Date Ariane: Hooray for Bad Reviews

As I stated before, when I first started making Date Ariane my goal was to do something a bit outside the norm, to create a game where sex and not violence is the primary driver of drama. I also had to make it with no budget so compromises in quality are inevitable as well.

For both of those reasons, I never really cared if someone did not like Date Ariane. The game is not meant for everybody, and I am very well aware of its flaws.

I mention this because there are now well over 100 videos on You Tube of people playing Date Ariane.  Some of them are funny, some of them are well made, some of them are good reviews, many of them are bad reviews, including some extremely popular ones.

I’m of two minds on this phenomenon. On the one hand, reviews of my work do not bother me in the least. I am very well aware that You Tube bloggers like to make fun of stuff they find online, it is what they do and it brings them a lot of subscribers.  As I said above, the out of mainstream nature of the game and low budget nature of the game makes Date Ariane a very easy target to make fun of, in fact I do it myself.

On the other hand, I can’t watch these videos. There is something about watching other people play my games that feels a little creepy.

I have never been able to get through any of them. My feelings when I watch them is similar to someone standing uncomfortably close to me. It also does not help that I know the answers too well, so when they make the wrong choices I know it’s going to end badly many moves ahead.

I wanted to know if I am weird feeling this way, so I reached out to a few other indie game producers. Reactions are split around 50-50. Some developers are like me, a little weirded out.  Others enjoy watching others play their games.

Developer reactions to mixed reviews seems split as well. I guess it depends on what your goals are.  My goals are to make something I enjoy and just put it out there and let the audience find it.  Other developers with more loftier goals of mainstream success can take bad reviews a little harder.  I can understand that. Even though I say bad reviews don’t bother me, if Date Ariane got nothing but bad reviews when I first put it out there, I would have taken it down and would have never made improvements or expansions.


And speaking of improvements, my on again, off again project of making a Renpy version of Date Ariane is on again. It was absolutely necessary to do the graphic update before attempting it again. My previous attempts were way too ambitious, my goal this time is to keep it simple. My other goals:

  1. A downloadable game that works on any computer without needing a browser.
  2. Much cleaner code that can be edited and expanded easily.
  3. Sound, music, and special effects you can’t do in HTML.

Why make a downloadable Renpy version of the game when the online is so successful?

It is true, the online game gets over 1 million unique players annually, while there have been less than 200,000 downloads of the stand alone only Something’s In The Air.  My first instinct was to try and make an online version of Something’s In The Air.  Two things prevented that from happening, one was the accidental erasure of a hard drive with my only copy ( I was only 5% complete anyways).

The other was the growing popularity of Date Ariane having an affect on my website’s stability. I researched expanding the web sites capacity, but I so far can’t justify the cost. An online SITA would just make it worse.

Making an improved stand alone version of Date Ariane available should make it better instead.

I have no idea how long it will take, probably at least the summer. I am basically rewriting the entire game as there is no way to port the game directly over.  What you see above is all I have done so far, about 28 lines of code.  Better get started.


  • In the same way that you check the sources when you read/hear a “news” article, you need to do a due diligence check on the author of a review before you decide whether or not to take the review seriously. So in the same way that you dismiss an article about signs of alien life being discovered on Mars when the source is the National Enquirer, you should always first note if the review is coming from known (militant) feminist author.

    Since those types of authors tend to operate in packs – one finds something she finds offensive, then messages her friends to also write bad reviews of that something – that statistics you are finding sound consistent with that behavior: there should be about 1 good review for every 30 bad ones. You should also find that the good reviews tend to be written by authors paid to write reviews that cater to those that play such games (e.g. you’d not find a reviewer of child development games writing the review of your game) and that those authors have a pretty good idea of the amount of thought and effort to put together a game of reasonable quality.

    The other types of reviewers tend to spend all their time trying to generate “buzz” for their blog (as they’re paid per view) and have no game development interest or experience whatsoever. (in fact, if you asked them for ideas to improve the game, the best they usually come up with is “get rid of it” – absolutely no constructive criticisms.) These types of critics and reviewers are best ignored and noted on a blacklist for future reference.

