So... I'm gonna break this post up into three parts after a brief status update; Feel free to skip to what interests you. The first part is talking about the poll for the hucow expansion, the second is a general arcanist status update, and the last is talking about some major improvements to portraits we're looking to do.
Hucow Expansion & Poll
Hucows: exciting stuff!
I'm expecting to have a lot of fun with this expansion, hucows are near and dear to my heart. However, there have been some good points raised about what implementing a hucow expansion means for AW. Of course there's going to be updates to breast growth and the drugs that do it, more transformations along the process to becoming a hucow instead of a single injection that takes you a big chunk of the way there, and generally just much more stuff to make the hucow experience better and more involved. We'll also probably implement some of the stuff planned for the transformative expansion early, just so we can do what we're looking to do with hucows, though we'll likely leave a good chunk of that to be added with transformatives expansion when it's chosen. (more complex body control and changeable factors for the PC, more mutations and effects)
I feel like the "Real Hucow Experience™" is something that doesn't fit the main game loop of AW, because you would lose out on much of the life simulation elements in general, and it's just not that kind of game. You'd basically need to build a new game inside the existing game. I'm not sure that really belongs in AW, though I could totally see a spinoff.
That said, we're lucky that the Farm COOP in Muschi Valley is such a "friendly" place, because I think we can get most of the fun hucow elements without deviating too much from the core game. The main way to do this will be to treat being a hucow as a job, much like working at the Institute. Within the scope of the job, we can experience a lot of hucow-centered content such as transformations/breast growth, mandatory mating, and more.
We're also going to work on some outside events, such as people reacting to a hucow out and about (but not a ton... they're mostly at the farm, but it's not that strange to see them in town). We'll also probably expand on the milk system, giving more granularity and control, with a lot more attention paid to leaking and getting full and the effects associated with lactation. ("I'm totally full of milk and out in town, I could let down and waste it at any moment" stress++, just as an example.) We will likely put more care into breasts themselves, in addition to the way they grow and shrink, and their shape.
The question is, how far do we want to take things. The same amount of effort is going to go into the hucow job and associated content like turning into a hucow, and how you handle milkings outside work, and how job payment will be connected to milk output. (fun tradeoff there, do you go for more milk/income at the cost of less time to use the money?) So the choice in how much extra stuff we do also affects how much work/time it takes to complete. Basically, this poll is to see how much extra we go.
So here are the three options:
Just A Job: Hucow as a job during the day, live at home. The Coop will install a home milking system for you, so you can keep your breasts managed. Everything else will remain mostly the same. This is the baseline option.
A Job And Friends: In addition to adding the hucow job and general hucow content, we will also update the farm so that it feels more like a real place with people living there. We'll add a hucow NPC generation template, along with custom NPCs that will populate and stay in the area once you take a farm coop job (farm hand or hucow). The facilities will be more explorable with submaps for the dorms and other areas, and you'll be able to take part in hucow recreational activities such as relaxing in the hot tubs or getting your udders massaged at the spa.
A Job And Home: In addition to the above, you will also have your own dorm assigned to you at the farm coop. (this part isn't actually much work) and you'll be forced to live there. You'll be cut off from living with anyone else, but any bull/hucow lovers live in the same place, so you practically already live together anyway. We'll make a lot more random events in the area to make the place more "alive" and probably crazy hedonistic. We'll make modifications to the main story to support your hucow lifestyle. Basically, you'll be a "free range" hucow :D
Arcanist Status Update
I've been super busy lately, but it's all for the good of porn games! The first thing I want to stress is that I haven't changed the amount I've been working on Accidental Woman; if anything I've been spending more time on it along with the usual suspects on the Arcanist team.
What's changed is that I've hired more people, basically using the money that I would be making from working on AW. So really, it's you all that are making it possible, even if I'm giving up most of my AW income (which is what I usually use to justify how much time I spend AW to my wife, since I also have a full-time job). Please don't tell her, she'll probably get mad at me, lol.
I've always felt like I wanted to make better porn games that go beyond common adult entertainment and even VN tropes to present not only a high level of eroticism, but a world and setting that are engaging, and stories that are interesting and fun to read. There are plenty of examples of these things out there, and a lot of great games, but only a comparative few are "the whole package". So for me, the work I do is about more than just getting a paycheck. That's why I've always hired more people to work on AW as the game has earned more money, rather than just taking the bigger paycheck.
There's still a lot we can do with AW, and several things I'm excited about (hucows and portraits being a great example). I have no plans to abandon it or even forcibly bring it to a close. I stick by what I've said, that we'll keep making it better as long as you all think it's worthwhile.
Arcanist has started working on a new game project, with a totally different setting, different type of gameplay, and a different narrative focus. It'll focus more on specific characters, and allow more cognizant dives into erotic topics and kinks. It'll focus a lot more on individual characters; their story and how the player interacts and alters it, and less on the player's own life. I want to see more Lily's and less "generic NPCs". Of course, everything is going to be steeped in eroticism, and I think many of the worldbuilding elements people say they like from AW.
