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?