Monday, 9 October 2017

NaN Reasons why Lateshifter will be better in future!

Reflecting today on lessons learned, the changes made and how it's going to affect development.

Warning and apology: Lots of sexless text ahead.

I learned a lot making the demo, primarily what stuff takes most time, what people like, what they don't like, how much of what I think would be cool and special is actually just annoying or unnecessary!

Things I know for sure from feedback:
Stuff I did to make the game behave differently was received fairly badly at times, which is fine- people just wanted to be able to turn those things off or avoid them, which I've implemented;

>slow movement speed

Totally understand this. You had to hold shift to move faster, even in minigames, and I didn't point this out or add an ALWAYS RUN option.

>the time delays with typing sounds to simulate proper IM chatting was slow and annoying, prevented skipping through dialogue, 

This was kinda legacy because the game was originally going to be a modern office setting where much of it would play out in simulated IM chats. I wanted there to be the same tension you get waiting for a reply being typed IRL, but this fell flat in practice, people just didn't like it the way I did it.

>drugging / forcing wasn't received too well

This one surprised me most, because I set out to make something like my Japanese rapelay games and actually thought options to do taboo or illegal stuff would scratch an itch you wouldn't get from regular dating games. It seems from feedback that people prefer consent given, even in a convenient likes-you-for-seemingly-no-reason way, to sex taken from the heroine in a plausible but despicable way.

>anal fixation wasn't received super well
I wasn't too surprised with this one. People like regular intercourse, and I didn't deliver it.
I could spin some bullshit about how I wanted to communicate the Lateshifter's sexual frustration by withholding vaginal intercourse from the player, but I honestly just found anal scenes to be more aesthetic at the time.

>the stamina game is annoying because it requires 2 hands (actually only 2 fingers, git gud fgt):
I Have No Free Hand And I Must Fap. This one I totally understand and was something I wanted to do for the demo but couldn't figure out how. Now that I've changed the system behind the scenes, it's been trivial to add in a semi-auto feature that doesn't just plow from 0 to 100 in 10 seconds in a linear fashion.
The way the auto-game builds up in intensity makes the scene play out pretty well, and it's semi-auto because the player chooses the direction- either begin building stamina with UP, or begin decrease with DOWN and the computer does the work for you. Defaults to UP at the beginning of the scene, but means that if you are willing to put in a small amount of work to stay in the sweet zone, you can quickly build up the Jizz-o-meter before the finish if you're as into ridiculous cum firehose crescendos in your vidya as I apparently am.

Things I'm assuming few did or noticed because I heard no or few comments on:

>Reading Heroine's chatlogs

Never got comments on this, but it's not the most remarkable part. It's just one of the ways you can find out she was groped if you shut down all her explanations until that point.
The way they talk about you in the chatlog changes depending on how you spoke to the heroine earlier in the night.
>Tittyfucking Cybil
This sort of required you to pick an option that didn't obviously end up in immediate sex. The sort of thing that could only exist in a demo or as an easter egg.
>Rubbing it in Bern's face that you were about to titfuck Cybil
This was just a stupid little thing, not sure why I added it.
>The holocards
To my knowledge, only one or two anons actually quested to catch 'em all.
>Dialogue with Heroine for the whole night colored by early interactions
Most of the dialogue with her changes over the course of the night depending on how you behave toward her. If you are nice, she's nicer, if you are a bit of a jerk, she's colder and flat out insults you.

Take-away and things to consider:

There's no real urgency in making multiple variations on every bit of dialogue tied to your word choice or tone. It's not normal to have word choice block off or alter the story, and I thought this was an immersion-breaking problem in game narrative I was challenging by going off-piste.
I get it now, there's a logic to game worlds that enhance player experience and part of that is allowing the player to act out things without necessarily 'punishing' them for it by mirroring the sort of reception and lasting impression of you that kind of talk would garner IRL.

Game logic: Insult somebody and they get momentarily angry and insult you back, but then the score is settled and the game continues.
Real life logic: Insult somebody and if they just met you, they will think of and treat you differently from now on.

The lesson here is to just get with the program.

If people are replaying, it's probably a faster run to see the other H-Scenes, not a committed 2nd play to see if the game plays differently when you pick other options.

The holocards are a lot of work for an incidental pickup (they are unlocked after an H-Scene which is its own reward) and don't add that much value to the replay in/of themselves for this reason.
They are a kinda nice way to generate more shiny art, but they're not exactly fappable, and as such the time investment : fapworthy ratio is off and they likely won't return.

