Monday, July 3, 2017

v0.29 is Live!

Play the new version right now by clicking the Play the Game tab above!

Finally, the first trip through the Glass Door is complete. The last scene has been added with this version, a few others have been polished up, and I'm ready to get started on the next section. That's only a small part of this release, though. It's turned into a real grab bag!

The first thing you may notice is that, thanks to the support of my Patreon, Lith's portrait in the upper left has finally been replaced with a proper artist's rendition! It's still just as functional as the old portrait, but about a hundred times nicer looking. We actually hit this milestone a while ago, but it's been a challenge finding the artist I really thought could make a Lith face I could be happy with. It's awesome to finally see my derpy old art put away and some professional work going up! Though yes, if some among you are nostalgic for old 3-face Lith, there is an option to switch back in the Options menu.

Other than that, a few scenes have been added here and there to deal with the fact that the Glass Door has opened. They fall into two main categories, and if you know the game well, you can probably guess what they are! Also, I've added one big, new sex scene that rather stands out from the rest, and is probably exactly what some people have been hoping for for some time, going by the comments I've seen. It's extremely easy to find under the right conditions, but to meet those conditions, you may have to get out of your comfort zone. Happy hunting!

Lastly, besides the portrait, one other piece of new art has been added, a cute one for every now and then. Also, while discussing the finer details of Lith's appearance with Mz Nite, one of my favorite artists for this game, she was so kind as to offer me corrected versions of a few pieces, so you may notice a slight adjustment to Lith's appearance in a couple pieces of art.

From here, I expect to start working on the second trip through the Glass Door, but due to the nature of this next segment, I don't think it'll be ready in time for the coming version. So I'll probably continue to work on some other side content for the game as well, and center v0.30 on that, with whatever I got done so far available to peek at in the cheat version next time.

I think that about wraps it up for now. Time for gratuitous linking! I mentioned my Patreon above, but did you know about my Twitter? I use it to report on the writing I'm getting done, and sometimes make jokes and complain. If you'd like another way to support me, you can find some of my writing on Amazon as well!

Thanks for reading, everyone, and thanks for playing my game! Hope you guys like the new content!

Friday, May 5, 2017

v0.28 is Live!

You can play the new version right now by going to the Play the Game tab above!

With this release, the first trip through the Glass Door is very nearly complete. I still need to add a few smaller scenes and make a few adjustments so everything hopefully works together more smoothly, but the bulk of the content is ready now. Last update saw a lot of a certain kind of scene with one character, and well, this release covers the other side of that coin. There's some new content that's pretty easy to find, and some that's rather more difficult, but you may have seen hints that it was coming if you've been paying attention while playing through the Glass Door.

Besides the new scenes, there are two new pieces of art, as always thanks to my kind supporters. This time they're actually paired pieces, to cover two rather different versions of the same scene. This particular scene is pretty easy to find just going through the game's content, so you shouldn't have too much trouble finding it in a normal playthrough, regardless of your collar.

For the next version, I think I'm going to take a short break from the glass door while I figure out just how to handle the next section. In the meantime, I'm considering adding some content that's been requested in one form or another for quite a while, so if I do go through with that and can execute it well, I think a certain section of my audience will be very happy with the result. I hope!

I have to admit, so far this Door hasn't been as heavy to write as the last. It's been very complicated in its own way, of course, but it feels like this section, at least, has passed quickly. Of course, it was probably the final section of the Stone Door that really seemed to drag on forever, and I've hopefully learned a thing or two about making this Door a little less ridiculous to follow through with. Maybe! We'll have to see how it comes together, of course. I have a lot of ideas and possibilities, but it really comes down to how it actually happens in the moment, and what feels like it needs to happen, what it feels like the characters would do. I'm hoping they'll have mercy on me.

To tell the truth, I'm kinda hoping we can work through this door pretty quickly all around. I've been getting positive feedback from some of my audience, and I'm really happy with that, since I've been pretty worried this section would just make everyone pretty uncomfortable and unhappy with me. It's necessary, but I'm not happy making people unhappy! But more than that, I'm really looking forward to what comes after the Glass Door. That will be the Final Chapter of MVOL, and I've been thinking on it and refining it in my head for literally years, obsessing over it since the days I first realized I could make this game bigger than just putting a collar on Lith. I'm almost scared to finally get to that stage, and at the same time I keep finding myself wishing I could jump straight to it rather than writing all this.

But the story's climax needs its setup. We are not yet ready for what will come. But if the characters cooperate, then maybe, not too much longer.

