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I figured it’s time for another little update, so everybody has an idea of where I’m at and what I’m working on. So, let’s take a look at the state of the game…
Bugs The latest build is out in the wild, and I’m sure everyone has noticed that it’s pretty buggy. The bugs have really been compounding as I go along. I know most of this is due to some problems with the core systems of the game, which is something I’d started working on back when I was furloughed at the beginning of COVID and had a solid block of consecutive days to work on it.
The biggest issues are with the scene pickers and how the passage of time is handled. The general idea here is that the game is divided up into a few time blocks like so:
Morning status update
Job notice (if applicable)
Morning prep (mirror, shower, dressing, etc.)
Free day room menu (if applicable)
Day block #1
Day block #2
Free evening room menu (if applicable)
Evening block #1
Evening block #2
Evening prep (shower option)
Sleep / Dreams
Each time block has code that looks through all of the scenes available for that time period and decides which ones to show. In the case of free time events, a scene will be selected for each possible activity type that the player can choose.
It’s worked fine for a long time because the player was kept on a pretty rigid schedule, but as I’ve been allowing more events that break away from this (hooking up with guests at the club, special story events like the beach party, or modeling for Scarlet/Dave), the more obvious it is that the current system just can’t handle these properly.
I’ve been a bit torn on tackling these issues. On one hand, there are some aspects of Python and Ren’Py that I could use some time to learn a bit more about (mostly getting a better grasp on how classes are handled, and what happens if I try to update or modify class objects between builds—can I do it in a way that won’t break saved games?). On the other hand, Twi is still working on a new build for Interns that will allegedly solve these problems for me. It could be quite a while before everything in the current build of the game is ported over and working, however…
Ultimately, I’ll probably take another stab at it, since, if nothing else, it’ll help clarify the logic we’ll need for managing these sorts of things (such as assigning priorities to events, checking for the characters involved, etc.)
MC System Working on Interns always feels like a stop-and-go affair, where I work on something for a couple of days, and then have to put it off for a few weeks to do my day job, write more story, tackle some other problem, put out a release, etc.
The mind control/mental change system is probably the most recent victim of this. I’ve been chipping away at it, and the most recent build of the game actually has a lot of the new stuff in place; dream events and the player’s reaction to them now change some variables on the back end. What I’m still working on is figuring out the best way to handle how willpower checks will work in decision menus.
It’s getting there, though. I’ve figured out the basics of color-coded text, adding indicator icons next to choices, and the math involved in deciding if the player passes or fails a check. Working version also has some “hint” text that gives you an idea of what’s influencing/causing the willpower check.
What I’m still working on is figuring out how to handle overlapping checks (when obedience and/or indoctrination, lust hit in different combinations). I also need to revise the game GUI to have some kind of willpower indicator, so the player knows where their character stands at any given point in time.
Avatar Code The code for displaying the player character is still an issue. It has the biggest impact on performance due to how complex and inefficient it is, and I know people are getting “out of memory” errors with the mirror scenes.
It’ll need to be revised at some point to make it work better. I know the biggest issue is the tanning system, as it’s doing a lot of crazy stuff to create custom alpha masks on the fly. I’ll either need a better way of doing this, or I may need to consider reducing the complexity or eliminating it entirely.
The most recent updates for Ren’Py have also added the MatrixColor operations to the Animation Transformation Language (ATL). I’ve been using the old im.MatrixColor to make it possible to color tint images, but this new ATL version is supposed to be much better for performance, so it would probably be a good idea to figure out how I can take advantage of it.
Oh, and lastly: No, I haven’t forgotten about the black dress issue. I still need to redo all of the artwork for it, but it needs revisions to the avatar code in order for it to display properly (it’s a layer order issue), so I’ve been putting it off for the time being.
Crowdfunding and Future Plans More than a few times now, I’ve started writing a post on my thoughts on the future or my projects. I think, for now, I’ll try to do a short version:
It’s safe to say that the financial backing I’ve received on Patreon and SubscribeStar has been huge motivators for the project. Without it, I would have likely shelved the project and moved onto something more manageable in order to get more experience first. But as there’s so much interest in support, it’s been keeping me pushing forward.
And while the steady support has been a great help in my life, it’s at a bit of an awkward state where it doesn’t actually provide me with more time to work on the project—Interns is still something I work at on the days when I’m not doing my full-time job.
