The Rachel and Ariane Story is Complete (for now)

nydpizza5

It was over two years ago when I released a story involving “Date Ariane” star Ariane meeting “Something’s In The Air” star Rachel meeting each other by chance at a Halloween party.  Parts 2, 3, and the first draft of part 4 were released last winter when I had a lot of time on my hands. After today, I am finished with part 5.

couchtalkend4

You might want to read the whole story or at least the ending before scrolling down and reading spoilers.

newyorktaxi

Last chance…

plane1

OK, Spoilers.

So Ariane really isn’t gay, and Rachel is asexual.  I more or less already revealed this a year ago in the badly written draft of part 4 I released last February.  I had some anonymous bartender break the news in a very awkwardly written scene that might exist somewhere, but I removed it from my web sites.

I spent the good part of this last year trying to rewrite part 4, and failing miserably.  My second approach was to make a game of this story and have the part 4 top club divide into three paths: one with the ending as it currently exists, one where Rachel and Ariane have sex, and one with the “Rachel is Asexual” reveal, but before I could illustrate it, I made a valiant attempt at writing it and completely failing.

topbar12

The problem is that a perfect stranger they meet at a sex club should not be breaking the news, even though it makes sense that there would be a lot of sex experts at a sex club.

The fix I came up with is 1.) for the three branches at the sex club to be one long branch, and 2.) to have Lydia make the reveal. It is much better with someone they know breaking the news.  There is a bonus reason 3.) The story comes full circle as part 5 chapter 3 feels like a repeat of part 2.  The last few pictures are even the same except the different hair styles.

At the end of part 2, Ariane reveals she sucks at relationships, and Rachel reveals that she has an odd fetish when it comes to sex — she can’t be herself, she role plays. Part 5 closes both of those story arcs with Ariane finally finding a successful relationship, and Rachel finally being herself in an intimate moment.

sita7

When I first designed the Rachel character I wanted her to be different than Ariane.  Two traits I originally imagined for Ariane, being a science geek and a secret supermodel, never came to fruition, so I gave those traits to Rachel.  I also got a comment once from a vegetarian player of Date Ariane, wondering why she was such a big meat eater, the comment inspired me to make Rachel a vegetarian.

But the biggest trait of Ariane is that she is really into sex, often on the first date.

So my original formulation of Rachel was to make her not really into sex, especially on the first date.  So the stories I came up with in Something’s In The Air didn’t involve sex. There was nudity at the dress shop and at her private photo studio, and at the house party though she didn’t get naked herself.

The problem, as all my beta testers informed me, is that erotic visual novels should have erotic scenes with the main characters. So I came up with this weird but geeky work around that Rachel will have sex when she pretends to be someone else. So I wrote two sex scenes with Rachel involving this quirk.

rachellarpweb

I later found out in my research on sexual fetishes, that there are people that fantasize about sex not involving themselves, and it is called autochorissexuality, and it is a sub category of asexuality.  Asexuals are not sexually attracted to anyone, but still may have a sex drive that can be triggered with the right stimulus. That is a pretty good description of Rachel’s quirk.  So Rachel has been asexual since I created her.

Part of the reason I needed to reveal this fact in this story is because asexual representation is rare in the media. It is estimated that Asexuals represent somewhere between 1% to 2% of the population, which makes them a pretty small minority. GLAAD points out that there are literally only 2 asexuals on TV.  Todd on Bojack Horseman is the most prominent, Raphael on Shadowhunters is a minor recurring asexual vampire. That’s it.

bedroomfinal1

Is this really The End for this story?

There is an epilogue to the story that I attempted to include in the last part, but it interrupted the tone of the story so I dropped it:

On January 2nd, Ariane goes back to work after her week vacation to face a stack of new bug reports to sort and file, while Rachel has a morning meeting with her agent to discuss the new contacts and job offers she got on New Years Eve.  Rachel is super busy with jobs and online classes for the next several months.  The two of them rarely see much of each other after the new year.

