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Forgive me if I get a little over-enthousiastic with prying answers from you, but it's been a while that I have gone on a forum and recieved proper human responses. 

That being said, this question may say more about me than I would normally want in front of peope I don't know, but... yay, internet! 

So here's my thing. I started on my game story fully intending to add (graphic) adult content. Thus far the story has not allowed for such scenes and I've just been toying with adult ideas as mere side-quests, but I'm far, far from done and deeper "interpersonal relations" could still crop up.

What's your take on adult content? Because I think it's possible to add what people would consider porn without it interfering with the story, yet I have never actually seen it work. Take the first Leisure Suit Larry for example one: I couldn't tell you the point of the game, or the story without having to look it up, yet I can remember it was about a guy trying to get laid. Remember the Ken Sent Me-hooker clear as day. Remember the girl in the hot tub. No idea how I got there anymore. All I remember is that I played it because my buddy in school told me there was sex in it.

Dragon Age, example two: I remember that, sure. And that you had the option to get with party members. Only that just felt like it was tacked on. And again, at one point you're gonna do a playthrough just to see who you can get naked.

Do you think it's possible to add sex without detracting from the game? Is there any light at the end of that tunnel.

Maybe I shouldn't have used the tunnel thing in this context.

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I've seen games (more indie-ish stuff) that tackled the topic of sex in a reasonably mature and serious way, typically in the context of a "romance/dating sim" type of genre. Granted there's a lot of cheap porno garbage in that world too, but there are some serious attempts. I've also seen plenty of things that are just comedic or absurd, as you mentioned. God of War comes to mind as a mainstream game where the sex sequences are stupid.

Something that includes it in a fluid fashion, though... that's tough. The Bioware RPGs - you mentioned DA and there are others - tend to effectively have "relationship" side quests and they're typically quite PG-13. In a broad artistic sense, of course this is possible to do properly. Many other mediums - books, film, television, theatre - have done it for ages. I'm hard pressed to identify a game that handles it with the maturity and seriousness seen in those other creative worlds, though.

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23 minutes ago, Promit said:

I've seen games (more indie-ish stuff) that tackled the topic of sex in a reasonably mature and serious way, typically in the context of a "romance/dating sim" type of genre.

I do not have faith that if I'd do it, it would come off as mature. I have thought about adding on these side quests are a sort of dating sim element (but more as adventure puzzles) with a graphical payoff, but every solution to my "But I want sexy times!" problem ends up with imaginary reviewers going: "He's just doing it for the attention."

 

27 minutes ago, Promit said:

Many other mediums - books, film, television, theatre - have done it for ages.

Agreed, but if I'd do it like that I'd be censoring myself. I don't want naked bodies stacked in a flattering manner, I want the player to enter the dark alley, possibly encounter a girl providing a man... service for an eight ball and have the player uncomfortable by the look on her face when they click the loving couple. By my calculations that means they'll see some over eighteen material.

To be honest, I'm just fretting over problems that might not even come to be, but I like to worry ahead.

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Interesting. I was already aware of the oversexualisation issue though. Truth be told, I am fine with it would I indeed be playing DOA or some such thing and I expect it from God Of War and it makes sense for Lara Croft as she's a fit young woman, though granted, her initial attire seemed a little impractical.  But based on that clip I am even more tempted to just let go of the whole dating-sim sidequest idea. Which, the more I write it, the stupider it seems anyway. Beyond that I don't see alot of reason to veer off course on the rest. If such a scene comes up, I'll run it through a gratuity-checker and handle it.

Meanwhile, I'll go and try to find one of these womens I keep hearing about, see if they can shed some light on this.

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Normally this kind of content in games is avoided just because it's to hard to draw lines. So for stores there is no solid way to say "These are OK" and "These are not OK" so they just ban it all.

When adding adult content to your game it becomes much harder to market. If your just adding a few sexual scenes it's going to cause more pain than the scenes are worth.

3 hours ago, Bakkerbaard said:

Do you think it's possible to add sex without detracting from the game? Is there any light at the end of that tunnel.

The whole point is there is no story to be told during a sex scene, all of the story happens before and after sex; not during. So you can just blackout or skip the scene.

The reason Dragon age and Mass effect have such tacky sex scenes is because that is the actual worth of the scene. The actual moment of sex has no use in a story. Even caught in bed trope can be done without the actual scene.

Sex scenes isn't worth it, no story needs it.

 

My advice is this: Either don't do it or make a full adult game, so that most people know what to expect.

Also when making adult games don't be childish, don't get mad when people don't like the scenes.