Interns isn’t really in a state where I want to put more effort into promoting it to anyone looking for a game to actually play, rather than “an interesting WIP to check out.” So, I find myself thinking: What kind of additional value can I provide for my supporters?
Time and energy are still limited, so I’d like to avoid anything that’d be too demanding (at least until I’m able to do this sort of thing as a part-time job). But here are some ideas I’ve been thinking about:
High(er) resolution images This is probably the easiest thing I can do. The CGs I make are created well above the resolution I use for the game, so it wouldn’t be too hard to provide backers with large versions of some CGs.
I could also do wallpapers or maybe some exclusive image sets that are only for backers. (It’d be nice to be able to give the high-tier backers something unique, of course, since they rarely get anything special to reward the extra support they provide me with.)
Unrelated Story Fragments My brain is always working on new worlds and story concepts. I jot them down when I think of them, to keep forgetting them, and often that includes writing down scripts for scene ideas that I have at the time. (I tend to be way better at coming up with interesting ideas for scenarios than I am at figuring out how to give them satisfying story arcs or endings…)
I’ve thought some of them might be interesting to share (maybe with a little bit of cleaning up, first).
The collaborative VN Student Transfer has a scenario viewer system built in that I found interesting. I thought perhaps I could make my own special viewer “game” that people could download and then I could release the little story bits as add-ons for the player.
It might be a good way to see if any of my other story ideas have any potential. Maybe there’ll be something a bit more straightforward that I can spin off as a secondary project.
Anyway, these are just some of my recent ideas. As always, let me know your thoughts!
Here's hoping this is at least presentable! Lots and lots of bugs were introduced and are still remaining, but the new scenes do appear to work.
NEW SAVE REQUIRED! Way too much added here to even try to be compatible with old saves, I'm afraid.
Biggest changes content-wise are a continuation of the modeling path for Scarlet (to get the latest event in the chain, the PC can't have had sex more than once), and a few new dreams (and some old ones have returned).
This update was also really graphics-heavy, with a bunch of new CGs and sprites added to the game. The adult channel has been briefly revisited with some of the text-only scenes getting a few extra graphics, and there are a bunch of new renders for the new scenes, too.
On the less visible side of things, I've been pushing ahead with the mind-control, mental change, and willpower stuff. Change events have been seeded into the game in the scenes that were always intended for them (mostly dreams). You won't actually notice anything different, but your stats are being changed behind the scenes. (In the next build, I hope to at least be able to provide an end-of-game summary of your character's stats.)
Similarly, I've been going through scenes where willpower checks will take place, adding documentation for what the checks will be, and writing the hint and failure text. Again, does little for the end-user right now, but it's a necessary part of the process of getting these mechanics into the game.
More noticeable will be the orientation changes. I've gone through and done a first draft of a system that will allow the player character's orientation to shift. It might be a bit too aggressive for now, but as the game has some scenes that are locked off by the PC's orientation, I wanted to make them attainable.
There's a lot of other assorted stuff I've started to add as well, such as revised tracking of sex events and a section of the code intended to figure out how the player is playing the game so the game can better react to it (which I'm currently calling the Game Master).
• Seeded obedience and indoctrination calls.
• Increased sleep deprivation penalty.
• Some slight adjustments to PC's orientation changes and seeded code into existing events
(flirting/sleeping with men should cause a faster shift now)
• Minor Typo correction pass.
• Created new CGs for a few adult channel TV events.
• Added basic sex-event functions which should better track player activities.
• Re-enabled "shape-touching" dreams and added two additional dreams to the series.
• Initial draft of Game Master - Attempts to make generalized summary player's actions soappropriate events can be queued in reaction.
Here’s a bit of an early update for you. I shared some of this on the Discord (which started after venting some frustration over trying to update an old scene), and figured I may as well share with everyone else…
I’ve been going back through existing scenes and adding either notes for future me on willpower checks or code for applying “indoctrination” or “obedience”-type brainwashing. No gameplay impact just yet, but it gets the underlying mechanics in place.
Doing a complete trial run through the game, I found my character’s indoctrination was at 20% and obedience was at 2% by the end. That actually doesn’t sound too bad for a first attempt, using mostly the existing dreams (just be glad I haven’t added anything to the nap section just yet…).
Some questions came up on changes to the player character’s identity (the shift from the PC seeing himself as a man suddenly trapped in a woman’s body to actually identifying as the woman “he” sees in the mirror) and sexual orientation.