Flash itself has been having some troubles, apparently. I'm not sure what all would be involved in trying to import MVOL to another engine, but I'm not looking forward to making the attempt, and I'm kinda hoping I can just... finish the whole game before it gets to that point, and maybe find a way to encapsulate it in an executable I'll be comfortable with and call it a finished product, or something like that. I'm keeping an eye on the whole situation, and I'll do what I can to try and help Lith meet as many people as he can, but this is just one more reason to want to give this game its proper ending before too much longer. It still feels strange thinking that we're nearing the ending, even if it is only that we're making good progress through the chapter before the actual ending begins.

Anyway. For now, I hope you all enjoy the fresh content. Thank you all for playing, for reading, and for your support in every way you care to offer it! I don't know if this story will have exactly the ending you want, but I hope that sooner or later, you'll find the one that makes you happy!

Friday, March 10, 2017

v0.27 is Live!

Pop over to the Play the Game tab to download your copy!

The last version made a lot of implications about what was coming, and now we're seeing some of those coming to pass. v0.27 may be a high point or a low point for some players depending on their tastes, but we've finally jumped into a few sex scenes, for better or worse, as well as introduced a small secondary mechanic that will see more application down the line.

This new chapter in your story with Lith has been put together to meet several different goals, and accomplishing those along with providing a good experience for the player has been an interesting challenge. Where I've been able to play with ambiguity and the division of paths before, there are a lot of overlapping situations in this chapter that need to be addressed, and the avatar's attitude toward what's going on has a lot less room to leave open to interpretation with more intensive social situations going on. I've been worried about stepping on players' toes with scenes that will inevitably pull away from their intentions, but to a degree that's built into the nature of the game. All I can do is try to make everything accountable.

I know this isn't the sort of content folks were expecting behind the next door, and I think that's a good thing. I saw a lot of suggestions for more crazy fantasy locations and such that Lith and the avatar could visit, but it's important to the arc of the story and Lith's development that we don't just linger in fantasy worlds. This is what Lith needs right now. I do get nervous about how uncomfortable it may make some players, but it's an uncomfortable situation, and having that sort of reaction is an important part of being part of the story. I'm implementing things well when I'm getting that sort of reaction, even if I do wish I could just make players feel good 100% of the time, haha. The main consolation is that it's the downs that make the ups that much better, but that's going to be a pretty long-term payoff on that front.

But we're pushing through! I feel like with this update we're actually surprisingly close to completing the first big chunk of this chapter. I'm not sure if it'll be 100% complete with v0.28, but I think it should at least be close. I'm still putting together the details of how the rest of the chapter will work precisely, but I do know that I want this chapter to be less ridiculously complicated and not such a huge chunk of work compared to the Stone Door. It's certainly got its own kind of complication going for it already, but I'll be doing what I can to only keep things complicated where they need to be. One particular, very small segment of this update was a huuuuge headache just to get working properly, haha. I'm glad to have it done, but it makes me wary about how I lay out my complication in the future. Something to keep an eye on!

Anyway, other than the new storyline content, which features two new sex scenes, I've also added two new pieces of art I'm very happy with, both of which from returning artists. I've had a lot of fun (stressful though it may be) hunting down lots of different artists and seeing Lith rendered in lots of different styles, and I think that complements the sense that Lith can be different things to different people, that he can be a different kitty in a different situation. That said, I've been really happy with the work I got from these artists in the past, and while I do hope to continue commissioning a variety of artists, a couple repeating artists will make it a lot easier to sustain the pace of new art every month, I think.

Outside of art and new story content, I've added a touch of extra functionality to the cheats available for supporters to skip straight to the new content more easily. If you'd like access to cheats, make sure to check out my Patreon, there's a bunch of nice goodies available for interested fans.

That wraps it up for now. I hope you guys enjoy the new content!

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

v0.26 is Live!

Play the latest version by going to the Play the Game tab above!

Alright! I've been working a long time on the content for this version, and I finally feel like it's ready to share. The next chapter of the storyline beyond the Stone Door has begun! It's far from complete, but there's enough content ready to at least go through a basic version of it. If you haven't already, I encourage you to go check it out yourself now before reading on!

While this new area has presented a lot of technical challenges I've had to work through, I've probably been most challenged by the question of exactly how to present it. It's something of a delicate situation for just about everyone involved, and it's absolutely meant to disturb the player to a degree. Especially toward the end of what's currently available, certain players will hit a scene that I've been anticipating with a lot of mixed feelings for a long, long time. So I've been looking forward to and also sort of dreading the reception of this version for quite some time!

