Wednesday, March 31, 2010

What's Attractive Anyway?


I'm coming out.

I, Sammy, am a heterosexual female.

Now if you want to go and clicky that little "x" box right up there on your browser or de-follow me or something, I'd completely understand. Just know that your bigotry is not appreciated by the world at large and I don't need your acceptance to love myself. I know that maybe reading the blog of a straight girl who writes games for straight guys might make you uncomfortable. But I hope you can look beyond who I am as a person and see me for my ideas.

All joking aside, it sometimes weirds me out how much I enjoy playing and writing bishojo games despite being a straight lady. I guess the romance novel aspect of it just really hits home for me.

Don't kid yourself, I enjoy playing bishojo games, but hot damn do I LOVE playing Otome games. For ALL the wrong reasons. Read: 1.) the guys are hot, 2.) the guys are hot, 3.) Hot damn that's some pretty art and 4.) the guys are hot.

Now don't get me wrong, I can tell a bad Otome game just as easily as I can call out a bad bishojo game. And I hate suffering through either. But my libido just gets to me when playing super cute games about adorable heroines getting swept up by their prince charmings (or Prince Meganes, as I happen to often lean towards. =3=)

Still, Project "O" is an otome project, while Project "G" is bishojo. (Project G is my first title and is further along at this point). Project "O" isn't necessarily any easier to write than Project G was. Why is that? Shouldn't my perspective as a straight girl make it easy for me to develop some super likable guys that I just know will make girls' heads spin?

Yes and no. There are certain qualities about various characters that certain women find attractive and others consider a total turn-off. For instance, in Yo-Jin-Bo, a bunch of fans went crazy over little Yo, the youngest character in the game. I found Yo to be adorable, but not necessarily hot stuff. His ending, for me was "meh" at best.

So how do I approach making a game where I want each character to appeal to the player? Surely, I can start by making them all appeal to me in some way. But what about diversity? I'm certainly not the final word on what makes any person attractive, female or male. How can I make sure that I'm not just making a cast that appeals to me and people like me?

Well, I can of course pull from the tropes. They're tropes for a reason - they work. And to a certain extent, I've done that. But to make my characters more human, I've fleshed them out more, made them more down-to-earth, a bit more likable. I've also made sure to include characters who may not be super-OMG-hotstuff at first, but perhaps will grow on the player. Each guy is going to be super cute, don't get me wrong. But I want there to be a serious discrepancy in personality. I don't want carbon copies of my favorite Otome character, or anyone's favorite otome character for that matter.

I don't want to rely exclusively on the tropes and stereotypes because I don't want my player to write off my characters as "oh, the tsundere" or "oh, the tortured type" or "oh, the prince". That's not doing them justice. And it might be fun to play a game with your favorite guy in it once again (oh, Megane-sama), but that won't leave an impression - that won't make someone care.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

More Writing, Project O

Been a while since my last update. School's been killing me, but I'm currently on spring break, so I think a blog update is in order.

I've been steadily chipping away at my latest project, codenamed "Project O" for now. After making major cuts to the script, I've now got a much more manageable way of going about things and actually have an end in sight. Well, not in sight exactly, but it's on the horizon. At least I know it exists.

"Project O" is comprised of five chapters and an individualized sixth chapter depending on the character you end up with. It's possible to not get a chapter six at all, if you play all the wrong cards. No matter how much you try to screw up your choices along the way, you will get to Chapter Five at least. With a game of this length, I really want to reward my player with an ending of some substance. I hate putting in a dozen hours on a dating sim and getting "too bad you died" at the end of it because I didn't pick the right lunch option back at the beginning of the game.

Right now, I'm in the middle of Chapter Three. Chapter Three has five sections, I just finished the second section and am now moving on to the third. Chapter Three is definitely the longest chapter - Chapters Four and Five don't hold a candle to it in terms of length.

So once I finish up Chapter Three the end really will be in sight.

The problem with each chapter is that there is literally hours of content that the player will not see on a first playthrough. So while there's lots of writing, the actual play time is a fraction of what I've written. I'd like to think that's a good thing in terms of replayability. I love dating sims that have tons of alternative content. That way I can really shape my own experience - my game would be entirely different from someone elses' depending on which character(s) I pursue.

Still, it's a pain in the butt for the writer!

Oh well, Project O is going strong. Hopefully edits on Project G, my first game, will be finished soon so I can move forward on that.

Thanks for the support everyone!