The former has had some weak mechanics in the game for a long time. It’s affected by the current body type (more curves = harder to not see yourself as a girl), clothing/perfume choices, amount of time spent using the mirror, and slow shift just from waking up every day in that body.
The latter…well, that’s much more of a mess, the extent of which I hadn’t realized until I did a search through the code to check up on it.
I don’t want to get completely off-track working on it, but I did see an opportunity to take some of what I worked on with indoctrination/obedience and whip up a derivative function to add some standardization to events that can change the PC’s orientation.
So I did just that and seeded the events into a bunch of places that seemed appropriate (flirting with men, sleeping with men, etc.). It’s not remotely balanced and it only goes one way (I’d really like to have mechanics where it can shift in both directions, and perhaps gravitate toward bisexual), but since there’s a lot of stuff that’s gated behind the PC’s orientation, making it possible to shift it at all seemed like an important thing to have sooner, rather than later.
In testing, it probably worked a little too well, as my PC had lost all interest in women by game’s end. (I've got my little developer cheat window that allows me to spot-check some important stats, as you can see below).
Testing also made it painfully obvious that lots of existing content wasn’t properly designed to handle this. I’m not sure if it’s going to be a matter of certain scenes needing to be time-limited to prevent them from showing after the player has had enough time to shift their orientation, or if all of them need to be expanded in order to adapt to it.
It’s an incredibly messy challenge, unfortunately.
Wow, this month went fast. For some reason, February always feels shorter than other months… Of course, that could be because it is.
Nothing major to report so far. Had our latest public release with some big bugfixes and an overhaul to the body transformation code, but lots of other big bugs persist (a lot of looping scenes and such).
I took some time to pick up where I left off on the willpower systems. I’ve got some basic code for displaying choices with willpower checks and providing the player some feedback about what’s influencing them (which I think I had a preview of previously).
Last weekend I took a stab at code for applying mind control/mental changes to the player character. For these, I took some notes from RPG leveling systems with the basic philosophy that these changes should slow down the further along the player gets. So, going from 1% indoctrination to 2% will require way fewer points than moving from 71% to 72%.
What I have appears to work, but no idea on balancing yet. At least I have actual function calls I can start working into the game, however.
Next big hurdle that I’m struggling with are complex situations.
As a reminder, there are three planned aspects to MC in Interns:
Indoctrination – The more indoctrinated, the PC likes being at the resort and wants to do “fun” activities. It takes more willpower to force herself to do things that aren’t “fun.”
Obedience – The more obedient the PC is, the harder it is to refuse to do something she’s asked to do by someone with authority over her.
Lust – The more desperate the PC is for sexual release, the more willpower required to pass on an option that would likely provide release.
And, right now, willpower checks work like this:
The PC has a pool of willpower from 0 to 100 points.
A willpower check has a difficulty between 0 and 100 points, based on various stats (most notably, level of indoctrination or obedience).
If the PC’s current willpower is higher than the willpower check, they pass the check.
Passing a check will drain an amount of willpower from the pool (this is restored by resting).
If the PC’s willpower is lower than the difficulty of the check, they fail.
No points are taken if the PC fails the check. A message hints at why the check failed and the choice is locked out.
So, a simple scenario would be something like…
“Pick one” (PC is compelled by “obedience” to pick choice A.) A) Serve guests drinks. (No restrictions) B) Go back to your room. (Must pass obedience willpower check)
The code I’ve made can handle this one with no problems.
However, things can quickly overlap, such as…
“Pick one” (PC is compelled by “obedience” to pick choice A. The party is also a “fun” activity, so indoctrination kicks in.) A) Go to a party. (No restrictions) B) Investigate the resort. (Must pass obedience AND indoctrination willpower check)
Still not that challenging, but if the willpower check fails, I have to find the best way to convey to the player *why* it failed (did they beat the command but not the indoctrination)?
Now, where I’m really getting into trouble is something like the free-time room menu. It’s not a matter of the player picking one option or another, but getting a whole host of different options that can be influenced by all three MC types…
“Spend the evening…” A) Watching TV B) Watching porn C) Masturbating D) Investigating the hotel E) Visiting the Club F) Visiting poolside G) Taking a nap
If the PC is influenced by lust, there should be a willpower check on any activity that won’t likely lead to release. So:
A) Watching TV D) Investigating the hotel F) Visiting poolside G) Taking a nap
These should *only* apply if the lust requirements are met, however.
