Website Updates!

Finally getting some money from Patreon (Thanks Everybody who helped!), I’m implementing a plan to get rid of complaints about bad downloads.

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The most common problem seems to be that when the zip file is extracted you are missing two directories.  You should be seeing this:

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In an effort to do everything I can on my side to fix these issues. I am recompiling new versions of every file and doing the following things:

  1. Using the latest version of Renpy (7.3.2) to create all new builds for the game. These will NOT be updates, so no need for new downloads if the game you downloaded already works, but should work better on systems that struggle with the current downloads.

  2. Upgrading my download server to Mediafire. This is what many indie game producers use for their downloads, and it seems to work better than the one I am using now.

I’ve managed to do this for every version of every game, including all the foreign language ones.

The hard part was the Android versions as Google insists on a new format for icons on apps, meaning I had to create new ones to avoid generic Renpy ones. Renpy also creates three optimized android files, I am linking all three on the English DA and SITA. If there is a demand I can do it for foreign versions as well.

I’ve added an android version for SITA Portuguese, so the only version of any game that doesn’t have android is Rachel Meets Ariane, and that takes a bit more work because the pictures are too big.

If it is still not extracting properly, it’s got to be the extraction software you are using, or over aggressive virus scan software. Native Windows 10 (Right click on Zip and Extract to…) works perfectly fine.

Virtualunderworld.net is gone

The old website domain which has spent the last year just going to arianeb.com, will soon no longer belong to me. I put it up for sale at https://auctions.godaddy.com/  There was some demand for the domain from a Chinese based gaming company, so I thought I’d try selling it.  If it doesn’t sell I will just abandon it as it expires next April, and I don’t need to renew it.

Erotic Visual Novels Part 7

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Miranda
Story and Graphics by Chaotic
Link to Play online or Download
Link to walkthrough

Miranda is an older game that Chaotic has decided to convert to Free to Play at vdategames.com.  As I have mentioned a couple of times, Miranda is the inspiration for Ariane in Paradise, so if you want to get a taste of what AiP is like, play Miranda.

Over a year ago, I was declaring Rachel Meets Ariane to be finished, and was looking for inspiration for my next project.  I started playing a lot of other peoples games, but I was getting frustrated.  The truth is, I have grown accustomed to playing Renpy games. Online HTML games were getting annoying.  So I did the only thing a programmer could do and converted some of these games to Renpy.

I converted many Tlaero Mortze and Chaotic games because they all were created with Tlaero’s Adventure Creator, though with different versions, so the results varied.  But now I have this great collection of games I can’t share because they are not mine to share.

Miranda is a flawed game, but has a lot of potential, which is what drew me in.  My impression was, “With some improved graphics and a little expansion, this could be a great game.”  I was seriously considering doing just that, but with no access to the main model, I couldn’t do much.  Then I thought, “What if I remade it with Ariane?”, and started to do that instead.

All it took was that initial inspirational push and I went from there.  The initial scene, from the meeting at the pool, to the second meeting in the hotel lobby, is pretty much beat for beat the same in both games.  (Actually there is one MAJOR difference, but I’ll get to that after the public release of Ariane in Paradise).  From the lobby in Ariane in Paradise you go downtown shopping, from Miranda you go to a volleyball game.

I wrote Chaotic and sent her an early alpha test link. She noticed the similarity right away and appreciated the homage.

The other thing that the two games have in common is the objective:  Both games have two stats “influence or charm” and “sexy”, and you have to reach certain levels at certain checkpoints to advance the story. The other is you have to find out 4 things:

In Miranda, you have to find out she likes 80’s music, studies philosophy, likes to hike in the jungle, and is secretly a nudist.  You can also optionally meet her good friend Faye.

In Ariane, you have to find out she likes to dance, does gymnastics, has an interest in Astronomy, and likes the outdoors.  You can also optionally meet her good friend Rachel.

I’ll talk more similarities and differences later, but for now enjoy Miranda.

