Return to Zemia (WIP - updated 26 Dec) - game dev question post 276!



This is a good idea, and I’ll keep it in mind!

Which is why I gave myself some flexibility. I don’t know what the timeline of the game will look like, but one thing I’m not writing is an epic that chronicles the life of the MC. And also! Suspension of disbelief! It’s just not a realistic situation fundamentally

Nope :woman_shrugging: I know that a lot of people would like to try to escape, but that’s just not the game I’m writing. Escape attempts are just probably not going to be part of this adventure

To imitate earlier ambiguity–he will have opinions. Also another note! Marriage is likely not going to be part of this game, so whether an MC is ready for it by the end or not is largely a moot point. I could change my mind later, but right now it’s just not in the cards


Well this wouldn’t have been so much an escape attempt as an attempt to merely get out of our stifling assigned rooms and explore the palace on our own.
But if there are gonna be no escape attempts, does that mean we also cannot join up with the rebels and that there won’t be a rebel ro? As Samir is currently not doing much to endear himself to my mc by basically treating him like a little kid.

Hmmm…if we most likely cannot escape is our mc ever (and by that I mean somewhere in the game that is not the epilogue) going to get access to any of the perks, education (particularly education), authority, respect, etc, that would probably ordinarily have come with their crown prince(ss) position?
If not I see no reason why eventual escape should not remain my mc’s foremost goal as he is already sick of the gilded cage after slightly more than a day of being kept in it.


Rather than answer your specific questions, let me just reiterate that what you’ve played so far is the very beginning of the game. Maybe this analogy will help.

If my game was Skyrim, by the end of Chapter 2, the MC has only barely gotten out of Helgen. And to be super obvious at the beginning of Skyrim, the MC is a prisoner with no power base and few advantages. Now that does not mean that Skyrim is perfect analog for Return to Zemia, I just want to point out that the exposition of the game is not representative of the entire experience. Hope that helps clear expectations up a little bit.

I really appreciate all the interest in where the game is going to go, but for now I think the best thing I can do is focus on making Chapters 1 and 2 the best they can be before tacking what comes next :relaxed:


Yeah, I think some players wanting to playing a game about self-determination are struggling with the circumstances the MC immediately finds themselves in.

I’m going into this as a ‘fish out of water’ character, and living to the next day is my priority, not taking control of my destiny. That happens after I, first live, then figure out what’s going on. Having had the experience of being in an actively life-threatening situation in a foreign country, and having to make a snap-decision to trust a stranger or not, I know that realistically, I’m not going to be thinking about my career, who I want to marry, or if I want kids while evaluating real and present physical dangers. I’ll also never think that being actively antagonistic to people who hold my life or death in their hands is ever going to be a wise decision. I think you’re doing a fine job directing a reasonable MC down river into an uncomfortable situation.

I think your OP stating that this is a political adventure, not action adventure, should set the tone of what to expect for game play. I think having the initial abductors be a bit more forthcoming earlier is a good idea, and would hopefully appease players wanting the story to be about being hunted by or fighting the establishment. There are so many “resist the evil empire” stores, I’m very glad you’re going in the politics/intrigue direction. Looking forward to more.


I loved this WIP!
The concept and characters are very interesting. However, I think you should maybe add more differences between Earth and Zem, like a slightly different physical appearance (not inlcuding the aging) or a soceital differences. Some of the names and things also earthlike. Maybe you could have a different mineral that’s present on Zem that powers stuff and is used in buildings or something, instead of just having the same old stuff as Earth. I liked dynamic conversation options as well, but maybe there should be more scenes and information on the space ship where your character adjusts to this new reality and learns basic information about Zem (countries, language, people, war, etc)

Quick questions:
Will there be political intrigue, affairs, or scandals within the Empire that we can expose or be part of?

Will we eventually succeed our father as emporer?

Will we be able to have affairs or marry?

Quick typo

It should be read, not ready


There will be fewer “scandals” and more crises. It is a game about political intrigue

Whether you gain power will depend on your actions and decisions

As of right now marriage is not a planned part of the game. As for affairs, I suppose that depends on what you mean. If you mean a fling, probably not. None of the characters are willing to risk getting involved with you for nothing more than sex


Yep, yet another way we’re probably not a “true” prince and are never going to be. Which is a pity because Samir is cute, but his behaviour and personality are really doing him no favours. So at this point all my mc would want with him would actually be casual sex.

