"Girlfriend Material" [GxG Romance/Fantasy]

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Hazel
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"Girlfriend Material" [GxG Romance/Fantasy]

#1 Post by Hazel » Thu Aug 03, 2017 9:04 am

Girlfriend Material

Note: I am hoping to develop this game for Yuri Game Jam '17, which starts next month.

Premise

The story of a mad scientist, and her struggles to find love.

Our setting: a normal-looking house in a normal-looking neighborhood. In its basement lies a very abnormal laboratory, where Lavinia von Adeline concocts her scientific experiments and devises her strange patented technologies. Her latest experiment? An artificial intelligence. But not just any AI. Lavinia is finally sick of being alone, and decided to put her formidable mind to the task of building herself the perfect girlfriend.

You, the player, will aid her in this task.

Plot

We follow Lavinia through her days and nights as she tries to balance life and work, spending her nights in the laboratory with her experiments, and her days trying to appear as normal as possible. Along the way we meet some of her friends and neighbors, friendly or obstructive. Success will allow Lavinia to create the girlfriend of her dreams, but first she needs to figure out what it is that she actually wants from her.

On her side is her own formidable intelligence, a loyal hardware store employee, and a very friendly barista at her favorite coffee shop. Opposing her are her nosy next-door neighbor, her overbearing mother, and an ex-girlfriend whom she never quite got over.

Characters

Lavinia von Adeline - main character

Lavinia is brilliant but socially awkward. Lavinia is confident in her scientific abilities, but as soon as she steps outside of her lab she is plagued by insecurities, and her discomfort makes her lash out in anger. Naturally this has done wonders for her social and love life.

Jenny Jones - mythological ex

An old ex-girlfriend from their shared university days. Jenny has found a more traditionally successful career path in the sciences, but her love life is plagued by poor decisions. She last saw Lavinia during their final break-up, when she told her that she's "just not girlfriend material, I guess".

Désirée - friendly barista

Désirée works at Lavinia's favorite bakery/coffee shop, where she often escapes to self-medicate with heavily-frosted cupcakes. She works in the service industry, so she's friendly to everyone, even Lavinia.

Professor Eugenia - overbearing mother

A world-renowned researcher in her field, Eugenia had always held high hopes for her brilliant only daughter. She doesn't mean to meddle, but she can't help but worry. Above all, she just wants her daughter to be happy, in love, and tenured.

Ms. Margaret a.k.a. Peggy - nosy neighbor

Peggy lives in the house next-door to Lavinia. She is retired, and either a widow or a divorcee, and at any rate has plenty of time to snoop into her neighbors' personal affairs.

Kasper - hardware store employee

Kasper is the cashier and clerk of his father's hardware store, where Lavinia frequently shops for parts for her many inventions. Mercifully, he had the good sense to stop hitting on her every time she came to the shop, when he found out she just doesn't lean that way. He does know his way around the shop, though, and will never hesitate to special order anything for Lavinia, provided it doesn't land him and his dad on some sort of watch list.

Girlfriend Models

Model 1 - Blueberry

Made of sugar and spice and other nursery rhymes, Blueberry is sweet, gentle and adoring. Her model is defined by fawning devotion to her creator and girlfriend.

Model 2 - Georgiana

A highly polished model built to keep up with her creator's intellectual whims, she has a voracious curiosity for all things scientific. Defined by her refined taste and build around a sophisticated, perfectly logical mind.

Model 3 - Raven

Mysterious and slightly ethereal, she was pieced together from out of context quotes taken from works of classic literature and mythology. Her main motif is her independence and changeability, and she is designed to maintain her creator's high level of interest by her unpredictable nature.

Gameplay

The course of the story is determined by the player's choices. As Lavinia, you can respond to events however you see fit, building some relationships and tearing down others, all while working on your experiment as well. Building your model girlfriend will take up most of the course of the game, and the final result will depend entirely on your choices as a player.

Each day is divided into a number of time slots, where different activities will be available to you based on the time of day, as well as other factors. Building your robot goes through several phases, interspersed with the need to interact with your fellow humans. These human interactions can serve to build your external relationships, if you wish to do so. Alternatively, you can use them to refine the design of your experiment.

Now and then, your schedule will be interrupted by an unexpected event. How you respond to these interruptions can affect the course of your experiment, but the final outcome is up to you, the player.

