Before we start dear reader… Some of the questions in this interview may come across as sexist, these questions have been asked by fans of the dev and cleared by the dev before the interview so bear this in mind before leaving any rude comments! Please also note that this interview was given before the recent allegations against Pornhub made the news.
TotesNotThea: Joining me on the casting cou- I mean sofa today is Notty of Nottravisgames. Hi Notty and thanks for agreeing to this interview and welcome to LewdPixels Towers!
Nottravisgames: Thanks for having me. Although we probs shouldn’t let Mrs TotesNotThea know that of course.
Totes: So first question, what got you into adult games?
Notty: If you mean by playing them, well I suppose I just fancied doing some masturbating with a twist. *crosses her legs with a hiss of fabric as she dangles a shoe* Tell me, why did -you- start playing them?
Totes: Erm, well, uh… actually, to be fair, I think I should be asking the questions this time around if you don’t mind, now on with the interview…
Totes: What made you decide to create your own game?
Notty: The ones I played at the time were just so badly written. Awful. One was so bad it nearly killed me. Literally. My character was a very bad girl who had raped her mother and sister during the night – and the next morning they both cheerily greeted me and offered me breakfast. I was eating at the time and nearly choked to death when I laughed…. Even the good ones then weren’t good – or weren’t at least for me – when the height of dramatic writing in the AVN world was basically a game of eenie meenie miney mo…. So yeah, the writing and scripts drove me to it. I think we’re all critics and think we can do better – I just decided to put my money where my mouth was.
For sure, we play adult games for a variety of reasons. Some players basically want Pornhub with some clicks; some are looking for a deep immersive story and some a bit of both. Nothing wrong with any of those choices at all or indeed, depending on your mood, all of them at some point.
But none of those choices should mean a game should be badly or simply written, surely?
Now don’t get me wrong. I know that not everyone will like Heavy Five. If they did I’d be sailing past ICSTOR’S yacht in my own giving the lazy fuck tips on how to avoid clipping in his renders. I know that, subjectively, not everyone will like my work. But objectively? No one can say it’s badly written and be taken seriously. You might not like what I do, and that’s fine, but it is done well.
Totes: So having said that, how much planning did you put into your game and do you think it was enough?
Notty: About six months went into the story arc and plotting before I even did anything else. I was determined to make a good story. A great story – and one where your choices actually mattered. One where the world really did react to what you did and didn’t just mean you trod more or less the same paths and have an end scene where characters just wore different hats as a result of your decisions. H5 has over 200 different paths at the end. All plotted out.
Y’see *lights up a smoke* one of my design objectives was to try and make each player’s experience of the game potentially different to any other player they spoke to. So that their experience of the game, their experience of the world is as unique to them as I could possibly make it. Not to deny them content, but to make their content tailored to them. To show them that in a decision-based game what they decided really did make a difference.
The same extends to the lewds in the game. I never want any player to see a scene that they don’t want to and so each scene is either flagged heavily in advance or gated. VR perhaps is the easiest example there with what can happen to poor Gloria and Babe absolutely not to everyone’s taste. Even those who like that type of thing might at times think I’ve gone too far – and yet it doesn’t matter as it’s all content gated. The player has the ultimate control over whether that scene carries on or simply doesn’t happen.
I think this point, allowing the player control of their lewds, is hugely important to the player experience. After all, who really wants to see something they don’t like when they’re meant to be enjoying themselves?
Totes: You can definitely tell that a lot of planning went into it.
Notty: A bonkers amount *laughs*. G.R.R. Martin has no idea what complex plotting is.
Totes: How big is the game going to be once it’s finished?
Notty: Huge? Big? When finished the biggest AVN to date…possibly? *looks thoughtful for a moment* I think I’m looking at 100,000 renders by the finish with a word count of over a million I reckon. Now that’s not 100,000 stills, of course, I’m including animations frames there but if that seems outlandish, bear in mind I’ve needed around 20,000 for the first three chapters – and they’re really just the introduction. So if anything I could see myself going north of 100,000 by games end. But word count and images are only one metric.
