Posts Tagged ‘datesim2’

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This week Something’s In The Air reached 100,000 downloads, and I thought I would celebrate the fact with another Director’s Commentary on the making and playing of the game. This post will contain spoilers as well as solutions to puzzles and assumes that you have already played the game.  If you have not read the previous commentaries, here is part 1, part 2, and part 3.

Story 4 is hidden when you first play the game, that is on purpose as it represents a solution to the question I assume players are asking: How come every story 1 and story 3 ending involves getting caught in a rain storm or blackout, and every story 2 ending does not, even though all 4 stories are set on the exact same day?

To unlock story 4, you have to find 4 out of 6 clues mentioned in the Gallery:
Clue 1: Clear Skies – Ariane notices a sudden storm appears, when skies were clear just minutes ago.
This can be unlocked by any story 1 ending where Ariane notices a storm, including “Ariane and Rebecca”, “Blackout Fun”, and “Safety Pullout”.

Clue 2: The Failed Prophecy – The Fortune Teller said that if Rachel had chosen different, it would end in disaster,
and yet choosing the nightclub did not cause a disaster, Did Rachel have another choice?
Unlocking this clue involves going to the fortune teller at the Amusement Park as well as failing to get Rachel to go to dinner with you (her other choice was the LAN party).

Clue 3: The Successful Prophecy – Bonnie predicted disaster at the strip club, but evidence suggests it only happens when she is around.
Doing the Bonnie story is where Bonnie “psychically” predicts disaster which then happens when the electricity cuts out in the middle of the strip act.  Going to the Sci-Fi Fantasy convention, getting Rachel to LARP, and ending up at the strip club where the same strip act is going on but does not cut the power will fully unlock this clue.

Clue 4: Lightning Never Strikes Twice – When Veronica takes you to the sci-fi fantasy convention, she gets struck by lightning. When Rachel takes you, she has a nice swim.
The Veronica part is in reference to “A New Paint Job” ending, the Rachel part is in reference to the “Skinny Dipping At Night” ending.

Clue 5: House Parties – Ariane’s visit to the house party gets rained out, Rachel’s visit to the same party turns into an orgy.
Finish “House Party With Ariane” and “House Party With Rachel” to unlock this clue.

Clue 6: Ameca Meca – The concert gets interrupted by a power outage… sometimes
Reaching any version of the “Tequila Shots” ending and either “The Photoshoot” or “Concert and After Party” unlocks this.

The next update of the game, I plan to reduce the number to 3 out of 6. Originally I required 5, but reduced it to 4 as clue 2 and 3 may not be reachable even if you finish the first 24 endings. If you have the story unlocked, you will see a 4th choice at the alarm clock:

Hang out at home and play some online games

Story 4, like story 3, starts in a fake MMORPG called Elemental Realms.  In story 3, the player says he missed a meeting with his guild because he slept in too late.  Not going back to sleep has the consequence of making that meeting.

The opening title sequence  is the first of many pop cultural references in this story, the 3D all capital lettering is the first of many references to the show Fringe which is one of my favorites.

We start in the middle of the mission, you are playing the same Ranger Dude character you played in story 2 and 3, but three other scantily clad characters are following behind you (see picture above.)  This is a bit of satire on the typically very revealing and completely impractical armor found in most MMORPGs these days.  (my favorite MMORPG Guild Wars 2 is just as guilty, though there are much more realistic armor choices for females as well.)

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I happen to have a raptor dinosaur model in Poser that I decided to use as one of the enemies, in the picture above you can see it just behind the characters head in between the leaves.  If I am going to have raptors, I may as well copy the scene from Jurassic Park where the raptor jumps out from the side.  Notes: 1.) Guild Wars 1 and 2 both include raptors, so yes they can be found in games like this, 2.) I am fully aware that paleontologists now believe velociraptors had feathers.

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This leads to the first puzzle of the story, a hidden picture puzzle.  One thing about hidden picture puzzles, there is no way to judge how difficult they are going to be for players, because when you make the puzzle you know all the answers.  In beta, the 8 raptors in the picture were annoyingly difficult to find.  Luckily there is a “save game” feature you can use once you are done randomly clicking everywhere.  The official version picture is above, which a few still consider to be difficult.  What I did is removed a lot of the brush making most of the raptors much easier to find.  At least 3 are blatantly obvious, and 4 others are no longer difficult.  The one on the far right still seems to stump a few people.

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Next up is the strategy puzzle.  The “wraiths” are the default figures in Poser 9/Pro 2012 which is what I made the game in. This creepy figure shows up every time I launch Poser without opening a file,  so I figured it was creepy enough to make a villain.

Anyone who has never played an MMORPG will probably have no idea what this puzzle is all about.  Basically there are two choices with 6 possible combinations.  I believe 3 of those six will lead to good results, so you got a 50/50 shot.  Never give the energy orb to Princess Valena (even though she is the obvious choice), and always run with Cassandra.

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The very best choice is give the orb to Thum and run with Cassandra, you will be given three additional choices, all winning, including one which involves everyone getting naked.  This is inspired by a puzzle in Dragon Age: Origins where getting naked was the only way past a wall of cleansing fire (or stripping to your underwear, at least).

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Next up is the Rock Golem puzzle.  I decided to simulate a simple boss fight.  You as the ranger have three arrows, winning involves picking which arrow to use when, something I have done a thousand times playing Guild Wars as a ranger. Fastest winning strategy is: damage, damage, interrupt, damage, damage, damage.  You win in 6 moves.

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After the game is over and you win the battle, the plot moves on to real life where you get a mysterious phone call from a robot voice who seems to know everything about you.  We find out later that this is Paula, who played Cassandra in the quest you just finished.

I was part of a gaming forum for many years, during those years I developed a bunch of online friendships with people I’ve never met who I often play online with.  It is surprising how much you learn about people based on their posts.  So I have quite a few online friends who I have never met in person, and I actually know them really well.