Questions
  1. What do you think of the basic premise of the game? Do you find it interesting, funny, romantic?
  2. How do you feel about Lavinia as an MC? Is she likable, relatable, interesting?
  3. Would you be happy to see her succeed in her experiment?
  4. Which of the regular NPCs do you find most interesting? Which do you like best and least?
  5. Do any of the Girlfriend models appeal to you as love interests?
  6. Would you be interested in pursuing the Girlfriend models as love interests, or do you prefer one or more of the regular NPCs to also be romance options?
  7. What would you consider a good end to the game? How about a bad end?
  8. Do you prefer to be absolutely sure which Girlfriend model you're building from the start, or to discover it through various choices throughout the game?
  9. What do you think of the gameplay aspect? Does it sound interesting, or like it would get in the way of the story?
  10. Any other questions or comments?
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Re: "Girlfriend Material" [GxG Romance/Fantasy]

#2 Post by traineroflegend » Thu Aug 03, 2017 10:15 am

1. It can be a funny premise, but nothing I read really strikes me as funny. Or romantic for that matter. It sounds like a more lighthearted Chobits. Definitely interesting though.

2. She sounds great! If you can make her anxiety really pop I think you'll have an interesting character in your hands.

3. Honestly, not really. You can either play the build-your-girlfriend angle straight or try to subvert it. Try to subvert it. Make having a girlfriend something Lavinia wants, only to later discover it's not something that would make her happy.

4. I like coffee shops so Desiree, but Jenny Jones seems to have the most room to make an impact on Lavinia's life.

5. Georgiana.

6. I definitely think having a love interest outside of the three models would be a good idea.

7. Like I mentioned before, a bad end could be that Lavinia focuses on creating her model and ignores all her real life relationships. She ends up with a model that can't bring her happiness. A good end could be that she creates a model with the intention of loving it, but later learns to find love outside of her creations (with one of the side characters). So the good end would see Lavinia fall for someone else while the model gets to be a part of society.

8. Don't set the mode from the beginning. That would enhance replayability and keep people guessing.

9. Not much gameplay to talk about given what you've outlined so far. Picking and choosing what to do sounds neat.

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Re: "Girlfriend Material" [GxG Romance/Fantasy]

#3 Post by Antaille » Mon Aug 07, 2017 6:07 pm

1- The basic premise seems very interesting! I really like the idea of building an IA. For the funny part, I think it will work for a sort of "absurd" universe but we will see that when the game will be out!
2- Lavinia is a really interessant character and I think it will be nice to play her, mainly because of her anxiety. It might give a really good evolution of the character so that's perfect!
3- Yes but not if she doesn't evolve on her side. Realising that perfection is not the best thing that can happend.
4- Désirée is my nunber one right now. I guess that the one that I found the least interesting is Ms. Margaret but again, i think she can be a good "antagonist" for Lavinia.
5 -Georgiana BUT Raven can be "fun" do see too.
6- Having an NPC as a romance option would be great tbh
7 -The best end that we could have is maybe having Lavinia succed but realizing that building a girlfriend is not a good option. A bad one would be her being totally obsesed with her creation and not even realized that people care for her outside.
8- It's better if we discover it through various choice. The game will be more fun and there will be exitment to see which girlfriend you have build.
9-The gameplay sound interesting. I'm exited to see how the "antagonist" will interact in the game!
10 - Good luck! I hope would will make it!

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Re: "Girlfriend Material" [GxG Romance/Fantasy]

#4 Post by Hazel » Tue Aug 08, 2017 10:00 am

Really great responses! Thanks for taking the time to answer my questions.
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Re: "Girlfriend Material" [GxG Romance/Fantasy]

#5 Post by sqbr » Wed Aug 09, 2017 1:13 am

HMM. A lot of this sounds interesting, but regardless of where the plot goes, I would find someone who was ok with creating a sentient being in order to date them unplayably unlikeable. How would the created girlfriend have the ability to consent, or have agency in her life in general?

Two approaches I'd enjoy: (a) Lavinia isn't intending on making a girlfriend, just an AI she will be able to talk to and understand, and is fine with the AI having her own life and maybe not wanting to even be friends, with any romance being something of a surprise (b) Lavinia doesn't intend to robot to be sentient, just a sex/comfort toy with a veneer of personality, and has to decide what to do when she realises the robot is a true AI with her own wants and needs.

