The next game after LLtP
Note: This is a tweaked and expanded version of a post I made for Wizard and Grandmaster supporters a little while ago. I felt like the post was good enough to reuse. Apologies to those who already know most of the below, but you'll get more exclusive info later, so stay tuned. I have made this post public so that everything in here can be talked about openly, even with those who do not usually follow my Patreon and SubscribeStar pages.
Well, it's finally time for me to pull back the curtains and talk about my plans for the next project. Before going into specifics, however, I'd like to share some of my goals and philosophies behind my idea.
When I started working on this, I had several goals in mind that I wanted to achieve:
- The game shouldn't lean too much towards the traditional Visual Novel style. Almost every adult game out there is a VN these days. I want to do something new and fresh, which moves us closer to regular games without sacrificing any of the porn.
- The erotic content should be more readily available and appear more frequently. Basically, the game should be easier to get off to. LLtP spaces these things out so much, especially in the beginning, that it doesn't work well for those looking for erotic stimulation.
- The core gameplay loop (i.e., what you spend most of your time doing) must be fun to play, even if you strip away all the porn.
- The core gameplay needs to work with the story, not against it.
- The naughty stuff must be an integral part of all aspects of the game, both regular gameplay and Visual Novel (VN) sections.
- There needs to be a constant stream of rewards for the player, both in story progression and the number of things to do in the core gameplay loop.
- The game must have a setting and content that does not bring it at odds with Patreon rules.
- It needs to play equally well on a computer, using a mouse and keyboard, and on Android devices.
- It must not be in the fantasy genre! I have covered my reasoning for this before, but to summarize: I've expended so many fantasy art resources that I have few left. Besides, I want to do something different. Preferably something that maximizes my ability to use any available Daz Studio assets.
- In terms of art and music, the presentation should be at a level rarely before seen in western adult games. Static screens with nothing but an image and some text should be avoided where possible.
- To put it more bluntly, I want to make a game that plays quicker and is more consistently rewarding than LLtP. I'm not saying that the LLtP approach is wrong, only that I want to do something different. I also want this new game to be just as focused on actual gameplay as it is on the VN parts. LLtP focused more on the VN aspects while spending less time overall on the gameplay.
Please keep in mind that I'm sharing my thoughts on this game early in its development process. It's still in the design phase, and no actual code has been written. As a result, I'm open to all kinds of feedback and can make sweeping changes based on it. So, anything I say in this post can change without warning. Heck, I might ditch all of it if nobody really likes it.
The New Game
My new game is set in modern times. In it, you play a male photographer who is building his career from nothing but raw talent. He is helped by a woman who's very much into the things he might end up photographing. I plan to make both these two characters playable. As you might already have guessed, the woman mentioned above is this game's Belle-like character. While this is a contemporary setting, I'm not opposed to making it more fantastic. I'd love to have feedback on this. Should I keep it believable and grounded? Should I introduce fantastic elements, such as superheroes? Maybe even some kind of concept that allows me to draw in elements from all kinds of genres? Let me know what you think.
There is no grand, overarching story here of the type you saw in LLtP, at least not at the same scale. Instead, we will focus on individual characters and their personal challenges. The story will be more compartmentalized and sectioned off. You should be able to approach many things in the order of your choosing.
Most importantly of all, The Game is not a pure VN. There will be VN sections, but they will be presented as "episodes" that you can play at any point after you unlock them. This might require playing other episodes first or achieving goals elsewhere. These episodes are not tied to The Game's updates, so you might see multiple episodes in one update in some cases. The VN sections of The Game serve to move the story forward, but they will offer little interactivity.
When not playing the VN episodes, you will be managing your photo studio. This is the big X-factor in this game. I want the act of photography to be a big deal, something you actually have to do as a player, taking control of the process and trying to make the best of it. You'll be photographing willing (but possibly reluctant) models in all states of dress (or undress) and all kinds of poses. Each model will play differently in this part if I can get things to where I want them. Your goal is to make these models famous and (hopefully) naked and (god willing) in your bed.
The photo sessions are a big deal in The Game. This is the one part that must be absolutely 100% right. It is what everything revolves around. It will not be styled as a VN. It should instead feature actual gameplay that needs to be engaging and addictive without ever becoming grindy. A player who takes an optimal path through the story should spend maybe 75% or more of their time in the photo studio parts. However, it will be possible to emphasize this for those who are really into the mechanics. Speaking of mechanics...
I'm a big boardgamer. I probably haven't talked much about that, but I am. I play tons of board games, but I design them too (not commercially, though). I have a fair understanding of what works and what doesn't in such games. I believe I can make compelling gameplay with worthwhile choices and satisfying rewards. As such, my current plan is for the photo sessions to be presented as a collectible card game (CCG).