Perhaps the most important one is the playing time. I know from polling, that Chapter Three alone provided an average of between six and ten hours play time so I can easily see the final total play time being in the region of 80 to 100 hours. This in a game with no grind or repeating actions; no having to build up a cash pile or wash dishes for affection points – just pure content. Given that the average playtime for the entire Mass Effect trilogy is some 65 hours…Yeah. H5 will be big. And will also have a -much- better ending than those hacks at Bioware….
(source: https://howlongtobeat.com/game.php?id=5698#search using average time data for the three games individually of 17, 24 and 24 hours)
Totes: If it’s so big, why the remaster?
Notty: My graphics weren’t very good and I tried to make the game on a machine that just didn’t have the capacity for production. Simple as that really.
When I started I knew nothing about Ren’py, Daz or indeed the IT needs. I started with a used store type desktop with a 1050 2GB card and gave it a damned good go. But each render was taking me over an hour on that. Sometimes longer. I had huge restrictions on the type of scenes I could do, the number of assets in a scene etc, etc. In short, I was making a game – but it wasn’t the game I wanted to make.
Once I started to build up some funding and could afford a better PC I had a decision to make. I could carry on as I was doing – or take the hit, lose the support and start again but this time making H5 as it should have been.
The easy way out would have just been to carry on – but I’d have been cheating everyone of what the game could have been and so took the hard path. Financially, and understandably, it was a disaster as I lost a lot of patrons. But anyone who has played the old version and then the remaster would be hard put to say I made the wrong decision from a player’s perspective.
Totes: Following on from that; your game is quite complex in areas, has this made your job easier or harder?
Notty: Both? H5 has some very complex coding in respect of the free-roam, the tools, the AI for the domme routine, the combat etc, etc. So at first glance, you’d think the answer would be harder due to the complexities of the code, integrating the systems etc, etc. I know that in some quarters H5 is viewed as pushing Ren’py to its design boundaries, which isn’t bad for someone who’s had to learn as she goes with no prior experience.
But equally, because these are in place it makes the overall game production easier. It’s a double-edged blade, I suppose. All the extra coding helps make the game be what I want it to be. The combat for example, which on the face of it is just click one icon or another, skips off to routines that checks the size of the enemy, speed, range, type of weapon, skill checks etc. All seamlessly and without getting in the player’s way. The player’s interface is kept simple to keep the pace and yet the coding is complex.
But ultimately a game should be about the player experience and not the dev difficulties. If I make the player experience better then ultimately I have to say it makes my job easier as that experience, the better experience is my end goal.
Totes: Why did you choose a sci-fi setting and what’s is your favourite sci-fi based entertainment? (films/books/shows/games)
Notty: At the time most games were the usual slice of life/father died sort of thing. I wanted to do something different. Sci-fi was as different as it could get but also fitted the story I wanted to tell much better allowing me to bring in a wide spectrum of both lewd and storyline possibilities.
As to more generally, I’d be pushed to say. Certainly, the “Golden Age” of science fiction still holds a certain charm and the early Asimov works have an almost comfort food air about them in some respects. But if I had to pick one… the last incarnation of Battlestar Galactica would be it. Pacing, realism, great acting with a dose of special effects way beyond what we should expect from a small tv show. It was sci-fi catnip for me tbh.
Totes: What one piece of advice would you give to other future prospective female devs?
Notty: Don’t let on you’re female? Not because of any harassment or anything like that, as that to be honest just isn’t a problem. But I do wonder sometimes if the player base, which is largely male, assume that a female writer would be more focused on romance and soppy soft, instead of utter filth and depravity? Perhaps. I don’t know. I do know that as we progress H5 has content that certain places don’t even have content tags for though… *blows on her nails with a grin*
Totes: So what you’re saying is that Heavy Five is going places other games don’t reach, interesting…
Notty: In some ways it already has. From the feedback I’ve got, the domme module for Chris has already opened a few eyes on exactly how well something like this can be done. Tease and denial, where the player themselves are performing the actions, wasn’t something people were expecting and certainly made a change from the usual black leather and whips tropes we usually see. Of course, some players have assumed it’s done so well because it’s something, in the role of Chris, I’ve done myself. But I couldn’t possibly comment….
