As I stated before, when I first started making Date Ariane my goal was to do something a bit outside the norm, to create a game where sex and not violence is the primary driver of drama. I also had to make it with no budget so compromises in quality are inevitable as well.

For both of those reasons, I never really cared if someone did not like Date Ariane. The game is not meant for everybody, and I am very well aware of its flaws.

I mention this because there are now well over 100 videos on You Tube of people playing Date Ariane.  Some of them are funny, some of them are well made, some of them are good reviews, many of them are bad reviews, including some extremely popular ones.

I’m of two minds on this phenomenon. On the one hand, reviews of my work do not bother me in the least. I am very well aware that You Tube bloggers like to make fun of stuff they find online, it is what they do and it brings them a lot of subscribers.  As I said above, the out of mainstream nature of the game and low budget nature of the game makes Date Ariane a very easy target to make fun of, in fact I do it myself.

On the other hand, I can’t watch these videos. There is something about watching other people play my games that feels a little creepy.

I have never been able to get through any of them. My feelings when I watch them is similar to someone standing uncomfortably close to me. It also does not help that I know the answers too well, so when they make the wrong choices I know it’s going to end badly many moves ahead.

I wanted to know if I am weird feeling this way, so I reached out to a few other indie game producers. Reactions are split around 50-50. Some developers are like me, a little weirded out.  Others enjoy watching others play their games.

Developer reactions to mixed reviews seems split as well. I guess it depends on what your goals are.  My goals are to make something I enjoy and just put it out there and let the audience find it.  Other developers with more loftier goals of mainstream success can take bad reviews a little harder.  I can understand that. Even though I say bad reviews don’t bother me, if Date Ariane got nothing but bad reviews when I first put it out there, I would have taken it down and would have never made improvements or expansions.

arrenpy

And speaking of improvements, my on again, off again project of making a Renpy version of Date Ariane is on again. It was absolutely necessary to do the graphic update before attempting it again. My previous attempts were way too ambitious, my goal this time is to keep it simple. My other goals:

  1. A downloadable game that works on any computer without needing a browser.
  2. Much cleaner code that can be edited and expanded easily.
  3. Sound, music, and special effects you can’t do in HTML.

Why make a downloadable Renpy version of the game when the online is so successful?

It is true, the online game gets over 1 million unique players annually, while there have been less than 200,000 downloads of the stand alone only Something’s In The Air.  My first instinct was to try and make an online version of Something’s In The Air.  Two things prevented that from happening, one was the accidental erasure of a hard drive with my only copy ( I was only 5% complete anyways).

The other was the growing popularity of Date Ariane having an affect on my website’s stability. I researched expanding the web sites capacity, but I so far can’t justify the cost. An online SITA would just make it worse.

Making an improved stand alone version of Date Ariane available should make it better instead.

I have no idea how long it will take, probably at least the summer. I am basically rewriting the entire game as there is no way to port the game directly over.  What you see above is all I have done so far, about 28 lines of code.  Better get started.

The world of tech and tech accessories has radically changed in the last few months, and from what I can tell, nobody noticed.  Here is my take on the “big picture” of phones, tablets, watches and whatever.

Apple really needs Steve Jobs back

Today is the 5th Anniversary of the iPad, the game changer device that has not only changed how we surf the web, but how we play games, watch TV, read books, and keep our lives organized. It was a groundbreaking device that is still making waves.

Fast forward to March 9, 2015 when Apple held another semi annual big presentation on what is “new” from Apple. It solidified my opinion of Apple I got from a similar event last October (when they finally got around to making a bigger iPhone): Apple is no longer on the cutting edge, they are riding in the wake.

What did they announce? An Apple Watch, a technology others have experimented with the last couple of years which only the nerdiest people think is cool.

A new MacBook which is pretty much the most overpriced device ever offered by Apple.  This is basically a “netbook” as it is not powerful enough to do much beyond what you can already do on any tablet.