But we can’t gain power, at least not truly without an education, starting with actually mastering the language.
Modern government, let alone future alien government is an incredibly complicated mess that someone illiterate just cannot run because the piles of paperwork are enormous. And literacy alone is far from enough to comprehend how things actually work.
Right now our kidnappers idea seems to be to use us like the regime’s Katniss. But Katniss was also perpetually kept in the dark and lacked the education to ever see the big picture and fully comprehend what was going on and what’s more she didn’t gain much in the way of power or influence out of it.
The only thing she seems to have gotten out of it in the end is a husband and wealth. Right now my mc is not interested in romancing anybody, particularly since nobody among the ro’s (except maybe Yusra, but she’s the wrong gender and seems to be only attracted to women anyway) is even prepared to treat us like an adult.

As for the wealth, even after less than a day of being imprisoned in it my mc is already getting sick and tired of his gilded cage to the point where he serious preferred the more simple and honest accommodations on the ship.

Well then up the passive aggressive snark to the maximum, particularly with Kaya. Maybe ask if she wants us to accessorize the out-of-place fancy outfits with some platinum handcuffs, maybe a gold-plated ball and chain?
Anyway the fancy, adult, clothes they want our mc to wear are almost comically out of place with their factual status and agency. For what they actually allow us to do an adult romper-suit Halloween costume would be more suitable. :unamused:

I mean ordinarily my mc would probably love nice, fancy prince-y outfits, but not when that’s so obviously just for pretend purposes and far, far from his actual status and circumstances and also because he detests the idea of Kaya in particular actually seeing him get excited about something his captors provide.

Okay some male prince-y outfit speculations for Zemian fashion.

possible prince outfits

Probably inspired too much by the Final Fantasy XV aesthetic, but I obviously lack any real humanoid alien examples.

and more towards the casual side of the spectrum:

My mc would ordinarly probably have a huge preference for the fashionable choices, if this speculation hits anything close to the mark. But since that’s what Carina and Kaya would like most too… :anguished:

Unless something like my suggestion below gets included, which would override this, giving the mc basic language lessons and info about the planet/culture would go a long way towards making my mc more cooperative.

Well, if you are still open to this it can be done, but it would likely require one his adoptive parents to be in league with the aliens. You could introduce the Zemian language as a cool made up language for (what kid mc thinks) is a cool, secret, way to communicate with his mom/dad. In addition it would also explain why they know so much about Earth and most importantly are so easily able to track the mc’s movements as their minder probably told them of the cabin weekend in a sparsely populated area and how it would be infinitely easier to make us disappear there, versus kidnapping us from our job or something.
And then the “cool secret language” his mom/dad supposedly made up to communicate with their kid (and kid mc thought they had a hand in co-designing) turns out to be an actual alien language. I mean it can be done, particularly if our Earth minder’s cover job is as a linguist, after all we’ve made lots of functional fictional languages, from Tolkien to Klingon. Turns out the one the mc was taught wasn’t so fictional after all.


I’m going through and editing Chapter 1, trying to incorporate some of your questions, but I have no idea where this came from. Hardly anyone has died at all in the war yet, and definitely not billions. Do you remember where you read that?


An extreme inference from this bit “They way things have happened is cruel and unfair,” he says, "I won’t try to convince you to forgive the Emperor, but I hope you realize that now you’re in a position to affect the lives of millions, maybe billions of people.You have an opportunity to make this world better for them. Or worse.
Remember that when you’re making decisions."

But, you’re right it doesn’t say anything about a death toll, that’s just me figuring that since kidnapping the mc seems to be some kind of desperation move the situation must be pretty damned bad. Otherwise even Kaya herself says the Emperor could just remarry and make some new royal kids, instead of kidnapping back the one he obviously never wanted.

By the way am I anywhere close on the Zemian princely fashions?
Having read the Tumblr a bit I now kinda want my mc to have pierced ears/an earring. :grin:

One final suggestion for when you get around to chapter 2 with the Carina scene, even if the mc wouldn’t object to a bit of silliness there, please just let us stop her from using an Earth music playlist, as for some mc (including mine) that might not lead to dancing so much as sobbing from homesickness. So, yeah, if she cares at all about the mc Zeyvian/Zemian playlist, please.

Wouldn’t that only go for people like the RO’s and others in the know the mc is even from Earth. Or are they basically going to admit to the kidnap in the press release for the whole empire?


I’ll keep that in mind

Re: fashion, I’ve been deliberately vague so that everyone can imagine their MC’s outfit the way they want! And I forgot to add on tumblr that even if some people (not everyone) on Zemia would ordinarily disapprove of body modifications, in the MC’s case, they’ll assume it’s an Earth thing, so it won’t affect their opinion of or behavior to the MC (except for curiosity)!