"Wait, what?" I hear some of you saying. Hear me out! You will have your own deck of cards to build, upgrade, and expand over time by finding or buying new card packs. But let me make one thing clear right now: Under no circumstances will I ever, ever, involve real money in this. This is all about giving you goals and rewards for in-game actions. I love CCGs and opening new card packs, but I hate the act of paying money for them. I'm not in this to get rich. I just want to make a good game without the worst commercial aspects of the genre.
Want to upgrade your camera equipment? You'll purchase (again, using in-game resources, NOT real money!) cards that represent your camera during the photoshoots. Want to improve your skills? Those are cards too. Dealing with an inexperienced model? Tough luck. She's adding her own cards to your deck when you're taking pictures of her, whether you want her to or not, and those cards might suck. Better start improving her skills (cards) ASAP. Depending on the challenges you face, you might want to customize your deck by swapping out cards for new ones or upgrading them.
Each photo you take during a shoot represents one turn in the CCG, and each match is a set number of turns. The cards you play and the results of each turn influence how the shoot progresses. Want her to flash her boobs for the next picture you're taking? Well, you'd better set the mood with your next card plays. You will always see the pictures as you take them, so each turn will give you another (hopefully) sexy pose and state of undress to look at. That might sound dull, but if so, I'd like to draw your attention to the point above about the game's presentation.
I'm going to talk about the exact mechanics once my design solidifies. Suffice to say, the groundwork is already in place, and the basic engine is fully working in my prototype. Cards can be dragged around and played using your mouse or a finger (on touch devices). They can be examined in detail, giving a complete overview of what they do and what rules they are governed by. If you have played a modern digital CCG, you'll know the basics.
But I like the storytelling in LLtP! Won't your stupid card game get in the way of that?
Nope. Suppose you have ever played one of Fantasy Flight Games' Living Card Games (Arkham Horror and Lord of the Rings in particular, but also games like Marvel Champions). In that case, you'll know that it is perfectly possible to combine a CCG with a storyline. That is what I want to do here. I want part of the story to be told in VN style and part as card gameplay.
You won't have a standard dialogue with a couple of choices to make that rely on ability checks. That was how I did it in LLtP. In my new game, the cards played by both you and the computer (which follows a different set of rules from you) will all tell a story. Individual matches will be built around a scenario with unique events that you have to deal with. Maybe one such scenario is about a model struggling with her self-esteem during a shoot, requiring you to use all your skills to help her overcome this. Maybe she is upset at you and refusing to follow your instructions as you desperately attempt to rescue the photo session. All of this will be represented through cards, making sure that you can even play the same scenario multiple times and have the story in it progress differently.
The card game will not be an annoying minigame that stands in the way of the VN sections you really want to see. Both parts of the game will help build each other up, making the other one stronger. To see a game built around these same principles, have a look at HuniePop. While my game won't be in that style at all, it still shows the kind of balance that I want to achieve between two vastly different types of gameplay in one game. HuniePop without the Match 3 game wouldn't be HuniePop, nor would it without the VN parts. It's all part of the overall package.
There is one thing I really want to stress here: The card game mechanics in this new game will not be a minigame. Minigames are small, often poorly made distractions meant to keep you busy. The card game will be the central part of my game, and it should be fun to play. If I can pull it off, it should be what draws you back in over and over again.
Why did I decide to take things in such a drastically different direction from LLtP?
Because I want to. No, seriously, that's about it. I can't stand doing the same thing over and over again. Making another pure VN, even one as open-ended as LLtP, would kill me creatively. I need to try things that have rarely, if ever, been tried in porn before. A CCG in a porn game? What kind of crazy fucker would do something as dumb as that? Well, you're listening to that particular crazy fucker right now. Will it work? It should. Will it be popular? I hope so. Can this fail spectacularly? You bet.
But that's why you're reading this. I want you to help me figure this out. I'm not going to dive too deep into the mechanics with you guys right now. That comes later. In fact, I'm still trying things out and tweaking the core ideas to find the magic formula that makes these games so addictive and engaging. What I do want to discuss with you all, however, is the premise itself. Does this game concept sound appealing to you at all? What would you like to see me change, if anything? What should I be wary of? What pitfalls might I be facing that I haven't thought about? What would you most like to see in this kind of game?
As I said, this game is still in the design phase. If you want to influence it, there will never be as good of an opportunity as now. I want to hear your opinions, everyone! Good or bad, I'd like to hear your thoughts.
Do I expect you all to like what I have presented above? No. Some of you are probably deeply disappointed right now. I understand, and I'm sorry. I just hope you understand why I'm doing this and in this particular way. But even if you are one of the disappointed people, I'd still love to hear why you are disappointed and what I might be able to do to improve things for you.
So, let's hear it. I'm nervous as fuck about telling you about the game concept. It could be one of the biggest faceplants of my life; it could be a huge success, or (more likely) something in-between. Feedback will make me more confident about the direction I take from here.
Consider this post a brief taste of what I have in store for you. There is so much more to say, but I want to take this slow. There is no rush. After all, LLtP still needs to be finished before I'll even consider publishing the first version of the new game.