In my honest opinion, Apple is now a full two years behind everybody else, and losing ground.

Google is now the industry leader

Android 5 released in November, is now the default OS for hand held devices. It is a major step up from 4.4 and it is an actual game changer.

Android 5 brings with it a suite of common “apps” that use the same interface and work together.  You might ask, “So what?”, but I think Android 5 marks the beginning of the end of the reign of “apps”.

It was never spoken, but we have all known that apps have basically consisted of web sites and flash games that we either pay for with money or ad spam (or both) just so that it will work on our phone. Except for a few games, most apps exist out of stupidity. Companies are now pushing customers to download their apps to make purchasing their stuff easier.

Only a handful of apps are useful, the majority of Apps basically just fill our devices limited memory with junk we once found funny or amusing.

The ones that are actually useful are the ones that provide us info we want or need, and the way they do that is through “push notification”.  That’s the first revelation of App demise.

The second revelation is this: Every app seems to want to have its own interface design, this is a problem as it means you have to learn how to get information you need from many different interfaces.  We forgot this lesson was learned a long time ago. The thing that made Macintosh computers successful back in the 80’s is that every program had the same interface.  Microsoft figured this out finally with the release of Windows in the early 90’s.

Google is now doing the same thing for Android.  The philosophy behind Android 5 seems to be a common interface among the built in apps, and these interface tools are being made available to app designers, too.

These two observations are gaining strength in the industry and will lead to the “End Of Apps As We Know Them”.  Goodbye pages and pages of apps, hello easy access to the info you are looking for. Android 5 is designed around that philosophy, and it’s a welcome change.

Microsoft is back behind the wheel

The only thing really holding back Microsoft right now is that Windows 10 isn’t ready, yet.  A common OS for phone, tablet, laptop and desktop is just too cool.

In a rush to jump into the mobile market, Microsoft’s recent history has been full of one boondoggle after another.  One of the biggest was Windows RT project, a broken version of windows for mobile processors.  Their first tablets Microsoft Surface and Surface 2 ran on RT, even though similar sized devices with full Windows 8, were already being released.  The heavily advertised but widely rejected Windows Phones could only run RT, and these poor selling tablets were an attempt to get developers to support the Windows app store.

This past month they released the Surface 3, the first in the non “pro” line that runs full Windows 8.1 and is powerful enough to run most windows software, except graphic heavy games.

The Surface 3 is about half the cost of the above mentioned MacBook, and its stats are comparatively the same.

If you are really looking to save money I recently tested a $77 Windows 8.1 tablet. How was it? Well about what you would expect from a $77 tablet. They spared every expense, including a battery that did not charge all the way, no sleep mode so you have to sign in every time to you turn it on, and buttons in the worse possible locations.  Bottom line, there are a lot of decent name brand tablets between $200-300 that are better deals.

Still, the mere fact that $77 tablets exist shows that Microsoft can be competitive with Apple and Android, and that’s the bigger picture. By the end of the year, inexpensive phones that run full Windows 10 should be available.

Windows 10 is going to be a game changer, a common OS that adapts itself depending on whether it is on a phone, tablet, or PC. The PC version of the interface is a lot more Windows 7 like than even 8.1 is, while the tablet version is more fat finger friendly to make it useable on small screens.  Microsoft’s free cloud storage will automatically move your profile and data to any device you sign in on.  This is a huge incentive to go all Windows on all devices.

After years of failure, Microsoft seems to be getting it right, but they have a lot of catching up to do in the market share department.

The “big picture”

Granted Apple and Google have similar services that move your data between devices, unfortunately most of us find ourselves with incompatible stuff spread between all 3 companies.  Hopefully soon I will find an easy way to see my PC contact list and iTunes library on my Samsung Galaxy.  In the mean time, if you can, pick a company and stick with them, it just makes everything easier.

The “big picture” is this: In the last 5 years since the ipad, we have seen Apple fall behind, Google surge ahead, and Microsoft bounce back. It is only a matter of time before it all gets homogenized, with all 3 companies offering the same goods and services delivered in the same way, the price of which will only get cheaper.