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19 minutes ago, Scouting Ninja said:

Sex scenes isn't worth it, no story needs it.

I might disagree on this, but I have no counter-arguements beyond "Nymphomaniac" and that wouldn't be a very strong arguement anyway...

Oh, touching on the marketing-bit you said before this: I never really expected to sell retail. Does it also apply to selling online? Steam maybe? Getting it out there is so far away still that I really haven't given it more thought than: "Meh. I'll just harass people at Gamedev until they break and wanna see it." ;o)

19 minutes ago, Scouting Ninja said:

Also when making adult games don't be childish, don't get mad when people don't like the scenes.

As far as this project goes, I'm throwing in one adolescent gag, with room to remove it. As far as creations as a whole go, I'm a realist. I don't expect to please anyone, which is the beauty of making a game targeted at me.

Edited by Bakkerbaard
Dumb spelling

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38 minutes ago, Bakkerbaard said:

I might disagree on this, but I have no counter-arguements beyond "Nymphomaniac" and that wouldn't be a very strong arguement anyway...

Easy to do without any actual sex scenes.

There is a huge amount of stories that cover sexual topics but never actually has any sex in them. Most of them are comedies or love stories, a quick internet search should net a view.

On the top of my head, one such I can think of is Nana To Kaoru a manga, difficult to buy. It's a S&M story often mentioned by writers who argue that 50 Shades Of Gray spoiled it's story with sex scenes.

By actually removing sex from the story, Nana To Karo places much more emphases on S&M and the love story between the characters.

40 minutes ago, Bakkerbaard said:

Does it also apply to selling online? Steam maybe?

Yes. Online stores are just as bad with this as retailers.

Steam is strange at the moment, they seam unable to decide if they are willing to publish adult content and remove adult games randomly, while keeping others. There is very little reasoning to there choices.

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8 minutes ago, Scouting Ninja said:

by writers who argue that 50 Shades Of Gray spoiled it's story with sex scenes.

I can't say much about 50 Shades. Only half read the book so I could argue how bad it was if it came up and half an hour into the movie I was so busy sticking my hand in a blender to feel human again that I never finished the bastard. One thing I will say however, is that in bookform it is possible to include graphic sex, because of the added benefit of telling the reader what's going on in someone's head or giving details that matter, beyond "her body shivered with his touch", making it more relevant to the story you are telling.

16 minutes ago, Scouting Ninja said:

Yes. Online stores are just as bad with this as retailers.

I'll burn this bridge when I get to it. By the time this becomes relevant to me, we'll all have jetpacks.

It's just too bad that as soon as an errant tit pops up things get categorized as porn.

 

This discussion is doing me some good though.

