Monday, September 28, 2015


So the last week before the release was a huge scramble trying to make the graphics happen in time, and I've mostly been catching my breath since then and dealing with some real-life stuff I had to put off, but it looks like we're paying the price for that time that I should have, ideally, spent making sure the game... well, worked.

I caught the issue with the stone door path back into the void pretty quick (you might have gotten a glitched copy if you were fast to download, try grabbing a new one if so and you haven't heard of this already) but it looks like there was another, stranger issue. I think this might partly be a glitch with Flash itself, but-- well, MVOL uses Justified text so that both the left and right sides of the body of text are flat. It looks nicer that way! But for some reason, it's going too far with it now, and partial lines are also being spread to fit the width of the screen, which is very not right.

Strangely, the issue seems to be something that can not show up at first, but "infect" every instance of the game later. Either that, or it really is a direct effect of a recent Flash update. Either way, the most direct fix I've found is to simply not justify the text. So I've put up a left-aligned version of the game on the Play the Game! tab! If you're having issues, download that, and you should be okay to play and read comfortably. I'm hoping to find a better solution soon, but I want you guys to be able to play in the meantime without the game being an ugly mess.

I've been hearing a few other issues with the new release here and there, and I'm starting to think it may be because of the new, larger image files. I'm looking into solutions; right now I'm thinking it may be an issue with players trying to run before they've loaded everything, but if I can't force it to pre-load, then I may just have to try offering folks a compressed version and see if that fixes things. For now, if you're having issues with text, grab a left-aligned version, and if it's something else, try opening the game a different way! Opening it in an internet browser usually seems to work okay, but Flash Projector and some mobile devices seem to be having trouble.

Sorry for the inconvenience, everyone! I wanted to make the game beautiful, but beauty comes with a price, it seems. Hopefully I can straighten this all out soon.

Saturday, September 19, 2015

v0.18 is Live!

Pop over to the Play the Game tab to play the new version now! Also, if you've already downloaded/played the game elsewhere on the day of this post, please force-refresh the file! There was one bug that made it through to release, but the files have been re-uploaded with a fix!

It's been a wild ride making this update happen. The Patreon has funded two new pieces of art for every new version of the game, which I thought would be a snap, but problem after complication after delay turned three months into two weeks, with no art ready! I had to put aside my goals for the specific art I wanted for this version and scramble to get something else ready in time. Fortunately I found some very helpful artists willing to make this happen for me, so the new pieces are ready in time! I also took some time to overhaul how MVOL handles art, including the way it's presented and the quality and compression it applies. The file has actually doubled in size after all this (the loading screen seems much more appropriate now!) but I think you'll see a distinct rise in quality, especially if you're not playing the game at native resolution!

Past that, a bunch of new story content is jammed in there! It totaled over 15,000 words of new content, including two new endings and the first path out of the stone door and back to the void for good. We're pushing well toward the end of the stone door, but if you'd like to get a more concrete idea of exactly how far along we are toward completing this arc, you can check out this helpful post on my Patreon!

Lastly, I've been working with my new variant writer to massage some of the old scenes. We haven't changed very much so far, partly because I realized that I need to revamp my text parsing system with something a little more powerful! So you can look forward to more of that in future versions, but for now, there's just a handful of little edits for quality and variance here and there.

It's great to finally have the game out for everyone to see! I'll be getting to work soon on setting up a discussion for you all to join as I discussed in the last post, so keep an eye out for more news here! For now, I think I'm gonna go lie down...

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

So Let's Talk About MVOL!

Quick update: I've been flailing at the whole art issue, and it looks like I should have art ready in time for the main release! Barely! My proofers are looking over the new content right now, and I'm hoping to have it ready for an advance release this weekend. I always feel like I'm not adding enough to the game, but current wordcount for new content is over 15k! That means I'm actually writing, for MVOL alone, at about half the rate I was at my prime when I was keeping The Schedule in days past. So I think that's pretty good, actually!

Now, the big thing I wanted to talk to you guys about is: I want more feedback for MVOL. I get emails and comments and such from people that like the game and the overall impact, which is great, but I yearn for the kind of comments that I'd get on stories, where people get into the nitty-gritty of how specific scenes made them feel, what didn't make sense or fell flat, and what they didn't like about my work. In other words, constructive criticism.

Of course, it makes sense that I didn't get much of this for MVOL! It's hard to say "Dear Lithier, I liked the one scene where you talk to Lith about this and then he says this one thing, and I was playing a dragon so I think that's why he said THIS, and that was nice but I kinda wish that this and this happened." It's a pain getting so specific about the circumstances, because the content is hidden throughout the game in all these twists and turns, and very specific circumstances can open a new trove of things to read! That also means it's very easy to, when commenting on something, spoil it for others. It's hard to comment on anything happening behind the doors without spoiling the doors for new people coming to the game, for example.

So! Here's what I was thinking: What if we took the time to focus on single scenes at a time and discuss them? What if I selected scenes from the game and transcribed them to a page where folks can read it to get a reminder what it is, and I can talk some about why it exists and what went into writing it and even touch on what different outcomes can be seen in it, and then folks can comment on it with their experiences, opinions, and impressions? Maybe if we were reeeally lucky, people would even start discussing scenes, or at least ideas in them, with each other! I'd love to see the sinister truth of what impact my writing has had on people.

