Back in February, we previewed the upcoming H-RPG, Malise and the Machine. We had a lot of good things to say about it. We also had some concerns about it, but with some understanding that this game was still very much in development. The game has a lot of potential with its hot leads and unique direction, and we do recommend at least playing the demo and possibly contributing to the Patreon associated with it.
Now, it’s time for the developer Eromancer to talk about Malise, especially now that version 0.04 of the game is on the horizon with a May 1 release date. Over the past few weeks, we’ve been chatting with him about the game in general. In this in-depth interview, we brought up the story, game mechanics, what inspired him to make the game, and more. We even gave him a chance to discuss the game’s core mechanic, the Lust meter, at length. In Part I, we discuss many of the things that brought the game together, while also looking at the future of its development. We hope you enjoy!
Could you discuss your background/tell us a little bit about yourself before starting this project?
I come from a long background of game modding in which I developed my skills and knowledge of digital 2D and 3D art. I’m also a self-taught musician and have a degree focused on math and engineering.
What games did you mod?
The first game I modded heavily was The Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind. I also created mods for the other Elder Scrolls games, as well as Fallout 3 and Dragon Age: Origins. I always had an interest in game development, but having the opportunity to be so hands on with it via modding really lit a fire under me.
What motivated you to create a game like this?
My motivation largely involved a combination of seeking the ability to work for myself while utilizing both my artistic and software design skills, as well as seeing that an opportunity existed to supply an audience that wanted a game with high quality adult artwork combined with the complexity and polish of modern RPGs.
There’s an overwhelming amount of overly simplistic adult game projects out there. These are fine, however they’re so prevalent that they’ve become the standard as opposed to the exception in the genre of adult gaming. I want to show that it’s possible for a very small team to create highly polished projects, and effectively raise the standards in technical quality for such games.
What tools are you using for the design?
For the art we use a combination of Photoshop, Daz Studio, Blender, Maya, and recently some ZBrush. Since we’re pushing the RPG Maker engine so far past its constraints, our programmer has also developed a load of custom debugging and internal testing tools to help on that end.
What are some of the limitations to the RPG Maker engine that you face currently?
At this point it would literally (I say that non-ironically) be easier to list features of RPG Maker that haven’t been limitations. Overall performance has been an issue from the start, and is something we are constantly working on. The battle engine has been completely rewritten at this point, as has the menu system. We’ll be diving into rewriting the map system soon, which should be a lot of fun (I say that completely ironically).
“Why use RPG Maker to begin with?” Is probably a glaring question on some peoples’ minds, and the simple answer is that this project grew into something much larger than it was ever intended to be. That said, it’s been an incredible learning experience being challenged by limitations (many of which are low level) at every corner. I can personally say the experience has given me the confidence to tackle modern game engines without concern in the future.
What inspired the general aesthetic of the artwork?
When I started experimenting with ideas for a project I felt that I needed an aesthetic that stood out from what’s been done previously. I wanted to capture the vibe of Japanese hentai that’s so popular in adult games while still making it uniquely western. As such, I think what I’ve created is something that will be familiar to fans of traditional hentai yet still be accessible to western audiences.
How do you intend to differentiate the characters in terms of play mechanics? There are some differences already, but I’m curious to know more.
The main ways are through their unique weapon types and the armor/outfit system mentioned previously. Each character will have two unique weapon types that they can alternate between during battle and that the other character cannot use. Weapon specific skills will exist to accommodate certain roles in combat and further distinguish the characters. Bonuses offered by different outfit types may also favor one weapon type over another. The skills available to each character are defined by the class archetypes that their outfits represent. This allows the player to have some choice in customizing the role of each character for a specific scenario.
Could you discuss the story a little bit, since there hasn’t been a lot to go by yet?
We finished up work on the main outline and background of the story in late December. At its core it’s the dark, cyberpunk story of the rogue leader of a mega corporation that lets revenge get out of hand when near-future technologies are merged with the occult. What transpires is a cacophony of flawed characters finding their places while caught in the headlights of the oncoming apocalypse. This is all presented in a style where ultra-seriousness continuously vies with dark comedy for the spotlight.
What was the story inspired by?
I have a heavy sense of nostalgia for all aspects of old school J-RPGs, so it goes without saying that stories from games such as the original Phantasy Star and Final Fantasy series have heavily influenced it. Other influences include Resident Evil, Ghost in the Shell, Lord of the Rings, Adventure Time (I’ll bet you weren’t expecting that one) and cyberpunk culture in general.
You decided to add some particular fetishes that are niche and sometimes controversial. What springs to mind in this case is the use of vore. What motivated you to try implementing these into the H-content?
There’s a pretty popular set of fetishes in eastern hentai that would be considered unusual or extreme by most western standards. Part of the reason I’d categorize this project as western hentai is not only due to aesthetics, but because of the focus on fetishes that usually are only seen in more underground subcultures in the west. I was influenced pretty heavily by the Taimanin Asagi series in choosing these, as that series seemed to hit the nail on the head in terms of choosing and presenting a set of these fetishes in a way that appealed to a large audience.
Taimanin Asagi? Interesting. What other anime or manga influenced your work?
Anime like Akira and the aforementioned Ghost in the Shell are staples for presenting cyberpunk themes in an anime setting, so those have definitely impacted my work. I’ll mention that I’m also a huge Evangelion fan. As someone who only knows limited Japanese, translations are important for me to be able to really connect with the story, but I’m always interested in finding new art styles. Rindou and Homare are a couple of my favorite artists right now.
Are there other fetishes that you’re interested in exploring that you’ve yet to implement?
There are quite a few, though this is one of the areas I try not to be too specific because I feel I could lead people on if they get their hopes up about a certain fetish and it ends up not making it into the game. I will say however that egg laying will be present in the next release.
Where would you say you are in terms of overall development? [Like, if you had to give a percentage.]
I’d put progress into two completely independent categories: engine and process development and content development (the actual game itself). We’re much farther along in terms of engine development than content development. This is expected, and there’s a relationship where as our work on the engine and process design finishes out our productivity with content creation should increase. This is no doubt affected to some degree by our limited team size, so I’d like to put it out there that we are definitely looking for more members (especially skilled artists). It’s also worthwhile to mention increased funding is critical to team expansion, so we’re always looking for ways to spread the word about the game.
What are your current goals for the immediate updates over the next few months?
Our programmer is primarily working now on overhauling the map scene, which happens to be the last major section of the engine overhaul. Once finished, there should not only be a major performance boost during the map scenes, but our process for map creation will also be significantly more intuitive and streamlined as well. We’re also welcoming our part time secondary artist on full time at the beginning of May, so getting him into the mix is a big goal.
The first major release since we put out the public demo is on May 1, and in that you can expect new content, a new area, new enemies (including the first female enemy) as well as new features.
Where can we find Malise and the Machine?
That’s it for Part I. In Part II, we’ll discuss the most interesting feature in the game, the Lust meter. Stay tuned!
[Image sources: In-game screenshots, http://anime-pictures.net]