This weekend was the Pulse Pounding Heart Stopping Dating Sim Jam. I decided to participate, despite having no coding ability whatsoever and having played no romance games that I can think of that didn’t primarily involve farming, robots or farming robots.
To go with the general theme of this blog, I decided to focus on doing a game which would involve ecology or biology in some way. There are numerous, fascinating examples of mating habits in the animal kingdom that are completely alien to our own. Playing a game where you reenact these animals’ lives seemed an intriguing choice for a dating sim. Balancing the actual facts and research with the player’s expectations and morality was tricky. The art is unanthropomorphic, but the characters are written as people. There’s no big pretentious reason for this, I just found the juxtaposition funny. I wanted to be true to the animal’s behavior, but also allow the player to subvert that behavior if they wished. After all, wanting to subvert an expectation only to discover that you actually can is one of the best parts of gaming.
I chose the anglerfish, which has a fascinatingly bizarre mating ritual. If you don’t know what that is, I won’t spoil it. Just give the game a try. I also considered doing a game about plants, birds of paradise, cuttlefish, or peacock jumping spiders. Lucky enough it turns out I was far from the only person with the desire to make an ecological dating sim, and at least a few of those actually became the premise for other people’s jams. I’ll update this post with links to their work as they get put online.
The game was made with Ren’py and is playable on Windows, Mac or Linux. As the first game I’ve made since I took a course in BASIC back in 3rd grade, I don’t think you should expect anything mind-blowing. It’ll take more practice before I can translate this blog’s pretentious theory into innovative games. But I’m grateful to the jam for giving me the chance to start that practice.
Here’s what you will get from Benthic Love – An Anglerfish Dating sim:
- 5 endings! - Learn interesting facts about the ocean depths! - Art by Sonya Hallett! - The ONLY LGBT-friendly anglerfish dating sim!
Other ecology/biology-themed dating sims from the jam:
The other games are worth checking out as well, as there is a wealth of feminist and LGBT-friendly stories and inventive ideas.