Future plans and feedback

It’s Wednesday so it’s time for another blog post! The past couple of posts that I’ve made were more general design stuff so I thought it’d be good to talk a bit more specific coding stuff for a bit. For the most part I haven’t been up to anything big with coding for HC lately, fixing some bugs here and there but my time has typically been being drawn to some other parts of my life or to other parts of the game. So all that I’ve really got are plans that have been on the back-burner for awhile that I’d be interested in getting feedback on.

The first change that I’m planning on making when I can is going to be a slight change to the furniture system. People have talked about how it’s difficult to tell where the various ‘rooms’ are when putting down furniture. That said, the visual interface gives me limitations in this regard, I can’t draw a grid over the map and have a face of every character who cares about a room (and to what extent) on top of each grid, nor can I exactly easily place them in a ‘room’ only during the course of the furniture system without creating a ton of confusion and bugs. The solution that I came up with was to change it so that the red/green squares that show up will either be what you already see in the game or have a number 1-5 on them depending on if they’re in area 1, 2, 3, 4, or 5 of that map (so far no one map has more than five ‘areas’ to it). While this won’t exactly give you all a full sense of ‘who’ cares about this room, it would help more clearly define ‘what’ room you’re looking at at any given time and in turn you could maybe figure out who cares about a room through some thinking or just by putting down furniture and see who cares. It’s not quite what people were asking for, but given the tools at my disposal I think that it’ll give at least a major aspect of what people are asking for.

Something that’s a bit more farther off will be expanding the encyclopedia. Currently it’s only set to show you the stats of equipment, including hidden stats, because a big complaint people had was that they needed to use the wiki or ask someone who was digging through the code what any given piece of equipment did before they could use it and I managed to figure out a way to format it all to fit on one screen (though if we did put in items that had too many ‘extra’ effects it wouldn’t fit on the page running into the same issue again, so this process has a side-effect of limiting what we can do with the equipment). However, the encyclopedia has always been meant to do more than just that. A big thing that we want to add is putting in monster data, the idea that I have is program it into the game so that once you encounter any given monster it’ll add it to the encyclopedia (which will mean that if you’re having trouble with a boss, after a gameover or reload, you can open up your encyclopedia since the Misc_Data file is separate from your save file) though I’m still not fully sure how we’re going to get all the formatting for the things that we want… After talking it out with NoMoshing we also don’t want to just show players the full stats of the enemies so there’s also some busy work that needs to be done in order to give the players an ‘idea’ as to what the monster is strong against or weak against without just handing the Hero a walkthrough to his own world. There were a few other things that we had talked about potentially adding to the encyclopedia, but at this stage I’m not as confident promising that they’re going to stay on the docket so I’ll just leave it at that since we DO want to give players feedback on enemies for sure (largely it’s an issue of how to display it as I’ve already gotten around the issue of showing the enemy battler in the encyclopedia).

Finally, the only thing that crosses my mind right now that’s planned for sure are more achievements. While a lot of achievements are held back either because of limited time for writing or just ideas not coming to us, one achievement that NoMoshing’s wanted me to implement more or less since I redid the achievement system is the ‘Taste the Rainbow’ achieve which you will get if you use each element in one battle (scrolls will count). It’s not incredibly complex on the face of it, but in order to get it working I’ll have to setup 10 switches for each element that gets set to ‘off’ at the start of every battle, then every time you go to use a ‘skill’ (attacks and guarding are skills even if the game displays them differently) the game evaluates if it has one of those elements and if so it turns on the relevant switch, then after battle it looks to see if all 10 are on and if so it awards you the achievement. While setting up 10 switches isn’t that hard for me as I can create my own and am not limited by what NoMoshing has to work with, the idea of interfering with the skill process for those elements and all raises a few concerns, namely in the potential bug department (as well as a few questions about if say Bronwyn’s acid bulb counts for the achievement, or if you have Felix attack with a necronomicon does it count as a necrotic skill/spell). More universally though, I would like to sit down at some point and add in a ‘tracker’ for achievements. Like when you haven’t unlocked an achievement but have a hint for one available it’ll show you your progress towards unlocking it, though that one is going to be a bit more involved since the achievement system doesn’t actually record the ‘goal’ of any given achievement, but rather just has a check for if this variable or switch or whatever meets this condition and if it does give an achievement.

