(WIP) Dance of the Night (Heart's Choice) PLAYABLE 60K 1st chapter

As long as I can meet Issac Newton and explain the mavity of the situation that sounds fine.

(Actually just realised he is too far back for that joke to work. :sweat_smile:)

Just a quick shout-out. I really believe The Mummy was inspired by Elizabeth Peters’ Amelia Peabody egyptology mysteries. The personalities are so spot on, especially when they birthed a precocious son in The Mummy 2. A suggestion for anyone who enjoys reading and also enjoyed those movies.

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Never heard of her but now I will look into her books, thank you for the recommendation :blush: :heart:

There’s little movement this week as things are in review, so I’ve been working on what comes next, and mapping it out. Initially, my plan had been to sweep players 30 years ahead; you’re now a far more capable vampire (even if you were capable before) and know the lay of the land. If Chapter 1 is exposition, this is where you get the game reveal.

The problem with that is simple: 30 years is a long time for us. For many players, it’s longer than their lifetime! Rewind 30 years, and you don’t have a mobile phone, broadband internet (internet goes burrrrrrrrrrrrr) and Bill Clinton hasn’t met Monica Lewinsky.

So how do we tell that story? Because it’s not our story, but it’s important for development.

My answer is a framing device. And here’s a tricky design decision. I have an existing framing device in place (you talking to Wolfram in the present) that can absolutely continue. However, I am also tempted by epistolery. The idea of your story being written through letters is powerful to me, and gives a sense of romanticism and place that I value. It goes well with the existing framing device, I think, although I do worry it might be a bit much.

Anyway, short summary: no real progress, just things percolating in my brain.

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Time for an update! Because the chapter notes are back!

This is the part that really makes the chapter (which I think is pretty good) really pop, because my editor at HC knows what she’s doing. So, this means revisions! And not small ones! While there’s a whole bunch of line changes and typos (the kind of really small stuff that matters), and a couple of global changes to how mechanics work (you probably don’t think about whether dialogue about family should be *selectable_if or *if choices, but it matters), there’s some general questions for MOAR HISTORICAL DETAIL.

You want to feel you’re walking through Horatio Gates’ tent encampment. Sitting in a drawing room of a vampire. Or being shot at in a duel. It’s likely that the tweaks, plus some changes to code (tracking romance interactions, moving some of them around) is going to add another 10,000 words to the whole saga, which puts this chapter in at a huge 60k. That is the first four chapters of Vampire’s Kiss combined, give or take (the largest chapters in Vampire’s Kiss are to the end).

There’s also some major changes for representation. Currently there is an option to be male, female or non-binary as a character from the off. I want to keep that (and there’ll be sensitivity reading to make sure it works), but the major issue is that non-binary status was not really recognized in the 18th century, and where it was, certainly not in the terms we use today. It’s a sticky issue, particularly if you want to represent LGBTQ culture in the 18th century (Molly Houses, for instance).

How am I getting around this? CHEATING. Well… kind of cheating. Because this story is, ultimatley, being retold as memory. The framing device is set in the modern era, and there’s interruptions at the end of each chapter. I’m inspired here by a non-IF source, Thousand Year Old Vampire, which plays with memory in an interesting way. This is your story, and of course you are an unreliable narrator to the events that took place. Your vampire can remember being non-binary even if they are not. And if we use that, and recognize that, then it creates a story that is both fitting for the time, and empowering for modern readers.

Anyway, changes to make.

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So, here we are. Nine days after the corrections came in. And where are we?

Nowhere.

Absolutely nowhere. The words won’t come. The attention isn’t there. The brain does not function. I feel drained, bereft, adrift, stuck in a sump and mire of endless darkness from which there is no light. Sometimes this happens to me, and there’s just not much I can do about it. The only thing you can do is sit, wait for your brain to regroup, get on with little menial tasks and hope that there’s some magical fillip that sets my mind in motion. (That reminds me of that bit in Dune when Gurney goes off on one about not being in the mood, but the point remains.)

I have done a few things of late that took a lot of effort. Been shortlisted for a major national award, finished some big plans, gave a big talk, missed out on some amazing opportunities. I’m drained, and there’s going to be a few weeks of regrouping. However, I’m confident that I’ll get everything squared off for Chapter 2 before my annual getaway. This year I’m going to explore the countries in Asia that most Europeans aren’t sure actually exist or not - Kyrgyzstan and so on. It’s a part of the map that I know nothing about - an empty geographical hole in my knowledge that doesn’t honour the people who live there, who work there, who have travelled the silk road for a thousand years and a hundred thousand adventures.

But Chapter 1 will be well on its way before then.