That is what inspired me to add the Paula plot, of meeting someone you have never met in person, but have known online for years.

After the Fringe inspired teal salamander commercial break, we get our next puzzle, a mini adventure type “token” puzzle where you have to get the right inventory to the right people.  One note: it is impossible to get completely stuck because 5 of the 8 locations will trade tokens to the point you can get any color you need.  If you think of it like a maze the green path is the exit.  The dress shop is the only one that gives green tokens, the night club takes only green and gives only green, and the salon only takes green as well.

Here’s my simple solution that I came up with while making the game in the first place:

  1. Take your white token, Go to the hotel, put token in vending machine, you now have blue.
  2. Go to the lingerie store, give your blue token for a yellow.
  3. Skip the nightclub and go to the museum, exchange yellow for white.
  4. Go to the restaurant, exchange white for blue.
  5. Skip the salon and go to the home place, give blue, get red.
  6. At the dress shop, turn in your red, get a green.
  7. At the night club, give a green, get a green.
  8. Finish off at the Salon, and see Ariane getting her hair cut, they will take the green, does not matter what you take as the puzzle is complete.

Every character you meet downtown except the Home Store sales guy shows up elsewhere, the museum guide shows up later at the sci-fi convention.  Rebecca, Lizard, and Steven even show up in Date Ariane.  The Home Store only shows up again in “classic” Date Ariane.

The puzzle is two overlapping QR codes. One of which says exactly what Paula says it says (did she “hack” the game somehow?), the cyan part looks like this, and leads to this website.

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Finally we get to the LAN party, where characters that look suspiciously like Codex, Vork, Zaboo, and Clara are already to play.  There are no puzzles to solve here, just a group of friends having fun.  The game ends on a key scene:

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Rachel asks Paula for access to the lab. Had she not done that, Paula would have never known the time was right for her weather control experiment.  This is the key moment which determines whether or not there is a storm that night.

It is also the point that makes Something’s In The Air pass the Bechdel Test.

There are multiple versions of the scene where you go to Paula’s office.  Depending on choices you make she will reveal different bits of information.  If you want to complete Paula’s Gallery notebook, you will have to run this scene a few times.  The “fat guy named Chuck” line comes from the book Ready Player One.

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Finally we reach the big finale: The Weather control experiment.  While the first three stories were basically romantic stories, this last story leaves the romance behind for sci-fi.  The scene opens with the glimpse of an “Observer” from Fringe just to emphasize the point.  (According to Fringe lore, Observers are highly advanced cybernetically enhanced humans from the future who time travel to observe significant moments in history)

How does it work?

I once gave an explanation on how a 5 dimensional graph would work to a math class, using clouds in the sky as an example, this is that same lecture in reverse, which is probably not very accurate from a climatologist perspective.  It also shows how advanced this lab is by showing off a “holo-table”.  I think I am the first person to write a romantic story that ends with a math lecture followed by a word problem.

The word problem is the last puzzle, and the answer is random, so even I do no know what the answer is.  This helped because I have to solve this problem myself every time and I made sure it does not take me forever to do it.

It is basically a four dimensional linear algebra problem disguised not to be.  Each line is a number line where the middle of green is 0 and the left edge of green is -1 and the right is +1.  Temperature, humidity and pressure vary from -10 to +10, Ionization is -15 to +5.  The devices range from 0 (red) to 3.

My general strategy is to focus on Ionization first and play with device 3 and 4 to get Ionization in the green.  Then focus on Temperature, playing with device 1 (which raises temp) and device 2 (which lowers temp) to get Temperature green.  You can then fine tune the controls until Humidity and Pressure are also green.  It usually only takes a few tries to get it this way.

The “Tower of Ion” represents both a place in the game world as well as the high rise building.  Professor Paula Brannigan is an Air Mage (battles with lightning) in both the game world and for real.

The scene ends with a classic “blackout gag” that undermines the whole story.

Then the credits roll.  Even though I wrote, directed, and rendered the story myself, there are a ton of 2D and 3D artists, music writers, sound effects recorders, prop builders and set builders who licensed their work for commercial use so I could make this game.  They did a good 90% of the work, I just assembled it and built on top of it.

Thanks to all those artists.  Thanks to the 100,000 players, and thanks to all those that contributed.

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Something’s In The Air is one year old this week, at least the open beta is. Combined Beta and 1.0 downloads has reached 93,000.  I recently did a new play through using my tablet PC, and only found two minor bugs.

I plan to do a 1.1 version once the Date Ariane update is done, at the very least just to update the Date Ariane pictures that appear in SITA. I also want to include a way to enter text in game, so that it can be played on a tablet, then release the long promised android version.

In the mean time, the girls of SITA are trying a little Doctor Who cosplay: Rachel Spahr as Rose Tyler, Ariane Barnes as Clara Oswald, and Paula Brannigan as Amy Pond.

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After over two years of work, Something’s In The Air is finally done (for now), with version 1.0 now released. You can download it here for Windows, Mac, or Linux.

Two years seems like a long time for a fairly short game, but this was a very part time hobby, and I would not have bothered to make it if I wasn’t having a lot of fun making it.  This game is mostly for me.  If others enjoy it, well that’s cool.  If others hate it, well I don’t care, because I like it.

So the beta version has been out for almost 3 months and has been downloaded over 47,000 times, so most of you are already familiar with the game.

So what has changed from beta?

First of all the number of endings have been reduced from 40 to 25, but only 1 ending has actually been eliminated. That was the fake cliffhanger trailer “Do You Know Any Gymnasts?” ending which I decided not to finish, so I dropped it, and removed its content.  In its place I added 5 new “epilogues” which I will discuss later.