And then there's a continuum where Lavinia's original goal is a bit hinky and the player has the option to make her give the robot more agency (good end) or double down on the hinkiness (bad end), I would personally enjoy that less but am a bit pickier about consent in fiction than a lot of people. Also I'm very prone to projecting onto robots :)

...also, I would want to date Peggy, haha. I guess overall, given the premise, I'd want the non-robots to feel like complex people with their own sometimes inconvenient needs. Also could be interesting if a bit uncomfortable to contrast overbearing mother vs AI creator.

With the gameplay, I'd not want to feel like the game was punishing shyness, but it could be an interesting challenge if socialising had downsides, not just taking up time but...mental energy or something? As well as the obvious upsides of making friends etc.

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Re: "Girlfriend Material" [GxG Romance/Fantasy]

#6 Post by Hazel » Wed Aug 09, 2017 1:02 pm

I'm trying to be flexible on the endings, but what I had planned from the start (and the plan I'm sticking to, for now) is that each of the three robot girlfriends has the option to walk away at the end of the game, and that's an option the player can't (directly) control. It doesn't eliminate all the sketchiness from the scenario, but I do want there to be an easily noticeable difference between romance and non-romance endings. How that plays out in terms of the choices given throughout the game, and the relationship meters, is something I'm still working on.

Thanks for the feedback!
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Re: "Girlfriend Material" [GxG Romance/Fantasy]

#7 Post by crouchingbacon » Sat Aug 19, 2017 9:44 am

Saw this from the discord chat. Hi!

Questions

What do you think of the basic premise of the game? Do you find it interesting, funny, romantic?

It's pretty interesting. There could be funny situations, probably those that involve the neighbors' snooping, but without dialogue, I can't say much yet. Same for romance, but right now, I feel like it's kind of sad that she has to actually create a girlfriend instead of finding one out there. The moral dilemma kind of reminds me of the movie Passengers, where the guy chose to wake a girl up because he was getting too lonely. If Lavinia creates the girlfriend, does she code in their consent/ability to say no to her, or remove that entirely? Just something I'm curious about.

How do you feel about Lavinia as an MC? Is she likable, relatable, interesting?

She's interesting, since she's an unusual character. Also pretty relatable, since I bet everyone gets those forever alone feels from time to time. Not too sure about likable yet, will have to see character design and dialogue to have an informed opinion.

Would you be happy to see her succeed in her experiment?

Sure, why not. But I'd actually prefer it if she had a crisis about giving her creation some ability of consent.
Or in the end, if she fails, maybe she realizes that the NPCs are viable people to have relationships with?

Which of the regular NPCs do you find most interesting? Which do you like best and least?
It's a tie between Desiree and Kasper for the likeable ones. The nosy neighbor might be funny, but maybe it's too early to tell.
Not really liking the ex, but I understand that she does flesh out the cast and adds some flesh to Lavinia's backstory/insight into why she seems to be a recluse.

Do any of the Girlfriend models appeal to you as love interests?

Georgiana could be interesting, and while I'm not loving the name, I think Blueberry could be a refreshing character if her dialogue is written well. Raven feels a bit vague to me at the moment, kind of like a wild card.

Would you be interested in pursuing the Girlfriend models as love interests, or do you prefer one or more of the regular NPCs to also be romance options?

I'm biased for Desiree, haha, her being a barista and all. But I think out of the three Girlfriend models, Blueberry might seem like the best match for Lavinia, at least for her emotional health. Someone to balance her weaknesses.

What would you consider a good end to the game? How about a bad end?

A good end would definitely mean Lavinia finding success somehow, or at least finding resolution with her failed/somewhat compromised relationships (platonic or romantic). Maybe her Girlfriend might actually make her even more successful in the scientific community than Jenny.

A really bad end would be her creation killing her (though I'm not sure if that goes with the tone of this VN?).
Another one could be her Girlfriend choosing to leave her. Or being arrested because the neighbors/the community couldn't stand her weirdness?

Do you prefer to be absolutely sure which Girlfriend model you're building from the start, or to discover it through various choices throughout the game?

Various choices, since a scientist finds things out through experiments.

What do you think of the gameplay aspect? Does it sound interesting, or like it would get in the way of the story?

It sounds interesting, but I wonder how Lavinia would benefit from "tearing down" some of her relationships? It seems like she doesn't have enough people on her side already, what would she gain by losing the few friends and acquaintances she has? Just my two cents on her character. Though I suppose cutting off unhealthy ties could help her.

Any other questions or comments?

Looking forward to seeing the art for this. Also a suggestion, what if Ms. Margaret was a man instead? Kind of tired seeing the trope of matronly gossipers, but that's just me.