Fictional anal rape is way not cool, man. People want to see more consensual vaginal intercourse, so I'm gonna have to concede and place at least an equal focus on that.
It seems the objection is mainly to forced content the player feels is hard to avoid, so while non-con roleplay will still exist, it'll be something you'll need to put more deliberate effort toward.
Also adding an option to disable it entirely, so those options won't even show up.

The way I was adding switches for everything and conditional branches based on this was dumb and error-prone. That's it, really. It was dumb, it was easy to fuck up the flow and a lot of workaround was needed to make the demo playable fully for a second time on the same save file.

There's probably more, maybe I'll do another one of these after 1.3.
I'm actioning a lot of the points people raise, but I will mainly be adding in switches or toggles to disable content and won't be actively removing things I still personally like.

TL; DR -  I am taking criticism seriously and will address anything that gets a lot of feedback.
I'm adding optional toggles to remove things least liked, because it's simple and helps others enjoy the game, but if I still like the thing, I won't remove it entirely.

This image is for good boys who read the blog post. You no read, you no look!!! Ok Praise Jesus


  1. This post, and a comment in a recent /weg/ thread on /aco/, reminded me of an issue I had while playing. There is no quick reference for key bindings. Which key does what is mentioned only once, the first time they're used. This makes it easy for the player to forget key functions by the next time a "use item" scene comes up.

    Even without a dedicated "help" page, it would be incredibly helpful if hitting ESC listed which key does what - if not on the page that immediately pops up, then in a "help" or "controls" subpage.

    1. Agreed, totally.
      Hopefully the controls are better now, and good idea, I'll get a cheat-sheet together, even just a KEY shown at the side on the in-game menu, would likely help a lot.
      I really need to try and get the menu bound to Esc, but haven't found a way to do it gracefully yet. Really activates my almonds.

  2. As someone who did grind all the collectables a part of me will be sad to see them go; on the other hand it did lead me to turning off the typing and skipping a lot of the text regardless of how it changed depending on earlier choices, both of which I adored initially. The small, self-contained world was made all the richer a place to be for them and I hope you don't feel it wasn't appreciated or that you water down your vision too much for the sake of others - assrape being the most patrician of sexual encounters in my eyes. Keep it up.

    1. Thanks anon, while I wasn't fishing for this kind of response, I can't deny its really nice to hear. I think toggles are the best compromise, create the content but leave it up to the player. Thanks again!

  3. Looking seriously good. Loving the aesthetic. I think it's great you take feedback onboard, but wouldn't want you to totally compromise your vision.

    1. Thanks anon! I appreciate that so many would prefer I keep on keepin' on. Feels super nice to have trust and free reign.

  4. Watching the main character devolve into an evil asshole as the story progressed was the best part of the demo.

    1. Haha, I'm glad you thought so! I struggled for a while wondering if I should give the character more personality or just allow the player to use him as an avatar. It's a fine line. He's less evil in this new version, but there's still room to do some questionable things...

  5. I like the drugs and the anal stuff, It goes well with the atmosphere of your game Oko.
    I expect more in the future, this is a world of wageslaves and megacorps.

  6. Yeah, I wasn't a big fan of the rapey stuff, but at the same time I don't want the consent to feel token -- it takes away from the scene that way. I wouldn't mind the forced stuff staying in as long as there are enough consensual paths elsewhere, as long as said paths don't just have consent to tick the box.
    That paragraph about you cutting down on the variations of dialogue is pretty heart-breaking; sad to see such a cool feature get (relatively) stripped down because not that many saw it all. Still, I understand the need to prioritise.

    1. Yeah, like I say the non-con stuff will still exist but I think I've now got a system complex enough to allow for making getting there a deliberate thing for people who'd like to avoid it.

      I may have oversold the cutting down on dialogue variation, as it won't be completely gone (in fact can think of a few pivotal points in the level I'm currently working on) I guess I just mean they won't be as much of a focus. Hopefully the next level won't disappoint, but I'd like to hear about it if it does! Thanks

  7. I honestly really liked the Sybille tit-fuck scene. But I didn't know that the other cards were obtainable in the demo; I thought they were like, locked off because they didn't exist.

    1. Hey, I'm glad! All the cards with entries on the table are available in the demo. If you've completed it once, just press Action on the cactus in Anon's bedroom and it'll unlock all of them.

  8. Ugh, JavaScript haha.

    Just wanted to say that I enjoyed the drugging/forcing Natalia part. Other than that, keep up the good work--looking forward to 1.3!! :)

    1. Thanks dude, really glad for your support!

  9. I have to disagree with the drugged/forced stuff. I really like having that option since most visual-h games I've played went down the consensual path. Please don't take out any if you're thinking of doing that. Though having more options is nice, I'd rather it not if it's at the cost of removing it.