Why is this apparently so difficult for harem VN creators?

Tiur

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I understand that a lot of people making a new VN want to stand out.

I understand that a lot of creators want to do something "new and different" with their VN.

But why is it so hard to understand that there are some standards that exist for a reason?

If you're making a VN with a harem (three or more girls in romantic and/or sexual relationships with the main character at the same time, knowing about each other or that the MC has other girls), there are some extremely easy guidelines to ensure that you will get near-universal support.
  • No Other Men's Dicks In the LIs. This one should be obvious, but this one keeps getting fucked up. Yes, we know mothers are not virgins. Yes, we know girls with boyfriends or husbands at the start of the game are almost definitely not virgins. That's not what this means, and it's disingenuous bullshit for NTR fans to keep bringing this up as if it's some kind of 'gotcha'. What this means is that DURING THE GAME there should not be other men fucking any girl who is an LI (main girl or side girl, doesn't matter), or is going to be an LI (again, main girl or side girl, doesn't matter). There's no good reason for it. Even if it had to happen (e.g. a flashback about the MC's mother before the MC's birth), don't SHOW it to us. It's not titillating and it's not sexy to see another guy fucking an LI.
    • Side note: Side Stories aren't a justification for this either, if the characters in the side story also appear in the main story, even in flashbacks. Side stories should be used to include more context for main story events, so they should be considered optional parts of the main story. Not playing a side story doesn't make its events suddenly not have happened.
  • LIs Should Not Be More Interested In Others Than In the MC. This one should also be obvious. Girls who are already with the MC, or who are intended for the MC, SHOULD NOT make choices that place other people over the MC. They should not be encouraging other LIs to do things with people other than the MC. Even in harem stories with netori involved, while the LI may still have feelings for her current partner, there should also still be some form of estrangement between the LI and their current partner to permit the romantic and sexual theft of the LI away from that partner that the MC will be performing.
    • Side note: I said 'people' here a lot instead of 'men' on purpose. I know a lot of people don't consider girl-girl activity to be NTR, but if the LI is more interested in fucking the other girl than she would be in fucking the MC (whether the other girl is also an LI or not), then it absolutely falls under this point as well.
  • The LIs Should Be The Game's Focus. This one, again, should be obvious. The LIs are the ones that matter in these games. If you are showing previews and you get all excited about a character being introduced, and talk about that character a lot, especially if she's a cute girl, she should be an LI. Doing this with a girl who isn't an LI is a waste of artistic, developmental, narrative, and promotional effort. Girls who are not LIs should serve some important narrative purpose that literally could not be served any other way, or they are unnecessary to the game and their inclusion should be carefully considered. Editing is a virtue, not a sin.
    • Side note: If a dev/artist likes a girl who is not an LI enough to be gushing about them during previews, why are they so determined for them to not be an LI? It's like they're setting themselves up for failure. If she's likable, she should be an LI. If she's not, no one will like that the dev/artist is spending so much effort on her. This is also why so many non-harem games fail, because the dev is putting so much effort into girls that are dead ends for the MC for a player who isn't on those girls' paths.
    • Side note two: Female Antagonists generally escape this, but they're usually a lot more obviously not LIs than the kind of girls I'm talking about. Even then, though, a LOT of games include antagonists in the harem eventually, once they've been defeated, reformed, and redeemed. This is why most games tend to use male antagonists, though, to avoid having to either write a redemption arc, or justify why there can't be a redemption arc.
I know I said all of the above should be obvious. They really should. And yet, I have had to drop a different game for each one of these reasons, this month alone. These were all games that started out with a strong harem focus (one's even still got the tag), and the first few updates seemed great, and then they just went off the rails hard in one or more of these directions.

Anyway. Just had to get that off my chest after this month's disappointments. Feel free to ignore me and let this wall of text thread fall into obscurity, since this was more for me than for anyone else.
 
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Perverticus

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Side note: If a dev/artist likes a girl who is not an LI enough to be gushing about them during previews, why are they so determined for them to not be an LI? It's like they're setting themselves up for failure. If she's likable, she should be an LI. If she's not, no one will like that the dev/artist is spending so much effort on her. This is also why so many non-harem games fail, because the dev is putting so much effort into girls that are dead ends for the MC for a player who isn't on those girls' paths

this one honestly reminds me of My sister, My Roommate. a giant chunk of the game was focused on the sister and her obvious desire to be with her brother, only for the dev to go "no,no,no" towards the end because he wanted players to be with this one particular girl who only had a few events here and there or be alone, since to pursue her you had to pretty much abandon literally everyone else (who you pretty much lied to, to get with). At least eventually the dev dropped that idiotic intended story ending before they finally finished the game and broadened it a little.
 
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JoeTheMc84

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This is funny because I’ve been writing a comprehensive guide to harems for about a week now. It’ll be longer than this but all the points you made I’ll be making too.
 
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illiono

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I've never understood ntr aversion. Why can't/shouldn't an harem game be "open", albeit with a warning? For me, making the love interest prostitute themselves for the MC or even become "free use" just becouse the MC finds it hot is the ultimate shown of devotion.
 
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Tiur

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I've never understood ntr aversion. Why can't/shouldn't an harem game be "open", albeit with a warning? For me, making the love interest prostitute themselves for the MC or even become "free use" just becouse the MC finds it hot is the ultimate shown of devotion.
The aversion to NTR is generally due to the purpose of NTR being a third party stealing the woman away from the protagonist or viewpoint character, leading to the woman's betrayal of the protagonist/viewpoint character (for the purpose of causing jealousy in the protagonist or viewpoint character). While this is generally fine in porn, in a harem game where the MC is named by the player, and the player is actively making choices for the MC and is likely identifying with him, it's going to feel more like an actual betrayal.

What you're describing is Sharing and Prostitution, not NTR. Totally different fetish, but also not one I've seen commonly appreciated by most harem fans, for similar reasons. The specific kind you're describing is about ownership and domination, rather than being about romance, so most people looking for romantic harems won't like it. Generally speaking, an MC who would find it hot for another guy to fuck his girls isn't particularly compatible with the romantic harem concept.
 
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JoeTheMc84

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I've never understood ntr aversion. Why can't/shouldn't an harem game be "open", albeit with a warning? For me, making the love interest prostitute themselves for the MC or even become "free use" just becouse the MC finds it hot is the ultimate shown of devotion.
Because. If the girls is into fucking others you are a cuck, if she isn’t into it, you’re an asshole who is basically making her get rapped to get yourself off. Optional is a lie. It fundamentally either makes the girls a slut and not worth it in a harem where there are other girls who are loyal, or it turns the MC into a man making girls around him get raped for his amusement and pleasure.

What you would be describing is not a harem, it is a pimping or brothel game. Not a harem. If I was making a gay game and over half the content was heterosexual I didn’t make a gay game. I made a bisexual game. Genre matters.

And before the “that’s hypocritical, the MC screws around,” comes out from anyone. It’s a game and being a hypocrite for the main character is the point. Also, it’s not hypocritical. Male and female sexuality is different. For a woman to have sex she just has to say yes to a guy. A guy has to get a woman to say yes.
 
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I will preface my response by writing that if...IF the VN is designated as a Harem based story/game AND the author intented a pure harem game, then there might be an argument for no NTR of any kind. If, however, the author intended for sharing, etc. then NTR actually works, as long as it is mutual; i.e. the idea that girl-on-girl action is acceptable yet any male involvement would not be, seems a double standard - what if the MC was bisexual? Would it then be acceptable for the other members of the harem to be sharing each other when the MC was involved?

The problem arises because NTR as a label, includes more than just cuckolding (a Western term used to describe a beta-male that, due to their weakness of character, is "cucked" by their love interest); cuckolding is merely one form of NTR, not the only form of NTR.

Understand I am not saying Tuir is incorrect in his assessment and definition of a Harem VN, although I do get the impression that the definition of NTR is narrow.

The 'NTR' tag potentially covers various forms of netorare/netori/netorase and, as such, it can be applied in several ways. (notice there are three separate, yet adjacent terms for NTR ).

