Friday, January 9, 2015

Games That Could Be: Virus - Final Look

Hello, folks! It's been a while since I touched on this, but I've still got it in the back of my head: the concept for a new potential game to design "someday," which we've nicknamed "Virus"! Right now my main focus is MVOL, of course, but I've supposed that when I'm finally done with Lith, or maybe, just maybe as a side project if I found a few people willing to help make the game a reality, it could be pretty cool to design something along these lines.

The main concept of the game is that, in an isolated mining outpost buried in the depth of winter, a strange being is woken from ancient times: you. You consider yourself a primal god of sexuality, though others might see you as a demon, or even just some kind of psychic virus. You possess one of the miners that stumbles upon you, riding in them back to the outpost. There, you will manipulate your miner, your first worshiper or host, to have sex with someone else, so that you can claim them as well. You must spread to as many people as you can, but you must do it subtly, quietly-- for there is another being coming that is hunting for you, your Nemesis. If he can find all your hosts, he can eradicate you from this plane of existence once and for all. But if you can survive the winter, you can spread to the world at large-- the game will end with telling you how much of the world you manage to claim as your own!

If you want to get a little more detail on all this, I invite you to check out the previous posts on this concept:
Main Concept
The Opponent

With all that said, today I'm going to break down the game's details into broad categories of positive and negative features-- both for you, the players, and for myself, and any other designers that would be working on the project. I think this should give us a strong basis for comparing this concept to other game concepts I'm planning to talk about in the future.

Pro's and Con's: The Designers


+Gameplay and erotica can be written separately. While the game is all about sex, the sex scenes are largely rewards more than integral parts of the gameplay. This means several things. For one, the game could effectively be designed "in full" before a single erotic word has been written, with simple placeholders for sex scenes that haven't been written up, so that even at very early stages of development, the game could theoretically be played all the way through. This also means that either side of the writing can be developed independently, so if we have separate smut writers and coders, they should never be stuck waiting on each other before they can do their parts. Further, if large changes are made to the design down the line, this should force no more than minimal rewrites in the smutty stuff. These are all vast improvements over MVOL's constraints.

+A variety of characters and situations should allow multiple writers to work together more easily. This kind of segmented system should let you go from scene to scene without shifts in style and tone being as jarring. This lets more people contribute to the project without a big drop in quality.

+Art would do well in this game. This kind of setup lends itself pretty strongly to having art, either directly in the game, or surrounding the game. There's a strong setting with its own atmosphere, there are established and hopefully interesting characters, and there could be several "common" and/or "popular" pairings.

+A strong cast of characters can make a game more engaging and "viral." This can make the game more likely to spread and become more successful if the characters are strong enough to, say, provoke fanart, or garner references/cameos in other work. This game concept lends itself to a large number of characters that, depending on execution, could come out quite personable. MVOL had a little bit of that with Lith, maybe more so than this concept would, but with only one real feature character.


-The interface could be very difficult to present elegantly. This sort of gameplay doesn't have many strong precedents, and it would encourage kind of "looking at everything at once" a lot. So designing the game, especially the GUI, to present important information in a way that feels natural and not overwhelming would be both essential and highly challenging.

-The size of the cast could create an exponentially growing web of scenes, effectively making it almost impossible to cover "everything." In basic gameplay, there are only so many people each person is likely to have sex with, but as the game develops and powers are added to force certain unions to happen, the possibilities can spread to basically "any other person in the base." Add on top of this potential multiple ways two people could get together, the possibility of using powers to augment sex scenes, and the possibility of even having more than two people in a single sexual act, and the possible "pairings" become almost infinite. We would probably only write out full scenes for the most likely/most popular situations, but it would still make for an almost endless task for the erotic writers.

-The commitment as a contributing writer could become rather large. If you wanted to join the game as a writer, a likely approach would be for you to choose one or a few characters and write all the applicable scenes for those characters. This is something of an extension of the point above: the more matchings that are possible, the more scenes your character(s) would be involved in, and you'd need to either accept someone else writing for "your" character, or if you're particularly attached to it, you may be committing to a great deal of writing.

Pro's and Con's: The Players


+The variety in characters should allow for a wide array of themes, scenes, and situations. A large cast lets us cover a variety of species, body types, sexualities and kinks easily, so if a given player really wants to see some particular species get some love, they should have decent luck finding it somewhere in there. I've always had a lot of feedback on MVOL asking for more options and configurations to meet people's particular interests, and this way, it could be built a little more into the game.

