Adding momentum to the Momentum economy

Hey people! Been awhile since I’ve done a blog post, going to try to get better about getting these out again every so often. Best place to start will be focusing on all the various character revamps that I’ve already gotten into the game, since I do put a fair bit of thought into them, and well I like the sound of my own voice… Or at least the clacking of my keyboard when I get typing. Anyways, for backers this will only really discuss the ‘why’ behind all those various changes you might have noticed on the change log, but for you public users this will be a bit of a sneak peek into what’s to come!

So, to begin with I should probably explain why I chose to go with revamping the momentum economy this release instead of down the line with some other changes… well the reason is, Chimei. While most mages aren’t really on my list of ‘characters to revamp’ as they’re usually pretty solid, Chimei was on there because of the general difficulty there is to using her effectively. Between NoMoshing making evocations immune to deafen/censure and evocations getting to ignore the AoE revamp, Chimei’s skills and stats weren’t really a problem (aside from a few select cases I’ll talk about), but rather the difficulty was getting to use her effectively and this all comes down to how the momentum economy favored tanks and especially shunned mages. Given how she got her love quest this update, it felt fitting to address this issue.

If you’ve played Harem Collector quite a bit you’ve probably noticed that it’s almost impossible to get mages to ever use their ‘Focus’ skill to regain MP. Meanwhile Therese, Doll, and Raina will usually end up with more momentum than they know what to do with in any fight that poses a serious risk. This is because in base RPG Maker the math will work out that you gain momentum the fastest by taking damage, which favors tanks a lot, but squishier characters (which mages tend to be) will then suffer. Characters that rely on physical attacks will also typically won’t struggle too much with momentum as they will still use attack often and can usually take a few hits. Even if they drop by 50% of their max health (which would give them 25 momentum directly), they generally have the stats to take a hit or two before you heal them up, allowing you to play it a bit riskier with giving them higher threat values. Mages however have such weak attack values that they never use the standard attack, and their defences usually aren’t good enough to keep them alive if they drop to low health.

With that all in mind, you can begin to see why Chimei would feel pretty difficult to use. Even if you did know how to use her it took a fair bit of effort, because at the end of the day Chimei had the stats of a mage, and she can’t compete using evocations when she can only reliably get 2% momentum per turn. So the goal of the momentum revamp was to tackle how lopsided and slow the momentum economy was.

One of my first tasks was to make it so that using magic would still give you some momentum. After all, casting a spell is to a mage what a physical attack is to a melee character. The rate for this has been set to be 1/5th of the mana spent so that it’ll cap out at 8 momentum per turn, just as much as physical attacks will now give. This will help momentum be sped up more for physical attackers as well! The momentum from taking damage was reduced to be about 4/5ths of what it was before as well, to help even out the momentum gain while still keeping tanks relatively sustainable.

This goes a long way to help players get more use out of ‘Focus’ and physical attackers to be able to use their skills more often, but some of you who dive deeper into this sort of math might realize this would do very little to help Chimei specifically. Sure, she’ll be refunded 1/5th of the momentum she spent when using evocations, but evocations are a momentum glutton in order to have her stay competitive with typical mages, and if she can’t do that then you’ll just pick an actual mage. To address this problem Chimei was given two changes to improve her personal momentum growth. When you get Chimei she will gain momentum at a rate of 150%. Her relationship up bonus has also changed, before you would get 2 momentum per turn from her, but instead it now increases the rate she gains momentum even further, bringing her up to 200% the normal rate, so once you have that not only will she now be refunded 2/5ths of the momentum from using evocations, but Transfer Essence will also be twice as effective!

Speaking of that particular skill, before it just straight up gave Chimei momentum at the cost of MP and a turn, the problem however was that it was basically constant turn cost as she’d have to use it every other turn just to keep herself going. Now what Transfer Essence does is it gives you ‘Momentum Regeneration’, which means for 4 turns you’ll gain 8 momentum per turn, which will then be further multiplied by Chimei’s increased momentum generation effect. Now you effectively spend 1 “dead” turn to have 4 turns where you can use her easily, especially with the refund on momentum you use. Nerys was also given a slight momentum generation increase, since she falls in the same boat of being a momentum glutton with mage stats/skills, but the in-lore justification for Nerys is different than the one for Chimei. If you want to know what these are, well, ask me over in the backer’s lounge!

Now then, that’s a whole lot of talk about the upwards momentum, so now let’s talk about the downwards momentum. See, one thing that’s irritated me for awhile is how when you’re up against a boss that’s very momentum based, your best options to deal with them are to daze them to reduce their ability to hit you and get momentum off of attacks, slow down your damage so that they spend their momentum on lower cost skills that aren’t as dangerous, or kill them before they can do anything dangerous. NoMoshing gave Chimei a skill awhile ago, ‘Enervating Bolt’ that is designed to drain momentum, however he was limited by the base RPG Maker editor and using this skill had a good chance of giving the enemy more momentum with the damage they take than it reduced their momentum at the end of the turn. He’s also put in a few statuses that reduce it, but none of what he did just had the sort of oomph needed to counter a momentum heavy boss, so I decided to add in more ways to attack enemy momentum!

So the first thing that I did to fix the momentum damage options players had was I worked on fixing Enervating bolt, first by doing some scripting magic so that certain skills like Enervating bolt will not give enemies momentum when they do damage, and second I changed it so that it will directly drain their momentum by 80% instead of about 5. Now you might have noticed, that’s a pretty big difference, and that’s because of the basic RPG Maker editor, where it’s impossible to multiply Momentum specifically by a fraction, unlike every other stat. Now, if they’ve got 100 momentum it’ll be -80, but if they’ve only got 10? Well then it’ll be -8, by setting it this way we can high values like 80% to keep it significant while also not just always bringing them to 0 making shut down all skills instead of just stopping the big scary ones.

Since that gave Chimei a good option to countering high amounts of momentum, I also wanted good options for dealing with low amounts, and the ‘Stagger’ status seemed the best way to do this. Stagger already had a -2 momentum per turn effect to it. I bumped it up to -10 per turn to help make it be better for draining that last bit of momentum and helped give Therese a few more unique options compared to Doll and Raina. Then came the question of slowing down momentum gain as a whole to add in more strategic control over enemy momentum, so I gave the Nausea status an additional effect where it reduces your momentum gain to 50% of what it’d be otherwise, so now on top of all those stat downs your skills will also suffer if you’ve got it! Though, players have been able to inflict this status through stink bombs for awhile but not many people use those, so I decided that Bronwyn, since her basis is ‘an option for every situation’ (more on this when I talk about her revamp) seemed like she should also get some ways to deal momentum damage. Add in a new type of arrow equipment with a skill that can inflict nausea and do some momentum damage like Chimei’s thing, then move the arrows she can equip to be her ‘off-hand’ instead of accessory since now there’s multiple.

Now for the biggest problem that existed with the momentum system before, starting momentum! While all these ideas will go very far in helping momentum go up and down a lot more, a big problem can be that if you start a battle with 0 momentum it can really feel like a punishment for bringing a momentum heavy character as you can’t really use them. Conversely NoMoshing has made clear that stuff like carrying momentum from one fight to another (something RPG Maker allows by default) would run completely counter to the intention of how momentum vs mana is supposed to balance out. I had to think about this long and hard, but I believe I came up with a fair compromise. I chose to tie starting Momentum to your character level.

Levels may be an arbitrary gameplay mechanic, as Hero described, but they do represent the abstract idea of your characters getting stronger, which is why they learn new moves and have an easier time with old enemies. With this in mind, it struck me as odd that a level 50 character has the same chance as being caught completely unprepared for a fight as a level 1 character, which 0 momentum would represent. Under the new momentum revamp, the minimum amount of momentum you can start with will increase by 1 for every 3 levels, up until level 45 where you cap out at a 15 minimum. The maximum value that you can begin a battle with will always be 25, but this helps present each character’s growing familiarity with the challenges they face, it also goes a long way in also keeping it so that while you can always get 25, by the time that you’re level 15 and have a minimum of 5 that 5 momentum still won’t let you spam your best moves out the gate. This serves to ensure there’s always a chance to be caught relatively ‘unprepared’, but that your characters are learning and growing from their encounters along the way.

And there you have it! We’ve got a far more robust set of options here, both for your own growth and to counter enemy growth! There also might be one or two other surprises that I put in for the momentum revamp, but they aren’t exactly game changers, and it’s all probably not quite done yet as it was pointed out to me that since players have no real idea how much momentum enemies have or how much their moves cost it’s going to be very difficult for players to make perfect use of the various options, but I can always fix that down the line. Hope you all enjoyed my rambling!

Bad Kitty Games and COVID-19

Welp.

So as everyone who doesn’t live under a rock in the Yukon hinterlands is well aware, the world is undergoing a bit of a thing right now in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Multiple countries are on total lockdown, people in general are advised to stand home and isolate themselves, and lots of people have uncertain employment. Nobody knows how long it’s going to be, estimates range from a few weeks up to a year. None of thise is really news for Harem Collector fans, I’m sure.

The first thing I want to get out is a clear message for backers: We get it. You might be looking at multiple weeks without shifts or being out of a job entirely. Or maybe you’re just feeling anxious and want to cut costs as a preventative measure. Our desire in situations like these is for all fans of Harem Collector to take care of themselves first and foremost. Please do not feel the need to apologize or feel bad for ending your pledge to the Bad Kitty Games Patreon campaign. We understand, please take care of yourselves.

If you desire to still help us out, however, please when you do end your pledge fill out an exit survey and specifically mention that you’re doing it because your financial situation has changed due to the COVID-19 outbreak. The Canadian government is rolling out new financial protection for small businesses every day and that kind of data may be useful to us in the near future.

Second thing: We are still planning on releasing Harem Collector v0.45 to backers next week. It might not be right on time as, well, we all got our shit rocked with regard to stress and anxiety, but for now things are proceeding as planned. Future releases might change as the situation develops, however. We’re going to keep working, and there are currently no threats to our being able to stay open, but obviously the possibility of sudden deaths in the family and other such things to disrupt our workflow is as strong as ever. As always, stay tuned for more details.

Third thing: Please, now more than ever, take care of your mental health. Take it from someone who was once under house arrest for a year- maintaining this level of isolation us not easy. Sure, everyone’s joking about Pornhub and Xbox now, but that will change if the situation doesn’t resolve quickly. So please, if you haven’t already, join the Bad Kitty Games Discord. It’s a great part of the community, and there’s usually lots going on. Board games on TTS, streaming, speedrunning, and people just hanging out and exorcizing some of their anxiety about the situation. We’re all doing a lot to try and make sure everyone is supported and feels like they belong.

And that’s it for now. As always, we’re cooking up interesting stuff for HC fans to enjoy, and there are lots of exciting things to look forward to. So stay safe, stay healthy, stay sane, and hopefully I’ll see you all next week for the backer release!

Sunshine and Rainbows

Haaa, I don’t want to be too optimistic just yet, but it seems that, finally, the cloud of depression I’ve been under since last summer has finally gone away. I’m feeling good, I’m being productive, I’m getting more sleep, I’m cleaning things when they become dirty instead of when people come over…. All in all, I’m doing okay. I look forward to channelling some of this new energy into Harem Collector for you all!

I don’t mean to harp on my mental state so much, but I get very easily frustrated when it comes to my mental state. Obviously, it’s not impossible for me to be creative when I’m stuck in the fog, but it is very difficult for me to be creative in the specific way I want to be creative. Focus becomes very difficult.

But now I’m feeling a lot better, so hopefully I can focus even better and continue doing good work for everyone who follows my various projects.

I’m thinking of starting a Kofi account to support my writing, not for Harem Collector but so that I can (hopefully) get some artwork done for My Isekai Life in D&D. Art is expensive after all, and Patreon frowns on people who run separate accounts for different projects.

Things are looking good for the mini-release today. It might be a challenge to get in all the new sex scenes, but for that I’m just going to prioritize the stuff I currently have art for. Hilent’s been busy, but as of last night Apple Kid’s sexy a la carte scenes are all done. I might luck into getting the latest Doll stuff from her later, and then it’s on to some accelerated Therese art before returning to Doll.

Anyway, I’m going to get back to work. Happy fapping, and I’ll see some of your tonight for the mini-release!

HORTICULTURE Update

So, our next update is the HORTICULTURE (might end up picking a shorter subtitle because that would make for a massive filename), where our featured content is Doll and Chimei’s respective love quests. As usual, there will be other odds and ends in there- for example, a very generous pair of fans is accelerating all the remaining Therese images, which is fucking fantastic, but the focus on what we’re doing is the two love quests. Doll will be getting new art assets (as voted on by Patrons) although Chimei will have to wait a little bit longer. At the rate we’re going, Conash and I expect that $5+ patrons will have a completed (though not necessarily tested) love quest to enjoy next week.

I’m a little nervous about some of the art assets coming out though. My plan for Doll’s love quest sex scene was always going to involve the Hero just going all out on her with the sexual torture, and of course Therese’s dungeon scenes aren’t necessarily the tamest stuff around either. I suppose I could continue putting the preview pics to all backers like I did with the Apple Kid breathplay one. Not sure if that’s okay with backers- please let me know through the usual means.

Following the new art assets this month, for the next two months we will be replacing old art assets for Doll. Probably her introductory scene will come first, as I always wanted that scene to be different than what Gurotaku was able to do at the time. I had initially imagined Hero just grabbing Doll and bending her over the anvil right there in the forge, with Kevin watching and trying not to look, establishing Hero’s sexual bullying of Kevin quite a bit earlier.

When v0.46 rolls around and we’re back into the swing of things for the main plot advancement, then we’ll be addressing Doll’s gangbang scene, and either Doll’s lesbian scene with Elaiya or doing Therese and Alina’s threesome with Hero. Not sure how I’m going to write the lesbian scene with no experience to turn to for inspiration, but I guess you’re all not here for hyper-realism.

Anyway, just wanted to communicate a bit about what’s upcoming in the update. Hope to see a lot of you on Saturday for the voiced stream!

Harem Collector v0.44- The BROS Update!

Find it here.
Sometimes, you gotta make time for the bros! This update contains Respect/Love quests for Gargan and Kevin, and new sex scenes for Princess Quinta, Raina and Apple Kid.

Changes in 44.0 include:

-Kevin’s Respect Quest is now  available for all of you who have put serious effort into getting  relationship points with some dude instead of all your harem girls.  Comes with an (optional) text-only sex scene and a powerful buff item as  a reward!
-Gargan’s Love Quest is also available! Rewards include  another text-only sex scene, some new passive abilities for Hero and  Gargan, and a powerful alt class for Gargan, too.
-A new bonus boss is now available in Westcastle as well as the greatest reward of all- a new cat for you to collect!
-A  new fully-artworked random sex scene for Princess Quinta as well as  partial (but with pics!) Sex a la Carte menus for Raina and Apple Kid.
-New sprite art including a new look for Raina and several new portraits that Quinta will paint for you.
-Bronwyn has received a few minor balance reworks, please check out her new skill!
-Multi-target resistance/weakness for Swarm-type enemies should now work properly.
-Assorted minor balance changes and bug fixes.

Conash things in 0.44

Hey people, Conash here! Today I thought I’d talk about my contributions in the 0.44 release since I haven’t quite gotten my thoughts organized for one of my little mechanical analysis posts… Also because I haven’t quite talked about this yet!

So to start off with, I think that I should note there won’t be any major scripting changes. Between the holidays, family, a bunch of different games that I’ve got to play with different groups of people, but most importantly it taking about 2 weeks after the 0.43 release to finally narrow down what was causing all those game crashes in the Golden Tomb I didn’t quite have enough time to handle any big coding project, just a bunch of little ones added in over the course of this release. Always sad to not get to have a ton of fun with that, but it is what it is, let’s move onto the stuff that I did get in!

The first major thing that I got into was working on the reward for Gargan’s upcoming quest. Backers may already be aware as to what this new quest will unlock to some extent or another, and having been privileged to such information back when NoMoshing was talking about it on old backer streams (well before I was on the team), when NM outlined what quests we were handling this update it became my first priority to figure out a way to implement it in… Right, heck I think that I might have even made a blog post analyzing the sorts of things that I was worried about when designing it, but despite my concerns the solution came relatively quickly, and after some back and forth with testers I more or less knew everything that I needed for it before the 0.43.3 release (though none of it is in the base game yet, lots of little scripting things that I was worried about that may have caused problems). I’m also currently working on the enemies for Gargan’s quest, I’ve talked with NM and I know the theme of the enemies, I’ve theorized a few things that I think will be important for the boss battle, and gotten some feedback from fans about some of what they’re hoping the enemies bring to the table, but it’s still in the planning stages and subject to change so I’d rather not make promises that I have to go back on.

Next up, Kevin’s respect quest! This one I’m actually a lot farther along as once I was done with the reward for Gargan, I went immediately into trying to setup Kevin ‘right’. See I try to put in the time and effort to try to keep the ludo-narrative together when I can, and I’ll probably talk about this in more detail later but suffice to say there’s a reason why Nerys doesn’t leave you feeling like you want her as a permanent party member, and Kevin won’t give you that feeling either. With Kevin though, I wanted to capture more of a ‘random Joe’ feeling as I haven’t quite hit that with the more civilians that used magic like Nerys or Professor Ambitis (yet at least), so I had to very carefully craft both his stats, his growth, give him a custom exp curve, and create enemies specifically designed in a way to capture this feeling. Kevin inherently couldn’t be designed without also designing at least half of the enemies on his quest alongside him, so his quest ended up with it’s enemies done first. I still need to go back in and add the finishing touches to the boss, not to mention adjust some of the fights to have different enemy combinations now that I don’t need to test anymore, but based on the feedback I got from testers I’m very happy with how all the Kevin stuff turned out.

Now, with those big things out of the way, I mentioned that back in December I spent a lot of time working on fixing the crashes in the golden tomb, well I didn’t want that to be the only thing that I got done in December so I sat down for a bit and realized that I was in a good position to add in the 4th bonus boss into the game! It took some discussing with NM as my inherent focus on mechanics left quite a few holes that he ended up having to figure out how to resolve (resulting in more work for him than I had intended during a release that he was already facing a time crunch on >.>), we managed to get it in! I also decided to reach out to the fans for some suggestions for the reward here as I noticed that the other Bonus Bosses all had rather varied rewards. I’m quite happy with how both the boss and the reward turned out, so look forward to that!

The last thing that I’ve really got planned for this release I honestly didn’t think I’d have time for, yet another revamp! Originally I thought that between Gargan’s reward and making Kevin from scratch, there wouldn’t be any room in my head left to revamp a character, but after I had figured out what I wanted from Kevin and had finished testing Gargan’s reward I ended up getting into a discussion with some users about how the Damage over Time statuses aren’t very rewarding as you usually kill common enemies in 1-3 turns, so doing 1/20th of their HP per turn (at best) for 3 turns isn’t worth inflicting the status on those enemies, which is a fair assessment as when you have to fight 100 common enemies, spending an entire action to inflict 1/20th their health just isn’t worth it unless you’re in a challenge run. This got me thinking about what I could do to make poison and bleed fit in better against common enemies specifically, without making them over-powered against bosses, and well, by the time I had that figured out, I was basically half-way done to figuring out how to revamp Bronwyn, so look forward to a Bronwyn revamp in the 0.44 release! I’ve already got my ideas for it ready, but if I end up running short on time I may have to push this one back a bit.

And that’s about it for the 0.44 release. I could go into more detail about the Bronwyn revamp, but I don’t like talking about stuff that I haven’t gotten feedback from the testers yet. While I do generally trust my ability to play with numbers and take approaches that seem to typically be close to what we end up with, I just don’t like the idea that I might give you guys the wrong idea if I change gears, so maybe I’ll talk about it in more detail after the backer release is out! Bye!

Direction in the New Year

Oh, wow, I didn’t realize I haven’t updated the blog since before Christmas. I hope you all managed to have a good holiday, nonetheless. I had a pretty good time, I think- Nekochan seemed to enjoy her gifts, and I received some nifty things. As you might recall from earlier posts, my mother in law is very sick, and so doing the holidays with her was very challenging. My mental health still has not super improved from the fall, but I’m trying to focus more on using my time effectively when I am in a fit state to work. Like everything else, it’s a process.

But, that’s enough about me. What you’d like to know is, what’s the plan now? Last year, Conash and I made a big push towards getting story progress done and spinning a more cohesive narrative from the scattered plot strands in Harem Collector. It was a huge success, and because of that I feel that we’re going to be taking it slow (in terms of plot development) for the first quarter this year.

Our January update will be the BROS update, featuring the final relationship quests for Kevin the blacksmith and Gargan. Kevin, a longtime supporter of the Hero, finally comes asking a favour, in order to earn a little adventuring cred with which to impress his childhood friend. As for Gargan, they find out about a witch rumoured to specialize in curses, and the removal thereof… and of course, a witch living in the middle of nowhere doesn’t trade in money.

And what could possible follow the BROS update? Why, only the HO… RTICULTURE update! March’s update will feature primarily new content for Doll and Chimei, the harem’s resident nature-themed slaves. Doll’s Love Quest will revolve around her origins, figuring out who she really is and how she ended up becoming a slave. As for Chimei, her Love Quest will… revolve around her origins, figuring out who she really is and how she ended up becoming a slave! Ooo, mysterious….

Seriously though, one of these quests will involve crossing swords with a pair of powerful dryads, and the other will involve dealing with a cult of assassins seeking to bring about a terrible prophecy using your harem girl… so please look forward to this new content coming soon!

And for those of you who are backers may remember, now that we’re done with most of Princess Quinta’s scenes, we will be moving on to all new art assets for Doll. Originally, we were going to do Chimei next in the art asset queue, but Nekochan wants to focus on getting her summer cosplay done, so we’re going to put that off until summer. Thus why I ran that poll where backers got to vote on which girl who has already had a redesign will get focused down on next. And the winner was Doll, which is great because I was planning on doing her love quest anyway!

So her art queue will include her introductory scene, her gangbang during the Manor Invasion, and her love quest sex scene. Unfortunately, her random scene, being that foursome with Chimei and Lilac, is going to have to wait just a scootch longer. And, following that, there are two very important and long requested scenes I want to get done before we resume….

Anyway, those are my plans, at least, for winter through to early spring 2020. I’ll see you all in just a few more weeks for the BROS update, and check back here every Wednesday for bloggo goodness!

My Favourite Things I Made This Year

I was going to use this week’s blog to moan some more about my depression, explain why the update to Quinta’s second sex scene took so long, and in general beg for forgiveness. While I do feel bad about those things, and I do ask for your forgiveness, I’m worried about this sort of thing becoming dull and rote. So, rather than that, I’m going to talk about some of the things I am most happy made it into Harem Collector this year.

These are presented in roughly chronological order, and just numbered for my convenience, but nonetheless please enjoy this semi-listicle.

#1- Officially Announced ILTSDK
I know it’s not the biggest, most exciting thing, but finally announcing I Live To Serve, Dungeon King!! to the public felt pretty good, like it was making the leap from theory into practice. I’m still slaving away at the pre-production, though, so it’ll be awhile yet before we have a functional build to show off.

#2- Introduced New Scenes and Dialogue for Lilac and Violet
The new content for the twin maids was very well received and I’m pretty proud of it, to be honest. Definitely looking forward to these two coming up in the art queue. Mission accomplished on helping define their divergent personalities more.

#3- Set Up A New Forum
I learned how to do a MySQL and now we have a fancy new forum we rarely use. But, hey, it’s there and I really feel it’s a worthwhile supplement to the Discord community, as a home for content like my erotic writing and the Iron Waifu contest.

#4- Epic April Fool’s Prank
The 90’s-style April Fools website update was a lot of fun to make, and I have no idea how I’m going to match it next year. 😀

#5- The Actual New Website Launch
It was a massive headache at the time, but it feels really good to have gotten rid of our amateurish, outdated old website designed by a certain someone I don’t particularly like, and replace it with our new, slick website filled with all sorts of art representative of what Harem Collector is all about!

#6- Kaguya
Solving the ominously growing PC issue here at the home office without having to impact the Patreon or art progress was a really huge boon. I know it had a lot to do with a random windfall I received from a relative, but still, very happy about that.

#7- Victory Barks
Time to tout something that Conash did! I am very pleased now that victory barks are implemented and in a final form that makes it so people can enjoy them without it disrupting the established flow of the game. Conash did a lot of great work this year but I really think the end of battle update from PRINCESS is among his slickest and nicest looking UI changes.

#8- Miri
Getting a new harem girl in the game is always something worthy of celebration

#9- The End of Demon Cult and Kellos Invasion Stories
Sort of partnered with #8, having Bell and Quinta get implemented and finally finishing off the Demon Cult and Kellos Invasion plotlines was a huge win this year! It finally feels like we’re getting close to the end of the game.

