Orc Dating Sim [Dating Sim! with Orcs!] [M/M] NaNoRenO 2K15

NaNoRenO is an event where creators make a game from scratch during the month of March.
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Orc Dating Sim [Dating Sim! with Orcs!] [M/M] NaNoRenO 2K15

#1 Post by Mitch » Sun Mar 08, 2015 7:24 pm

SYNOPSIS
In the Orc Dating Sim (a very tentative title!), you take on the role of a male orc traversing the countryside of a semi-mythic Scotland on your way to find a new home and a new family - by your side are nine male companions that you met only recently, including a polyamorous orc-chief trio, a selkie journeying to his home under the sea, and an orcish scholar covered in tattoos. Along the way, you'll have the chance to build relationships with each of them - as well as defining for yourself what those relationships entail - as you search for a place to settle in the Scottish Highlands.

STORY
Every few years, orcish folk from all over the country assemble in their ancient meeting place in the great woods, sharing their knowledge, experiences, friendships and conquests with one another freely, without fear of persecution. During the assembly, the various orcs in attendance will choose to recombine and reconfigure their groups; blood families will be disbanded and new, created families take their place; warbands whose missions have been fulfilled are broken up, with their constituent members joining groups as vanguards or guildsmen.

You've finally found a group of people that you think would be good company on your way to find a new home, and a new family; you'll have plenty of time to find out what kind of family that becomes in your long trek up to the Highlands, where your newfound acquaintances intend to settle until the next assembly.

SETTING
The Orc Dating Sim takes place in a semi-historical, semi-mythical Scotland as the group traverse the roads through the countryside on their way to the Scottish Highlands.

CHARACTERS
  • Cennedig, Ror & Malgolom: Most orcish groups function with just one chief, maybe the chief and their partner - this group has three of them, and they're in a committed polyamorous relationship with one another. Cennedig is heavy-handed and pragmatic, and won't bear to see one of his charges suffer; Ror is impulsive and destructive, but not without good reason; and Malgolom struggles with what he believes may be "the second sight".
  • Brocgin: An orc who's studied extensively at human institutions, he's eager to put to use what he's learned for the betterment of orcish society - and to protect them from those who would exploit them.
  • Ggorom: A selkie (ocean orc) that lives in the waters between the Inner Isles, Ggorom is travelling with the group as a safety measure to get back to his home off the coast.
  • Ferdag: A ferocious warrior who is nonetheless committed to making people happy.
  • Domnol: A courier who runs messages between the various orcish groups throughout the Highlands.
  • Sithig: A grise travelling the country, forging bonds with orcish groups.
  • Aed: A young human man, apparently a scholar at a prestigious university that seeks to join an orcish band and study their behaviour. Other members of the group are skeptical about his reasons for choosing to accompany them, however...
INSPIRATION
Orcs have always occupied troubled territory as being the Other (often invoking real-world bigotry), and I'd like to have the Orc Dating Sim be a game that's a little more humane, diverse and inclusive, by having a wide range of different types of bodies, beliefs and relationships represented in the game, as well as providing a queer slant to male sexuality and relationships. But considering NaNoRenO only lasts a month, we'll see how much of that I can manage. :>

FEATURES AND PROGRESS
  • Toggle Protagonist's dialogue lines. (COMPLETE)
  • Toggle NSFW/SFW content. (COMPLETE)
  • Character portraits (6/9)
  • Main Route
  • Routes (0/9)
  • Backgrounds (0/9)
  • Alpha Test I
DEVELOPER'S NOTES
Howdy folks! I'm Mitch, a game designer and writer from Scotland, and I'm the artist and developer for the Orc Dating Sim! This is my first NaNoRenO, although I've taken part in NaNoWriMo before, as well as four or five Game Jams too. I wanted to wait a while to make my thread just to make sure I could commit to getting my game underway, and so far I've done pretty well!

I'll update this thread over the coming weeks as and when I make progress, but feel free to jump in to say hi, ask questions, provide feedback or what-have-you in the thread too. You can also check out some of the work I've done thus far over at the Tumblr blog for the Orc Dating Sim, or you can find me elsewhere on Tumblr and Twitter!
Last edited by Mitch on Thu Mar 19, 2015 2:25 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Orc Dating Sim [Dating Sim! with Orcs!] [M/M] NaNoRenO 2

#2 Post by KittyKatStar » Sun Mar 08, 2015 8:00 pm

I'm always happy to see more diverse games out there. >w<b I really like the heavy Scottish influence, being Scottish myself. Also yay for more games with N/SFW toggle!