You’ll see! I’ve actually already written that part out (ch 3), but I won’t be posting it for a while


Hey everyone! I’ve updated Chapter One! There have been some big changes, some of which you might not like. For example, the MC is now canonically a teacher. I’m really happy with this decision though, so I definitely won’t be changing it back. Please let me know what you think of the rest or if you find any bugs/errors/etc :slight_smile:


In celebration of finishing my edits on this chapter, I’ve also decided to share a Character Board! Check it out here on my tumblr and tell me who you think it is!


think I will be most piss off person in world take from my home to stop a war because someone how real father leader of this world


I liked the update a lot!

I liked that the MC is canonically a teacher but the player can choose how they deal with it/whether they like it or not. The interactions with the crew also felt a lot more natural this time, and I loved that they had personalized scenes. :grin:

I did get an error when I tried looking for a save slot, though.


Aww…but my mc doesn’t even like kid…
Still there are also “dedicated” teachers like this:
Image result for Bad teacher movie
Please do tell me we’re at least teaching high school or college or something because guys teaching elementary is…well…
Ugh! Crap it is elementary…at least the mc doesn’t have to like it, I suppose.

On the positive side, since it is practically impossible to either wear or afford nice, fashionable clothes on an elementary school teacher’s salary (and even if you did it’s practically impossible to wear anything nice to work anyway since the little tykes would demolish it).

Aww…I was hoping for more of the cool starships to be honest. So no real extrasolar colonies, but what about in-system, like our equivalents to Mars, Luna and if they’ve been at it for at least a 1000 years something like Terraformed Venus?

The implant still remains the big negative, as my mc still suspects it functions like a censorship chip (yeah, the crew denies this, but my mc certainly isn’t ready to trust the word of his kidnappers about it, nice though they may be, as even they may have been left in the dark as to its more nefarious functions). Hasan, in particular, is now at least trying to help us overcome the disadvantages of the chip…though whether the mc will truly master the language within the span of the game…I wonder? The mc does seem to be something of a prodigy, which makes me wonder if the Zemian royal lineage contains some genetic engineering to possibly enhance things like intellect, height and metabolism (to make it much easier to maintain a desirable, sexy physique) ?

The character interactions have been much improved to the point where I actually feel guilty about being mean to any of them, despite them kidnapping my mc from his real family and turning him into a perpetual missing person. So keep up the good work in that regard. Hope that when you get to chapter 2 Samir and Kaya, in particular, get similar makeovers because Samir is the one guy my mc (and I think) is actually really cute. Keep up the good work.

" you can’t ready it anymore ." Minor typo here, should be read.

Also in the current edit Yusra is bugged as my very much male mc can in fact get her early romance interactions.

Do hope you add an earring(s) option to the fashion bit in chapter 2.

“There are only two restrictions. Arvin is straight, and Yusra isn’t attracted to men. Other than that, everyone is free game! The game will never ask you about your sexuality, so it will always be an option to flirt with people who are attracted to your MC”

In response to this Tumblr ask…aww…pity, apart from Samir Arvin’s the only guy I think is sexy. Hasan is very sweet in the rewrite, but just not my mc’s cup of tea romantically. Though depending on how Kaya fares in the edit of chapter 2 my mc would very much prefer the new and improved Hasan by assigned as his minder, prison warden and general overseer compared to what I know of the old Kaya.

As regards sexuality, I think my mc would at some point like to make it clear to Carina that even if he likes her, he’s just not attracted to women, same as Yusra is just not into guys.

Finally if you are going to add another ro, then in the interest of RO balance given Yusra and Arvin are only open to female (or non-male mc’s in Yusra’s case) mc’s please make them the opposite of Yusra, as in male and attracted only to mc’s who are not female. As female mc’s currently have two more options and non-binary mc’s one, compared to male mc who have two fewer options at present.


I always forget to re-add that lol, thanks for pointing it out

Yep! You can hate it if you want! I know it’s not what every player would prefer, but I think it makes the game better

If you asked the right question, Hasan did say that Zemians were smarter! Though whether that’s true or not is up for debate. But I was actually basing the pace on language learning off my own experience. If it’s something you work at every day, especially if someone is helping you, reading, basic phrases, and very simple conversation is doable.

Thanks for pointing that out! I’m not at my computer right now, but I’m almost positive I already know what’s wrong

I probably won’t add this in game tbh. None of the ROs will pursue you unless you hit one of their romance tags (i.e. their flirt options), so like in real life, you just have to choose who you want to flirt with and do it

Also, I can’t tell from your post, so I want to clarify just in case there’s some confusion: Kaya is a woman.

