Status update

I’ve been taking some time off the last week. I didn’t pace myself very well during October so I’m pretty fatigued. My apologies if you’re waiting on help with technical problems. I haven’t forgotten about you, I’m just tired.

Speaking of problems, there’s been a bunch of anti-virus false positives due to PyInstaller as I feared. Most of the major consumer brands have been OK except for BitDefender, which consistently causes problems. I’ve you’re seeing fleshcult.exe disappear, it’s almost certainly anti-virus related.

I’ve been poking around with different PyInstaller options, but the long term fix here is to use the relocatable version of Python so I can distribute the interpreter without doing anything weird to an exe’s contents. Unfortunately that was introduced in Python 3 and Fleshcult is on 2.7, so I won’t be able to address that in the short term.

What’s next for Fleshcult?

tl;dr:

  • Bug fixes
  • Mods
  • Mac version

Downloadable Fleshcult is out and aside from some weird crashes I’m still tracking down, the pressures of launch are starting to settle down. I’ve been ducking a lot of questions about whether I’ll be producing more content by saying it depends on sales. Based on how things are going, I can commit to a Mac version and mod support.

Visual Mods

Mod support is gonna come in stages. Letting people change the look of the game and add more graphics is relatively easy. The game would load an extra CSS stylesheet out of the mod folder, and with a few extra hooks from me and the magic of pseudo-elements, you’ll be able to add artwork with a high degree of flexibility. I’ll supply examples for the CSS, so try not to let terms like “pseudo-element” disconcert you.

Modding the HTML isn’t gonna be too bad either. Some enterprising individuals are already doing it, though this will get overwritten every time I update, so you really do need that mods folder in the long run.

Later Work

Allowing new characters and tomes and so forth is gonna take some doing. Ideally these would be loaded from data files, but at the moment it’s all in code. Conceivably I could run Python scripts out of mod folders and let them monkey-patch the game, but that’d be total chaos with multiple mods involved! There’s a fair amount of ground work to be done here and this is the task I have the most uncertainty about. It’ll probably come last.

As for Steam Workshop, I had a notion that it’d just need a game that knows how to load mods out of a mods folder. But no, I’ve gotta delve into the Steamworks API to make that work. Once again, it’ll take some time, but it’s looking pretty feasible.

Fleshcult Steam Progress Update #2

I’m deep in the middle of writing the Infestation Tome. It’s taking a while. Here’s what I’m trying to achieve:

  1. Players who are grossed out by this stuff aren’t penalised if they don’t pick it.
  2. Players who like this stuff aren’t penalised by picking it.
  3. You can do interesting stuff in encounters with it.
  4. Mortals only get infested consensually, and it’s believable that they’d be cool with this.
  5. After they get infested, there’s enough unpredictability and variation that it feels like the creatures have a life of their own.

I think I’ve got a design that’ll work, but there’s a fair bit of writing to go because it’s starting to look a lot like a second seduction track.

Fleshcult Steam Page Up

I posted the store page for Steam Fleshcult, so if you want to wishlist it, go here!

I did some sales estimates and thought some more about what it’ll take to make the game easily moddable, and I’m not sure I can get there on $1. I’m now looking at a price of $2. It seems to be a popular price point with several other small adult games.

Fleshcult Steam Progress Update

I’ve sent a Windows test build out to testers. On my computers it’s stable and I can play through to the end, but I suspect there’s still many compatibility and polish issues to discover on other configurations.

I’m signed up to Steam as a dev. Signing up is a bit like buying a gun: you can’t release a game until 30 days have passed, to prevent crimes of passion. This puts the earliest possible release date in October. In any case I’ll need some time to dig out and finish off the Infestation Tome, and make allll the marketing assets. Did you know Steam requires 10 logo images, all in different sizes and subtly different aspect ratios? And screenshots – my mind goes blank when I try to think of an exciting Fleshcult screenshot. That’ll be tricky.

