Important Stuff

When I first started working at a restaurant under a real, honest-to-goodness chef, he told me “Treat everything you make as being representative of yourself.” And I try, I really do. But with disastrous releases like last week’s and October’s, I can’t help but examine if what I’m producing is a what I want people associating with me.

I’m not talking content, here- while I agonize over what I’m eventually going to tell my mother, if the rest of the world doesn’t like what I do they can blow me- but quality. The number of bugs and problems in HC releases seems to be getting worse and worse, and every month of development time seems to end in a pell-mell hail mary rush to finish content, with a minimum of testing and, well, craft.

Part of this is that the complexity of the game has increased. At the very beginning of HC’s development, it was relatively easy to add a new character- design the character, her class, make some cool skills, place her in the manor, done. Nowadays the process of making a new character also involves art assets (sprite + face set), writing dialogue for and then coding the gift process, on-demand sex scene CGs, adding them to the scene replay script, adding them to the manor assault quest (if applicable), making unique(ish) relationship rewards, etc. And this is just an example of how the game has gotten bigger and more complicated and more time consuming to create.

On top of that, there are a ton of orphaned features in the game that need finishing. Lumberhill, party banter, the Seeker’s Stone, and others that I’ve been neglecting in a rush to just get more new stuff done. Things that I decided to get to when I could, and just hasn’t risen back to the top of the stack because the current design cycle prioritizes new content.

Now, I’m not complaining- I love working on Harem Collector and I don’t mind working hard to create a great game- but I do want to explain, publicly, the decisions I make. Because of all this, I’m making the difficult decision to lengthen the design cycle. From now on, updates will be done every two months instead of every month, with the next update being February 12th for backers and February 19th for the public. I’m hoping that the longer design cycle will be enough so that I can deliver on content, fix up orphaned features in the game, have no more new orphaned features, and do a decent level of QC and bug hunting before you receive the game.

That’s it. I hope we’re all in for a better and more exciting new year than the last.

Once More, With Feeling

Nekochan: The new quest is broken. I can’t get the key to work on the thing.

No Moshing: Oh, okay. I can check on that. Do you mind re-playing the quest again, or do you want me to skip you ahead to where you don’t need the key anymore?

Nekochan: Is it okay to skip ahead?

No Moshing: It’s 11PM on Christmas Eve. What could possibly go wrong with the one little room?

Version December_3:
 

Harem Collector December 2013

4Shared Download

ZippyShare Download

MEGA Upload

List of Changes:

-“Harem” Menu option re-enabled, but is probably buggy somehow. You have been warned.

-Westcastle Outer District has been re-designed to be less total shit and have a bunch of semi-interesting stuff to see.

-There is a new Adventurer’s Guild quest guest starring Gargan in Westcastle. Go check it out.

-Once you reach 15 Fame, you will now be invited to become a Journeyman of the Adventurer’s Guild! You even get another little party and everything!

-There have been some small bug fixes, but not nearly as much as I’d like there to be.

-Merry Christmas and happy fapping from me and the entire Harem Collector team!

Edit: Fixed the most pressing bugs and uploaded a new version. The opening, the Christmas present code, and new quest should all work properly now. Also, I only uploaded it to Zippyshare because I don’t have enough time to upload it three times.

Fixed

Character (and other stuff) Inspirations, Part II

Okay, time to catch up on giving you behind-the-scenes information and what inspired the various characters and elements in Harem Collector. Check out Part I over here.
Oh, and beware of spoilers!

Chimei: I knew from the get-go that I wanted some kind of druid or shaman or other nature-magic-user in the game, and knew I wanted a semi-optional character available to purchase in the slave market. Putting the two together was easy enough but the character lacked any personality or gimmick. I forget when I decided to have everything she says in Japanese, but I like the joke and it gave me something to focus on and build her personality around.

By the way, I am not even remotely fluent in Japanese. Her dialogue is mostly courtesy of TV Tropes’ Stock Japanese Phrases and Google.

Felix: He began life as a band-aid. Free magic healing because too many people were complaining about the game’s difficulty. However, once I made him the idea of having a Sancho Panza-style foil for the main character, being a straight man to the hero’s frequent bizarre behaviour, just seemed to work. There was a niche that needed filling in the game and Felix just happened to fall into place there. I think that’s why he’s become such an unexpectedly popular character.

Florine: Florine is based largely off of Ran from Edelweiss. Plus, I though the idea of a gold-digging slave who willingly accepts the collar in exchange for a life of relative luxury was a funny concept, and went with it. I would like to say more, but I don’t want to spoil things that aren’t actually in the game yet, but let’s just say that Flroine plays a bigger role in the game than I think most people expect. Her name is a slightly more feminine sounding version of florin, the gold coinage used by the city of Florence, Italy in the medieval era.

Gargan and Raina: When I created the Adventurer’s Guild, I wanted it to feel important to the hero and his story and not just a place where you grabbed the occasional quest. Raina and her family, I think, does that. Raina is a fairly basic girl next door type, lorded over by a father who disapproves of the hero. Raina dates a bunch of other guys, but in her heart of hearts she would prefer to be with the hero. While Xaven (Raina’s dad) simply disapproved of the hero’s selfishness and womanizing, Gargan’s rivalry with the hero is a little more personal. Initially it seemed kinda empty and lacked emotional resonance, but then I made the extended introduction and had Gargan steal all the hero’s stuff. That seemed to do the trick.

By the way, in this month’s update Gargan joins the party as a temporary member for one quest, and his fighting style was inspired by the freeflow combat in the Batman: Arkham whatever series.

Ino: Like Chimei and Raina, Ino was initially created because I had a function in the game that need filling- that of an enchantress to apply magic upgrades to weapons. I had it in my head for awhile to have the hero “adopt” a girl in the hopes of making her fall in love with him by the time she’s 18, and I also wanted to show some of Felix’s classmates who did not have his talent for magic or adventurous spirit. From this tangle of separate ideas, Ino was born.

Her recruitment quest was initially going to be a homage to Lilka’s introduction in Wild Arms 2, where Ino would be sent to a magical maze as part of her exam, and cheat by teleporting the hero in with her. They would then explore the dungeon together, with the hero being the only competent character and Ino being level 1, having only Magic Missile and starting with half her Mana gone. Because I was lazy, though, I made the current version of her recruitment quest- which I think ultimately works better and offers a different sort of experience. I might bring back the Ino dungeon crawl dealie for her Love quest, though.

Penelope: When you’re making games with large casts, you have to sort of expect that you’re not going to knock it out the park every time. In terms of Sengoku Rance, for every Kenshin, Isoroku or <3Senhime<3, you’re going to have a character like Yuzuhara Yuzumi or Okita Nozomi, who are perfectly serviceable characters but aren’t exactly exciting or interesting. Penelope was made with that in mind, with my goal being a likeable-but-ordinary character without making her completely bland.

Serade: Serade has had a fairly interesting development from my perspective. She was always intended to be a MILF-type older character, but initially I intended to have the hero basically kidnap her from her family and enslave her by force. Most people seemed to not like that, so I altered her character so she’s been abandoned by her ex-husband and is having to raise two kids by herself in a mercilessly capitalist society, and is thus open to the idea of being the hero’s fuck toy, but also being financially taken care of for the rest of her life.

One of her boys is into SpinBattlers, an in-universe parody of Beyblade. Originally, that kid was going to introduce the hero to a minigame that would let you challenge people the world over to games of SpinBattlers for cash and items. I couldn’t get the minigame to work, however, and it probably wouldn’t have been very fun anyway.

Dark Seeds: As I’ve mentioned elsewhere, I’m a fan of Lost Odyssey, and I’m also a fan of Illusion of Gaia. I wanted a collection-type sidequest in Harem Collector, similar to the Seeds from the former game and the Red Jewels from the latter, and mashed the two ideas together to come up with the whole Dark Seed thing. The Dark Seed buyer in the Slums is my take on Gem the Jeweler. By the way, the Dark Seeds in Harem Collector have nothing to do with the Dark Seed PC game from back in the day… or do they?

No Caves Allowed: Have you ever noticed how many RPG Maker hentai games open up with a cave dungeon? Harem, Invasion D, Overwhored… don’t get me wrong, I like all those games, but I don’t see what makes caves so interesting you want to open up with one. So I made it sort of a personal challenge to delay putting caves in Harem Collector as long as possible. I lost that battle back in August, but that’s why the the first quest takes place in the back rooms of a bar.

I also like pushing myself to make every dungeon memorable. I don’t think I’ve repeated myself (correct me if I’m wrong) and I’m going to continue trying to make dungeons unique experiences throughout Harem Collector.

Orcs: The biology of the Orcish race is another mash-up of concepts from different video games, in this case the fungal nature of orks from Warhammer 40k and the Asari race from Mass Effect. I’m a pretty big fan of Mass Effect, actually, as evidenced by one of the bonus satisfaction items. When the hero mocks the orc raiders for their “we were a beautiful people” thing, that’s actually a reference to one of the goofier lines that Batarian multiplayer characters spout in Mass Effect 3 multiplayer.