Good luck with the nano. =)
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Re: Orc Dating Sim [Dating Sim! with Orcs!] [M/M] NaNoRenO 2

#3 Post by Mitch » Tue Mar 10, 2015 9:19 am

Image

So a tiny miniscule sketchy art-update for now: here's Domnol, the group’s courier, with Ferdag also standing about looking big and dweeby. I'm liking Dom's purple-and-yellow colors, but I'm not so into the actual ghillie shirt, breeches and all the rest; it also looks just a tad outta place as well. (also - lazy backgrounds!)

Dom's an interesting one because he's only in the game for a short period of time - his route actually involves someone else coming to the camp in his stead, who the player-character already knows. Quite what relationship they have is up to the player to determine in-game for themselves.
KittyKatStar wrote:I'm always happy to see more diverse games out there. >w<b I really like the heavy Scottish influence, being Scottish myself. Also yay for more games with N/SFW toggle!

Good luck with the nano. =)
Thank you tonnes! <3

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Re: Orc Dating Sim [Dating Sim! with Orcs!] [M/M] NaNoRenO 2

#4 Post by Rahnos » Wed Mar 11, 2015 9:29 am

So different from other VNs! Orcs hm? Will be keeping an eye on this :3

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Re: Orc Dating Sim [Dating Sim! with Orcs!] [M/M] NaNoRenO 2

#5 Post by Aviala » Wed Mar 11, 2015 11:48 am

I'm super-duper excited for this! Orcs are the best!

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Re: Orc Dating Sim [Dating Sim! with Orcs!] [M/M] NaNoRenO 2

#6 Post by Mad Harlequin » Wed Mar 11, 2015 12:05 pm

I just wanted to say that the fact that this exists is amazing. Oh, and the characters are so cute!

Welcome, Mitch. :)
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Re: Orc Dating Sim [Dating Sim! with Orcs!] [M/M] NaNoRenO 2

#7 Post by Mitch » Wed Mar 11, 2015 6:32 pm

Image

Day 11! I think I’m done with Domnol (left)’s design now, and I’m enjoying his wee satchel and braies a lot more than what I had before.

I also tried drawing a background starting with the colours instead of lines, and the result was pretty terrible. For one, it’s all new to me so I don’t know what I’m doing, and for another, it just doesn’t go with the rest of the game’s art style. So, none of that.

On the upside - check how small Domnol is! He’s tiny! I love it.
Rahnos wrote:So different from other VNs! Orcs hm? Will be keeping an eye on this :3
Aviala wrote:I'm super-duper excited for this! Orcs are the best!
Mad Harlequin wrote:I just wanted to say that the fact that this exists is amazing. Oh, and the characters are so cute!

Welcome, Mitch. :)
Aw, thank you so much! I'm super excited to be working on it and sharing it with folk! E:

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Re: Orc Dating Sim [Dating Sim! with Orcs!] [M/M] NaNoRenO 2

#8 Post by Mitch » Fri Mar 13, 2015 10:07 pm

Image

Day 13 of NaNoRenO - meet the first of our three chiefs in the Orc Dating Sim, Ror (right)! It was a niiightmare tryin to design clothes for him to wear; his colour palette started with this bright, pale yellow that just didn’t work, and he went through about five outfit changes before I settled on this one. Floofy fur and scratchy old fabric, sounds about right.

There's now only a few more characters to do - Cennedig, Malgolom (who's also needing a name change), Ggorom, and Aed -- as well as the Bonus Mysterious Orc Dude who I'm only gonna include if I can get the rest of the guys finished on time.

Image

And a shot of the boys thus far!

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Re: Orc Dating Sim [Dating Sim! with Orcs!] [M/M] NaNoRenO 2

#9 Post by Mad Harlequin » Sat Mar 14, 2015 2:03 pm

I love the fact that your cast has body hair! I mean, I know we're dealing with orcs here, but I had to say this because so many visual novels have art styles that treat body hair as if it doesn't exist. That's not automatically a bad thing, mind you. I'm just always glad to see more realistic approaches to character design.

Maybe Malgolom could be called Mal instead. Just an idea.
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Re: Orc Dating Sim [Dating Sim! with Orcs!] [M/M] NaNoRenO 2

#10 Post by Mitch » Sun Mar 15, 2015 7:51 am

Mad Harlequin wrote:I love the fact that your cast has body hair! I mean, I know we're dealing with orcs here, but I had to say this because so many visual novels have art styles that treat body hair as if it doesn't exist. That's not automatically a bad thing, mind you. I'm just always glad to see more realistic approaches to character design.