So far I’ve been using PyInstaller to produce an exe. I’m unsettled to read reports that Anti-virus programs really hate PyInstaller exes. I guess an interpreter running bytecode embedded inside the same executable looks like fancy footwork to evade detection heuristics. This is not helped by PyInstaller’s lead dev’s pig-headed insistence that it’s not his problem to offer a less suspicious-looking process. I might have to revisit this decision, but we’ll see how it goes.

Fleshcult on Steam?

In the previous post I laid out how I’m gonna make a downloadable version of Fleshcult. The question is, how should I distribute it?

Putting it on Steam has a lot of interesting potential. It’d bring it to a new audience. If it does well, that might put restarting development into a new light. Modding support via Steam Workshop would be really cool. And Steam’s just really convenient to use.

On the other hand, Valve’s not in the business of being a file server for totally free or Patreon-supported games. F2P, yes – totally free, no. As I understand it, to pass store page review it has to cost money, or have in-app purchases, or have a plan to make money later. For example, Doki Doki Literature Club has a token item of DLC that acts as a tip jar. Actual DLC content would be cool, but the project doesn’t have enough momentum right now for me to commit to making anything significant – aside from the Infestation tome, which will go in the base game. I could just charge a buck, that would be simple.

I could also stick it on itch.io. They’ll happily host games in exchange for a cut of the tip jar. So, I’m thinking a buck for the Steam version, which will go towards modding support, and free/pay-what-you-want on Itch.

What do you think? Any other options I should be considering?

Downloadable Fleshcult: A Breakthrough

Remember how I was struggling to make a client-side version of Fleshcult? I’d settled on an approach, but it was still a significant amount of work. Now I’ve found a huge short cut.

There’s this thing called Python CEF and it lets me build a web browser engine into a Python program. I’ll get into the technical details below, but the end result is a totally self-contained version of Fleshcult that runs locally as an application. The downside is that it no longer runs on mobile, and making Mac and Linux versions will require some additional work.

I’ve been working on it for about a week and I’ve already made a lot of progress. I can play through encounters and recruit minions, but there are still of a lot of details to attend to. Hosting the server-side processing has been costing me about $60/month for the past 8 years, so I’m feeling pretty stoked to get that monkey off my back. It also opens up some interesting possibilities that I’ll get to in the next post.

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Paper prototyping and the plague

This is the part where I’d like to announce a new release, but instead I’m announcing that I’ve spent the last 3 weeks wrecked by viral tonsillitis. Woo! I hate to perpetuate the 4chan stereotype that adult game authors are ne’er-do-wells and flakes, but I haven’t found a way to project manage away being a one man project that’s one man down.

I did get one thing done during my convalescence. I started on paper prototyping Fleshcult 2’s lair mechanics. My idea is that instead of assigning beasts and concubines into pairs, you’d assign minions into the lair’s various rooms: mana extraction rooms, tease rooms, recreation rooms, transformation labs, and the like. This would be accompanied by text snippets with concise descriptions of any sexy situations there.

Each minion has stats for lust, health, and homesickness/happiness, and each ‘slot’ in the rooms has rules for how these get modified. For example, if you’ve got a concubine and a beast in a mana extraction room, you might drop an apprentice into the room’s Voyeur slot to scrub off their accumulated lust, so their lust doesn’t max out and damage their happiness.

How did it play? Well, there’s definitely strategy to it. Maybe too much – I want to leave enough player attention spare so that I can deliver sexy text and images without the player being overwhelmed by numbers. I think next time I’ll go for two stats per minion because I’m not sure that the two different welfare stats are paying their way. Also, I found I was shuffling everybody every turn, which is way more micro than I’m aiming for. I think I can fix that just by increasing the stat capacities so that everything happens more gradually.

What would you like to see in Fleshcult 2?

If I started work on a sequel to Fleshcult, what would you like to see changed?

I have lots of ideas myself, and I’m mulling over a Patreon campaign with a detailed roadmap, but first I’d like to see what everybody else is thinking without tipping the discussion in a particular direction.

(If you’re wondering, yes, this does mean my G-rated games business got indiepocalypsed. Oh well)