Sunday, August 10, 2014

It Feels Good! It Feels Write!

Hey, folks! In case you haven't seen, I've published another story! You can find A Learning Experience Pt. 5 on SoFurry and FurAffinity. It's a commissioned series about a young man with a suspiciously similar species to Lith's but not much else in common learning that he does, in fact, totally like getting dicked by hot women. So maybe he has a few things in common, actually.

I'm pretty excited to keep up this trend of actually getting writing done. I've been powering through my commissions and I've even dabbled with getting some writing in for v0.16 while we finalize all the non-writing stuff finished up for v0.15.

Speaking of, things have been coming along with the coming update, and I've sent out a partially complete version to my proofers to see about getting the written portion polished up while we work on the rest. If you count yourself among my proofers, make sure to check your email!

(+++++++===)

We're 70% of the way there now. The automatic feedback system seems to be working well so far, we just need to get a few more tweaks in on that. After that is the new art and some kind of loading screen, and I'm hoping to tackle those in the next few days.

Also, puns? Gods help me, I'm becoming everything I hate :p

Saturday, August 2, 2014

I Crave Data!

Alright! Perhaps a bit predictably, I'm posting on Saturday, but I've succeeded in forcing my own hand. Now, for the news on what I'm working on right now, let me start by explaining one of the curious aspects of writing, and how designing a game builds on top of it.

I've written a lot of stories on SoFurry and FurAffinity with the same goals I keep in mind while writing for MVOL: provide an experience that is engaging, enjoyable, and stimulates the reader both in the higher and lower brain while challenging them in some way. This means taking a very artistic approach at times, and doing things with my writing that may not be immediately apparent, or may not immediately make sense. Part of challenging readers is forcing them out of their comfort zones, and I think that's important to making a story that's enriching, that leaves the reader just a little better than when they started.

(Not all of my stories do this, and if you check through my gallery you'll find most of my commissions mainly focus on the stimulation :p But such is "the biz!")

Now, it's common for any writer to have readers that experience the story differently than they intended, but when you're trying to make every story a unique experience that does all these silly things, there's a lot more opportunity for people to interpret things in surprising ways! Many of my stories have garnered some shocking responses, be they positive or negative, and while this sometimes means I've failed to present the story as it was laid out in my head, I still find their responses immensely valuable-- it's only through this kind of feedback that I can truly improve as a writer and learn to fine tune my craft!

Now, I receive a fair deal of feedback on MVOL, but besides the diligent work from my proofers, I don't usually get anything more specific than "I really liked this scene" or "girl lith plz!" And while I appreciate praise and suggestions, it just doesn't help me make sure each scene is having the specific impact I want it to. I don't really know of a good way to make this happen, especially since each scene can play out differently depending on the player's previous choices, so I often feel like the bulk of the game I've already written is kind of a great, solid mass that I can't make meaningful changes to. But! I've come up with a way that, while I can't get direct feedback on a particular scene, I can get feedback of a much broader, measurable variety for the game as a whole.

In My Very Own Lith v0.15, I plan to add features that automatically collect data on how the game is played and send this information anonymously to my server. I'll be able to see what choices people make, what scenes they revisit often, what parts of the game they seem to try for often without getting anywhere, and what parts just don't see very much love. With this improvement, I'll effectively be able to watch the game being played, which is an important part of developing a game for any designer (without actually standing over your shoulder, as that would be even creepier than normal with this game)! I'm very excited for the chance to see for myself how my game is living out in the wild, so that I can finally go back and start making meaningful improvements instead of just kind of listening and hoping any issues will come up in peoples' feedback.

Now, I know this may raise some concerns. Absolutely no personal data will be recorded by the game. The server only tracks you by your save file. If you're still concerned, I will also be adding the choice in the options menu to turn off the data collection at any time. If you play on Android, it looks like it should still work, and we're working hard on keeping the data sent and received to an absolute minimum to avoid racking up anyone's data charges. From what I understand, it should use less data than your typical IM conversation.

I'm very excited for the possibilities this will open up for the game. With automatic feedback from all of my players, I'll be able to learn about everyone's experience, not just those of the kind few that take the time to leave their praise or criticisms on various message boards. I'll be able to refine the game's difficulty, add clarification where players might seem to get lost, and maybe even remove or replace underused features to make sure the game is getting the maximum benefit from all the hoops I jump through writing variations for scenes! I don't even know what all I might learn from this data as it starts to come in, but I'm sure it's going to be fascinating, and I'm all the more excited to get v0.15 into your hands once these features are online. I hope that you're all as hopeful as I am that this will spell massive improvements for the game in the months to come! As ever, if you have any comments or concerns, there's a comment section right on this post!

And, lastly, while it's been a bigger process than expected, we're chugging along on the implementation and I think enough has been added to the game that I can add a little to the progress meter.

