Dev Blog #85 – Back to Basics

Greetings everyone!

It’s been a helluva couple weeks over here. Last week saw the public release of Update 6.2.1, but not without a slew of new issues at the same time. It’s been, well, stressful, but I’d also like to think that things are starting to take a turn for the better. Actually, I think things are gonna start looking better than ever! Let’s break it down…

Update 6.2.1 and the Case of the Missing Save Files

The good news is that Update 6.2.1 was released to everyone last week and was generally well received! The bad news is that the entire distribution of the update turned into an absolute nightmare. I’ve been going back and forth with my hosting service to troubleshoot and resolve the issue, so far coming up with a fat wad of nothing, and have had to resort to moving a few things around in order to keep things available to everybody.

To be more specific, I’ve moved the game back to Neocities for online play, and will be going back to Mega for my primary download host. To help with this, I’m working on getting a redirect in place for the play online links, but that’s looking like it might take some time as well.

To make matters worse, the fact that save files for The Company are stored locally in the user’s browser cache means that the host change will result in the loss of save files… I’m extremely sorry for this, and it’s not at all ideal. I’ll keep everyone posted on any new developments on this front.

Identity Crisis

With that out of the way, let’s go back to talking about the game for a bit!

I’m sure people have noticed it’s been a little while since a dev build went up, and as such it should come as no surprise that Update 6.2.2 isn’t going to be in this month, more on that later. The reason for this is that while dev builds are inherently incomplete and buggy, I still won’t upload one unless there have been actual changes made to the game, be they tangible or behind the scenes. When I wasn’t fighting with the hosting service, I spent the entirety of last week working on… systems. Old systems, new systems, systems within systems. All the systems. Specifically, the content block system used to make Penny’s interactive sex scenes back in Update 6.1.3, and John’s new bathroom scene in Update 6.2.0. I needed to expand that system to Diana, as well as generic NPC’s, for Update 6.2.2 and, while that should have been simple enough, the process revealed one deficiency after another, one step that required reevaluating another step ten steps back, or changing the steps completely… I’d begun coding functions onto functions while wishing my wall-mounted whiteboard would hurry up and arrive so I could try to get my thoughts into some semblance of order.

It was now after 11:00 PM on Saturday night and I’m in front of my monitor getting ready to settle in for my next panic attack, when I finally started coming to terms with a reality I’m… really not too proud of.

I’d coded myself into a corner and was buried in feature creep. I was staring at the comment system all over again.

I left myself a note in VSCode, locked my computer, and went to bed.

Looking Ahead… And Also Behind

I woke up the next morning like it was Christmas. I took a hot shower, made a pot of coffee, got the spawnlings off to their education compound, poured another cup of coffee, and sat down at my desk.

See, amidst all the stress the previous night also came an epiphany, a solution, a clear path to fixing, well, everything. I mean, all I had to do was write!

This tangent’s probably gonna be getting away from me, so buckle in. The Company was birthed after several hours of playing two other games: FreeCities and Perverted Education. As such, I set out to make a game that had a little of each in it, one part simulation sandbox, one part linear story. You know, a slightly lewder, text based Persona game. These two design philosophies have constantly been working against each other, and while their conflict has led to some great aspect of The Company – the random event systems, serum crafting, paper doll, conversations – it’s more often than not been to the game’s detriment. Actually, I can think of two shining examples of things I’d initially said would NEVER be in the game… that are now in the game.

The first one is the wardrobe system, and that’s already getting its own update and overhaul soon which will vastly simplify the system while also giving it purpose. The second one is the interactive sex system… It started out as a logistical nightmare when it was first introduced with Ava and Dakota. It became a more flexible nightmare with Diana, and eventually a more modular nightmare with Penny. Of course, “nightmare” is the operative descriptor here. I’d fallen into this constant cycle of Make. Break. Repeat, and it just kept… not getting better.

So I started asking myself… Why?

Why am I designing all these systems? What purposes are they really serving? What content are they really helping me produce? How much more content have I produced by developing them? Was it adding fun, or interesting aspects to the game?

I’d been spending so much time trying to redefine the way people read my book, that I’d stopped writing it.

…Boy that was depressing! So where’s the good news? Well, after having my discussion with myself last weekend that ended in “Just go back to writing, dumbass!” I have in fact spent the entire week writing. Like, writing writing. I’ve written more in the last week than I have in the last month, and I am tired. I bet you’re tired, too, of reading all this craziness, so let’s just cut to the chase!

What is Interaction, Really?

Long story short, I’m on a crusade to reclaim the adventure part of my choose your own adventure game. The fiction in my interactive fiction. I’ve been a little… more than a little long winded in today’s post, so I think I’m gonna shift into bullet points for a bit. You’re welcome!

  • Interactive sex scenes are going away for all characters (stay with me)
    • This includes Ava’s kitchen, bedroom, and livingroom scene, Dakota’s bedroom scene, Penny’s lab and apartment scenes, Diana’s office scene, and John’s bathroom scene… Again, stay with me here
    • Once done, this will also see the removal of Stamina
  • These scenes are all getting replaced with what I’m lovingly referring to as Interactive Sex “Stories”
    • No governing systems or mechanics
    • No inane, meaningless, repetitive interactions
    • Unique phased stories for each character that react to, well, whatever makes sense!
  • These stories are effectively curated experiences that let you interact with characters in a more personal way
    • Each story will be available only once a day
    • Stories will be the new primary way to affect character stats
      • Character stats are getting thoroughly reevaluated

Each of these stories follows the same basic path, containing a start, a middle, and an end. How you go from start to finish, and what options you’ll have available to you, will be based on how you’re playing the game, and how you’ve interacted with different characters so far.

How about some pictures!

What we have here is Diana’s interactive scene from her office, unlocked after a couple serum events. By default, the start of the scene will end this way:

Pretty simple, right? But, if you happen to be playing a dominant character, you get some extra spice!

Of course, we can’t all be dommes…

One more for the road!

Pretty straightforward stuff here, I mean it’s only Page 1. But now let’s read a little further, moving on to “Phase 2” of the scene by choosing the state-exclusive options for each. By default, the scene continues along its basic script.

Before we move on, there’s something interesting being shown above! That pink text beneath Diana’s portrait is actually randomized, and will display some dialogue from a pool of options. The chosen dialogue is a clue as to what Diana’s “preferred” followup action is, and is weighted based on her preferences! There’s no wrong choice, of course, but choosing correctly will net you some bonus dialogue and better stat adjustments when all is said and done.

Anyway, here’s the same section but as a dominance MC.

And, sure, same thing as sub and bimbo…

Oh right, and just for good measure, say you start the scene as a dominant bimbo…

And now you can really start to have fun with it!

What’s important to remember is that there’s no loop here. You’re not filling any meters, or racing stamina against arousal, or clicking on the same button over and over to get a number to a hundred. You’re just playing through a scene, reading a story! What results is something that feels natural and organic to the players, like it’s just another part of the game, and something that for me is “just writing”, and frankly, that’s a HUGE relief for me!

Okay, But Can You TL;DR That For Me? What About Update 6.2.2?

This devblog definitely got away from me, so I’ll sum up what you actually care about now!

Update 6.2.2

  • Slated to release towards the end of January
    • Winter Holiday Season is a thing that is happening, and in spite of my best efforts I’ve been unable to escape it…
  • New scenes with Diana
    • Diana returns on November 6th!
    • New interactive scene in Diana’s office, previewed above
    • Dom John – Training scenes with Diana
    • Dom John – Prostitution scenes with Diana
  • New interactive scenes, as detailed above
    • At least John’s bathroom scene
    • Shooting to also replace others
  • Addressing tons of reported issues

Things I’m Also Working On

  • These are things I’m poking at and planning for, but won’t be “part” of Update 6.2.2
  • Separation of Submissive and Sissy states
    • Focus is to allow for submissive male characters without the feminization aspect
    • Sissy characters will be closer tied to clothing and chastity, and NOT actions
  • Focus on allowing for more Submissive Female options
  • Updating transformation system to be tied to clothing and events, instead of actions
  • Better implementation of stats to act as milestones for events or options
    • Think heart events from Harvest Moon but… more pervy
  • Sidebar cleanup, less scrolling
  • Getting that dev blog on the new wardrobe system together!
In Conclusion…

Make it to the end? Congratulations!

This was a long one, but to be fair it’ll also probably be the last dev blog of 2019. Next Thursday is “Recover From Christmas” day, so I can’t say with any certainty that there will be a post on that day. In any case, boy, what a year it’s been, huh?

We’ve had our ups, and our downs, and I think the lead developer might need to find a therapist with a background in project management, but all in all it’s been a fun ride. Without all of you there’s no way The Company would be where it is today, and I can’t thank you enough. Here’s to even more content in 2020!

One Comment on “Dev Blog #85 – Back to Basics

  1. Dear Westane,

    Long-time player (4.8.1) (broke as hell sadly), I wholeheartedly support your decision.
    While the stamina scenes were an interesting novelty at first I quickly fell into the habbit of memorizing and mashing my way through the dialogue and scenes just to get my stats up as quick as possible – by now I even resort to manipulating SugarCube directly than to grind through.
    Watching the same scene i.e. Dakota 10 times with but 3 changes was more grind than fun.

    I’m sorry you’re loosing so much of your work / systems – they’ve probably become your babies by now. Know that I’m very confident in your writing ability to substitute for these replacements.
    Looking forward to the rest of 6.2!

    Have a great Christmas and enjoy the rest of your holidays.

    Sincere regards

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