I actually agree with you 100%. I wouldn't really accept seeing this kind of tone regarding anyone else's work, but when it comes to my stuff I'm happy to just take it. I feel like it's my job as a creator to listen and read whenever someone shares their thoughts on my work.
But thank you for your kind words! I appreciate you wanting to share your two cents, especially in my defence :)
But to be clear, I don't agree with most of the things they said here. And especially not with the language and tone they used. And that's okay, just as they're free to make their criticisms, I'm allowed to accept and/or deny as much as I wish!
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I actually agree with you 100%. I wouldn't really accept seeing this kind of tone regarding anyone else's work, but when it comes to my stuff I'm happy to just take it. I feel like it's my job as a creator to listen and read whenever someone shares their thoughts on my work.
Well, just as you said I may not like your response, I have a feeling you may not like mine either.
I genuinely appreciate that you took the time to write all of this and share your thoughts. I welcome any and all feedback, from anyone at any time. You've given me a lot to consider, and I'd be lying if I said I agree with all of it, it's still something I appreciate hearing. I'm not gonna promise that everything you suggested here will be implemented into the game (stuff like the art assets are pretty much locked in 100% for example), but I appreciated your points about coding and prose.
And you're absolutely not the first person to mention the photo-realistic backgrounds having real people feeling wrong. For that point, my artistic intention there is to follow the vibe of things like Gorillaz and Roger Rabbit. The mesh of animated characters into photo-realistic settings and background is something I've always found artistically appealing, but I 100% understand it's not for everyone.
Also, I have heard frustration about Syd's obsession with Steph from players before too. As the game goes on, and choices are made, his attraction and focus on her fades. Especially if he spends more time with Jayda or Maisy. I can see why it's frustrating in the demo though. My intention with Syd's crush on Steph is to help characterize him and make him more than just player avatar, and for our decisions as players to inform his character rather than define it. I know that style of VN protag isn't for everyone though.
Anyways you might consider this another softball reply from me, but I respect that you can have any opinion you like on this game. I'm happy that it stimulated this much analysis and discussion from you, because that's ultimately the point of art at the end of the day!
Hello there! Thanks so much for writing and sharing your thoughts. This was a really interesting post, and reading it kind of felt like a rollercoaster. But in a good way, I promise! I hope I can adequately respond to your comments, because they were interesting to read!
First of all, I'm glad you enjoyed the writing overall - based on your first comment. I suppose the fact that you finished the demo means something kept you hooked, which is the intention with any story!
Duly noted with the hyphens. I see what you mean when you say they feel less professional, but my intention is indeed to keep the flow of dialogue more natural. As you can see in the game, it's very much a dialogue-heavy story so long prose is substituted with very chatty characters who talk over each other sometimes. I do think it's a good observation though.
I enjoyed reading your breakdown as to why "Jayda" is best girl! I think your reasoning makes sense, and it's actually kind of in-line with Syd's arc in that relationship journey. Being that he very slowly realizes that Jayda is an insanely good match for him as he is, and he's crazy for not realizing how she feels about him. His relationship arc with Maisy and Steph take very different directions though, and their own stories offer something totally different to Jayda's more typical love story for players to enjoy.
That said, don't hesitate to spend time with Jayda! She's very deserving of affection and I'm glad her story was appealing to you. I respect the pragmatic approach, and that is the point of these choice-based games! Jayda is also the most popular, so you're in good company with the players.
And lastly, regarding the setting, I set the story in Australia because I myself grew up (mostly) in Australia and it just felt like the most natural setting for me to tell this grounded coming-of-age story. In the same way an American will write about growing up in the US, or a Japanese person might write about growing up in Japan, I decided to write about growing up in Eastern Australia. There's no bigger or deeper reason really, and Syd's name double-meaning was something I came up with on the spot way well after naming him. Plus, I promise that no one my age or below says "cobbler"! It's a pretty old-fashioned bit of slang, and c-bombs are usually dropped more casually by "bogans" in Australia... not the nerdy kids at an upper middle-class artsy school. Not to mention, Americans are super offended by the word so I try to hold back a bit to avoid shocking people (and rating boards) too much. The slang and mannerisms snuck into the script are a bit more sneaky and less stereotypical, that they're pretty rarely noticed!
Also, in the very conversation where Syd jokes about the FBI, Stuart corrects Syd and points out that the FBI aren't an Australian organization! I recognize it in-universe. And regarding the Child Services (in Australia, the organizations differ between states and have changed names over history, so I used a generic name in Steph's storyline) being ineffective with helping Steph, I grew up knowing two different families that were totally dismissed by Child Services for not being in dire enough situations because of manipulative parents. So, sadly it does happen and unfortunately people like Steph do slip between the cracks. Her storyline is absolutely about someone who has slipped between the cracks and works very hard to look and act like she hasn't.
Thanks so much for taking the time to share your thoughts. It's genuinely appreciated, and I'm thankful you tried my game! I hope that Jayda charmed you enough to consider checking the full game when it's finally ready, and that maybe eventaully the other character's stories may interest you too! :)
Hey there!! Thanks so much for replying! I'm so glad to see this artwork again! I usually do a good job of backing up fan art cause I know things can happen to online accounts - like it did with your Twitter. Sorry to hear that btw!
I'm glad to hear back and hope you're well! 😎
Hey Hoang Kien!! I hope you're well. I don't know any other way to reach you, so I'm commenting here! I'm the dev of LoveSick Darlings, and you did a couple of wonderful fan artworks of my characters last year which I loved. However, due to an archival error, I lost my copies of your art!! And when I tried to find them on Twitter, I saw that your account had been suspended and I couldn't access them anymore :(
If you could, would you be able to send them to me? Contact me on Twitter/Discord if/when you can! Thank youuuu!
Hello there!! Thank you so much for playing and for writing here about your experience! I am very glad to hear you enjoyed your time with the demo - it really is quite long isn't it? It's only going to be one third of the game too! This game is outrageously long haha! I hope you and everyone else don't mind how long the final product is going to be!
I'm glad to hear you enjoyed hanging out with both Jayda and Steph. I think Jayda's relatability and the more mature atmosphere of Steph's scenes are what make both these characters appealing, and I'm happy to see that's what you liked about them too! Steph and Syd's conversation at the swings is one of my favourite in the game to this day, so I'm glad that stood out to you.
I'm glad you enjoyed all the choices and all of the references I sneak in for all the choice combinations! It's a ton of work, so it makes me happy when I see players feel their decisions impacting and reflecting in the story! I am also happy to hear (in a slightly evil way) that the "art-rig" path made you feel uneasy. That path is meant to make both Syd and the player feel guilty and unsure of themselves so.... hearing that you reloaded a save after doing it does make me feel that I did something right haha!
Thank you so much for the kind words and taking the time to write here! I love hearing from players, and I hope you look forward to the full game when it (eventually! I promise!) releases!
Thanks so much for writing! I'm glad you enjoyed the game so much! I don't have any plans to expand the demo any further at this stage, but I hope you enjoy the full game when it comes out!
An anime parody game? That could be interesting. Maybe it'd make a good short VN :)
Hello there! Thanks so much for writing here about the game and sharing your experiences/thoughts! I put a lot of work into making the relationships feel realistic and genuine, so I'm glad that shone through!
To answer your questions!
1. The full game was originally planned to be roughly 12-15 hours long. However the final build I am working on is close to 20 hours long! I won't have a final estimate till the game is finished, but I believe it'll be around 20 hours!
2. Spending time with only one character won't directly lead to negative consequences. Spending not enough time with anyone OR too much time with just one person can negatively affect relationships in all kinds of unexpected ways. I suggest doing what you think is best, and not stressing too much! There's no route in the game where everyone is 100% fully happy with Syd's choices haha... so just have fun and do your best!
3. The most difficult challenge? THat's easy! Finishing it has been the one of the hardest things I've ever done. I keep adding new content, new scenes, new options, making the game immensely complicated and hard to wrap up! I am in the final stages of writing the story at the moment, and tying up every loose end and paying off as many choices and storylines as possible is extremely hard! But I am very proud of this game, so i think it's all worth it!
Hahaha, I am glad you enjoyed the video game references! I had fun putting them in. So much of my life growing up was sharing my favourite shows/games/books with friends, it was a huge source of inspiration for giving the characters something to bond over in LoveSick Darlings!
Thanks again for writing! I hope you enjoy the full game when it's ready!
Hey there! Thank you so much for writing this! That's incredibly kind and I love reading about people's thoughts on the game! I put a lot of work into making these characters feel real, so I'm glad it's paid off for you!
I will keep working hard to make the full game come out as soon as I can! I hope I don't keep you waiting long!
Hey there! Thank you so much for playing LoveSick Darlings! I'm especially happy to hear you're a player who got try out the latest version of the demo, and it left enough of a good impression for you to make this post! Thank you so much for taking the time to write to me - and to leave such detailed thoughts! I really appreciate it.
Your struggle "playing matchmaker" for Syd is exactly my intention when making this game! Doing what Syd wants, what the others want from him, and what YOU the player want for all the characters is a delicate balance! I'm glad you think Maisy and Syd have the best synergy though. I really worked hard to make their friendship believable and real. In fact, their synergy is so high someone might even think those two are perhaps even better just as friends...? There's one extra layer of difficulty for you hahah!
"What if Maisy falls for Syd while dating Nacho?" "What if Jayda becomes dependent on Syd?" "What if Steph thinks Syd is trying too hard?" are all thoughts I wanted to stir in the player! I want the player to have just as much social anxiety about these three friends as Syd does haha! I'm genuinely happy to hear these thoughts are in your head as you play. As cruel as it sounds, it tells me that I'm doing something right. Thank you for sharing, really!
To answer your question: being brushed off doesn't raise your relationship, unfortunately! At least... 99% of the time. There's one or two instances where a character will thank you for asking to hang out, even if they aren't available. Those gives a small amount of points.
Regarding your suggestions:
- I agree. It'd be nice to have more backgrounds. I've been thinking about investing in a stock photo pack just for interior homes. But we'll see, no promises!
- I did consider doing this style of voice-acting, in a similar way to FE Awakening but... personally, I found the voice quips in Awakening to be a bit distracting and even take away from certain scenes when they weren't implemented right so I avoided them for LoveSick Darlings. Then if I instead used them sparsely, they might catch people off-guard and also take away from scenes. It'd be a delicate balance if I did such a thing! I'll take the suggestion on board at least though! It'd add a bit of life to the giant chunks of text at least.
- That's actually SUCH a good idea, damn! How did I never think of that?! Aw man... I might actually do this. Or at least try my best to. The artists of this project have moved on to new endeavours, but I'll see what I can do. As that'd be a great way to fill those scenes with something to look at! Instead of "bed.jpg" as you said haha!
- I never considered I'd need more pages for saves! I might update the UI to show additional pages! I can imagine over multiple playthroughs, the saves would fill up fast...
Thanks so much for your input!
Regarding the size of the game.... this game is absolutely monstrous. I've created a beast and I'm doing my best to tame it, haha! The game is currently at 800K words. I'm writing the final week of the game currently. In fact, there is a closed Beta for Kickstarter backers that covers most of the game and the feedback has been positive so far. So rest assured, the game IS coming along! But slowly. 2023 is the goal, and I really hope it's ready by then!
In any case, I hope you enjoy continuing to explore the demo! I hope it's fun!
And that's the end of my long reply back to you! I hope it wasn't too boring or wordy! I can literally talk about this game all day. Thanks once again for playing and sharing!
PS: I especially loved that you called Stuart "normal" - you're probably the first person to call him that! Most players call him a bit odd or weird hahaha. But maybe compared to the rest of her cast he's a different kind of "normal" hahah! I'm also glad you liked Albie too. He was originally a very simple character, but giving him depth over the updates has been an unexpected treat! This is the case for most side characters haha!
I'm glad you like Syd! And yes, Jayda has proven incredibly popular... I hope everyone gives the other characters a chance too though! I think they'll be pleasantly surprised at the depth of all the possible romantic relationships!
And yes, the march has a focus on Steph in particular... but you'll have a chance to spend time with everyone on the trip to Sydney (the city!). I hope everyone looks forward to it!
Also, Maisy has her dedicated birthday party at the end of the game, but aside from that... she finds a way to take some limelight during all the social events! ;)
It is definitely ironic that this game has taken so long despite the short literal timeframe of the setting lol!
Hello there!! Thanks so much for writing about LoveSick Darlings! I'm glad you enjoyed the conversations, they're easily what I'm most proud of in the game. I love this group of friends and thinking of fun silly things for them to talk about together is a great joy of mine. Syd defending Jayda from the shadows is a a scene that has become iconic to the LoveSick Darlings playerbase, and I'm glad that resonated with you too!
What you said about the Steph run has been noted! I know exactly what conversation you're talking about, and I had thought I fixed that problem...... however, clearly it's still occuring! I will dive into the code and fix up any loose ends I left behind. Sorry about that, and thanks for letting me know!
Sadly, I have no news of a new release date. I grossly overestimated the Kickstarter release date and....... ever since, I've been very reluctant to put out a release window. Considering 2022 is nearly over, and the game is definitely not coming out this year, I think it's for the best that I wait until the last moment till I put out a release date. I'm sorry if that's disappointing, but I wanna be 100% transparent with everyone, and I also don't wanna let anyone down again with an incorrect release date!
Whenever you're back on Twitter, I suggest following the offical @LoveSick Darling account for all the latest news and updates! When this game gets a release date, Twitter will be the first to know! There also a bunch of surprises and announcements going up on Twitter every now and again, with the potential for a fun livestream-themed-surprise to be going up soon 👀
Thanks for following the development of LoveSick Darlings!!
Hello Daniel!! I am so sorry for the slow response - as you can likely tell, I am way less active on Itch than my other platforms so i didn't quite see this topic right away woops!
First of all, thank you so much for the kind words! I really put everything into making the characters uniquely lovable and flawed, so I'm glad you've enjoyed playing.
To ease your worries, there have been advancements! They are just, sadly, very slow. This project has grown into a truly massive undertaking, and I am constantly trying to wrangle it under control. I am sorry to keep you and everyone else waiting for so long... as the sole developer, I do take responsibility.
But if you would like to keep up to date with LoveSick Darlings, I strongly recommend both the game's Twitter and Kickstarter pages! I post updates there all the time, and even exclusive content sometimes! The June 2022 Kickstarter update will be online there in a couple of days too :)
In any case... your voice has been heard! I have always promised to finish this game, and I can personally promise to you here and now that I'm gonna finish this game no matter what! I'm sorry that's going to involve some waiting for you, I have so much more I need to write and so many more choices to implement - but I hope you'll be there to play when it's ready :)
Seriously, your comment has been very kind and I love hearing such nice feedback for this game! I won't let you down.
Hello there! Thanks so much for sharing your thoughts and kind words! I enjoyed reading what you had to say.
I'm glad to hear the story was so engaging! I wanted to just focus on the dialogue and characters for a story like this, because I think people would much rather hear about what the characters are saying and doing rather than how a certain park bench they may be sitting on feels hahaha. But I think thats just my style of writing! I put in what I like to see in books/games/VNs.
You will find many other fellow Jayda fans, don't worry! I hope you enjoy her content in the full game too, and I'm even happier to hear you enjoyed spending time with the rest of the cast too. I wanted to really convince people to spend time with as many different characters as possible by making each character's story as compelling as possible, and not to just focus on their one favourite.
Also, it is true that a lot of the "reacting to your relationships" is backloaded towards the end of the game but... I think you're right, some indication of this feature earlier on in the demo could really help! I will honestly take this into consideration next time I edit the earlier parts of the game. I think by the end of the second week the characters, especially Maisy, should be saying something if you ignored her and are just spending time with Jayda instead.
And as per the additional note:
I would love to have as many moments as I can covered with special CG artwork - but sadly the budget is stretched as thin as possible, and I want to pay my artists ethically to create as ethical a product as possible and reward their hard work. There are additional CGs in the making, but of course - moments WILL slip through the cracks. I'd love to revisit the idea of adding more art in the future, maybe post-launch if the game is succesful, but I can't make any promises. Thank you for this feedback too though.
Again, thanks so much for commenting and writing about your experience playing LoveSick Darlings! Hearing from players always gives me extra motivation, and your thoughts were enlightening and interesting to read too :)
I hope you have a lovely rest of your day and enjoy the full game when it comes out!
Hey there! Great to hear from you again.