(++++++====)

60% of the way to the next version. I'm hoping to have something ready to show my proofers soon, so things may start gathering momentum from here! Thanks for checking in, kind readers, and I hope I'll have still more news for you soon!

Friday, July 25, 2014

Hey, Look at the Size of That--


Hello, folks! I went and let things slip again, blog-wise. I'm working on it! The good news is that my "steady productivity" scheme has been working pretty well so far, to my immense relief. The bulk of written material for the next update was already complete when last I checked in, though-- I've been spending the intervening time working through my immense and shameful stack of overdue story commissions. At the moment, I've completed two that have been sitting on my plate a very long time-- and as a matter of fact, I'm releasing one today!

If you're burning to read some of my writing, I'd invite you to take a gander at Project Tooth and Claw Pt. 4 over on SoFurry or FurAffinity. It's the closing of an arc in the commissioned series for the infamous Myrilla, featuring said well-endowed blue pup transforming into demi-dragons and wildly fucking any creature at hand. Crazy large insertions abound, so it's a bit more radical than my usual fare with Lith, but it's been nice to stretch and try some new things! This Part also features a little much-needed emotional relief after a very tense stretch over the introduction of the series. If you like shemales, transformation, and impossibly large phalli imposing themselves on the average furry figure, I encourage you to give it a read!

Now, this is where I'd go on to talk about the progress with MVOL, but it occurs to me that this post has already gotten to a pretty good length. So! In an effort to keep the blog updating more often and make each post a little more digestible, I'm chopping the second half off this post! You all can look forward to learning more about what else is going into v0.15... nnnext week! Promise!

Sunday, June 29, 2014

Halfway to the Wooden Door!

Alright! I've been developing a new writing schedule, in which I get in just a little bit of writing almost every day at times that I can be alone and comfortable, and so far it's been working pretty well getting content moving again. Part of me is saddened just to look at what I just said and realize that "making progress at all" is a big improvement right now, but if this can get me consistently moving in the long term, I certainly won't be complaining. The "bigger sex scene" I was referring to last time was actually an alternate version to the one that I finished before, and that in turn has split into two alternates-- a lot of the time, I try to write a single sex scene in such a way that parts can be swapped out to handle most issues of anatomy, but in this case, I decided it needed to go ahead and be written out almost fully as three different scenes. On the one hand, that means more fresh content if and when folks do a second or third playthrough with different anatomy, but on the other, it will feed more into the same problem I'm already concerned about with this update x3

Last update, I was worried the whole deal with the stone door would be too weird for folks. Happily, this doesn't seem to have been the case! This update, things are going weird again, but I'm not so worried about it. What I am worried about is that it doesn't feel to me like it will have as much content as the last update, and that will be partly because there's only one sex scene, even though it's technically three sex scenes folded into one spot (one of which will, for now, only be accessible to donators). This feeling will be amplified by where I'm putting the cutoff for this update-- basically, everything I've been writing has been "set up" for what's going on behind the Wooden Door. And once I'm done setting it all up very dramatically and getting the player excited to try out their choices for what's "actually" going on behind the wooden door... well, that's where v0.15 will stop for now. Worse, I plan to go back to the stone door for v0.16, so I'm already bracing myself for a lot of questions about why people can't "do" any of the stuff they're expecting to do through the wooden door xP I may have to include some very blatant placeholders, I suppose, as I did with the wooden door itself in v0.14 :p We shall see!

Now, with all that hassle, why am I cutting off v0.15 there? A couple different reasons. The first is that, a long time ago, I decided I needed to start forcing myself to make the updates smaller, so that hopefully I could push them out faster and keep a good cycle going between myself and the players. It feels great when the new update goes out and folks are excited, but when I'm looking at alll the things I want to do for the next version, I end up kind of... resting on my laurels for a while ^.^; So I'm hoping setting smaller goals will keep me working more often, keep people more interested, and get a good flow going all around. The problem with v0.14 was that the stone door didn't feel like something I could do as a small update... Every collar had a huge chunk to write out, so if I didn't write all of them, some people effectively wouldn't get something new that update, and if I only wrote half, it wouldn't have even had a sex scene. And I think it's a fair assumption that a new update without any sex at all wouldn't get people very excited :p Besides the most devout blue-collar players, perhaps.

The other main reason was mentioned briefly before-- I have several smaller things to add to the game along with the new content, and it's high time I get that stuff polished and out to you guys. I'm looking at ways to make dominant Lith and the pink collar easier to get, and I may adjust the game's overall difficulty some while I'm at it. Further, without the promise of an actual artist, I'm taking a hard look at redoing Lith's art myself-- replacing one placeholder with a marginally better one, at the very least. Also, I'm considering including a way to get feedback about how players are playing the game-- right now, I'm just kind of releasing it into the wild and hoping for the best, but with information on how it's played, I may be able to better refine its difficulty and flow. I'll get more into this later.