For over a decade I have swung on a pendulum between “creative” and “playing” and after three years of mostly being in “creative” mode, I seem to be in a deep “playing” cycle of video games.  Hence my lack of blog posts as I generally have little to say while in “playing” mode.

One of the games I have been playing is Dreamfall Chapters the third game in an adventure game trilogy spanning 16 years. The first game was The Longest Journey from 1999 which was mostly a 2D graphic adventure game with many puzzle solving aspects.  By today’s standards it is kind of cheap looking and way too long, but it has one of the most compelling stories of any adventure game at that time. It was followed up in 2006 by Dreamfall.

The setting of the three games is two parallel universes named Arcadia and Stark. Stark is a near futuristic “cyberpunk” world of technology, while Arcadia is a renaissance inspired world where magic is real. In between is a dream world that both worlds share. The hero of the first game is April Ryan, a Stark girl who has a natural gift to move between worlds.  The second and third games star Zoë Castillo whose gifts to move between worlds were not so natural but artificially induced to create a new vivid dream inducing technology. The third game is about this new technology and how it has become a drug of sorts.

The genius writer is Ragnar Tørnquist, a Norwegian fantasy game writer/designer who also was the head writer for the MMORPGs Anarchy Online and The Secret World.

Dreamfall was one of my favorite stand alone games of the 00’s filled with great characters and an imaginative story with one annoying flaw: a shocking cliffhanger of an ending we had to wait 9 years to resolve. That resolution finally happened in 2014’s Dreamfall Chapter’s: Chapter 1 which came out a few months ago. There are 5 planned chapters to be released when they get around to releasing them, Chapter 2 comes out on Tuesday, March 10th, which is what I’ll be playing next week.

Dreamfall Chapters is being done by an independent studio and relied on crowd funding to get made. Despite this, the game does not look cheap or low budget, the bulk of Chapter 1 takes place in a gloomy futuristic European city which is one of the most immersive places I have seen in a game.  Like the first two games, there is plenty of humor and mystery.

Also like a good visual novel, choices you make in the game will radically change the game play. Early on Zoë is given a choice of picking up her life where she left off, or starting over on something new.  If you pick the former Zoë dresses stylishly and has confident hairstyle, and does lab experiments with a “kidbot”, if you pick the latter Zoë dresses more conservatively, has a simple hairstyle, and runs around testing a salvaged robot named “shitbot”.  The former choice seems the better one, but “shitbot” has become very popular among players (“Welding, welding,welding”).

If you like games with good storytelling, this is as good as it gets.

cyborg

Between national news and recent personal experiences, I believe we are on the verge of one or more technical apocalypse. This could come two possible forms:

Either, technology advances to the point that it bypasses the need for humanity, or we grow more and more dependent on tech and internet connectivity and then a series of events causes the whole infrastructure to collapse.

We could also see first one and then the other.  I see both of these as very real possibilities, though I can’t say how likely.  I just want to briefly explain what we are up against.

The Vulnerability of Tech

On Christmas, my website vanished. The culprit seems to be a corrupt zone file which is used to tell the internet where my website is located. I got the site finally back up and then it vanished again due to extremely high traffic on the server. Not sure if that high traffic was directed at my site or the 30 other sites on the same server, but it took a move to a different server to get the site back up.

Two seemingly unrelated incidents in a week is suspicious, or just really bad luck. It is causing me to rethink my web strategies for the future, wondering if there is a better less vulnerable way to do what I do.

But that is just my sad story. How about the intentional takedown of both XBOX Live and PSN on Christmas Day causing much havoc in many households as many new games and consoles could not be played. Before that we all witnessed our first real cyber war between Sony and North Korea. Before that the very organization in charge of internet infrastructure was hacked. Before that was the #gamergate trolls and their malicious tricks directed against female gamers and their supporters. Before that hackers broke into private accounts of female celebrities posting private pictures.  These are just the headlines in the last 4 months.

