(Previously "Yet Another Gay Dating Sim")
Yearning: A Gay Story (YAGS for short) is a coming-out-focused character-driven slice-of-life game set during your freshman year on a college campus (phew). You'll meet people, make friends, come out, and maybe start dating someone. (The game is part dating sim, with four dateable guys (with good and bad endings for each), but hopefully is enjoyable enough to play even if you don't manage to find a boyfriend.)
One important note: The story is 100% complete and playable, and I'm mostly looking for feedback on the story and the characters as I continue working on the game.
However, the art assets (sprites and backgrounds) are in progress, and are being replaced as they come in. (Most of the sprites are currently stick figures in varying stages of progress.) There is also currently no music other than on the title screen.
The current goal is to release the game for free after it's complete. There is no estimated completion date.
The game is also quite long, and is NSFW, featuring adult situations and scenes of a sexual nature. However, it does not have overly explicit depictions of sex.
This game is a lot of firsts for me: It's my first time using RenPy, my first time really doing any creative writing, and my first visual novel. I hope it's enjoyable, even in its current unpolished state.
You can grab the game at my tumblr, which will be updated as changes are made.
Writing: 99% (Finished except for tweaks and changes based on feedback, and general cleanup)
Sprites: 29% (4/14 finished)
Backgrounds: 100% (19/19 finished)
Music: 86% (12/14 finished)
Current game stats: 26,254 dialog blocks, 230,683 words, 1,211,435 characters
(Obviously, not all text will be in a given playthrough, as the game tries to adapt rather heavily to your choices, but that's still a general idea of size.)
I think of YAGS as being about meeting and getting to know people. As such, I don't want to include any background information about the characters here, but here's the characters -- in their current finished-or-unfinished state -- in the game.
(The game itself contains unlockable character profiles where you can learn more about the people that you meet.)
Most of the sprites are still stick figures, and many backgrounds are still placeholders. However, here's some representative screenshots anyway:
My tumblr has a lot of behind-the-scenes posts and general progress notes, so you can always follow that to see how things are going.
If you have played the game, I've been writing a series of backstory fics for each of the characters, which you can read here. It's a way to pass the time while waiting for art assets, anyway.
I also tweet general status updates, photos, and random thoughts in the development process.
I can't talk about this game without talking about Coming Out on Top, by Obscurasoft. I'd had a bunch of disparate stories and ideas bouncing around my head for years, but playing CooT kind of gave me the kick I needed and convinced me that I should write them down, try to connect them together, and present them in a way that a player could interact with and play through. At a superficial level, the two games are fairly similar games in terms of setting and general goals. However, it is my hope that I've created something that is also extremely different and stands on its own.
In YAGS, all of the characters you meet are intertwined, even (and if) you start dating one of them. While you can pursue different guys, and therefore go down different "paths", the main "story" remains the same, and you will see the same events from different perspectives and get to know different characters better. That's why I call it a character-driven game: the story as as much about the lives of the people you interact with as it is about your own decisions and experiences.
YAGS is also intended to be significantly darker than CooT, dealing with a lot more of the fear, uncertainly, and angst that surrounds the coming out progress, and attempting to paint a realistic picture of what it could mean to be gay and to find yourself. That's not to say it's a depressive slog, but it tries to have its realistic and serious moments, alongside the light-hearted ones. Has it succeeded at that? You tell me.
YAGS has followed an extremely non-standard development process. My goal, originally, was just to get stories from my head onto "paper". However, as the number of characters and story kept growing, I figured it was worthwhile pursuing an actual game release. Given my complete lack of artistic skills, I focused on what I was able to do (primarily writing and programming). Now that this project has grown more serious, I have signed on the talents of a couple of artists and a musician, and am replacing game assets as they come in.
You can follow asset status (sprites, backgrounds, and music) on either my tumblr or Twitter. (I'll update this thread sporadically, but post much more frequent updates on social media.)
Any and all feedback is appreciated. (And thank you for playing!) However, here are some specific things I was curious about:
- Did you finish a full playthrough? If not, was there a particular reason or moment that caused you to stop playing, or did it just not hold your interest?
- What do you think of the gameplay length? Does it feel too long? Are there any scenes that feel like they should be cut, or that don't add much to the game?
- Are the characters sufficiently compelling? Do you have a favorite or least favorite character?
- Are there particular scenes or situations that seem out of place or just don't fit into the game?
How does the current lack of art assets affect your enjoyment of the game?
- (New) What do you think about the sprites and backgrounds so far?
- (New) If you didn't play, what is your impression of the game concept?