The Giant’s Path
: Speaking of dungeons, The Giant’s Path was inspired by Mt. Kolts from Final Fantasy 3/J6. That was the earliest dungeon in an RPG I can remember that really made an impression on me, especially since previous to that the only RPGs I had ever played were Final Fantasy 1, Final Fantasy 2/J4, and Dragon Warrior, where 90% of the dungeons between those three games are caves. Mt. Kolts had absolutely breathtaking art, and really struck home to me just what a “dungeon” in a game could be.

Well, that’s all for now folks. I have a lot of work to do to get ready for next week’s release, so I’d better get back to it.

Harem Collector: Fairy Side Explained

Hi everybody, first of all let me say thank you very much for last week’s outpouring of support and general good feels. I am constantly shocked and amazed at how the h-game community defies pretty much everything anyone has ever said about the internet. You guys rock.
Secondly, you should know that the backers-only release for December will be on the 18th, which means the public release will be Christmas Day*.If general holiday stuff conspires to keep me busy all day on the 25th, then the public release will be on the night of the 24th, and I’ll keep you updated if that should come to pass.
Thirdly, there’s going to be a bit of holiday present goodness in it for you all, because a long-requested character will finally get a sex scene with the Hero. Post your wild speculation below, so I can amuse myself at your expense.
Finally, I will now answer the burning question that some of you have: What, exactly, is Harem Collector: Fairy Side?
MagicWhiteLady has been a good friend of mine for a very long time, and has been very supportive of HC despite that the sex in HC is not generally the sort of thing she finds attractive. Not only is she lending her art and web design skills to Harem Collector and Bad Kitty Games respectively, she also proposed to me the idea of a spin-off game, set in the same universe as Harem Collector but more relevant to her interests. That’s Harem Collector: Fairy Side.
Fairy Side will take place in the Harem Collector world, but in a different country with a different group of characters. As the title suggests, the protagonist is a changeling, a lesser kind of Fae creature with the ability to shapeshift. This ability of the protagonist’s is what provides the main gameplay difference between the two games- the changeling can determine her own gender before any given sex scene, showing you something different depending on whether you choose to have her be male, female or a futa.
I’m collaborating with MWL on some of the writing and game design, so expect the same sense of humour and nifty mechanics that are Harem Collector’s hallmark. You won’t have to play both games to get the full experience of either one, but if you’re the kind of person who loves game lore you’ll definitely want to play both. Please direct all other questions to MWL herself, because as of right now the project is in a pre-production sort of mode and I don’t know all the details.
Oh, and just in case you’re worried, both games are going to developed side by side, so there will be no change to the amount of time and work I’m putting towards the original HC.
*If the timing of this offends you for whatever reason, look at a calendar doofus- I came by it naturally.

November 2013 Public Release

Links:
 First of all, a couple important pieces of news:
One, the donation button has climbed the sidebar. This is because as of very recently, I’m established a game company (Bad Kitty Games Co.) and decided to start doing this as part of my living. I am going to start using donations as part of my income, and the more money you donate the more time I’ll be able to spend working on Harem Collector and less time working a job that my mother approves of.
I don’t intend to hold the game hostage for your donations or anything like that- work will proceed on Harem Collector regardless because I have a lot of fun making it. But your money will give me more time to devote to making the game bigger and better, and enable me to send gifts to some of the volunteers who have made HC so awesome.
As always, donors get the newest version of the game one weeks earlier than everyone else, plus Nekochan’s exclusive Harem Collector Player’s Guide, plus an optional credit in the game, plus the inside track on everything else going on at Bad Kitty Games.
Two, I’ve received a couple emails asking whether I’m going to put up an Amazon Wishlist  or somesuch so interested individuals could send me Christmas presents. While I appreciate the thought, I’m not going to do that. What I really would love as a holiday gift would be a TV Tropes page for Harem Collector and those are free. If you absolutely want to spend money on me, just donate it.
Three, early in the new year we’ll be launching the official Bad Kitty Games website, which will serve as a hub for all things Harem Collector, Dungeon Assault and BKG-related. To coincide with that, Magic White Lady will be doing the first release of Harem Collector: Fairy Side, a sister game to Harem Collector involving a whole bunch of gender-bending and futanari that you have asked for and will soon receive. Contact MagicWhiteLady for more information.
Finally, the changes:
-There is now a gallery mode where you can unlock all your various sex scenes across all playthroughs!
-All characters now join the party at one level below the Hero.
-Florine’s item shops now have an option to sell all vendor trash.
-The inventory screen is now broken down by category.
-Alina no longer keeps track of quests for you- there is a quest log available in the game menu to do that for you.
-New sex scene CGs for Elaiya, Doll, Lilac and Violet, plus you can down demand sex from Alina at any time.
-Meline’s skill Heretical Censure has been modified to prevent overlap with the Guilt Trip-style prayers.
-The Northmarket Wealthy District map has been revamped. Let me know what you think!

Edit: Even newer version with less annoying!

Stabby Things

Well, that was fun- serious business followed by a post from Nekochan! This week I get my amateur history buff on and talk weapon design.

Hero’s Greatsword
The hero’s weapon is actually based on a zweihander- that is, an actual zweihander and isn’t just an anime-style BFS. The blade is just over four feet long, but only about an inch and a half wide, and at that size the blade almost looks delicate. It’s too long to draw from a sheath of course, so the hero just carries it over one shoulder like you would a polearm. The hilt sweeps upward slightly, and the grip is about ten inches long. The dtraw doll charm dangling off the pommel in Meline’s Halloween pic is accurate.
Therese’s Sabre
While I refer to Therese’s blade as a sabre in-game, it’s actually an Eastern European design referred to as a szabla. The blade is just over thirty inches and curves sharply back. The last five inches or so of the blade is double edged and thicker than the lower part, which adds weight to the tip. The grip, true to sabres, is for one hand and features a full hand guard. The hilt is decorated with a pair of feathered wings wrought in silver- the symbol of Therese’s order.
Yamamaya’s Axe
Yamamaya’s original axe, the flint axe, is really simple- literally a sharp chunk of flint about the size of a PS1 strapped to a five foot long shaft of ash wood. With the Orcish axe blade added in place of the flint, it more resembles an actual axe more, in the old bronze age style. That is, the blade doesn’t feature a beard at all- it’s literally a steel wedge about eight inches wide with a blade about six inches long. No subtlety or utility beyond just wrecking shit.
Elaiya’s Pistols
Elaiya’s guns are actually wheel-lock pistols, though I think in the game they are referred to as flintlocks. Similar to the case with Therese’s weapon, I went with the more widely-known term to give a better impression to the player. Due to magic, the guns actually work more like super-high-tech electronic guns- each charge and ball is held in series in the barrel, and the striking wheel is enchanted to touch off each charge in sequence so the weapon functions like a modern semiautomatic autoloader. Between battles, Elaiya loads each gun and winds the mechanism.
Of course, one function of adding the fairy dust to Elaiya’s powder is that her powder bag is self-replenishing, so her guns never run out. Magic is also probably the reason that A) the blacksmith is able to make depleted uranium balls, B) how the depleted uranium balls never run out and C) how Elaiya is able to carry a bunch of depleted uranium with her.
Kyrie’s Wand
Kyrie’s wand is probably the simplest weapon in the whole team. What makes it interesting is the materials, which, of course, have to be all cool and magic-y. So her wand is a slightly tapered 16” rod of meteoric iron, about 1/2” across at the base. It’s polished so that the odd lines and striations of the meteoric metal stand out, and a grip is made by cross-winding a strip of Sphinx-skin leather around the lower five inches. Yeah, I know Sphinxes have humanoid bits, but let’s face it- the Harem Collector world is full of plenty of weird already. Just roll with it.
Meline’s Staff
Meline’s weapon probably started life as some kind of walking stick or something she picked up at the market in the belief that an angel-powered magical girl should have a staff. Other than acting as a weak focusing tool, it probably wasn’t anything special- until you add the Channeler’s Orb you get from Larelle. Now topped with an actual purple magic crystal thingy, Meline’s able to more effectively channel mana for her prayers.
Some of you might be wondering how a magical doohickey gotten from Larelle (who uses magic spells) is able to help out Meline (who channels angelic power in response to her prayers). The answer is: shut up, because you’re making wizards look bad. Magic and prayers are clearly entirely two different things, and shouldn’t be compared even when they are suspiciously similar.
Doll’s Mace
Doll’s weapon, like Elaiya’s, is going to be another one where I say “because magic” a lot. The first stage of Doll’s weapon isn’t actually a mace per se, but rather a cudgel- a simple piece of hardwood you beat people with, about 2′ long. With the addition of the studded skull, which is clearly magically reinforced and not going to just shatter on her first really solid hit, it actually has a legit striking surface. Doll isn’t particularly fearsome, but I think having this badass-looking, metal-inspired weapon makes for a good visual joke… whenever she actually gets official art.
It wasn’t planned that way though. The process went like this:
1: Finish the Zombie Bard and realize he needs to drop an upgrade.
2: Realize Doll is the only character at the time who really needs an upgrade.
3: Try to figure out what a zombie could drop that would upgrade a mace.
4: Make the Iron-Studded Skull and knock off early to play Arkham Asylum.
Larelle’s Knife
One of Larelle’s “things” about her character is that she’s actually a lot more robust than the other magic-user-types in the game, and one of the things I wanted her weapon choice to reflect was that she was prepared to throw down on occasion. Add in the sinister side of her personality, and I came up with the ritual knife.
The knife blade itself is a sharply angled spike of metal, like a rondel dagger, about 6” long and etched with runes. The hilt and the inlay of the fuller are inscribed with a brambles and skull design. Larelle probably dug it up out of that tomb she was in, and started using it because it looked cool to her Hot Topic sensibilities.
Chimei’s Fan
I really didn’t want Chimei to have a fan at first, obviously since she had the Simple Bow for a long time, but I eventually realized I wanted Felix to be unique in being a magic-user type with a normal weapon. All the other magic-users have weapons that buff their Magic as well as a small bonus to Attack, and I wanted Chimei to join the club. The problem is that Eastern magic traditions seem to use the same tools as Western magic and staves, wands, and daggers were all spoken for. I considered using paper wards for awhile, but came up with a fan because it’s a pain in the ass to think of upgrade items that would work with a stack of paper strips.
The fan right now looks like any other Japanese hand fan, bamboo wanes supporting a solid blue silk flappy surface bit (Wikipedia didn’t know the technical term for that part of a fan). It’s not actually constructed for use as a weapon, like tessen or gunsen, but in a binch Chimei can whack an enemy with it. BTW, Chimei’s first upgrade is going to be a priority for the next update.
Felix’s Slingshot
Felix’s slingshot started out as a typical Bart Simpson/Dennis the Menace-style wooden slingshot, but goes to weird places pretty much right away. With the addition of the Mechanism Parts, it now has a long armguard on which rests the auto-winding mechanism for the band. Felix still have to load the bullets by hand, though- that’s why it’s only “semiautomatic”… for now.