I'd like to take a moment to clarify here, it's not that I have any spite toward players or just want them to feel bad. I'm anticipating some negative responses to this version because it will have a negative emotionaly impact on some, and I feel that's necessary. This is an important step in developing the storyline as a whole, both because it's important to developing the main theme and arc of the game, and because we're entering the final stages of the story. Up until now there have been lots of ups and downs, lots of charming moments and emotional sequences, but this is essentially the penultimate Chapter of the game.

I said before that the collar itself is, in a way, a halfway point in the game. If you look at the Table of Contents I made up (I'll be updating this soon) you can see that represented a little more clearly. Looking at this, you could say that MVOL is a story in six chapters or so, and we are just now beginning chapter five. If you're familiar with storycrafting, that generally means that this is where things are going to get more and more intense and conflicted, building up to the climax and resolution in the final chapter. We're really getting into it now!

So that's why the game is taking another emotional turn here. I've spent a long time kinda fine tuning this in my head to try and find the best way to present it to accomplish all my goals without making the player more uncomfortable than necessary. There are a lot of delicate topics being handled here, and I want to both give each player the chance to play how they want, but also to challenge them to make decisions they may not want to make, decisions they may not have ever thought they would have to make. Figuring all this out has been the biggest challenge for me in this new content, and I feel like there's not that much actually written down compared to how much time I've spent going over it in my head. But I feel like it's in a good place! I think it was worth the months, probably almost a year in advance I've been working on this on the side, trying to get just the right feel. I hope it comes across well for everyone.

This is another update with no sex scenes in it. Considering the content, I think some people may be relieved, haha. I used to feel like I really needed to include at least one sex scene with each update, and like maybe I needed to warp the story to make sure there was lots of sex, since that's something people expect. But the more I thought about it, the more I realized I don't think that's really what anyone wants. Sure, some people will always be here for the sex, and that's fine. But it's more important that it happens naturally. I've found that when I don't try to force sex to happen, it actually becomes a much more natural part of the flow of the story, and feels way better than if I just say "a sex scene needs to happen here, let's do it." And if you're this deep into the game, I think you'll appreciate a sex scene that comes a little later but feels appropriate over one that feels shoe-horned in.

So I've been trying to rely more on my own instincts in driving the story forward and just letting sexual content come naturally. I do plan to have sexual content in this chapter, and I think it's pretty obvious I'm building up to that, including a way to tempt/justify those that normally might not indulge. It's kinda bugged me how many people tell me they play the game solely for the story and don't even get sexual, and I'd like to see if I can give some of those players reason to think twice. Haha.

So there's a lot going on with this version, story-wise! It's still just the beginning, though, and there will be more options added in the future to really make this first sequence an interesting experience to explore and play through multiple times. Besides that, I've added two new pieces of art, of course, though I think this has finally burned through the very last reserves of my big art-commissioning spree a while back. Looks like it's time for another one!

Lastly, for anyone still concerned from my last post, yes, I did get my data fully restored. It was very expensive, but in the end I got lucky and they were able to restore 99% of my data. A huge load off my mind! If you'd ever like more up-to-the-minute updates on what I'm doing, including my restoration and the small delays we saw on the release of this version, you're welcome to follow me on Twitter! I make dorky jokes occasionally, but mostly I use it to talk about the latest developments with my work, good or bad.

That wraps it up for now. Thanks for reading, everyone, and I hope you enjoy the new content! Or at least... are intrigued by it?

Monday, November 21, 2016

Lost a hard drive...

I've hit a bit of a speed bump. A couple days ago, my biggest hard drive up and died for no apparent reason. Since then, I've found out that particular model actually had a shockingly high failure rate, and a ton of its reviews basically amount to "it's great, until it breaks, which was within two years/a few weeks/a couple days/before it got to me." So the fact it worked for a solid two years was pretty lucky for me, I guess.

Now, this drive had a lot of personal files and, as you may have guessed, the project file for MVOL. I do keep backups online, but I didn't update those as often as I should have. Fortunately, I do most of my writing on a separate computer, and between that and the archives from the daily updates I send out to my supporters, very little writing is actually lost. This will basically amount to maybe a week or two of work putting things back together, redoing the final polish, editing, and all the little bits. I also lost all of my files for the art I've commissioned, or more specifically, the edited versions polished up for the game. So it's basically going to be a huge pain, but hopefully I can recover everything from online copies or contact the artists.

Honestly, it's been demoralizing more than directly damaging. It's already been pretty rough around here for personal reasons, so throwing this on top has forced me to fall back on some old coping strategies. Right now, I've sent the hard drive to a recovery service and I'm waiting for word on how much it would cost. It would mean a lot to have all of that back, so I'm hoping I can afford it, but if it's a mechanical issue like my tech-savvy friends think it is, then the price may be pretty out there.

One way or another, I'll deal with it. The upshot is, v0.26 may end up a little lighter on content just to keep the schedule going, and this month's MMU will probably be a little odd, maybe compiled with an old version of the game or something.

Anyway, sorry if this seems like a lot of complaining for a relatively small crisis. I know I haven't been as active on the blog lately, and a setback like this is probably the most significant news I've had in a while. Hopefully I'll have better news soon. Thanks for your patience, guys!

And yes, I'll definitely be looking into more robust, automated options for backing up my work files, as well as any files I consider important to me. I'd encourage all of you to take the time to do the same.

Sunday, November 6, 2016

v0.25 is Live!

Hello, everyone! You can play the new version right now by going to the Play the Game tab at the top!

Development on the game has been frustrating for a while now. I'm not getting as much done as I want, and I'm not getting the particular things done that I want. I guess "slow but always managing to carry on" has always been MVOL's story, and this bi-monthly schedule has probably helped a lot, but I still feel like I can do better.

Originally this update was supposed to be largely focused on getting the post-Stone Door content ready. But the more I tried to work with it, the more I realized that there were so many problems and questions and tricky bits I hadn't accounted for in planning it out that I needed to figure out before I could really write it all out, both in terms of practical, line by line writing and coding and in regards to the overall feel of the scenes and how players would perceive them. I've often been pretty interested in how dramatically players' reactions can differ from the thoughts I had going into the scene, but here I realized there were some pretty serious issues on that front that needed to be addressed. So it's turned into a pretty big puzzle!

Well, after struggling with that a long time I decided I needed to switch focus just to make sure v0.25 could have enough new content. The Wooden Door has been pretty sparse on content, and there was one particular idea I'd had in mind a while that I thought a lot of people would appreciate: scenes that play up your species more than other features, to really make you feel like it matters that you're a dragon, or a human, or a horse. Usually in any given scene, I'm either focusing on the particular thing that makes this scene unique, or trying to touch more on things like what collar you have and the nature of your relationship. And of course, that's all with the given that almost every sex scene forces me to at the very least acknowledge both the various mixtures of genitalia and Lith's dominance, if not re-writing the scenes altogether several times to account for all that. So there doesn't tend to be much room for other things.

And it doesn't help that I have a bit of a bias. While I do find the variety of species in the furry world very cool and I like exploring what it "means" to be a certain species, it doesn't really hold the fascination or the emotional charge for me that it seems to for a lot of people. Some people are super into, say, foxes specifically, and want every single scene to reflect their foxy nature, but I can't really get as into that. With everything else, it just doesn't feel like as big a priority.

But these scenes are my big chance to try and make up for that a little. Of course, that does mean that there's effectively a lot of content here that you won't be able to see because it's buried deep in the game and you only get one small portion of it according to your species, which is less than ideal. But I'm hoping that means both that people will be encouraged to try out other options for species a little, and that this will be one more way the game rewards replaying in general! And I'm hoping those that really dig their own species will like getting their own moment to have something a little special on that front.

That was the big push of new content this update. As usual, there are two new pieces of art tucked away in the game as well! I still want to focus on the post-Stone Door addition next, but I don't know how many more problems that is going to throw at me. I'm going to try and force myself to get some "just for me" writing in now that this is out, that's a step in my creative cycle I've been neglecting lately, and I think it's been giving me a really hard time because I always think I won't really need it. It's important to remember why you love what you do, you know?

That covers it for today. Thanks for reading, folks, and I hope you enjoy!

Saturday, September 3, 2016

v0.24 is Live!

If you haven't seen it, go to the Play the Game tab above to grab a copy of the new version!

This update may seem like a pretty light one, depending on your perspective. And technically you would be correct-- I believe it has less writing in it than we've typically seen from the sprawling Stone Door updates of the past, though more than v0.23 did. But if it's sex scenes you're going for --and you're willing to accept scenes of this one particular nature-- then v0.24 may be the motherlode for you.

The featured addition of v0.24 is one new "scene," an addition to the first half of the game that's been overdue quite a while. Its main purpose is to act as a counterpart to one of the classic scenes for when you have different anatomy, but almost anyone can access it, and since it's where and what it is, it actually comes in three different versions, each larger and more elaborate than the last. So when you add it all up, that's a lot of sex! One of my proofers even said it might be one of my best sex scenes to date. Personally, looking back on it, I feel like I went pretty overboard with the whole thing-- it turned out much longer than the scene it was supposed to play counterpart to, and it gets rather more intense. I'm definitely considering dialing it back at some point to be a little more in line with its goals, but I've decided that for now, as the main chunk of new public content, I should at least leave it as is for everyone to enjoy.

Now, when I say public content, that points a finger toward the not-so-public content I've been adding. The other big chunk of development time with v0.24 has been spent on the next chapter of the game, the next big arc after the Stone Door. A lot of that was actually struggling, stopping, and brainstorming a lot, as I found I wasn't quite happy with the attitude certain parts of the planned content had, and it took a while to figure out how I would be happy with it. It's still not perfect, I think, but I'll be feeling it out for the best solution as I go. Past that, I've written up a fair chunk of new content for that coming chapter and put it in the game-- but, like the Stone Door (worse, actually), there's a ton to be written before you can actually go all the way through it to a decent stopping point. So I'm still working on that, and that content will remain disabled until it's ready.

If you're just burning to see what's coming, though, you can always drop by the Patreon and pick up a cheat-enabled copy. That lets you see what I've got written up so far, although it cuts off right in the middle of things, so that may make something of a tantalizing cliffhanger for you. In case you haven't seen, the Patreon also gives you previews of new art as it's commissioned, access to a monthly copy of Lith's Diary and, at higher tiers, more rapid early access to get every bit of writing on the game, including stuff that may never actually see publishing, as soon as humanly possible. I try to keep an appealing blend of rewards going!

Speaking of art, v0.23 was crushed into a shorter time period, and I could only get one new piece of art into it in time. I'm happy to say I'm much more on top of the art situation now, and to make up for last time, v0.24 has three new pieces of art! Sure, two of them are pretty closely paired, but I think you'll find all three pretty pleasing. And I've already got the art for v0.25 lined up and ready to go! I'm so glad to finally be ahead on that, although for a while there it was pretty hectic working with so many different artists at once. Fun, but super stressful trying to get the art just right for the game without being a jerk! It breaks my heart a little sometimes.

In any case, those are the big changes for this version. Lots of new sex that just so happens to open the door for people of a certain persuasion to get access to all of the story like they should have, lots of new art, and a chunk of work done on the big, upcoming story arc. I still feel like I could have gotten more done with this update, but it's true I've been a little distracted.

If you haven't been following, things have been heating up some over at The Cathouse Tale. We're working on a big new character customizer that we think is going to be absolutely awesome once it's online, but we've had a lot of big delays with it and it's been really frustrating. And while all that was going on, I've also been trying to engage with the fans to get feedback on what characters we need, and then turn all those wishes and desires into a small handful of characters to round out our cast so I can finally get started on actually building the game's plot from the ground up. It's a really exciting time in the process, but at the same time there's too much freedom and too many restrictions, all around. It's been quite a challenge to try and tackle! I really want to try and develop these characters to the point that each one might feel just about as real and relatable as Lith, albeit each in a very different way, and this is the first time I've tried to engage with something like that on such a large scale, with so many characters at once. It's definitely going to be intense.

But I don't want that to pull too much of my energy away from MVOL! The fact that they're so dramatically different gives me a lot of hope, actually. These two projects are using very different parts of my brain right now, so I'm hoping that they'll complement each other well, in that I can plug away at one project and, when I get tired of it, switch right over to the other one for a nice break. I've often done this by switching to free writing stories for my own entertainment, but I'm gonna see how much of that I can transfer to developing this cast.

I don't want you guys to be worried that I might leave MVOL behind, or let it come to a standstill or anything like that. I'm absolutely determined to finish this game, and to do it right. If anything, I'm hoping to give you guys reason to be just as interested in CHT, even if it is a pretty dramatically different game. I don't expect it to be nearly as text heavy, but I want to experiment with ways to make what text remains still super engaging, to make the characters feel as real as I can. If anything, aiming to keep the word count low might give me a lot of freedom to try radical ideas I couldn't go for otherwise.

So! Hopefully you'll find plenty to enjoy in v0.24! And if you're curious, feel free to check out The Cathouse Tale, we're hoping to release a new version in less than a week, if we can conquer a few last technical challenges. More early- to mid-game content should be coming with v0.25, but hopefully I'll be getting close to ready with the next arc to finally put the first chunk of it in the public's hands! Thanks for reading, everyone!