TotesNotThea June 3, 2020 Thar be vikings! An interview with the Developer of “Vinland”

Thar be vikings! An interview with the Developer of “Vinland”

Q: What was the first adult game you played?
A: This question can be answered in two ways. The first adult game I played was more than ten years ago, and it was a Japanese game called True Love. It was an erotic dating sim, like so many others that came afterward, and you played a student who DIDN’T fuck his sister nor his mom. There were very simplistic minigames to upgrade your looks, intelligence, strength, etc. This was my first incursion in the world of erotic video games, and I tried a few others at the time, although the offer wasn’t really high. It wasn’t until I stumbled upon a post on 4chan that the sparkle reignited.

There, on a thread dedicated to Avatar the Last Airbender (great show, mediocre sequel), someone posted a picture of Four Elements Trainer and it made me curious. I quickly found a certain forum that allowed me to download and try the game, and I was hooked. From there, I tried Summertime Saga, then I worked my way to 3D games, merely curious at first then genuinely attracted by some game’s writing and some of the models.

Q: What made you get into game development?

That’s when it hit me for the first time: I’ve been writing novels (but never finished one) and short stories for years, why couldn’t I try it too?

A: During the time I discovered the world of western erotic games, I’ve played my fair share of mediocre games (not for very long), but I also found quite a few of them that really succeeded in being more than a cheap substitute for porn. I started sorting games into categories: “Meh”: games I regretted downloading and would only keep the name to remember not to try them again. “Good”: games that were good enough to be remembered but I could bear forgetting about them. “Great”: the games whose development I really started to follow and I was ready to download at each new release. With time, the “Meh” folder stopped growing as I started to know my own tastes better and I could guess quickly enough which games were obviously akin to huge piles of manure. While the “Good” and “Great” folders kept on living their merry life until I found a few games that warranted the creation of a “Greatest” folder.

These games, that I will name because we are starting to get close to the real answer to your question, are Heavy Five, from Nottravis, and The DeLuca Family, from HopesGaming. By playing these two games (and a few others too, but mainly these two), I realized that while they were called porn games, they could also be seen as novels with true quality writing. For once, the characters were a bit beyond the landlady/roommate tired routine, yet they even had a bit of depth. A lot of depth, even, when we’re talking about Heavy Five.

At the time, I was still a simple pirate, but for the first time in my pirate’s life (is a wonderful life ♪), I felt compelled to support a developer. So I found Nottravis’ Patreon page, which at the time didn’t have a lot of traction (and is still criminally underrated), and I pledged for the highest tier I could. Nottravis herself thanked me and we chatted for a bit. That’s when it hit me for the first time: I’ve been writing novels (but never finished one) and short stories for years, why couldn’t I try it too? It seemed both easy when looking at the trashy games and challenging enough when looking at the games I mentioned. It was February of 2019, and I didn’t know then that I would go for it a few months later.

Cue to another game whose writing I found great: Doctor Amana Sexual Therapist. RomanHume, the (now) sole dev of this game used to do streams when working on DaZ3D (the software for most 3D games), and one day, I was curious enough to follow the stream. The tool seemed simple enough (fool that I was) that I downloaded it soon after and tried my luck. The free models were quite lacking, but I found a way to download a lot of assets… more easily (Give me a career as a buccaneer ♪).

You have to know that I was unemployed at the time, having left my job a year before to travel around the world, so I had a lot of time on my hands. Time, tools, and ideas; the winning combination. Well, that’s what did it, and for a few days, I started playing more seriously with the idea of making my own game. Among the ideas that crossed my mind, two were really more interesting than the others.

The first one was about some Viking Chief that would come back to his village after a raid with a new slave, a fiery redhaired woman, and who would have to fight in his own house as his wife and previous two slaves (a short Japanese girl and a stronger Black woman) would all fall for the charms of the redhead. It was interesting to play with this plot, as it gave me the opportunity to add the village’s women as well, but why would the men leave their women defenseless? Oh, maybe they could all be away on an expedition, but our MC (Olaf) has been hurt and couldn’t go with them. As I worked on the idea, I finally came to the conclusion that it would be a more interesting setting to have the MC go on the expedition and that’s how Vinland was born. I’ve always been a fan of Norse tales and mythology, I love with a great passion the manga “Vinland Saga”, and it was something different from the same old boring student-comes-home-and-fucks-his-family tired cliché story. So I started studying the original Greenlanders Saga, found a few characters that could match (Freydis, the giant amazonian Viking stereotype, Gudrid, the rich lady stereotype, etc.) and went to work. After a few months and an upgrade of my whole computer, the prologue was done during the summer of 2019 and I was proud as a peacock.

