Depression and Community

So I’ve got to be just about the luckiest person alive among western adult game devs.

Earlier this month, I had a pretty gnarly bout of depression. As some of you may already know, I have a mental illness known as dysthymia (also known as persistent mood disorder). It is a form of depression that is usually more mild and easier to deal with. Usually it hits pretty bad about once a month, for only a few days, and I’m able to deal with it and move on. I’m pretty used to dealing with it, plus I have a great support network at home to help me get through when I am feeling down. I’ve been feeling this way ever since I was a child- although I was only diagnosed and able to fit a name to it a few years ago- so this really isn’t anything new.

For whatever reason, this month was pretty bad, and my “down” period lasted somewhere in the neighbourhood of about two weeks. When I enter into one of these depressive phases, I become unable to focus on things for very long, and being creative becomes particularly challenging. Failure is especially difficult to deal with, and finding myself unable to write anything of substance, figure out a bit of logic or code, or even failing to make progress playing video games can shut me down for hours.

“But NoMoshing,” you may find yourself wondering, “If you’re whining about being depressed, why did you start off this blog post saying how lucky you are?”

It’s because of you all. The Harem Collector community has to be one of the most welcoming, understanding, and supporting communities in the western adult game sphere. You’ve always been patient and understanding with me when these sorts of situations crop up, and I am constantly astounded and humbled by your continued trust and support every time.

When I solicited ideas of what to write for today’s blog post on Discord, and awesome fan Sad suggested writing something about the community, this is the first thing I thought of. It is a genuine privilege to have you all as fans, and I hope I continue to be worthy of your trust in the future. You’re all so amazing, and I look forward to entertaining you even more, like always. Thank you.

Victory Barks and Tanking update

So now that my niece and nephew have quieted down after a day of babysitting that has carried on far longer than anyone anticipated, I have the time to sit down and ask for some feedback at definitely not the last minute! While any feedback is appreciated, be warned that I’m pretty exhausted right now so I may be a bit scattered and hard to understand until I get some rest and can go through this all again tomorrow.

There are a few changes in the recent 0.40 release that I’m sure people have already noticed, the first of which being the one dialogue box at the end of every battle. That little feature has certainly come with a few more bugs than it probably should have, but it’s in a relatively stable state, which now brings up a few issues that I’d much appreciate some feedback on. See, originally I had intended to work in something into the options menu so that you could have it display a message after every battle, as it currently does, after no battles, or go through a sort of algorithm where it checks how often you’ve ‘seen’ a quote from x character then randomly checks whether or not to skip that character, effectively making characters who you’ve seen multiple quotes from have a lesser chance of coming up, to help you experience quotes that you haven’t seen before. This ended up not making it into the 0.40 release for a few reasons, largely to help save on time with the intention of, well, getting people’s thoughts about which of these options they prefer now that they’ve had a chance to see the the victory barks feature at it’s theoretically most obnoxious.If the general consensus is that the system is fine, or just needs to be turned off when it gets annoying, it’d probably be best if I took the development time that I’d put into that third option and instead invest it into working on bugs or something else.

There is something else that I’d appreciate some feedback on with the victory barks. All canon party members (aside from Alina) have a level-up quote associated with them that will take priority over the standard barks if at least one person levels up. The original intention is that the one quote you see would come from your active party, though due to a bug, instead the quote is selected from anyone who levels up, which does stretch immersion some. I’ve elected to leave the bug as-is for now, as we’ve gotten some people requesting that the game plays all level up barks one after another when they happen. To me, that seems like it’d get rather tedious after awhile since each character only has one, after 30-40 level ups there’s going to be several that you’re tired of. To this end, any feedback that can be given on how important it is that level-up barks apply only to your active party or that you can only get one at a time would be much appreciated.

