Raptor Boyfriend: A High School Romance is a dating sim about a socially anxious teenage girl looking for romance with a conflicted magical Fairy, a sensitive loner Sasquatch and a bold and unpredictable Velociraptor.
Live this '90s teen drama as Stella, who moves to a small town only to discover it's populated with hot Cryptid teens. In her last year of high school she's determined to make new friends, find romance, and smooch.
Be charmed by Day, the magical fae (fairy) and self-deprecating but talented artist. Navigate her complicated relationship as she's haunted by the ghost of her ex-girlfriend.
Reunite with your childhood friend Taylor, the mysterious guitar-playing bigfoot. Discover why he's changed from the kid you once knew to the troubled teen he is now.
Meet Robert, the once-popular sports dino-star and daredevil turned poet. Help him reckon with the loss of his past snowboarding glories.
Play a branching story full of unique heartfelt romances. Share your innermost secrets over the phone. Collect tapes, poems, and comics from your crushes.
It's up to you to decide what Stella cuddles: WINGS, FUR, or SCALES!
This postmortem is about trying to identify what happened during the development of Raptor Boyfriend. What were the challenges? What were the decisions that led to positive, neutral and negative outcomes? These can be decisions that were made unconsciously or made through indecisiveness. We will be pointing these out in order to learn from them and hopefully apply what we learn to future projects.
We’ll be using the word mistakes a lot in this postmortem. Not because a ton of them were made, but because pointing them out is useful to help us avoid making them again. It’s important to remember that making mistakes is the best way to learn and it’s not purely negative when they happen. That being said, it’s unavoidable that the term is largely viewed as a negative and it doesn’t feel good to hear when you’ve made them. But let us preface this talk with this: We tried our best with this game and our mistakes are forgivable and understandable.
The first step is to try to understand what RBF is. It's one part consumer product/ business venture, one part art, and one part personal project. As a consumer product/business venture, it is satisfying to those who bought it, being sold for $13.95 USD, but it's selling below our expectations. As a piece of art it has been appreciated by a large majority of people that play it. Reviews are mostly very positive, and even when the humor of the game isn't appreciated, the heart of it is. It has been validating for queer people, people that experience anxiety and outsiders in general. It has also been credited with being a worthy entry into the dating sim and VN genre. As a personal project it has been a mixed bag. The validation from critics/players has been great, but hard to reconcile with the lack of financial success. It was for the most part fulfilling artistically but like any project with a long development, by the end it felt restricting. The length of the project also led to exhaustion and a lack of motivation.
As a consumer product/ business venture alone, RBF struggles to compete with other games within its genre and was a financial failure (at launch). But as art alone, it's a net positive. It has improved the lives of those who have played it and contributed positively to the genre it's in (BIG success). As a personal project it becomes harder to quantify with feelings still being very fresh. It'd be worth looking back at RBF after some time to gain more perspective.
During this phase we took a pre-existing concept for the Raptor Boyfriend animated show which was briefly being workshopped to become 1-2 min animated shorts and morphed into a visual novel.
We refined the visual designs of the characters and started work on layouts and backgrounds.
We made several prototypes in various engines and gameplay designs including a version with a Facebook-type app within the game, a version where Stella's personal development was gamified (i.e.: believe in self, go with the flow etc.) and the first episode was built with point and click sections for every scene.
We wrote a bible for each character (wants, needs) and an outline for the story.
NOTE: It's hard to say what went wrong over all here. This phase took longer than expected (1 year), but that's understandable considering we were new to game development. Decisions took a bit too long to make, for instance deciding on the engine. But the engine needed to be tested and that takes time. It seems like other than committing to choices faster/ having a system for resolving differing opinions, we just needed to understand that pre-pro was taking a long time and account for that.
(shout out to Titus for finding, learning and testing all those engines).
(special shout out to Lindsay for making the characters so appealing and rising to the bizarre challenges that this game presented).
We rewrote/ redesigned the game to be significantly shorter and smaller than it was originally.
We cut out the point and click sections that were planned for each scene and only left the hub/bedroom sections.
We split the story into scenes and assigned the writing work equally between the three of us.
During the 2nd draft of the writing process, we decided that Day should be a romanceable character.
Once the writing was done, we read it over and critiqued it.
We made a solid plan for the rest of production that, while unrealistic, had a structure that we could follow and then gauge our progress as we adjusted and made new plans as we went along. It is also worth noting that having lost our part-time jobs due to covid and relying on the Canadian Emergency Relief fund allowed us to start working on the game full-time for the first time.
In this stage we re-wrote the game nearly entirely for a third time, including the outline, more character backstory, Ladle lore and the actual scripts.
We pitched the game to publishers, applied for grants and sought other opportunities like indie events and showcases.
We finished all the remaining artwork and music.
We developed a system for building the game in Ren'Py and then finished all the coding.
We made major story edits after playing through the first alpha version of the game and critiquing it
(special shout out to Titus for having the some most insightful critiques for both major writing reviews).
(special shout out to Pat for writing the "Raptor Boyfriend Current State" document and coming up with the overall writing and production plan).
We finished any last-minute work and started beta testing.
We prepared for release by making marketing materials like the trailer and a collection of contacts to send the game to for reviews/coverage on launch day.
NOTE: This section is sparse and I won't be going over our mistakes and good choices for several reasons:
It would be worthwhile to take a closer look at what happened during this phase of the project after we've had more space.
For now, all we need to know is we tried our best for the time and energy we had.
Thanks for taking the time to read our post-mortem on Raptor Boyfriend: A High School Romance! The lessons learned through its development is and has been invaluable to our experience as a studio and we are excited to apply those lessons to our future projects moving forward. We strive to continue making great games and we hope you are excited to play and experience them too!
Rocket Adrift Games (Order A Pizza) today announced their new '90s teen drama inspired visual novel Raptor Boyfriend: A High School Romance. The game...
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