Tuesday, December 31, 2019

Wrapping up 2019

Seems to be a tradition of youtubers and various content creators to do a "this was 2019, here are my plans for 2020" post.  I tend to be hit and miss on end of year posts.  Half the time I start them, watch them descend into self-flagellation and whining, and promptly drown them in a bucket to put them out of their misery.  I feel a bit better at this point of time, so let's go for it.

2019 was probably the Patreon year for me.  A bit ironic considering I started the year wondering if the platform would survive the Orwellian tendencies of its "trust and safety" division.  The backlash to that did seem to curb further authoritarian impulses and Patreon seems to have been relatively stable since then. Unfortunately, the realities of making XXX content means I can never get too complacent, but for now it's a reasonable income stream.

For most of the year I wasn't really sure what to do with my Patreon account.  I did like the original short stories I produced for patrons, but was less happy with the time it took to write them.  It meant I ended up "paywalling" more content than I would have liked because I was barely getting a timed exclusive story finished a month.

The big change was "The House of Hellish Harlots".  I've been wanting to create an eroge along the same lines as games like "Monster Girl Quest" for a long time.  Most of my brainstorming went nowhere.  Either I couldn't get the sex/combat to work how I wanted or the game idea was beyond my means to create.  With "The House of Hellish Harlots", it all fell into place.  I think I have a really strong idea for a game here, something that a lot of people will enjoy playing (and reading).  For this reason, I dropped a lot of my tentative plans and have been throwing everything into developing it over the latter part of the year.  More importantly, it brought my enthusiasm back, which then fed into greater productivity and more hours spent writing every day.  I think this has a good chance to be really good, so I want to see it through to some form of finished product.

There are still some things to be careful of.  For starters, while the concept might seem solid, it might not necessarily translate to enjoyable game play.  There is also the risk I might run into unforeseen technical brick walls.  For now it's running smooth.

At the upper end of possibilities, the demos play well, the interest is there, I'm able to hire artist/music people and we have a proper Western (friendly) rival to "Monster Girl Quest".  In the medium case, it ends up as a text-only game - not quite a viral hit, but enjoyed by the people that find it.  In the worst case scenario, people have fun with the various scenarios I create and I have a bunch of succubus/monster girl scenes I can tweak and reuse in future stories.


Primary Objective for 2020
"The House of Hellish Harlots", all the way.  It's a good idea.  I'm regularly adding new succubi/monster girls.  Once I have all the NPCs done and the intro done (or redone, as I wrote an early CYOA that handled the journey to the house a while back), I want to get that up on a website to attract people that wouldn't otherwise know about it.  And then we'll see.  I think this could go far, so fingers crossed.

Secondary Objective for 2020
Getting "The House of Hellish Harlots" up and running is my primary goal.  This doesn't mean I've abandoned writing completely.  I want to get back to posting stories on Literotica (assuming they don't get rejected!).  I also want to get books up on Amazon again.  I almost have enough stories for a new "A Succubus for" collection and I'd like to something with all those H-space stories.

There is also a certain hapless warlock's adventures I need to get back to.  That's the funny one.  I keep looking on Amazon and seeing popular succubus series and think "Why don't I do that?", when of course I already have a popular series people have been clamoring to read more of.  Yep, I haven't made the smartest of choices over the past few years...

Things I will be doing less of:

This is where all the lovely metrics sites like Blogger provide can be a trap.  There was a time I felt pressured to post and post to keep the monthly hits up.  Looking back, it feels like I was expending a lot of effort on things that while fun, were probably not the most important things I should have been working on.  I'll still be around here, but I will likely only post at a reduced rate and generally to bring people's attention to a new story, or book, or demo release.  Let's write the succubus smut, rather than write about the succubus smut.

H-Game Reviews
Unfortunately, this is more imposed by my ongoing struggles with finding stable translation software and keeping it running.  They get blocked fairly swiftly nowadays and without some form of machine translation support, I can't play the fun games.  If I find something sweet, I'll write about it, but I don't feel as though I have my finger on the pulse as much as I did in the past.  (Although someone has sent me a translated version of Succubus Senki that seems like it might be fun - thanks for that!)

Things I will be avoiding altogether (if I can help it!):

I've made a fairly conscious effort to not bring up politics over the latter half of the year and will continue to do so.  In the past I wrote about issues that I felt were negatively impacting creativity (and still are).  Unfortunately, there is so much toxicity and bad-faith discussion around these subjects that any kind of attempt to take a nuanced position results in scarlet letters being carved on your forehead and your name being put on a "list".  So, I think I'll just stick to writing succubus smut from now on.  I think both you (the readers) and I will be happier with that!

On the positive side, it looks like the market is gradually solving a lot of these problems.  In the meantime my advice for any creatives would be:  Ignore the drama.  Reroute around blocks.  Focus on creating your best possible work.  Treat your audience with respect.

H-Game Walkthroughs
This ties in with both blogging and the problems with playing Japanese games at the moment.  I do have fun writing them, but I have to be realistic - they don't pay the bills.  I might make an exception for Chapter 3 of "Monmusu Quest: Paradox", but I really need to be focusing on the work that keeps my bank balance healthy (or at least, not critical).

Writing How-Tos and inspiration behind stories
This was something I thought would make nice posts for patrons.  Then I saw the metrics for how many people were actually reading them...

Write the succubus smut, not about the succubus smut!

Anyway, I've written enough on this and I need to get back to writing that succubus smut (in this case some sexy new Hellish Harlot scenarios).

Happy New Year!  Let's grab 2020 by the scruff of the neck!