And this wouldn't just be to stroke my ego. I'm going through old scenes in the game, along with my new variant writer, and working on sprucing them up to make sure everything is up to my current writing standards. In most cases that just means catching a typo or two or spicing up some repetitive word choice, but if I can get feedback from you guys on what was unclear or didn't work as intended, then I can make the game a better experience! One awesome thing about having this big body of work as a game I'm releasing in versions is that it can continue to live, breathe, and grow in all aspects!

So that's the idea! You guys get examples of scenes from throughout the game complete with some developer commentary and the chance to make your opinions heard, and I get delicious feedback to help me improve the game! There are two questions that I have to ask you all, though. Would YOU be interested in taking part in this? What can I do to make it welcoming for you to take part in the discussion? And secondly, where would it be best to set it up? It actually seems to me like the forum may be the best place for it. It's a little more user-friendly for comments and discussion. The downside is that people would have to make accounts in order to comment.

What do you think? Would you join the discussion? Would you be willing to pop onto the forum to try it? I expect I'd be linking new discussions on here as they go up, maybe every week or every other week, so you wouldn't have to go hunting for them. Comment here to let me know (you don't need an account), or you can always email me at! Thanks, everyone!

Monday, August 31, 2015

Troubles and Preparation

Hey folks! September is almost here, and that means v0.18 is on the horizon. I've got new content written up, hopefully more on the way, I've got a variant writer getting started, and I have... well, I'm trying to get new art for the game.

In case you haven't seen, the Patreon is going nicely, and we've hit the goal to start seeing two new pieces of art for each release! I'm excited for it, but the application has gone a little rougher than expected. Commissioning art is hard! Especially, it would seem, when your needs are as unusual as mine.

I've had artists with really cute work turn me down for even slightly nsfw images, I've heard issues with contracts and work being used in a game rather than for personal consumption. I've seen artists bow out due to personal issues and up and stop producing due to lack of inspiration. I have been trying, on and off, to get art for this release since days after v0.17 came out, and... well, I'm still trying.

I have specific goals for this next release, but I'm starting to think I may have to settle for something else, just to get art done. I try to shop around and find art that is both of quality and good value for the price, but as the deadline looms, it looks like I may have to throw my budget out the window just to get something into the game in time @_@;; One way or the other, I mean to meet my goals for art and see to it that it's quality work going in!

But that's for me to worry about, and for you guys to enjoy, when all this has finally turned into delicious pixels. The next version is coming in the next few weeks, so keep your eyes peeled!

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Variant Writer Deadline: This Sunday!

Hey, folks! Submissions have started slowing down, so I reckon it's time to set a deadline. I want to get as many samples from as many people as possible, but I can't wait for too long, so I'm setting the deadline for submissions to 11:59 PM, Sunday the 9th, Eastern Standard Time. If you're not sure what I'm talking about, check out my last blog post.

If anyone out there is still working on a submission, I'd encourage you to send me what you have as soon as possible. I'm always happy to look over your progress and give feedback to try and help you get a better idea of exactly what I'm looking for. I believe fervently that there is a talent for this among you, but I can't see it if you don't take the time to try and show me.

Once the deadline has passed, I will look through all the submissions I've gotten for each applicant again. Putting more work in will certainly help, but the primary attribute I'm looking for will be the quality of the variants submitted. If one of you is clearly meeting the goals outlined for a variant writer much better than the rest, I will be happy to announce the position filled. But if, as I expect is likely, there is a similar amount of potential apparent in many of you, then I will choose out the smaller handful of applicants to go on to the second stage of the process. Either way, I will be notifying everyone I've heard from by email when my decision is made.

Those that move on to the second and final stage will be given a choice between three much larger samples to work with. If you submit a piece for the second stage that I feel you put a decent amount of work into, I will be happy to send you $15 for your time and effort. This isn't indicative of the final pay scale you'd be seeing once you had the position, since I don't expect to use any of these submissions directly in the game, but rather to make sure you don't feel like you're wasting your time putting as much work as you can into making the piece you choose shine. Hopefully between these larger, more intensive pieces, I will be able to judge the best applicant for the job. I look forward to working with all of you, and I thank you very much for taking the time to work with me in the hopes of making MVOL the best game it can be. I know this can be a strenuous process, but I hope that for each of you, it has at least been informative and interesting, and given you a bit more insight into MVOL and its development.
I'm waiting eagerly for your submissions!

Saturday, July 25, 2015

Open Call!

Hey, folks! I'm still trying to get a larger pool of applicants for my Variant Writer position, and it looks like it's time to open up the application to the public! So if you haven't heard about this yet, or just were shy to email me without knowing a little more about what the work would involve, read on!

The basic idea of a variant writer is to look at my existing writing for MVOL, line by line, and come up with ways that it could be changed slightly to reflect things like the avatar's species, or Lith's dominance, or the size of either character's anatomy. I consider MVOL's smooth prose one of its strengths, but compared to games like CoC, it doesn't really go out of its way to acknowledge that this is the player's own unique experience and not just a solid block of writing that's the same for everyone. It needs to be unique to the player! It needs variance! Hence, we need to write in more variants, to make the experience more rewarding for the people playing the game.

