Games — Tour de Akiba and the #iluJam

 

For the past month my friend Jia and I have been plugging away at our entry for the dating sim game jam I organized, #iluJam. We released our game the other night, Tour de Akiba, just before the upload deadline ended. We’re both pretty proud of what we turned out!

Tour de Akiba is a Yowamushi Pedal fan game (yes we know technically the French is wrong, but it makes the title unique and endearing). Think of the game like an interactive fanfiction. Doujinshi games like this have an active community in Japan and are sometimes even sold at events like Comiket. Both Jia and I are huge fans of Yowapeda and working with the characters in such a fun space really drove us to complete our deadline goals.

It was also such a pleasure to work with my local friend Jia. I have always loved her art style and it was so thrilling plugging in her new portraits and backgrounds and seeing them paired up with my dialogue. She’d come over and I’d sit her down to test things out and she’d squeal, exclaiming “they’re alive!” It was adorable and super fun. And she was extremely dedicated to the project, going above and beyond to implement corrections and additional art to flesh out the game.

Initially we planned to include a representative of each major team in the game that the player could choose to invite to Akihabara. We originally settled on Makishima, Arakita, and Midousuji since they were favorites of ours. As the jam weeks progressed and we realized the workload that would be required we first considered Makishima a end-game bonus stretch goal. Then came the point where we settled on finishing just one route, and half the work was already done for Arakita’s. We still kept a Midousuji teaser in there in case we want to keep making character routes at our own pace. Imaizumi and Manami could be on the horizon as well if we want to keep it up that long.

I intentionally designed the game to be able to expand and contract depending on the situation, in order to make it safe to complete in at least some kind of deliverable state in a single month. The game would have an initial decision branch where the player would explicitly pick the route they wanted, rather than having to deal with a common introduction and multiple character stats. And that way I only had to keep track of one hidden stat in order to determine one of two endings the player got.

I wrote the game in third-person because I wanted to give the player the feeling of directing the action but not acting as a stand-in for Onoda. I worried it could seem voyeuristic but I also hoped it might help people who aren’t used to this kind of game feel less weird about it. And the content itself is about as PG as you can get. Just guys being dudes.

I plan to make a post later about my experiences using the TyranoBuilder engine to create the game, and share some of the tricks I learned a little too late to make my life easier.

The #iluJam itch.io page contains all the entries uploaded for the jam—16 of them! Now that my game is done I look forward to playing through everyone’s games!

Update 7/12: The game can now be played directly in the browser from the itch.io page!

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Games — Starfighter: Eclipse released!

My friends over at Date Nighto have been working on their custom-built, browser-based Starfighter dating sim for a while now, and it’s just been officially released to the public!

I’ve been excited for their HTML5 visual novel engine for years and it’s amazing seeing the tech develop from its humble Namco High beginnings into what it’s capable of now. Lead developer Conrad first started the project because he wanted to work with his friend HamletMachine on making her popular 18+ comic Starfighter into an interactive visual novel and since platforms like Steam don’t allow explicit sexual content then they had to build their own.

I offered a bit of my QA testing services at the end of the project cycle but I have genuinely been excited for this title since the Kickstarter was announced. If you are a fan of sci-fi space operatics involving a cute guy with an undercut kissing fellow space marines then please consider this game!

Games — No, Thank You!!!

  • Note! It’s a safe bet to assume most of the links in this post are NSFW!

A couple of months ago MangaGamer, a site mostly known for translating dating sims aimed at men, announced two new titles they would be localizing in an attempt to reach audiences they haven’t tried before. One of those was a general-rated otome game that I wrote about before, Ozmafia!!, while the other was unique 18+ rated boy’s love game No, Thank You!!!

I was really excited about their choice of No, Thank You!!! since I had already heard of its unexpected body hair toggles and because it had a style not common to boy’s love games: with a range of older and sometimes burlier men designed to appeal to both a gay male audience along with women who usually consume BL media. No, Thank You!!! is currently up for pre-order and it’s being released this coming Friday, February 27th.

MangaGamer was nice enough to make an appealing stand-alone site for the game where you can read up on the different characters and features. They’ve also been doing a good job showcasing the characters on their staff blog and their Tumblr. There is a free demo available for download where you are introduced to the game’s story set-up and all the pursuable guys, along with examples of what kind of content to expect during sex scenes.

I really recommend first playing this demo if you’re curious, especially if you’ve never played either a BL game nor an 18+ rated game before. Visual novels like No, Thank You!!! are not to everyone’s taste but you could find yourself pleasantly surprised. Haru can be puppy-like and endearing but rather aggressive as a bed partner, and folks not familiar with BL tropes may find themselves uncomfortable. My friend Anne wrote some of her impressions of the demo and covers some of the concerns, but they do not dissuade her from purchasing the full game. Just something to keep in mind.

I myself find Haru’s perspective and almost professional knowledge concerning the manipulation of male anatomy to be quite fascinating, he’s quite unlike other BL game protagonists. His running mental commentary reminds me more of the kind of writing you’d find in geikomi, like those featured in the collection Massive published by Fantagraphics, instead of the usual BL game euphemisms.

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It was also interesting to learn that all the art for No, Thank You!!! was drawn by a woman, Hamashima Shigeo, who usually draws for 18+ games aimed at men. MangaGamer was recently polling people on Twitter, asking if they had questions they wanted to ask her along with a couple of other women who work professionally within eroge, and it appears they plan to publish the answers in time for Women’s History Month.