We got a total of 1256 responses! 285 patrons, which is about a 35% response rate - that's pretty good. The rest of the surveys were from 971 fans. I'm going to lay out the data in order, in most cases looking at patrons, fans, then the combination of both. Huge thanks to everyone who filled out a survey!
One result: many people don't play the game every version, both patrons and fans. Some check in every few months, others even longer. I can't quantify the percentage of fans this is, though. Anyway, this post will talk about characters freely, it should be considered to CONTAIN SPOILERS! I recommend reading if you're current or nearly current on the game.
Though I did this mostly to feed my analytical side, one of my primary reactions is a decidedly non-analytical "Aww, you guys!" Normally I look at numbers - Patreon, downloads, views, etc - and they're just statistics. But a far larger number of patrons/fans responded to surveys than usually comment, and it was a repeated reminder that there are real human beings behind all those numbers.
The information gathered doesn't really tell me anything about anyone in particular, but it still makes me feel closer to everybody. Once again, thanks for your support, via Patreon or just via enjoying the game! I'm able to spend my life creating thanks to you all, and I'm very grateful for that. ^-^
I went back and forth on how to label the two surveys. The problem is that "patrons" is a noun and "public" is not. I ended up referring to public survey respondents as "fans" - that's imprecise, since patrons obviously like the game too, but I think it's clear enough.
The patron poll is always on the left (you can also tell by the number of responses). Since they were usually similar, I didn't combine the two datasets except for some analysis.
(The inline images may show up small. I'll put them as attachments to the post too.)
Disclaimers and Caveats
This isn't a scientific survey, so conclusions shouldn't be taken too strongly. I did throw out some of the surveys. When I got mostly identical surveys back to back, I assumed the person clicked the button twice. Some people were also clearly trolling, and I threw out those replies. I looked askance at a few responses, but kept them in if people left thoughtful comments - maybe some of you just have very interesting lives. XD
That's not to say that I was aggressive with tossing surveys. Some of you guys have jokes, and that's just fine. One person filled out the survey as Qum D'umpe. ^-^ In these cases, I removed the joke responses manually but didn't throw out the survey.
But our biggest limitation in interpreting these results? The lack of data on people who play NSFW games in general. Without the ability to compare, it would be a mistake to draw too strong of conclusions from the distribution of some answers. Starting with the first one...
TLS fans are mostly dudes. I would really like to know the average gender balance for comparable NSFW games, but I don't think that data exists. This disparity is unsurprising, given the nature of the game and the field in general.
I didn't notice much difference between male and female respondents. There were slight differences on some questions, but given the sample size, that's probably statistical noise. The one exception is that bisexuality was highly over-represented in women, possibly because TLS has a mostly female cast.
Unfortunately, the Patreon side is a little wonky because I changed the options slightly early on. I'll add the duplicate entries for my statements below.
As we wondered, there was indeed an age difference between patrons and fans. For patrons, 58.7% are in their 20s, 27.3% are in their 30s. For fans, 67.3% are in their 20s, 18.5% in 30s. The >20 category also fits this (4.7 vs 10.6).
This is the start of one of the trends found in the data: patrons tend to be older, and age tends to have consequences in relationships, children, education, and income. Obviously there's a huge amount of individual choice involved, but it makes sense that the age difference would skew the data sets. Whatever percentage of people want to get more education, get married, or have children, they're less likely to have done so if they've had less time.
Anyway, it's unsurprising that a lot of patrons were in their 20s and 30s. So am I, glad to have you all. I'm quite pleased that a decent percentage (4.7% of the combined total) are in their 40s and 50s. This is great! Many members of this group commented about gaming in general over time. They cut their teeth on some truly great RPGs, so I'm glad they consider TLS worth their time.
We had exactly four people in the 60+ category. You guys are great, may we all be as awesome when we reach that age.