We are looking at a new form of warfare / terrorism that is only going to get more common.  All tech is seemingly vulnerable. Even the supposedly anonymous and untouchable corners of the web have proven vulnerable in recent weeks.

Our dependence on internet connected tech is only going to get larger in the near future, which is going to make such actions more damaging.

The Vulnerability of Human Labor

We are at a point technologically where artificial intelligence, a sci-fi dream as long as I can remember, is becoming a reality.  This year we saw a chatbot pass the Turing Test, cars that can drive themselves are here as well. Those in the know say that the real innovation is machines learning themselves, which is becoming more real everyday.

From someone who studied this stuff for years this is all very exciting, but the big dark cloud behind the silver lining is what is motivating these developments:  companies want to replace human laborers with robots. When cars (and trucks and busses) that drive themselves prove to be cheaper and more reliable than human drivers, what happens to the 3 million people in the US that make a living as drivers?  Most likely their jobs disappear.

That’s just one example, hundreds of service occupations are vulnerable to automation in the near future. Because we have grown dependent on service jobs here in the US, what is the future of employment?

And where is this all going to go?  We have intelligent systems being developed to read through reams of legal documents to help lawyers with cases, we also have intelligent systems being developed to write reams of legal documents.  Eventually we are going to cut out the middleman and let all the intelligent systems handle all the legal decision making.

Then what?  A “small claims court” app where you can file a claim and have a judgement in minutes messaged to your phone?  So much for the need for lawyers.

Demand for doctors is likely to be in decline as well for similar reasons.  Neither will disappear completely, but job security will not be what it once was.

There will always be a demand for labor, but if these efforts to automate are successful, the demand is destined to go down, even while the human population continues to rise.  How do we create a society where an increasingly large segment of the population is unemployable. What kind of economy is possible if most of the population can’t afford anything?

Maybe we will build an intelligent system to micromanage a stable economy adjusting taxes and welfare automatically to keep the economy healthy for all.

Sounds like a good idea, until the the intelligent economic manager decides there are just too many damn humans to support (which is already true) and figures out a way to get rid of some.

It may sound implausible, but recognized geniuses like Elon Musk and Stephen Hawking are warning about this happening in the near future if we do not take precautions now.

The Clash of Two Futures

Foretelling the future is damn near impossible. I cannot say how much of either of these visions of apocalyptic futures are likely to be true, but I can guarantee both will happen to some degree.

The need for drivers will drop with driverless cars, that is inevitable.  It is also inevitable that some will try to prove their vulnerability by purposely causing automated cars to crash, possibly in retaliation for lost jobs.

Hacking intelligent systems is no doubt going to happen, and exploitation of vulnerabilities will result in an intelligent systems arms race.  Eventually hackers will build intelligent systems to ruin and destroy other intelligent systems, to what effect it is too abstract to see.

#rehash #rehash

Posted: December 6, 2014 in Gaming, Movies and TV
Tags: , ,

watyearisit

Why are we craving the past so much these days? This seems especially true in movies, music, and video games.

Lets start with movies: Remakes, reimaginings, and of course prequels and sequels seem to be the norm of movies, and the few non-prequels and sequels are based on comic books and novels people are already familiar with. Are there no original stories to film anymore?

The answer is “of course there are, but it is too financially risky”.  When I saw the trailer for the new Terminator movie, it seems they are just tinkering with the time line again. Why did they make this movie when there are plenty of really good AI vs Humanity stories available in sci-fi that are not Terminator?

The answer is of course, “Because it’s Terminator.”  Nostalgia guarantees a big opening day no matter how bad the movie is.

And this is where my problem lies. Nostalgia is dying. It has been turned into a marketable resource, but like many other resources its supply is limited by the rate new nostalgia is being created.

Is there any new nostalgia being created?  The media is so wildly diverse these days there is very little new material that is appealing to the masses.

What about music?