I also dropped 7 “bad” endings like “Game Over” or “Bus Ride Home”.  I didn’t actually drop them, they are still there, they just no longer count as endings.  Lots of beta players complained that when stuck on 39 of 40 endings, it turns out they were missing some stupid bad ending.  So now you don’t need to worry about that. I also merged 8 “redundant” endings with other endings. For example the 4 “Amusement Park” endings are now just one ending, since they were basically just different versions of the same ending.  Ditto the two Bonnie endings, and the two photo shoot endings, etc.  That’s a total of 16 endings dropped, and 40 – 16 = 24.

The 25th ending is a new Ariane story which you will have to find on your own.  If Whiskey made Ariane act a little crazy in Date Ariane, wait until you see what Tequila does in SITA.

In place of trying to reach all the endings, there is now a new “completionist” task of filling out a “Player’s Notebook”.  As you play the various stories, you collect info on 12 different major and minor characters. It is possible to finish the 25 endings and still have lots of blank spaces in the notebook to find.  Instead of collecting endings, you collect info.

A couple of rule changes: First, the 4th story is not available until you unlock at least 5 of 6 “clues” which help you discover the over all plot of “Something’s In The Air”.  You can find out how you are doing with unlocking these clues in the Gallery section.

Second, after you completed the 25 endings, and view the complete list of endings in the gallery, you are given a choice of only one of five characters to pursue a further relationship with: Ariane, Rachel, Bonnie, Wendy, or Paula.  Whichever you choose, you will jump into a short epilogue featuring that character, and what happens next.

Why do you only get to choose one?  Because Something’s In The Air is sort of an Americanized version of Japanese dating sims, and most Japanese dating sims make you choose one girl to go steady with at the end, I decided to make my own version of this type of ending.

In real Japanese dating sims, once you made your choice, the only way to make another choice (and see other endings) is to start the whole game over again.  I made it easier:  Once you made your choice, you can go through the ending list again, and see the other 4 endings.  Your choice of character is noted in the notebook, otherwise it does not matter what you pick.

What else is new?  Besides the new story and epilogues, I improved some of the graphics, corrected dialogue mistakes, and added sound effects during the sex scenes.  This was a widely requested addition, so I figured, “Why not?”  If you do not like them, there is a file in the game directory called “customization_notes.html” that tells you how to remove them, or make your own.

Also in the game directory, you will find all the pictures and renpy files for the game.  Note that just because I made these files easy to view and edit does not mean you can make and release your own version of the game. It does mean you can customize your own copy of the game however you want.  I love modding games. so I made SITA easy to mod.  What you wont find are the audio files.  They are locked up in an archive for license and copyright reasons.

For you Renpy geeks, beta used version 6.14.1, final uses 6.15.7.  People that could not run the beta might have better luck with the upgraded Renpy.

Hope you enjoy the final version. Note that due to new variable names old saved beta games will not work in the 1.0 version, but 1.0 uses a different save directory, so you should not run into any conflicts there.

If you find any bugs or mistakes, post them in the comments.  If I get enough bug reports, or a serious bug is found, I’ll release a version 1.1 to address them, but my game plan is to mark SITA as “done” and start working on the next project.   (Anyone interested in a “Girl’s of SITA” calendar?)

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After just shy of a month of my open beta test, with 30,000 downloads, I have learned a few things. Thought I’d post some thoughts, as well as give people an opportunity to point out other stuff I might have missed.

First the good news, it seems Something’s In The Air is a critical success. Everyone seems to like it the way it is, and thanks for that.  Most of the bugs are in the form of spelling and grammar errors, which are likely to always be a problem.  For me this is good news because I do not have to post any patches, and it is good news for you players, because you do not have to download the latest version.  I am planning an official version 1.0 release, but I can take my time on it.

The bad news, or more accurately less good news, is my surprise at how players played the game. The addition of “endings” was practically a last minute suggestion from the Lemma Soft Forums that only took a couple of hours to implement.  The primary focus of pretty much all players is in reaching the magic 40 endings, instead of what I would hope would be the focus: the over arching story.  There are also a lot of details people miss while rushing to reach the 40 endings.

These observations have led to four changes that will come out in version 1.0:  1.) In order to help people find the 40 endings, I am adding a single page map indicating which endings have been reached, and visual hints to where to find the missing endings. You can see an example of this map in the above picture.  2.) whenever you reach a new ending, a pop-up message will appear on the last screen of the story.   3.) There is now a second section to the gallery called the Player Notebook to point out content likely to be missed in the rush to 40 endings. This includes a Game Clues page pointing out 6 mysteries found in the first 3 stories.  Once at least 5 of the 6 clues are found, then story 4 will unlock, which solves the mysteries.  4.) Another part of the Player’s Notebook is a list of “facts” on 12 different female characters in the game.  Because it is fairly easy to finish all the endings and still miss some of this stuff, this will give you some additional end game goals to work on.

These changes for the most part I have already finished.  What I have yet to finish is some new content like a new Ariane “ending” which ties up a few loose ends.  This will give Ariane 12 endings.  To keep my ending map pretty, I dropped the “Do You Know Any Gymnasts?” ending from Paula (it will still be there, it just will not count as one of the 40 endings).  Why drop it? Because an expanded version of that ending will be shown as a reward of getting all 40 endings. Currently the reward is a lame sight gag, the new reward will basically be Story 4 part 2 with a big dramatic suitable ending to the whole visual novel.  The idea for Story 4 part 2 comes from a rather interesting discussion regarding the ethics of “What Paula Did” over at the Shark’s Lagoon Forum.

My goal is to finish these last two stories over the summer and have 1.0 available then.

In the mean time, if anyone has some more mistakes to point out, or improvement suggestions, please leave a comment.