That’s really all that I’ve got planned for now though. A lot of the major coding projects that either NoMoshing or myself wanted have already been added into the game… Granted it seems that the autosave feature has stopped working so that’s going to be getting my full attention at some point before the public 0.36 release, but yeah. If any of you have any questions, comments, or feedback of other nature feel free to share!

Balancing balance

Backers, keep your eye out for the backer release later today, a few aspects are running a bit behind but we’re working on getting it out as soon as we can! That said, I think I’d like to share something that’s crossed my mind a few times that has given me some trouble at times, balancing HC.

Balancing different features can be very difficult, and having quite a bit of experience min-maxing myself I can have a bit of an easy time seeing how much or how little something will shift things in the grand scheme, but that doesn’t necessarily give me a good idea as to how to properly handle things. Sometimes this can be a problem with enemies as it comes to trying to get their numbers to be ‘just’ right, fit their skills in a way that work, avoid easy weaknesses for bosses without leaving players that brought say a stun-based party feeling useless. That said, while I do struggle in certain situations, I feel that for most quests at least I’ve managed to get the balance for most things pretty well, even if not perfect (though a few oversights have gotten by at times). That said who knows how things will look when we re-balance the game, as I plan to be taking a meat cleaver to both the rate that the player levels up as well as the stats the enemy has to help make lower level quests more interesting and higher level quests more approachable.

That said, enemies aren’t the only area of balancing that have given me some pause. Items in particular have been a bit of a sore thumb for me, and not just because of the typical item-hoarding that I’m sure many people are familiar with. See, while there are some very useful items in HC (Essential salts have made some fights go from flat out impossible to just incredibly challenging), some of the items strain the min-maxer in me to see them as anything other than something to collection for completions sake or items to sell for a minimal increase to my sil. The reason for this is because all aspects of an item need to be taken into consideration and contrasted to the players alternatives. For example, 1 item will always cost 1 action to be used (out of a typical pool of 4 actions per turn) and have a ‘cost’ associated (either in sil or not being able to use it at a later time), with that in mind you have to look at what any given item brings to the table. A lo-potion for example gives 33% healing and you’re given quite a few of them (or mid/hi-potions) which isn’t too bad, but it’s big advantage is that you can use some of your characters who may not have anything better to do (like Hero in many cases) and have them ease the healing burden from other characters, as a result it takes an important job and can serve to reduce the action cost by regulating it to Hero allowing say Felix to pull off another chain lightning or avoid someone being killed. Reinvigoration Potions however tend to rarely be worth it in battle, they use up one party member’s action (when you typically have 3 or fewer actions) to bring someone back with 10% HP, this will typically mean that they then proceed to die before you can heal them or they get an action meaning that you just used an item that you could have sold and one of your limited actions to accomplish nothing. The buffing potions tend to also leave a sour taste in my mouth too, as the magic based alternatives offer at least 2-3x the effectiveness if not more and only cost a small amount of MP (which 1 ether can give you several casts worth). Balancing Florine’s store can also be an issue as you’re asking players to invest several forms of resources, one of which is highly limited and can’t be renewed, to get the items… There’s just a lot of stuff to take into consideration. That said, if proper balance isn’t taken into consideration enough, you can end up in situations like how the current HC meta typically values mages over non-mages. While non-mages will still appear in various parties, it’s pretty rare to find players who don’t make at least half their parties mages, with a 3-mage party typically being the most common that I’ve heard about, and this boils down to how easily mages can use their abilities to get a lot of damage with a low action and MP cost to them, which means that when rebalancing things we’ll have to find a way to make it so that magic doesn’t feel quite an easy ‘I-win’ button to help encourage more diverse party make-ups (without making a 3-mage a bad choice except in specific quests).