But why work on another game? Two reasons:
AW is great, but there's a certain creative stagnation that happens when you work on a project for a long time. You lose interest, and then it becomes difficult to make quality content. It's a problem that I've felt with AW in the past, and one that others on the team are feeling. The best way I've found to deal with that is by working creatively on other things too. I have to say it's worked, because I feel like I've been far more creative and passionate about AW in the last couple months.
The other thing that drives me is the fact that other people are working on AW as their full-time job. They're friends more than employees, really, but I don't want to see them have to find new work or struggle unnecessarily. I don't think this is going to happen in the near future, but I also recognize that AW isn't something that's going to go on forever. Having another project not only can help us refresh creatively to make AW better, it also can give some piece of mind as we go forward.
What it means
Really, there's not much changing about AW or the development. The new people I've hired are working on the new project--an artist and a Unity developer--while the team on AW stays the same. The AW team has been doing a little creative work to get the juices flowing, but not enough to have any serious impact on AW.
The new project is super-early right now, but we'll share information on it in the future. We're hoping to have a playable version to show off this year.
|Logo for the game, everything is still preliminary at this point!|
Portraits & AI Art
Wow, so AI art has become a hot topic lately.
I'm an artist, if only by hobby. I've been drawing, painting, or sculpting since I was a little kid. I'm lucky enough to have been able to use some of that art in AW to go along with different stories. As someone keenly aware of how speed is a necessary component of making a profession out of art (because I definitely don't have speed, lol), I can see how disruptive AI art can be to more traditional workflows. I can see how it will likely drive many artists to use AI in their own workflow in able to stay competitive.
As a developer, I can see how valuable AI art can be to improving games, and how it can make things that would otherwise be impossible possible.
As someone who occasionally pretends to understand basic economics and sociology, I understand how the limited supply of art will lead to continual efforts to augment that supply.
As an artist, I understand that the whole thing is scary and likely to cause drastic changes that disrupt people's livelihoods.
I understand people being upset that artist's work is used to train AI, but at the same time I'm keenly aware that this process is true of human artists too. Any decent artist has probably seen and been subtly influenced by untold thousands of works from other artists. I really don't have any answers to this issue. It's complicated, and I don't think I'm the best person to talk about it.
Inevitably, AI art will continue to progress. I think market forces and just the general march of technology makes it inevitable. The same has happened with automobiles and typewriters and plenty of other things. As the developer of AW, I see a way to take advantage of AI art to make AW better. But I'm also going to do my best to make sure to use AI art in a responsible way.
Which leads to the actual point...
The portraits in AW are not great. By allowing players to have such a large amount of control over their character's appearance, and by procedurally generating NPCs with all these traits using statistical data, we're faced with requiring thousands upon thousands of images to represent just their faces. In fact, just keeping things basic, and not even getting into things like brow or nose shape, we quickly reach something over 50,000 combinations for female faces alone.
So what we've done is approximate many traits, and use the approximations to generate face portraits with SVG data. For one thing, the images are not terribly attractive (though the current version is much better than the older version!) and for another the images end up looking very much the same, despite technically having thousands and thousands of combinations that can happen.
I think everyone wants to see the characters as they are, but technological limitations make this exceptionally difficult. AI art can help solve this issue by rapidly generating faces that match the supplied traits. And instead of having the same face with different eye or skin color so that everything lines up for generating a face, AI generates a new face each time. This makes the faces look far more unique, even if you're just changing the hair color by one shade.
|A example showing what Lily could look like based on her data|
I feel like these faces can add a lot to the game compared to the current system. Having unique appearances to help distinguish NPCs, and also let the player see more of their own character.
Where I think the potential really shines is in the generation of body portraits. With hard work, we have a system that allows over 100,000 combinations to display in the female body portrait... but it's still quite limited, and again, many bodies look the same. It's just a limitation of the way it's done. It's better than nothing, and about the best we can do without figuring out how to import, display, and manipulate a 3d mesh inside the game.
However, AI can generate body portraits too.
|More realistic bodies as an early demo based on existing body portraits|
More realistic-looking bodies. These were a demo generated with the existing portraits as input, full photorealistic generation should look even better. I think it's a substantial improvement over the existing system. Furthermore, it should allow an even more traits to be shown, such as weight, and a better spectrum of skin tones.
I think it's pretty exciting stuff, so I wanted to share. That said, I said I'd do my best to use AI art in a responsible way.
First, we're using AI art to do things that would never be done by a human artist. While making a few key portraits is possible (and we have paid artists to do this), it's simply impossible to do the full scope, and we wouldn't try... Not that we'd even be able to afford something like that. Basically, nobody would be losing any potential income.
Second, we're going to generate photorealistic images that don't make use of artist's work for training data. We are probably also going to be running them through filters so that they are more attractive, but that's a totally different issue.
It may not be totally perfect approach, but I think it's a pretty reasonable one at least, and also something that will really enhance the game.
Thanks for reading all this, or at least reading the parts you did!
The support from all of you is what makes this all possible, it keeps us excited and moving forward!
I'll be back Saturday with the next release!