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Darkness Falls

Written by Tlaero
Graphics by Mortze
Link to Play online
Link to Download

From Tlaero: “Darkness Falls” is an episodic detective series set in the same universe as Dreaming with Elsa, Redemption for Jessika, Finding Miranda, and Saving Chloe. Today I’m releasing the complete Season 1 of Darkness Falls to the public. Season 1 ended up being 5 episodes as well as a bonus scene for getting all of the achievements.”

From Saving Chloe, we learn that a portal to another universe has caused humans in this universe to be gifted with super powers. Veteran Detective Blake, and his young hot partner Michelle Won work on homicide cases in this universe. They have no powers themselves except for detective brains, but start finding cases involving people that do.

There are cameos by characters from the other games, including a common event indicating that this game is on the same time line as the other games.  There are also a few new characters with different powers that arrive in the last case.

It sounds like Tlaero is leaving the scene, or at least taking a break. That means Darkness Falls may be the last Tlaero story we get.  She leaves with a novella called AAA, available for download here.

Message to Tlaero: Been there done that, I’ve taken long stretches off to clear the brain.  Doesn’t matter if you come back to the genre, or find a new genre to conquer, you are a great artist, looking forward to what ever you do next.

3D illustrator Mortze is now working with another writer Ikansabot who also writes games for Lessons of Passion.  They are working on a new project called The Science of Lust.

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Two Golden Hairs

Written and Illustrated by Fleet
Link to Download

I like to do three games with these posts, so I decided to find out what Fleet was doing. I’ve corresponded with him on various forms and he helped me beta test Something’s In The Air, so I’m kind of a fan.  His visual novels are simple and the low res graphics always seem to have a charming “handmade” feel to them.

He released this one about 6 months ago, based on folklore from the Brother’s Grimm, and of course putting an erotic spin on it.  It’s pretty short, but fun.

I’m Aromantic

aromanticJune is “pride month” in the US, and it is usually filled with corporations trying to show how forward thinking they are in appealing to the LGBT community.  For a while now, I have been thinking that I am part of that community myself.  The thing is I am not L, G, B. or T.

The current extended acronym is LGBTQIA+ or Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transexual, Queer, Intersex, Aro/Ace Spectrum, and + for others.  I’m in the A group.  Took me a while to figure out where, but I finally solved the mystery:

I’m Aromantic.

What is Aromanticism?

Aromanticism is probably the least popular (less than 1% identify), and least understood sexual orientation, even by the people that are aromantic.

So what is it?  Here’s the definition from the AVEN Wiki:

An aromantic is a person who experiences little or no romantic attraction to others. Where romantic people have an emotional need to be with another person in a romantic relationship, aromantics are often satisfied with friendships and other non-romantic relationships.

It is important to note that aromantics do not lack emotional/personal connection, but simply have no instinctual need to develop connections of a romantic nature. Aromantics can have needs for just as much empathetic support as romantics, but these needs can be fulfilled in a platonic way.

It is possible for an aromantic individual to be involved in, and enjoy, a devoted relationship with another person, but these relations are often closer friendships, naturally reflecting the closeness of the two individuals and not a purposely initiated monogamous separation as is often found in romantic couples.

Aromantics may experience squishes which are the aromantic or platonic equivalent of a romantic crush. When an aromantic gets into a relationship that’s more than friends – but less than romantic – that is known as a queerplatonic relationship.

Like all romantic identities aromantics can be of any sexual orientation.

That last sentence is really important.  There is a false impression that all aromantics are also asexual, but the truth is most aromantics, are very sexual, and come in all the flavors: Hetero, homo, bi, pan, and poly.  And yes, also asexuals.