I can give you the tools to make that happen, but it's up to you to get creative with where to put these changes and how to word them so that they slip smoothly into the writing without interrupting what's going on or changing the feel of the scene. It's important that it's the same scene, just with subtle changes to reward the player and enrich the experience. It's hard work, and it's easy to get worn out trying to work with so many restrictions, but I believe some of you will be much better at it than I am.

You can get the full details of what the job involves by downloading this document. It spells out your goals as a variant writer, then goes over all the tools you have for adding variants to my work. Once you've got the basics, you can take a look at an example I made for adding several variants to a short scene. This site highlights all the differences between the before and after versions. It can be kinda hard to read the game as raw code at first, so you may want to get in the habit of selecting text as you go to keep your place.

And once you've looked at all that, you can get samples of scenes from the game in this file to take a look at and try your own hand at writing variants! It'd probably be a good idea to focus on just one to start, and add as much as you can that you think fits in well and follows the goals before sending it to me. Or, if you get to the point that you feel like you could add more but you're not sure how you're doing so far, you're welcome to send me a partial and I can give you some feedback on what you're doing well and what you should work on.

When you feel like you've got something ready for me, or even if you just have some questions about the work or the position, email me at ! I'm hoping to get lots of applicants to choose between, and if enough of you look especially promising, I'm thinking I'll have a second round for making the final decision, with much larger samples, and I'll pay for the work! Once I have made my final selection, we can figure out a scheme for making sure you're well compensated for your time and effort. I hope I'll see you in the running!

Thursday, July 16, 2015

Looking for a Variant Writer!

The Patreon has been going well, I'm happy to say! We've hit several of our goals, opening up a new tier of rewards for patrons, as well as raising enough support that I've gone ahead and cut my hours at my day job so I can focus more on writing for the game. Maybe most significantly, however, we've hit the goal for hiring a variant writer. This should help get more content out for the game faster, and also satisfy a lot of requests I've been seeing from players.

So what is a variant writer? Sort of a combination of an editor and re-writer. My Very Own Lith has a lot of choices and variables through which you can customize your play experience, but my personal strengths as a writer are focused on crafting a single, powerful narrative experience. As such, I often don't make as thorough use of these variables as I could to custom tailor the experience to the choices each player has made. The idea is that a variant writer will take the scenes I've written up and carefully add in alternatives and references to smoothly fold in acknowledgements of things like the player's species and anatomy, Lith's anatomy, and the nature of the relationship between the two of you, into the narrative. The goal is to keep the same quality of writing, but better acknowledge players having knots or being submissive or giving Lith big knockers or what have you-- to make it feel like a more personal and rewarding experience, more often, in subtle but pleasing ways.

Obviously, this will take a careful and patient touch. I'm not going to say it will be an easy job. It will require a mix of dogged creativity, attention to detail, patience, and passion for, ideally, all the aspects of the game that we want to reflect.

I get offers now and then for help with writing for the game, but the fact is that this game is a work of exacting precision for me, and I don't think anyone else can write up full scenes that would accurately match Lith's nature, the portrayal of which is MVOL's primary goal. MVOL is all about Lith and helping you get to know him better, so only someone that knows Lith as well as I do can really write it. But this aspect, writing in variants to reward players for their choices, is something that I actually don't feel very qualified for. I've never been very passionate about species, and I get a headache trying to find places to cram in all the little details often enough to make players happy. So I earnestly believe there's somebody out there --one of you-- that can do this job better than I can. And I mean to find you.

So if you have a strong grasp of writing, a dedication to thoroughly working over a text, and a ready font of creativity to tackle problems in interesting ways, I invite you to contact me. You don't need to know how to program, so long as you can learn to format your submissions to roughly match the templates I give you.

I'm preparing an in-depth explanation of the work that needs doing and samples, but if I can keep this behind closed doors so I can avoid putting too much raw game text up where everyone can see, that would be ideal. I'm hoping to get a number of applicants to consider. I'll be making my selection by offering a small sample of writing to try your skills out on and see how you do, and if need be, I'll pay for a larger sample of your work on scenes I have to offer as examples, before making my final decision. My goal is to hire one main variant writer, but I'll be happy to consider as many people as want to apply, and even if you don't get the position, it's possible I'll come to you later if things don't work out with the winner, or if I end up wanting to get the work done faster and take on multiple variant writers. So don't be afraid to apply!

I'm not certain under what terms I'll be paying the variant writer. Maybe something like a set amount per thousand words of the original copy, or per hundred words of content added, depending on how things work out. It's a bit of an odd position, really, and we'll have to feel out some of it as we go, but I have no intention of leaving you feeling you got short shrift for your contribution to the game.

If this sounds like a position you might be interested in, email me at ! If I can get enough applicants straight away, I won't open the application to the public, so if you're excited to help write for MVOL, email me now! Similarly, if you have any questions about the position and what it might involve, don't be afraid to ask!

I look forward to hearing from you!