Indoctrination will likely push back against anything that isn’t a “fun” resort activity, so willpower checks on…
A) Watching TV B) Watching porn C) Masturbating D) Investigating the hotel G) Taking a nap
And, let’s just say, in this instance, the PC has been directed not to investigate the resort. That option will have an additional check.
So, I need to figure out how to handle these.
I considered a situation where you pass the first check but fail the second…which would result in a drain to the PC’s willpower, even though it was failed check. I get the feeling that might cause issues, though.
And, if you try one of the menu options and fail, should all of the other options that require the same check be automatically removed? (And should the menu buttons disappear, as they would by default, or should I figure out a way to show “disabled” buttons?)
One thought I had was to let the player know up-front that they can’t pass a check by changing the menu button, rather than allowing them to try to click it at all. Or, perhaps clicking on it would just provide the explanation as to why they can’t pass.
Anyway, hope this at least gives you an idea of what I’ve been chipping away at.
While I originally thought the willpower stuff above might’ve made for a good BTS post for this month, I later figured it was info I was better off sharing with everyone. So, for backers, I’m instead going to give a preview of some upcoming CGs.
I felt the TV scenes were long overdue for some graphics, so I’ve been trying to fill them in, starting with existing scenes, after which I plan on doing some more generic images if I still have time. Enjoy!
Well, looks like I really went down the rabbit hole on this one (which, now that I think of it, makes perfect sense with that whole "easily-distracted rabbity" thing)…
I had intended to do more story-writing for this build, but what started out as a quick scene I added to the first (pre-transformation) days at the resort ended up spiraling out of control as I got increasingly frustrated with parts of the game that just weren't working.
So…let's call this one a "quality of life" update.
Things that will be noticeable to players:
The aforementioned scene has been added early on in the first week (the actual day you see it depends on one of your first choices). On the surface level, it's just the PC ogling girls on the beach.
The body transformation code has gotten a rework, and there are now graphics to accompany noticing all size changes in the morning. (Changes should happen a little more gradually now, rather than all at once.)
Lots of fixes on the wardrobe menu. I hadn't realized how horribly broken it was.
Most everything else are fixes for bugs that were reported (or that I came across), changes that I hope will make things a little less frustrating, or part of the reorganization effort to help with porting the game content over to the new version Twi has been working on.
New scene for first week: beach binoculars
Partial rewrite of morning body chance notice. New "avatar" graphics to go with them.
Quick rewrite of body transformation system. Hopefully better gradual TF.
Repair and additions to wardrobe system, including some error handling. Selections might actually be remembered now…
Major code cleanup and reorganization pass (to help Twi with porting to new backend system).
Bug fix: Revisions to Cynthia's morning code to restore dressing sequences.
Bug fix: Fixed bug preventing Cyn from properly assessing PC's bra size.
Bug fix: Wardrobe menu should default to unlocked (the player should choose when they don't want to see it anymore)
Bug fix: Prioritized 1st sunscreen event for Cynthia, so she hopefully won't miss it (resulting in the PC getting a sunburn).
Bug fix: Poolside May event should now recognize if you've noticed John but haven't met him.
Game "balancing": Added delay to prevent eye color TF from being done in one day.
Game "balancing": Halved chance of filler events, to give bigger events greater priority.
Miscellaneous update notes
I tried something that's likely long-overdue: I wrote a little bit of test code to translate the numbers I use for RNG event weights into actual percentages.
Here's a quick sample of what one of my tests looked like:
I thought it was interesting to see what those chances really looked like, as the original code for weighted random events was donated by someone else years ago.
Just a quick update on the "Rebuild of Interns" project: It looks like getting the new time log to support Ren'Py's rollback functionality probably isn't going to happen; Twi says errors in Ren'Py's code is preventing the engine from functioning the way it's been documented, so we'd need to wait on the developer to address these if we wanted to push forward with it.
My thoughts on this are that rollback doesn't strike me as terribly necessary; rollback is great in games where only one line of text is displayed on-screen at a time. Interns uses a text window that typically contains the majority of the recent scene. It's fairly easy for the player to scroll through the text log if they need to re-read something.
But what do you, the players, think?
Is rollback something you use? Would you mind if it was disabled?
I know, in my experience, my desktop system really struggles when rolling back through mirror images using the player avatar system, and I've yet to solve the problems caused by rolling back just as a new outfit is added to the PC's inventory.
On the topic of the avatar system, I see that Ren'Py version 7.4.0 and 7.4.1 are now available. To my knowledge, this is the first update to the engine since 2019.