OK, yes, there is new music coming out every year and some of it sells well enough is heard often enough on Beats-Music to make it into the latest mix by DJ Earworm or the European equivalent Mashup-Germany.

But a troubling statistic I recently read about is that songs and albums 5 years old or older collectively outsell newer music by nearly 2 to 1. This is only a recent trend as in the 1990’s new music was still way more popular than old.

Music is diversifying to the point that 2014 has hit a new low in the number of Platinum albums (more than 1,000,000 sold): exactly one album has done it, and it has the nostalgic name 1989.

I like to listen to new music and see what is popular. One of the underlying trends is nostalgia. There are many new songs that sound like they came from the 1960’s, and many more that sound like the 80’s.  The missing 70’s are represented by “ghetto funk”, a growing club trend.

3arianes

And video games?

OK, one of the inspirations for this random post is this week’s South Park where Kyle discovers much to his dismay that watching people play video games online may actually be more popular than actually playing them.

I’m guilty of this myself as I have become a big fan of Co-Optitude on You Tube, a show where TV actress Felicia Day and her brother Ryon Day play retro video games. As someone who stuck to PC games and never bought a console, I am fascinated by the video games I missed.

Recently, I picked up the series reboot of Tomb Raider. (When it comes to prequels, sequels, and remakes, the video game industry is just as guilty of nostalgia as the movie industry).  It was a 2 year old game I picked up for $5, and it was totally worth it as I had a lot of fun.

It is the 6th Tomb Raider game I have played, and like all the other ones, I eventually got stuck on a puzzle and had to consult the internet.  But the text/screenshot walk-throughs I usually consult have been replaced by complete playthroughs online.

As South Park pointed out, these video game commentaries are big businesses, the top players making millions in ad revenue, for playing video games made by someone else.

And yes, Date Ariane and Something’s In The Air also have a fair number of video commentaries associated with them.

Conclusion?

There has always been a certain level of nostalgia in pop culture. The most popular TV shows in the 70’s were set in the 50’s, and in the 90’s we had shows about the 70’s.  Movie sequels and remakes happen every year.

And yet, while I can’t statistically prove it, I don’t recall a time when it has gotten this big.  What is it about society today that makes us extra nostalgic for the past?

Or maybe we are not nostalgic for the past, and nostalgia is just a marketing ploy to insure an audience.  Creating new products out of other people’s work is cheaper and easier than creating from scratch.

I am completely baffled at the conservatives here in America’s ability to get the Net Neutrality debate ass backwards.  Every statement from both conservative and libertarian sources gets it completely wrong.

Without Net Neutrality, government sanctioned monopolies will have the right to levy their own taxes on successful private businesses.

That is the TRUTH, that is why many Conservatives are supporting Net Neutrality.

I have posted this question to any politicians who are opposed to net neutrality: “So you are in favor of government sanctioned monopolies levying new taxes on successful businesses?”  I have yet to hear back from any of them.

The anti-net neutral argument made in practically every article I posted is that “Netflix takes up 33% of the internet bandwidth, so it is only fair that they pay ISPs to help support their traffic.”

Any good Conservative should see the fallacy of that argument, and every tech savvy person should also. So what if Netflix uses 33% of the bandwidth? They are providing a service people like and are willing to pay for as an added feature of their internet service.  Not only that, they are spending millions to make it easier for ISPs to handle their traffic by reducing the load on long distance lines, but that has not stopped ISPs demand for additional fees.

If ISPs levy additional fees on Netflix, then Netflix will just pass it on down to the consumer, and that is why it is a consumer issue.

Is that not the same argument raised by every anti-tax conservative against raising taxes on businesses?

And what about the 30 or so other streaming services that show up on my Apple TV? If Netflix is forced out by exorbitant fees, then that 33% bandwidth will just be divided up by other services, and then will ISPs go after them for fees too, even though they use significantly lower bandwidth?

What percentage of bandwidth is too much? At what level is charging them fair?