    The bottom line is you’ve put in a lot of work, and produced something that works that a lot of people like. Moreover, you did it on your own dime for the love of the art/craft/genre. Those that understand the effort and commitment to do something like that have nothing but respect for you and your work. “Haters gonna hate” – just wanted to chime in to remind you to do a due diligence background check on the reviewers causing you the most grief/unhappiness and confirm that they’re really the worst kind of people out there – talentless negative critics who’s only claim to fame is throwing the s**t they wallow in on those that try to rise above it.

  • norsegraphics

    When I tried the game the first time, it was a game-changer as there haven’t been release a similar game before. Now, several years later, the quality of the game (or ANY game) can be measured by it’s ongoing popularity. If there’s still a ‘buzz’ around Dating Ariane, and people are downloading, and/or play the online version – then you know it’s true popularity.

    And you know what they say about reviews, even bad reviews will create a ‘buzz’, and people might want to check out firsthand. People are curious and many wants to see for themselves. Sometimes to get their eyes opened.

    Lastly, I hope you’ll continue.

  • Hmmm, if you are picking up the Renpy version again then you might be interested in some code I wrote for auto-porting “visual novel”-style games to different engines. At one point (roughly a year ago) I implemented most of the then-current “Date Ariane” in this way. If you’re curious, here is the “Date Ariane” source in the domain-specific language I was working on:

    That one is supposed to be human-readable (and written by hand). From that code, I can automatically generate not only this HTML+CSS+Javascript:

    but also Renpy:

    In principle, it should be quite easy to add different engine support for automatically porting games to different platforms (e.g., C+SDL for a native desktop version, Java for a native Android app, etc.) but I never had time to finish those.

    The rest of the game/compiler sources are a whole bunch of small files so aren’t suitable for Pastebin, but send me e-mail if you’re interested. I think the high-level approach is much, much more efficient than maintaining parallel HTML+Renpy versions (and even more so if you decide to add further ports later).

    • Wow thanks! I’ll give these a test.

      The ports do not seem to work, I assume they need those extra files (beyond the images) that you mentioned. I’d like to try those out.

      In the mean time, the easy to read code ( the first link) is going to come in handy for creating a Renpy version. I’m pretty much starting over from scratch and doing things differently, and making the code a lot more readable and hopefully more efficient.

      For example, I am writing just the pre-dinner scenes right now. So dancing to music pre-dinner is pretty straight forward as there is no choice of clothing options etc. The old code had one routine for all the variants of the dance scene and it was a mess to read. Now there will be 3 dance scenes depending on what point in the game it is. That might sound inefficient, but from a readable code perspective, it is way easier to debug.

      I like the idea of a single code base for portability, but there are very simple ways to do stuff in Renpy that translated code can only do the hard way. 25 lines of raw code are dedicated to set up the random racks at the dress shop, Renpy can do it in 4:
      $ BotList = [1,2,3,4,5,6]
      $ TopList = [1,2,3,4,5,6]
      $ renpy.random.shuffle(BotList)
      $ renpy.random.shuffle(TopList)
      That plus special effects, audio, and a more game like interface is going to make the HTML version feel primitive.

      • You’re right, the earlier files won’t work as-is (they were just meant to show that if you write the first one, I have a translator to generate the second and third ones without any effort). Here are links to more complete versions:

        for the HTML+Javascript and Renpy versions, respectively. They are hopefully playable, although they are about a year out of date (from when you had updated 43% of the images). I got around to implementing most of the game (notable exceptions are the romantic lake and the strip club). Those zip files include the relevant (old-ish) images, so are unfortunately over 70 MB each.

        For a much smaller version, here is the HTML+Javascript tweaked to fetch images from instead of local files:

        I expect that third version is somewhat playable, but since it was coded against old images, any files where the naming scheme has changed in the last year will be out of synch and won’t load.