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I’m sorry to hear that but I’m also sure that many people can relate to that feeling. Have fun on your getaway and recharge!
You already wrote one full game which is impressive (I’m a tiny bit jealous, that’s so cool :laughing:) and the sequel sounds like an even greater understanding .
Of course that takes time and more effort and I think everyone who ever has tried writing a game (or actually did) will understand that there can be some hiccups during the process.
Hopefully it won’t stress you out because I for one will wait patiently until the words are flowing again for you.
Have a save trip, nice weather, and a good time <3
(I’ll keep an eye out for the next update but take all the time you need. No stress and all that.)

If it was possible, please, I’ll be interested if it was an Achievement to turn one of the major female Romance options into a vampire. That would act as a gender balance to turning Wolfram into a vampire.

With the transformation scene given sufficient detail, please. With Alex in the vampires of London story, it was just a verbal agreement - right at the very end of the story.

All of the major ROs except Wolfram are vampires at the beginning of the game (as the game is really a love story set over eight time periods and two centuries). However, I will say… that might be possible for a minor RO. And if it happens, it might not turn out how you think.

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Thanks for the quick reply, Dash. I didn’t know that all of the major ROs (except Wolfram) are vampires to start with.

No worries. They are, purely because the real arc is romance, and how it changes over centuries. I want this to be something that lingers, as one of the main comments I got from Vampire’s Kiss was that things felt rushed.

There are, however, plenty of dalliances with mortals that are possible. And it might be that I change my mind as I write.

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BIG update. Chapter 1 has now been amended in full, with some extra choices now depending on which of the paths you take.

Moar! Descriptions of New York!
Moar! Otters!
Moar! Flirtations with your ROs!
Moar! Opportunities to kick famous historical figures in the nutsack!

Most important of all: big old sexy sexy sex bit. It is only one slither of one path, but you can now have a far more lavish time at the Molly House, enjoying all the delights that are available to you.

Will be sent to Heart’s Choice tomorrow, but it is a fully playable 55k chapter that tells your story up to the end of 1777.

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is there a demo?

Up to Heart’s Choice but right now, no. Usually they like a few chapters and were only in chapter 1.

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So, this has been a little quiet of late, so I thought it was worth telling you the changes in detail.

This is not so much a changelog, as things I’ve re-worked at Heart’s Choice’s request. It’s a little bit shop-talk, but it gives you an idea of the stages of a creative process without giving actual details.

Warning: there are mild spoilers. Not dramatic, not devastating, but certainly hints of what might come.

  • Descriptions of New York. There’s a lot of description of a period-accurate New York in 1777, from the ripped up statue of George III missing from the Bowling Green, to the fact that Major Andre (a major figure if you know your Revolution) is putting on a play at the local theatre. The industries are located correctly - shipwrights and beaver pelts on Long Island, charcoal burners and tanners roughly in Hoboken. There’s reference to the various sites in New York where duels take place, and the ground described is accurate.

It’s a lot. Especially as this is just one chapter.

  • Changing gender. Now, this might sound like a small thing, but it’s important for me to get very right. In the game, you have the opportunity to change gender. This is tricky to accomplish as a set-up for players who want that option, and for players who wish to avoid it. Initially, there was a sequence in the brothel (yes, there is a brothel in Chapter 1, and it’s fairly obvious where it is - there’s sexy times available with two different prostitutes, one male, one female) where you could be dressed as the opposite gender. This has been moved to later in the game, where you discover it is a very real option for you to do so.

There will be sensitivity readers for this part of the story, as it is important to get right.

  • Non-binary. This is very hard to rep accurately, but also accessibly, in history. One of the biggest hater comments I got immediately when I joined this forum was someone who thought I had to represent LGBTQ+ suffering throughout the ages, and I don’t agree with that. People have had enough crap thrown at them. They get enough crap every day. I want this story to be cozy-sexy. You want to curl up and read it. I want you to do that. God, send me a picture of your legs curled up with a cat on them. Make me believe!!!

But I digress. How do we have a non-binary option, particularly for those who don’t want to change gender? The solution is that it’s unreliable narration. You are relaying your past to someone in the present, and hey, it’s your damn story, do it as you wish.

  • Flow of information. Some of the information was deliberately being withheld from players because it just didn’t come up in conversation. Well, that’s stupid as we’re leaping ahead 30 years for the next chapter, and if you don’t have the blanks filled in, what are you even doing with your unlife (spoiler: drinking Washington Irving under the table). So that’s been improved.

  • Action! Action means choices! Choices means consequences! There’s a lot more now! Including choices where you aren’t really able to affect the outcome, but you get to emote about WTF is going on. You want to scream while riding through the night? Now you can.

  • Otter. Otter is life. More otter. (Seriously, there might be too much otter.)

  • A lot of the dialogue has been changed from being described in emotional beats rather than what you actually say, to reported speech, this is what’s going on. This should clarify responses and make the conversations feel more engaged and dynamic.