That Social Justice Thing

First of all, important updates:

-I’ve been shitty about replying to bug reports and stuff lately because I had some personal stuff to deal with over the last few days. Sorry about that, I’m back as of today, though I might not get around to checked the various fora until this afternoon.

-How did everyone enjoy the Halloween pinups? MagicWhiteLady wanted to make a big splash when she started being social, and worked really hard on those.

-The reason why there was a sudden update with the image archives and all was because there was a game-breaking bug in the game that I wanted to fix because it was almost impossible to avoid unless you knew what you were doing. I agonized over it for a few days before deciding the just say “fuck it” and drop the new update even though it had stuff I wanted to save for November. And, of course, it still has bugs, because fml.

-Tomorrow, I’m going to be participating in N7 Day from 12-5pm GMT. All that time I’ll be playing ME3 multiplayer on my Xbox, doing silver & gold matches and hanging out so if you’re interested in hooking up for a group send me an email at the usual place.

Now for something completely different….

Some of you have noticed and commented on the lack of nonwhite characters in Harem Collector. And, well, you’re absolutely right to, racism is a problem and it can be pretty insidious. It was never my intention to have HC contain exclusively white characters, though, and MagicWhiteLady is working on some new sprites so other skin colours will get represented in game.

The lack of nonwhite characters in video games really saddens and frustrates me, to be honest. Not because I don’t feel like I’m represented, I am white, but I don’t find that heroes or protagonists with different skin tones bug me. In fact, GTA: San Andreas is one of my favourite games of all time regardless of the hero’s skin colour- I’m a sucker for literary remakes and the Count of Monte Cristo is one of my favourite books.

The frustrating part actually comes from my background as a business student. I wouldn’t call myself a capitalist, but I do believe that the market should be and can be fair and equal with respect to ethnicity, sexual preference, skin colour, etc. However, when the population of nonwhites in North America is on such a sharp rise, and the number of North Americans who play video games only increases every year, you would expect there would be a corresponding rise in nonwhite protagonists. After all, people as a whole prefer game protagonists who look like themselves, which is why customizable protagonists are so popular.

I know games have something of a biased outlook because Japanese produced games make up such a large part of the market, and few Japanese companies seem to create content with the non-Japanese in mind. But believe me when I say Japan has it’s own closet skeletons that rarely get addressed.

Lecture aside, there will black people in HC soon, and other skin tones will also be represented in time.