I'm sure there's a lot of things in there that will be important—Python 3 support, Windows 64 bit support, etc... but, for me, I'm excited to see some of the graphical options.
The new blur transform property is something I've always wanted to see—Ren'py never had a simple way to blur the screen. With this, I may rework the effects for getting drunk to include more blur and perhaps less of the current effects.
The matrixcolor property, on the other hand, I have mixed feelings about...
I went through a lot of effort to include the old im.MatrixColor manipulator to the avatar code to allow me to put a color tint on the images. It turns out, this new transform property makes it not only an easier process, it appears it's much more efficient, so it should run a lot faster. And, hell, rather than coloring each individual part, it can be applied to an entire layer of the screen, allowing groups of objects to be easily recolored.
I'll have to rewrite a whole bunch of stuff (again), but it should mean that the game will run a lot better for everybody.
For backers today, I've got an assorted mishmash of behind the scenes stuff. Graphically, I've got some samples of an experiment I was doing for sex scene CGs. I wanted to see if I could cheat on some elements of character customization (tan, hair color, etc.) by doing some artistic silhouettes.
So, Twi, who’s been working to help me by creating a new framework for the game, has been urging me to keep everyone in the loop with a progress update.
While I’ve been struggling to learn Git and have been doing cleanup and reorganization of the game code and files to make it comprehensible to someone who isn’t me, Twi has built a timelog system and now has a stand-alone proof-of-concept “game” running with the new code.
Up until now, the game hasn’t really been aware of anything the player has done unless I explicitly have a scene set variables that I remember to check later.
Twi’s timelog sets out to make this less hap-hazard by creating a time-stamped registry of events. Whenever the PC interacts with a character or takes some kind of an action, I can add it to the log when it happens so that there will be a standardized record.
The log also has helpful search functions, so I can find out when something happened, how often, how much time passed between it happening, etc., etc. The new code for scenes can allow these log entries to be used as requirements for scenes to be selected, which should make adding them to the game a bit easier.
Admittedly, my coding skills are pretty weak, as most of my experience is with Ren’Py’s own language and small bits of Python that I’ve been using from inside of it.
Twi tells me that Python is heavily-modified inside of Ren’Py, which has made developing the timelog a bit challenging, particularly because of Ren’Py’s rollback feature.
For those who aren’t familiar, in most Ren’Py games, you can use the mouse wheel (or, I believe, page-up and page-down) to “reverse time” and step back through the game to an extent.
Ren’Py is pretty good about remembering variables that have been set and changing them back (otherwise Interns would completely break if the player rolled back past a variable that tracks some important event). The changes made to Python in order to make this happen are making this difficult to implement the timelog in a way that will allow it to rollback as well.
It sounds like this issue is mostly solved, however, so things are looking good.
I’m trying not to allow working on this rebuild to prevent me from getting new content out, so we’ve been discussing splitting things up and creating two versions of the game for the near future; the “legacy” version that continues as-is, and a new version built on this new framework.
Existing content will be added to the new build over time, and players can try it out and give us feedback on how it’s working, what bugs they’re coming across, etc.
So, this is our last update of 2020 it seems. Nothing too exciting going on so far on my end. I’ve gotten a lot of feedback on the latest release, which includes a whole bunch of bugs—many of which are he results of issues that have been compounding over time, so I’ll probably need a while to pull the whole thing apart and get it running properly. (In particular, I need to figure out why the clothing preview disappears if you have Cynthia helping in the mornings, and why one of her scenes keeps repeating.)
The HS community keeps putting out useful models and such, so I’ve updated my library with additional items and clothing. The beach scene that I used for the preview image in the last update was mostly created using these new models (rather than trying to fudge a beach scene with photo manipulation). I’ve also got a new, higher-resolution body mesh that I’m excited to try out (including poseable toes).
I’m probably going to be pressing my luck with the censors on Patreon (less so on SubscribeStar), but I’ll give you at the, uh…interactive genitalia in the backers-only post, so click here to check that out.
I’ve also gone back to what I left unfinished from the beginning of the last update; namely the mind-control elements I was working on, as well as trying to get all of the existing sex scenes up to stuff with proper event tracking (and now there are a few more of them). Hopefully, we’ll eventually have consistent tracking for virginity loss and the like.
Aside from those, some of my time has been spent getting acquainted with Git and Gitlab, learning how handle collaboration with Interns. Git is command-line-based, so it’s a lot of learning what commands do what, and trying not to explode the game while figuring out how to do version control.