+The game would hopefully offer a strong gameplay experience and high replayability. It's my hope to make a game that's worth playing on its own merits and not just its sex scenes. I think that, if designed right, Virus could be the kind of game where people skip the sex scenes simply because they want to play more of the game. In the good way, I mean. This is something that I think MVOL largely fails at.

+Since this concept lends itself fairly well to being worked on by a group, content would probably develop at a more constant rate, meaning more updates, more often. One of the big frustrations with MVOL is that the nature of the game and its goals necessitates it being largely a one-man project, so it's been severely slowed down.


-While there will be a great variety of characters, the pool of scenes available for any one character may be disappointingly shallow. If only one character really "strikes the player's fancy," they may not offer enough scenes to be very satisfying.

-The sex scenes may lean toward pretty vanilla kinks. The setting necessitates a degree of realism and "low-profile" activities that may not be as exciting to some players. Incest, cheating, non-consensual and light bondage may be common enough, but many common furry kinks would be difficult to fit into this setting. This may, however, be mediated with some "late game" powers that use magic to fill that gap, if the demand is high enough.

-This would probably be a pretty difficult game! We'd make an effort to include difficulty settings, of course, for those that don't want to be challenged by their porn, but even so, the game may be rather complex to navigate. The developers would have to work very hard on making the game welcoming and understandable.

-There isn't a strong "you" in the sex scenes. The player is a god/demon/virus that doesn't really have any sex directly. While they're setting up all these pairings, they're still something of a voyeur in all this, and that may not be as directly engaging as actually "playing" someone that goes around humping or getting humped.

That wraps up just about all the angles I can think of to look at this game concept! I've got another one, a bit simpler of a concept, on the way for the next time I need something to keep my blog afloat between more significant bits of news. Until then, I hope this is an interesting concept I've given you a peek in on :3 When I'm done describing all my game concepts maybe we'll be able to figure out where it would be best to go next! Thanks for reading!


  1. Oh, man, the complexity of this concept is... well, you said it. Simply modeling everything and then testing all possible interactions will be a job and a half.

    1. It's my hope that with a fairly dedicated team, as opposed to just one person, such things may be possible ^.^; I've actually mulled over the possibility of setting the whole thing up to effectively work as a blank infrastructure of rules and logic, and making the actual individual characters and their interactions an entirely separate database that just feeds into that and modifies how things work. It would make it a little harder to have "special" or "unique" events for each character, but it would make a very strong foundation for making sure the game worked reliably in any situation and could easily be expanded with time. I've been having a lot of fun kinda working over all the details in my head x3 Makes me wish I had a team!

  2. This is very interesting. I hope you do make it.

  3. Half of this can be achieved with organization, willpower and a lot of work.
    If you really want to make it, then nothing stands in your way.

  4. Would I be right in assuming inspiration for Virus comes from things like "The Thing", and "Penumbra"?

    1. Haha, it's very likely that "The Thing" influenced my decision to place the story in a cold, isolated town of some sort, although that's culturally a somewhat common idea, that strange, horrible, and amazing things can happen when a small group is completely isolated from the world in some distant reach of the world, separated by uncrossable snow and ice. And of course, the idea of "infection" plus well into "The Thing," although I actually only saw the movie a couple years ago, and I've been quietly in love with the idea of a sort of consciousness that spreads and controls through sex for quite a long time. But you never know, the big ideas tend to have ripples throughout our culture, so it's easy to pick things up without ever having seen their true "origins" directly :3

      That said, this is the first that I've heard of "Penumbra," and I'm assuming you mean the game series I found on Wikipedia. I do like that word, though :3

  5. Sounds good, just as it did when I looked at it before. Not sure if I could be of a reliable help (university and stuff), but I think I have an idea of a framework for this game (using Lua for extensions; easy to use for both the backend coders and coder/writers that integrate their work into game), written on C++. Probably even a UI concept. Do not get too excited as I have an annoying habit of failing to do promised things though. Meh.

    1. Are you the fellow that emailed me around the same time as this post? x3 Because if not I think we may have spontaneously formed a potential team. Though that would be a creepy coincidence in timing :p

  6. Damn you, L., for having more of these delightfully creepily intriguing ideas swimming inside your head. Much loving the concept as described above so far. Without meaning to plaster all else here with a deluge of free associations, I´ll just thank you for this brain food _and_ MVOL both. Let one of my many annoying habits be having actually gone ahead and post this at all (reader discretion & leniency advised, deletion recommended :). And while Penumbra is indeed a mighty interesting word, it's also extremely likely to have been copyrighted yonks ago. Shame that. Ah well, do please keep exhibiting this great case of the writies that you've developed.