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.
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.
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.
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.
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.