I'd like to take a moment to pause, reflect and consider. BrothelS.im V2 has been with me for nearly 11 months, and during that time I have devoted upwards of 1200 hours to it - a second job. Or, for much of that year, my first job.
Only on rare occasions has it felt like a burden, or a thing I've had to do. It felt that way when I began working on backer rewards, and started trying to force myself to write futa. That sapped my interest pretty hard, until I emailed all the backers who'd requested it, apologized, and stripped everything dick-girl related out of the game.
It felt that way again in December, around the time I ran the "when should I release the game" poll. The overwhelmingly positive response to that was amazing, and I'd like to thank everyone who commented "the game is great, we'll be happy to wait as long as it takes." It cheered me up immensely at a very difficult time.
So, that's enough about me - what about the game itself?
The biggest thing that didn't work is the "personality stats." Slut and Dom acted more like binary switches than a real continuum, and even then it was annoying and didn't add much to the game. I always felt weird writing dialog for the player character, since the personality was so vague - and without proper back-and-forth, the fiction in the game suffered. They were an interesting experiment, and they might have worked for a different type of game, but not one as heavy on prose as brothels.im. My next game will have well-defined personalities for all the characters. You'll still be able to choose a name and a gender, but there'll be no confusion over how confident and forthright you are.
Many of my plans never panned out, due to lack of time / focus. I had intended for The Tentacle Pit to have its own quests, where you could get drown in more and more deeply or fight its influence over the city... but this didn't work because there isn't a whole lot of mechanical "meat" to the gameplay. It would have been more of a choose-your-own-adventure type thing than a real game-to-be-won. I also always wanted to add more information about Vailia's history / neighbors / etc, but there was never a good time. That will have to wait for the next game.
Antinua's backstory will also feature prominently. No spoilers. :P
The gameplay... never really felt right. There's a ton of complexity hidden in the backend with regards to customers, their preferences, how income is calculated... which is completely invisible from the front-end. Wasted effort. I tried several times, but I could never manage to show this to the player in an interesting way. The real trouble is that the player doesn't have enough agency to make meaningful use of the data - choosing what job each worker will do is not enough "knobs" to hang engaging gameplay off of. Other brothel-sims have get around this by using happiness / endurance to require constant job-switching - in this case, my attempt to be different came out worse. :shrug:
In my heart-of-hearts, I don't like playing games where I lose. I like feeling like I'm in a tight spot sometimes, but I don't enjoy seeing "game over." It makes me feel crummy. I will save-scum, I will grind, I will do just about anything... as long as I don't have to actually lose. I that respect, I love the early Pokemon games - you lose a battle, even against an important boss, and you just get penalized half your cash and wind up back at the poke-center.
This obviously transfers into my game design - you can lose BrothelS.im, but it's by no stretch of the imagination a difficult game. Notice on how for the second and third payments, if you're late Hilde will just take a token amount of cash and come back later? I'm sure many people will hate that (not having a real sense of danger), but I really wish more games would take that approach. I'm casual. I generally dislike multi-player because it's competitive. I ran cross-country in high-school, even though I was decent as soccer. I want everyone to win.
In case it wasn't obvious from the amount of attention I've lavished upon their relationship, I love Antinua and Hathawa. Writing about them has been a growing experience for my own sexuality.
I wasn't sure a year ago, but now I am - I want a girlfriend who beats me. In a consensual, safe way, of course. Ropes and gags and nipple clamps. Someday I'll meet her.
I'm a kinky bitch.
That sentence still fills my stomach with butterflies. I still have a ways to grow.
How does one put a game like this on one's resume? BrothelS.im is a pretty impressive project for a one-woman team. It would make a great centerpiece to say "this is what I can do." But it's also not generally socially acceptable in a business setting - I can't link to it in my portfolio.
I'm not looking for work right now anyway. My current job is going well, and if things keep going as they look to be... I may never need to work again. That would be nice, at age 25.
Perhaps I'll talk about the technical learning I've done in a different post.
Commissioning artwork for Hilde was not the best experience. I was unable to find an artist I really liked, so I settled for someone who was "good enough." Hint - if you ever find yourself trying to convince yourself that something is good enough, then it isn't. Out of the ten images I commissioned, I ended up only using 5 of them, and they're some of the images I'm least pleased with in the game.
I gave some feedback to the artist on a couple of them, but he was uninterested in making the changes I asked for. You get what you pay for, I guess. I should have waited for "wow" rather than "I guess you will work."
Searching for art and editing it was the real albatros around my neck - I really like the images often times, but dread of needing to find another 40 images is the main reason it took so long to add new women to the game.
People helping to edit images on the forum were a real life-saver - I want to extend special thanks to super, Terryble, alrick, chris, Dorllanen and Zaphyel - you all made the game possible. Coordinating everything still took time on my end, but the 72 images you edited still saved me dozens of hours.
My next game will have all-original art, but this isn't really the post to talk about future plans. It will be (is already starting to be) expensive.