I love those comparisons and connections you made! THey're really interesting! I especially like the connection between Toji and Grace. The way they express their hurt and worry through aggresiveness is uncannily similar. Also, Stuart is definitely more Kaworu than anyone else in the cast, with his calm demeanour. Once I watch the rebuild movies, I'll see if Mari and Jayda line up! EVen though she definitely shares more traits with Shinji atmhahah!
And please, feel free to let me know of any mistakes or bugs you find! It's extremely helpful and a great way to make sure the game is as polished as can be.
Hey there! Thanks so much for playing, and even moreso for sharing your thoughts here!
First and foremost, I really love hearing about people's thoughts and interpretations of the characters in LoveSick Darlings - so I don't wanna take away from your understanding, especially because I like what you said about Nacho's own interpretation about the painting and how he is related to it. I also like the thought that Nacho could be a part of Syd's past he's trying to repress! I mean, who knows... there may be a reason Syd is so averse to Nacho! Almost as if he has experience with seeing people hurt his loved ones and can't stand for it... but I won't say too much more here!
But, to answer your question, I did want to write Nacho to be a bit more complex than "douche who manipulates Maisy that players are meant to hate." I think the argument at the art exhibition is one of the more revealing looks at his character, and I genuinely wanted to shock players with this info:
Nacho IS intelligent.
Because manipulators, unfortunately, ARE intelligent. And that's an uncomfortable truth to have to consider.
It's so easy to sit around thinking that every manipulative douchebag out there is stupid, and it's even more tempting as a writer to present them that way.
But the thing is, to treat someone like Nacho treats Maisy requires a level of calculation that can't be found in someone dim-witted. I think that's what I wanted to show in this scene: Nacho isn't a meathead. Hell, if he used his intelligence in other more genuine ways he probably wouldn't have to lie to Maisy, and they might still be in a relationship anyway. But he doesn't know how to do this. Nacho grew up in our world where it wasn't kindness or consideration that got people to the top - it was ruthlessness and using people. It's people who are willing to do anything that are consistently rewarded by society - and he understood that from an early age. He's lived his whole life manipulating and using people to get ahead - and so far, it's gone well. Sleeping with lots people is something his circle of friends and world rewards and praises him for - it's another way of gaining social standing and asserting dominance. In his eyes, it's no different than winning a prize or competition. Each girls he sleeps with is another medal. Another one to add to the "conquest" and will add to his reputation. And to him, it's so easy because all he has to do is look good and lie - which is especially effective on girls younger than him. I don't think he even has a thing for younger girls - they just happen to be the easy way of "scoring points." It's very calculated in that way, and I genuinely think he enjoys the displays of dominance and control moreso than the actual sexual acts he performs with these girls. He's really messed up!
But anyway, that's my long (and perhaps unwanted!) analysis of the silly villainous side-character in LoveSick Darlings! It's hard to explore him in-game, because on some level I do think he's a product of a toxic environment... but also, he's an absolute douchebag who views people as trophies and objects. He deserves the hatred, and it'd take a long time for someone like him to make up for the damage he causes to the world.
Plus, the entire game is from Syd's point of view and... Syd doesn't really care how much of Nacho's shitty behaviour is his fault! In his eyes, Nacho is just a douchebag who deserves whatever he has coming. And I think that's valid.
Thanks so much for sharing your thoughts! I really enjoyed reading them. Again, I don't want my thoughts as a writer to affect or change your headcanon. I just felt like sharing them in case they were interesting!
Thank you so much for the kind words and for reaching out! I am also glad to hear you enjoyed the demo so much! Your takes on all the characters are totally spot-on, especially with Maisy - a character I hope to make the queen of mixed signals! I think she isn't really aware of what she wants either. Much to the detriment of... everyone else around her.
I am so happy to hear you had a great time and I hope the full product, when it's ready, meets your expectations!
Thank you! I'll compile some thoughts about the darker elements and share them sometime!
I highly recommend all of my references! Especially Persona 4 Golden - that was a HUGE inspiration for LoveSick Darlings!
Hello there! Thank you so much for playing and for sharing such kind words! I am really glad this game stuck with you, and I hope it continues to stay with you (a bit less intensely, at least).