Anyway, all of this means that I've set my milestone for v0.15 a little closer than I might have once thought I would, and I've got the big sex scene past two-thirds written up, so I'm feeling much more confident when I add another notch to the game's progress bar today!

(+++++=====)

We're halfway to the next update, and most of what's left isn't writing but game design, so it may well go a deal faster just for not having to depend on my fickle artistic moods. Thanks for sticking with me, folks! :3 I welcome comments and questions, do let me know if I'm being unclear about anything (besides the parts where I'm deliberately avoiding spoilers :p).

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Stirrings in the Deep

Hey, folks! I've got some good news and some bad news today. The good news is that, after about a week of especially intense hatred of everything I've ever attempted to write, I've started feeling better, and I'm finally getting some more writing in on the game. Better than that, I've rediscovered some of my zeal for the sexual and managed to bust out a sex scene that I think came out pretty decent, and I believe its content will make some particular crowds around here pretty happy. I still need to complete at least one more, larger sex scene before I could even consider the game complete enough to release, and even in that state I think the new content would feel disappointingly short. So I'm conflicted on how much further to go before calling it v0.15, but at the very least, I think this counts as a not insignificant chunk of progress.

(++++======)

40% is a rough estimate-- if I want to push the update out sooner, it may be more like 50 or 60, but if I want to make it a worthwhile update that at least gives a good idea of what the new content is about, it may actually be more like 30% of the work that needs to go into it. I may go for sooner, though, as I do want to ship out a few small improvements on the side as soon as possible and see how they work out!

Now, for the bad news. I do have a tendency to be pessimistic about things, especially when they seem to be too good to be true. That's a part of the reason I kept a pretty tight lid on the fact that I was working closely with an artist on refining Lith's appearance, with the goal of creating a new, vastly superior mood picture for Lith in game in the short term, and potentially adding a good deal of art to enrich the experience in the long term. I was honestly very excited for the opportunity, as the artist was talented and their style, I felt, worked very well for Lith. Unfortunately, real life has swooped in and turned the artist's life upside down, and the project has been aborted for the time being. I'm sorry to say my pessimism has turned out to be a wise measure in this case, as I would have hated to get all of you as excited as I was for this development, only to experience the same crushing disappointment.

So, I'm still looking for an artist to supplement the game and replace my crappy little Lith face in there. Hopefully at some point another opportunity will come along, but at this point, I'm not sure what I can do to seek it out aggressively. Most artists of the skill level I'm seeking are often both quite booked, quite expensive, and jaded and wearied by the strange and unclear demands of their clients, and I can't say that I would be any less particular or demanding-- my overly strict standards for the portrayal of Lith do not extend only to text, after all. But I shall maintain hope. Perhaps over the next few weeks I'll share what work and sketches we had created in the process of trying to make the project happen, if you all would be interested, and would not feel it to be too much like salt in the wound.

So, that's the news with My Very Own Lith. Progress is beginning again, the game advancing in one area while it founders in another. I thank you all for your patience, and I hope I'll have more good news for you soon :3

Thursday, May 29, 2014

Games That Could Be: Virus - The Opponent

Hey folks, I'm gonna be talking more about my game concept nicknamed "Virus" today! As I've explained in previous posts, it's about playing a sex god/virus that slowly infects some kind of remote outpost over the course of an isolated winter. It's going to be kind of a strategic roguelike where you have to use the qualities of each character you infect to your advantage to infect still more and rebuild your powers.

Today, we're gonna be taking a closer look at your opponent, or nemesis. This is a powerful figure that can travel freely to the outpost-- because it suspects you may have woken up after all this time. Depending on how you look at your own character, the nemesis could be a holy guardian trying to hunt down a rogue demon, or a rival god looking to stop its ancient adversary from returning to power, or simply a powerful safeguard figure trying to prevent the spread of a known, excessively infectious virus. Your nemesis takes the form of a human, probably a foreign authority figure that the workers of the outpost are obligated to respect and obey.

That doesn't mean that they will cooperate with him, of course. The people of the outpost are suspicious of people that might try to shut down or disrupt their operations, and it doesn't help that he won't come out and explain what he's here for-- at first. And when he does explain, he risks outright ridicule, if he cannot offer proof. This is your only advantage: your own existence is so unlikely in the eyes of these people, that they will not readily turn themselves in for examination.