This could set up a “Part 6” in the future, or it could set up a future game. I really haven’t decided yet.

Four Videos on Nostalgia You Need To Watch Today! (or you can wait 10 years)

movied7a

I have lately been digging around in You Tube watching video essays about art and science and learning a lot of really cool stuff along the way. Four of my favorite channels have all recently taken a swing at the topic of nostalgia in a way that is very thought provoking and worth watching. I tackled the topic a while back myself here.

I’m starting with “Nostalgia Chick” herself Lindsey Ellis:

This video is a very good introduction to nostalgia themes, both good and bad.  When we look back at the past we tend to remember the good and forget the bad.

The second video by Nerdwriter1 has become rather famous in art circles, though should be watched by mainstream audiences. It introduces a couple of new phrases “intertextuality” referring to emotional currency created by nostalgic moments, and “weaponized intertextuality” which is an overblown version that when it shows up it a good sign you are watching a bad movie.

The third video by Just Write is a response to this second video, which combines the ideas of both of these previous videos.  Just write is a channel devoted to writing and I think just watching these videos has improved my writing a bit.

In this video, he takes the idea that “everything has already been done before” and shows how originality can still exist by mixing ideas from the past in new ways, using Stranger Things as a perfect example.

So it is possible for nostalgia to be original when it is done right, when it is done in original ways. To quote the last two videos:

A lot of Hollywood sequels, remakes and reboots use references to their own history as a frequent, but unsatisfying, replacement for actual drama.

It is very tempting to replace the term “a lot of” and just say “all”, because it is practically a given that any sequel remake or reboot is not going to be as good as we often falsely nostalgically remember the original to be.  For every successful remake/reboot like Battlestar Galactica, there are way more awful remakes/reboots like Ghostbusters 2016 that don’t deserve our attention and we are better off going back and rewatching the original, often realizing, like the original Ghostbusters 1985, it wasn’t as good as we remember it being.

For this reason a lot of creators are very reluctant to revisit their popular past projects. Joss Whedon has been asked if he would like to go back and do more episodes of Firefly, the show cancelled way too soon.  His answer is “No”.

Simply put, both Whedon and Fillion know that bringing Firefly back would be a terrible idea. We’re in love with the possibility of more story, the promise of fulfilling answers to the show’s questions. Reality would be a disappointment. Firefly feels perfect because it never had the chance to fail.

If we were to bring back Firefly, it could suffer the same fate as Mr. Robot, one of my favorite shows on the air. Mr. Robot had a near-perfect first season. Everything about it, from the writing and the show’s photography to Rami Malek’s award-winning portrayal of solitary hacker Elliot Alderson, was immaculate.

So much so, in fact, that there were concerns from a variety of critics and reporters that the show wouldn’t be able to sustain that level of quality in its second season. They were right.  If Mr. Robot had just existed as a 10-episode season, it would be remembered as one of the greatest series of television’s modern age. There wouldn’t have been time for the series to be screwed up.

The fact that Firefly only had one season was the best thing that could have ever happened for the show’s integrity, even if that reality stings a bit. Cancellation can be a gift to your legacy.

Sometimes being cancelled before your time is a good thing for legacy.  Returning with weak new episodes is a good way to kill that legacy, for example Arrested Development, Gilmore Girls, X-Files, Full House and Will & Grace to name some recent examples.

However, there is at least one series that has returned from the long dead past and purposely avoided those pitfalls by recognizing those mistakes and reinventing itself as a critique of nostalgia: Twin Peaks, which is what the final video essay by Screen Prism is about.

I believe that these four videos combined really give us a “big picture” of the age of nostalgia we seem to be buried in these days.

Within these videos is the explanation of why returning to the past is largely unsatisfactory, versions of good and bad nostalgia, and how to recognize them, but at the same time offers glimpses into how we can use the past to create original satisfying content in the present.

Culture in Decline

librarytest

I try to write something once a month and haven’t gotten around to it this month, so here are some random thoughts.

I have been really tempted to write about the steep decline happening in politics, not just in America, but everywhere these days, but there is way too much material to go through, and most of it is from Russian hackers. So no politics.

Instead, since we are nearing the end of 2017, I thought about writing a year in review piece, and since I’m leaving politics out, I have to limit myself to arts and media so far in 2017.

Bottom line: It Sucks!

Part 1: Music Sucks! Especially American Music.

How much does American Music suck these days? The #1 song for most of the year was in Spanish, by a Puerto Rican, and got 4 and a half billion views. Yes, this one. OK, yes it is a pretty good song. It’s just that songs in Spanish rarely hit the top of the charts, let alone stay on top of the charts for 16 weeks.

OK, there is more music than this one song, and most of it came from all the pop divas who topped the charts the rest of the weeks: Beyonce, Lady Gaga, Ariane Grande, Katy Perry, Lorde, Miley Cyrus, Rhianna, Selena Gomez, Demi Lovato, P!nk, and of course Taylor Swift all had new singles or new albums out in the past year.  The overwhelming trend of songs coming from this group of females is an “angry” edge.  It’s not a very good trend, in fact in my opinion nobody is doing their best work.

Let’s start with Taylor Swift who released a huge selling album “Reputation” as a follow up to 2014’s “1989”.  I listened to both albums, and if I were to pick the best songs over all, I’d mostly pick songs from “1989”.  The overall feel of Reputation is dark: angry songs, depressing songs, sad songs. The most lighthearted track is probably “New Years Day” which is more melancholy.

Certainly it is OK for music to be dark, some of the best music ever is dark, but pop is supposed to be fun and exciting. Maybe that is why “Despacito” was so popular. Ironically, the most “fun” song in English this year was a new track by Paramore (welcome back guys), with the not so fun title “Hard Times”.

Anyways, it is not just my opinion that music is getting worse and worse. There are actually legitimate provable reason why pop music is getting worse, and here they are:

These trends are primarily focused on American music. If you want more upbeat pop like we used to have, look elsewhere.  Like Japan, who have produced two of my favorite music videos of the year, namely this one and this one.

Part 2: The Golden Age of TV is Over!

For the last 20 years or so, we have been living in a golden age of TV.  For those who don’t remember TV before Buffy The Vampire Slayer, well it wasn’t very good.  There was the occasional classic like Twin Peaks, X-Files, Babylon 5, and the first 8 seasons of The Simpsons, but most of the TV before 1997 is crap by today’s standards.

The desire for networks to have shows that people would talk about drove them to dump a lot of money into creative peoples laps and create some great TV. The best of which came from Joss Whedon, J.J. Abrams, Ronald Moore, and Bryan Fuller, but others were doing some great work, too. The network golden age died in 2007 with a devastating writers strike, which killed a lot of the better shows, but it continued on with cable and streaming thanks to the TV-MA rating which allowed swearing and nudity and a bit more violence and gore.

2017 seems to be killing that trend as well. Yes, there is still some great TV like Handmaids Tale and Stranger Things 2 being released but it is getting rarer, and the older shows like Game of Thrones, aren’t as good as they used to be.

Part 3: If you are not a “franchise” film, no one will watch you

Part of the problem with the golden age of TV is that we were mostly satisfied with binging series instead of going to movies.  In fact, the only films that are really doing well are “franchise” films. As I write this, 9 of the Top 10 films of the year are franchises or remakes, and I’m pretty sure Dunkirk will be taken off the list by either Justice League or Star Wars 8 by the end of the year.

I don’t see any end to this trend. There are at least 6 more “comic book” films scheduled for 2018.

Part 4: Star Wars Battlefront 2 has done serious damage to the gaming industry

There are two things that game players despise: random number generators, and the “pay to win” model of gaming.  We are kind of OK when this shit shows up in so called “freemium” mobile games, because we just play for free for a while until it becomes obvious that we need to break out the credit card to continue, and then we uninstall.