There are other aspects of the game that can also give me some trouble when it comes to balancing, like trying to make it so that the furniture system doesn’t boil down to a simple easy perfect solution (which at least one player has found and posted about on the wiki I’ll say), trying to ensure that investments can feel useful in the grand-scheme of things, and other areas. I’ve seen some people talk about being able to measure the value of things by boiling it all down into one common point of comparison, but to me that approach to balancing can just as easily backfire as if you want players to be in a position where they have to choose, it means that they can use that same formula, even if they’re just going by some personal experiences, to always figure out what the ‘best’ option is or realize that it doesn’t matter. When it comes to balancing, to me the best balance is being able to look at two things and figure out if you prefer apples or oranges, and then find a way to find a way to get the most out of your apples to the point that it feels incredibly powerful, as I’m sure that a few people who noticed a bug in the ‘Feedback’ magic might have felt (though I’m sorry to say it’s been patched out).

Perhaps I got a bit off-topic here, I’ve got a tendency to do that when I ramble, but the point is that it can be difficult to balance things, especially when you’re continuing to develop the game (and as such creep can easily off-set any sort of balance that you had), which is a big reason why we’re waiting until HC is content-complete before we work to make sure that everything has the exact balance that we want. With that in mind, how about you guys? Any thoughts in particular about what you wish the balance would be like to make it more enjoyable for you?

Gimmicks

I would like to take a moment to talk about gimmicks. I tend to like to make it so that all bosses in HC that I design are unique and have a gimmick to them, even if some aren’t as easy to identify as others, and I recently beat a game where just about every boss has a gimmick and it left me with quite a few thoughts I wanted to rant about for a bit.

A key part of gimmicks I believe is that they should typically require that the player uses resources they have in unique ways to force the player to be constantly adjusting how they play (assuming they don’t have the numbers to just plow through the entire game with no issue), but the player should always have a way to overcome them and shouldn’t be put into a situation where they feel that they can’t win. A gimmick done right should make a boss feel unique and help spice up the game-play experience in new and interesting ways, while always leaving the player able to feel like they can win and without requiring the developer to rewrite the entire rule book every dungeon. To that end, gimmicks should always be carefully considered to make sure that they fit in and don’t disturb this balance in general.

One gimmick for example that has always stood out to me as a risky venture is the idea of bosses who eat people. I’ve seen it come up in various games and I’ve even incorporated it into HC, but whenever you give a boss the ability to ‘eat’ people in the players party you can start to run into some big issues. If it’s used as a means to temporarily remove the character from the party and return them back to the player afterwards (probably from the other characters cutting open it’s stomach afterwards or something off-screen) you can run into big issues where you could potentially be crippling the player based on which character it is, and the more freedom you give to the player to continue what characters they have and what abilities they bring the less sure that you can be that there are any ‘safe’ picks. An alternative to this is to have the boss basically dish out instant deaths but that can be a bit weird to then utilize a revive item/skill on the afflicted party member whenever you think about it. I’ve also seen a few games give out instant game-overs if you allow the boss to eat any party member, and while this can work in some games where you give the player the tools to be able to manipulate the flow of battle to prevent this, I’m still not a huge fan because it ultimately serves to be a hard stop to the gameplay experience. See, if you’re losing to a boss due to numbers the game-over is either gradual and gives you a chance to recover or it’s immediate and you know not to fight the boss, the feedback the game gives you on how well you’re doing is very apparent and accurate to the situation, but whenever you give a boss an ‘instant game-over’ ability it can be a bit jarring because how the immediate feedback the player gets through the damage they give/receive is relatively immaterial to how well they’re actually doing in the battle. This idea isn’t limited just to the idea of having a party member being eaten, instant game-overs that are just that, game-overs (rather than a fight that the story continues with even if you lose), aren’t something that I’m really a huge fan of in general as they’ve always felt more like ‘gotchas!’ instead of obstacles to overcome or work around. Sure, maybe you can control the battle better, sure maybe you need to raise your numbers more, oh maybe there’s an item that you’ve got that turns off that boss feature entirely, but no matter how you cut it I always feel like there are better tools as the developer’s disposal these same strategies room to work with that doesn’t take a player who’s in the middle of an engaging battle that they’re working hard on managing and just instantly hits a reset button on, which is why when I made a boss that eats people I only had it eat other enemies (the reasoning behind this is that with your whole team fighting the boss it just didn’t really get an opportunity to grab anyone from your side). One optional boss in particular from the game I beat stood out to me in particular, and it falls under a similar umbrella where if you didn’t kill it fast enough it would unleash an ultimately attack that party wipes you and you have to reload. The problem was that on top of this, it had by far the best stats of any boss in the game, and no strategy was really too effective against it (I even bought several stat boosting items that upped my stun chance simply to try to stun-lock it without any significant results). It just really left a sour taste in my mouth because ultimately my options were to invest hours into the game to get numbers better than it, or buy 10-20 items to constantly recharge my MP to spam the strongest attacks over and over and over again, neither of which really feels fulfilling just to get that 100% completion.