Totes: What is one piece of advice you wish you could go back in time and give to yourself?
Notty: Always have a chapter on the stocks. By that I mean I so wished, and this applies to the remaster as well as the original, that I had Chapters One and Two done before releasing Chapter One. Once that chapter goes out of the door you’re immediately thrust into making the next one. You have to. It’s not a choice. People are supporting you. They work hard for their money and, as a dev, you simply have an obligation to work for them to pay back that support. Anything else is just theft regardless of the patron terms and, frankly, any dev who does take supporters money and isn’t working on their game does far more harm to the industry than any guy with an eye-patch. Personally, I think devs like that should be kicked in the nadgers repeatedly until they either give back the cash, make what they said they’d make or can sing castrato. *glances down at her pointy heels.* Sorry, I feel rather strongly about this as you might gather. Especially when you see some of the larger names doing sweet fuck all for their money which, if it wasn’t on a patron scheme, would be classed as fraud in the UK.
But I digress. Have a chapter on the stocks. That way it gives you time to promote your game and to have some time to enjoy the discussions following the release. It also gives you some sea room for when things go wrong – which they will. It doesn’t matter as much, say if you’re having problems with Chapter X if you already have the previous chapter ready to ship.
Totes: Do your friends and family know that you’re a dev? If so, what do they think?
Notty: Bar one close friend, no. I go to a great deal of trouble to prevent anyone from finding out actually. *pops on a pair of large dark sunglasses* Although I have slipped once when showing someone something so there is one person out there in AVN land who does know what I look like. That aside though not only don’t I say, but I try to cover my internet tracks as much as possible as well. Even to the extent that I don’t make any asset purchases myself. The close friend does that for me, bless him, and then I pay him back. Although I do feel a little sorry for him at times when I send him a link to a bondage rack… God knows what his bank makes of it all. Truly the unsung hero of H5 🙂
Totes: Okay, since this is quite a long interview, how about we break it up with some quick-fire questions…
Totes: Can you tell us more about a certain wager and your $1000 Patreon goal?
Notty: I most certainly can yes. Now if only you’d have asked: “Would you….”. Of course, what you should have really asked about is the $4,000 one. Now that one is naughty…
Totes: Okay… *eyeroll* Please will you tell us more about a certain wager and your $1000 Patreon goal? And while you’re at it, why not fill us in on the $4000 bet too!
Notty: I had a wager over whether I would ever make a $1000 on Patreon. I did – and I lost. As to the $4,000 bet well….*looks around the room carefully before leaning in and whispering* Y’see if I ever reach $4,000? I’ll have lost that bet too.
Totes: You’re just not going to tell anyone what it is are you?
Notty: Oh, I don’t think anyone is really that interested in my depraved little wagers now, do you?
Totes: Depraved you say? How depraved are we talking?
Notty: At the moment I don’t think we’re talking that depraved are we? You’re just interviewing me.
Totes: *more eyerolls* Okay then… What or who are your influences?
Notty: I don’t have any. Not to my knowledge with respect to Heavy Five at least.
Totes: You’ve said that your game will have a lot of paths, how do you keep track of them all?
Notty: *blinks* I’m meant to keep track of them all? Oh…
Totes: Conspiracies, what do you know?
Notty: Harold Wilson was probably a KGB agent and the price of Jaffa Cakes is manipulated by a shadowy international cartel of unknown origin. This is known. *nods sagely*
Totes: Tell us about the one red shoe that caused so much commotion on your forum?
Notty: Ah yes the shoe of redness! *laughs*. It was when I was doing the first set of repairs after I overheated the PC following weeks of constant rendering and to prove I wasn’t talking bollocks or making it all up, I showed the guys the pictures as I did the repair. As an aside, it was a bloody good job I did too, as they were able to help me as I replaced the motherboard etc.
But in one picture, one of my shoes crept into shot from where I’d kicked my heels off earlier in the day. T’was red and pointy with a three-inch heel and did cause a little bit of a stir…
Totes: How and why did you come up with the idea of having Becca as the interface with the player?
Notty: Y’know *looks thoughtful again*, I’m not entirely sure. I know she was the very first render for H5 I ever did and, even with her being a custom design, she was right first time. I’ve never changed her or reskinned her unlike the others when I remastered. There was just something so “right” about her from the off.
But I knew that I would have a lot of mechanics to explain as they got introduced and also I wanted some way to report back to the player that there were content paths they had missed. So I suppose Becca grew from that being able to do both roles in an easy on the eye manner.
Somehow though from those practical beginnings she ended up a bit of a player favourite and I notice she’s gradually nabbing more and more screen time as things go on. Hell, she even has her own animated lewd stripping game now. But I think that’s just attention seeking on her part. *sage nods* She’s a bit needy like that.
Totes: Becca is definitely a fan favourite, were you surprised by the reaction to her by your fans?
Notty: Totally. I was completely caught wrong footed by her popularity, she’s effectively top “Waifu” in any polls I do for example. Becca was supposed to just be a friendly guide to the game. But whether it’s that “girl next door” air about her or that it’s her that “writes” the game or even that she does come across as a bit naughty, she’s caught a lot of people’s imaginations for sure.
Totes: Which of Heavy Five’s characters (excluding Becca) would you say is most influenced by your own personality?
Notty: *laughs* You actually expect me to answer that one? Not a chance.
Totes: So, there could be a little bit of you in all the characters? nudge nudge, wink wink
Notty: I think any writer always transfers a little bit of themselves into their characters even if they don’t realise it. Going back through the scripts I can see little bits of me popping up in a variety of character’s dialogue and actions. So, yes? And is there something wrong with your eye?
And now back to the rest of the interview…
Totes: Since you became a developer, has your view of the industry changed?
Notty: Totally. I think when I started out it was still very much an amateur game. Novelty and innovation were more to the fore in some respects, although there were always the inevitable “Let’s boff the family” clones doing the rounds. But you would see games try different things. Sometimes they’d work. Sometimes they wouldn’t but there did seem to be more variety even if the quality as a whole was patchier.
But now money has moved in. It’s become more polished not only in terms of the actual product but also in terms of extracting cash from people. I think the days of someone with a tale to tell and fumbling their way through development to a quality output have probably passed to be honest. Due to an influx of well-equipped developers with NASA style set-ups IT wise, you need something that’s polished and professional from day one to even stand a chance of competing. People are less likely to support the development of a game any more when they can get a shiny product. Even more so with the sheer influx of titles over the last year, a great deal of which are so thrown together for a cash grab it’s painful, with some of them not even lasting more than a month before the dev quits. In one case one lasted just a mere fifteen days. I mean, that hardly gives patrons any confidence in supporting smaller games, does it? So it’s an understandable reaction from players. Totally.
So the influx of professional cash is an inevitable step in the growth of the industry of course but it also, I feel, brings us to dangerous times. I say this for two reasons.
Firstly there is for want of a better word, the Amazon effect. It’s not too hard to see, say, the top half dozen financially successful devs scooping up say 50% or more of the available market. With the IT set up, the virtuous circle of word of mouth as the player base grows and massive funding they almost become impregnable. They have the assets to make highly polished products and will be able to use all that excess funding to take them a tier further. Customized soundtracks, proper advertising and marketing, hiring advice, etc, etc. This in turn makes their product more polished and noticed and well… so on and so on. Good for them you might say – and good for the consumer too. But is it?
Certainly it’s good for them. But for the consumer perhaps less so. The more successful, the more high profile then the more corporate in terms of outlook they’ll become. This is the pattern of every industry going since the year dot. So the industry becomes dominated by a small group of devs with the power to, marketing-wise, squash any competition whilst producing content appealing to the mass market killing variety.
Sour grapes? Not really. I know I don’t cater to the mass market, and despite my animations, renders and writing being way above average, I also know that H5 is unlikely to ever be big. No this is more of a look forward where I can see the industry stagnating if we’re not careful, only being able to be broken into by someone who is asset rich to start.
But that’s not the only note of caution. And where the first merely could lead to bland products ultimately dominating the arena, the second could kill it stone dead.
There is a nasty grotesque side to our little world and it’s one that if the player base supports it, it risks bringing the industry down entirely. I’m referring of course to underage porn. Oh, I know. Patreon doesn’t host it, pirate sites, even, won’t host it. It doesn’t exist. It’s stamped out. We all know this.
And also we all know that’s utter bollocks.
Some devs make games with smaller characters, are careful over naming and then, when no one is looking, issue a patch that means, yes, you can shag your underage daughter. The patch? Surely that’s made by “fans” right? Nothing to do with the devs?
Yet more bollocks.
For a start, you can usually tell by the code. Everyone codes slightly differently once you get off the usual “Scene c3office” sort of thing. It’s a fingerprint almost. And of course if these patches are needed to unlock additional scenes or renders well that’s less of a smoking gun than a smoking artillery brigade.
So what? It’s only pixels, right? No one is actually harmed so who cares.
The authorities care. A lot. In most of the western world simple possession of images depicting underage sex is illegal. Often with a prison sentence. Download a game like this with the patch and get found out…. Your life is in ruins.
So how come it’s a threat to the industry? Well, some devs have worked out there is a lot of money to be made catering to this audience. A lot. I said at the start of this question that professional money was moving in and that includes in this area. The game is made to prey on people with this fetish and extract the maximum amount of cash that they can. So what if it all goes wrong and the devs get found out? They’d have already made a shedload of reddies from just a few hundred renders. And where does the risk lie should the authorities decide to poke around. With the designers? No. They didn’t make the patch, did they? They are not responsible for what is now on your machine and let’s just hope they never have to provide details of their patrons….
Surely the authorities won’t care though, right? Wrong. There was a terrible little game called Rapeday a little while back. It got press attention and was even raised in the Houses of Parliament at the time. Thankfully it was a damp squib that went away. But what if we have two or three of these underage… sorry, “patched” games making bank? What if this becomes the perception of what the industry is. We all know the press likes a good story and lawmakers like to be seen to be doing something to show how virtuous they are.
And as a target, we’re an easy one. A loose collective of individual designers who often make games in their spare time and would themselves be at some form of risk if it came out what they did. If our industry gets enough legal attention just how many games would still be being made under that sort of spotlight? Even worse, if the industry gets tarred with the “pedo-brush” how many new entrants would even come to the market? Choice would collapse practically overnight as would the industry as a whole.
Totes: Thanks for that detailed answer, I have a follow-up question… What do you think in your opinion is the solution; do you think it can even be solved?
Notty: I’m just a tiny dev turning out knob jokes. What do I know? But, alright, I’ll give it a shot. If we look at the market dominance issue to start with. We’re an unregulated industry so it’s all down to raw capitalism and player self-interest. No consumer benefits from an oligopoly and yet patrons are making individual rational choices that are leading to that position and ultimately harming their long term self-interest. *lights up a smoke and looks thoughtful*.
Now it would be hypocritical of me to say “don’t reward success”. Hell, I want to be successful so I’m not going to be two-faced about this. But when devs are pulling in five-figure numbers every month, at that stage the funding isn’t going to the development of the game. It’s pure profit at that stage. I mean, how many IT rigs can you actually operate at once? For sure there is a labour element but do they really need to be on $400/$500 per hour? So my challenge to the patrons would be, given that dev X is already making bank, do you need to support them at the higher tiers? I mean, sure support them. They deliver a quality product that you enjoy and have earned the fruits of their labours. But to avoid the market dominance scenario, and protect players own long term interests do you really need to be at the “Super Mega Delux tier”?
Because if not, that then allows the patron to support someone else as well. Again, I won’t be a hypocrite here. I said earlier a lot of new games are so high risk as to be akin to throwing money away and I stand by that. But what about those devs that have proved their passion and staying power? Devs who are only really held back, not by their skills or writing but by sheer raw rendering power? There is a whole tier of passionate developers who have shown they are in this not just for the quick buck and yet because of the crowded market or lack of marketing power can’t quite level the playing field. I think of people like Belle or RomanHume who care deeply about their products and their patrons and have put in the time and effort. Imagine what they could do with just a tenth of the support of the “big boys”. Funneling some support away from the market leaders to devs in this category could massively open up the quality range – and at no extra cost to the consumer.
[…] A lot of new games are so high risk as to be akin to throwing money away and I stand by that.
As to the other issue. I really don’t know. Exposing those devs who peddle that muck risks destroying the industry, doesn’t it? And if one was squished another would soon rise up in their place. Ultimately, I think this one comes down to people not supporting them I think. Kill the funding and you kill the product. Kill the product and you save the industry.
Totes: Would you consider a collaboration with another dev, either for cross-promotion or having each other’s characters have a cameo?
Notty: Perhaps. Although any form of collaboration on those lines shouldn’t undermine the integrity of the original stories I feel. Anything that would break immersion, the player’s investment in the world you have created, would be less an amusing cross over and more a betrayal of the time that they as players have invested in your world. I’m not saying it can’t be done. It can. But it needs to be done artfully and with the player base in mind, otherwise, you’re screwing your player base over for an advertising opportunity and that, as we say in my part of the woods, is “a cunt’s trick”.
Totes: Are there any plans or ideas of developing the Heavy Five universe beyond the scope of the game or after it has finished? Are there plans for a sequel?
Notty: There are ideas for sure. In fact, I could easily make a trilogy of games. But whether anyone would want any more after this beastie is finished is hard to say. But if people wanted it, it could certainly happen. Although what the two sequels would be about, you’ll understand if I keep under my hat.
Totes: Okay, let’s get the pervy questions from your more inquisitive fans out of the way…
Totes: This question was a suggestion by someone who’ll remain nameless (so no hating in the comments), what are your measurements?
Notty: 34D-24-34 is the usual but it does vary up and down a bit depending on whether I’m on an exercise kick or a dev crunch diet of jaffa cakes and smokes *pinches her sides and examines the results* Sadly that 24 can get very flexible at times. *pouts*
Totes: Does the carpet match the curtains? (That’s drapes for our American viewers)
Notty: No. I think it’d make the room look too bland. I’d always suggest using a different colour for flooring and wall hangings as it can add visual interest to the room, breaking up the walls and preventing the curtains from simply merging into the floor which would give the room a somewhat confusing visual effect.
Totes: Domme, Sub or Switch?
Notty: Switchier than the electrical light fitting section in B&Q.
Totes: Would you though?
Notty: Probably. I think the real question though is would you?
Totes: Oh most definitely!
Notty: Excellent. I was wondering when I could get someone to repave the drive. Next Tuesday OK?
Totes: Erm… I’m washing my hair that day!?
Totes: You get “shipped” with a lot of other female fans/devs, why do you think this is?
Notty: Boobs, probs? I mean what’s not to like about them? Two are great – but four? Double the fun. Your own plus a guest pair. Soft naked fleshy mounds pushing against each other as two women embrace, pebbly nubs of flesh hardening as they slowly drag across each other’s soft warm skin with each movement they make. The inevitable clash of nipple against nipple resulting in a little giggly gasp… *stares off into the distance for a bit*… Sorry, what was the question?
Oh yes! Right. Sure, I can understand why people ship in that way and to be honest it’s all rather harmless fun, so why not?
Totes: From a “fan” – Will you marry me?
Notty: Do you have your own yacht? I mean a proper one – with a bar and a chef? Get back to me on that and we’ll talk.
Totes: There’s been a lot of talk about “spaghetti”, could you explain for the innocents in the audience what this means?
Notty: It’s a form of pasta. This is known *sage nods*
Thanks very much for giving the interview Notty.