If I had any more ROs, which will probably only happen if I decide to dabble with the arranged marriage plot, I’ll be thinking long and hard about all their features, including sexuality


I know Kaya is female. I didn’t call her miss ineffective exposition in the old chapter 2 for nothing. :wink:
I’m just hoping the edit of chapter 2 and the character makeovers will be as good as those in the new chapter 1. Let me put it this way, if the old chapter 2 Kaya interactions followed the new chapter 1, she’d be working hard to destroy some of the goodwill Hasan and Yusra have just instilled in my mc.

Okay, it’s just that some characters, at the moment only Carina’s slow dance are quick to interpret some things as flirting or sexual attraction, instead of just wanting to be friends. :sweat_smile: More outgoing mc personalities are particularly at risk for this right now.

Okay, just pointing out that the options are currently a bit unbalanced in favour of female mc’s. :sweat:
Of course even if that new RO is the perfect guy and attracted to men the fact that his dad wants my mc to marry the guy would be a very big strike against them, right from the start. As no matter what my mc will be desperately trying not to like them.
Unlike with a cute guy though if it is another alien woman my mc is guaranteed not to be attracted to or sexually interested in her anyway.

In spite of his less than optimal career I hope my mc is still allowed to be good looking, tall and muscular. :persevere: So at least he looks like a prince, once he has better attire, even if we’re not actually a prince at all. Also to comment on the Tumblr again, Wizard of Oz is definitely not anywhere near my mc’s favourite Earth movie. I think it might actually one of the Dirty Harry movies given his new and not entirely wanted career.

Of course to ever have a substantial role in running a government mastery of the language is needed (still at least we’re making steady progress right now). Not that it is probably our asshole sperm donor’s intention that the mc would ever be able to do that, as when the crisis is over he’s probably just going to remarry and dump the mc either back on Earth or on some other primitive planet again. :unamused:


Ooooooh boy! I loved this update! I actually prefer being a teacher, as we at least have some time with the kids, while the old professions had pretty quick (and kind of insignificant) scenes.

I’m not sure, but I think some of the stats have new names? About that, what are the effects/purpose of the “tactics” stat? Also, I feel like I’m wrong for saying this when I’m the one who asked for a better relationships screen, but, while the new one is more organized, I’m not sure I understand how the “trust” levels work. Like, what’s a high trust? 10? 50? Why not use a percentage bar? And there’s no chemistry bar now (it’s not really a problem, but I honestly don’t get why you got rid of it).


The way your MC looks is entirely up to your imagination! As for The Wizard of Oz scene, I only picked it because it’s a well loved classic, and it’s a cute movie, which was needed for the fluff. I didn’t want to write “insert the title of your favorite movie here” in the scene. Nothing like that will appear in the game, and the MC’s favorite movie is not cannonically The Wizard of Oz

Nope! The stats have the same name they always had. They’re basically variations of sneak, charisma, combat, and intelligence with some modifications

Stats description
  • Discrestion is your character’s ability to gather information without drawing attention to themselves
  • Persuasion is your character’s ability to (shocked I know) persuade others
  • Tactics is your character’s ability to anticipate and plan for the actions of the people around you
  • Technology is your character’s ability to manipulate the resources around them

Some actions might fall under multiple skills (like lying for example), but that’s a basic description! Tactics will affect your ability to do well in a physical fight, understand information about the war, and generally predict outcomes of strategic decisions.

As for the new relationship mechanics, I decided to rework the whole system. Rather than rely on percentages, I decided I wanted to track how often you have positive interactions with the characters. The trust number basically tells you that. I may choose a different word later, but I think this actually tells you more than percentages.

There are two other relationship stats being tracked that don’t appear on the stats screen, chemistry (or flirt/romance/etc) like you mentioned and animosity (rivalry/hostility/etc).

I think I’ll keep them hidden because the trust tracker also accounts for romantic options (when you choose a positive response of any kind, the trust number goes up).

High trust will totally depend on the character in question. It will take fewer positive interactions to earn Hasan’s trust than to earn Jin’s. In that way, the percentage bar worked better I think, but I was really just making up how much each interaction should increase a relationship. I probably would have had to go back and the end and “recalibrate.”

Sorry for the long post, but I hope that clears things up! Please feel free to ask more questions :slight_smile:

Save files fixed!


That said it is always nice if npc’s, particularly ro’s occasionally comment on some of the physical features of the mc. You do already have hair and eye color though along with the fashion options (and hopefully an option for piercings earrings in the edited chapter 2. Still tall or short, or average height is the one physical attribute of the mc that is currently undefined that people would easily notice at first glance (and comment on).

Ah, that just shows my social media ineptness I guess. :sweat_smile: