Tame it! is the first game in the New and Tasty series, but I felt like there was more to this topic. In order to see this from a developer’s perspective, I asked the Manka Games developer team for an interview. There are questions answered as a team but team members also shared their own perspective in different topics.
Please describe yourself and your game in a few sentences for people who didn’t know you and Tame it!
Manka Games: Hi, we are Manka Games! A team of professionals: a programmer, an artist and a writer who decided to make fun and original adult games.
Tame It! is an adult survival game, in which you follow the story of young man Lee, who gets stranded on the mysterious island. Is it inhabited, where is the pilot of the crashed plane and what awaits Lee in the deep of the island — that’s the questions.
And to answer them, there are a number of minigames, collection and crafting, building features.
Tame It! isn’t just a jerk & quit game. We try to make a survival with an immersive story and with hot content of course!
We made some steps from common games as in art style and mechanics so even in the narrative, all texts and interfaces in the game are in the form of emojis. This allows players to interpret the story by themselves and opens Tame It! to international gamers.
What made you get into game development and what was your path to adult gaming?
Manka Games: Each of us has really been into games since childhood. Game-dev was a matter of time.
Adult games are getting quite popular today, so why not try, especially when you love that subject!
What was the inspiration behind the plane crash on a mysterious tropical island plot?
Fed.(Artist at Manka Games): When I was a kid I dreamed of being stuck on a desert island in a pair of a beautiful girl =D Not sure if I want it today, but it is still a romantic story for me.
Asmodeev (Programmer, Game Designer at Manka Games): There are many books and movies about stranding on the desert island that I liked in my childhood. Like “Blue Lagoon”, “Robinson Crusoe” and even “Mr. Robinson” by Paolo Villaggio. I hope we’ll make some good references for them.
If I imagine a survival game then sexuality is my last thought, but Tame it! has a feel-good atmosphere which naturally leads to lewd dreams and scenes. How can this work in the long term to convey to the players that a hard to survive place can also be a comfortable environment for sexuality at the same time?
Manka Games: You know, the danger of realising that you could die generates adrenaline and testosterone in your organism in order to go and do something, so does a sexual intrigue. These things have a common primal ancestor =D
Nevertheless, we try to make the survival part not so overwhelming and give him an intrigue of sexual scenes.
I see a tendency that requirements about motion and animation appeared in the case of 2dcg adult games too. Is it influenced the art design from the start?
Manka Games: Ya, we’ll rebuild some scenes at the start of the game too.
Now we’re softly groping Live2D to get used to it =D.
Might be your game biggest trademark is emoticons as language, Tame it! instead of text uses emoticons to communicates with players. What is the story behind this unique narrative?
Natsu (Writer at Manka Games): First of all, this was thought up to avoid translation difficulties. We don’t speak perfect English and we didn’t want our players to get a product with a sloppy translation.
But as someone who is in charge of turning all the phrases into emoji, I’ll tell you that it wasn’t any easier! Not at all! It takes a lot of time, I have to think about some phrases for hours. After all, I have to choose an emojis so that anyone can even remotely understand what we’re trying to say.
Seriously, it would be much easier for me to write everything in normal text, I’m pretty good at it)) Emoji dialogues are a whole new experience for me. Interesting, but challenging.
Asmodeev (Programmer, Game Designer at Manka Games): There are plans for a long-read article about this topic. There were some obvious problems with emojis, but there are some interesting findings. And we trying to reach not only English-speaking gamers but all gamers of the world. Adult ones of course 🙂
In the game our protagonist met a pilot girl and cat girl. Personally I’m not a monster girl fan but the cat girl felt humanoid and sexy. What is the plan about girls and monster girls in the future?
Asmodeev (Programmer, Game Designer at Manka Games): We don’t want to make Tame It! harem game by its survival/tame setting and overall plot length. So there is the script for one more monster girl, at least at that part of the game. There are plans for more but on the sequel and spin-offs if they’ll happen.
Difficulty settings will be the solution for people who only want story. Do you think it’s possible to find a perfect balance in the game mechanism including collecting, crafting and build?
Manka Games: We do some rebalancing on each iteration. While many locations, items, buildings and quests are on the paper only, there will be some tuning each time. And when we’ll be closer to the finish line, there will be a good opportunity to smoothen some sharp edges in the difficulty curve. In the meantime, we are testing a different approach to foraging. Some of those experiments might pass to our patrons and even be implemented in the game later.
Asmodeev (Programmer, Game Designer at Manka Games): Different parts of the game should create a different mood. Hardships of survival at the start of the game changes on fear of unknown threat later and so on. This affects balance too. I think there should be some challenge that makes Lee, the main character, stronger before he may actually tame someone with temper.