Okay, here's the first one where we had a surprise: blog traffic was not representative of supporters! It was for the top several countries, but given how rapidly traffic dropped off, I figured we'd have less geographic spread. I was definitely wrong there!
You can see the difference in fewer US patrons above, but otherwise there wasn't much difference between patrons and fans, so I combined them into one large dataset.
All told, TLS players live in 61 different countries! Here are the top ones, including a few surprises. Though a large percentage of people live in the US, I think it's really neat to see that my game has more of a worldwide reach than I thought!
Top Fifteen Countries by Total Surveys
1) USA (528)
2) Germany (96)
3) Canada (73)
4) UK (61)
5) France (52)
6) Australia (42)
7) Brazil (30)
8) Russia (22)
8) Spain (22)
10) Sweden (20)
11) Netherlands (19)
12) Poland (17)
13) Italy (16)
14) Philippines (13)
15) Norway (10)
Unsurprisingly, most respondents are heterosexual. The distribution between patrons and fans is almost identical, which surprised me a little - I thought that people who liked the game but didn't find adult content that appealed to them might be less likely to support, but apparently not.
The bisexual and pansexual players are worth discussing, because I don't think TLS provides too much that specifically caters to either group. My inclination is to think that this is probably the normal distribution of those orientations in the player base and that TLS doesn't particularly select for or against those players. Whereas homosexual players are under-represented, which is unsurprising considering the game has overwhelmingly heterosexual content.
On the other hand, asexuals (2.9%) are over-represented even if we go by total population numbers. That's kind of interesting, but I guess not shocking since this game has a lot of non-sexual content. All I have to say on this: I had the existence of asexuality in mind when I first sat down to create this game.
Mostly single people, mostly childless. There's a difference between patrons and fans that looks statistically significant to me, though, most likely along the lines of the general age phenomenon we discussed.
Another question that is fun but not really useful. =D As expected, most TLS players have English as their first language - significant difference between patrons and fans, though. The numbers are similar to the nationality ones: similar to blog traffic for the big countries, but much larger than traffic would represent for the small ones. All told, TLS players have 31 different native languages!
Honestly, though, I didn't do I good job with these questions. All I really wanted to know was how many people playing TLS are native English speakers, as I regularly hear from people who aren't. In retrospect, I wish I would have asked if English was the person's first, second, or third language, with perhaps an option for people who grew up bilingual.
But hey, I did get the data: roughly 36.5% players have English as a non-primary language. You all clearly don't have a problem with your English if you can read this game comfortably, but I did hear from some who said it was rough on the vocabulary. Bwahaha, you've fallen into my trap, this has been an educational game all along!
As expected, the majority of TLS players are irreligious. I underestimated the number of religious people playing, though, 11% is a sizable minority.
A decent number listed religions that have no sexual restrictions, and I expected to get those. It's those who listed a more traditional religion that surprise me. I guess... glad you're enjoying the game and thanks for your support?
People wrote in 19 different religions overall, most appearing only once or twice. Exceptions include Buddhism (8), Islam (3), Judaism (3), Pantheism (4), and neo-pagan groups if you combine them (4). Special shoutout to the three Pastafarians playing.
63.5% of religious respondents are Christian, 48% of that group specifying Catholic. That's well and good, but it does make me conscious about the fact that I'm posting this on Easter. XD Happy Easter, everybody!
Here we go, the statistical verification that "I love the game, but I am a poor college student" is a major phenomenon. Fans were approaching twice as likely as patrons to be currently in college. In fact, regardless of what level of education people had, patrons were more likely to have finished than to be currently pursuing education.
This is one of the questions where I really wish I could compare our survey to data on internet users and adult game players in general. As it is right now, it's just kind of neat.
Based on negative messages received, this was the most offensive question on the survey. Though few elaborated, my impression is that people felt there was a value judgment implied. I don't know if it does any good to say so, but I don't intend anything of the sort.
