Review Fix chats with game developer Bobby Ricci, who discusses the creation process behind the sexy point and click adventure, “House Party.”
Review Fix: How was this game born?
Bobby Ricci: Essentially, I started off writing a “Character Engine” that I was originally planning to sell as an asset, but it started coming together really well, and I decided I wanted to try to use it for something before packaging it and selling it. I needed an idea for a game, and I didn’t want to do another tired old game about fighting or shooting, etc, or trying to outdo other games in terms of gore and violence, etc… which seemed to be excessively prevailing in the gaming world. I found a lot of “Adult” projects that we’re receiving quite a bit of funding on Patreon, but a lot of it was just too over the top for mainstream, so I aimed to create something that kind of rode the line since I saw there was quite a demand for this, and a huge shortage of well-made games, and the concept of “House Party” was born. I set out to create the most absurd characters I could think of, who are generally just extreme parodies of various personalities that I found amusing, and slapped a player in there and gave him the ability to take off his pants, and the rest was history!
Review Fix: What was your role in the game?
Ricci: I’m the lead developer, Ceo, and founder of Eek! Games LLC. I worked on the project solo for over two years before I started building my team.
Review Fix: How did you get involved in the industry?
Ricci: Game development has always been of interest to me and I was a programmer by trade. After I got out of college I started taking programming gigs here and there and worked on my own for a while but what programmer doesn’t want to be a video game developer, right? My first venture into game development was through this browser-based demolition derby game called Crash Derby. I partnered up with a 3D developer I met online and it went pretty well. I always wanted to write a game with characters in it so I started working on House Party about 5 years ago.
Review Fix: What was development like?
Ricci: Hard. Not many solo devs take on a full blown 3D project. Of course it’s getting easier with engines like Unity and Unreal (of which House Party was built on the former), but that doesn’t mean that anybody can whip together a good game. You have to know about 3D graphics, modeling, textures, and there’s a lot of math and calculus that you need to know to understand how a lot of the engine works and make things happen reliably. I mean, sure you could just download assets off the store and slap them together, but you’re not going to get a great result out of that. My custom engine was already about 100,000 lines of code before I even started writing any of the game’s stories, and that was just to get basic functionality down. Things are much smoother now that I have a dedicated art team, and story implementation specialist, and I can focus on just the programming.
Review Fix: What makes this game special?
Ricci: House Party has a unique, fearless approach to sex and comedy and there are a lot of unique things about the game. One really cool thing is that your choices matter, and I mean really matter. You see the results of your decisions almost immediately upon making them, so there are short term changes, but also long term changes as well. You can’t unlock all of the content in one play-though. If you piss somebody off, they won’t help you, and sometimes helping somebody else might piss somebody else off. There’s a lot of complexity to how the story unfolds based on what choices you make, including all of the sandbox options you have available at any time. Also, in addition to a male point of view and LGBTQ+ representation in the game, it will have an upcoming female point of view storylines set to release next year.
Review Fix: What games influenced this one the most?
Ricci: I remember growing up playing games like Leisure Suit Larry and Space Quest, and always being a fan of those comedic adventure style games. I searched around to see if there were any games that were out there that were spicy like LSL, or even if anybody had even tried to create an adventure-style game in full 3D.
Review Fix: Any fun stories or wild moments during development?
Ricci: This entire game has been a rollercoaster ride between getting kicked off Steam, then let back on, scathing reviews despite overwhelmingly positive player reviews, getting banned from Twitch. You name it!
Review Fix: What were the major lessons learned?
Ricci: That people can be really weird when nipples, penises, and vaginas are included in video games. I honestly thought in this day and age nobody was going to bat an eye, but apparently people are for some reason much more comfortable watching people be violently bludgeoned or shot or maimed than seeing a cartoon nipple. Twitch is one of the biggest offending moral arbiters in question, as they ban any and all of the games that come close to any type of sexuality, but glorify and reward violence on their channels. It really doesn’t make any sense. If their reasoning is to “protect the children” (they don’t have age gating), then they should follow the same guidelines for violent games, since from an objective moral standpoint (especially since House Party is heavily censored by default), violence is much worse. Unfortunately though, I think they are simply pushing their puritannical beliefs on us and deciding for themselves what they think people should be watching rather than letting people make their own choices. These kinds of things hurt indie developers wanting to explore these types of topics in their games. It’s a sad situation, and I hope people start calling out their hypocrisy and bigotry in a way that forces them to make some changes. I’m fine if they don’t want to include violence AND sexuality on their service (which is what they say they are doing), but they only enforce the latter, so they clearly have an agenda.
Review Fix: Do you think preserving older gameplay mechanics in new games is important?
Ricci: Yes and no. Some older gameplay mechanics were god awful. In the earlier versions of Leisure Suit Larry (of which this game was heavily inspired), you needed to type commands into a prompt and hope the computer understood what you were trying to say. I think the older gameplay style has been missed (the adventure puzzle game), and I really wanted to bring that back, but I felt I needed to marry it to a new and intuitive way to interact with the environment. Those types of puzzle games are notorious for having terrible control schemes and UI. We aimed for the simplicity of a first person game, with the underlying complexity of those old puzzle games.
Review Fix: What’s your favorite memory as a gamer?
Ricci: I loved trying things in games just to see if “the developers thought of that”. That’s another reason I used to love those old adventure style games. You try to combine random items or try to use an item with something and get a cool easter egg or joke from the dev. House Party is chock full of that kind of stuff, and it makes up some of the core game content at times.
Review Fix: How do you want this game to be remembered?
Ricci: I have a feeling this game will be remembered differently by different people.. Lol. Personally, I want people to see this as the comedy it is. Unforutnately, the sex included in the game has clouded a lot of people’s judgement and many people have missed out on enjoying just a silly and fun game. I don’t regret adding those elements though, as it certainly brought the game a lot of attention that it wouldn’t have had otherwise, but at the same time, I wish more people would just play the game and see what it’s about before passing judgement. Most people are pleasantly surprised, and the “outrage” subsides.
Review Fix: What’s next?
Ricci: Office Party is our next planned project as a sequel to House Party. It will have a similar premise, but will take place over the course of months to years (game time of course) as the player will be able to have a “career” in which his decisions along the way will shape whether he excels and becomes CEO of the company, or he ends up scrubbing the toilets. This will also affect the people he/she meets and the relationships they will forge. You will also have an apartment that you’ll be able to decorate and upgrade, and there will be other locations the player can visit. We will be bringing a lot of the characters, craziness and comedy of House Party along for the ride as well, and building on what we’ve already created.