Maybe Malgolom could be called Mal instead. Just an idea.
Thank you!! Yeah, giving the cast body hair was definitely one of those wee touches that was small, but significant to me: part of the reason I wanted to make ODS was so there could be more body types you don't often see in visual novels, or in romantic settings whatsoever - and that includes men with body hair - so I'm glad it's not going unnoticed. It's fun trying to come up with different patterns and textures of hair for each of them, too. :)

Mal's short and sweet, that could work... his name, like the rest of the cast's, came from a list of names used in 12th century Scotland, but then mangled a wee bit to make them seem more orc-y; Malgolom's started as Mael-colom, which eventually became Malcolm. But as it stands, it's too similar to both Ggorom's name, and Gollum's from Lord of the Rings. :T

Thank you again!

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Re: Orc Dating Sim [Dating Sim! with Orcs!] [M/M] NaNoRenO 2

#11 Post by Mad Harlequin » Sun Mar 15, 2015 2:10 pm

Mitch wrote:Thank you!! Yeah, giving the cast body hair was definitely one of those wee touches that was small, but significant to me: part of the reason I wanted to make ODS was so there could be more body types you don't often see in visual novels, or in romantic settings whatsoever - and that includes men with body hair - so I'm glad it's not going unnoticed. It's fun trying to come up with different patterns and textures of hair for each of them, too. :)
I'm really happy you did. We need more representation of more body types! Now I want to see something featuring women with body hair . . .
Mal's short and sweet, that could work... his name, like the rest of the cast's, came from a list of names used in 12th century Scotland, but then mangled a wee bit to make them seem more orc-y; Malgolom's started as Mael-colom, which eventually became Malcolm. But as it stands, it's too similar to both Ggorom's name, and Gollum's from Lord of the Rings. :T

Thank you again!
No problem! I suspected Malgolom was connected to Malcolm, so Mal could work. :)
I'm an aspiring writer and voice talent with a passion for literature and an unhealthy attachment to video games. I am also a seasoned typo-sniper. Inquiries are encouraged. Friendly chats are welcome.
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Re: Orc Dating Sim [Dating Sim! with Orcs!] [M/M] NaNoRenO 2

#12 Post by Mitch » Wed Mar 18, 2015 11:11 pm

Image

(A wee sneak peek of Malgóm, formerly known as Malgolom! I’m still working out exactly how he looks, and there’s still a bunch of clothing items to add onto him; I like his kinda mangy dad-bearded head and pallid skin tone - it suits his character as a kind of weirdo mage a fair bit - but I’m not sure the deep pink tartan goes with it at all (does it go with anything?) (well, yes, is the answer to that). hm hm hm.))

So! I wanted to talk a little about how “romance options” will (hopefully) work in this Orc Dating Sim.

In a recent Kotaku article, Christine Love talks with Nathan Grayson about how romance and sexuality is represented and modelled in videogames; Christine’s not only well-versed in the subject matter because of the content of her games, but she’s also uniquely relevant to what I want to talk about here because she also talks about how this manifests in visual novels and dating sims (again something she is extremely experienced with).

Christine discusses the fact that romance in games is often a strangely transactional thing - if you click on the Sexy Heart Flirt Sex dialogue option 7 times and complete their Unique Quest or give them their Favourite Gift, the target of your affections will have definitely have sex with you. It’s unsettlingly analoguous to the model of sexual behaviour that is pushed by patriarchal society and espoused by Nice Guys, fedoras, and PUAs - sex is owed by women to men, and men that spend their time, money or energy on a woman should be rewarded with sex; to not do so is “teasing” or “friendzoning”. To which comes Aeryn Walker’s succinct reply, “girls are not machines that you put Kindness Coins into until sex falls out,” which, appropriately enough for the conversation at hand, is the title of a visual novel that addresses this very issue, whose writer (Arden) went on to summarise this idea in very succinct terms:
“It got me to thinking about how dating sims and “nice guys” (who are not very nice at all) share some characteristics. You pick the responses that you know the girl of your choice will like, even if you might not agree with what you’re saying. You read the guides and FAQs. You do everything right. You spend time with her. And in the end, you’re entitled to your reward - a sex scene, a blushing love confession on the school roof, a relationship.“
With the Orc Dating Sim, my aim is to use a system where certain dialogue options carry a percentage chance of improving or worsening a given character’s disposition towards you, and the decision for a given character to engage in sexual activity with the main character is informed by, but not solely determined by, the things the player says or does. As you learn what each character is like, it becomes marginally easier to realise what options might lead to them being more or less friendly with you - but as in real life, this isn’t always the case, so playing tactically by choosing the most efficient options that you may not even agree with is pretty much out. If I have time, I’d also like to provide dialogue branches that have characters feel uneasy about the way you speak to them if you’re overbearingly sycophantic all the time and/or obviously trying to shag them and then ignore them for the rest of the game. So, two players clicking on the same options for the same character may not receive the same result; its dependent on the role of the dice - and maybe some additional factors outside of the immediate conversation itself. In many cases, the player-character may be able to have sex with a given character simply because they offer it, even if they’re unfamiliar with the player-character - after all, why should a one night stand or first-date shag be out of the question?