Finally, one last thing that I’d appreciate some feedback on! It’s come to my attention that the addition to tanking that I had mentioned awhile back has been causing some problems, in that it’s making player tanks take too many hits, to the point that keeping them alive has gotten very difficult. Some discussion with a few players has helped me figure out that what I plan to at some point in the game development process is make it so that anytime that any character ‘blocks’ an attack they get a damage reduction bonus, both on the player and enemy side, to help radically reduce the amount of damage that tanks accumulate by blocking AoEs for your side as well as helping to encourage more strategical play on the players end of things by having ‘cover’ and other similar skills reduce your damage if you don’t properly respond, but the problem with adding this in now is that it might result in making enemy tanks harder to kill and just drag out the game a lot more as the existing fights haven’t been balanced with this in mind but would be impacted by it, so it might be better to roll out with re-balancing as a whole. My other options to deal with this core issue is either turn off the AoE blocking that’s currently in the game or at least adjust the formulas so that it’ll be noticeably less likely to activate, this might make it harder to keep characters like Yeon alive as more AoEs would hit them, but trading deaths on squishy characters with deaths on your tank typically isn’t the best philosophy.

So yeah… Any thoughts would be appreciated!

Harem Collector v0.40.4

Get the latest version!

Changes in this version:
-New quest in the Ancient Mysteries questline! If you’ve completed all Ancient Mysteries quests thus far and Da Orcest Dungeon in the Save the Elves questline, Professor Antimbits  will be in touch about a new adventure!
-New quest in the Kellos  Invasion questline! If you’ve completed Circle of Strife, Shally will have new orders for you from Queen Regal.
-Upon winning a battle, occasionally your party members will have something to say!
-The Love Shop has been revised, so you can now use Heart Tokens to buy rare Daily Quest drops that you’ve missed.
-Characters with a “taunt” ability (Raina, Doll, Therese, Phantom Knight Hero,  Yamamaya, other party members under the “Sanctuary” buff) will now have a chance to protect other party members during enemy AoE attacks!
-A tiny bit of new artwork and some other small changes have been added. 

The Epic Conclusion

If you’ve been following the Patreon and/or the forums really closely, you’ll know that this has been a dramatic half-week for Harem Collector artwork. Let me break it down for you. Please read until the end, as this story has some plot twists and turns and you’re not going to be able to fully appreciate the context for everything until you get to the bottom

Back in February, SacB0y said he was getting better job offers and had to move on from working on Harem Collector because he couldn’t fit it into his schedule. Fair enough, but at this point SacB0y had been paid for most of Larelle’s sex a la carte and dungeon scenes, eight images in total, and been paid for half of Shally’s sex scene which had been especially sponsored by a fan. SacB0y told me not to worry about it, Jingzy would finish the rest of the images and he’s do lineart for the Shally scene and have Jingzy finish it off with colour and background, at which point I’d pay Jingzy the remainder of the cost of the scene. I wasn’t super happy about this turn of events at the time, but this was acceptable. If it had to happen, I’d at least have my bases covered and be able to deliver to fans and patrons.

Over the next three months, things end up being tense and awkward. I find a new artist and start working with him, SacB0y and Jingzy occasionally send me roughs and lineart to approve, but both of them blow through multiple deadlines. I try to be patient, though, keeping in mind that playing nice is the best chance I have at getting my patrons their money’s worth and trying to be professional. To Jingzy’s credit, he did eventually produce some results- the three finished images that backers got to see a couple weeks back- and he was progressing fairly well on some other images and would occasionally update me.

Cue the start of June. I’m figuring out the art budget for the month, getting pricing from Hilent for the big Therese-and-nuns foursome scene, and also giving Sac and Jing their monthly prodding. SacB0y sends me the final linearts for the Shally scene, Jing says he’s out of the house but does have completed art to send me. Awesome!

When Jingzy gets home, though, he claims that his computer isn’t starting up. He even sends me a video of him trying and showing the computer plugged in and all. This is when I start losing my temper. This art has been four months in the making, and multiple times I had been promised “Oh just one more week”. Whether or not Jingzy’s computer was actually broken was totally immaterial to me- I wouldn’t be in this situation if the artwork had just been done months earlier, as promised. So, I told Jingzy to stop worrying about it, I’d get the art from elsewhere, and ended up in a fairly bitter conversation with SacB0y where I got to express my frustration. SacB0y promises to make it up to me someday, and I truthfully tell him that I can’t believe that at this point and just ask for all the completed work to date.

Now, image my surprise when I wake up the following morning and find that SacB0y pulled a pretty damn heroic all-nighter to get the Shally scene completed as a means of making it up to me.