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In my game, I've wanted to create an encounter with a demonic succubus. I really liked how Dark Messiah played with the idea of a demonic succubus sharing the mind of the protagonist/player. I think there's a lot more landscape to explore, and the topic of demonic possession fascinates me in some ways. I have listed out a bunch of demons and the vices they use to prey on mortals as a means to corrupt and possess their souls. This is partially inspired by Dragon Age : Origins, with their pride demons, lust demons, rage demons, etc. So, I think it would be a really fascinating, interesting exercise to try to use each of the various vices to try to tempt and corrupt the player. The underlying motive is to examine our own susceptibilities to real life vices and get a better understanding of our own human natures. Some people could, feasibly, have their ego and pride stroked in such a way that they become enslaved by their pride. Maybe other players are constantly enraged by troll NPC's, who then become pawns of a rage demon. Also on the list, would be a succubus demon who uses sexual desire and gratification to entice the player into temptation. In each case, demonic domination would be a gradual descent into oblivion rather than something that just happens instantly. I want the player to be a frog which swims in water, but never realizes it's starting to boil. The descent into irreversible demonic possession is gradual and hard to see. I think this deeply speaks to the human condition and the human experience, and if its done right, can become a very powerful take away which causes players to carefully examine their own lives and make more informed decisions about their own actions and how they might affect others. I'm a bit wary about the sexy succubus. In order to do it right, the succubus would have to be legitimately sexy and tempting to the player and be flirtatious and tempting, using every means of seduction available to bring the player under their control. In some ways, the succubus would have a dominatrix style of relationship with a submissive type of player, and that could be a fun way for players to explore their own sexuality and interests. The way I see this gradual demonic possession working (in all cases), is that the player is like a fish and the demons have baited fish hooks, and if the player bites at a baited hook, then the demon slowly starts reeling them in. If you know anything about fishing, you know that you need to play the fish a bit. You need to know when to reel them in and when to release some line, but you're gradually reeling the fish in more than you're giving out line, and eventually, you can lean down and grab the tired out fish. In the case of the succubus, it has to play the player like a fish. To reel in the player, it needs to seduce the player into having sex with the succubus, and the experience the player has needs to be rewarding enough that they want to keep that hook in their mouth, but not so rewarding that they're done -- the succubus has to keep reeling them in, more and more, enticing the player with greater and greater temptations, while also playing the player by slowly asserting dominance and issuing commands. Does the player obey the succubus to get subsequent sexual rewards? Or does the succubus have to release some fishing line to keep its fish thinking its free? The other really interesting area to explore is what happens to the player after they have become fully possessed and dominated by a demon. What happens if the succubus finally catches the player and the player can't escape? The player can't resist coming back for more, over and over again, and can't deny the succubus its demands (ie, "Go kill this priest! For me, baby!"). As you can imagine, there's a lot of darkness to explore, and what kind of scares me about all of it is that it can hit close to home for a lot of people because it exposes their own inner darknesses, possibly stuff they didn't even know existed? This itself could be even more shocking to the audience than the sex acts with the succubus. When it comes to the sex acts, I'm particularly wary about how its presented. What I *don't* want is to have the sex act to be pornographic in nature and style. That would mostly undermine the narrative and philosophical intents and just cause the game to become cheap and seedy, and any deeper value the player gets out of the experience would be lost. And yet, the experience has to be somewhat pornographic at the same time in order to fit the reward of the succubus? It's a very challenging and delicate line to balance. Obviously, there would have to be nudity and a gradual escalation of sexual interactions. But, how do I do this in an artistic way such that the entire game is not seen as just a flimsy pretext for video game porn? And even more concerning, how do I make sure that my game isn't censored from the various online distribution channels such as Steam, GOG, etc just because it has sex acts and nudity in it? Would they be willing to touch a game which helps people discover and explore their inner darknesses, including the vices of sex, even if it informs the human experience and presents a new life perspective for players? Are American's too puritan to even seriously consider it?

The other consideration I'm thinking is that my players may also be female, so if that's the case, then I need to have an equivalent male lust demon to entice the female player into being seduced/tempted. That's particularly challenging because the things which seduce men won't seduce women in the same way or to the same effect, and I am... a bit too clueless on how to effectively seduce women, and any online resources I find lead me to the "pickup artist" bullshit everyone hates.

Anyways, I looked at a the content guidelines for Steam and a few other distribution channels for guidance but it was very vague and unhelpful, so I'm mostly just holding off on this for now. What happens if my game is currently rated for teens, but a few months down the line, I release a content update which causes my game to be rated Mature or Adult? What happens to the teen customers when the rating of the game changes and they (or their parents) would no longer find the game suitable for their age group? Should I rate the game as Mature/Adult, just in case I want to go down this road in the future?

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I'm surprised this post is 10 comments in and no one mentioned the Witcher series yet. The adult content in the Witcher fits perfectly the story and the lore. The entire series is a prime example of how to do great adult content in a story driven game.

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11 hours ago, Bakkerbaard said:

I will say however, is that in bookform it is possible to include graphic sex, because of the added benefit of telling the reader what's going on in someone's head or giving details that matter, beyond "her body shivered with his touch", making it more relevant to the story you are telling.

I think this is key.

If you're going for telling a good story, the rule is "show don't tell" -- which means in a visual medium like a video game, the explicit bits take place offscreen and you just see the reactions and results.  A little bit of titillation never hurts and can set the scene to advance the story, but a graphic depiction of adult acts is just porn and ruins the story (just as any other tell instead of show would).

On the other hand, I always add unpixelate patches to The Sims because the not-telling there is overboard.  People are all naked under their clothes, adding pixellation just titillates where it's unnecessary to advance the story.

Remember the other golden rule: always leave them wanting more.  If people achieve the (cognitive) satisfaction of a visceral reward in the middle of a game, why continue with the playthrough?  Tease them.  Make them want the ending, but hold off on it for as long as you can.  Make them say your name.

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20 hours ago, Bakkerbaard said:

Thus far the story has not allowed for such scenes and I've just been toying with adult ideas as mere side-quests, but I'm far, far from done and deeper "interpersonal relations" could still crop up.

Well, I think the word "allowed" shows the problem you will face with what you are trying to achieve.

Adult content that shoved into a story/movie/game because you want adult content in it will feel like porn. Like something tacked on to be edgy, to use the power of "sex sells", or to add value to a product you perceive as lacking in it.