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Re: "Girlfriend Material" [GxG Romance/Fantasy]

#8 Post by Hazel » Mon Aug 28, 2017 5:47 am

crouchingbacon wrote:
Sat Aug 19, 2017 9:44 am
It's pretty interesting. There could be funny situations, probably those that involve the neighbors' snooping, but without dialogue, I can't say much yet. Same for romance, but right now, I feel like it's kind of sad that she has to actually create a girlfriend instead of finding one out there. The moral dilemma kind of reminds me of the movie Passengers, where the guy chose to wake a girl up because he was getting too lonely. If Lavinia creates the girlfriend, does she code in their consent/ability to say no to her, or remove that entirely? Just something I'm curious about.
Ah, this part is important. I should emphasize it more in the description. It's like this:

I'm not messing around with ambiguous consent. The robot girlfriends, once you complete them, are all fully-formed AIs capable of making their own decisions. They're autonomous and Lavinia does not have any power to influence their actions, except insofar as conversation goes. Lavinia's character, for all her various flaws, is not that of a person capable of or interested in overriding an AI's free will.

So, all robot girlfriend relationships will be 100% consensual. They may succeed or fail, but they'll never be coerced.
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Re: "Girlfriend Material" [GxG Romance/Fantasy]

#9 Post by Zelan » Thu Sep 07, 2017 11:47 pm

What do you think of the basic premise of the game? Do you find it interesting, funny, romantic?: It's got great potential to be both funny and more serious at different times. The plot isn't 100% original, but what plot is? And the interesting characters more than make up for that.

How do you feel about Lavinia as an MC? Is she likable, relatable, interesting?: She seems like a solid, complex character who will be interesting to step into the shoes of. I'd really like to see more of how her mind works.

Would you be happy to see her succeed in her experiment?: I would. I figure it's important to her as a scientist, and she strikes me as an endearing character.

Which of the regular NPCs do you find most interesting? Which do you like best and least?: Désirée is my favorite, hands down. Perky baristas are the bomb. I also really like Professor Eugenia; good mom characters in visual novels are hard to come by.

Do any of the Girlfriend models appeal to you as love interests?: Georgiana is my favorite. I like the idea of someone on the same intellectual level as Lavinia, who would be interested in discussing Lavinia's work with her. I also adore Raven because her route seems like it would be so unorthodox, and could easily range from funny and parody-ish to extremely serious. I'm not as much a fan of Blueberry because overly doting love interests can become annoying, but if written well I could see myself liking her a lot.

Would you be interested in pursuing the Girlfriend models as love interests, or do you prefer one or more of the regular NPCs to also be romance options?: This is a really difficult question to answer. Like I said above, I like both Georgiana and Raven, and even though Blueberry's personality isn't my favorite I'd still be interested in seeing what you came up with for her route. Then again, I also love Désirée. Like, a lot. Even Jenny is interesting - while her personality doesn't grab me in particular, I find the dynamics and storyline between exes making up with each other to be really interesting and, in a lot of cases, heartwarming. So I guess... all of them if you can. cx I know that's pretty implausible, though, so I'd say if you have to choose between them, go for the Girlfriend models first.

What would you consider a good end to the game? How about a bad end?: I think a good end would be anything that helps Lavinia overcome some of her insecurities, in any way and however small the step is. I agree with a lot of other people that a bad end would be where she becomes fixated on her AI and forgoes her relationships and any other priorities.
I also agree with crouchingbacon that an ending where an AI kills Lavinia could be cool, if a little dark. The way I see it playing out, Raven would be the most likely candidate. You could get a Frankenstein situation where the creation goes horribly wrong and eventually turns on its creator's friends and finally its creator. Of course, the original story of Frankenstein is far deeper that just a science experiment gone wrong, but hey, those classic lit quotes were taken pretty far out of context... ^_^ (read as: i'm way too in love with this idea)

Do you prefer to be absolutely sure which Girlfriend model you're building from the start, or to discover it through various choices throughout the game?: I've always preferred more organic choices as opposed to simply picking from a menu. Then again, maybe Lavinia would be the type to plan the personality before she even started working. It could go either way and I probably wouldn't be too bothered. The only problem would be if you went with the second option and it was too difficult to figure out how to get a particular model.

What do you think of the gameplay aspect? Does it sound interesting, or like it would get in the way of the story?: It sounds super interesting, I like time-management stuff, especially when it's more than just plain stat-raising.

Any other questions or comments?: Good luck! :D I'd really like to see you finish this, it sounds awesome.

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