Next Game: Something’s In The Air Redux
Now that the promotional period for Date Ariane Remastered is done, I am focusing om my next game, which should logically follow as “Something In The Air Remastered”, then follow that with “Rachel Meets Ariane Remastered”.
Well close. I decided to call the next game “Something’s In The Air Redux” as kind of a play on the remastered designation which is all over the gaming world, but also because Redux means to repeat the same thing over and over again, and I am doing a rewrite of the game with a focus on “time looping”. Also I get a cool “SITAR” acronym, which is how I’ll be referring to it for short.
With the release of Date Ariane Remastered, that means three of my games (including Ariane in Paradise and Hopepunk City) have updated cycles rendered graphics and can be played as a male or female player character. Rachel Meets Ariane, which I hope to update soon (more on that later) doesn’t involve the player as a character.
The odd one out is Something’s In The Air, and it is time for it to received the “remastered” treatment, with new updated graphics and the ability to play as a male character or a female character.
But I wrote a post a few years ago explaining why a female player character doesn’t work in Something’s In The Air, and getting around that is what this post is about.
Date Ariane was fairly easy, aside from numerous pictures that had to be added, there were only a couple of scenes that had to be changed for a female protagonist, like the strip club and the scenic vista. Something’s In The Air is going to have a lot more. So here is the bottom line:
Something’s In The Air is going to have to be radically rewritten
Games where I have to both write and illustrate take time, typically a year and a half to two years, while the Date Ariane Remastered project only took 6 months because it was mostly just new illustration. This is why a SITA update is not going to get finished until sometime in 2023.
With that in mind, here are the main goals of the rewrite:
- I want to make Something’s In The Air a stand alone game and no longer a direct sequel. Most of the “direct sequel” stuff mattered to the first part of “Another Date With Ariane” chapter, which I am either planning to completely rewrite, or drop all together. It has always been the most problematic part, and it changes Ariane’s personality too much. The Ariane second date story really doesn’t get started until you get to the movie theater anyways.
- I want to make it workable so the protagonist could be either gender. There are a number of problematic parts to this, like the “Dave” plot. Panromantic Rachel will be fine, and undefinable Bonnie will be fine, and the Wendy plot does not involve romance. Veronica, Stacy and Paula are a bit more tricky, their plots are either problematic or make no sense with a female protagonist.
- I want SITAR to be a “satire” of western style harem visual novel games, that SITA itself actually helped pioneer. This will play up Ariane’s career in game development (already established in RMA), and Rachel’s primary hobby as a video game player (already established in SITA). I actually have several fun ideas with this goal in mind. I was originally going for an “homage” rather than satire, but I have recently been playing some of the more popular ones, and there really isn’t anything worth homaging to, so one dark satire coming up!
These three conceptual ideas, plus redoing all the graphics in the game, will hopefully make SITA a more beautiful and more interesting game than it currently is.
What about Rachel Meets Ariane?
It goes to follow that there should be a Rachel Meets Ariane Remastered next? After all the plot of that game is key to the plots of Ariane in Paradise and Hopepunk City that follow after. My idea is to incorporate RMA as a bonus/epilogue into SITA, turning the two games into one.
This will turn the five game cycle into a 4 game cycle, each with value as a stand alone game. I want anyone to pick any of the games and be able to play them with no knowledge of the other games. Something’s In The Air and Rachel Meets Ariane are the two games that don’t have that quality, but they can if they are merged into one.
Brainstorming Ideas I may or may not use:
Basically, I am going to have to rip out a lot of stuff from the old game and then find new material to replace it with. Picking what happened on a previous Date Ariane date, and all the variants that go with it will mostly be dropped. That means dropping: calling Ariane for a fancy formal date, meeting at the restaurant bar, and the whole spilling wine incident. The whole flashback sequence at the Drive-N-Dine can be dropped too.
Where needed, they will be added as dialog choices. For example, if you meet Rebecca at the movie theater, you could be given a choice “Nice to meet you Rebecca.” or “Nice to see you again Rebecca”, and the game will just assume that is a hint that you remember Rebecca from before, but I will find a way to write around having to choose what happened.