I did a brief look into image up-scaling via AI. A problem I frequently run into is not having large or sharp enough images to work with, so I thought it might be another nice tool to add to my arsenal. Looks a bit more complicated to set up than I was expecting, however, so I’m not sure it’s quite worth the time investment to figure out.
Anyway, I hope everyone’s enjoying the last of 2020, and is looking forward to more Interns development in 2020.
This release is mostly a bugfix update, but does contain a few new CGs. Changes:
• New CGs added to Dave modeling scene. • Fixed issue with "[partner_name]" variable appearing in text. • Adjusted sex scenes so that they should take up game time now. (No more back-to-back encounters as if no time had passed.) • Corrected misc typos and other text issues.
This build introduces the start of the "become a model" path, with photo shoot events available with Scarlet and Dave. You should be able to get started by bumping into Scarlet a few times or by being invited by Gabby.
A bunch of new sex opportunities are available (thanks a lot to guest-writer Thule). I've done a quick rewrite of the code that was supposed to handle the PC getting hit on (or intentionally picking up) guests at the club, as the old one clearly wasn't working properly. There are a handful of new sex events available. Sex with Dave is now a thing, too.
General rundown of what's new:
• New scenes with Scarlet, leading to modeling opportunities
• Scenes with Dave that spin-off from Scarlet's
• Multiple new hook-up encounters with guests and coworkers
• New avatar mirror image - should display more often the more the PC has adjusted to their new body
• New sprites for Gabby, Scarlet, Tiffany, John...and a couple new characters
Issues to be aware of:
• Images are still missing for a lot of scenes, especially the sex encounters (which would have been placeholders, anyway).
• Text still needs a polishing pass to get replace "--" with "—" and the like.
• The "wrap party" Scarlet mentions does not yet exist. Sorry.
• Using the phone for repeat hook-ups with random guests hasn't been restored yet
• Avatar mirror image still has some graphical problems in certain combinations
I realized that those who aren’t active on the Discord probably haven’t heard much from me in a while, so I figured I’d better take a moment to check-in.
I’m going to -try- to keep it brief, as I don’t want to use too much of my writing time for update posts, but I figured I’d better let you know what’s happening before the month gets completely away from me.
So, for the last couple of weeks, I’ve been really focused on content writing and editing. It always amazes me how scenes that seem like they’ll be simple end up getting overly-complex. A simple discussion with Scarlet ends up with 13+ options that each require different text. It’s a lot of setup for future quest stuff, so the choices are all there to figure out how to get your PC onto the path, or if your character will be exempt.
On the topic of Scarlet, I realized that I have updated models for her and Tiffany, but never replaced the sprites (I’m pretty sure Scarlet’s previous sprite was scaled up from low resolution, to boot). So those updated versions are in.
I’ve got some great story submissions from Thule—one of which ties in quite nicely with what I’m doing with Scarlet. I’ve been working on adapting those to fit in with existing code, as well as fixing up the guest approach code that hasn’t really been firing off, best I can tell (though there aren’t many sex scenes, you should have at least been able to repeat what’s already in there).
Regrettably, I’ve spread myself way too thin on what I tried to accomplish this cycle. I don’t want to make everyone wait even longer to have something new to play with, so this release is probably going to be low on graphics so that I can at least have new story content out.
For the next cycle, I’ll be looking into getting some assistance on the coding end of things and seeing if that helps at all.
And, also, for you backers out there, here’s a quick post about what I teased last time: a look at the game code outline I’ve started updating to help me keep track of what does what.
Hey, everybody. It appears I’ve been on a bit of a “when it’s ready” trend as far as new builds go, as I know it doesn’t go over too well when there isn’t enough new story content in a release. So, I apologize for that, and I hope to have the stuff I’ve been writing integrated into the game before too long.
I’ve been completely ADHD when it comes to this update , getting distracted by every little thing that’s come up while working on the game. (I’ll repeat it as many times as needed: I tend to hop around a lot in what I’m working on because I’m a hyperactive, easily-distracted, rabbity-thing that has a hard time staying focused.) I was cognizant enough to have been taking notes on what I’ve been working on, though, so at least I’m prepared for this update post. So if you haven’t been following my random posts on Discord, here’s what I’ve been doing lately:
Jumping around a bit on this. I started with a focus on sex scenes—particularly working on some girl-on-girl stuff and looking into updating the old ones to better track the PC’s experience. As always, this is one of my weak-points from a writing perspective, so these tend to take me a while to do.