That said, this viewpoint on gimmicks is probably strongly influenced by my own desire to think, plan, and analyze situations in general. Perhaps I’m putting too much thought into my bosses and should let most of them just end up being basically giant stat blocks that players kill with their even bigger number sticks. I don’t know, feel free to share your thoughts on gimmicks done right or done wrong if you have any!

Carpets and Dungeons

Hello everyone, Iron Waifu’s still going strong but since we’re still in the middle of Round 2 we thought it was best to take this week to talk about game progress and I haven’t talked about what I’ve been working on for the past bit so figured now was as good a time as any!

First, I’d like to take a brief moment to talk some about the dungeon girls. It’s been brought to our attention that with the new happiness system it takes a lot longer to get these girls out of the dungeon, not to mention in Yeon’s case she already took a lot of time just to get her into the dungeon at first further frustrating the issue. After some talk about it, we’ve agreed on a solution that should help, the ‘torture’ and the ‘gift’ options will be separated. This not only means firstly that you will be able to torture AND gift these three girls once a day, but the results of the torture will be moved into the ‘Personal Happiness’ section. For those who might not be aware, this basically means that instead of being capped at +2 affection per day for these girls, you will now be able to get +2 from gifts and +2 from torture independently, which will make it so that getting them out of the dungeons is faster than how it used to be if you take full advantage of the system. That said, once they are out of the dungeons the impact from torturing will no longer boost their affection per day so don’t expect to get them to Love faster than the characters who didn’t go into the dungeons in the first place. Still, we’re hoping that this will help make the dungeon stuff easier on players as well as help make it more likely for players to experiment with the torture scenes.

The other matter that’s been taking more thought and planning for though is the new carpet items that we’ll be adding to the game. Some players already tried buying these items from the in-game shop for it and ran into some issues due to it’s lack of implementation. A big part of this is that while it could relatively easily just be made into little 3×3 patches of carpet that players could place anywhere via the furniture system, that just seem so…. Tedious and ugly if you ask me. If you’re going to buy some carpet you should be filling out entire rooms with one purchase I say, not having to buy 10 just to make your master bedroom not have a wood floor. To accomplish this though it’s going to have to get it’s own little system though as I can’t realistically make the preview shown in the furniture menu adjust to fit the entire size of a room on the fly, so a lot of thought in how exactly it works needed to be done. Ultimately what we decided on is that after purchasing the item from it’s store, you then go to the area that you want it put down, open up your menu and use it. If it’s a valid location the item will be consumed and the corresponding carpet color will be placed for the section of the map that you’re standing on. Players will also be given a non-consumable ‘invisible’ carpet or something like that with their first purchase that they can use to remove any carpet (and get it back into their inventory). This will all be entirely optional but it should go a long way to help make your estates be a lot more personalized, without being too tedious hopefully.

I’ve also been working on a few other bugs and odds and ends, but for the most part between other responsibilities and Iron Waifu I don’t have the most exciting additions coming this release. Hope some of you are looking forward to at least one of those changes though!

Iron Waifu and Yamamaya bug

Hey everyone! We’re nearing the end of April so I’m sure that many of you know what that means! Time for another Iron Waifu Grand Tourney! I’d also like to spend part of this blog post talking about a bug many players have found in one of Yamamaya’s scenes and how to fix it, so stay tuned for that!

For those of you who don’t know, this is a tournament that we run every year for the duration of May to pick the best ‘Waifu’ in Harem Collector. The winner of the tournament will be the central focus to an update in autumn of this year, though what content they get exactly varies as we try to keep it to content that we already planned to add into the game. This year we decided to post what each prize the participants could win also in the same thread up above so I suggest checking that out to see what sort of goodies your Waifu could win, or if maybe you’d rather try to void in your second favorite Waifu instead because you prefer her prizes! Ultimately though, as with previous years you’ll need an account on the forum and we’ll be having these one-off matches everyday between the girls. Hope to see you all there!