Here are some of the symptoms of aromanticism.  This list is incomplete and just because you have felt some of these does not mean you are aromantic:

  1. You don’t have any desire to be in a relationship.
  2. You experience outside pressure to be in a relationship, but ignore it, or even fear it. The phrase “You just haven’t met the right person yet” gets repeated to you a lot.
  3. If you are in a relationship, you get accused of not loving or caring for that person, because you have no idea how to express it.  Most of your relationships end because of it.
  4. Romantic gestures, both giving and receiving, feel awkward and unimportant.
  5. Kissing, cuddling, and other non-sexual touching feel awkward and unimportant.
  6. When you “have a crush” on someone, your instinct is to desire to hang out with them and be their friend (We aromantics call this a “squish” or a platonic crush), rather than a desire to make out, have sex, or be their significant other.
  7. In fact “crushes” involving thoughts of physical contact or long term plans never occur. (aromantic) or very rarely occur (gray romantic).
  8. You have to get to know a person really well before you even start to think about a romance with them (the term is “demiromantic”)
  9. Shyness about asking someone out on a date are not about fears of “What if they say NO?”, but rather “What if they say YES?”
  10. Thoughts of being alone the rest of your life do not really bother you that much.

For more information, I found this great article. Here’s a quote:

Aromanticism means you cannot feel romantic attraction. Like any romantic or sexual orientation, it is a part of a person’s nature, and while attraction patterns can be fluid, no one can force their romantic/sexual orientation(s) to change, not even by behaving contrary to those orientations. Dating someone won’t make an aromantic person feel romantic attraction or love. Great sex won’t do it. Even loving someone strongly as a friend won’t suddenly flip the switch in an aro’s brain and lead them to feel romantic attraction. Either you feel attracted to someone in a particular way or you don’t.

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There’s a built in contradiction with this orientation. How do you know that you’ve never experienced romantic attraction if you don’t know what romantic attraction feels like?  It is a thought that many of us aromantic types try to deal with.

I consider myself aromantic. I have never been head over heels in love or any of that other mushy feelings described by authors and poets.  I do feel friendly “squishes” occasionally and I have a normal sexual libido. Is romantic attraction just some combination of the two? Because I have felt that, does that mean I am not aromantic?  This is part of the self doubt.

Based on what people say “falling in love” feels like, I can say confidently that no I have never felt this.

Now the romantics will say, “That’s so sad, that is so tragic, to never feel what romantic love is like.”

To me, never feeling romantic love, feels natural and normal, it’s the 99% who are romantics that are the tragic freaks.

Starting a Patreon Campaign

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I decided to start a Patreon campaign to help finance the game.  The link to the campaign is https://www.patreon.com/dateariane and like most Patreon campaigns, I want to make it worth your money.

Right now, signing up for a $5 a month “dater” tier subscription or higher will get you access to an alpha version of the first 20% or so of Ariane in Paradise, and I hope to release more chunks of the game on that site each month.

There are two other tiers: $1 “Watcher”, which I have posted 110 pictures, most not available anywhere, and a $20 “Producer” tier that will get you in the games credits.

Eventually I will release Ariane in Paradise to the public for free, but Patreon supporters are likely going to get first dibs.  So if you can help out, I would really appreciate it!

Become a Patron!

Taking a break

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I haven’t posted anything in a while, because I have been busy working on Ariane in Paradise.  I am basically two thirds done.  Not only did I finish all the segments mentioned in my last post, I finished two of the three “day two afternoon” segments, a casino segment and one above I won’t describe (but there are enough clues in the picture to figure it out).

These last two segments are kind of odd and break away from the themes and mood of the rest of the story. Generally segments like this are unpopular, but I think they serve a purpose of world building.  The island feels like a real place with lots of stories happening on it, and it does not have to all be about romance, sex and nudity.

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The third afternoon segment I have planned is sort of a “high seas adventure” on a sailboat.  Finishing it finishes day 2, so part of me wants to hurry up, but this is also in a way the main exciting climactic point of the game, and if I try to rush it, I could ruin it like Game of Thrones season 8 (sorry I couldn’t resist).

Bottom line is I need a break to think about this final segment, plus think about day 3 and where that is going.  Also Guild Wars 2 is releasing a new chapter on Tuesday so I suspect I’ll be spending a lot of time there.

If I do any work on the game in the next month, it will be to add sound effects and music and achievements, none of which I have even started on.

And that’s where I am right now.

