Straight!? [BxB, College, Slice of Life] [NSFW, 18+]

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Aaryn
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Straight!? [BxB, College, Slice of Life] [NSFW, 18+]

#1 Post by Aaryn » Thu Dec 21, 2017 2:34 pm

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[College life] [Slice of Life] [Gay] [Boy x Boy] [NSFW] [Adult, 18+]
Straight?! is a gay visual novel focusing on the college life of the main character, Zack, who prefers guys. The story begins on his first day of college when he meets his straight roommate, Braden. The story is NSFW and currently contains strong sexual content and nudity with even more planned. The focus of the story will be on character development with a strong emphasis on dialogue between the characters to move the story forward, gain insight into their viewpoints, and display the conflicts of any non-linear relationship.

Contrary to many other adult games, while the nudity will be strong, players will have to work for it. These are shy characters with inhibitions. Another major goal of this game is to avoid the traditional stereotypes of sexuality and to suggest that people may not neatly fit into gay/straight descriptions. While the main character is homosexual, he tends to act a lot more "straight" than most traditionally depicted gay characters.

[Zack, Main Character]
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[Braden, Roommate]
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While the game uses some stats to move the story forward, the game will assume a traditional "Adventure" interface, using items that the character finds through his employment of helping a local janitor named Ernie. This also includes changes to the environment like being able to fix the broken locker room lights shown below:
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While the main character will unlock story progression through attending class, other nightly options are available for interactions with Braden
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Again, this game contains nudity and graphic sexual content and situations. Please only download to check it out if you are of appropriate legal age (usually 18+ in most areas).

The game is currently in progress and v0.4 is available free from my Patreon site under "Overview":

https://www.patreon.com/aaryn

Direct Links

PC: https://mega.nz/#!8i5GECQY!iMfLa_zf2-xJ ... 2fNTwW8ZC4

MAC: https://mega.nz/#!Yz5R0Z6I!DI7Z9aQ2LPv ... 9sHAtv2Y70


It continues to be a work in progress and I am releasing updates traditionally on a monthly basis. While I plan to keep the game free, Patreon supporters get early access and help to support some of my time in putting the game together. I am posting on here to generate additional discussion and feedback from players. This is my first visual novel and first exposure to Ren'Py so "work in progress" is an understatement as I learn about 3D art, coding, and Ren'Py.

I look forward to more feedback, questions, comments, etc.

-Aaryn-
Last edited by Aaryn on Fri Jan 19, 2018 2:29 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Straight!? [BxB, College, Slice of Life] [NSFW, 18+]

#2 Post by bobconway » Thu Dec 21, 2017 6:19 pm

At first glance, this looks really similar to the game I'm currently working on, which is awesome. The world needs more BxB games, and college is an experience that many people can easily relate to. :)

I'm not usually a fan of 3d rendered graphics, but it kind of works here? Strictly personal preference, and it bothers me when you have a conversation with someone and the scene jumps between two characters, but that's nothing on you.

Started up the demo and played through once (I think?*). I think my main problem with the game was that it feels inconsistent, and ended up just being frustrating.

The beginning of the game is really good. The writing is funny, and casual, and relateable. I like Zack, and I like the way he talks to the player. It gets me all geared up for some interesting decisions and events. Meeting Braden and talking with him over dinner continues this trend. I wanted more.

And then... school starts. And it's extremely repetitive. I feel like I'm just grinding stats (Braden relationship points, attendance points) and clicking around aimlessly trying to find the right thing to continue. Even the text day-to-day is the same, and all of the Braden options seem to do the same thing (increase your relationship with him), so I could easily just play the entire thing on skip until the "next" event triggers (*which is what I ended up doing to actually "complete" it).

I'm assuming I made it through
by fixing the light and removing the glass panel in the shower to see Braden showering (although I guess our relationship stat wasn't high enough for happy things to happen?)
, but it felt more like a relief to be done clicking through the same menus than actually rewarding.

Also, honestly?
The goal of improving the lighting and removing the glass wall so you can watch your roommate showering is really kind of creepy, and I just felt uncomfortable instead of having it be something rewarding. It'd be one thing for it to be a one-off, similar to your first visit to the showers together, but to actively be working toward that as a goal feels a little... much.
I don't mind adventure games and stat building, but there needs to be some variation to keep it interesting instead of just clicking through the same text and choices until some stat is high enough to continue (especially when the "target" stat is somewhat unclear).
If you're just grinding stats, I think the model you see in some dating sims, where you set your schedule for the week and then execute it all at once, would be less frustrating to deal with, with triggered "events" when some threshhold is met that puts you back into text-and-choices mode.