The second idea, though, takes place in a western setting and is called “No eviL”. I have the characters and most of the story laid down as well, but I won’t talk about it further, as it’s a bit premature for now.

Q: What one game (apart from your own) would you recommend people play?
A: If you’ve been paying attention to my previous answer, you’d know that the one game I recommend is Heavy Five. The characters all have a real personality and objectives of their own, the writing is incredible in the sense that you can tell that the writer knows both where she’s going and where she wants you to think you’re going. Until it’s too late and the trap closes. An enticing story full of adventure and innuendoes, but with some of the best graphics as well (try the remaster, as the first three chapters were more of a demo than anything else). From all the games I love, only The DeLuca Family comes close regarding the overall quality, although they are very different games in lots of aspects. Of course, you could argue that they don’t have the aura of Being a ΔIΚ or City of Broken Dreamers (which I also love), but to me, that would be like comparing big Hollywood movies and independent films. They aren’t on the same scale at all, and I’d rather recommend people watch Kubo and the Two Strings than The Avengers, if you know what I mean.

Q: Describe your game in one sentence.
A: A young student comes home for the holiday to find his landlady and old childhood friends have changed.
From the land of the ice and snow, from the midnight sun, where the hot springs flow, comes a ship bringing Olaf Olafsson and his cohort of delicious muscular redhaired scarred women.

Freydis AKA “delicious muscular redhaired scarred woman”

Q: Why Vikings?

I didn’t want to have boring supermodel ladies that would mindlessly fall in love with an even more boring MC

A: As I said before, this is a setting that I always loved, be it for the mythology, the actual history, or the whole larger than life characters. Also, it was the perfect opportunity for me to have a model that matches my tastes: muscular redhead scarred woman. In real life, you can’t find this type of woman. I didn’t want to have boring supermodel ladies that would mindlessly fall in love with an even more boring MC, and while I strive for realism, the chance to have Freydis, as I envisioned her, was too good to pass.

Q: Tell us about your trip to Iceland and the subsequent research you made into Icelandic history
A: In 2013, I spent a week in Iceland, mostly because the flights between Paris and Reykjavik were cheap in November, and I spent a week travelling around the country, learning about the Norse folklore, etc. For example, did you know that Icelandics don’t have family names per se? They’re actually called with their father’s name followed by “son” or “dóttir” (for “Son of” or “Daughter of”). Also, for centuries they’ve been living on the island, the language didn’t evolve as much as in Scandinavian countries and thus is still very close to the Norse language spoken in the 13th century. All of these things are really fascinating and have a huge part in my love for this civilization.

Nowadays, almost everyone knows that the first Europeans to reach North America were Viking, almost five centuries before Christopher Columbus. The Greenlanders Saga, a text written in the 13th century, relates the story of a band of adventurers/merchants who reached the fertile land of the West that they named Vinland. This story is in direct conflict with the Saga of Eirik the Red when it comes to details of how many expeditions, how many ships, who was there, and who was square. But the sagas are similar on one point, there is a land in the West of the world, and it promises riches.

As I wanted to give a genuine feeling to my take of this story, I studied these Saga (for a relative amount of “study”), I also learned about the first contacts between the native people (called “Skræling” then), which led me to embellish my own story with the creation of new types of characters. I used the knowledge I’d gathered in Iceland visiting the various museums there; which is where I first heard of Freydis and her behaviour during a battle between Skræling and the settlers. Imagine the lifesize wax figure of a woman, breasts out, eight months pregnant and beating a sword on her chest, yelling: “Why run you away from such worthless creatures, stout men that ye are, when, as seems to me likely you might slaughter them like so many cattle? Give me a weapon! I know I could fight better than any of you.”

