Long version: Cupups, or Cupid Pups, are dogs that are summoned when a hopeless young adult makes a wish to find love. It's your first time on the job, and your work's all cut out for you. Your task is simple: work undercover as a regular dog to bring your owner love before your year-long contract is up, and don't break the Cupup Code of Conduct. One problem: your owner is a real piece of work. Forced to take a gap year after burning out last semester, their morale is low and they're in no shape to be seeing anyone. Thankfully, they live in a city full of fellow dogs and dog-owners of all shapes, sizes, and temperaments, so it shouldn't be hard to get them out of their shell. Right?
The genre is meant to be lighthearted, comedic, and a little sad at times because dogs are involved and we all know that anything involving dogs will get real emotional real quick. I'm hoping for it to be 13+, but looking at some of my story content it might turn out to be 16+.
Features currently planned are:
- (Almost) every character, love interest or not, owns an iconic breed of dog. We have a pug for the classic boy next door, a samoyed for the vet, a corgi that works with your local dog cafe, and more that will be revealed soon!
- 8 romanceable characters, along with their trusty dog sidekicks; 4 female, 4 male. Everyone's bi.
- 3 endings per character, and 1 secret finale.
- A "baton pass" between the MC and the dog, the dog would have control when speaking to other dogs and during walks, and the MC would have control when talking to other humans.
- A lot of character customization, mostly feature-based.
I wanted to use character customization as a way to give the player the option to recreate themselves in the game or play as someone entirely different.
- Stats that can be changed depending on which actions the dog/owner takes.
- Persona: sincere-cynical
- Guts: timid-assertive
- Heart: warm-cold
- Social: naive-perceptive
- Fitness: energetic-lazy
- The player has 4-6 time slots a day where they can choose to go to any location where they can work, perform actions to change stats, or find love interests to advance the story. As time goes on, the seasons and weather will also change, which will affect the environment and what activities you can do. The total time span of the game will be 1 year.
I've been writing it for roughly eight months now, and while I have most of the character routes down, I'm struggling more with the gameplay mechanics and the logistics of how the game is going to work.
I don't know how other people would feel about playing as a dog for half the game. Not to mention I would have to figure out how transitioning between dog gameplay and MC interactions with the love interest, since choices will still make up a large part of story progression. I know that most of the fun in dating sims is trying to figure out what the right dialogue option is in the face of your love interest and Dog forbid I try to take that away from anybody.
I haven't put all my work here because it'd just be a wall of text, so if you have any questions I'd be happy to answer. Also, if you have any advice or resources you think would help me, they would be much appreciated!
P.S. Apologies for the criminal lack of love interests in this post. They'll be revealed soon.
Here are the most burning questions I have right now: (You don't have to answer all of them)
1. How's the premise sounding? Is the writing awkward?
2. Is the concept of Cupups too cheesy? How hard are you cringing?
3. What are your thoughts on the gameplay mechanics? How would you improve them or make them more efficient? What are your personal favourite dating sim mechanics and why?
4. Give me all your input. Any of it. Please.
(On another note, I know that the title is a mouthful. I was considering going with Puppy Love, because it's simple and self-explanatory, but felt it was too generic?)