Upcoming Game Projects!

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Sorry I haven’t posted much this past month, I figured it was enough to move my site to a new page, then I spent the rest of April very busy in real life.

Everyone keeps asking when the next game is coming out, and the truth is I don’t know. Here are a list of projects I am hopefully going to finish some day.

Project 1: Rachel Meets Ariane The Game

The story of Rachel Meets Ariane has already been written and shared here, however the game will add some variations and display it in a high definition presentation that is a little more aesthetically pleasing. It is “mostly done” except I am working on variations of choices in part 4 that result in variations of endings. Biggest obstacle right now is that I have yet to finish writing the alternate endings, then I still need to illustrate them.

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Project 2: Date Ariane HD

Basically this involves re-rendering all the images in Date Ariane to size 1500×900 and also correcting lighting and other aesthetic issues along with very low compression. The result should be the best looking version of the game ever, but probably twice as big for download purposes. This will be for PC, Mac, and Linux only as it will be too big for android devices. Status: I’m about half way done.

I was sent a new German translation that works with the latest English version, I will probably release this very soon for German speakers. It also has a feature to switch between German and English. I guess this means Pandorya will have to do a bunch more videos. I hope to move the German translation to Date Ariane HD as well when it’s ready.  Status: I just need to get around to it.

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Project 3: Unnamed Ariane Reunion Project

Inspired by Chaotic‘s choice to allow players to pick their gender, I thought I’d create a 4th Ariane game where players can choose to play as the male player character from Date Ariane and SITA, back from a lengthy business trip and anxious to reunite with Ariane, or play as Rachel, back from a lengthy business trip and anxious to reunite with Ariane.  So far, all I got is a concept that might involve some sort of adventure with the gaming guild that both Rachel and the Player are involved with.

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Project 4: SITA HD

Like Date Ariane HD, this involves re-rendering about a thousand pictures in 1080 resolution so it looks a lot better, but also in the Rachel Meets Ariane game I am introducing a new choice system that eliminates the need for picking “prequel” choices, and I want to implement this into Something’s In The Air as well.

This is the new ARIANEB.COM

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That’s right, we moved! My wordpress blog is now my main site. A few months ago I added a lot of the main content from the old site to this site, accessible by the menus at the top.

Want info on Date Ariane? click the button at the top. Links to download are there, as well as the international versions, and my other games.

You can leave comments on any of the pages, something you couldn’t do before, and this site is more secure than my old site. Also as a WordPress site, there is a mobile version of this site now.

The old site is still available for now at http://virtualunderworld.net/arianeb/. Once I move everything over here, I will probably drop that site (this one is cheaper).

I’m sure there are plenty of broken links to fix. Tell me what you think.

Rachel and Ariane: An Experiment in Storytelling

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After finishing the Renpy version of Date Ariane back in July 2015, I have been tinkering with the idea of what would happen if Ariane (of Date Ariane fame) and Rachel (of Something’s In The Air fame) were to meet.

I made both games for my own entertainment, and I am glad they have been successful. So I started tinkering with Rachel and Ariane being the third part of the trilogy.  I’ve never tried writing a story like this, and so I’m not sure what I am doing, and kind of making things up as I go along.

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So far it is coming off as “official fanfic”. I struggle with the writing part, but I am really having a lot of fun doing the pictures part, which is why I keep going.

I released part one in October 2015, a piece at a time until the final part was released on Halloween, when the story was set.

It starts with a “meet cute” as all rom-coms do, in this case they show up to a Halloween party dressed the same.  As they get to talking they discover they are the same in a few other ways as well.

After Ariane finds out Rachel is a supermodel, Rachel takes Ariane home and tests her in a few ways. Ariane passes the tests, and they end up getting drunk together.

It ends with Ariane revealing her never before revealed job: game developer. Rachel, being a game addict herself, is intrigued and wants to get together again.

