Tales from The Trenches Archive

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It’s called Rohypnol

Among my circle of friends, I’m known for openly enjoying Japanese visual novels and dating sims. I largely keep it on the DL, but from time to time it comes up.

Enter a friend who co-owns an indie development studio. The whole company consists of two programmers, an audio guy, and an artist. They mostly make flash games, and the one friend calls me in, asking me to do some focus testing on a dating sim they made that was nearing the end of cycle. I figured that it would be a good way to kill a weekend, said yes, and signed an NDA.

At this point I should mention that the stated goal of the project was “to create a dating sim/RPG that brings Western sensibilities to a Japanese genre”. All the girls in the game were 18+, there was no “harem ending,” and tentacle monsters were strictly forbidden. That sort of thing.

The game had an interesting mechanic where the player’s relationship with the various female characters were measured on two axes: How much they liked you and how much they were attracted to you. To get an ending with any single girl you had to have a high score in both these categories, but having a high attraction would still let you “score” mid-game.

There also existed a potion which would raise attraction with one girl but not how much they liked you. Between four people working on this game and who knows how many other volunteer playtesters like myself, nobody had managed to pick up that you can buy said potion that essentially lets you date rape female characters in the game, and you can use it even if they don’t like you.

After arguing about the ethics of the potion for half the weekend with the developers, I washed by hands of the situation. To my knowledge, the game hasn’t seen the light of day.