domingo, 28 de novembro de 2010

The story behind Marvel Brothel

This was originally posted at Marvel Brothel's gameprofile at RPGMaker.net on March 14th, 2010.

I'm often curious as to how game makers come up with the concepts of their projects, and what's the execution process like. I know some people might not care about this, but here it goes anyway:

Marvel Brothel is a contest entry for Nackster's "Fanboyz!", a two-month (Jan-Feb 2009) gamemaking contest held in Gaming World themed for games based on a pre-existing product or license.

Even before this contest, I had in my mind the idea of making a brothel simulator. Not an original idea, actually. I had watched my brother playing an online flash game called Hentai Sim Brothel, which was pretty bad IMO, but somewhat addicting. I played it for a while, and thought "I could do better". I'm not a big fan of these point-and-click text-based flash games, so I thought the concept of a brothel simulator would look much cooler in a more dynamic engine, like rpgmaker. In my mind, I had a brothel version of Theme Park, one of my all-time favorite SIM games.

When Nackster launched the Fanboyz contest, I was just thinking of a product or brand I could fit in a Brothel Simulator. My first idea was names "Pussycat Dolls Happy House", based on the girl band. I gave up on it because there aren't many Pussycat Dolls (5, or 6, or 7, I dunno), and because my brother thought it was bad taste (is it?).

Picking Marvel Universe as a theme was his idea, and a great one. Marvel's got a lot of characters, it's very popular, and allows for more gameplay options.

Even though I already knew many Marvel characters from popular sources (movies, cartoons, games), I did some heavy research on characters and universe, mostly from Marvel.com, Comic Vine and reading comics, so I could get familiar with the way characters spoke, acted, etc.

Not sure if I should mention that, but my research applied to the second word of the game name too. I got to visit a big real brothel, which was closed at the time... but it was very interesting, because I could take a look at all the facilities, and talk to the owner about the brothel's agenda, its clients, management, everything.

The following 2 months were heavy work. I designed the simulation system from scratch, and it's the largest coding I ever did on rm2k3. Graphics are almost entirely custom made, even songs are edited. I was kinda scared of myself about how much dedication I could put on this project. Around the last two weeks, I spent as much as 11h/day working on it, just so I could get it ready in time. I enjoyed what I was doing, but I also had my eye on the 1st place $75 prize.

Coincidentally, the deadline was around the 28th of February, which is my brother's birthday. Since he's a bigger Marvel fan than I am, and it was his the original addiction to brothel simulators, I dedicated the game to him (in the opening credits).

There was an extension to the deadline because there weren't many entries. Besides my own, they were Lost Universe, Project DOAD and Biggles on Mars, all great games.

Sadly, Nackster kinda disappeared sometime near the end of the contest, and we didn't hear from him for quite a while (to the point we thought he might have died). Later I found out he was going through some personal stuff. The contest never reached an official end, but we agreed to making an open poll and voting for the winner. Marvel Brothel won with 41.2% out of 17 votes. I'm not particularly proud of it, because I imagine some people voted for my game merely because of its name.

I didn't care much for that money prize anymore. As anyone who makes amateur games, I just want people to play what I do. And I think Marvel Brothel is kinda jinxed in that aspect... not only we had this strange outcome for the contest, but the game randomly lags in some people's computer, not to mention the fact that most people don't take it seriously because of the funny concept. I'm very proud of the final product, anyway.

Thanks for reading!

terça-feira, 9 de novembro de 2010

Marvel Brothel taken down!

The last week has been crazy for me as the creator of Marvel Brothel. I’m gonna start this by reposting something I wrote for the original gameprofile of Marvel Brothel (which has been taken down for reasons to be explained below):

Marvel Brothel MADNESS!
Calunio 11/06/2010 11:37 PM
The best a person who makes amateur games can expect is for his game to get attention and recognition. So I'm not exaggerating when I say the last couple of days have been like a dream to me, because of what happened with Marvel Brothel.