Now, many players have reported that one of Yamamaya’s optional scenes currently crashes the game. This was caused by when moving from the old 3D images of the scene to 2D images NoMoshing rewrote the scene to fit better, but for some reason his changes didn’t save. This became a problem since there were originally 6 3D scenes but only 5 2D scenes, which means that if the game tries to load the sixth scene it WILL crash the game (unless you have 3D images turned off since the game still thinks they’re 3D scenes). While this bug has been fixed for the 0.34 release and onward, I wanted to take a moment to help share a fix that moonblack pointed out to me on the forums. See if when in the Harem Collector folder you head into the ‘Graphics’ folder, then create a new ‘Pictures’ folder than add in any image and title it ‘Yamamaya2-6’ it from then on load that image and you can play the scene without any crashes. To that end, we’ve decided to include a copy of the final image of the scene properly named so that players can use it for the scene to help ensure that they get a relatively seamless experience with the scene. Hope you all have fun!


 

Decisions and bugs

Hey everyone, Conash again, wanted to talk about some important bugs/coding stuff that I’ve been working on the past few days. Though I would first like to mention that patreon backers should keep their eyes out since we’re planning to release version 0.33 today!

Next on the table, in regards to last weeks blog post I thank everyone very much for your opinions you shared. Between both the majority opinion and my own agreeing that the praising system would feel more at home with the ‘personal happiness’ it will find itself moved there starting with the 0.33 release. Players will be advised they may need to give a new gift to girls they had praised to get them back up to full gift happiness if they are transferring over their save files. That said, we did get a few suggestions as to ways that we could add further nuance to the praising system, but I’m sorry, with how the code is designed there just wasn’t exactly room to go to really go with either idea… Though I will say that I did make sure to lay a bit of ground-work to add further complexities to the system for when more praising events get added, nothing out of left-field just keeping in line with what the game has already promised (because trust me, without the new additions thanks to the happiness system we WOULD have had to flat out cut out some of the elements mentioned in the praising tutorial)!

Anyways, onto the main reason that I wanted to post two blog posts in a row, thanks to dedication from our tester GameAdam some very critical bugs in the furniture system were made apparent to me. Some of you may have noticed some difficulties getting girls to ‘love’ furniture, this was actually an issue that many people reported that I had put down to them not understanding it, but it turns out that there was actually a bug that made it so that most of the ‘love’ locations would flat out ignore those girls. You could still get them to ‘like’ items if they were set to like those, but that was due to another bug entirely that didn’t properly check if a girl loves/liked a location when determining if they liked/hated an item where it was, this was especially humorous in that it lead Penelope to hating several items placed in the Eastfort Condo. Both of these bugs have been fixed and many of the items that were already in the game have also gotten a once over and had their ‘love’ lists expanded quite a bit. With all of these changes, along with a new girl (and maybe even the ground-work for a few other future girls) in the mix, players will be advised to remove and put back all their furniture if they wish to get the best happiness values out of them, this however is only a suggestion and not actually a requirement and failure to do so will NOT resort in problems with the game.

See, given that I already knew we were going to add in more future girls into the game when I made this system, and how it was precisely designed, I made sure that when you placed furniture down it would store a copy of whatever effects it did (even to girls whom you hadn’t acquired yet), and removing the items will apply the inverse effect ONLY to whatever is stored there rather than figuring out what it ‘should’ do from scratch. A fair amount of aspects of the furniture system were designed with a similar philosophy as to prevent accidentally getting a permanent -2 happiness on a character just because of a coding oversight. It also comes with the added benefit of preventing exploits that would gain you permanent +2 happiness as well, but enough of me continuing to grow the list of betrayals I’ve committed against my fellow min-maxers. Point is, in the 0.33 release there will be a lot of fixes and changes to the furniture system so it would be a good idea to pick everything back up and put it back down, but if you’re happy with the current bonuses you’re receiving you can keep things how they are.