Then there is the future. That 33% is destined to fall even if Netflix continues to grow. By 2020 Netflix may only represent 10% of the bandwidth. Should ISPs continue to charge a premium? What about the hundred or so Netflix like services that haven’t even started up yet but will eventually? Can they compete if they have to pay fees to all the ISPs like Netflix? So much for competition in the market place.

Eventually the internet will grow so big that it will be able to easily support hundreds of Netflixes, and then the “Netflix is too big” argument will go out the window, and yet like all good taxes, the high bandwidth fees will continue to levied costing consumers and internet based corporations billions which could have been paid to salaried employees.

For the future of the internet, and I have been working in the internet field for 20 years so I know what I am talking about, there are ONLY two options:

1. Get rid of the government sanctioned monopolies and force ISPs to open their lines to competitors.
2. Get rid of their right to levy their own taxes on internet based companies, aka make them title II utilities like telephone and electric companies.

1. is not going to happen any time soon, but 2 could happen tomorrow if the FCC decides to.

What about fears of government regulation of the internet? That is a completely separate issue apart from Net Neutrality, it is just as likely to happen if ISPs become utilities or not. It is a completely separate battle, and yet the GOP backed by ISP money is using the confusion to claim they are the same battle, which is why there is so much misinformation on the right.

Why can’t we just leave ISP’s alone at their word that they won’t violate Net Neutrality? Because they already have. Twice. And they did it by purposely slowing down traffic. Net Neutrality will regulate these kinds of actions.  Without net neutrality guarantees, ISPs could slow or completely block internet sites they don’t like, or ask consumers to pay for access to their favorite sites.  This has not happened, but it is perfectly legal for them to do so.  This is why Net Neutrality is also important to free speech.

ISP’s say Title II would lower their incentive to improve the internet, AT&T says they will not expand gigabit services until the issue has been decided. Is this true? AT&T would not stop expanding if the gigabit service was selling well in Austin, but it seems most consumers are happy with the service they got. I’m guessing AT&T has already decided to slow down expansion for fiscal reasons, but decided to make a political issue out of it.

The truth is their political issue seems to have backfired.  It only points out how the lack of competition is harming the availability of really fast internet in the US. It is why US is in 27th place in internet speed.

The conservative position should be: We need competition so we don’t need to implement Net Neutrality rules.  But, the GOP politicians don’t seem to even mention that option. Until we get real competition, Net Neutrality is our best bet as consumers to insure free speech and consumer protection.

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Official walkthroughs

One last thing I wanted to do with Date Ariane was create some official walkthroughs. There are a couple of unofficial ones out there designed for Classic Date Ariane, but I decided with the changes I made they are going to be out of date.  So I started posting walkthroughs at arianeb.tumblr.com, coming up with 24 that will pass through all 53 points of interest in the game.

I then created a page you can go to on my website: http://arianeb.com/walkthrough.htm containing links to the 24 walkthroughs as well as an alphabetical index of the 53 points of interest and where to find them.

One of the reasons I did these walkthroughs, besides the constant questions I get of “how do you do this?”, was to make sure every aspect of the game works correctly. I did find a handful of bugs, nothing major, but the walkthroughs will work best if you download the game again or use the online version.

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Experiments for the next game

Another thing I did since finishing the game update was try out Tlaero’s Adventure Creator which is a tool designed to quickly and easily create the hundreds of html files needed for a dating sim type game like Date Ariane.  I wish I had this tool before, because it would save me a lot of time and effort. Version 5, just released, creates pages which will highlight hidden picture links so you can play these games on tablets.  Again, something I wish I had earlier.

That’s the problem with being a pioneer in the field, you don’t have access to all the cool tools that are developed later.

I tried out the program, first by doing some of the tutorials, and then by trying to create an HTML version of the Rachel portion of Something’s In The Air.  I think the experiment was a success in that I learned that converting a Renpy developed project into HTML simply involves a lot of copying and pasting between a Renpy editor and the Adventure Creator. Graphic Puzzles are not so easy to convert as the scripting is in two different languages, but because the Rachel portion of SITA does not involve any puzzles like that it shouldn’t be difficult to convert it to online.