Laila’s been getting a little love, now, as more of her prerequisites are in place. I think a future update will break the bar areas off from the main free-time events so that you can get a drink/chat with the bartender before doing your main activity for that block; otherwise getting to talk with Laila will be too random.
One of Scarlet’s storylines is slowly coming together—though, as always, it’s a bit tricky to plan, as I have to figure out what the PC’s possible attitudes are towards it, the relationship status with the other people involved, and how to handle various other wrenches that can be thrown into the scenario (what if the PC decides not to show up, or what if another event takes place at the same time?). Writing is in-progress for a few different scenes, at least.
I’ve written some scenes for John. I’m not sure why, other than it was on a whim while considering that it might be nice to give people another shot at meeting him. Haven’t decided which, if any, will be going in.
Helping Me Help…Me
As a continuation of my earlier “commitment” to “housecleaning” on the Interns project, I’ve started a document to act as a map for the crazy code of the game. (Might be a good “Behind the Scenes” update for next time, now that I think of it…)
I’ve created most of the systems for Interns on-the-fly, and often find the code to be a confusing maze whenever I need to add, edit, or just remember how things work. To make it easier on my future self, I’ve been updating this new document whenever I wade into these systems, writing down the label names, what file they can be found in, what labels/functions they call, etc.
This code outline has already helped me a lot when trying to figure out how to get those Cynthia scenes inserted into the mornings. Updating it for the evening free-time events has provided me with some good insights on how I can clean things up the next time I have a chance. A lot of sections can be broken apart so that elements that are reused frequently aren’t duplicated; an example being the second evening block repeating most of the first, and all of the code that handles skipping time blocks when an event needs to take up more time than normal.
Making NPCs Classy
Another one of my writing projects is to add additional character introduction scenes, and along with that comes the challenge of figuring out a way to handle who you’ve already met and who it’s important for you to meet ASAP.
So far, the plan is to have some code to push forward character introduction events that you’ve been missing in order to get you access to the important ones (so that you don’t go a month or two in-game without ever coming across them).
As a part of this, I’ve also been laying the groundwork for moving NPC information to a new object class. Hopefully this will make for a more uniform way of pulling information. (Has the PC seen them? Met them? Met them as a guy? Are they friendly? Etc.)
Trickiest part so far has been trying to figure out how to update old saves, as there’s a mess of existing variables from the early game, the meanings of which I’m not entirely clear on. I *think* I have something in-place that’s working.
The Dungeon Master
No, no…no sex dungeon yet (planned, but not just yet). Just the first section title I could come up with that fits the topic.
Some of the story ideas I have require the game to be able to figure out how you’ve been playing the game. Has your PC been hiding in their room whenever possible, avoiding everybody? What about the opposite approach—is she having sex with anyone and everyone? Has she been snooping around, or has she been a good girl who does all of her work as assigned?
Knowing what you’re character has been up to will allow me to serve up special story scenarios that fit with how you’ve been playing. The trick is figuring out how to do it.
As this will likely come down to adding variables to all sorts of game events/actions that don’t currently have them, it’s the sort of thing that will require players to start a new game. I know how much people hate that, so I’m hoping to have a reasonable plan ready for when I do my next pass on cleaning up the work-day event pickers, so I can kill a few birds with one stone. Twi on Discord has already given me some great suggestions how to do this.
Willpower and Mind Control
Work on this still continues, and was my main focus last month. I’ve been doing testing of what I’ve come up with in a stripped-down build that compiles faster, and the menu portion is coming along. I’m pretty excited for when I’ll get to put this in place and can go back and start adding these events—it’ll make some existing scenes a bit more interesting with MC checks finally in place.
On the graphics side of things, I have the third full mirror pose pretty much ready for the coding phase. If all goes well, that should make it into the next build. I’ve got one more of those in-progress (for the “most comfortable as a girl” stage), and then I’ll have to take another crack at the face closeups and see if I can get makeup working.
I’m still playing with new set and prop 3D models and have been doing some test renders to enable me to get some good-looking CGs with less Photoshop work. Unfortunately, I still don’t have everything I’d like to have…it would be great to have more variations on hotel rooms, but I’m looking at what I can do with the various props I do have access to.
At the very least, I think a lot of what I do have will help fill out more of the TV content. I’m hoping to make some more generic content so there’s at least some nice visuals to make the unlocked channel a bit more fun to check out.