Through the actions (or inaction) of the protagonist, or within an agreement with the their partner (wife, fiance, girlfriend), the partner ends up engaging in sexual relations with other people. Typically only the wife/fiance/girlfriend has sex with another (otherwise it is swinging - wherein both partners have sex with different people). Or sharing, wherein the protagonist is willing to have their partner have sex with another as long as they are also involved. Or, swapping, wherein the protagonist will swap their partner, allowing them to have sex with another while they, in turn, are allowed to have sex with the other's partner - yes, it is variation on swinging, although typically reserved for couples swinging together as compared to the swinging where it could be anyone.

In most NTR cases neither partner wants to cheat, although one or both of them is excited by the prospect of sex with another person - either as the participant or as someone that enjoys watching their partner being pleasured by another (yes, they can be involved depending on which version you are talking about *see above*). This can be something that happens based on an agreement between both partners or it could be where the protagonist convinces the other to have sex with someone for their enjoyment or personal gain, basically 'pimping out' or whoring their partner for their own enjoyment.

Regardless of which form it takes, the partner is having sex with another and both parties may enjoy it or, only one enjoys it.

NTR is the satisfaction of a kink/fetish desire, whereas swinging is a lifestyle, polyamory involves romantic feelings with others over the long term, cheating is completely deceptive and cuckolding is where the partner desires sex with others and the protagonist is powerless to stop it from happening (this CAN be a form of NTR, however it isn't the ONLY form of NTR).

All of that said, I see NTR is a much more complex process than standard cheating or cuckolding, which is why we see all of those tags available for visual novels and games here in the forums. In other words, the NTR tag may apply in addition to or in adjacency to the other commonly used tags (swinging, sharing, swapping, cuckolding, cheating, etc.).

Of course, this will continue to be an ongoing argument and the pro-NTR crowd will demand their NTR and the Harem crowd will scream "they are all MINE!!", while the incest group is just hoping mom and the siblings give it up with their aunt's encouragement and the MILF crowd will only really care if the MC is younger with the "landlady's" booty big enough for 4K full screen...all while the loli folks wonder where the uncensored versions of their VN/game can be found.

At any rate, I am rambling and just wanted to share a slightly different definition and take on the NTR thing.

Because NTR isn't as simple as a lot of people try to make it sound, there will continue to be arguments.
 
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illiono

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Because. If the girls is into fucking others you are a cuck, if she isn’t into it, you’re an asshole who is basically making her get rapped to get yourself off. Optional is a lie. It fundamentally either makes the girls a slut and not worth it in a harem where there are other girls who are loyal, or it turns the MC into a man making girls around him get raped for his amusement and pleasure.

What you would be describing is not a harem, it is a pimping or brothel game. Not a harem. If I was making a gay game and over half the content was heterosexual I didn’t make a gay game. I made a bisexual game. Genre matters.

And before the “that’s hypocritical, the MC screws around,” comes out from anyone. It’s a game and being a hypocrite for the main character is the point. Also, it’s not hypocritical. Male and female sexuality is different. For a woman to have sex she just has to say yes to a guy. A guy has to get a woman to say yes.
But this sounds all very rigid. What if there are routes? A developer could give you a "taste" of a sharing route but let you pursue an harem later. Or you could get a mix between a few exclusive girls and a pimped one. I think the concept "tag" is much better than "genre", as its far less exclusive. Nobody expects a game with "loli" tag not to have any adult relationships. I would say then that the "harem" tag can be justified as long as at least 2 girls can be romanced in exclusivity at the same time.

And yes, I understand thar the downside of this is that it can be hard to find some tipes of games, like excusively harem or lesbian. But I don't think it's a problem of developers not knowing how to do them, but not limiting themselves to them.
 

Tiur

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As a note, most harem fans already know all of these details about what NTR is. Generally speaking, though, when it comes to AVNs, "NTR" is used to refer exclusively to netorare involving a third party stealing or corrupting the MC's partner or intended romantic interest. This mostly derives from the fact that that's how the tag was defined at the other site. It's also why that site recently changed that tag to explicitly be "netorare" instead. Netorase fell under their already-existing tags of "Cheating" and "Swinging", depending on whether it was happening with both partners' knowledge or not. Netori has always fallen purely under their existng "Cheating" tag.