I am also working on adding a bit of an expansion to the furniture system so that new items that you buy from stores (like the Bearskin rug or the Light and Mercy Banner) will be bit more…. Interesting, but right now that whole thing needs a lot of bug testing before I’m ready to promise it’s inclusion.

That should be just about everything. Sorry for all the rambling about more boring code stuff, but I hope some of you found it interesting!

Praising feedback request

Hey everyone, Conash here. Things are going about how they usually go, so I wanted to take this blog post as an opportunity to ask for some feedback as I’ve done once or twice before this time about the praise system in HC. I’ll do my best to make this easy to understand, but apologies if I don’t succeed!

To start with, I should probably explain how the current happiness system works in brief. Basically there are 3 types of Happiness, ‘Furniture’, ‘Personal’, and ‘Gift’. Each of these are impacted by different things and give affection bonuses independently and all. Originally when the first draft of this system was thought up there were going to be five kinds of happiness to better account for every type of interaction but that was deemed to be way too much. Scaling back however raised a few…. other problems in regards to praising specifically though.

See, when you praise girls at the end of the Manor Invasion, a bunch of things that need to be taken into account, the most important of which here are the bonus for praising the girl and the penalty that other girls get if they feel like your praise was undeserved (such as if you praise Violet or Lilac for example). When putting the system into action I kept going back and forth between thinking that it’d fit better under ‘Personal’ happiness or ‘Gift’ happiness.

Setting aside what might seem more thematically fitting, the issues with it being under the ‘Personal’ happiness is that together with the day end sex scenes it could render various interactions with specific characters (like saving Doll during the manor invasion) as having no impact on the game which part of the point of the happiness system is to make those sorts of interactions have a bigger impact rather than smaller. On top of that ‘Personal’ happiness is the hardest one to influence due to how few sources there are of it for anyone currently in the game, this means that the penalties that can be gained from praising certain characters would hurt the player a lot more harshly, and harsh penalties is something that we wanted to avoid entirely since not everyone likes to play games with the wiki open.

On the other end of the table, putting praising under ‘Gift’ happiness makes the praising system a lot less significant, as while it might help reduce your chore list if you’re fine not getting the highest possible bonus everyday, it does also mean that for many players they might not notice any difference by praising characters. One advantage to it though is that the praising penalty you might incur becomes VERY easy to overcome as you can rely on giving gifts to remove it as an issue, though if you fall behind on giving gifts you might start to feel it.

Ultimately, I ended up choosing to put it under the ‘Gift’ happiness, but I’ve come to feel that was a mistake made in the moment of needing to get a lot of everything else done, though it is one that I can actually pretty easily fix thanks to how I designed the system. As such I would like to hear people’s thoughts on if I should change how praising works to go into ‘Personal’ happiness, stay where it is, or any other ideas you all might have.  Hope I didn’t bore you all with this talk, but given that I believe I already made a mistake once on this, thought it’d be good to get some feedback on the whole issue from the people who play the game before I make any big changes to the system!

I’m not dead!

Hey everyone! Been awhile since I’ve posted a blog post, but don’t exactly have a whole lot to report. Currently I’ve been spending most of my work time focusing on a few other tasks which have been helpful in figuring out how we want to proceed on our next game.

Though I have been devoting some time to finishing up the ‘Happiness Window’ in the furniture menu that should give some feedback about what your furniture is doing that’s VERY much needed. It won’t exactly be perfect, but since a lot of places sometimes have about 10-15 different characters they impact it’s not really possible to give a visual feedback as to who every square impacts, the best that I was able to think up was to have the bottom of the screen tell you which characters currently love, like, or hate a piece of furniture after it’s been placed. I had meant to get this all done during the original addition of the furniture system but my time management skills aren’t exactly the best…

I did also make sure to add some elements to help make one of the new upcoming quests have an extra few elements of randomness, I will however refrain from going into the exact specifics at this time as I have a bit of a habit of opening my mouth quite a bit more than I really should when I get into things.

Not much to report beyond that. I have talked with NoMoshing about some plans for stuff that I’ll work on when for the 0.33 release but why spoil a future blog post opportunity now, so see you all later!

Right so let’s talk happiness

So, in the last blog post I talked about the happiness system, and some of you seem to have some reservations about the system. As such I’d like to take a moment and open the floor to some discussion about the matter, here I’ll be very open and express my full sentiments on the matter.