More specific, nit-picky thoughts:
- When talking to Braden at dinner, eliminating conversation options that have been previously selected would be nice. It's weird to be able to keep asking the same question over and over, from a realism standpoint.
- Choosing to watch TV means you fall asleep watching TV, which is then followed by a "I should go to bed" scene, which seems a little out of place
- There's class every day? (Even just having "weekend days" would help break up the monotony a bit.)

Sorry if this all sounds too critical. I do like the premise, and the characters, but it overall just felt too monotonous. (At least in its current state.)

Edit: Because I was curious, I also tried
staring at him in bed and pulling down his boxers, expecting him to wake up and to get a bad "Game Over" or something. The fact that it actually increases a stat is also really creepy, and the stat being called "stealth" makes it even worse, because it makes me think of stealthing. Which combined with the shower wall means my idea of Zack's personality, at this point, is "driven by hormones to the point of borderline sexual assault", rather than anything you've tried to set up in conversations between the two guys.
In general, I like the idea of "...while the nudity will be strong, players will have to work for it.", but it seems both like the "work" involved is too repetitive, and the ultimate result is too non-consensual.
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Re: Straight!? [BxB, College, Slice of Life] [NSFW, 18+]

#3 Post by Aaryn » Thu Dec 21, 2017 8:06 pm

@ Bobconway,
Dude, thank you soooo much for the critical feedback. I've posted the game several other places trying to get specific feedback on it and you have provided some of the most detailed and concise. I really like to know what's annoying.

Some of the issues you raise are simply things I need to work out and figure out how to fix in the first place. I have no previous programming experience and just picked Renpy up a few months ago. I like the idea of stats and somewhat of a grind but I have yet to figure out how to max those stats. While I have plans on how to use those in future updates, it makes more sense to give people something to "bite" on early on--noted. I have considered listing stat requirements on some of the choices to help give the player more guidance on where to go. Do you think that would make a difference? Some players have actually noted enjoyment over blind grinding to figure out ways to unlock events. I definately see your point though and would like to hear others.

BTW, The end of the current build has a "to be continued screen" if you hit that. You got to the end. I have a new update coming out in a few days that will continue the story further past that point. There's a ton of story left. I'm maybe a 1/5 of the way through my initial outline with other thoughts beyond that.

I like the idea of eliminating conversation options at dinner. I'm gonna look into hiding those. I have a future overhaul planned for dinner but just haven't gotten it implemented yet.

To be honest with you, there's class every day because I hadn't figured out a way to program weekends or anything like that. I originally planned to do some type of calendar day but I'm just not that adept at programming Renpy yet.

Note: your comments on the "consensual" aspect are part of the story and would be addressed eventually.

I really appreciate the time you spent with the feedback. I'm going to further consider your thoughts.

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Re: Straight!? [BxB, College, Slice of Life] [NSFW, 18+]

#4 Post by bobconway » Thu Dec 21, 2017 8:49 pm

Aaryn wrote:
Thu Dec 21, 2017 8:06 pm
I have considered listing stat requirements on some of the choices to help give the player more guidance on where to go. Do you think that would make a difference? Some players have actually noted enjoyment over blind grinding to figure out ways to unlock events. I definately see your point though and would like to hear others.
Listing stat requirements might be okay, but it wouldn't fix what is my main issue with the game: I don't mind grinding (blind or not), as long as that grinding is interesting. Right now it distinctly isn't. You need different conversations or things happening. Homework can't be the same assignments, word for word, each time you select it. Class can't be the same thing each time.

It's great that you're picking up programming and RenPy for the first time, but I feel like the visual novel format, by default, lends itself more easily to "linear" storytelling. That isn't to imply that you can't easily branch the story or anything (especially because it seems you've got that part down, with triggering events to continue, like collecting a screwdriver)... rather that the kind of game you're building, where a player is freely deciding on their schedule and exploring and getting enough of a stat to continue on a certain path, is not something that's easy to do.

Well, it's not easy to do well, at least, precisely because of what I think you're running into here: Keeping the options interesting while not having to code in a million different conversations because the player keeps selecting the same one. (The fix for that, IMO, is a more "schedule"-based system, that is certainly not beginniner-level RenPy stuff. :) Take a look at Roommates for what I think of as stat-based done right, but even that game has a bit more repetition in its activities than I'd like.)

Story-based games that are truly driven by stats can have repetition, but not to the extent that you do here, and the repeated parts are significantly shorter and require less user input than you do.