I’m not exactly trying to teach history or to depict a realistic version of what happened at the time, it would be presumptuous for what is ultimately an erotic game, but I love history nonetheless and if I can get players interested in the real-world setting, then I’ll be happy 🙂

Q: Do you have the whole game planned out or do you make it up as you go?

I know who will live, who will die, who will betray, who will love, etc.

A: I have the main scenes planned out and I know how I want to lead my players to them. To be honest, one of the first scenes I’ve written, once the general theme was laid out, was a Freydis end scene. How it would unfold if the player had made this or that choice, etc. Quickly, that one ending became five to six endings, then I stopped worrying about it. I know how each main character story is gonna end, mainly because of the original texts, but I also have the leeway to change history as I want, because said original texts are merely myths now. I know who will live, who will die, who will betray, who will love, etc. They won’t be the same depending on your path and your choices.

So the main plot devices are already laid out, but a lot of scenes in-between also depend on my inspiration in the moment. For example, I know how the first chapter is gonna end, the main events that will unfold for chapters 2 and 3, and the next chapters are going to be more complex as we progress because of the player choices. Chapters 4 and 5 might be really different, especially for one path, then chapter 6 is totally path-dependent and chapter 7 is the ending plus epilogue. I’m trying to stay vague here, so it sounds weird, but I hope it answers your question: the whole game plot is planned out, but lots of scenes will be made up on the spot.

I will now talk about what I planned for the game outside of the story. I would like to add a few features to ease the player’s experience. For example, by design, there was supposed to be a notebook made available as an in-game menu for players to consult a few things: the points they’ve gathered for each character, the important choices they made and a “Memories” section which should have acted as a simple scene gallery. Unfortunately, my coding skills are no better than a turtle’s ability to climb trees, so I keep postponing that feature.

But (and just like Freydis’ one, this is a big but), I found a way to add directly from the main menu a Bonus gallery where I can do something that I also always wanted to do: offer players (mainly patrons, but I want my game to be available for everyone) bonus non-canon scenes in various settings. In the last version of my game (v0.1.6b) for example, I could add three such scenes. They each were simple patron bonus images at first, but I decided to write a little fantasy plot of a few lines to bring them to life, and I really like the result. Right now, I intend to add a new scene every month (the theme will be voted on by patrons), that way even if the release is late, at least you’ll have more bonus \o/

Q: Do you have a sequel planned?
A: A sequel, no. But as I said previously, there is another game that I want to work on, and since Vinland tells the tale of Viking discovering America and the next game will take place in a western setting, I’m sure funny easter eggs can be added.

Q: Do you feel that your choice of fonts in the UI might make it difficult for users to consume its dialogue? Or have you considered this?
A: At first, I had plans for the fonts that implied playing with different languages. You can see when talking to Adelaïde that she only speaks French, and thus her style and the font she uses are different. The trouble with that is that I chose a font with a very “Nordic” feel for the main characters’ talkbox. This did not go well. I’m a bit sad and I accepted to change it into something more user friendly, but I’m still attached to the idea of different fonts representing different languages, and I’ll stick by it.

Regarding the UI, especially the menu interface, I’ve changed it recently in the last version (v0.1.6b) and I think it’s nice enough for now. If I receive relevant feedback, I’m okay with finding new ways to improve it, but for now, it’ll stay like this I think.

Q: Finally, do you have anything you would like to add?
A: We need to talk about Israel.


I'm here to chew bubblegum and fix Pixel's writing and I'm all out of bubblegum! 😁

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1 year ago

The dev’s vision sounds like a too big project for me but my fingers crossed and I wish good luck

1 year ago
Reply to  Nadadine1

I won’t lie, it might be a bit too big indeed, but I’ll do my best 🙂

1 year ago
Reply to  Huitieme

You can always scale down if you think it’s too much, people always think that scaling down is bad and that it’s better to go on and try to get everything done as planned even when they know it’s basically impossible, but no, it’s the opposite. It’s better to scale down than to either burn yourself, or just disappear or abandon the game like many others.

1 year ago

Enjoyed reading this 🙂 It’s always cool to able to peek behind the curtains of a VN production. I haven’t played Vinland yet but this interview, and specifically the dev’s motivations, have convinced me to give it a try.

1 year ago
Reply to  st97

Cool, I hope you’ll like it 🙂