But when this junk shows up in premium video games that we already paid at least $60 for, it is definitely not OK. That is what EA attempted to pull off with Star Wars Battlefront 2, and the gaming community went ballistic. It resulted in: 1) way lower sales than expected, 2) a call from Disney execs to EA execs to get rid of microtransactions as it is giving the Star Wars name a bad reputation, 3) politicians announcing that the RNG “loot box” model amounts to gambling, and as these games are supposed to be for kids, there may need to be restrictions.

I have to believe that this kind of backlash has every single game developer suddenly rethinking strategy in all of their current and future games.  Just this same month, my favorite game Guild Wars 2 had its own backlash against RNG type products in their store, and this was just for pure cosmetic stuff, not “play to win”.

The gaming community is getting sick of this crap, and I suspect that they will be voting with their wallet on future purchases. While “gaming” continues to be a growing market, pretty much all the growth is in mobile games. PC and console gaming is actually stagnating, while costs for producing these big “triple A” games go up.

In Summary,

Is the decline in politics somehow causing the decline in the arts? Or is the decline in arts (which has been happening for a while now) causing the decline in politics? Maybe they are just reinforcing each other.

Either way, I wonder if we are witnessing the decline of civilization as a whole.

The Deal with “Rachel Meets Ariane”

rmatitle

Bottom line is this: I will not be releasing Rachel Meets Ariane The Game anytime soon, possibly never.  The good news is that the online story will be more complete, and a part 5 is coming, maybe a part 6.

The Rachel Meets Ariane game has always been nothing more than the Rachel Meets Ariane story I have been publishing in serial form for the last couple of years, but complete and with some minor added choices along the way.  The “game” version was just the same story but presented in a different format that emphasizes the pictures.

rmasample1

I was planning on putting it into game form because online you cannot view the full size art work properly. While the last two games had over 1000 images each, this one has less than 200. No sound or music and no animations, just an illustrated story.

People seem to be under the impression that this game was going to be all new. It was always going to be a rehash of older material, and I don’t want to mislead anyone.  Also, putting out another “game” is a lot of work, and there will likely be demands for different versions for different devices and different languages. Keeping the material “online” makes everything a lot simpler.

rmasample2

I came to this decision this week while trying to finish the game. The whole project has been experimental, and I am not sure the experiment worked. I have very limited experience writing stories of any sort, and I wanted to challenge myself in writing a longer narrative.

I was trying to finish “Part 4” which my idea was to have choices leading to 3 possible endings. I was writing a draft of the third ending — an ending that is supposed to conclude Rachel’s arc — and it was not working at all.  I was trying to squeeze too much detail into too short of a timeline.

rmasample3

After thinking long and hard about the narrative problem, I decided that the story works better in serial rather than in parallel. So path 1 will be the only path, and path 2 will be rewritten to be tacked on to the end, and the incomplete path 3 will either end the story, or take it in a new direction.

rmasample4

So, I just published the official canon “Part 4: Rachel and Ariane go to the Top Club” that is shorter and less complicated than the draft I released prematurely last winter and ends on a nice little cliff hangar.

I also updated parts 1 and 2, correcting grammar and spelling errors. Part 1 was written in the past tense before, I corrected it.

I will repost the multiple ending material I released before for part 3 as soon as I am able to convert the original HTML pages to WordPress format so you can once again see all 10 possible photos Rachel took of Ariane in the fall.

I’ll bounce the soon to be released Part 5 which takes place over Christmas and New Years off the end.

Sorry to disappoint about the game. Ultimately, This plan will work out better.

UPDATES!

I just finished updating the Rachel and Ariane pages.

1. The Rachel Meets Ariane page has been updated with new HD (1960×1080) renders that I created for the game.

2. The Rachel Takes Ariane’s Photo page now has all the original choices, meaning there are 12 different versions which you can read by making choices for Rachel.