A full price hasn't been 100% confirmed but... something in the realm of 10-12 USD is what you should expect! Different platforms take different revenue cuts, so prices may vary depending on where you buy it (Steam vs Itch).
Thanks again for showing interest and for following this game! Your support means the world to me :)
Why thank you for the kind words! I am so glad you enjoyed playing and that it was so engrossing. Creating a unique atmosphere and getting people invested in the characters and story has always been my goal so I am so glad it reached you :)
I hope you look forward to the full release!
Some really interesting thoughts on branching paths! Love it!
As someone who is really leaning into having a shit-ton of branching paths in my own game, I totally feel and understand what you're saying. It's crazy to me that some games decide their "routes" over a single decision made by a player. I think it's much more natural to keep it fluid, in a similar way that Complex Relations does too!
Hey there! Thank you so much for taking the time to try out LoveSick Darlings! And even more so, thank you for posting about it! I love hearing from people who enjoyed my game!
I am so glad you enjoyed it! Regretting every moment you spent not downloading it is very high praise, thank you! I am also pleasantly surprised you enjoyed the sound design. The music in this game is great, and I'm proud of it - but I've never ben told it has good sound design before! So, thank you! Especially considering you have such an eye for sound design.
I am glad you are looking forward to the full experience - hopefully you won't be waiting too long! I am so grateful to have you follow me and get invested into this game. Your feedback is invaluable. Thank you!
Of course! This post is definitely not meant to be hard on my self or anything. It's introspective, but I don't mind that my characters were unintentionally similar. In fact, it makes me happy because I feel like I'm really tapping into something real and relatable across fiction!
But yeah, I agree that stories are about how authors package the human experiences! And I do truly think LoveSick is a unique package :)
Hey, I'm glad it was interesting! Misato is a lovely human being and lady, but her heart belongs to Kaji and Kaji alone!
See, there you go! These coincidences are wild! The collective unconscious is at work again!
Or, Eva is so ingrained into culture that countless pieces of art/media draw directly from it? It's hard to tell where the line is drawn... and whether there even is aline! Still, that is indeed quite the coincidence.
Doctor Fluffy! Thank you for your extremely kind words! Hopefully your medical expertise can help treat your LoveSick-ness ;)
I am so glad to hear you enjoyed playing through LoveSick, and that you felt so connected with these characters! LoveSick does its best to create realistic situations for our beloved down-to-earth cast to express themselves, and I'm glad you could relate to them!
I'm even more happy to hear you emotionally resonated with the situations and characters in the game! It is all written with my heart poured into the characters and their various circumstances. One of the game's main themes is the importance of love, friendship, and the relationships that form through those bonds! :)
Jayda really is the dream girlfriend in a lot of ways, I'm happy she resonates with you. I'm also happy to hear you enjoy the company of all the other friends and people in Syd's life too! They all offer something different and getting to know them all is hopefully just as rewarding! (Even if one's heart is set only on Jayda!). I put a lot of effort into the art exhibition, and especially when Jayda receives the award. Super glad to hear that moment stood out to you :)
Also, I'm glad the choices felt meaningful and impactful! I want players to feel a certain sense of control, even if things don't always go as expected! So, I'm glad that's been something you've enjoyed. The degree of being able to choose is something I take very seriously when making this game, and I want to keep having players like you making hard decisions and creating your own stories and experiences within LoveSick Darlings!
Even if, like you said, you don't write many reviews and only opened the itch account to leave this review - I am so grateful to hear from you! Hearing about people's experiences with this game is always such a joy and inspires me to work even harder!
Thanks so much for the support, and I really hope you enjoy the full release when it comes out! (In just over three months! Nearly there!). I will keep working hard and make you (and everyone else) proud! THANK YOU!
Oh, such kind words! Thank you!
Best on the entire site is some wonderful praise to hear! Especially because itch has so many great games!
I'm glad the messages and topics covered in LoveSick were interesting for you! I want the game to touch on real emotions, experiences, feelings.
Thanks so much for playing, and for writing to me! I hope you look forward to the game's full release!
Because Itch doesnt really do update releases via patching your files, you have to download all the files again sadly. The demo hasnt been updated in a few months though - so chances are you are on the latest and greatest version!
Thanks for asking though :)