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Rachel Dates Ariane is set about two weeks later, or mid November, though there was over a year before I released it in November 2016.

It almost follows a typical “Date Ariane” date. Rachel comes over, and they play video games (tying back to the end of part 1) then they go out for dinner. This time to a pizza place they both like (Pizza Mia shows up in both games). Then back to Ariane’s and some naked hot tubbing.

Rachel then makes a (intentional?) move that results in the two of them in bed naked together.  Can two mostly heterosexual women find love? or is it doomed to “friendzone”? Is that necessarily a bad thing?

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I just released part 3: Rachel Takes Ariane’s Photo. I tried to make it more game like with choices to eventually turn it into a game, which I actually made, and found it repetitive as most of the choices end up in the same place.

So I just converted it to HTML and posted it all at once. It’s about 23 HTML pages total using simple links to the choices you pick.

It takes place still in November, with still autumn colors (which is part of the plot). The two key scenes for me are the “short cut” and Rachel setting up cameras.

I establish in the games that Ariane is a bit of a dare devil or “Action Girl”, but never get a good opportunity to demonstrate it. The short cut scene is Ariane demonstrating that part of her personality to Rachel, who being a science geek is not all that thrilled with that side of Ariane.

Then when we get to the the actual picture taking, Rachel is the one demonstrating her personality, talking about photography in a geeky way and having it go way over Ariane’s head. The photo session itself is very clinical and very professional, the way a supermodel likes it, and with the exception of one version of the photo shoot, no where near as sexy as the ones Ariane did in Date Ariane.

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Control of what happens to the photos is in the hands of the photographer, or the party that commissioned the photos in the first place. That means Ariane has no control.

The objective here is to add a little bit of conflict. Differences that could get bigger later.

I’m working on a part 4, which basically would be act 3 of a typical 3 act story: Things get worse before they get better. It’s tough to write characters I like struggling with stuff, so I am struggling writing it. I don’t know if it will be linear like parts 1 and 2, or whether there will be multiple versions based on choices like part 3.  Depends on what works best.

Even if you don’t like the writing, I think I did some great pictures here. The pictures are actually bigger than they display on the web page, parts 2 and 3 are 1960×1080. Just right click and view picture to see the full sized images.

Date Ariane The Game: One Year Later

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This weekend marks the first anniversary of the release of the Renpy version of Date Ariane: The Game.

Since its release, it has been downloaded 2.7 million times, which is pretty darn good for an independently produced game. There may be some overlap as multiple versions were released, and people were updating, but in the same time frame I have had over 2 million unique visitors to the web site.

Some numbers: 55% were windows downloads, 38% were android downloads, 6% were Apple Mac, and 1% were Linux.

61% of the downloads were in English, 28% were in Portuguese, 8% in German, 3% in French, and 0.6% in Spanish.

Pretty impressive considering the foreign language versions have only been around since late March. The game has gone viral in Brazil, with 750,000 downloads from there in the last 4 months.

Date Ariane has a gaming channel on You Tube with over 100 videos listed. (almost all the most recent are in Portuguese). A general gaming search produces 473 videos currently.

I’m currently in the process of uploading new versions of the games that include over 100 new renders like the one above. Notice how the window reflects the interior now, which happens when it is dark outside. All the new renders are in the living room and the drive-in diner.

English version build 112 has a number of fixes and tweaks to game play covered in detail here.

I can’t change the international versions much without killing the translation mechanism, so the minor tweaks I made to the English version are not in the International versions. However, the improved pictures are there, and also a new TITLE SCREEN! Once released the French, German, and Portuguese versions will no longer say they are in beta.  More build notes and bug fixes here. All versions should be updated by the end of the month.

Something’s In The Air has now passed 500,000 downloads. There seems to be a lot of call for a Portuguese version, but it would need 6 to 10 translators to do it right. I could release a machine translation that I know everyone would hate.