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1.) If you drop an MP3 file called “amecameca.mp3″ in the “game” folder, the band will play that song instead of the lame royalty free one that’s in there now.  The song I would have loved to use there is this one: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RLVWZ6Y9aew I was listening to Deluka while creating the images for the band. In the final version, I plan on invoking this same trick to make the dance music at the club and house party changeable to whatever you want as well.

2.) A lot of people caught the Fringe references in story 4 (the floating letters, the odd graphic during the act break, the “observer” in the background), which I put in there to say “this story is science fiction”.  What no one has mentioned is my homage to The Guild.  Paula = Codex, Tom =  Vork, Indian Kid = Zaboo, white haired woman = Clara. I guess that means Rachel = Tink, and you the player = Bladezz.

3.) You might have finally discovered that the uniform for the waitresses at Drive-N-Dine includes tops when you lead Arch Angel there.  For some fun, go to “options” then “Enter Custom”, then start a new game and enter “80″ for first date experience (or any date experience that ends well where you eat at the diner).  Then go to a bad ending before dinner, like “Centerfold”, “Rather Be Reading”, or insist on staying at the bar when Ariane is ready to leave.  You will end up at the Drive-N-Dine by yourself.  While still in “80″ ending mode, take Arch Angel to the diner again and see what happens.

qr24. ) There are two real web pages mentioned in the game. One is http://rachelspahr.tumblr.com, the other is much harder, requiring you to color separate the image from the token puzzle. The method suggested by Paula sometimes works too. Or, you can just use the image to the left.

5.) There are two versions of the “Nude Photoshoot”.  To guarantee getting the long version, at dinner discuss “Books” then “Magazines” then “Men’s Magazines”, then ask if she would do nude photos.  This is a path I assume most players avoid, for fear of insulting Rachel, but in fact Rachel likes honesty, and will be honest herself about nude modeling.

6.) In story 2, if you try to ask Ariane out at the gym, she turns you down.  If you met Rebecca in the first date, she says she has a “girls night out” with Rebecca.  Ariane’s date with Rebecca is seen in the background of many pictures. In the picture where Rachel walks towards Heidi’s Salon, you see Ariane driving to the restaurant.  If you choose to meet Stacy, then when you are done cleaning up, you will see Ariane and Rebecca greeting each other with a friendly kiss.  When Rachel dresses like a supermodel and goes to the club, you glance at Rebecca and Ariane standing in line to get in.  If you go to the club while LARPing with Arch Angel, you will see Ariane and Rebecca dancing with each other.

7.) Two other girls you see at the gym, the lead singer from Ameca Meca, and Heidi the hairdresser in Yoga class, have untold stories which will soon be told in upcoming updates.  You and Ariane may meet the lead singer.  Meanwhile, Heidi’s story crosses paths with the conclusion to the cliff hanger “Do you know any gymnasts?” ending that I have not even written yet.

8.) Because they are both sponsored events, many of the people at the Volleyball Tournament show up to the house party.  The wet t-shirt contest consists of the blonde from the “All American Girls”, some random woman, Candy the reporter, and Suki and her Sorority sister team mate.   The blonde and the reporter are the two girls not dancing in the dance scene.  The Dobson Twins volleyball duo are not at the house party, instead they do a burlesque show at the Live Cabaret. Meanwhile, the three girls posing at the house party for t-shirts, were together at the yoga class.  Mr. Smithee, the porn director is at both events, and in the “porn star” Bonnie ending, too. Meanwhile, the “Waitresses”, Wendy and Lexi, are at their respective waitressing jobs on Saturday night.

9.) Last December, I asked for suggestions on Facebook for a fake comic hero name, credit goes to Kurt Howard for first suggesting Arch Angel.  In the game, the fictional comic artist is named John Hernandez, who is in fact a real person and a real comic artist (the only character in the game based on a real person in fact).

10.) The article and pictorial in Beach Magazine is 7 pages long, and broken into pieces. Pages 1 to 3 are viewable at the salon. Pages 3 to 5 are viewable in the “Dinner With a Supermodel” ending. Pages 5 to 7 are viewable in the “Coffee Conversations” ending.  I wrote the silly article and interview with the 3 models. Any resemblance of the two other models to Anne Hathaway and Jennifer Lawrence are purely coincidental.

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Now that the game is out, I thought I’d write some commentaries on the game, throw some insights into my thinking. I’m doing this as a “Director’s Commentary” like you might have in a DVD if this was a movie.  This post will contain spoilers! If you have not played story 1 yet, download the game now and play it first.

If you want to follow along, before you start the game, go to the “Options” menu, then “Prequel Menu”, then select “Did It All!”.  The commentary will be based on that version of Ariane’s story, as I think it is the most fun.  It is designed primarily for fans of the original Date Ariane game, as there are a lot of references to the first game. Also make sure transitions are on, and that the Auto Forward Time is slid all the way to the right so you can follow along.

This “Did It All!” version also has a different opening introduction, mentioning that Ariane is also a friend in town, and that you have been on a few dates, rather than one date.

“Your Alarm goes off at 7 AM…”

My original vision for this game was 6 stories. The first choice would be “Get Up” or “Sleep In”, then the next choice would be “Call Ariane”, “Go To The Gym”, or “Play Video Games”  The original Get Up/Call Ariane is the current Story 1. Get Up/Go To The Gym is the story of Heidi and Wendy, Heidi’s story may be told in the future, Wendy’s story is in the game as “bonus” content in that it just magically shows up after a while. Get Up/Play Video Games is the current story 4. Sleep In/Call Ariane would have been a story about Lydia the Lead Singer. Sleep In/Go To Gym is the current story 2, and Sleep In/Play Video Games is the current story 3.

SITA is a story about how seemingly mundane choices lead to incredible outcomes.  The simple choice of, “Do I get up?” or “Do I go back to bed?” can, in this universe, change the world.  For now we are going to get up and call Ariane.