So let’s start with one of the concerns I’ve been getting, which is about gifting. Gifting will NOT be going away, it will stay very much a part of HC. The new system is honestly meant in many ways to improve upon and allow for alternatives to gifting. I don’t know about all of you, but I’ve had many days in HC where I forgot to give Randi some pearls, or decided that Renfeld was just too out of the way to give a monster fang to and I didn’t really NEED to raise her affection to the max, so there would be some in-game days that I simply wouldn’t give out all the gifts to people. When this was coupled with some complaints that we’d get from people who seemed to think of gifting as a chore more than anything, NoMoshing came to the conclusion that the gifting system just wasn’t doing what he wanted. The initial design for gifting was inspired by Dragon Age: Origins, where you’d enjoy giving your characters gifts rather than feel like you had to slog through 30 minutes of chores before you could get to the ‘real’ game. That said, we didn’t want to outright remove gifting because that’s a big part of the game. Instead, we changed it so that instead of gifts giving affection directly, they instead earn you some ‘affection per day’ for a few days. This serves to make it so that you can get the max ‘gifting affection’ by only hopping over to Eastfort say once every 3 days instead of every day so those who forget to give gifts or just want to get to the rest of the game sooner aren’t as hard pressed to do it. That said, gifting is still a major part of the affection system and if you don’t mind the daily grind, you can continue to run around playing Santa and should be just fine. The point of these changes is so that later in the game, as you have more furniture, as you’ve made more choices, as you have more girls than you can count on your fingers and toes, that you have more options than, “Gifting’ or “Nothing”.

This does however bring me to another point about the gifting system that I know won’t be popular with a lot of you. Maximum ‘gift’ affection per day has been reduced. Gifts were always intended to only give +2 affection per day instead of +3, however with how few days were in the game originally this would have made it impossible to get the freedom to actually get to new relationship bonuses for a lot of the girls, let alone their love quests. That said, the game has come a long way since then, so when the affection system was already looking to be changed, now seemed an appropriate time to go ahead an reduce that. I thought that just having a max of +2 per day didn’t really fit in with one of the ideas that the game has a lot of depth for min-maxers while still being pretty simple and easy to play through for more casual players intentionally, which is why I put together a complicated system that’s meant to take place behind the scenes that allows players who work for it to be able to achieve up to +4 affection per day with any given girl. The idea though is that in practice the average character will only be getting +2~+3, but if you really want to spoil your absolute favorite girl, the intention is for you to be able to do just that. If you guys don’t feel that this is an acceptable trade off, feel free to share your opinions on the matter.

Now, this is a part that I glossed over before, but there will also be possible to lose affection per day, this was brought on due to several requests for it. Originally the only way to lose affection was during the Manor Assault if you praised someone who didn’t fight then everyone else there would lose one affection point (though you weren’t when/if this happened), now just as you can get up to +4 affection per day, you can also go as low as -4 affection per day. The addition of this consequence is something that can help make your choices feel more impactful as if the ‘worst’ that you can do is no change that can cheapen your actions. That said, I still wanted to make sure that the game didn’t punish you for not understanding it’s systems right away, so I’ll be upfront in saying that while you can go into the negatives for happiness and affection per day, the system is very generous. For example, the best gifts will give you +4 happiness while the worst gifts will give -2 happiness, this is reflected in just about every aspect of happiness. Something else to help is that you can never go below the ‘minimum’ for any given relationship stage. If you got Larelle out of the dungeon but hate her and have her at -4 affection per day she’ll never go below 21 affection and end up ‘back’ in the dungeon. Perhaps this fails to deal with the problem of having ‘cheap’ choices if the system is biased to head positive, but I at least thought it’d be a good way to add some consequence to the system without making it so that players can get stuck at -1 affection per day their entire playthrough on their waifu just because they made some mistakes.