Why would I want to convert it to online?  Popularity.  It took a little over a year for SITA to reach 100,000 downloads. In the past year the online version of Date Ariane has been played by around 1 million unique visitors.  Download reaches about 10% of what online does, a figure more or less confirmed when comparing online virtual worlds with ones you have to download a client first.  Habbo, an online virtual world in 2D, gets 10 times the traffic of Second Life, which is in 3D and requires a client download.

I only finished about 10% of the conversion so far.  I’m mostly doing it as proof of concept.

That concept being that Renpy is easy to develop games in because everything is laid out in a nice script, but once developed I can fairly easily convert it to HTML using Adventure Creator for online play. The download version would be the Renpy game which you could play without having to do stuff that breaks your browser’s security as it would be a stand alone game.

The next game?

I’ve been thinking a lot about what my next game would be like. I’m still thinking, actually.

The first concept I thought about and was actually planning to do (hence all my references to a Rachel game being next) is Rachel’s Fantasy Dating. The game would be played from Rachel’s point of view as she goes out with different people.

In SITA, I established she has a fetish for fantasy, so she goes on what seem like ordinary dates, but then she starts to imagine a fantasy scenario to make the date more interesting. Because you are seeing the date from Rachel’s perspective, the costumes and settings would suddenly change to fit the fantasy. The challenge would be to get your dates to play along instead of sit there very confused.

The first trouble with the concept had to do with this being a date simulator of Calvin and Hobbes. The scenarios would be difficult to write as I spent months and could only come up with two: a lake boating trip turns into a pirate adventure, and a particularly awkward date suddenly becomes an alien in Rachel’s eyes.

The latter made me realize this would work better as a web comic than a visual novel. Thinking also about the cost of new 3D sets and costumes for each date also made me realize this would work better as a hand drawn 2D web comic. So I am no longer going to do that project, back to square 1.

My next concept I imagined was an Ariane part 3, that starts where SITA ends: You and Ariane are on a trip together on a tropical paradise. I like the idea of taking Ariane somewhere exotic where nudity is not a big deal, and a new location might get Ariane to be more sexually adventurous.

Trouble with the idea came when I tried to come up with a conflict. Without conflict, the game would just be a bunch of tropical vacation slides.  The only thing I could think of is Ariane’s fear of relationships has her undermining the relationship throughout the trip, your job would be to try to get her to stop and prove you are the one for her.

It is a good idea for drama’s sake, possibly involving probing Ariane’s psyche to get to the root of her fear of relationships. That’s a pretty dark concept and I learned my lesson in SITA not to mix Ariane and dark concepts. Bottom line I would not have fun making a game like that, nor do I think many would like playing a game like that. Maybe once for the sake of the story, but there is no replay value.  Moving on…

My third concept is “Date (someone else)”. Create a new character and create new activities.

The biggest problem here is “What activities?” because there is very little I have not already done in either DA or SITA, so I would just be repeating myself a lot.

But I think I may have found a solution to this one: What if I set “Date (someone else)” in a future where the world is a different place? I could throw in a bunch of sci-fi concepts I have brewing around in my head as well as pick and choose concepts from many of my favorite sci-fi books and shows. Borrowing from the “Rachel Fantasy” concept, I want to make the game 3rd person as you play from the heroine’s perspective, and borrowing from the “Ariane 3″ idea, I could make nudity and sexual openness part of the culture as well. I could also make up a bunch of new activities that are not possible today thus mostly avoiding the self repeats.

Here’s my first concept render for a main character and special tech clothes:

scifi3

It’s a start, one that I am considering as I try to come up with enough ideas and stories and puzzles to make a game out of it. I’m not even sure if it will be an actual dating sim or more of a classic adventure type game, guess I’ll see how it plays out.