 

If that is what you want... hey, porn games/hentai games/adult themed games/whater-you-want-to-call-it are quite popular on Steam as I hear, and have a small-ish, but pretty dedicated niche of fans as far as I could tell, so go on. Just make sure you actually serve the niche well, if that is your intention. Yes, that probably means shoving adult content in REGARDLESS if the story allows for it or not (hence impractical, stupid looking skimpy outfits and such)

 

If you want to add adult content to a game without it feeling like porn. Well, I guess instead of trying too hard to get your adult content in SOMEWHERE, maybe just write the story and see if it feels right organically at some point in the story. This way, chances are good it feels like more than just porn.

Just beware the many, many pitfalls nowadays that come with the sex-negative outlook of many puritans on the left and the right, and the outrage culture that tries to find stereotypes and faults in everything. If you feel adult content is worth the pitfalls, maybe make sure you have a diverse test group you can reference to test read/watch/play your adult content before you let it lose on the wider audience just to catch some of the more obvious triggers for the puritans and outrage warriors... unless you don't care and simply can weather the storm. Its not like a little bit of outrage haven't helped sell some controversial games in the past ;)

Edited by Gian-Reto

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6 hours ago, slayemin said:

The other consideration I'm thinking is that my players may also be female, so if that's the case, then I need to have an equivalent male lust demon to entice the female player into being seduced/tempted.

Have you considered sexualities other than heterosexuality?

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4 hours ago, Lactose said:

Have you considered sexualities other than heterosexuality?

For brief moments, but the larger concern is about how supporting every orientation and queer gender would inflate scope and production costs. I think it might turn into too much work.

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Before I go into the actual reply, I would like to thank you, readers, for playing along in the fantasy that this game will go out into the world someday. The chances of that are very slim in reality, but it helps my process to sometimes think of others seeing it.

Anyway...

14 hours ago, slayemin said:

Would they be willing to touch a game which helps people discover and explore their inner darknesses, including the vices of sex, even if it informs the human experience and presents a new life perspective for players?

I just took a guy's head off with a heavy explosive turret and then backed my APC over his remains to make sure. My inner darkness enjoyed the thundering hell out of it, because revenge is a good feeling. My point is, GTA didn't seem to have a lot of trouble selling. ;o)

Your post is too long to quote in it's entirety, but you raise alot of the same points I'm thinking on. The reason I brought up GTA is that it bothers me that gratuitous violence apparently is more okay than functional sexual depictions. This is, however, not something I should dwell on, as the only result will be frustration and cursing and very little constructive stuff.

On ratings though. I don't know, it sometimes seems like getting an adult kind of rating is almost a badge of honor. And the few instances I do find myself in a public lobby I encounter more little shits than sane(-ish) mature people. Ofcourse, I'm speaking from a Dutch point of view, where beyond the initial little wave of "what the hell are they playing now?!" people get informed and go "At least they're not killing cats and my wooden shoes need polishing now." Apart from some dumbasses it's pretty relaxed here, but I have no clue how it stands in other countries.

13 hours ago, Michael Aganier said:

I'm surprised this post is 10 comments in and no one mentioned the Witcher series yet. The adult content in the Witcher fits perfectly the story and the lore. The entire series is a prime example of how to do great adult content in a story driven game.

All of a sudden I am too. As well as a little worried about why I didn't think of it myself.

There were one or two scenes in Witcher III where I thought they could have done without, but if I recall correctly there was always a choice on wether to go for it. Wasn't there?

12 hours ago, Bregma said:

I always add unpixelate patches to The Sims because the not-telling there is overboard.

I hear that. But as for my story there's a three-step borderline of not telling/not censoring myself/ruining it with porn. Not Censoring Myself is undeniably the most important thing to me, I will not stand for that in my own product, but funk if it isn't the thinnest step to aim for.

13 hours ago, Bregma said:

Make them say your name.

Well, that was pleasantly disturbing for someone like me, who thinks in pictures. ;o)

8 hours ago, Gian-Reto said:

Well, I guess instead of trying too hard to get your adult content in SOMEWHERE, maybe just write the story and see if it feels right organically at some point in the story.

This, obviously. 

Story always comes first. It comes before turning the bad guy's head into a canoo, it comes before nailing the girl to the bed. I know you nail someone on the bed, but I was going for graphic.

It doesn't matter what I'm going for really, because story always comes first. And if it turns out my story keeps on not allowing for adult content, as you already pointed out, then my lifelong dream of making a better porngame will shut the fuck up and sit in it's room until I say it can come out.