- manyeyedhydra

Monday, December 16, 2019

House of Hellish Harlots demo (ver0.007 - The Portly Gentleman) out now

xposted from my Patreon:

Okay, now I've had a chance to get some sleep (and get some other morning tasks out of the way), let's go over this release properly.

First up, it's a mechanics-focused release, which means it's more games-type stuff rather than sexy scenario-type stuff.  Because of how complex the new scoring system (and the code refactor) turned out to be, I decided to split the planned release into two.  Now this is out, I'll be switching back to finishing off 5 or so harlot scenarios for the second half.  Hopefully to be done by around the end of December depending on how much I can dodge the usual holidays stuff.

Now onto the new additions:

The Portly Gentleman.
This NPC will be the player's main source of money while in the House.  He is only encountered in the post-room phase and will "score" players on their encounters with the harlots.  For more background on him, you can talk to The Elegant Woman.

The Scoring System.
Originally, this was just a single numerical value, then I realised I wanted to make repeat visits to harlots a feature, and because of this, needed to keep track of what had already been scored.  I didn't want players picking up easy coins by playing the same scenario over and over, and it also wouldn't make sense for The Portly Gentleman to pay out again for information he'd already paid for.  This also opened up the option to have The Portly Gentleman give custom feedback depending on the harlot (you should notice this with Suka).  It was a bit more work, but I think it will be rewarding in the long term for the options it gives me.

More Dummy Harlots.
This one might be more annoying than useful at this stage.  Because this is a mechanics-focused release, I wanted players to be able to play through more rounds before the selection algorithm 'breaks'.  It will dilute the 'real' harlots, but is only a temporary thing as I start to replace them with 'real' scenarios.  If you like the names of some of the dummies, let me know and I'll attach them to future scenarios.

Code Refactor.
For some reason, I was all over the place with implementing NPCs to start with.  The Elegant Woman was a little buggy in the last release because the way I'd implemented her was... not great.  With The Portly Gentleman I finally found a cleaner way to implement the NPCs and upgraded both The Madam and The Elegant Woman accordingly.  The other change is a little more technical and related to how Twine handles objects.  I'm not going to go into it in too much depth as it probably isn't that interesting.  One bit of advice I can give to anyone working with Twine - be very careful with object references, they don't always work the way you think they might and a lot of times you'll end up modifying the property of a copy rather than the original.

Repeat Visits.
Some back story.  I had the four features above pretty much done (minus testing) around Wednesday last week.  So, in a moment of madness, I thought I'd tack on Repeat Visits as an additional feature.  Oh boy, was that a bad idea.  The idea behind Repeat Visits is a player would get the option to revisit some harlots as future selections and the harlot would remember the player from the first time.  This could open up options for side quests, maybe additional bonus scenes, or maybe even necessary to 'perfect' some harlot scenarios.  I updated the scoring system with this in mind.  I picked Suka no-Hirudo as a test case as she has multiple options for sex scenes and future visits would allow players to pick a different option.  And... it was a little more complex to implement than I thought.  That plus a dental appointment on Friday was the reason this release went out at midnight on Sunday rather than a sensible time on Friday.

Despite that, I'm still glad I did it now rather than later as I now know roughly what's required and can build it into future scenarios.  Not all harlots will have this option, but it will add a bit extra to some.  As always, I have to be careful not to make the harlot scenarios too complex, otherwise they will take too long to write and implement.

And now something I should have added and will be working on later today:

Choosing Harlots Directly.
After Smith's comment on the original post, I did check to make sure I'd flipped the right flag on Suka's properties to enable her to show up for repeat visits.  That was set correctly.  Then I did a quick back-of-an-envelope calculation on the probability of Suka showing up twice... and grimaced.  The endgame plan is to have a lot of harlots so that each play through - the order the harlots are presented, etc - will be fairly unique.  Unfortunately, this doesn't work so well in the early phases of development where around 4/5ths of the harlots are dummies and it takes a lot of random playthroughs to get a specific harlot to show up.  I have an idea on how to get around this.

I did leave a stub in The Madam options for a 'gallery mode' where a player selects a harlot directly.  This was meant to be outside of the regular game.  Gallery mode will come (likely near the end of development), but I think I can add an option similar to it.  It will work like this - The Madam gives the player a list of harlots, they pick one, and that harlot will automatically be added to the next selection.  That should make it easier to pick out specific scenarios rather than running the game loop over and over, trying to get RNG to throw up the scenario you want.

I did a fair bit of testing, but the project is now getting big enough that it's easy to miss some pathways and corner cases.  If, while playing the demo, you spot something that shouldn't be there, or a point where the game outright breaks, please let me know in the comments below.  I'd like to ensure everything is running smoothly by the time I add the next batch of harlots.

And that's that for now.

ver0.008 will be that tweak to The Madam's options plus any bugfixes I've missed (and maybe repeat visit options for Arana Solfugis and Anna Boa).

ver0.009 will be 5+ new harlot scenarios depending on how many I can finish before the end of the month.

Now back here.  The House of Hellish Harlots project is going well.  I don't think I've been as focused as this for a while.  It is going to continue to devour a lot of my time while I put together what I hope will be a very enjoyable succubus/monster girl eroge.  I haven't abandoned fiction completely.  Once I get House of Hellish Harlots to a more advanced demo state (all the major game pieces in place and a decent number of harlot scenarios added), I'll look to start sneaking out short stories again.  It will be a preventative measure against burnout on the game project.  Until then, sorry to the people not currently able to access Patreon.