This creates a game that is inherently unfair to its players, and does not reward them for participating in the system in an optimal way; which is great, because it is not necessarily the case that players should - or even want to - be treated like their progression through the system is their manifest destiny, especially if the game involves the representation of ideas of consent, desire, and power dynamics between individuals.

If you intend to model sexuality in a thoughtful, meaningful, challenging or representational way, it’s difficult to do so in games where the player is never told “no”.

One thing I don’t necessarily agree with in the Kotaku article is the idea that:
“If you can take out the sex scenes from your game and you're still willing to sell that, what are you doing? If you can remove it, if it's an extricable part of your game, then why was it there to begin with? Obviously they weren't that important.”
When I first started the ODS, I was adamant that the game would be unapologetically NSFW - the sex was an important part of the game because I felt the way that I was showing it was potentially novel, definitely worth discussing, and reflective of my own values rather than the values of heterosexual-dude demographic. I felt, as Christine says, that the sex scenes were inextricable - because the sheer lack of M/M sex in games in terms of both volume and quality is something I wanted to address.

But I’m also a big believer in providing alternative and accessible routes through games, even if it removes large elements of the game that are otherwise considered important to the experience. Things like skippable cutscenes, easy modes, mappable controls, skippable skill-test/action sequences, adjustable color palettes, custom save states, and so on. These options are not only handy for players who want to play the game as close to their ability and comfort levels as possible, but they also provide invaluable tools for people who may want to go through the game for reasons other than playing it from start to finish - such as to experience one or two scenes for themselves without having to complete skill challenges, to navigate past skill challenges that would be impossible for someone with a certain disability, to simply enjoy the “deep play” of the game mechanics without long cutscenes and narrative exposition, or to toy with the game for their own reasons in a way that may be game-breaking and extremely meta.

Similarly, I feel that skippable sex scenes, while maybe removing one of the most important elements of my game, respects the fact that not all players will want to experience certain things (and may even be triggered by them). They may not get the exact messages I want to convey with the game, but it’s no harm done, and it’s not like they won’t realise that they won’t have gotten the full message when they knowingly choose to ignore parts of the game - they can easily get the gist about what they missed by looking it up somewhere (because let’s be honest, I’ll probably end up writing my own walkthrough for the game for my wiki, because I blabber like no-one’s business -- as evidenced by the sizea this text post).

There’s only 12 days left of NaNoRenO, so wish me luck on working this into the game on time for the end of the month!

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Re: Orc Dating Sim [Dating Sim! with Orcs!] [M/M] NaNoRenO 2

#13 Post by Mad Harlequin » Thu Mar 19, 2015 12:56 am

If we had the ability to favorite individual posts here, I would do so for this one. I really appreciate how much thought you're putting into depicting the many directions in which a relationship can go, as well as what player control means for a game of this type. (I have a complicated history with these kinds of games . . . it's reassuring to know I'm not alone.)

Good luck! You're on your way to the finish line.
I'm an aspiring writer and voice talent with a passion for literature and an unhealthy attachment to video games. I am also a seasoned typo-sniper. Inquiries are encouraged. Friendly chats are welcome.
"Always do what is right. It will gratify half of mankind and astound the other."
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Re: Orc Dating Sim [Dating Sim! with Orcs!] [M/M] NaNoRenO 2

#14 Post by Harliqueen » Thu Mar 19, 2015 6:26 am

Mad Harlequin wrote:If we had the ability to favorite individual posts here, I would do so for this one. I really appreciate how much thought you're putting into depicting the many directions in which a relationship can go, as well as what player control means for a game of this type. (I have a complicated history with these kinds of games . . . it's reassuring to know I'm not alone.)

Good luck! You're on your way to the finish line.
I agree! It sounds like a lot of complicated work, but I imagine the results will be well worth the effort. Relationships in games are so difficult, I think, due to the fact that it's quite an organic thing that people try to compress into game format.

But this sounds like it should be seriously interesting to try out!
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Re: Orc Dating Sim [Dating Sim! with Orcs!] [M/M] NaNoRenO 2

#15 Post by Katta » Thu Mar 19, 2015 10:52 am

I really admire you - both for your ideas behind this project and the amount of work you're doing, great job!

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