My suggestion would be to focus more on the strengths you're displaying in your demo: Give us more characters, more conversations, and more scenes between the two guys. Right now, your game has stats driving the characters and story. I think you need to switch that around, and write a story, and have stats as part of that. (Again, because the former is harder to do well in a visual novel, and I really think your writing is good.)
Aaryn wrote:
Thu Dec 21, 2017 8:06 pm
Note: your comments on the "consensual" aspect are part of the story and would be addressed eventually.
The more I think about this, after having stepped away from the game, the more it bothers me. So it's good to hear it's on your radar (and part of the story??), but for a game that seems to be designed to focus on raising stats, I'm still concerned that the game encourages (repeated!) sketchy behavior, both for a stat and as the outcome of another. If that makes sense? It's honestly enough to turn me off this game and not particularly want to play it again... it just makes me feel super sleazy afterward.
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Re: Straight!? [BxB, College, Slice of Life] [NSFW, 18+]

#5 Post by Aaryn » Thu Dec 21, 2017 9:30 pm

Well, the "sketchy" stuff is optional. Thus, for those who choose to make the MC more "sketchy," they can do so. The stealth skill would only impact those sketchy behaviors. It won't have any impact on the main story. If the MC chooses to do that, it would be addressed within the story as a planned route.

So, in short, you're suggesting that my vision for the game is pretty damn advanced for a newb. You're stating that I should essentially rewrite the game to make it more linear and just focus on the dialogue and events rather than trying to do a million different things and juggle all the coding nightmares that a stat-based game needs to be well-polished. Thus, less "game" and more actual "visual novel." That sound about right? BTW, I appreciate the compliment on the writing :)

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Re: Straight!? [BxB, College, Slice of Life] [NSFW, 18+]

#6 Post by bobconway » Thu Dec 21, 2017 9:53 pm

Aaryn wrote:
Thu Dec 21, 2017 9:30 pm
So, in short, you're suggesting that my vision for the game is pretty damn advanced for a newb. You're stating that I should essentially rewrite the game to make it more linear and just focus on the dialogue and events rather than trying to do a million different things and juggle all the coding nightmares that a stat-based game needs to be well-polished. Thus, less "game" and more actual "visual novel." That sound about right?
Basically, yes. So it's totally understandable if you totally disregard that suggestion, since that doesn't seem in line with your aspirations for the game. :)

You could probably get away with seriously reducing the text, if you want to keep the stats and associated exploration as the primary emphasis.
The general idea should be that the process of gaining stats is uninteresting, and doesn't require a lot of the player's mental energy. (If it was supposed to be interesting, it would have different text every time and advance the plot or characters further each time you do it... which is more the more "visual novel" part I was suggesting.)
The interesting parts, that the player should pay attention to, are everything else around that: Talking to the janitor for the first time, fixing the heat in the room, or dealing with the lights.
Everything being the same as far as presentation, in my mind, devalues the parts that are actually different. (Also, if you've seen that text ten times before, you may not even be paying attention anymore to see that anything is different.) It becomes hard to tell what matters and what doesn't.

Imagine something this instead: The first time you go to class, you get the full scene changes and everything. Every other time it's a one-line description (still from your room), then a line saying you get back to your room and Braden also returns, and then a menu of afternoon options. Each of those afternoon options is also a one-line description (or maybe just the full scene the first time you pick it?). Then when something actually important is triggered (like you can meet the janitor, or you fix the heat), you have a full scene with that.
I'm not sure it would fix everything, but IMO it would be significantly more tolerable.
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Re: Straight!? [BxB, College, Slice of Life] [NSFW, 18+]

#7 Post by Aaryn » Thu Dec 21, 2017 10:16 pm

Shortening the mundane events is a good suggestion and something I originally considered. I felt like the repetition would allow for "days to pass" as well. The only other way I knew to do that was to simply divide the game into days as part of the story--kinda like chapters. The new update begins by dividing the game into chapters. The update you played is all chapter 1. The only other way I considered having time pass without repetition was to run it like Repeat (a gay furry novel) and just have the game start at Day 1 and then maybe skip to day 3 or so: sorta like mini chapters.

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Re: Straight!? [BxB, College, Slice of Life] [NSFW, 18+]

#8 Post by Aaryn » Fri Jan 19, 2018 2:31 pm

Updated the OP to reflect the new free public build. I considered some of the feedback from here and Patreon and made some pretty major changes. Here's the current change log for the newest version that was posted.

-Massive stat change: All visible stats and requirements have been removed. Game progression is now based on achieving the previous checkpoints or obtainting items. You just don't have to grind stats or relationship points to move the story forward anymore.
-Game is now divided into Chapters based on the conclusion from last update
-Added chapter selection at beginning of the game. This will prevent players from having to start at the very beginning every single update.
-Updated Main menu graphic for better quality
-Corrected some typos (I feel like this will just always be included)
-Default font change

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