Got some ambitious plans for the future, including a 6 episode season of stories involving Ariane and Rachel where this is the first episode. I’m also thinking about new games involving SITA girls Paula, Wendy, and Janice. (You are probably trying to remember who Janice was, aren’t you?)

I’m also considering an HD versions of Date Ariane and SITA that I could make available for sale on Steam or something, that would be made from high resolution PNG files like this one or this one.

I think I got my work cut out for me.

Date Ariane in 4 Other Languages

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One of my projects for the year was to arrange translations of Date Ariane in at least 4 other languages: French, German, Portuguese and Spanish, and I am happy to say all 4 should be available by the end of the month.

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Spanish is widely spoken throughout the America’s and I kind of sort of speak it. Once upon a time I was actually fluent.  The problem was that there really hasn’t been a demand for a Spanish translation, so not a lot of volunteers to help translate it. But I needed to do one translation to figure out what I was doing, so I basically “Machine” translated the game with Google Translate.

If you ever tried to translate anything in Google Translate, you know how inaccurate it is. I used my limited Spanish skills to fix as much as possible, but still the results are according to one native Spanish speaker who tried it, “A little creepy”.

I’m hoping soon that the game will go viral in a native Spanish country, so I can get some volunteers to correct the translation, until then, you’re stuck with “a little creepy”.

If anyone wants to take a stab at fixing the translation you can go here.

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Seduire Ariane Français

Date Ariane has caught on in both France and Quebec so much so that there are guides written in french for “Seduire Ariane”, which I know literally means seduce Ariane, but I’ll roll with the common translation.  Part of the popularity is due to http://sharks-lagoon.fr/ an French/English website dedicated to games like mine.  I posted a notice for translation help and got quite a few volunteers.

The French version is 100% human translated, and even I a non-french speaker can tell the difference.  The funny thing is that just a week before the French version was ready for a beta release, the game went viral in France thanks to a popular vlogger name Squeezie who posted a video on March 7th that got over a million views:

The result was that my site crashed, first time that happened since I removed the online version.  Anyways, I have been posting links to the french beta around french websites that link to my english game.

I’d like to thank Mathieu Martineau, who got the ball rolling, Pseudo555 (one of the guys from Shark’s Lagoon) who did the bulk of the translation work, and OL, who came in near the end and did a ton of grammar and spelling corrections, including the download page. Other helpers: Dipsode, maniusz, Ramses212, Thedevilsadvocate, and Ticamus.

The Spanish version has gotten around 1,000 downloads in the month it has been available, the French version has gotten 6,000 downloads in the week it has been available.

Odd version trivia: Only version with a translated title.

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Date Ariane Deutsch

Just released.  Since the beginning of 2016, Germany is the #1 source of visitors to ArianeB.com, and I have reason to believe it may be due to another vlogger name Pandorya, who posted a series of “Let’s Play” videos in German. This was the first of what looks to be 9 videos:

Anyways the German line translation was 97% complete when I realized I need to do the scripting and testing ASAP.  I’m getting it down to a science and I finished it over the weekend, just as the final items in the German translation were being done.

Thanks to Thomas Kiehl who has done 70% of the work, Bardo did another big chunk, and Daff, Airjoe, ebenezum, Nico, Kurai, Terrorbait, Crowd, and crayon all pitched in.

I should warn you that Thomas has a wicked sense of humor:
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Kind of wish I knew German, who knows how many odd jokes are in his German translation.

Odd version trivia: The board game Pachisi has been renamed “Mensch ärgere dich nicht” or “Dude, don’t get angry”, which is a version of pachisi popular in Germany going back to World War 1.

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Date Ariane Português

This is now released. Unfortunately, it is only 93% human translated for now. There is one page left on the Portuguese translation page that was machine translated and needs to be corrected. There will be updates once it is done.

Update 3/25: The now 100% human translated Portuguese version is now available to download!

brazil1Date Ariane has a huge fan base in Brazil. Two years ago while I was making the graphic updated version, a link to my page on a Brazilian based “hot links” tracker spent most of the year in the top 40.  Also my Facebook page has so many Brazilian visitors, that Facebook apparently thinks I’m based in Brazil.

So yes, I wanted a version of the game that Brazilians can enjoy. My two primary translators are Henrique Riffel who speaks Portugal Portuguese did most of the pre-dinner and dinner texts, while Danilo Bini who speaks Brazilian Portuguese did most of the post dinner scenes. Hopefully the sudden change in accent isn’t too jarring to native speakers.

Odd version trivia: This version substitutes “Country” music with “Samba”. There is such a thing as country music in Brazil called Sertanejo, but it is slow melodic music that is difficult to “fast dance” to.

Update 5/12: Date Ariane has gone viral again in Brazil thanks to yet another popular video blogger. I find it charming that there are crazy video bloggers in every country and language.

Other languages?

I have had inquiries about the possibility of other languages. The lesson I learned from the Spanish version is that there needs to be a decent amount of interest in a language to make it worth while, so if you can organize a group of translators and I can see interest via web traffic, I may entertain other languages in the future.

As for “Something’s In The Air”, its popularity is significantly lower than Date Ariane and it has nearly 4 times as much dialogue, so for both of those reasons it will remain English only.

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Since its release in July of last year, the renpy version of Date Ariane has been downloaded over 1 million times! That’s a huge milestone for an independent game!

New Projects For 2016

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New Years is the time to make promises for the new year, which may or may not happen. So here are two projects I am already starting to work on that hopefully will get done sometime this year.

Date Ariane International

I have had a few requests from volunteers to translate Date Ariane into other languages.  Renpy has already translated the game interface into the following languages: Arabic, French, German, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Portuguese, Russian, Spanish, and both simplified and traditional Chinese.  Basically, I am looking for some bi-lingual volunteers to translate Date Ariane into as many of these languages as possible, especially French, German, Spanish, and Portuguese as my games biggest fan bases are in countries that speak those languages.  Japanese would be interesting, too as this kind of “Bishojo” game is already popular there.  I can’t pay anyone, but you’ll get your name in the credits of all future versions.

For my part of this project, I am creating a branch version of the game with less randomized text and less slang to make the game easier to translate, and putting together two “fill in the blank” files with English lines and blank foreign language lines, that when completed will result in a translated game.  I am trying to work out a way to provide these translation files online so anyone who wants to help can do so, either via Google Docs or set up a Wiki.  I may resort to machine translation on some versions if I can’t get enough volunteers.

I also have not decided if I will release each language version individually or one big international version where you can select your language in the settings menu.

To show you how big the project this file contains around 70% of the text in the game, not including text stored in variables and lists.

Rachel Meets Ariane: The Game

As a second project, I want to make a game out of the Rachel Meets Ariane story I wrote back in October.  I’ve been inspired by the game Life is Strange to do a 3rd party perspective visual novel, or more accurately a visual short story. Unlike Date Ariane and Something’s In The Air,  the player will not play a role in the game but may make decisions for the characters that change the outcomes.

The Halloween meeting will serve as an introduction and the bulk of the game will cover their “second date” set in November as Rachel visits Ariane’s house. It will be a lot shorter than any game I have done; maybe 50 to 60 pictures total and maybe around 4 endings.

This is sort of an experiment. I want to see how well a short game with a 3rd party perspective can work and how difficult it is. If it proves both fun to make and fun to play, there may be more of them.  I got an idea for a Heidi and Wendy story if it works out.

Date Ariane Wiki

In hopes of having a place to post files that groups can edit, I decided to start a Date Ariane Wiki. Due to the large number of questions, the first thing I did is post a list of the Date Ariane achievements and how to get them.  The address is http://virtualunderworld.net/datearianewiki/pmwiki.php Currently, public editing is disabled but that may change in the future.

Unplanned Obsolescence and “Lost” Art

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The above picture is the oldest picture from the oldest version of Date Ariane. The modified date is listed as August 6, 2004.

As I was finishing the Renpy version of Date Ariane, I decided to dive into my archives and attempt to play the oldest version I could find.

It wouldn’t run on any browser, not the way it is supposed to anyways. The game was written for Internet Explorer 4 using some HTML coding that only worked on IE4. Over the years I updated the code to run on as many browsers as I could, but the first version is now completely obsolete.

It gets worse: Date Ariane was written using Microsoft FrontPage which basically has ceased to exist. This week I upgraded to Windows 10, and FrontPage loads on Windows 10 but it is unstable. I have been forced to switch to KompoZer, a nice open source HTML editor, but I can’t mass edit a thousand web pages at a time which makes further upgrades to Date Ariane Online version way more difficult. Besides that browser security issue is already a reason to throw in the towel and stick with Renpy version from now on.

But it is a little sad that a piece of my history, a “work of art” I created, is likely lost to the future.

I’m not the only one facing unplanned obsolescence

Obsolescence is becoming an issue on the web now.  Recently security flaws were found in Flash Player, one of the most used programs on the web. You Tube, once the biggest supporter of Flash has now basically stopped using it. Worse yet, Mozilla turned off Flash by default until Adobe released a secure version, which they have now done, but who knows how long it will last.

So now as the world scrambles to move to HTML5 or some other substitute to flash, what happens to the millions of flash based videos, and online games which someday soon may no longer run?

Preservation efforts for the internet?

We humans like to preserve the past.  There are whole industries devoted to film preservation thanks to the unstable nitrate most of the old films were originally filmed in. More than half of the movies made before 1950 no longer exist.

This is why film gurus get excited about discovering a lost reel to a classic movie thought lost.

Similarly we are slowly losing our musical heritage as most master tapes before 1990 or so are on a medium which also degrades over time. Most all of it has been digitized, but many music gurus will tell you music is better in the original analog, and the original analog sources are decaying.

We see it also in video games. Many of my old games will no longer run on my computer, and the ones that do run in a tiny 800 x 600 window, since that is how they were designed. Some classic games like Age of Empires II or Leisure Suit Larry, have gotten the HD treatment, but hundreds never will.

Will much of the internet content suffer the same fate?

Yes, I know about things like The Wayback Machine which archives lost text and picture content, but what will preserve online games?

The “medium” problem

When the medium by which we distribute content changes, it becomes necessary to find ways to bring old content to the new medium. Entire libraries are being digitized, although paper books have largely proven to be a resilient medium, sometimes finding that rare volume is a lot easier online.

Except that “mediums” themselves are radically changing every few years it seems, so we are constantly having to convert, especially as popularity wanes in the old medium.  Sometimes we lose some things in the conversion, even as recent as Buffy the Vampire Slayer and The Simpsons.

Communication mediums eventually get replaced, by better mediums that we all convert to.  But in so doing we lose some of the “art” of the old medium.

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For example: “Twitter”

Here is one I bet you didn’t see coming: Apparently Twitter is dying.  Yes, one of the most popular web sites on the planet is seeing a sharp decline in active users.

My solution to fixing it is pretty revolutionary: Drop the 140 character limit.  We can thank twitter for the abundance of short link generators. Those links leave Twitter and go to other web sites that allow long essays. Why can’t Twitter users write long essays on Twitter itself and have it show up as a title with a “read more” button, instead of a link to another site?

Yes, I know the 140 character limit was what made the site famous, but the novelty has worn off, and prevents people like me who can’t write in 140 characters to not even bother using the site.

If twitter dies then so does the hashtag. (Yes I am aware that other sites support hashtagging, but they also support other types of tagging, which are more useful except they can’t be printed on a t-shirt)

That’s a whole chunk of internet culture lost if it happens.