#10- Pandemonium Fortress
My personal winner for Dungeon of the Year is the Pandemonium Fortress from Hell to Pay. It’s a really big, meaty dungeon with it’s own story to tell, a lot of really unique looking areas, homages to multiple games on my all-time favourites list (including Resident Evil, Super Mario RPG and Silent Hill 3), and just really felt like an epic way to send off the Demon Cult questline in style. And then, while we were working on it, the whole lootbox scandal happened, inspiring a whole extra section of dungeon, with it’s own mechanics and stuff going on. Sometimes our chaotic, inefficient, fly-by-the-seat-of-our-pants style of game design really gets to pay off dividends.

Anyway, those were my favourites bits of the year. Please feel free to share your own highlights as a comment, Discord message, forum post- whatever form of interact floats your boat!

Harem Collector v0.43.1 PRINCESS Public Release

You can find it in the usual place.

Changes in 43.1 include:
-Princess Quinta’s Love Quest is now available for your playing enjoyment. If you need to cheat your way into enjoying it, use the code “Ojou-Sama” to set Quinta’s affection to 101.
-The fourth tournament is now available for your solo run dueling pleasure!
-Several new vacation events: Meet Yeon’s dad, go seashell hunting with Quinta and Ino, and go drinking with Gargan and the boys!
-Quinta’s post-recruitment sex scene is fully implemented. Her love quest sex scene will be out around this time tomorrow due to a (small) further delay in art assets.
-New text-only vacation sex scenes for Yeon, Gargan and Quinta.
-Hard mode has been implement with stronger enemies, less experience, limited grinding, and some more difficult puzzles and challenges. However, progress in hard mode will occasionally unlock some new goodies in the Replay Menu under the new “Unlockables” heading.
-Easy mode has been updated with a new item that lets you change your party at any time and weaker enemies.
-Yamamaya has seen some revisions- she is now partially controllable during rages, all her rages and techniques have been rebalanced,, and Meiriona will begin teachiung her new skills earlier.
-“Dual” elements have been added- it is now possible to combine the effects of the “Anti-creature” damage types with regular elemental damage. Magic using party members who have natural “Anti-creature” element types built into their weapons will now have that damage type modify their spells (ie, when Larelle is equipped with the Black Truth, all her spells will do additional damage to Angels).
-“Collectible” quests now have their own category in the Quest Log, and quests have been colour coded based on their current status.
-The Victory screen at the end of every battle has been give a general quality of life update.

The Value of an Action

Welcome back, Conash here to give another big talk about whatever game design thing has been on my mind lately! This one may seem a bit out of the blue to many of you, but I’m sure that both testers and time travels will probably have an idea about why this is on my mind recently. For the rest of you all I have to say is you might have something to look forward to in the 0.44 release in a couple of months!

So, I hope that most of you here are familiar enough with turn based RPGs like Pokemon, Final Fantasy, or this really obscure game called ‘Collect Harems’ or something to be able to understand the idea of having a certain number of things you can do in the time that enemies get their own limit of things they can do. Now I may only have personal experience to go off of, but I wanted to talk about the value of ‘actions’ as a whole, and what you have to be careful about when you ‘give’ an action and when you ‘take away’ an action as well as why not all actions are equal.

To start with, I think it’s important to mention that to me there seems to be 3 types of actions which a player can take while in ‘combat’ of some form, actions which influence ‘Damage Output’ like doing damage or buffing themselves to do more damage, ‘Damage Mitigation’ either by reducing total damage taken or making sure the damage/status effects are inflicted in a way that’s less detrimental to you, or ‘Recovery’ which is putting in effort to actively undo either damage or some other detrimental effect on you. While I can certainly see arguments that these might seem rather arbitrary, this distinction typically gets at the heart of the philosophy behind things as while choosing to have Therese use Martydom then guard is different than having Meline try to daze all your enemies both of these actions are done because you expect the damage that they’ll prevent to outweigh the damage you could have done instead if you brought Kyrie or Yamamaya instead, as you value the chance of wasting time and resources that have the fight be longer that is unneeded to prevent having to put in the resource investment that ‘Recovering’ from what might have happened would have been. Understanding this decision making process and what goes into it is fundamental when trying to give players options as if you make an easy to use ‘Recovery’ option that’s more potent than a ‘Mitigation’ option, then people will never use the ‘Mitigation’ option as it’s unsure if it’ll be useful but you do know that you can output more damage which is progress and if the bad thing happens anyways you can recovery for a similar price.

