Directors Commentary 2: A Man About Town
Warning this post contains spoilers for my visual novel Something’s In The Air. It is assumed you have already played it before reading. If you haven’t played it yet, download it and play it first.
Go to the local gym where all the hot women tend to be on Saturday Morning
There are too many good paths to walk down in the second story, so I’m picking one that begins with one of the first stories I wrote for SITA and end with one of the last I wrote.
We start with the gym, which originally was broken into two versions. Version 1 involves you getting up when the alarm rings, version 2 involves sleeping in first. I ended up gutting the first version before combining them together, so there is a lot of odd quirkiness to point out. Version 1 started with a choice of three women: Heidi, Stacy, and Wendy, and you actually got to meet them. Version 2 started the same way with Lydia, Rebecca, and Ariane, but no matter what, you end up with Dave.
It is a bit of irony that the “bad” version of the gym pick up survives. Dave at one point had a much bigger role, but now he only serves as a simple plot device to get you from the gym to the bar, and then to meet Rachel at the bar. Otherwise the player character would completely ignore the “plain Jane” Rachel. I almost removed the Gym all together at one point, but then SITA would only be about picking up women at dark nighttime bars, which is kind of sad. The gym is a sunny lively counterpoint, and you can meet Wendy, which is the only story that takes place in daytime.
Oh, and the ambient gym sound where some guy yells “fuck” in the distance makes me laugh.
Go try out the Yoga Class, too
One left behind relic of the two versions of the Gym story: It seems Ariane is two hours early for her Gymnastics class.
I mentioned that Gym Version 1 consisted of Heidi, Stacy, and Wendy. Stacy’s story got moved to the bar, Wendy’s story got shorter (and better), but Heidi’s story got cut so much that only this yoga scene is left, and even that got trimmed. The yoga scene only exists because I already did the pictures before cutting Heidi’s story, and I really like them.
Heidi is supposed to be the “dumb blonde” stereotype, who is mysteriously well off financially for a ditzy hair dresser. When you first meet her she has technical trouble with the treadmill, then slips on her ass when she finally manages to turn it on. During Yoga, the instructor teaches that meditation is all about emptying your mind, and Heidi is a meditation master. After Yoga, Heidi discovers her fancy sports car was stolen while she was in class, and a whole big mystery story follows that you help solve… and it turns out Veronica did it. The Stolen car mystery would have been followed by the solving of the mystery of Heidi herself, which I’m not telling because I want to tell it eventually, either in a future expansion or in the next sequel. The info that Heidi is mysteriously well off financially is still in SITA in one of the conversations you have behind the salon with Suki, Heidi’s assistant. I left it in so I could use it later. Enough about Heidi…
Let Dave have his way and talk to the nerdy girl
So finally we meet Rachel! The basic concept of Rachel was a plain Jane who turns out to be a supermodel. I struggled at first to figure out a personality for her as I wanted to set her apart from Ariane as much as possible. Ariane was supposed to be a “geek”, and in the Ask Ariane chat bot she is. But since Ariane never revealed a geeky side in Date Ariane, nor in the pages I wrote for her in SITA, it freed up “geek” as a quality I could bestow on Rachel.
Two other Rachel qualities came from commentary about Date Ariane that I read. One commentator didn’t like that Ariane was such a big meat eater, and other complaints about Ariane being so open to sex on the first date led to Rachel being a vegetarian and having little interest in sex on the first date. In fact, just one month before the beta release, there were no Rachel sex scenes at all! I will talk about that later.
Another odd quality I gave Rachel is that she likes guys that are honest. Honest responses are the best way to get Rachel to do more than just have dinner with you. This is why “So, I’m supposed to distract you…” is the best opening line. It is not the only workable opening line, but it is the best. At the bar, get her to tell you her name and find an excuse to ask her to dinner as soon as possible, otherwise she will leave when she gets the phone call.
The Maitre D’ scene is totally inspired by Nick and Nora’s Infinite Playlist, a smart romantic comedy flawed only by the miscasting of Michael Cera, but I digress.
Back to dinner, and again honesty is the best policy (as is the vegetarian platter). The Ariane story in SITA is purposely easy in that what ending you get is totally based on your choice of movies. The Rachel story is much more difficult as what follows after dinner is determined by what you talk about during dinner, and you can easily lose her interest, no matter how honest or vegetarian you pretend to be.
Books, Fiction Mostly, Graphic Novels
Lots of fun choices to comment on, but lets get to the sci-fi/fantasy convention which is only reachable if you talk about books and either sci-fi fiction or graphic novels. It was important that Rachel not hear before hand of the convention, otherwise she would already be there and you never would have met her at the bar. So that’s why the Waitress has to tell her.
Originally, Rachel was not supposed to go to the convention. I originally had her not find out about it until after the concert and then regret not going instead. Then I made the Veronica story with all the cool sets and costumes and decided Rachel needs to go to this as well. I was done with the whole SITA story before adding the convention at the last minute.