Dave’s main contribution is he introduces the player to Rachel. I’m not sure if a male chauvinist like Dave could get along with a hot female lesbian player, and not constantly hit on her. I need to find a new plot where the player meets Rachel that doesn’t involve a “Dave”. The whole “baseball” plot seems out of place for a female player as well. Yes, women can be baseball fans, but using that feels like I’m patching the plot with tape. Shouldn’t take much to come up with something that makes sense to either gender.
One big plot change I am thinking about is getting rid of the whole “Something’s In The Air” weather mystery from the gallery, since most of the players already know the answer, and instead implement it into the game plot itself, so instead of solving a mystery you probably already know, you have to convince another character that something is happening. I have a fun idea how to do this.
That will get rid of one of the three things you have to keep track of outside the game which feels a bit bloated. Two should be the max, which is what Ariane in Paradise has (achievements and photo galleries), SITA should only have two too: endings and notebooks. Notebooks are staying, they are a fun original alternative to achievements.
To get this to work, I need to gut a big chunk of the old story, but I am not interested in a shorter game. So where and how do I expand?
The game establishes a fair amount of potentially sexy venues: the rock concert, the house party, the Sci-Fi / Fantasy Festival, the nude beach, the tequila bar, and RMA establishes a “sex club”. It seems to me that these would be great places to meet other sexy women besides the established characters and really establish a decent “harem” of characters you can date. After all that is the established trope of this genre.
And speaking of the “harem” genre…
Since SITA was one of the first of the genre, and influenced the use of 3D rendering and Renpy. The culture of the western “harem game” has gone in a different direction than my vision. I want to include, and poke fun at the new tropes.
I asked for a list of harem tropes over at the Sex Positive Gaming discord and got some good responses:
College is actually obviously a high school
Clueless or Douchebag PC (player character)
Any activity with a penis other than the PC’s being called NTR (Netorare)
Female members of the Harem never interacting or acknowledging other female members unless participating in a group sex scene
One random furry/futa character unless the game is specifically around furry or futa
Any potential strong female characters reduced to virtual doormats (unless it is a femdom focused game)
Extremely bland PC. (Also NTR discourse satire would be hilarious)
The cast has one personality trait each
Hair color/style is the only way to visually distinguish the “waifus“
Exposure to the PC causes irreparable loss of all personal goals besides a vague horny affection towards the PC
Perving on people in the shower and assaulting them in their sleep is 100% normal and okay
A fantasy/supernatural/sci-fi metaplot appears out of nowhere halfway through
Everyone who dislikes the PC is actually a tsundere
All problems can and will be solved with the PC’s dick
That is actually quite a lot to write satire about, and some of it is so goofy it writes itself.
Immersive instead of linear
Something’s In The Air actually has an odd story telling format that many players never caught on to. Probably because I did not know how to explain it in game at the time, and I was caught up on making the game as a hard sequel rather than a proper stand alone experience. Mistakes were made and I am learning.
It introduced itself as a linear game, you pick one of 4 paths and ended up dating a different woman on each path, but not everyone caught on that each date was on the same day, and that some ended in rain storms and some did not. It is easy to think the rain free dates with Rachel happened on a different day. Basically SITA is a time loop game, but it doesn’t present itself that way, at least not very well. It would be really easy for me to just simplify the game and make it more linear like every other harem game, but I want to double down!
My goal is to make SITAR even more of an immersive gaming experience, to make the “storm” just one of several mysteries to be revealed in this time loop setting. Also I want to take some lessons from Date Ariane Remastered allowing actions and activities to be done out of order. The goal is immersion over plot.
This concept of immersive storytelling is not really a new concept to me. Technically Date Ariane Remastered was more immersion than plot. In fact Date Ariane Remastered has a lot in common structurally with the “soulslike” genre: 1. Most often ends in failure. 2. Requires exploration of your environment for new opportunities. 3. Humorous surprises. 4. Doesn’t really have a plot except a desire to survive to the end. Add in RPG elements and you have the romantic equivalent to “soulslike” game play.
I already started the SITAR project in late May and have been posting early drafts over at my Patreon page. Join as a dater for $5 and see where I am in the project. Or for just $1 see some of the new renders. Please note that it is still early days, and 80% of the working version is the old version. Currently I am updating the graphics that are already there, then I will start working on the new material.
Any suggestions are welcome in the comments.