“You Have Been Out on a few dates…”

Originally, the first image of this game was the second image in Date Ariane.  I originally rendered most of story 1 with the original Ariane model, before I decided that Ariane needed a major makeover. Ultimately there were about 5 different makeovers, and then I decided the old Ariane house set was way too outdated too, and so I upgraded her house to this.  So on one hand, this image looks nothing like the second image from Date Ariane, but on the other hand it represents a preview of what the second image from Date Ariane will look like when I do an update in the future.

By the way, the original name of this story was “Second Date”, but because I made this special version, requiring there to be multiple dates with Ariane in the past, that the name was changed to “Another Date”.

“Some of these dates…”

Most of the time in the making of this game, I render using basic lighting that looks pretty decent, but the Poser 9 Renderer can use some very advanced lighting like “Sub Surface Scattering” which simulates real skin modeling and “Image Based Lighting” that gives a precise simulation of ambient lighting. This picture of Ariane nude in bed uses both of these advanced techniques. The majority of the images in this game do not use advanced techniques, mostly because they are extra time consuming to set up, test, and then render.  A few key pictures in the game do use advanced rendering, another one is coming up soon.

“Hello?”

Like most writers, I started writing the story before I started illustrating.  When I got to the illustrating stage, and realized that illustrating a phone conversation from a first person point of view is boring (it can either be just a black screen with text or staring at a wall with text), I decided a imaginative approach would be much better.  The rules are: 1. You are not seeing any of this literally, so you imagine talking to a naked Ariane, but that does not mean she is.  2. Images slide in and out of frame to give a surreal effect to the conversation. 3. You only envision something once Ariane mentions it.  So when she mentions eating breakfast, you then imagine her in her kitchen.  There are three other phone conversations in this game, and they all follow these rules.

There are no dead ends in this version of story 1, so it does not matter your choices, so we will skip ahead…

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“You arrive at the restaurant…”

Here is another example of advanced lighting. The room is lit by 4 spotlights, and ray tracing uses 3 or 4 bounces. Notice the reflection of the glasses and the bottles on the bar counter, you will not see that kind of detail in any other image set in the bar. Primarily because the image took about 8 hours to render.

All four stories in “Something’s In The Air” have introductory sequences that have nothing to do with the plot of the particular story.  Relevant choices in Ariane’s story do not happen until the theater, which is like the 6th scene in the story.  All of these introductory scenes are designed to 1.) create a setting and introduce characters, and 2.) show how the various stories cross each other.  This same bar scene happens in story 2, only you are there with Dave instead of Ariane.  All of the main characters in the game, except Dave, show up somewhere in story 1.

Here we see Rachel Spahr, who is actually kind of the star of SITA, Stacy the Strip Club Manager, and Bonnie the Bartender.  I should note that when I was laying down the story for SITA, and had to start coming up with names for the characters, I just started making names that start with the same letter as their job: Stacy the Strip Club Manager, Bonnie the Bartender, Heidi the Hairdresser, Wendy the Weight Trainer, Lydia the Lead Singer, Veronica the Vamp, Paula the Professor, etc.

The audio in this scene is an ambient crowded bar/restaurant sound I downloaded from  Freesound.org. It is absolutely perfect for this scene, except that this is supposed to be an American restaurant, and it sounds like a bunch of British accents are heard.  Could not find a better sound with American accents, so I stuck with the British voices. It’s summer after all, maybe they are visiting the States?

“The Restaurant Bar is getting crowded now.”

The background image is a separate render from the foreground.  In the background is Lydia the Lead Singer, and the rest of the band. The basic story there is that the band is about to start their big tour, and they are doing a concert in front of the home crowd.  Some record exec hears their sound check, and then invites band and crew (in the missing story you are part of the crew) to dinner, hence the overcrowded restaurant interfering with your date with Ariane (and Rachel in story 2).

Early versions of this picture had Bonnie the Bartender wiping down the table, thus body blocking your view of the restaurant patron on the far right who is not wearing pants.  Putting clothing on every background character is sometimes an annoying chore, so there are a lot of nearly naked background characters in this game, though most are not this easy to spot.

Ariane asks, “So how has your day been?”  This is a type of choice I use a lot in the game to try and cut down on boring background exposition.  One choice explains what happened to Ariane during the day, the other explains what happened to you. If you talk about yourself, the conversation changes to baseball. References to the baseball game appear a few times later in the story, but are missing if you ask about Ariane’s day.  If you ask about Ariane’s day, and you have already met Rebecca (which in the case of “Done It All!” you have), she will mention that Rebecca had asked out Ariane, too.  Had you not called Ariane before she went to the gym, she would be out with Rebecca tonight. In story 2, Rebecca and Ariane are seen on their date in the background.

“What the hell did you do that for, Stacy?”

When you play this scene on the default setting, or any prequel setting not involving the strip club, Ariane does not call her by name, just some “blonde bitch”.  So if you went to the strip club, and Ariane won the amateur night contest, then suddenly they know each other by first name, and it sounds like they see each other regularly.  Does Ariane now work at the strip club?  I don’t have an answer to that, and it does not matter. Ariane never mentions her career in either Date Ariane or SITA, and I imagined her career was “Video Game Character”, and if you ask Ariane what she does for a living she says, “I work as a model, video game actor, and I sell animations in Second Life.”, so that’s my story and I’m sticking with it.

In this conversation, we learn a personality trait of Ariane’s that shows up once or twice in Date Ariane: When she is angry she gets brutally honest.  If you play SITA with a prequel setting in which you slept with her on the first date, she will be a little bit mad at you during the first half of the date, because you waited over a week to call her.  That brutal honesty comes out a couple of times.  The original version of this story was that “angry” version of Ariane, and testers hated her. That’s when I came up with “excited Ariane” (the default version) and later “practically a girlfriend Ariane” which is the version we are playing now.

Incidentally, there is a third version of this conversation you can see if you go to prequel menu and select “Dance and Lost”. Stacy will start calling Ariane “Betty” which is the stage name Ariane used at the strip club.

“You go to the table, there are pictures you took of Ariane.”

Here is another scene that only shows up if you either “Did It All!!” or pick a prequel where you do a photo shoot in the mountains.  In Date Ariane, there are multiple versions of that scene. These pics are the ones where you ask Ariane to take off her shirt then her pants. Another version are pants first.  The pics on the table are a mix of old Ariane and new Ariane, which illustrates that they do look somewhat alike. I was too lazy to recreate all of these pictures with the new model for this game, especially considering how small they are, but after I do an updated Date Ariane, I will update this picture to show only new model Ariane pics.

“You know what, Stacy did us a favor…”

In Date Ariane, the text was always color coded to match the whatever the speaker was wearing. Doing that is very hard in RenPy, but coloring the name tags of the players is very easy.  Every Ariane line prior to this line had Ariane’s name in pink. because she was wearing a pink gown. From this point forward, Ariane has a blue name tag, because she now has a blue shirt on.

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“May I take your order?”

This diner scene has the same funny trick used in Date Ariane in which there is no way to tell if the waitresses have tops on or not. From the pictures on the wall they apparently do not, but things keep getting in the way of your view.  There is a scene buried in one of the Rachel stories that reveals the truth: The waitress is wearing a white top.  In fact, the character model has the top on in every picture, but I used the top to help me with the blocking.

“So. here we are on another date…”

First picture of Paula, the main character from story 4.  If you watch her in the background she is picking up an order of coffee and donuts to go, in story 4 you will find out why. All of the datable girls make a cameo in story 1.  We saw Rachel, Stacy and Bonnie in the bar, here is Paula, Veronica is coming up, and Wendy makes a one pic cameo in a hot green dress in the “Celebrity Sightings” ending, which we will not do in this commentary.

“Well let’s see…”

Usually at this point, Ariane will describe all the things you did on your last date, depending on what you pick in the prequel menu or what you type in to your custom ending.  The “Done It All!” setting has Ariane describing all that went on with somewhere between 8 and 10 previous dates.  Since you apparently just arrived in town a month ago and this is the first time  in over a week that you two have gone out. 10 dates in the span of 3 weeks seems pretty crazy. Many of the dates described cannot even be done in Date Ariane.  Well the whole point is not to be realistic or accurate, the whole point of the very long dialogue is to give fans of Date Ariane a funny reminder of all the crazy stuff that went on in that game.  Often in this dialogue you get Ariane’s version of the dates, which are different from the players point of view.  I especially like Ariane’s take on the mountain photo shoot date.

“So we have been on many epic dates…”

Like I said, there are three versions of “Another Date”, and the post flashback scene is the most obvious divide. The default/no sex version has Ariane making light of you not calling her, and when you tell her she could call you, she does right there at the table.  The “sex on the first date” version reminds Ariane that it took you a week to call and she gets mad again, but then the two of you come to a friendly understanding and she finally forgives you.  The many dates version we are on has you and Ariane having the “What kind of relationship do we have?” talk, which Ariane hates, leading to a Muse and Spirit discussion.  Later if you meet Rebecca, there is some hilarious exchanges.  I had to completely rewrite the Rebecca ice cream scene on the “Done It All!” version as the two other versions made no sense in the “Done It All!” scenario. I’m mentioning this now because we are not going down that path either.

“The theater downtown has three different movies playing.”

Not only did I give the three movies titles that have never been used, I gave them titles so lame that they will never be used.  If you don’t get the joke of “The Maguffin Job”, you should learn what a “MacGuffin” is.  Basically, every action film ever made has had a “MacGuffin” as Hitchcock described it. “The Opposite Gender” does not roll off the tongue like “The Opposite Sex”, but the latter is a real movie, I just needed something that sounds like a romantic comedy.  In Date Ariane, “The Opposite Gender” had not come out yet, and a movie called “Heartbroken” was playing.  You can see this yourself if you scroll back to the flashback scene when you were eating at the fancy restaurant.  That means “The Opposite Gender is the new film that opened up this weekend (and why it is so crowded).  Finally, “Love, As Usual” is the drama film.  The game does not use the titles, only the genres. We are going to Let Ariane Decide.

“You finally get in and the theater is packed.”

The theater model that I used here has an audience of simple stick figures occupying  the seats. If you look at the arms you will notice. The round ball heads broke the illusion, so I used low rez hair figures and painstakingly put the hair on all the foreground audience figures so they look more real.  You can still see the round head ones in the background.   The movie preview has an A rating. I wanted to avoid trademark issues with the MPAA, so as a tribute to the late Roger Ebert I used an “A” rating which Roger wanted between R and X to separate legitimate adult films from porn. In response, the MPAA created NC-17 and then defeated the purpose of the rating by giving the NC-17 rating to porn movies, and now they can’t be advertised.  Now all films between R and NC-17 go with “Unrated” to avoid the “porn” stigma of NC-17.

“As you take your seat…”

So here is the Veronica cameo.  My original draft of Ariane’s date was to have one bad thing after another happen. As the 6 people who saw my alpha version can attest, the date was REALLY bad, bordering on miserable and unfun. Veronica’s phone exchange was twice as long as it is here, and people hated it.  In order to make it more playable it got edited down. When you do finally meet Veronica in story 3, she is not quite as unlikeable as she is here.  Also, she eventually pays dearly for leaving her ringer on in a theater.  A lesson to all theater goers, turn your cell phones off!

When writing the game, I was very sensitive to timeline issue (only to screw it up later when I dropped some stories).  Restaurant was at 7 PM, diner was around 7:20 to 7:45, theater is 8:05.  At this point Veronica leaves and goes to the bar.  In story 3, the baseball game ends around 8:10, and you get to the bar at around 8:20, and you may leave to the convention with Veronica at 8:30. The part of the Veronica phone dialogue that I cut out is Tanner telling Veronica that she needs to find a guy to bring with her to keep his significant other from finding out about their affair, which is why you get dragged to the convention in the first place.  It was way too much dialogue, and there are enough clues for you to figure this out on your own.