Ariane in Paradise Progress Report

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It has been a while since I made a progress report on Ariane in Paradise.  Last report was that I was a third of the way done, so I can now report that I am now more than a third of the way done.

I am trying to not upload pictures of days 2 and 3 (I’ve actually done work on both) as I consider them spoilers.  I’ve already released quite a few from day 1.  The photos I am posting here are “placeholder” pictures that are not even used in the game.

Day 2 consists of three paths with 5 events, all having some kind of puzzle aspect.  These basically work like the downtown adventures of Date Ariane, or the puzzles from the 4th story of Something’s In The Air.

One path is a hike to a waterfall.  I decided I wanted this to be an all day activity, and needed a really special puzzle.  My first thought was a classic adventure game where you have to build something to move on, my second was some kind of “escape room” type of puzzle.  I felt both were kind of lame, but then found a way to combine the two ideas, to make something really great, and I’ve been working on this path extensively to get it to work the way I want it.

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Path two consists of a day on a crowded beach.  If your game is set on a tropical paradise vacation, there’s got to be a visit to a crowded beach somewhere.

I haven’t written it yet, but I do have a puzzle figured out which you can succeed or fail at,  the thing is I am still thinking about what happens when you succeed and when you fail.  Besides swimming, tanning, drinking, and getting sand everywhere, what is there to do on the beach?

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Path 3 is a snorkel trip to a coral reef.   All I’ve really done on this one is enough set building to make this picture.  Not sure what I want to do, yet.

But I’m leaning towards borrowing an idea from Chaotic’s Miranda which involves a game of hide and seek in the coral.  Find Ariane before you run out of air.  Again, not sure of the rewards and punishments based on success and failure.

Two of these paths, beach and coral, are morning only.  I want to create two afternoon activities.  One idea is a trip to a casino to play roulette.  The twist on this puzzle: You actually play a game of roulette with a number of random success and failure outcomes, again haven’t written them yet.

Anyways, that’s enough updating, I better get back to work.

GW2 The 500 pound A-Bomb In The Room: It’s Mobile Stupid!

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My favorite PC game for the past 16 years has been Guild Wars (2004) and its sequel Guild Wars 2 (2012).  For those of you doing the math in your head and thinking Guild Wars has only been out for 15 years, well I am one of the lucky few to get into the closed beta that came out in October 2003.  So yes I have been playing for nearly 16 years.

This past week ArenaNet the makers of Guild Wars announced a 25% cut in staffing, from 400 to around 260 employees.  Included in those layoffs were some veterans in the company, who have been developing as long as I have been playing.  It is really sad to see them go.

Word is that many of those 100 layoffs came not from Guild Wars 2, but from unannounced games that have been worked on in secret for the last 3 or 4 years.  It only makes sense that a company that has only released two titles in its 19 years of existence would be working on other games, but it sounds like these projects are not in any state to make them releasable so they were cut.

Zoom Out Part 1: It’s not just ArenaNet

Guild Wars 2 has always played second fiddle to World of Warcraft, the biggest MMORPG ever.  World of Warcraft is made by Blizzard, a division of Activision, and also suffered from hundreds of layoffs in the past couple of months.  Last year a number of PC gaming studios closed their doors:  Telltale games, Visceral Games, Gazillion, Carbine Studios, etc.  Over 1000 job losses in one year alone.

Last time I checked, the gaming industry was doing fine, what’s with the mass layoffs?

One dominant theory is that the gaming industry is not growing like it used to, and layoffs is a way to artificially inflate profit in the short run.  This doesn’t make that much sense.  Why would a gaming company cut staffing in a growing industry?

Zoom Out Part 2: The issue is actually mobile games

The second biggest MMORPG of all time is Lineage, the vast majority of the players are in South Korea, which why you may not have heard of it.  It is the main source of income of NCSoft, the parent company of ArenaNet.

Last year, a mobile version of Lineage was released in Korea. That mobile version reportedly made $233 Million in its first month, more than Guild Wars 2 ever made in any of the last 6 years.