        You’re right about the Javascript/Renpy differences, too… the approach I took was writing about 90% of the game in a sort of “lowest common denominator” style where mechanical conversion to JS/Python is good enough. For some of the unusual parts (e.g., the basketball game, the swimming race mini-game) the generic code wasn’t good enough and it required extra manual JS/Python programming. However, there was relatively little overall (less than 200 lines of manual code vs. over 17,000 generic). This would be a possible way to add audio or other backend-specific features if necessary. For instance, see the call to “undo_to()” in the “clickc()” function around line 3440 in the top pastebin file in the previous post, used in the swimming race — this ensures the Renpy undo/redo still works even when the player “undoes” across the timed race. It has no effect in HTML/Javascript, where undo/redo is not possible. Something similar could be used for audio.

        Even though these versions are incomplete (missing newer images, and some of the gameplay), I hope they’re still useful as a proof of concept. I had meant to finish this stuff last year, but I found you were updating images and changing the game faster than I could keep up! Now that you have things in a stable state, it would be a bit more feasible to bring this port up to date if that’d be useful to you or possibly others.

      • These work great! They succeed as a proof of concept. It’s difficult to see the difference between the html and Renpy versions. Having the game in a single HTML file would be a bandwidth saver most likely.

  • Well, the quality of the new images was the reason why I decided to see the game for the first time. And the plot led me to play the game, a thing that I almost never do. With the amount of activities I have in real life, I never spent more than some minutes in any game, virtual or real.
    About the reviews, my opinion is similar. The negative reviews are relevant only for those who made them, with very rare exceptions. Being a graphic artist, musician and also a photographer, getting good and bad reviews are inevitable. But we reach a point where we know what we can do, and also our limitations. And there are a lot of reasons why people give bad reviews about someone’s work, most of them related to the person who makes it. It has been proved over time that people who criticize others or their work are usually talking about themselves.

  • sequentialnomad

    Request for more Wendy and/or other SITA ladies.

  • Just want to say i really enjoyed this game, and your right it isn’t for everyone but its one of the only games of it’s kind so it’s easy to criticize. Also i would be ecstatic if there were any other games made in the future like this one with so many different possible endings you have to be creative but even though at first you may fail a little it’s still really fun.

  • Well, just act like japanese visual novel creators, don’t care what other said either it’s good or bad, thought good critics are welcome. In reality, some girls are brainless, some are normal, and some are damn like stronghold moral police. But games are about fantasy, while it is created base on real life experience on some occasion.

    I’ve played a lot Illusion JPN’s 3D sex games. They are in my opinion are the best lead of it’s genre, but they don’t have the passion or will, to create branching story lines. Only fuck fuck and fuck, woman became slave, man conquering it all and period. Dang ! I’m bored with those types.

    I hope, someday, people like you can create the best Adult dating simulation with real 3D engine format, it’s a damn journey thought, but ain’t it all we want ?

  • There are to my knowledge (which is limited) only 3 serious dating games not made in japan: 7 Sins, Hunie Pop, and your game. As a huge fan of the old show Blind Date, particularly the “Date from Hell” episodes, I only wish someone would make a game that reveled in the insanity of bad dates. The truth is most people can’t stand each other, and the specific reasons are where the potential profit is. Dating games are an untapped market, because the game makers think players want to win. In a dating game it is the FAIL that keeps you playing. I don’t think it’s about sex at all. I think guys and girls of all stripes enjoy the frustration of pursuing that which is beyond their reach. One person can’t make this game though. You need writers of both sexes who are analytical and cynical and good at writing minute conversational details. Also you need choices. It drove me nuts in Grand Theft Auto 4 that I couldn’t forgive Michelle for turning me in and get back with her. Variation hones the addiction. No set paths. This is an AI issue. Once you learn the route the game is boring. But what if the route is NEVER set? What if the pursued character is always switching likes and dislikes? Or is just toying with you, scamming you, insulting you, using you to get money or get with someone you know? What if they just up and dumped you for no reason? Called the cops on you and got you arrested? Even pulled out a gun and SHOT you! Twisted people. Crazy people. Angry People. Hidden agendas. An interactive encyclopedia of personality defects. Make an uber complex date from hell black hole vortex where winning is difficult, or even impossible, and you will make a lot of money. Send an Email to the Hunie Pop guys, and tell them you have an idea for a new type of dating game. Something crazy – like real life.

  • Pingback: Where to go to find new Erotic Visual Novels – Ariane's Life in the Metaverse

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