Having said that, I'm not sure how useful the data is. It's enormously skewed by the number of fans who aren't based on the US. As many of them pointed out in their surveys, costs of living vary so much between countries that it's difficult to compare. I still think that an alternative method of purchasing power would have been too tricky, but it renders this data less useful since we can't really compare it to any population.
The obvious statistical difference is that patrons have more disposable income, which is unsurprising. I think this points to one of the great things about Patreon, though: patrons don't just fund a game, they fund a free experience for a much larger group of people.
I was really curious if this one would show a patron/fan difference, and it does, but the differences aren't as clear as some. Having followed the game for less than three months makes people less likely to be patrons, which is what you'd expect, but the rest of the categories are pretty close to even.
It's tempting to draw conclusions from this, but I'm not sure the data can justify it. There are so many messy factors involved in being a patron or not, we'd need a lot more precise data to speak with reasonable confidence.
Players overwhelmingly chose reshaped Varia and saner Altina. This was a strong response I didn't expect, and it has more significance than the data that's just for fun, so I'll talk about this for a bit.
People with saves for both are likely completionists, and people with no preference don't care, which means that a rather small percentage of players chose the other versions of Varia and Altina. While we can't know exactly why, I have to wonder.
My foremost theory is that the reshaped/saner paths are more in keeping with the general ethos of the game, and thus appeal more to people that play TLS. It's also possible that I did a substantially worse job writing those versions of the characters, of course, or didn't successfully pull off the fetish I was going for.
Regardless, it makes me ponder how meaningful it was for me to put those choices into the game. My intent was to allow players who wanted a more dominating feeling to be able to choose that. Maybe that was ultimately misguided given the overall tone of the game. A few people said they appreciated this or wanted more domination, but more said the existence of those options made them uncomfortable.
I'm also noting the difference in responses between patrons and fans, especially on Varia. Maybe people who want that kind of content are already less enthusiastic about TLS and adding content to cater to them is misguided on my part. Not sure, just thinking.
As expected, most people went for a balance of all objectives, but the other choices are interesting. Both groups were more likely to choose party relationships, patrons put soft power over financial profit and fans did the opposite, both had altruism last. I don't think there are any real takeaways from this, but still... neat!
Okay! This was the real meat of the survey, but I can't say as much about it here because I want to keep responses private.
I was anticipating mostly short answers to these questions, and those are indeed useful, but I'll note that a fair number of people wrote extensive responses. I was quite happy to see people giving such thoughtful feedback. ^-^ Rest assured, I read every single one!
Notably, patrons were far more likely to respond to these qualitative questions than fans. I suppose that makes sense if we assume that patronage sometimes selects for interest in the game.
How did you find TLS?
For any other survey creators reading, I should have rewritten this question as "How did you first learn about TLS?" because a significant minority used this question to offer an evaluative statement. Thanks for all those, people took the opportunity to say a lot of nice things, but I'm going to focus on sources of traffic.
There tended to be only a few dozen people at most from any forum or site. The top referrers were Legend of Krystal, Fenoxo, Hongfire, Reddit, and Ultimate LineMarvel Forum. There were also a large number of people who said they just searched Google or got a recommendation from a friend.
Many users don't remember, saying something along the lines of "One of those forums." This confirms my assumption that the pool of users for such websites is broadly similar.
Included on the list were a lot of places I've never made a thread, including a few that I wasn't monitoring for feedback. D= Still, I feel like this could be an affirmation of my general strategy: focus on making games, put the game out enough for some people to see, and trust the people interested to talk about it instead of focusing too much on marketing.
Or... maybe I'd be doing better if I did more marketing. Can't actually say! In any case, since this is working okay, I will keep focusing on game development.
Does anything in TLS make you uncomfortable?
I wanted this question as a way to give people a chance to speak up anonymously, and many did. Again, let me say that I reflected on all the answers I received.