If your nemesis can find one of your followers, he can easily purify them, and you will lose control of that person. Worse, you must mark your followers to upgrade your powers, and if he can find and reveal this mark to the town, he will have visible proof of your presence, and everyone will grow more suspicious. Strange markings aren't definitive proof to the people of the town since they know little about you, but it will certainly make things more difficult. Further, if any of your followers are caught doing something outrageous or highly suspicious, the people will start to believe your nemesis more and more, growing more worried that there really is something trying to infect and take control of them. If the people grow too worried, they will all start to submit to cleansing, and your days will be numbered. If your last follower is cleansed, the game will end with your slipping into the void, your grasp on this world lost forever.

You have many tools at your disposal, however. Your nemesis can be fooled, for example-- he will assess each villager he meets and decide how trustworthy they are, and if you can convince him to trust one of your followers, you can feed him false information. Similarly, you can unlock ways to make other people seem more worthy of suspicion. If he accuses the wrong person and cannot show any change after a cleansing, his credibility with the town will fall. If the town grows too distrusting of him, he will be barred from homes and establishments, and eventually driven from the town altogether.

Alternative ways of dealing with the nemesis can vary. I'm considering having him arrive with one or two bodyguards, beings of power but weaker will. If you can manage to separate them from their charge and lure them into sexual congress, it's possible to infect the both of them-- and together, they can overpower your nemesis. Forcing your nemesis to orgasm and convert under your power would be a massive achievement, maybe even an instant victory!

Short of that, you will find yourself in a delicate game of cat and mouse with your nemesis. You must infect as many as you can while conserving your power and avoiding notice from the people and especially the nemesis. If your touch is subtle enough, you may even fool him into thinking it's a false alarm, and he may leave of his own will. This will buy you extra time, but of course, if you slip up or get too aggressive, he may well return again.

Your final success depends on how many people you have infected when spring finally comes, and the people of the outpost go out into the world again. Technically, you win the game so long as you survive the entire winter with at least one follower. But the proportion of people you've infected, the methods you've used, and the powers you've unlocked determine your "ending"--  perhaps you will simply spread to a few small communities and be forced to conserve your energy in a world of battling powers larger than yourself; perhaps you will claim vast swaths of the population and new, peaceful, orgiastic cultures will erupt gleefully across nations; or perhaps you will spread in a global apocalypse of senseless rape, until only small, heavily fortified clusters of survivors clutch still at their sanity, falling under the lusty hordes one by one. It is all within your power.

This just about covers the last of the main concepts I've developed in my head for this potential game. There are plenty of little details I've glazed over, but even the things I've described so far could change radically before this game reaches any state of playability, if it ever sees even a single line of code. With that in mind, next time on GTCB I'll summarize the whole thing and go over the main pro's and con's of the game concept, both for the players and for the developers. This should give us an easy way to compare game ideas once I've gone on to explain the other concepts. I hope the others pique you guys' interest as much as this one seems to have! :3 Thanks for reading!

Friday, May 9, 2014

A Story and a Clarification

Hey, folks! I've been trying to keep myself writing every opportunity I get, even if I can't bring myself to work on the game. A lot of it is complete garbage or just me talking to myself, but it's important to keep in the habit of sitting down and trying. On the bright side, this has yielded at least some small fruit in the form of a peculiar story about a man and a creature that he is trying to figure out. It's pretty light on the sex, for reasons I mentioned in the last blog post, but if you guys are interested in seeing what's coming out of my head lately, I'd welcome you to have a look!

SoFurry
FurAffinity

With that said, I'd like to take a moment to respond at large to a common sentiment my last blog post prompted. I've received several suggestions and even offers for taking on hands as writers for MVOL, and it's great to see support from my fans. But the fact remains that I hold this game to certain standards even stricter than those of my normal work.

It's not just a matter of quality. There are many writers out there that have more skill and talent than I, but in my estimation, nobody understands Lith as thoroughly as I do, largely because he is, in a way, a small part of me. You can read more about a lot of this in the FAQ section, by the way. My Very Own Lith is a game about Lith as a person, and every scene is an expression of some part of him, a derivation of his personality, his flaws, and his conflicts. Just writing a sex scene isn't enough-- it has to have some significance, it has to "mean something," and of course, it's essential that it portrays Lith accurately in his actions and reactions every step of the way.

What this means is that I could never put a scene in this game that isn't set in the foundation of Lith's character from the very start, and to my knowledge, nobody could write such a scene but myself. It's a pretty stupid place to put myself in knowing how inconsistent I can be, but I hope dearly that the end result will be worth all the punishment on my end and the endless waiting on yours.

Actually, thinking about this has brought me to realize what part of my trouble with the new content may be-- in an attempt to generate content to answer many of my fans' requests, I've wandered further than ever from the "main goal" of the story, in a way. So I've been working over how to thread it back into Lith's identity, and I think I have a glimmer of how it might work. As ever, I'll keep working at it, and I hope you will all enjoy the final result enough for the wait to be worth it.

My thanks to everyone for your patience, and for taking the time to catch up with the project. I hope I'll have more news for you soon!