Is there a tactic to pay attention to feedback about the game but only change what will make Tame it! better? How much do you stick to the original plans?
Asmodeev (Programmer, Game Designer at Manka Games): It’s an emotional thing and other game devs will understand me. Feedback is crucial but the game is in development, so players don’t have a complete picture of it.
Such features as chapter selector, difficulty settings, ability to skip minigames and gallery view in some of them was not in the plan and we added it by the players’ feedback.
What’s your development process like? I’m curious how tasks are shared. What is the most fluent part and what is the most time consuming task?
Manka Games: Despite the fact that the Tame it! is released in chapters, this is not a series. But as we tried to approach its development with crowdfunding, we stick to relatively short releases by chapters. There is the full draft scenario for all game and feature lists on each chapter. After each release, we gather feedback from patrons, players and ourselves and set tasks for the next sprint.
Natsu (Writer at Manka Games): The most fluent part is storyboarding, I think. We do it during a work meeting, discuss the basic script of the upcoming chapter and immediately estimate the storyboard on the spot. Everything else is strung on it.
Then I write dialogues (mostly monologues, thoughts and dreams for now), translate them into emoji, and draw the missing emojis, if necessary.
Fed.(Artist at Manka Games): Art production is the most time consuming part I suppose. So I decided to use Blender to automate routine. So I can generate different scenes in proper quality much much faster than I would make with 2d skills. At the opposite I should make more fundamental things more thorough such as rigging, light setup and etc. So it is still time consuming.
Asmodeev (Programmer, Game Designer at Manka Games): Much of ingame logic is not present in vanilla Ren’py engine, so there is much programming too. Each minigame is a challenge not only for players but also for us. And as on game design level, so on programming. It’s hard to make it simple 🙂
Do you have the whole game planned out now or are you just making it up as you go?
Natsu (Writer at Manka Games): Yes, the basic script was written before we started the development process. We know how many chapters we will have and what events will happen. Everything in the script is written in quite some detail, including the erotic scenes 😉
Of course, when we get down to work on a particular chapter, there may be some reworkings, but we don’t stray far from the basic idea.
Asmodeev (Programmer, Game Designer at Manka Games): It’s a common thing that some good ideas come in the process. Some of them we implement on the go, some we postpone to the next chapter, sequel or even different game.
Are there any big developments coming in the game that you would feel comfortable sharing?
Manka Games: Don’t want to spoil anything in the story. But there will be new content with some original kinks and mechanics and some improvements in current scenes and features!
Can you tell us what makes sandbox gameplay a really fun experience in your eyes?
Natsu (Writer at Manka Games): As for me, I love sandbox games. First of all, it’s the freedom of action that attracts me and hence the relaxed gameplay, these are games for recreation.
But Tame It! isn’t really a sandbox game, because we’re more clearly leading the player through the plot, even though we’re allowing some freedom.
I must ask a question about the topic that almost every developer hates. How long do you think it will take for the game to be finished?
Manka Games: We aim to finish the main plot at the end of 2021 and then add some additional polish, features. Maybe new scenes, animations, additional sidequests or even spin-offs.
Asmodeev (Programmer, Game Designer at Manka Games): Tame It! shouldn’t be a long-term endless game. We design it to be relatively short. If all or some ideas from it will be pleased by the community, we’ll continue that universe with proven features and new bold ones as a sequel. But we have many other cool ideas to try and let you try, that can’t be implemented in Tame It! so I hope there’ll be an opportunity for them too.
Now in 2021 it may be a little better to be a developer who creates a game with real sexual content than years ago but it is still a niche and adult game industry has to fight against prejudice to grow. What are your experiences of this?
Natsu (Writer at Manka Games): Well, it’s still not something you can tell all your friends and grandma about x))
Asmodeev (Programmer, Game Designer at Manka Games): I think some big numbers are coming to adult gaming. And I mean not porn games, but games for adults. The average age of gamers is increasing. If they want some porn — they can watch porn on the internet. But games create a different experience, it’s a dream that may become true and you may not just watch, but feel it.
Is there anybody that you would like to thank for support or help during development?
Manka Games: We are getting much feedback and support from our patrons and players in our Discord. That moves us forward and we very much appreciate it.
Asmodeev (Programmer, Game Designer at Manka Games): We were inspired by a number of cool games and developers, really. I should mention especially Dojin Otome, Akabur and Sad Crab. All that list may be way too long, but every adult game is the inspiration for me.
And finally, do you have anything else you want to add?
Manka Games: Our train is going full-steam, so hop-on, it’ll be fun!