“The movie is starting…”

Most of the music I use in the game is from a collection of royalty free music I purchased from the composer Marc Riedinger. He did a romantic comedy song, but I used it in the Ariane flashback scene as well as the Rachel dinner scene. Here I used a piece called “Radio Martini” by Kevin McLeod, one of four non Riedinger compositions, and the only one not in a dance or club scene.

I created vignettes of the three movie genres to portray the movies. “The Opposite Gender” opens with the typical “meet cute” scene, then pic 2 is the inevitable fight, and pic three is the final make up. Every Romantic Comedy movie since Charles Chaplin has followed this formula.  The background pictures are pictures I took while visiting family in Manhattan. The first is Rockefeller Center. The second is a view of the Empire State Building as seen from the top floor of 30 Rockefeller Center.  The third is Times Square, which is purposely blurry to avoid any copyright complaints from advertisers in Times Square.

Funny fact about all three movies: The main actor and actress models are the same in all 3 movies. I just changed the hair and clothing. In fact not very well, the actor in the romantic comedy is wearing the same thing as the actor in the action film, I only changed the hair color and the shirt color.

“So what did you think?”

Here is another place that I significantly changed the dialogue from the first draft, Ariane originally HATES the movie with a passion, giving a verbose bad review, only making the date seem more miserable.  Now she makes a funny joke about how forgettable it was. Much better!

I originally had a street sound loop that had both talking and traffic in it, but it also had a bus noise that was really annoying every 20 seconds of the loop.  To replace it I took two ambient loops, one with traffic and one with talking, and mixed them together.  The talking is soft and barely audible, and is in Ukranian rather than English, but it gets the job done. Once again we have a choice, we are going to pick Let her decide what to do.

In the original version, which you can get a taste of if you pick a last date where you slept together, Ariane complains that you made all the decisions on the last date (which is true, because that was the whole point of the game).  Ariane insisted that she make all the decisions this time, and all her decisions turn out to bad ones. I toned this down quite a bit, even on the version where you slept together on the first date, but because of that original concept of the second date, the best choice always turns out to be to let her decide, which is why we did it twice in a row.

“Ariane heads out of town driving into the mountains.”

This picture should look familiar to players of Date Ariane. I just rerendered it to 1280×720 size and turned the orange colored dirt to green grass.  Apparently grass grows really fast in this universe.  I also changed perspective from driver to passenger since Ariane is driving this time.  The music here is a rocking version of the same music you hear in the bar when Ariane gets wine dumped on her, a third version can be heard in the “blackout fun” thread.  This is three variants of a theme called “dancing mice”.  I sort of made it Ariane’s unofficial theme song.  The second picture is also a rerender from Date Ariane with grass and some giant boulders.

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“Well here we are…”

The orange glow on the right is coming from the city, which is visible in Date Ariane, but due to copyleft attribution requirements, I did not use here. That’s OK, you do not need to leave the car.  A regular convention in Date Ariane was to show Ariane making kissing face whenever you kiss. I rarely use it in SITA, as it kind of looks dumb, but since it is foreplay leading up to sex, I use it here. (I use it again in a foreplay moment with Rachel).

“I have been wanting this…”

Since depending on your choice of prequel, this is either your first time, second time, or tenth time having sex with Ariane. It would seem logical to have three different dialogues here, but for some reason this scene feels right no matter if it is the first or tenth.  Ariane’s odd choice of vehicle (which was actually decided because it was the only free vehicle model I found online when I was first making Date Ariane) now presents a privacy problem which Ariane solves by using your shirt as drapes.

“She then gets on your lap…”

I will assume you played this scene before, and all your attention was focused on the foreground, especially when Ariane unbuttons her top.  This time pay attention to the background, which in the first picture is perfectly black.  Second picture is identical, except clouds appear on the left.  As you move through the scene the clouds are moving farther and farther from left to right.  By the time she shows you her tits, the background sky is very gray even through the tree branches…leading to “BOOM!”

In Date Ariane, I establish that the mountains are fairly close to the lake, and I establish in SITA that the lightning strikes twice near the lake. That’s why the thunder is a bit louder here than in other paths, and also that it corresponds so quickly to the lightning.  On other paths you see the lightning flash, then a thunder rumble demonstrating it is a ways away.

“Maybe we should get out of here…”

Here are four nearly identical pictures in a row with different lighting. First has the orange glow of the city.  Second is animated lightning, two images flipping back and forth in an uneven pattern to simulate lightning. Third is darkness, which is probably too bright considering reality.  Date Ariane had a nearly full moon which made he night sky bright, SITA which takes place over a week later would have a half moon that rises around midnight, and the storm hits at around 11:00 PM in all timelines, hence there is no moon in this game.  That’s how much detail I added to the game: I even get the astronomy right.  Finally we get some reflected headlights to brighten things up.

“So how does tonight rank…”

The drive home dialogue is different in “Done It All!”. In all other scenarios, Ariane complains about how bad the date has been so far, in this one there is comparisons between the other 8 to 10 dates.

The “rainfall” is made up of two rainfall png files that are animated back and forth giving a decent low memory illusion of rain.  Every time rain shows up in the game I use the exact same technique and pictures.

“She goes into her bedroom…”

The sexy black sheer robe, first seen in Date Ariane, makes another appearance, though it has pockets now.  The hall pic and the cocoa pic make Ariane look different as if I used different models.  All I did was move her bangs out of her left eye and change her smile slightly. Funny how making such a small change can give a different look.  Ariane’s recipe of cocoa is one I use all the time.  Growing up, whenever we had soggy rainy days, my mom would make real cocoa, the kind you can only get in the fanciest restaurants these days.  That put me off instant cocoa for life as it tastes disgusting in comparison. However, Nesquik mixed with microwaved whole milk tastes surprisingly close.  Memories of cocoa on rainy days, made me add this scene.