On a related note, I do believe that this decision making process applies to all games, as say a racing game would exchange the ‘Damage Output’ with instead getting farther in the race, maybe when you stay in last place until the end to have the computers rubber-band in your favor before you overtake them to ‘Mitigate’ the damage they’d do if you were in 1st the whole way through. Granted some game types don’t always have an in-built way to ‘recover’ but every game calls for the players to make decisions and take actions and the player will have to constantly assess their situation and come to a decision one way or another, regardless as to if the game waits for them or not. Though it is important to remember human limitations, even if players are entirely familiar with the situation the speed at which they have to understand their situation, remember their options, and come to a conclusion plays a big role in how much you can ‘expect’ from them, but turn-based games give players a lot of room to make decisions should they choose to make use of it, but enough of this little tangent!

Right, back to the original topic, the value of an action. The value of a single action is going to be relative to any given situation, for example if both the player and enemy has 2 actions per turn and you take away 1 of them you’ve removed 50% of the damage/healing/mitigation that either side can do, but when there’s 4 actions per turn and you take one away you remove 25% of what they can accomplish per turn. That bit is pretty simple (and deals a lot with why I’m not the biggest fan of how we have several accessories that give extra actions as those are numerically the strongest accessories in the game, giving 25-50% more damage/healing/mitigation), but it’s also important to remember that two actions even if similar aren’t always the same as I briefly touched on earlier. See if you have two identical characters except one has a 10% higher chance of getting a critical hit (which in Harem Collector means x3 damage), then that person’s attacks are on average 20% more valuable than the other character (because 10% of the time you will do 300% damage instead of 100%, meaning +200% damage every 1/10 attacks), anyone who’s overcome the third bonus boss should be familiar with this sort of concept as I went out of my way to make sure that you could not win if all your actions only had an ‘average’ output. Honestly a lot of this stuff just really gets down to math at the end of the day.

See, you may not realize it but just about everyone is crunching a lot of internal math when they play HC. I for example may go on a whole lot about how bringing Meline to inflict daze (a -60% hit chance on physical attacks that lasts for 3 turns, an average of -60% physical damage for up to 3 turns per use) helps a lot more than using Magic Missile at least early game (a 30% chance to deny the enemy 1 turn, an average of -30% damage every turn it’s used), and I came to realize this not just through theoretical number crunching but from experience when I noticed how often I didn’t get hit by an enemy that was dazed. That said, players who aren’t as interested in these numbers are usually more focused on how they only have 4 party members so bringing Meline would limit their options for the party as a whole. The players who spam attack to win? They’ve determined the time and effort to think of more complex tactics doesn’t have enough of a reward to it. This might not seem like quite as relevant, but it is actually very important when evaluating the worth of any given action, the perceived value a player’s options are.

Let’s have a little thought experiment here. Let’s say that you had a character with 2 spells that cost the same amount of MP, the first spell does twice as much damage as the second one in all cases except one fight near the end, where the second is 4x as effective. If you don’t go out of your way to hit your players over the head with this knowledge, they will expect that one fight to follow the unspoken ‘rule’ you had for the rest of the game where the first spell is stronger, and so most of them will have a harder time with the fight. See, players learn to associate a value with all their various options as they see how effective guarding is when they’re hit by a powerful attack, vs how effective it is when the attack targets someone else, or how much consistently enemies get deafened when you use sonic magic and so they decide how often to use it. You’ve gotta keep this in mind when you introduce new options to players because if you give them a new option that seems weaker, or the same but more expensive, if it doesn’t give them the same rewarding feeling as their existing set of skills then they won’t choose it even when it’s 10% better than their existing options because it’s not worth the brain power to access that memory, to make that connection, you’re exhausted from your jackass boss chewing you out for their mistake so who cares if you are only reaching 91% of your potential in this video game, you’re still stopping the evil overlord! Make sure to keep that in mind as you try to give players more ‘options’ so that they can make each action more distinct, if you give them too many choices or they aren’t as good as others they’ll probably forget them.

That’s about it… Sorry if things weren’t very clear, I’ve been having a hard time trying to string all the ideas in my head in a way that flows together for these more introspective blog posts. Hopefully there was enough meat to each of these ideas here that even if some of the connections about them are more vague or missing you can still make sense of this week’s bunch of nonsense!