I should contextualize my satisfaction by saying I was pretty disappointed with the attention the game DIDN'T get at first. Not because I thought it would be a blast or anything like that... but at least I expected it to draw the attention of Marvel fans and sim lovers. More about the story of this game here. But I guess the premise was way too odd and the title too funny for people to believe this could be a real game, so a lot of people immediately dismiss it as a joke game, and stick with such conceptions before even playing.

It's funny that almost two years after I finished this game (February 2009), it started to get serious attention. The one to thank is Harbour Master from a blog called Electron Dance, who posted the first article at November 2nd. Like I said in my previous blog post, it is an awesome fun article. Apparently he told a friend at Rock, Paper, Shotgun, who also decided to write a feature on it on November 5th (Friday). RPS is a HUGE site... HM told me to watch out for the download count after that... and indeed, it raised 500 in just a few hours... suddenly, everybody started talking about Marvel Brothel, there were these tweets about it, forum topics about it (including this bizarre one), and... oh well. Friday morning I remember the game having 1100 downloads. Right now, Saturday evening, it counts 3641, which is insane.

INSANEIMREALLYECSTATICDONTBEJEALOUSBESTDAYOFMYLIFE

I guess what makes me happier is that finally people are taking Marvel Brothel as a real game, not a lame porn joke... at least that's what most people in RMN think (thanks to Kentona for helping me break this image with in his SNEWS!). I know it's not the best game ever, I know it has its flaws, and I know most of the attention is just because of its weirdness, but still it's a pretty decent little game... say them: (all in the last couple of days, except the first article):


And them

And them

And the tweeters

It's crazy. And I'm very happy. Thanks everyone!

Oh, and people are talking about Marvel Comics making me shut this game off. Well, that may happen... but really? Most RM games are full of copyrighted content and stuff. Should I really be worried about that? I thought they would be flattered.

The thing is... I should have been worried about that, because on November 9th, Marvel Entertainment, LLC contacted the website where the game was hosted as asked it to be taken down:

(...)

The following downloadable role playing game titled “Marvel Brothel,” contains numerous names, images, characters and trademarks infringing on Marvel’s intellectual property rights. This unauthorized role playing game that infringes Marvel copyrights can be found at:

(...)

We are requesting this game is removed as soon as possible, we appreciate that this is being taken seriously and you are doing what you can while the site staff is reorganizing. I understand it is a small community, so I prefer to make the request directly to the administrator who can remove the offending game surgically, rather than through an ISP who might take down the entire site.

Not willing to get in trouble with Marvel, the site took the game page down... which I completely understand. The website where it was hosted can’t be held responsible for copyright issues regarding my own game, obviously. I wasn’t mad at this, just sad, because I lost the game page design I had worked on with all those comments, and blog posts, and screenshots, and of course... downloads (around 5500 last time I checked).

Now... I was obviously aware I using copyrighted material from Marvel. I just didn’t think that it would be a problem. First, because it was an amateur free game, so I'm not getting any money from it. Second and most important... there are zillions of amateur free games that use copyrighted material... including graphics, music and trademarked names. I could name a few other Marvel games made in RPGMaker alone. There is just a bunch of fangames around, and none of them are licensed to use the material they do. Normally, no one seems to care.

People also told me that not only I used copyrighted material, but in an offensive way, since I turned Marvel characters into prostitutes. Come on... really? Most female Marvel characters do dress like prostitutes anyway. It isn’t such a stretch of imagination. There is high undeniable erotic content on Marvel characterization. I actually just found out that there is an actual brothel on the official Marvel universe called the X-Ranch. And there are plenty of fanfic, fancomics and fanimages using Marvel characters around, including pornographic ones. You can google for them if you’re curious. So I really don’t understand what is it specifically about my own game that’s drawn Marvel’s attention.




But it’s ok. I don’t feel wronged, I just feel picked on. And a little sad. A lot of effort was put into this project. I’m glad the game had its moment of glory, even if it took almost two years. The game profile was taken down, but over five thousand people have downloaded it, so it’s still around somewhere. Heck, maybe this will even make the game a bit more famous. The game was never meant to be contentious, just a fun little game with a new concept and characters everybody already knows and likes.