“Why don’t you spend the night?”

It took a lot of trial and error to get that dropping the robe effect exactly right.

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“Let’s get back to where we left off…”

Normally, I don’t post nude pics of Ariane in the blog, but this one is important. The one in the beta version of the game is wrong.  It has a cheap looking picture on the wall.  The picture above is what it should look like, the picture is a Monet’s Water Lillys at Sunset.  If you want to correct your beta copy,  right click the picture and “Save Link As…” to the “Somethings In The Air-beta2-win/game” directory keeping the aribedroom1.jpg name so that the game uses it. You will have to save game then restart the game to see it.  This is the new bedroom introduced 3 posts ago.  The trophy to the right of her head I imagine being a gymnastics trophy.  In other pictures, you may see some medals as well.

“Next Morning”

Ariane’s new house still has bay windows, though now they have Venetian blinds, and there are still tract houses across the street, though I updated their look too.  The game ends with another Muse/Spirit exchange reminiscent of the diner conversation.

And that’s the end of story 1.  At some point in the future I’ll do stories 2, 3, and 4.  I might have a hard time with 2 as I am going to have a hard time deciding which path to choose with Rachel, there are at least 3 really good ones.

After more than two years in development, Something’s In The Air is now available for download at ArianeB.com/sita.  There is a lot of downloading going on , so it may take a while to load the 180MB file, but I have not heard any complaints that the download is not working.

I’m calling this an “open beta” version, but it should not be too different from the eventual “official 1.0″ version I plan to finish later this summer.

I got a lot to say about it now that it is officially out.  I’m planning some rather verbose “director’s commentaries” in future posts.  But in the mean time, play it, have some fun. On average, people are taking about 8 hours to hit all 40 endings, so there is a lot of content there.

bonniebar7

I did a close beta test with a couple of people I know.  They both indicated (and the truth is I agree) that the Bonnie the Bartender story was the weakest.  Since none of you have seen the game, you don’t know what I am talking about. Basically, she is a bartender you pick up at the end of her shift, you go shoot some pool, some funny stuff happens, and then a totally expected twist ending happens, and then it ends abruptly.  The main reason it ends there is that I could not think of an appropriate GOOD ending that I already didn’t use with one of the other characters.

The sentiment of one of my testers is: 1.) She is not very interesting looking, 2.) We know very little about her, and what she says does not even seem honest, is she supposed to be good or bad?  The truth is I never spent much time on the Bonnie model, explaining problem 1, and maybe my writing skills aren’t that great explaining problem 2.

So as usual I gave it some thought, and decided: 1.) I need a new model, and 2.) I will use the badly defined nature of her character to my advantage. The new model is shown above. She used to look like this.  Gone is her undefined ethnicity and too simple and modest dress.  In its place is a pretty but stereotypical American.  None of the major characters are blonde, so I went with that.

bonniepool4

I left the not very revealing dialogue in. It is up to the reader to decide if she is good or bad, and in the pictures I did, there are signs of both.

This is all because of the brilliant idea I had: I may not be able to come up with an appropriate good ending, but I can think of a lot of appropriate BAD endings.  So there are now 10 endings to Bonnie’s story, some of which show her as a good girl, some as a bad girl, and the endings purposely contradict one another. (I’ll probably never return to this character, so it really does not matter which ending is the real one.)  Breaking the rules of the visual novel format; you have no choice which ending you are going to get.

With about 30 re-renders, and 20 new pictures, I believe I have added a whole new fun dimension to the story.

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I thought I’d take time out from working on Something’s In The Air, to show some changes to Ariane.  If I get around to updating Date Ariane, I will be using these models.  So this is more of a preview of the prequel remake, I think.

Ariane’s looks have changed once again. This time I changed the shape of her face slightly.  Not only is she a little cuter, she looks a little more like the Date Ariane version.  She was originally supposed to look like Audrey Hepburn, but now she looks more like another British actress, though I’m not sure if it is Gemma Arterton, Michelle Dockery, or Jenna-Louise Coleman.  Dockery is probably the closest, but if you put Coleman’s eyes on Arterton’s head you would get a closer match.  (OK, you got me, Kim Kardashian’s eyes on Arterton’s head would be closer, I just happen to be a Doctor Who fan.)  If you want to see more pics, I rerendered all the portfolio pics with the new face. Eventually, the whole website will use the new look.

Anyways, enough about that, lets check out the house. Above is the living room couch, now white cloth with blue throw pillows instead of the old black vinyl and no throw pillows. Behind her is the dining area, and that orange section in back is the kitchen.

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Yes the kitchen is a bright orange, with black counters and appliances and dark brown wood cabinets. A nice change from the apricot color kitchen that looked a little too 70′s retro for me.

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If you turn around and look back towards the living room, you will see that the bay windows have moved to the side. In its place is a TV and a bookshelf filled with great works of literature.  OK, the first shelf are great works of literature the rest are trashy romance novels.  The old “boom box” is still there, because there is an area in front for dancing.

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Last but not least is the bedroom.  Goodbye pink painted stucco, hello beige yellow wallpaper.  I moved my computer in here.  I have some gymnastics memorabilia on the shelves, and a print of Monet’s Water Lillys at Sunset.  Behind you unseen are some glass doors opening to the patio and pool area.

And that’s the five cent tour. There is also a gray colored bathroom and a second bedroom you will probably never see, as well as a garage.  Now back to work.

A Storm Is Coming

Posted: March 30, 2013 in Gaming, Something's In The Air
Tags:

A Storm Is Coming