I feel I should point out that it is not actually my lifelong dream to make a better porngame although I do think it's possible to make one better than the state they're in now, 'coz... damn!

 

Anyway, thanks for all the replies.

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I think it's useful to break concepts/language down to make things easier, like how a "scene" in language can be thought of as sort of container if that makes sense. A fight scene or a sex scene are the events leading up to and away from the event but the scene is not the actual event, it only contains it. You can have a fight scene or sex scene with or without fighting or sex actually shown. Usually in "tasteful" films they're only shown if it effected the plot in some direct way that couldn't be implied. 

I agree with your thoughts about the double standard for violence and sex, though I think the reason the hypersensitive parent demographic are less worried about violence is that kids deal with violent feelings since they were babies. Sex on the other hand is not something parents want their kids thinking is even an option until they're old enough to support a family.

I think 'Society' is generally fine with "Sex Games", but not "Games with sex." The difference is all expectation. To be very crude for a moment, there's a distasteful old joke calling rape "surprise sex", that might be a good to keep in mind as a rule of thumb.

Society hates an awesome game surprising you by also being a sex game.

Society loves a sex game surprising you by also being an awesome game.

It's all about framing people's expectations, like how an iPhone is actually a pocket computer. As a pocket computer with a phone included it's actually not that great, we're comparing them to other computers. But a phone to have a computer included is freaking amazing, comparing them to other phones.

In short, remove any ambiguity about the game having sex in and you'll be fine.

Btw, if you're thinking making something like a visual novel like Doki Doki Literature Club then the "Ren'Py" community has a lot of examples of Indie dating games (some 18+) and a fairly sizable audience of people already into that sort of thing. Ren'Py is free, even for commercial use I'm pretty sure.

Edited by Old Soul

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6 hours ago, Old Soul said:

there's a distasteful old joke calling rape "surprise sex", that might be a good to keep in mind as a rule of thumb.

That was actually very helpful. Unless you knew what you were getting into you don't wanna be Threepwooding your way through a puzzle and suddenly get surprise sex in your eye. Currently I've brought things down to just below Larry Laffer-levels, ie: There's gonna be sex, but you know you're not gonna see it. (As opposed to what I thought at the time: I'm gonna see s-... Oh, a censorship-bar?)

Yesterday night I worked on a scene which was supposed to have sex, way back when it was just an idea. I'm not gonna put an example because out of context it's just gonna make me look stupid (it might still, in context, but at least there'll be context), but suffice it to say that I went a more innocent direction and as the concept stands now it seems to work even better. There's still gonna be sex, but you won't be part of it and maybe even happy for the people having it, somewhere else.

6 hours ago, Old Soul said:

Btw, if you're thinking making something like a visual novel like Doki Doki Literature Club then the "Ren'Py" community has a lot of examples of Indie dating games (some 18+) and a fairly sizable audience of people already into that sort of thing. Ren'Py is free, even for commercial use I'm pretty sure.

Don't know Doki Doki. I'm also not going for an adult game persé. Oldschool adventure game, more like.

It's actually one particular Ren'Py game that sparked the wet powderkeg I'm working on now though. I like to go and check out adult indies every now and then, for research, honest, to see if someone finally managed to marry games and porn. See how far you can take it on a shoestring budget and a testosterone fried brain. Not that far, I might add.

I found Summertime Saga and that showed some potential. For one, it didn't look anime, which really isn't my style. For... two, it had some semblance of a story. I found I had become interested in the story of some characters. Unfortunately it's still in alpha and each update kills the savegame from the last, so now I'm on another playthrough and it's starting to step into the same traps as we've been discussing here. I understand you need to keep your patreon backers happy with more poontang, but for now it's in the way of the story. I'll guess I'll check it again when it's done.

So, yeah. Ren'Py. I can't do that. Coding is like, the Ark of the Covenant and my brain would be that nazi guy.

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There is a game called Bathroom Gang Bang which touches that topic nicely.

In the first game we get to have sex, but there is no nudity, so kids wont be creeped out,

in the second game john asshole turns people on earth into sex maniacs and kills your friends

and in the third one you will have to kill john asshole himself!

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6 hours ago, Descent said:

There is a game called Bathroom Gang Bang which touches that topic nicely.

Like an asshole I googled it and now I'm thinking there's a message that I'm not getting.

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5 hours ago, Bakkerbaard said:

Like an asshole I googled it and now I'm thinking there's a message that I'm not getting.

it is hard to find because it was not released by a big company, but just by a guy

 

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