Elsaverse Games Now Available in Renpy

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I mentioned a couple of times that I converted the four main Tlaero and Mortze “Elsaverse” games to Renpy, but could not release them because they were not mine to release.  Well I sent the source codes to Tlaero and Mortze personally, and they have released all four of my versions for free download.  Link to thread is here.

Why Renpy? Because if you make a mistake, you can easily go back and try again.  You have about 60 save game slots, you see all the links on the page, and you don’t have to worry about download lag to continue the story.  All the animations work and are much smoother than waiting for all the images to download.

These games are in 1280×960 resolution.  Because they were designed for HTML, they are not widescreen, and the need to lower bandwidth means the images are not high res.  Like the HTML games, the text appears above the image, and the choices below, but unlike the HTML games, sometimes the text bleeds into the image.

To fix this, I sometimes split text into two different pages, so if you don’t see any links below the image, just click on the image to continue.

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Dreaming With Elsa was the first of these games.  The original game allowed you to play as a White Hat good guy or a Black Hat dirty minded sex hound. If you successfully played your role you get different versions of scenes. I changed it where you can up front decide to play “Black” or “White” and watch your score reflect it.

The scoring system is a little different and more forgiving. You can get bonus points for achievements which make up for missed choices.

There is also a “Gray” mode that unlocks a Chloe scene. I didn’t implement this the same way. Taking advantage of the multiple opportunities to ogle Chloe will unlock it instead.

In “Preferences” you can also turn on “Story Mode” which is basically a cheat mode and gives you the selected version of the story no matter what your choices are.

There is a bonus scene if you hit all the achievements, but there is no achievement page on this one.  Playing both black and white should unlock the bonus.

It also includes “Learning to Fly” and “Dreaming of the Dead”, two fun short stories that came after the main game.

Download PC version
Download Mac version

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Redemption for Jessika is a little more straightforward than DwE. The hard part was some of the interactive sex scenes which I had to fudge a little, so they are not as interactive but it works OK.  HTML games can have links embedded in the images. Renpy can theoretically do that, but it is difficult, and I wasn’t interested in perfect conversions, just playable versions.

Bottom line (and this is true of all four of these games) is that any embedded links in the image will either appear below the image as a link, or if it is a single “continue” link, it will not appear as a link, and you can simply click the image to advance the story.

This one has 9 achievements which are easier to get since the hidden links aren’t hidden. There is a bonus scene available on the achievements page once you do them all.

Download PC version
Download Mac version

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Finding Miranda I managed to convert nearly flawlessly except the scene where you go thorough your apartment looking for date ideas.  I had to convert it to a menu.  This might be my favorite game graphically as Mortze used the iRay renderer which wasn’t available while making the first two games.

The only downside is that instead of two versions of the story there are four, but doing all four, along with the other 5 achievements, unlocks an important bonus scene.

There is also a short story “Royal Guard: A Xara Origin Story”

Download PC version
Download Mac version

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My conversion of Saving Chloe is damn near perfect.  There are some built in HTML mini games in the original that I managed to simulate flawlessly in my Renpy version.  After getting all 9 endings, go to the ending gallery to see the biggest bonus in the series.  There is no “Story” mode on this one because it is not needed.  It’s all about the endings that you can get to following my map.

This is the finale of the series, though there is one more game Darkness Falls which serves as an epilogue and fills in some of the blanks as well as a few text only short stories that fill in more gaps.  (Yes I have an incomplete conversion of Darkness Falls, but I got busy with Ariane in Paradise and haven’t finished it yet.)

Download PC version
Download Mac version

Dark Mode

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Felt like my website needed a change, so I thought I’d join the trend of implementing a “Dark Mode”, or more accurately a dark palate.  My “Plane” theme I have been using does not have such a mode, so I changed to a “Hemingway Rewritten” theme.  It’s a nice theme except that it displays the website title in a big black box over the header image, covering most of the header.

I decided the title really isn’t needed. I prefer the random header images as the prominent thing on the front page.

I’m not sure if dark mode is really superior to light mode.  I’ve read that lighter pages are generally easier to read, and that is why I have never tried it, but I’m just enjoying the novelty.

I also set my Firefox browser to dark mode (click on the menu button, then customize, then themes at the bottom, and select dark), and put some of my favorite sites like Reddit (click on your name and toggle night mode) into dark mode.  For websites like Facebook that do not have a dark theme yet, I use a browser add-on called “Dark Reader” that turns dark mode on for every website if you want.

Tell me what you think.

Ariane in Paradise 1.0 on Patreon

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If you sign up for my Patreon at $5 “Dater” level, you can download the official no longer in beta Ariane in Paradise.

https://www.patreon.com/dateariane

Over the last week or two I have meticulously went over the game fixing all the grammar, spelling, graphic glitches, and even one major bug, so that it works well enough to call it “official”.  I even added a new final scene to celebrate.

Walkthroughs are also posted on Patreon.

This version will be posted as a free release in January 2020 here on this page.

Could a Female Player Character work in DA and SITA?

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

Ariane in Paradise Progress Report: Early 2020

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There has been some chaos in real life that is causing me to struggle to finish Ariane in Paradise, but hopefully I’m on track to finish on schedule.  Part 3 of 5 has been released to Patreons.  I’m hoping to get part 4 up in September, part 5 in October, and a full beta in November, with the full game available to everyone in late January or February 2020.

Response from Patreons who have played the first 3 parts have generally been positive, and I’m anxious to let everyone see it.  It’s getting big, too, and likely to come in at around 400mb when its done.

Right now I am writing and illustrating “Day 3” and as you can tell from the picture above, I’ve gone a little crazy.  Day 3 is the main ending. I’m just trying to avoid the dreaded “Disappointing Final Level”

I don’t want to spoil anything, so I’ll keep it vague.  Ariane in Paradise is modeled after Date Ariane, and basically has two endings.  Date Ariane’s two endings was either kiss Ariane goodnight, or kiss Ariane good morning after spending the night.  It’s basically like that — then you can start over again and play more paths.

Day 1 heads in 3 different directions. Day 2 starts in 3 directions, and ends in 5, with 8 possible variations.  Day 3 has 3 different paths, but only 2 are available based on what you did the first two days, and all these paths have different versions depending on past choices.  That basically adds up to (3 x 8 x 2) 48 major paths, but there are many variants based on your choice of character traits (business vs vacation, rich vs, middle class, outdoorsman vs. science geek).  Basically there are hundreds of ways this could go, though they end with one of two endings.

Adding Discord Rich Presence to Renpy Games

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I searched the web looking for a tutorial like this, and with a little help from Animadoria, the moderator of Date Ariane Reddit, I finally figured it out.

First thing you need is a Renpy game you are working on that you want to add Discord Rich Presence to.

Second you need to sign up your game on Discord.  First go here: https://discordapp.com/developers/applications/ and click on “New Application” and fill the info about your game.  You might want to add a 1024×1024 image to represent your game.  What you should get in return is an 18 digit “Client ID” which you will use a lot here.

(Note: You do not need to have your game reviewed by Discord, nor do you need to sign up for the developers license to do this)

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For this tutorial, I’m going to register “The Question” which is a free tutorial game that comes with Renpy. The client ID is 601663968288833536

While you are here, click on “Rich Presence” then “Art Assets” and upload some 512×512 images of the game. These should be safe for work and not contain sex or nudity as these will display publicly on Discord servers and you don’t want to get banned from Discord.

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Loading the Code

Step 3, if you have Windows.

  1. Install the latest version of Python from https://www.python.org/
  2. While installing, make sure you check the box “Add to PATH”, it may prompt you to use administration mode to make path longer if it is already too long. (this is left over from DOS which is next.)
  3. Click on Cortana, or your start menu search bar if you are not on Windows 10 yet, and type “cmd” without quotes.  Welcome to DOS.
  4. Open up a folder file and go to the directory where your game is stored, click on the white space after your name and copy the text (ctrl-c) of your directory name, like mine is C:\Users\(my name)\Documents\renpy\the_question
  5. On the command prompt window type “cd” without quotes, then a space, then ctrl-v your directory name, then press enter.

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If you have MacOS:

  1. Open your Terminal (/Applications/Utilities/Terminal.app)
  2. Go to the directory using cd [path to base folder of the game]. In my case, it’s /Users/[My account]/Documents/Renpy/the_question

Now to load the discord code we need to type two lines at the prompt and press enter after each. I made it so you can copy and paste if you want.

python -m pip install --target game/python-packages discord-rpc.py
python -m pip install --target game/python-packages requests

Your game directory should now have a new folder in it called python-packages and it should contain 13 sub folders including two starting with discord_rpc and two starting with requests.

Now to get your code to work in your game.  You will need to edit your script.rpy file.

We are going to start with the initialization code which should be put at the very top of the script.rpy file.

init -20 python:
    import discord_rpc
    import time

    def readyCallback(current_user):
        print('Our user: {}'.format(current_user))

    def disconnectedCallback(codeno, codemsg):
        print('Disconnected from Discord rich presence RPC. Code {}: {}'.format(
            codeno, codemsg
        ))

    def errorCallback(errno, errmsg):
        print('An error occurred! Error {}: {}'.format(
            errno, errmsg
        ))

label before_main_menu:
    python:
        # Note: 'event_name': callback
        callbacks = {
            'ready': readyCallback,
            'disconnected': disconnectedCallback,
            'error': errorCallback,
        }
        discord_rpc.initialize('601663968288833536', callbacks=callbacks, log=False)
        start = time.time()
        print(start)
        discord_rpc.update_connection()
        discord_rpc.run_callbacks()
        discord_rpc.update_presence(
            **{
                'details': 'Main Menu',
                'start_timestamp': start,
                'large_image_key': 'thequestion'
            }
        )
        discord_rpc.update_connection()
        discord_rpc.run_callbacks()

    return

You will need to change the red text to fit your own game.

If you already have a “label before_main_menu:” section of your game, put the python block at the beginning, and whatever else in the section below it before the return command.

Now we need to initialize the RPC when you start the game. This is done at the “label start:” part of script.rpy

# The game starts here.
label start:
    python:
        callbacks = {
            'ready': readyCallback,
            'disconnected': disconnectedCallback,
            'error': errorCallback,
        }
        discord_rpc.initialize('601663968288833536', callbacks=callbacks, log=False)
        start = time.time()
        discord_rpc.update_connection()
        discord_rpc.run_callbacks()
        discord_rpc.update_presence(
            **{
                'details': 'At College',
                'state': 'Lecture Hall',
                'large_image_key': 'thequestion',
                'start_timestamp': start
            }
        )

        discord_rpc.update_connection()
        discord_rpc.run_callbacks()
    #the real start of the game

Again, change the red code to fit your game.

Next we want to add state changes as new paths branch off.  This code is a subset of the above code.

label rightaway:
    python:
        start = time.time()
        discord_rpc.update_connection()
        discord_rpc.run_callbacks()
        discord_rpc.update_presence(
            **{
                'details': 'You Chose',
                'state': 'Right Away',
                'large_image_key': 'thequestion',
                'start_timestamp': start
            }
        )

        discord_rpc.update_connection()
        discord_rpc.run_callbacks()

Now go ahead and launch your game with discord running and watch your status.

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As a bonus, I uploaded a discord friendly version of Date Ariane HD for Windows with these Discord tags.  Test it out. If it works, I’ll add it to the main game.

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.