3. All of the pages, including the 12 different versions of part 3, now have a gallery at the bottom, where you can see the full sized 1960×1080 versions of the pictures used in the story.

A Few Updates to Date Ariane

asleepcar1

OK, first the big news, the graphics update I did back in July, is now available on Android on all versions. Use this page to download or click on the links for the versions in other languages.

Remember that due to copyright issues I explained in my last post, it takes a little work to install the android version.  You must download the apk file to a PC or Mac computer first then move the apk to your android phone or tablet, then install it.

There are at least 3 methods I know of to do this, though there may be more.  The easiest is to 1.) connect your android device to your PC using the USB charging cable that came with the phone or tablet. 2.) touch the top of your screen and swipe down to see notifications. 3.) There should be a notification saying your phone is charging via USB, tap on that notification and select file transfer. 4.) On your PC, there should be a new “drive” which is your android phone in file explorer. 5.) Go to your downloads folder on your PC, find the apk file you downloaded and move it to the phone “drive”. 6.) Use the app called “File Manager” or “My Files” and find the apk file on your phone, tap it to install!

The other two methods involve either a memory card that both your PC and phone can read, or a network drive that both your PC and phone can read.

Two possible issues if it does not install: 1.) Go to “settings” then “security” then “unknown sources” and allow installation of apps from unknown sources. 2.) If it looks like it is installing but doesn’t finish saying there is an issue with the digital signature, you might have to uninstall any old versions first, this will erase your achievements and saved games, so avoid it if you can.

Once it has been installed and working, you can remove the apk file to free up space.

Second big news, not only is the graphics update been done on the Spanish PC and Mac versions, but there is now an android version in Spanish. See the instructions above to install.

intro

Non-Android updates

I accidentally created a bug in the German, French and Portuguese versions when I removed the SITA preview, namely the history of Ariane crashed the game. This has been fixed, also the French and Portuguese versions the image used on the outside of Ariane’s house (see the image above) has been fixed.

There are no changes to the English version for PC, Mac, or Linux since the graphics update in July.  There will be new versions of these soon.

Creative Mood Swings

rdapizzabooth5

Sorry I have not written in a while or posted anything.  The truth is I am having one of my creative mood swings, which is something I have been having for a couple of decades now.

For most of June and July, I was in creative mode working on the graphics update (see last post) and a thread for “Rachel and Ariane”.  As per usual, I started losing interest in creating and now I have swung into gaming mode, where all I want to do is enjoy other people’s games.  At some point in the future, I will get tired of playing and want more creative control, and will suddenly want to create again. It WILL happen eventually.

So to answer everyone’s question, I have no idea when the next game will be out, or when the android versions with the new graphics will be out.

The Android Copyright Problem

The biggest complaint is that people can’t download the android version directly to their android devices.  The reason is that Google has a strict copyright on APK files.  My file server that I rent from GoDaddy protects Google’s copyright. If it detects an apk file being downloaded by an Android device, it kills the download, hence the reason you can’t download the game directly.  I tried using a Google file server, but they stopped it in other ways.

So the only way to get the APK file for Android is to download it to a non-android device like a Windows computer or a mac, or a Chromebook, and then move it to the android device via USB cable or microSD card.  Sorry this is difficult.

The INTP Personality

I have an INTP personality. This is our greatest strength: We are good at stuff and know stuff. We find something that interests us, and we study the hell out of it until we become experts. We find a skill that we enjoy doing, and we master that skill.

This is our greatest weakness: When outside forces develop expectations for these interests and skills, our desire to improve to meet expectations goes right out the window.

I mention this, because I am having an INTP style dilemma.

To make a really successful indie gaming enterprise, I need to set up a Patreon, and find ways to release these games on Google Play Store and/or Steam, and I need to get them properly translated, because for some reason I have huge followings in Germany and Brazil. To do it properly turns it into a part time job.

The more I think about doing all this work, the less interest I have in finishing the actual games. It becomes a distraction that hinders my interest in even making the games.

