Wed. Dec 7th, 2022
Sex doesn't work in Ladykiller the same way it does in most modern games.
enlarge / Sex doesn’t work in Ladykiller the same way it does in most modern games.

Christine Love wants to make sex in games more realistic, and that means making it funnier.

“Basically, sex is pretty funny,” Love said in a recent interview with Ars. “I don’t want to play it as a joke. I think there’s a big problem in video games where sex is possible” nothing but be funny, or you can nothing but be ‘haha! I would never For real be horny. We can only talk about tits for fun!'”

That’s a big part of what makes Love’s Ladykiller in a Bind stand out (another part is the actual full title: My twin brother made me into a transvestite like him and now I’m dealing with a geeky stalker and a Domme beauty who wants me in a bond). A sexy visual novel (mostly) about lesbians on a boat, lady killer plays a bit like a “choose your own adventure” comic set on your computer. the most of lady killer is spent leading the protagonist’s conversations into or out of sexual encounters or guiding the sex itself.

The idea is to ensure that players continue to play “an active role” in the in-game sex. instead of just unlock a sex scene to watch, players are active participants in lady killer’s sex, conversations and conversations during sex.

This is the opposite of the approach you’d find in BioWare games and the like, where players unlock sex scenes and then watch what Love succinctly summarizes as “a really awkward 12-second animation.” These games have no input from the player as to how that sex plays out, which creates distance between them and the idea of ​​sex they see on screen.

It feels fake, the kind of thing that, as Love puts it, encourages us to just “deal with” [sex] on an ironic level.” But with… lady killer, the developers tried to acknowledge that sex itself is already very stupid. You are meant to smile of the game instead of on it. When a character makes an overly loud (and very unsubtle) discovery about another character’s anatomy, they are just as involved with it as the player is. The writing draws the player closer to the characters instead of distancing them from what is happening on screen.

Since the player usually has to choose where, when and how to touch his partner during these scenes, as well as how to react, it is almost impossible to break free without exiting the game. And so the sex, and the comedy of this sex, comes back to itself to say that, yes, “real sex is uncomfortable and funny, and that can even be associated with being hot,” Love said.

Sexy character building

That design means most of the game’s character-building moments – humorous and otherwise – need occur during sex. Giving in to NPCs outside the bedroom until a hands-off sexual encounter pops up isn’t even an option.

“The Beauty and The Stalker barely appear outside of their sex scenes,” Love noted during our interview, referring to two of the game’s three main characters. “So every bit of characterization has to be conveyed during sex, or around it.”

The third installment of the game’s main romantic trio, The Beast, is what Love calls a “super cool heroine unfairly put over her head,” and her storyline requires no small suspension of disbelief. The player leads The Beast on a week-long cruise while pretending to be her male twin brother, navigating suspicious and very horny young adults in the process. But the plot mostly provides an excuse for nighttime sex scenes, which can be used both to ward off suspicion and get your hands on The Beast closer to a $5 million payday at the end of a game in the game.

As Ladykiller in a BindThe name says it all, there’s more than just a little bit of kink in the sex scene parade, though Love calls it “very 101 level.” Think about blindfolds and ball jokes — even if you don’t like them, you probably at least know about using them in the bedroom.

According to Love, that is a very deliberate way to increase the appeal of the game. “I feel like there’s a lot of kink fantasies out there that I think would be really fun to make games over, but also potentially too alienating to actually reach a market,” she said. Not that an erotic visual novel is an extremely mainstream game genre in the first place, but Love said she wanted to make sure almost everyone could enjoy if they give it a chance.

Players unfamiliar with lady killer‘s nod will discover that The Beast is just as clueless. “This is all completely new to her,” Love said. “The Beauty, for example, really guides you to what it means to be submissive.” In the meantime, lady killer aims to appease those who are already “really into weird, kinky fantasies” by using sex as a medium for great character studies.