I’ve been chipping away at the willpower/mind control/mental change mechanics and how this info will be conveyed to the player. It’s an assortment of lots of little challenges to be solved…all of which can be a little tricky for me, as I tend to go somewhat ADD and have difficulty focusing on the problem(s) for very long.
Spoilers ahead for the game, of course.
For the two main types of mind control in the game—which I call Obedience and Indoctrination, respectively—I realized the willpower check mechanics can be done fairly simply.
A willpower check will look something like this: There player is provided with a choice, with one option being what the PC is compelled to do, and the other choice being the option to resist the compulsion. The “resist” option requires an amount of willpower in order to be selected.
Now, say the PC can have up to a maximum of 100 points of willpower.
If I treat Obedience as a percentage (i.e. the PC is 30% conditioned to be obedient), the willpower checks can simply be this max willpower multiplied by the Obedience percentage.
So, at 5% Obedience conditioning, the PC will only need 5 points of Willpower to pass the check and chose the “resist” option. At 100%, they would need 100 points to pass (making it nearly impossible).
It’s fairly straight-forward and makes the willpower checks themselves a bit easier, leaving me to focus more on the mechanics that handle how those percentages are adjusted during the game.
The lust aspect is considerably more challenging, unfortunately. The idea being, choices that are influenced by lust have a lot more factors, such as the PC’s orientation, how desperate they are for some kind of release, etc. This ties into some mechanics that I’ve been working on simplifying.
And, to make things a bit more of a struggle for me, I’ve realized that some choices the player will be presented with can have overlapping conditions. It’s possible that some willpower checks will need to be made against both Lust and Indoctrination if the situation is one where the requirements overlap.
There are also some side cases where none of the main conditions apply. An example would be the “homework assignment” dream, which is intended to be a short-term effect.
Conveying Info to the Player
Every bit as important is the underlying mechanic, is making sure that the player knows what's going on. I've been working on ways of handling this feedback, including things like colored text that implies the reason why a willpower check is required, and marking these choices so that the player has an idea of just how much willpower is needed to pass the check.
I feel a bit dumb having struggled to try to figure this out, only to discover the Ren'Py site actually spells it out...
So, I mostly have a handle on that aspect.
For the willpower checks, I liked the idea of having some kind of icon that identifies them. While I still wouldn't say I'm happy with what I've got right now, it does appear to display properly and, with some trial and error, I've managed to get the icon to display in menu options based on the value of the willpower check.
(You'll notice the one sample also has a yellow text blurb that appears before the menu, hinting at the reason for the check.)
Still to Come
There's still a lot more to do before I can start adding all of this into the game proper. Things including adding an indicator for the state of the willpower pool (maybe another bar at the top with Lust and Energy?), figuring out how much willpower passing checks should actually drain is something I need to play around with (a 1:1 ratio seems like it'd be too much), designing the mechanics for changing the PC's level of obedience/indoctrination, etc.
Other Things I'm working on...
Have you ever wondered about boob shadows? If I’m doing my job correctly, I would hope not. When they’re missing, though, things look a little weird. I'm always chipping away at avatar images, and through this might make an interesting topic, so in my latest backers-only post, I've got some samples of what goes into creating these shadows to make images of the PC look better. Find that post here.
There are still a lot of “housecleaning” tasks hanging over my head that I know I need to get to eventually. I used some of my time off during the early pandemic to create a new scene class and use it for reworking how scenes are picked on days off. I’d like to get around to updating the workday events to use this system to (with some updates I have planned for scene tagging and filtering).
Along with making that update, I intend to change event handling for the period when the PC returns to her room from work and decides what to do next. Right now, so many events are vying for that slot that it becomes possible for some events to be delayed for a lot longer than they should when many of these scenes should be able to happen on the same day.
A lot of people have noticed some issues with the swimsuit "effects" not working properly, and it looks like this is tied into the above issues as well. The code for this needs some rework as it was tied into the fixed schedule the game originally had, and doesn't look to work well with being able to switch outfits whenever the player wants.
The body-transformation code is in desperate need of an update as well. A lot of it doesn’t even work as it is right now, and I would like to add in some more gradual body changes early on, so you won’t be stuck with the “starter body” for as long as you currently are.
Lastly, I've been working on story-planning a little bit, toying with flowcharts to help get my thoughts organized. Some story elements can get pretty tricky when they involve more than one character and the relationships the PC has with them.