  • How fast are these romances? SLOW. You can have sexy times with two people in the first chapter, you can have a squeeze of the cheek with one of the ROs (also - if you are super skilled - a dirty kiss with another) . However, the one major complaint with Vampire’s Kiss was romances were too fast. Expect the slow-down hoedown on this one.

  • Stats! There are loads of stats being tracked in this game, and a whole bunch of new ones got added. Now you’ve not just got your background archetypes which were going to influence chapter 1 (are you a soldier, spy, thief, noble, or merchant?), you’re also getting even stranger ones tracked. Some are obvious. Some are not. Be careful who you tell your dreams to.

  • When you meet a major villain, they actually remember to tell you their name, this time. Even if you hurl 18th century abuse at them. And you can. I encourage it. You Duke of Limbs.

Basically, it’s a big update.

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Wow, that’s a lot. I am already excited to read it :grinning:.

Regarding to historical accuracy/suffering, I’m of the same opinion as you.
Heart’s Choice is, for me, like reading a nice romance and if it gets too heavy that is not for me.

I like the idea that we can take our time to get to know characters, that always helps me with deciding who to romance.

Otter in abundance sounds good to me. :grin:

The more history part sounds very interesting and like you’re outting in a lot of effort. I appreciate that.

Also the nonbinary option because it can be hard to implement especially in games that get more heated (the spicy scenes are not what I’m reading HC for though, not my cup tbh).

It’s amazing how much this already implies about the game and it’s only going to grow further.

Thank you for giving us a look behind the scenes, it was fun to read about.

I’m always impressed how much research goes into CoG books and thqt authors do it for us.

So much work for relatively little return, all things considered.
And you qre already doing your second game.

Great that you’re writing us another one :smiling_face_with_three_hearts:.

End of the day if we can mess around with established history and do stuff like Napoleon winning or stopping the Titanic sinking or kick Hitler in the nuts then I think relaxing on gender issues is fine (maybe they can help with rights issues at certain points if they wanna). I suppose it depends how much you’re willing to let the more radical changes to history affect the wider game and story.

If Britain wins the Revolutionary War I’d presume America is gonna be very different for the rest of the game even if it still eventually gets independence (albeit perhaps more peacefully or something).

This is an update that has both a little about what I’ve been working on, and some inside baseball how you construct a game.

I want animals in the game. Because it was fun to include both cats and hedgehogs in Vampire’s Kiss, and I wanted to broaden this out. What if you could have a pet in each era? What if some of those pets moved with you, between eras!

Obviously, you also can’t have a pet dying. Which means that we’ve got to make a bunch of pets that are, potentially , 200 years old. It’s a real headache.

And then there’s the next level: what do you do with them?

Now, some people would argue that just petting the pet is fine. That’s what they’re there for: a moment of cuteness. But my natural instinct is to excise anything that doesn’t serve a purpose, etiher to narrative or to character. Pets can do that (the reaction of your fellow vampires to your adoption of an otter is a good example) but… so what? If you wanted that, you should write an interactive about being an undead vet at a zoo. (Undead Veterenarian: Vampire Zoo, coming 2026?)

So I’ve been looking at how to make the pets matter. There is an animal in C1, for instance, that I’ve already had to rewrite. You have, in one branch, to take a crazy, almost impossible horse ride.

And then you just ditch the horse. Because the next beat makes no sense going back to the animal.

BAD DASH! YOU CAN’T DITCH THE HORSEY!

So I’ve written another section where you can ask about what happened to the horse. (It will be fine.)

All of that doesn’t speak to the point of the pets, though. So, what if they have a meaning in the actual game world? Some of the pets are not thralls (such as the hella old tortoise, or the skeleton voodoo monkey). That means they have to have a reason in the game, and be associated with missions, side quests and things to do. Other pets need to have a purpose also… particularly given that there are additional vampiric powers to acquire. What if one of those powers lets you talk to animals?

Obviously, this is useful for general tasks around your vampiric life: rats that can update you on what’s going inside a building, or just give you weird conversations a la Baldur’s Gate 3. But what about your pets?

Well, four of the pets - I won’t say any more - are going to be available for long, deep and meaningful conversations. They will have opinions on philosophy, on life, on the works man has wrought. I’m taking inspiration from the prose of Henry Williamson in this, rather than actual human dialogue. What would you say to a wild thing? (I never saw a wild thing feel sorry for itself, as DH Lawrence would argue).

So that’s what I’ve been working on.

No updates for a while as I’m going to Kyrgyzstan.

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Yup, I’m going to love this game.

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this is all really cool, obviously a lot of research and effort is being put into it but with the talk of missions and side quests I worry that the actual focus on romance will be left behind :frowning:

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