So now, I’ve had a chance to calm down over the situation, do some math, and figure things out. SacB0y finished the Shally scene, without me having to hand over the other half of the payment, too, which did a lot towards mollifying me. I have four mostly completed Larelle images from Jingzy (an example heads this entire post) and I’ve spoken to an artist I trust about getting them finished. When you do the math on all the costs, the value of everything so far lands somewhere between the price SacB0y originally charged me and what it would cost to get replacement art from Hilent.

Considering how the cost of lewd art has risen between when SacB0y and I first struck our agreement almost two years ago, I am pretty satisfied with this outcome. I respect SacB0y a lot more now than I did a few weeks ago- he took responsibility for the situation and did what could to immediately resolve it. More importantly, the guy who sponsored the Shally scene was very happy with the outcome, and immediately offered to sponsor more art from Hilent.

As for Jingzy, in hindsight the impression that I got was that he had a lot of work dumped on him at a very inconvenient time, while he was realatively inexperienced at working for commission. He did apologize and give his blessing to have his work get finished elsewhere, and while I probably wouldn’t hire him again at this point, I don’t bear him any ill will.

So hopefully you read through all of this. It’s been a bit of a trip, with various up and downs. Again, I’d like to reiterate that I’m satisfied with how things wound up, so please don’t go making trouble for either Jingzy or SacB0y. The remaining Larelle art I’ll have to get done by someone else, in due time, but I’ll take that over the increasingly bitter situation we had before.

Anyway, if you have any questions on how things turned out, please feel free to ask away in the comments. Look forward to the backer stream this Saturday and the public release is on schedule for next week. I’ll see you then!

The Newest Member of the Team

Far, far ahead of schedule, she arrived, eager to work on providing awesome, free hentai games for everyone (18 years or older) to enjoy! Meet… Kaguya!

Kaguya is a Lenovo “Legion” gaming PC with an Intel i7 processor, NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1060 graphics card, 8GB DDR RAM, and my heart <3. She is too thicc to sit on the PC shelf below my desk, so for the time being, at least, she’s hanging out up top where I can lovingly caress her….

Jokes aside, it’s been so long since I had a genuinely great computer that I’m seriously really excited about this. The PC that I’ve been using for most of Harem Collector’s development, Abyss, was a pure utility model, with no graphics card, a faulty internal wireless card, meant to just be a word processor and internet terminal. Streaming with it while having RPG Maker or an old game open was straining the poor thing to it’s limit.

Now hopefully Kaguya lasts for another eight years of hentai game design and crafting!

The Life of a Tank

It’s been awhile! Hope you all are enjoying Iron Waifu, I know I’ve had a few surprises myself, and several not so surprises, but it seems to be turning out very well. The voting numbers tell a bit of an interesting story compared to last year but perhaps it’d be better to get into that after all is said and done, needless to say we’re very happy to see the how things have been turning out this year!

Now, it’s been awhile since I’ve made a post so it’d be a good idea for me to talk about what I’ve been working on and while I probably could go into the new victory barks feature that we’ve got I’d rather talk about that after the upcoming release as there’s still a lot of odds and ends I’m ironing out there, instead let’s talk about tanks in RPGs in general.

See, I’m sure that we can easily identify a character that’s got a lot of HP, that has high defensive stats, maybe it’s a character who gets a lot of super armor, that’s not hard to find, but something that I’ve noticed in a lot of games that I’ve played throughout the years is that while you can find MANY tanks, there’s a lot fewer successful tanks, at least in the games that I play. What do I mean by that? Simple, a successful tank isn’t just about being able to take punishment but it needs to take punishment instead of the rest of the party, after all being basically unkillable rarely is the key to success (though there’s been a few fights when I found it easier to solo a boss with my unmovable rock character than waste items keeping party members alive), instead if you have a character who skipped out on other things to pursue (damage, speed, healing, buffing, debuffing, etc.) to focus on it’s own defensive abilities it needs to be able to supplement the other important roles by making sure the rest of the team can do those with very little issue, and it’s very important to keep this in mind because if a tank cannot prevent damage going to other allies in one way or another then you’re not apart of the team you exist next to the team. I’ve seen a number of people who try to play say tabletop games thinking that simply having high HP or defense is enough to make them a tank, when in actuality the party only lives thanks to the DM being generous and intentionally attacking the hard to kill character even when there is little or no penalty for attacking another character and a much bigger reward (like taking out the cleric or wizard), so keep that in mind if you plan to play the ‘tank’, if you don’t have a way to ensure that damage doesn’t go to your teammates then you might want to figure out a way to do that.