So content creation comes first.  No Patreon, no Play Store, it’s too much work I am not interested in doing.

My number one motivation is to make these games for myself. It’s my hobby, my way to relax, my way to express myself.  I enjoy playing them as much as I enjoy making them.

I could either share them the way I have been: posting them on a file server and letting people download them with no support and no promise that they will work on your devices, or I could not share and just enjoy them myself.

So I choose the easiest route that benefits the most people and keep doing what I have been doing.

Anyways, to prove I’m still working on stuff, here’s some art you haven’t seen yet.:

newyork2

 

Date Ariane Graphics Update

reb1

I am releasing a graphics update for some versions of Date Ariane. Currently this is for the English and German PC, Mac, and Linux versions.  Portuguese and French PC/Mac versions are now updated as well.  Let me explain this update Q&A style:

What has been updated?

About 95% of the pictures have been updated, over 1100.

I don’t see much difference, what has changed?

Lets start with Ariane. I am using an improved V4 model that corrects the shoulders and makes them look more natural and realistic.  You can pretty much tell the difference between the old and the new by simply looking at the shoulders. Also a minor clothing change, Ariane’s underwear is dark grey instead of tie-dyed pink. I also give Ariane some fun expressions that she uses in certain circumstances.

changebed1t

Lighting has changed, there are a lot fewer hard shadows. Also reflections on glass and surfaces is more realistic. Since most of Date Ariane takes place at night, windows should reflect the interior light. Different locations use different lighting and rendering. Backyard is partially rendered in “superfly”, bedroom uses IBL lighting.

reb12

I also created a more realistic look for Rebecca. Still “petite”, but she no longer looks like she is starving.  Also she has got a “bush”, since at least one of my characters should have one.

car8

Ariane’s SUV is the one I used in the Rachel and Ariane pictures. She no longer is driving the cartoon car I have been using since 2004. Her car actually looks realistic. The convenience store actually sells food now.

store1

With all of these moves toward realism, how come the pictures still don’t look real?

Because realism is not the ultimate goal, beauty is.

Why only 95% of the pictures, why not 100%?

I am actually working on a 2.0 version of the game with pictures that are more than double the resolution. In order to save memory, I am rewriting the code to reduce the number of images the game needs, mostly eliminating the “ending” scenes you want to try and avoid anyways. I mostly finished the images for this HD version, and decided to reduce them down to the non-HD size and update the graphics, but the current 1.0 still needs the pictures I have eliminated in 2.0, so in those cases the old pictures are still there.

Don’t be surprised if you occasionally see the old Rebecca, or the old shoulders, or the old underwear. I’m pretty sure I eliminated the old car pics, but I might have missed one or two.

If you are working on new code, why not incorporate it into the game?

Because complex changes to the game will mess up the translated versions. When 2.0 is finally done it is likely the translations wont work on it. I am trying to figure out a way to fix this, but it is going to take some time. 2.0 is no where close to ready anyways.

after1

Besides graphics changes, are there any other changes to the game?

I eliminated a bug in the English and German versions that under the right circumstances would allow Ariane to drive downtown naked, but there is no code or pictures to support it so it crashed the game.  I also eliminated the trailer for “Something’s In The Air” on the translated versions.

By the way, thanks to translator Thorston Frei, the English and German versions are the same game, the only difference being the window title, the default language settings, and the help page. In both versions, you can go into settings and switch between English and German. Note that some lines in the German version will appear untranslated. Only about 97% of the lines have translation, and the ones that don’t will appear in English.

I eventually want the French and Portuguese versions to work this way, but for now their code is unchanged.

Why are there no graphics updates for the android versions?

There will be eventually. Despite my efforts to control jpg compression, the new versions are now bigger in size than before. The android version was already pushing the limits of max size for an app, so I need to do some further size reduction before I can make new android versions.  The 2.0 HD version will never work on android, but I want the updated pictures to be available in app form at some point.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.