Let’s do the trivia contest
The trivia contest is a shout out to Date Ariane where there was also a trivia game. In Date Ariane, I struggled to write appropriate questions, and I was making it harder on myself in SITA by limiting the trivia questions to geek culture (DA had math, science, and history questions). So I played it smart and used the Internet. I basically picked 20 topics me and my geeky friends are interested in, and then wrote an appropriate trivia question based on the Wikipedia entry. Some of these trivia topics, I know nothing about. I have not seen a single episode of either Invader Zim or Dragonball Z, but my friends tell me I should. If you don’t know an answer to any trivia question, just look it up in wiki.
If you miss any question, Rachel does not make it to stage, for the story we are doing in this commentary it is not important. Even if she gets on stage she will lose. By the way Snow Crash and The Nine Lives of Chloe King are two of my favorite books. Snow Crash inspired Second Life and Google Earth. Chloe King belongs in the same category as vampire/werewolf books, except it has the audacity to not actually have any vampires or werewolves in it, instead making up its own mythology about Egyptian cat people. For that reason alone it deserves to be read.
I also threw in a fake question about Arch Angel which pays dividends later if you decide to have Rachel go to the costume contest.
Go look around the rest of the festival
Rachel puts the finishing touch on her Arch Angel costume, then displays a talent for archery.
Go check out the comic vendors
Before making the choice, in the background a scene from Veronica’s story plays out. Instead of bringing you, she brought the red headed bar patron we saw earlier, (and in Ariane’s story). This also establishes the time line.
I mentioned before that John Hernandez is a real person. We only know each other online, having matching earlier careers as clothing designers for There.com. He recently started illustrating comic books, the first being Tainted Love, being serialized online and hopefully soon in comic book stores. He was one of my alpha testers, so I gave him a shout out.
Live Action Role Play is a thing in America, though not a huge thing. Since I released the game in beta, I have read comments from foreign players saying they never heard of “larping” before. I think it got its start in this country with civil war reenactments, then after the invention of Dungeons and Dragons, it took an obvious leap forward. Now Cosplay, a type of larping, has become a well accepted hobby, and an art form all its own.
I’d be willing to play along with you
I’ll let you figure out the rest from here.
The whole LARP scene was added in April 2013, after I had finished my first beta test at the end of March and my beta testers found dissatisfaction with the lack of sex with Rachel. There is plenty of sex with Ariane in the game, and my goal of making Rachel different from Ariane was met by not having sex scenes with Rachel (plenty of nudity, but no sex). The problem is that the Rachel story is much harder to negotiate than Ariane’s story, especially in the beta 1 version I was testing at the time. One of my testers said that a harder story should have a bigger reward, and I reluctantly agreed.
Step 1 was to loosen the rules on Rachel, so it was easier to play, but that was just a simple tweak. Second was to add a sex scene for Rachel, and it somehow needed to be different than any of the sex with Ariane if I was going to be true to the mandate. Then I thought about the other qualities of Rachel, she is a “geek” and Ariane is not. That is when it hit me how to make Rachel sex scenes very different from Ariane:
Rachel only has sex when she is role playing.
The mere idea was an amazing brainstorm. It single handedly turns Rachel from “geek archetype” to “geek goddess” in terms of cool factor from a geek perspective (and I know these things because I am a geek).
From there, “Rachel pretends to be Arch Angel and if you successfully play along you end up in bed together” seemed like an obvious way to introduce sex with Rachel. The blacked out room idea is partially inspired by my desire to make as few new pictures as possible.
The other type of role play Rachel engages in is through RPG video games, so that was the second sex scene I threw together during the month of April. Interestingly, the Bonnie sex scene was also added in the same month, so that’s three sex scenes in the last month leading up to the beta release.
Not surprisingly, the additions in the final version 1.0, are mostly new sex scenes.
What happens next with Rachel
As expected, the role play sex fetish of Rachel’s character has made her a star of the game. People want more, and so do I. That is why the third part of this trilogy will be a Rachel only game.
Many comments about SITA have been along the lines that Date Ariane was more satisfying as the structure was much more open. The primary reason I abandoned the Date Ariane structure in making SITA because I wanted to try and tell stories. In order to tell stories, I lost some of the “role play” that is possible in Date Ariane. You can pretend to be good or evil as you go on a date with Ariane, and the game would often reward or punish as needed. In SITA, the player character is pretty generic and not very changeable.
So my next immediate project is to do Date Ariane in Renpy, and make it as close as possible to the same experience as the HTML version. The purpose of doing this is to develop the programming tools to open up the world.
My current thoughts on Date Rachel (trademark pending) is to reverse the DA to SITA trend and go the exact opposite direction. Embracing the “role play” seems very appropriate to a Rachel game.
The basic structure will be to have 3 Rachel dates at different locations, with Rachel playing different LARP roles at each location. It will not be a direct sequel to SITA — you the player will invent a new character who has never met Rachel before, and you will develop this character with choices along the way.
I haven’t written a single word of any of this. Since there is no creative writing component in the Date Ariane remake, I’ll write while remaking.
Well enough idle commenting, time to get back to actual doing stuff.