There was one thing about half a dozen people said that I want to reply directly to: the fourth wall will not be broken in TLS. I'm happy that was the thing that made some of you most uncomfortable, though. XD
Most people who responded to the question answered in the negative, 67% of the total respondents. A large number of people (16%) listed things that they knew were supposed to make them uncomfortable, such as the Fucklord's treatment of Erosia. Fully 12% commented about Robin, which is what I expected to get the most attention.
Of those who brought it up, 31 expressed disapproval, 17 made neutral comments, 13 said they expected to be uncomfortable but accepted it as written, and 8 apparently anticipated this and wrote defenses of the Robin/Simon development.
People usually just listed this without commentary, but some said more. Many said that they were equally uncomfortable with Nalili, which is an opinion I hadn't heard before, so that alone is useful.
I'm not using this to move toward any particular conclusion, just noting it. Perhaps I'll write more about this later, perhaps not.
What event in TLS are you most looking forward to?
People are looking forward to lots of things! All I'll say is that many of you will be happy, some of you relatively soon. Though I enjoy throwing surprises, as a whole I want TLS to fulfill the promises it makes to players for a satisfying conclusion.
Best for last!
Lots of people couldn't choose, which is flattering but presented a tricky question for me in terms of aggregating data. I decided to go with two lists. The first counts only people who gave a single favorite character and ignores any ties or other references. The second counts everyone mentioned as a favorite, plus those designated as second/third favorites.
A few caveats:
- There was no real difference between patrons and fans.
- Since many people said "everyone" or "can't choose" or something else along those lines, I made that its own entry.
- I made reasonable assumptions when it came to misspellings. "Megan" was surprisingly popular.
- Indirect answers counted too. Person who wrote solely "pious as shit" - I got you. ^-^
- People who listed more than five got relegated to the "everyone" option to keep things from getting out of hand.
Single Votes (540 total)
1) Simon (119)
2) Robin (70)
3) Yarra (67)
4) Aka (42)
4) Everyone (42)
6) Qum (37)
7) Megail (35)
8) Nalili (14)
9) Sarai (12)
10) Empress Esthera (11)
10) Hilsatara (11)
10) Orcent (11)
10) Trin (11)
14) Janine (9)
15) Carina (7)
16) Varia (6)
17) Riala (6)
18) Uyae (5)
19) Alonon (4)
19) Altina (4)
19) Ginasta (4)
Three Votes: Dari, Vhala, Wendis, Wynn
Two Votes: the Chosen, the Incubus Emperor, Lynine, Orilise
One Vote: Balia, Fheliel, the Goddess of Magic, the Impaler, Iris, Ivala, Lexande
All Votes (784 total)
1) Simon (141)
2) Yarra (94)
3) Robin (86)
4) Qum (59)
5) Aka (58)
6) Megail (43)
7) Everyone (42)
8) Nalili (25)
9) Orcent (20)
10) Sarai (19)
11) Trin (17)
12) Janine (15)
13) Empress Esthera (14)
14) Carina (13)
14) Ginasta (13)
14) Hilstara (13)
14) Varia (13)
18) Riala (11)
19) Wynn (9)
20) Alonon (8)
20) Dari (8)
20) Orilise (8)
20) Uyae (8)
24) Altina (7)
25) Vhala (6)
26) Balia (5)
27) Lynine (4)
27) Wendis (4)
Three Votes: The Chosen, Iris
Two Votes: Fheliel, Incubus Emperor, Min, Xerces (the Anak)
One Vote: "All the orcs," Goddess of Magic, the Impaler, Ivala, Lexande, Lucy, Stark, Tyna, Xestris
There are the plain text versions for those who want to take a look at the details, but since this part was especially fun, I decided to do a visual representation. You know those character popularity polls you see in a lot of manga? I've always thought the idea was kind of entertaining, so...
Whew, I think that does it! This was a ton of work... hope everybody enjoys the results too! Thanks again to everyone who helped out with the surveys!