“But Conash,” you begin, “what does any of this have to do with what you’ve been working on?” Well to get to the point, I have not been happy with how tanks behave in HC for quite awhile now, on either end but for two different problems. Let’s start with the player side since you the player obviously will be playing from that end, in HC NoMoshing did a great job setting up equipment, skills, and classes to take advantage of the innate ‘Threat’ system in RPG Maker VX Ace, if you ever decide to join me and RomeoPapa in our pursuit of more difficult challenges in HC you’ll learn very quickly just how important threat management is to taking on quests above your weight class, I really like the threat system in HC, and have even made use of it for some hidden little details (Try checking out Yamamaya or Bronwyn’s status page during ‘Elf Half Empty’ sometime), but the threat system has a very big flaw in it that’s become more and more of an issue as the game progresses. See, threat impacts who an enemy targets when they choose someone on your team, but when they throw out an AoE attack, one which hits ‘everyone’? Well that ignores threat entirely, leaving characters like Yeon completely at the mercy of how often enemies spam this, as your tanks have no way to keep her safe. This issue has been a growing complaint for quite awhile, so with the help of ShadowCluster, I managed to put together a brand new feature into the game, player blocking! I’m sure that you’re all familiar with times that enemies will block your attacks no matter what (and I’ll get to all the problems there in a second) but never saw it happen on your end (because it was happening a step before where they flat out didn’t target the low threat characters to begin with), well in this upcoming update you’ll finally be able to see that! The game will now include a system where a character with a ‘Taunt’ status (like Martyrdom, Font of Life, Phalanx, Attract, or similar skills) will have a chance to ‘block’ the hit a character would receive from AoE attacks, the formula to determine this is based off of threat chance but the basics are that if the tank has high threat and the targeted character has low threat you’ll have a better chance of blocking the hit. This little effect requires a taunt skill since some characters can get threat ratings so low (Elaiya) that they’d never take an AoE hit otherwise, and while it’s important that a tank can do their job it’s also important that if they’re dieing that you don’t have to worry about them taking all 4 hits from an AoE every round while you try to heal them up. Though if you plan to bring multiple tanks keep in mind that it rolls the ‘block’ chance based for whoever is in the first party slot, followed by the second, third, etc. until someone successfully blocks, so if you plan to use Yamamaya to block the occasional attack and Therese to pick up the rest put Yamamaya in first otherwise she probably won’t even get a chance unless Therese misses (also if a character does have a taunt skill up, no one else can ‘block’ for them, this one’s hard-coded). The formula may need some tweaking if it turns out to be too eager to activate, but I am still very happy with the general outline of the system as it puts a high amount of the control of the mechanic in the player’s hands, allowing you all to adjust it to your liking! Also little pro-tip: If you’re having trouble with say Force Barrage, if you can try to get someone to activate a taunt skill then guard like crazy, since you can’t be knocked down while you’re guarding so this would help let you protect your lower threat party members from the occasional status effect.