Lighting up the “queerness avatar”

Queer creators are often held to: a double standard when it comes to creating queer characters. There is an expectation, even pressure from outside, not only to include them, but to “represent” the entire LGBTQ community. If cisgender and heterosexual creators don’t do it, secure it’s the duty of a successful queer creator to fill in the blanks…

Love agrees that “there was always a pressure”, to fill lady killer with a predominantly queer cast. Although she and her team “try to ignore” [that pressure] as much as possible.”

“I’m interested in recognizable characters,” Love added. “I’m interested in having queer characters because I want to see myself as a queer woman in games. I have a predominantly queer cast because I feel like this represents reality.”

Love indicated that she wanted to “model real social dynamics” with lady killer, and that didn’t mean creating a “bizarre fantasy world where you have ten people, and you decide that one in ten has to be queer.” In other words, love ignores the exact kind of symbolism that leads people to thirst for a better “representation” in the first place, without making it the goal. She wanted to create real, believable characters, and that just happens to match what she wants to see in games.

An added benefit of creating a cast of mostly underrepresented people is that you actually are freer to write them in different ways. That’s how Love compared lady killer to Marvel’s Luke Cage series on Netflix. “One thing I will say about Luke Cage has an almost all-black cast, means it doesn’t have to worry as much about it, like, “What are the implications [of a character’s blackness]?'” she said.

“If you have one black character, you have to be very careful that they don’t represent everyone.” But just as none of Luke Cage’s characters need to be an “avatar of blackness,” Love said in lady killernone of the characters need to be an avatar of queerness.

This censored trailer for Ladykiller in a Bind still gives you a good idea of ​​the style of a sexy conversation (here’s an NSFW version)

“There doesn’t have to be one perfect queer character who doesn’t do anything problematic and doesn’t hit awkward tropes. You can lean on people who do awkward things, or people who do bad things, or even slap people a little on some stereotypes, because it’s not one person representing everyone.”

If there is one thing lady killer is full of, it’s deeply flawed queer characters. There’s The Boy, a lovelorn, despicably manipulative jerk who tries to dominate through guilt. There’s The Stalker, who is similarly lacking in confidence, but also serious. Then there’s The Beauty, who doesn’t hide her dominant personality, but negotiates it through trust rather than imposing herself on people.

In addition to demonstrating lady killer‘s excellent understanding of social capital and how we use or abuse it, these three queer characters give each other the space to comfortably exist by simply living together.existing.

It’s only when the trope-y, mean characters in a work become an archetype for all queer people that things get awkward. But in the real world, “at least there’s… a someone out there who is like that, and if… [that character type] is in a big cast, that’s another matter.”

Just sit there like an idiot

It’s all part of creating interesting characters that behave believably. That idea even extends to the player himself, thanks to a new approach to in-game dialogue choices. Just like in a real conversation, blurt out the first thing that comes to mind in lady killer is not always the best idea.

“We have something where choices appear as they are to prevent to the player and disappear because they’re no longer relevant to a conversation,” Love explained. “So it becomes a matter of ‘Well, I could say this, but what if something smarter comes to mind? What if I think of the perfect rejoinder?'”

Since options flow out and into a conversation, you run the risk of The Beast “just sitting there like an idiot,” as Love puts it.

But that’s a danger in any real conversation. Not all of us have $5 million on our ability to work our way through good sex, but we all worry about saying the wrong thing. Those moments when you don’t know whether to keep quiet or rush to speak are among the most recognizable moments in a game full of recognizable moments.

Real sex (or at least credibly written sex between fictional characters) is definitely at the heart of lady killer. Still, the game deftly carves its way through more ideas than you might expect, both inside and outside the bedrooms. Love’s obsessive focus on writing authentic characters creates situations that effortlessly interweave themes of power dynamics, sex, humor and social manipulation.

It’s also, you know, still Extremely hot.

Ladykiller in a Bind is available on Windows, Mac and Linux. You can currently buy it from the Humble Store for $25/£20.

By akfire1

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