Love is for Losers
A downloadable game
(this is lengthy, but don't worry, there will be pictures, yay!)
This game is kinda sorta based on real life events I struggled with when coming up to college in the year 2000. I never had a girlfriend and most of my normal friendships were on the rocks and seriously dwindling by the point I graduated from high school. I just wanted to get away from all of it...the drama, bullies, and all the stupid stuff that only "they" seemed to care about.
I was a nerd, a gamer, an outcast. Every time I tried to fit in it ended in tragedy, so I gave up trying. Then, the first week I was officially out there on my own at college, I realized "oh hey, I'm 18 and so are all these cute ladies...WAIT...I COULD HAVE A GIRLFRIEND!" Life has a funny way of constantly reminding you what you are, though, and I was rejected. A lot.
Sure, I blame a lot of this on my approach, limited social interaction experience, a lack of things to talk about, and a serious lack of confidence that I desperately needed, but it sent me retreating to the things I constantly sought out: videogames and computers in general. And that's when I stumbled across instant messenger and online chat rooms.
This was more fun and engaging than porn, more exciting than beating that boss that had been giving me trouble in that hard as balls videogame...this was online romance (and cybering)! Most of these girls would not have given me the time of day face to face, but online? I could be anyone...and I was.
Alright, well...that was kinda hard to write. No, I'm not ashamed of where I was in the year 2000, but it is a little embarrassing writing this 20 years later knowing who I am now (married, 2 children, a little more well adjusted). I didn't want this to just be a bunch of screens with the same old story again and again. In fact, I'm normally the type of person to pick apart a visual novel or get super bored reading and zone out.
So how to keep it fresh? I know this is a little ambitious, but I'd like to recount as many of the online interactions I had with these online ladies as best I can, including ones that went absolutely nowhere or were surprising, but interesting, and then got completely ghosted.
I'm thinking if I can have at least 10 solid online relationship recounts with lots of branching dialogue that could or could not end up in the ultimate goal: cybering. And I totally get that this isn't everyone's cup of tea, but if you're still reading then something must interest you. Maybe the gameplay...which I guess I should discuss now.
The game starts with explaining your backstory (loner, nerd, outcast, etc.) and then you get exactly ONE stat and ONE skill point to allocate, which you'll rapidly learn isn't nearly enough to make you into a normal, respectable human being. You'll get a job earning minimum wage, bills, a really basic computer from your dad, introduced to the campus you'll be attending, and then it's time to go home and set up your room.
Each day will have 3 phases: morning, afternoon, and night. Simple, right? Well, morning is taken up by college unless you don't have classes that day and afternoon will be taken up by work unless you don't have work that day. Most girls are available at night, but some are initially only available online during the day or afternoon.
For each phase, you can decide on a task you'd like to perform, but it will be VERY limited until your stats and skills start to improve since your character starts as an unmotivated and lazy slacker. For example, it may only give you the option of going online or playing videogames when what you really want to do is cook, clean, do laundry, etc.
Anytime you choose to go online your character is automatically taking notes sort of like in HuniePop. You can reference those notes in-between major conversation forks, so if they ask you something you can respond both on topic and with something that will remind them that you've been paying attention, even if you really haven't.
You're able to join one of several types of online chat rooms. Most girls only hang out in one or two of their favorite rooms and that's it. They're also typically not all on at the same time. If you haven't interacted with a girl online, their username comes up as garbled text until you've talked to them. Beware of ad-bots as they will drain your time!
You have a limited amount of time that you can seek out and talk to girls in during the phase. It's not real time, but every time you click you expend some amount of time. Once you've selected a girl, you can bring up conversational topics that will expend a certain amount of HP. The HP will be higher or lower to start based on their affection for you, mood, and certain stats.
A girl's mood isn't always at its highest and as a result, you may only have a limited time you can interact with them. Further, if they're REALLY upset about something, you might do more harm than good when trying to speak with them (there will be a little emoji next to their username as well as an online status that may clue you in to this, but it's more likely to be available as your character develops stats that help him understand the girl more easily).
Once the HP of a conversation hits zero, one of you will end the conversation (usually her). You can ask one final question when this happens which is usually something along the line of "when are you normally on?" This will gauge how the conversation went and what she thinks of you. Consistent, highly successful conversations lead to what this game is really all about...
Ah yes, what we've all been waiting for. Okay, what some of us were waiting for. Cybering is most successful when you understand a lot of what the girl wants and have also been paying attention to underlying messages such as daddy issues, potential fetishes, and so on.
You can always play it straight and go for a slow build in the conversation or you can go for the gold and really drive the point home with their innermost desires. While that's a gamble in itself, you ALSO have an HP limit for these conversations as well, so you better get in there and get it done as efficiently as possible.
Failing these conversations means she'll lose interest and it may sour her affection for you. Winning these conversations means bringing her to climax, ending the phase, AND getting a stat and skill point you can apply immediately. Yes, it is possible to cyber the same girl multiple times, but it gets harder to do each time because she'll be expecting more out of you, so that can affect the amount of HP you start with, dialogue choices, etc.
It's typically far more efficient to romance as many girls as possible so that you can develop your character as quickly as possible. Oh, don't give me that face. There are other ways to increase your stats and skills, but it takes lots of time to do. For example, you could read cooking books to eventually increase your cooking skill, but may be drained later, which will affect your HP for all conversations.
I've always been inspired by visual novel/RPGs of the past such as True Love and also wild slapstick sex games such as the Leisure Suit Larry series. First of all, there will be 4 major governing stats that will be hard to build and 4 major governing skills that, likewise, will be very hard to build...
Physique - This isn't purely strength, but the ability to look good shirtless, be confident in one's body, and may affect interactions that occur outside the digital world as well.
Intellect - This is the ability to have an extended vocabulary and an almost encyclopedic, worldly background when approaching conversations. This is also entirely necessary when dealing with sapiosexuals. Once again, this could also affect things outside the digital world.
Charisma - Cold hard confidence, the ability to ask others things most others would shy away from or find questionable to even approach in the first place, and the ability to make any conversation seemingly endless by supplying topic after topic after topic, as though you've known this person for years and you're catching up after a 10 year hiatus.
Fashion - This isn't just dressing up and being fancy, because if this stat is too low then your character barely showers, often dresses in the same clothes day after day (doing a sniff check before putting them on each time), and is just in general a foul bachelor frog to the nth degree. In other words, most people will probably choose to improve this first.
Work Ethic - When opportunity knocks, are you there to answer and take that overtime or will you call off again or hide in the break room? Having a low work ethic skill will mean that you'll always be on the verge of getting fired and potentially having to look for a new job, but since you're always broke, it could mean the end of living on your own period, and that's where the game will end.
Finance - Videogames sure are fun, but they can get expensive. But hey, I can still buy this brand new game! I can eat ramen for a week and I'm sure my housing advisor won't mind if I'm late on the rent...again. Without good finance skills, you won't automatically budget things properly and may eventually get kicked out, get the Internet shut off, or maybe worse.
Culinary - Anyone can make ramen and anyone can also forget that they put it on the stove an hour ago. What's that smell? Eh, I'm sure it's noth-OH MY GOD I'M ON FIRE. Good culinary skills mean proper meal prep so that food lasts longer and wasting less money on food.
Academics - While this is partially necessary for increasing stats and even skills at times, it's also necessary to pay attention to because enough low marks means the housing advisor will send you packing.
Is there a goal? Well, in a manner of speaking, yes. In the real world, I had 3 offline relationships, one with a friend from high school (that was disastrous), one with a girl that I met online (but she lived 12 hours away and only came up one spring break to see me...although that was an amazing spring break), and the woman who would eventually become my wife.
The goal of this game is to find someone online that you can actually pursue an offline relationship with. Problem: you're terrible with people face to face, so you'll REALLY need to fix yourself up first. Bigger problem: most of these girls aren't in the same state...in fact, some aren't even in the same country!
You have one year. What, not long enough? Come on, I had 3 offline relationships and countless online ones in that time, you can do it! If you can't find love in one year, then that's it, you're destined to live as a loser forever, which is fine because at least you can be the bachelor you've always wanted to be!
Or...you could find love, true love, beyond the computer monitor. Ultimately, I will want this to have multiple endings, lend itself well to multiple playthroughs, and for their to be countless ways to lose including getting kicked out of your dorm, accidentally setting the place on fire, being caught by a catfish, and plenty more.
While I do know a lot of programming languages, there is ultimately a lot I need to learn about game development in general. I can't say for sure when even a beta of this game will be available and any help or advice would be greatly appreciated. For what I want to accomplish, I will need to replicate an online chat system similar to YIM, AIM, etc.
I will also need to get some art tools together, preferably for an 8-bit pixel style for events outside of online interactions (I am a gamer after all). As you may have surmised, most events that occur outside of the online chat are very automated and quick as the focus of the game is easily 80% or higher on the online chats themselves.
I will further need to have some beta testing going on so that I can ensure the game isn't too difficult or easy. I don't know about you, but I don't typically play visual novels for the challenge! If you're interested in this project or have any advice to offer (beyond things like YOU SUCK GO HOME), I would greatly appreciate it!
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