Now, this all probably sounds great right? I certainly think so, but some of you might be wondering why I had to create my own formula (or ask ShadowCluster to make one more precisely), rules, and basically create a new mechanic like this when enemies are already able to do this sorta thing, that brings us to my issues with enemy tanks. See, threat doesn’t work on enemies because surprisingly having a 100% invisible parameter on the enemies that has no actual gameplay impact isn’t very effective at convincing players to not kill that very deadly mage instead of going after the tank in front of them who isn’t a big threat on their own, and because of this we have to rely on the substitute mechanic in RPG Maker for enemy tanks. I absolutely loathe the substitute mechanic, and while I’m usually very quick to blame Enterbrain for any and all issues I have with RPG Maker, this mechanic I’ve found as common practice even in Final Fantasy games so it’d be unfair to single out Enterbrain. See, substitute works in that a character who gets marked with the substitute flag will 100% of the time block any hits targeting characters with low enough HP (usually below 25% or 10% max HP), unless the person with the flag has some kind of status effect or something else that stops them. The problem with this is that it’s inherently useless for roughly 75%-90% of the battle, and then after that? Nothing gets through, making it so that players who have no hard-counters can’t do anything except work their way through the tank. On top of that because these flags are rarely, if ever, permanent you need to spend one of your very limited actions hoping that one of your characters will be at a low enough threshold for you to defend them, without dying before you go, and that your defense of them will matter (if they don’t get targeted it was a wasted action). No matter how you run the math, 9 times out of 10 you’re just better off healing the person instead of bothering to deal with this terrible mechanic to keep people from dying. This isn’t even getting into the issues of the 100% chance issue can easily put the tank in a position where they’re taking way too much damage to keep up as more and more characters fall into the threshold or how it offers players no customization of prioritizing certain characters over others… That said, as highly critical as I am of this mechanic (and I hope that you can see why I prefer my innate blocking chance system for players over this) we use it for enemy tanks in HC largely out of necessity, we have no other tools we can use to have enemies influence who you attack. I plan to down the road mess with the formula so that it scales, in a way so that as the enemy loses more HP the chance to substitute grows making substitution an all-present annoyance but never a hard road-block (if you have no counters), while still preserving the general intention behind it. Until then though, I think that I’ll experiment with a few other tank improvisations, for example since one of the two new bosses in this upcoming update fills a tank role, I figured that I’d take a page out of the ‘Warder’ book from Path of War, and give them the ability to give you a rather noticeable miss chance on all your abilities that don’t target them (for a limited time). I’ll probably have to tweak a lot of the numbers here but I think figuring out alternate tanking strategies is going to become integral for supplementing the substitution mechanic in creating tanks as a whole.

I’ve probably rambled on quite a lot about the importance for a tank to be able to control aggro, so instead of going into a big long rant about how to properly control aggro in the Tales of games, I’ll call it here. Please feel free to share any questions, comments, or concerns as you see fit!

Some Good News, Finally

So, something good happened to me this past weekend.

A relative of mine sent me a cheque, for a large but not huge amount of money (I know this is super relative- it’s more than I make in a month but less than I make in a year, let me put it that way). Apparently, they sold some property that used to belong to my father, and felt I deserved to get a piece.

Now, of course, I did some dumb and not-so-dumb stuff with a bit of the money, as anyone would when they receive an unexpected windfall. Getting some work done on the house, bought a copy of Kirby Super Star for my retro game collecton, that sort of thing.

But I can’t with a clear conscience enjoy this windfall without contributing to the same project that you all are- that is, Harem Collector, and Bad Kitty Games in general.

Those of you who follow me when I stream will know that I’ve been having more and more frequent hardware problems. Abyss, my PC, and Meido, my laptop, have both been having more and more frequent issues. I’ve been reluctant to switch to new hardware up to this point, as doing so would require me siphoning out of the (already plenty disrupted) art budget. I was waiting for something in the formula to change- either the Patreon gets a big hike, or I save up enough bellmarks and Tim Hortons coupons, or Abyss finally becomes irrepairable and I have to do *something*.

Well, something happened- I got this windfall. So, without having to take any money from my awesome backers or HC development at all, I can replace at least my work PC and, if I can, also the lappy.

Also, I’m looking to accelerate some of my own art. It’ll depend on what costs how much and how everything shakes out, but there are a few sex scenes which I’d like to have finished that aren’t connected to any particular character but would be pretty pricey to have done, so it’s a hard thing to justify when there are so many main cast harem girls who are lacking in art.

So just thought I’d share what’s going on. Hopefully this doesn’t inspire anyone to leave- I’m not suddenly rich or something- I just wanted to share my good fortune and what this means for Bad Kitty Games.

Hope you’re enjoying Iron Waifu, and I’ll see you all later!

Keep On Keeping On

Fuck, I missed another blog post Wednesday again….

So, there’s a lot of crazy stuff going on in my life right now. Rest assured that, even if I can’t always communicate effectively or stream every day, that I make keeping my promises to backers and supporters of Bad Kitty Games my top priority.

The next release is shaping up to be pretty good. While it might not have all the bells and whistles compared to the last few releases, there will be two new quests and there is an extra secret or two to uncover, plus some new sprites and art to enjoy.

As for the reason why it’s been so hectic for me lately, it’s a dogpile of several factors. Tax season, mother-in-law’s medical situation, upcoming vacation (which we will hopefully still get to go on…), spring cleaning and repair, etc. It’s just a lot of stuff, and while I mostly have it under control, some of my non-game-development duties have suffered. Sorry!

Anyway, that’s it for this week. Any bets on if I’ll remember for next Wednesday?

The Most Wonderful (Waifu) Time of the Year!

It’s May! Spring is (mostly) here, nature is blooming, birds are singing…and it’s the perfect time to pit the lovely ladies of HC is a no-holds barred tournament to the (sticky?) finish. That’s right, it’s Iron Waifu!

I, Nekochan, shall be your ever so humble guide to this year’s edition of Iron Waifu!

For those who are new or those just would like a refresher, during the month of May, everyday there will be a poll on the forum, featuring two of the ladies in HC. Anyone registered for said forum may vote once each day. The girl who gets the most votes moves on while the girl who loses is likely tortured in some sexy fashion by Hero for her failure. (Personal headcanon, may not actually happen)

If any ties occur, I get the the completely impartial and in no way biased tiebreaker vote. Does a match-up look like it’s going to the wire? May be time to sell me on the virtues of the fair maiden you want to see win!

Today’s (almost over match-up) is Brigadine vs Evanie. If you haven’t already please take the time to vote! Tomorrow`s will be a battle of the newbies Miri and Pandora! Who shall win? Nap-time waifu or the waifu who may be literally made of iron? (I dunno, NoMoshing won’t commit to what Pandora is made of)

The remaining match-ups for the preliminary rounds can also be found on the forum. They were selected at random via a RPG maker script that was viewed live at the last backer stream! (Plug plug)

Speaking of backer streams, the dates for the next ones have been confirmed:

  • May 4th from 3 to 6 pm EST
  • May 19th from 3 to 6pm EST

As always the first hour will be NoMoshing playing a PC game while our noble viewers get the giggles out of their system. The remaining time will be NoMoshing working on HC while the chat tries their damnedest to distract him by discussing the minutiae of Middle Kingdom economics or absurd fan theories (like Natya is the third secret sister of Therese and Alina! They all have brown hair in this technicolour harem – it must be true!).

I assume that for the month of May, the backer stream will be the best way to get the real-time thoughts and feelings about how Iron Waifu is progressing. (Fair warning, I may be the poutiest of Nekoes if too many of my cinnamon rolls get voted out) That, or the HC discord.

Anyhoo, thanks one and all and we hope to see you on the forums as you, the fans, determine who is the (4th) best waifu!

A Little Break

This past week I took a bit of a surprise break from work- thanks to everyone who was affected, particularly those of you who watch the silent streaming on weekdays. I really appreciate your patience as I go about sorting my shit out.

It was just a case that between all the cross-promotions, building the website, taking care of Nekochan with her twisted ankle, helping Nekochan take care of her sick mother, and everything, I was getting tense and angry all the time, and Conash finally convinced me to take some time off to relax and get my feet back under myself.

So I spent some time just kind of chilling out, playing lots of Breath of Fire 2 (thanks, people at the Devstream last Saturday!), picking up the Switch release of Wasteland 2, and fussing over the Song of Ice and Fire RPG campaign I’m currently playing in. It was nice, I got over (most of) my stress, and I think I’m ready to tqckle the challenges coming up ahead.

First of all- the Crystalline Village some of you may have seen me working on during the afternoon devstreaming- that might have to rest for a bit. I have a detailed idea in mind for a series of puzzles for that dungeon, and they require an intricate series of tiles from Kumiho- probably the biggest single bag of assets I’ve ever ordered from her.

For now, I’m moving on to the other quest we had planned for this cycle- the first real showdown between the military forces of the Middle Kingdom and the might of Kellos! The Hero will be bravely wading into battle on a special mission to seek out and destroy the Kellosian leadership and help turn the tide in the Middle Kingdom’s favour. If he successfully blunts the Kellosian’s forward advance, the way will be open to take back Eastfort… but what if Barst intervenes?

Well, you’ll just have to play and find out!