Another thing that we did get some complaints about is the new visual display. We now have a rather Harvest Moon-esque heart meter instead of flat out telling you the affection values. If I’m being frank, while I do enjoy the look of it, the min-maxer in me doesn’t like that we’re taking away some direct numerical feedback to the players. This has been a point of disagreement a few times between me and NoMoshing where he doesn’t really like giving you guys direct numbers (after all, when you open an animal guide or something in real life it doesn’t tell you that bears have an attack stat of 54 or whatever) and instead prefers more visual or abstract feedback, whereas I’m usually pushing for more and more detailed information getting back to the player which can cause information overload for many. An instance of what I mean by abstract feedback can be seen with the ‘mood’ indicator that tells you if a character is ‘Very Happy’, ‘Happy’, ‘Unhappy’, or ‘Very Unhappy’, see this is how the game gives you feedback of the affection per day that you’re getting, there was some back and forth between me and NoMoshing on what was the best way to do this, and we eventually agreed that this was acceptable as while you can’t really tell if you’re getting +4 or +3 per day from this alone, you do know the difference between +3 and +1. For the most part this happiness indicator serves to give you a general idea as to where you stand and does have enough nuance that you can notice some significant changes to it, but it’s also abstract enough that it’s not full on immersion breaking.

Sorry for the massive wall of text, but I wanted to make sure that I explained things as clearly and thoroughly as it looks like this will need to be. If you have any comments, concerns, or criticisms please feel free to share them.

I did it!

Hey everyone, I’m here to give you all a run-down of some of the new stuff that’ll be in the upcoming release, of which I only finished my contribution to like 5 hours before this so yay for finishing by the deadline!

First of all, before I go into my typical scripting rant, I’d like to take a brief moment to highlight that the new quest for this release is going to be a big one that’s going to throw the story for a bit of a loop! I’m personally really looking forward to seeing how you all react! Also free e-cookie to the first person to guess which one enemy in the new quest that I designed (NoMoshing handled the others since I had a lot on my plate as is)!

Now let’s get into what I’ve been working on for this release, the happiness system. I won’t get super into details about the numbers of this system (though I might try to set aside from time to do just that on the wiki after the public release) but this system is in general designed to change the existing affection system. See one of the big issues with the existing affection system is that it basically requires that you play Santa to your entire harem every day, and while that might not be too bad with 3-5 girls, when you get above 20 I imagine it’s quite tedious for a lot of you, as such the new system is supposed to, by the end of the game at least, make gifting entirely optional, as you can instead rely on stuff like the furniture system or various character interactions instead to grant you a passive amount of affection per girl daily. Gifts themselves are also a bit less tedious as if you give a girl their favorite gift a certain number of days in a row you’ll reach the max ‘gift happiness’, and from there it’ll take a few days for the gift happiness counter to decrease enough to decrease the amount of affection per day.

Now, as I said I don’t want to go into the exact details here but I will give you all a general hint, there’s more or less 3 happiness counters that are all recorded separately, they are affected by different things and they each have a maximum affection per day that they can give you. The system is designed so that there’s certainly a lot of options and can be difficult to get the ‘maximum’ affection per day on every character at once, but if you’re just playing casually you should be able to stay in the positive happiness values on everyone just fine. I even made sure that ALL love quests were still obtainable with the new system, of which Therese may give some players some trouble as you can’t rely only on gifts for her but even that should help be mitigated with time. Do keep in mind though that you will need to talk to various characters to increase their relationship level, you can’t just leave them in the dungeon waiting until they get to 101 affection I’m sorry to say!

Another thing that this new system will bring is overhauling the relationship meter. Instead of just telling you the value of the affection there will be a meter that fills up for each relationship level showing you your progress. It is designed to update at even 1 point increments though you may not always notice it, we’re happy with the sprites that Kumiho provided for the affection meter! You will also be getting some feedback about the affection per day a character is earning, but it’s not going to be quite as straight-forward, after all I don’t know about you but when I look at someone I have a hard time saying that they’re at +2 affection happiness or +1 affection happiness! You know, whoever designed real life should probably ask me to update the GUI, it’s so hard to understand your stats at any given moment!

That’s more or less it. With the completion of this I probably won’t be doing a lot of big scripting projects for HC at this point. There’s still several scripting things I’d like to do, bugs that need to be fixed, and enemies AI that I can fine-tune, but honestly at this point I’m probably mostly going to be focusing on the next big project and laying out the groundwork for that… Anyways that’s all from me! Hope you guys enjoy this update!