It is central to the plot that “Ariane is mostly heterosexual” and dates a lot of men.

It is ironic, because the player character from the previous games is barely mentioned.  Ariane in Paradise has a small number of scenes that echo back to Rachel Meets Ariane, and again “Ariane is mostly heterosexual” comes up.

So from the story arc perspective the player character has to be male.  But that does not rule out parallel universe versions of Date Ariane and Something’s In The Air where the player character is instead female.

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Date Ariane needs a lot of new pictures

Date Ariane might be the simplest of the two to do a female PC version, in fact I considered it before when it was still a web game and even created some pictures.  Ultimately the “spaghetti code” of that version made it impossible, but it would be a lot easier in the Renpy version.

There are around 50 or so pictures in the game that show the players hands, arms, or “other parts” that would have to be redone with a female player model.  Alternate versions of a few scenes like the vista photo shoot scene and the strip club scenes would have to be added.  I could also have some fun rewriting the dress store and lingerie store scenes with a female player character shopping for herself as well.

But for the most part, Date Ariane could work with a female player character.

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Something’s In The Air is a bit harder

Something’s In The Air has no pictures with player character body parts except the gymnasium workout scene, so in theory it could be easier.  The problem is in the story.

First problem, is that it would imply not just Ariane, but also Rachel, Paula, Bonnie, and Veronica as gay or bi.  Ariane is already canonically a hetero leaning bi, and Rachel is canonically a biromantic asexual. The sex crazed Bonnie and leather wearing Veronica are easy to reimagine as bisexual.

Paula might be problematic.  Switching her sexuality would change her relationship with Rachel and might imply some impropriety.  Would I also have to change the gender of the player character’s video game avatar?  Millions of MMORPG players play opposite gender characters, and the revelation that “Ranger Dude” is actually a chick could be potentially funny, but it feels like a PC gender swap would need an avatar swap, too.

Second, “Dave” becomes your platonic male friend and changes that whole dynamic.  Almost every “Dave” scene would have to be rewritten, and gender swapping “Dave” would not work either.

The only story that could be left “as is” is the Wendy story as it does not involve romance or sex on the player character’s part, so her sexual alignment does not matter.

Without a lot of picture changes, and the amount of dialog changes needed, I’m not entirely sure it is worth it to change the gender of the PC in SITA, especially when the gender has to be male for Rachel Meets Ariane to work.

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The PC Avatar

Part of what this is about is adding a player avatar to the games that pops up whenever it is your turn to speak.  Again, I added this almost from the beginning with Ariane in Paradise, and it works great. The avatar reflects three moods: serious, happy, and curious when asking a question.  It also changes clothes with the story, and of course there is a male version and a female version.

Adding this to Date Ariane and Something’s In The Air would be easier because there aren’t a lot of clothing changes.  Date Ariane would have two: shirt on, shirt off.  SITA would have a few: shirtless, formal suit (story 1), No jacket or tie (story 1), gym clothes (story 2), nice shirt (story 2), casual shirt (stories 3 and 4). Adding female variants would be easy, but I’d have to make the story and picture changes listed above.

Since the player’s face never appears in either game, I could also add a variety of player faces to choose from.  Unfortunately, what would fall under “too hard” would be to make racial variants with darker skin.  It could be done in SITA, but with 50 or so pictures needed in Date Ariane, doing both light and dark skin variants of both males and females, we are looking at 150 additional pictures at least.  That’s too much.  And since the player character is supposed to be the same in both games, the avatar choices should be the same in both as well.

Should I do it?

There are no promises either way, and definitely no time table on this.  It is something I am just thinking about, and thought I’d open up a discussion.

It might be fun, but at the same time I have pointed out every reason why it is not necessary and probably not worth it.

Then there is a easier middle ground I’m considering:  Do a female PC variation for Date Ariane, but leave Something’s in the Air as male PC only.  That way I avoid all the rewriting problems.  Unfortunately, it might lead to complaints: “How come I can use a female avatar in DA but not SITA?”

My other consideration is a potential game 5, which would bring back the player character from the first two games.  Right now I’m imagining a male PC, but since it hasn’t even been written yet, I could change to make it work whatever I decide.

Ariane in Paradise Progress Report: Early 2020

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There has been some chaos in real life that is causing me to struggle to finish Ariane in Paradise, but hopefully I’m on track to finish on schedule.  Part 3 of 5 has been released to Patreons.  I’m hoping to get part 4 up in September, part 5 in October, and a full beta in November, with the full game available to everyone in late January or February 2020.

Response from Patreons who have played the first 3 parts have generally been positive, and I’m anxious to let everyone see it.  It’s getting big, too, and likely to come in at around 400mb when its done.

Right now I am writing and illustrating “Day 3” and as you can tell from the picture above, I’ve gone a little crazy.  Day 3 is the main ending. I’m just trying to avoid the dreaded “Disappointing Final Level”

I don’t want to spoil anything, so I’ll keep it vague.  Ariane in Paradise is modeled after Date Ariane, and basically has two endings.  Date Ariane’s two endings was either kiss Ariane goodnight, or kiss Ariane good morning after spending the night.  It’s basically like that — then you can start over again and play more paths.

Day 1 heads in 3 different directions. Day 2 starts in 3 directions, and ends in 5, with 8 possible variations.  Day 3 has 3 different paths, but only 2 are available based on what you did the first two days, and all these paths have different versions depending on past choices.  That basically adds up to (3 x 8 x 2) 48 major paths, but there are many variants based on your choice of character traits (business vs vacation, rich vs, middle class, outdoorsman vs. science geek).  Basically there are hundreds of ways this could go, though they end with one of two endings.