 

So much that NCSoft is working on mobile versions of its other titles: Lineage2M, Aion2, Blade & Soul 2, Blade & Soul M, and Blade & Soul SNotably missing is Guild Wars 2.  I would not be surprised if that was one of the unspecified unfinished projects they were working on.  If so, it is possible that a major factor in these ArenaNet layoffs had to do with their inability to make a Guild Wars 2 mobile game.

Update:  One theory making the rounds is that the huge negative backlash of a Diablo Immortal mobile game may have freaked out the people making the Guild Wars 2 mobile game, which in turn led to the scrapping of the project.

Heavy speculation on my part:  I notice that Lineage2M was developed by an outside 3rd party and is paying royalties to NCSoft for the privilege. Could NCSoft now be shopping around the Guild Wars 2 property to 3rd party developers to make a Guild Wars 2 mobile game?  If ArenaNet was making a mobile game, then scrapped it after the Diablo fiasco, it is possible that the work so far may be sold by NCSoft as well.

A third party developer releasing a GW2 mobile game would not face the negative backlash that would happen if ArenaNet did it.  Follow up speculation: How bad will this game be?

The upshot of this theory is that NCSoft will need Guild Wars 2 to continue to succeed.  Otherwise the IP will become worthless.

Zoom Out Part 3: Mobile games are REALLY bad for gaming in general

Companies have fallen in love with mobile gaming.  Nearly everyone has a phone they can play games on.  I see this with my games.  I primarily make games for PCs, but there seems to be big demand for mobile versions, because not everyone has a PC.

The thing with mobile games is that the freemium business model has taken over the industry, despite the really ugly dark side of this business model’s source of revenue.

Basically it is about getting “Whales”, people willing to pay hundreds of dollars in micro transactions to get really good at the game.  So many games use this business model, that it is very tough to find mobile games that don’t use it.

I prefer to buy mobile games outright.  I’d rather spend $5, $10, $20 or more for a mobile game that will give me hours of fun without trying to sell me crap.  You literally can’t find games like this anymore.

So profitable have these micro transactions have become, that PC game companies are adding it to PC games that you pay full price for.  EA has even bragged that every game it releases has some online element and micro transaction store.

Guild Wars 2 does this, too.  The core game is free and you can spend $30 to $60 for the two expansions, which is all you really need to play everything the game offers.  But they are constantly releasing cosmetic skins for weapons and armor, novelties, and other stuff that you can either farm gold to get, or just pay a few bucks for gems that can be turned into gold.  I admit I spend a fair amount on Guild Wars 2‘s gem store, but not more than I can afford, and I never bought something and thought “This isn’t worth it.”

What Guild Wars 2 does not do is do anything “Pay to win”.  You cannot buy armor or weapons that are better than the craftable armor and weapons you make by playing the game.  But “pay to win” PC games are a thing these days, and gamers should not support them at any price.

So why exactly is this bad for PC gaming?  Because the biggest driving force of the PC game is Single Player Games, which have a built in flaw: you really can’t do micro transactions in single player games.  Therefore, they do not make as much money as multiplayer games.  And yet there is still great demand for single player games.

Bottom line is that mobile gaming and PC\Console gaming are two different beasts, with two different player bases, but gaming companies decisions are not about pleasing the players, it’s about pleasing the bottom line.

Zoom Out Part 4: Players need to play smarter, and beat these developers at their own game.

It’s all about putting your money where your heart is. Support the games you actually enjoy. Be picky about what games you are willing to buy for $60 on opening day instead of $30 if you wait 3 months, or $10 if you wait a year.

Never support “Play to win” games or random loot boxes that result in duplicates.  Ask yourself, “How much do I enjoy playing this game?”, and only spend what you think it is worth to you.

Do you have to spend money to make the game fun?  That’s a good sign you shouldn’t spend the money.  Don’t buy “shovelware” or bad licensed games.

Best of all, support games that DON’T have micro transactions.  If you are looking for a good mobile time killer, this is likely to be tough.