Holy crap, we hit my last Patreon goal! ...ish. We're hovering around it, at least. I'm gonna make a full post talking about how insane and awesome this is. For now, my brain is a bit too fried to make sense of it.
Okay, first off, I have to apologize for how long this update has taken. I made the huge mistake of diving into some big tech features without taking the time to do proper planning beforehand. So, while the mechanics stuff in this update is neat, it isn't what I thought I'd be doing and as a result it's lacking on the content side. If I'd done my due diligence and planned things out, this past month would have been a hundred times easier for me, and there'd be more content for everyone. I talk about this a bit at the end of this post.
Anyway, on to the update! It's super technical this time, so if you want the TLDR just skip to the changelog >.<'
This one was all about making the characters in the game smarter. There were a few big limitations in the code that were making the ponies not react very realistically to their surroundings:
Problem #1- They could only pay attention to one thing at a time.
Whatever a pony is looking at was the only thing they reacted to (emotionally). This was especially obvious in cases where a pony felt really strongly about something you were doing to them, but would then get distracted and forget all about it... OR when you blindfolded a pony and that completely erased their personality until you took the blindfold off.
The current best fix I have is the new Awareness feature, which makes ponies mentally aware of what they're looking at AND anything touching their bodies. Their emotional state is more complex as a result, and a bit less volatile. They react based on their individual preferences in the Personality menu.
It's all WIP, obviously, but I hope this is a step forward in improving the immersion of the game and making the characters feel more realistic.
Problem #2- They didn't understand the context of what they were looking at.
So, for example, a pony likes watching anal, but is scared of Chrysalis. If the pony watched you using a toy on Chrysalis's butt, they'd stop being scared, because they'd only understand "TOY + BUTT" and not whose butt. A second way this manifested was with ponies who were in love with each other. E.g. Shining Armor is obsessed with Cadance, but would only look at her face because any toys being used on her were, to him, just toys in a vacuum.
So the fix was to expand entities in the game to include temporary contextual information. Now, ponies know whose butts they're looking at. So, for example, Shining Armor will happily watch toys get all up in Cadance because he understands "TOY + BUTT + WIFE". Also, a pony's current gender is included in the contextual information. So if you have a character with a gender preference, they'll be more/less excited to watch "TOY + MALE BUTT" or "TOY + FEMALE BUTT".
Problem #3- There wasn't any way to make them react at an arbitrary strength depending on the situation. It was either react to this thing, or don't.
A little hard to explain, but basically, if I wanted a character react with more arousal as a toy got bigger, I had to individually set the reaction for each size. Size 1 = 5% arousal. Size 2 = 10% arousal. And so on. It got even harder when I wanted to do things like have them respond with growing fear as they watched another character feel more and more pain.
So yeah. Now all reactions are on a linear scale. This is especially impactful when ponies are watching each other, because they're now able to react to each others' changing states over time.
And so then I got even more distracted- The above changes paved the way for some incidental improvements:
More variety to characters' default personalities. They're WIP, but each character does have a much more unique set of preference values.
New buttons in the Personality menu, relating to different body and mental states.
Toy settings, like vibration and shock, are now on a linear slider, allowing better control of exactly how much pain/pleasure toys are putting out.
Arousal overhaul- there is now Physical and Mental arousal (the display is unchanged). Mental arousal comes from what the character is mentally aware of (what they're looking at and what is touching them), and is determined by the character's personality. Physical arousal builds slowly from physical stimulation and from being mentally aroused. Even if Mental arousal is negative, Physical arousal can continue to build, allowing a character to become aroused against their will.
Better negative emotions- Fear is more powerful and less likely to get drowned out by weaker emotions. Both Fear and Disgust are also hugely buffed in the Personality menu, becoming extremely powerful at high values. The descriptions in the Personality menu should match up closer to how the character actually reacts. E.g. "Terrified" will actually make them terrified now.
Also Disgust is no longer useless- it has its own expressions, and thanks to the Arousal changes, it's more intuitive. Disgust, depending on how strong it is, wipes out mental arousal. So if you want to do something a pony doesn't like but still bring them to orgasm, you'll have to rely on physical arousal.
Improved Pain- pain now lingers for a moment, but decays faster. This allows repetitive painful actions, like forcing a giant toy in with a machine, to build up to their intended pain values and stay there until the action stops.
Ponies will look at each others' or their own naughty bits if you give them body parts they especially like or dislike.
(hopefully) improved the pleasure/arousal/orgasm mechanic a bit. Pleasure = stimulation * Arousal. Orgasm builds from Pleasure * Buildup. And Buildup increases over time from Arousal and Pleasure. It... makes sense. I think. The current setup should feel more rewarding for lower-intensity stimulation, and keep the benefits of high Arousal and high stimulation situations.
Lots of changes means lots of new variables. Stuff might be kind of unbalanced.
Especially with the Attention system. If ponies are looking too much or too little at certain things, let me know and I can start tweaking the numbers.
- added variety to the characters' default personalities
- added Awareness- characters are now mentally aware of anything touching their bodies
- improved contextual awareness- characters now recognize who a toy is being used on
- split Arousal into Physical arousal, which is affected by physical stimulation, and Mental arousal, which is affected by personality.
- improved Disgust mechanic- characters can now react with disgust even when physically aroused
- added more facial expressions to show Digust
- improved Pleasure, Orgasm, and Arousal interaction
- pain now lingers before decaying
- buffed higher Fear and Disgust values in Personality menu
- fear now has a higher priority when choosing what face to make
- nerfed "Ruined" orgasms. It is now much harder to ruin an orgasm by accident. If you're specifically trying to ruin an orgasm- it's easier to ruin a longer orgasm, so spend some time increasing the "Buildup" meter before letting them cum (Buildup increases fastest when edging), and then stop stimulating them as soon as the orgasm starts
- vibration and shock levels are now on a slider instead of a few preset levels (ui is WIP)
- improved emotional reactions- Reaction strength is now based on the intensity of what a character is reacting to.
- improved voyeuristic reactions- watching another character experience pain, tickling, denied orgasms, edging, and most other possible states provides more nuanced feedback. Configurable in the Personality menu under "Stimulation".
- more Personality options added to "Stimulation" tab
- improved reactions to body parts- characters respond better to seeing genitals they like/dislike (and will look directly at them). configurable under "Body Parts" in Personality menu
- added gender preference to Personality menu. Gender preference is independant of a character's opinion about specific body parts.
- backend tech stuff- the game now uses a centralized Entity system, unifying the Attention system, the Stimulation system, and the new Awareness system
- tweak- "Voyeurism/Sadism" tab in Personality menu renamed to "Stimulation"
- tweak- characters no longer react as if you're going to penetrate them with the Wand toy until you actually are about to
- tweak- male genital colors slightly adjusted
- tweak- minor visual ballgag improvement
- tweak- sliders easier to click at min/max values
- tweak- sound effect volumes adjusted
- fixed sliders getting stuck on mouse
- A handful of ponies seem to have some of their personality traits linked. It only applies to a small set of random preferences, but if you adjust them for one of these characters, it adjusts for all of them. It looks like Pinkie, Twilight, Shining Armor, Cadance, and Chrysalis are affected. I'm working on a fix. (Thanks Sairok for finding that)
- I accidentally left debug keys enabled. Hitting random keys may break the game. My bad! (Thanks BikerDash for letting me know)
Why did this take forever?
Totally serious answer- bad project management.
I dove into coding this update without taking into account how difficult the features I was working on would be to implement. In my head, I was like "yeah, I'll just pound this stuff out in a week and then get to my actual todo list". This is how I've always worked on personal projects, but this style of work is causing me more and more problems lately.
This month, I hit a breaking point: I realized I hated what I was doing. Not because I dislike making SHF3, but because I'd buried myself in my own poor planning, and didn't know how to recover. I was stuck with some half-finished features I'd never complete in time, and no backup plan. I had no choice at that point but to power through and release the update late.
So, I need to be more responsible with how I approach this project. Both for my patrons, who are rightfully expecting regular content, and for myself. I never want to hate what I'm doing. I chose to be self-employed and to make ridiculous smut because that's what I enjoy.
My plan is to focus on assets and content in SHF3 for a bit, rather than these tech-heavy updates. There's less chance of hitting an unexpectedly difficult problem. I'm working on outsourcing more of the assets to lighten my personal load. I'm also taking a step back and looking at some of the more commonly-requested features in the game. There's some low-hanging fruit there that I can work on, which will make everyone happy.
Learn from my mistakes. Good project management can save you where your other skills fail. But no amount of skill can save you from bad project management.
Yeah, so, I like the idea of players being able to play with the SHF3 code, but it's not something I'd have time to provide any directions or support for. I'm in a feverish fugue while programming half the time, so I don't know if anyone would be able to make sense of my code.
I'll look at what it would take to get the codebase into players' hands in a way that doesn't take too much extra effort for me. No promises on when <3
Honestly I haven't been able to make them look good on these rigs. As soon as I work it out, I'll enable them, promise!
What about the things you said you'd be working on last month? None of this update's features were on the list!
Yeah, I fucked up. Those are going back to the top of the list again.
Will you add X character?
Maybe! Stay tuned, I'm going to make a post about this!
So... what's next?
Public releases of SHF3 and Love Collector. My next few days are super busy, but these will be packaged up and released as soon as I can get to them.
For SHF3, I want to focus on gentler forms of sexy times... more touching, groping, etc. My plans for tickling improvements got ignored this update, so that's at the top of the list. Also better male anatomy, toys, adding more changeling/non-pony content, and more stuff along those lines! Not all at once, mind you.
Also, new project announcement incoming! Will come after the public releases. I know y'all will have a lot of questions about this :3
Thank you all for sticking with me. I don't know what I'm doing most of the time, but somehow this Patreon is more successful than ever. I can't begin to fathom how this came to pass, but I love you all for it.