Since that site has a disproportionately large influence on the AVN community, its definitions have basically become the standard, no matter how often people try to explain the differences. So in AVNs in general, and especially when referring to harem games, "NTR" means "netorare" and does not mean either netorase or netori. It certainly only refers to netorare in my post above. Netorase is also occasionally abbreviated as "NTRS" to distinguish it from netorare. Netori is short enough that it tends not to be abbreviated when it's used as a tag/genre description.

I will preface my response by writing that if...IF the VN is designated as a Harem based story/game AND the author intented a pure harem game, then there might be an argument for no NTR of any kind.
Please read the title of this thread.

I am talking about harem games. Not NTR games. Not multiple protagonist games. Not cheating/sharing/whatever games. I am specifically talking about harem games.

Lastly, we aren't talking about real life, we are talking about AVNs. AVNs are generally evaluated based on the perspective of the viewpoint character/protagonist, especially when the player is making choices as that viewpoint character/protagonist, and even more especially when the player also chooses the name of that viewpoint character/protagonist. That's where all of the above comes from.
 
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Tiur

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But this sounds all very rigid. What if there are routes?
Routes dilute the quality of the game. They basically always do. The more time spent on the more routes, the less time gets spent on the route that most of the game's fans are interested in. Every time a dev makes a game that can be harem and NTR due to those routes, it ends up being a worse game for it for several reasons, not least of them being:
  1. If there is an NTR/Cheating route, that means that the LIs are not devoted enough to the MC to not cheat. People don't play harem games to micromanage the girls to keep them from cheating.
  2. Development, rendering, and writing effort spent on two equally-detailed routes in a game means people playing one route are only getting half of a game.
  3. The situations that set up NTR/Cheating routes tend to be really shitty situations that make the girls much less desirable as love interests to anyone interested in a harem.
This isn't just about harem/sharing, either. There's a game I wish I could play, with gorgeous girls who seemed nice when I first played it, but there are seven girls, you cannot ever be with more than one of them, and the game makes you start choosing between them before you've even MET all of them. That means that every single person playing the game is getting 1/7 of a game every update, or has already locked themselves out of a route for a girl they would have chosen if they knew about her.

Lastly, I'll reiterate: this thread is about harem games and the mistakes developers have been making recently regarding harem games specifically.

Feel free to start a thread praising the virtues of NTR games or NTR routes and talk about them there.
 
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JoeTheMc84

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But this sounds all very rigid. What if there are routes? A developer could give you a "taste" of a sharing route but let you pursue an harem later. Or you could get a mix between a few exclusive girls and a pimped one. I think the concept "tag" is much better than "genre", as its far less exclusive. Nobody expects a game with "loli" tag not to have any adult relationships. I would say then that the "harem" tag can be justified as long as at least 2 girls can be romanced in exclusivity at the same time.

And yes, I understand thar the downside of this is that it can be hard to find some tipes of games, like excusively harem or lesbian. But I don't think it's a problem of developers not knowing how to do them, but not limiting themselves to them.
Beyond the excellent response from @Tiur you should also consider that routes should fit the game. Imagine if when sitting down in the developer room of, say, Mass Effect one day a dev on the team said, “Listen guys, I know this game is an epic RPG. With a sci-fi focus and has a story of Shepard going after the Reapers… but what if we have an optional route where he goes to Earth and becomes an actual shepherd, farming and tending sheep? It would be optional and give people who like mobile games and farm sims some content too.” He’d be laughed out of the room.

NTR is a fetish about being powerless and Harem is by definition a power fantasy. It’s like trying to mix motor oil and olive oil. You take two thing, perfectly fine and useful in their ways, but when you mix them you get something that can’t do either job.

As for pimping out girls, again, it is antithetical to the harem genre. It’s like adding a bunch of heterosexual scenes in a game that sold itself as a gay game. If you tell people you are making a gay game and then suddenly over half the stuff is straight sex people will not be happy.

Genre and tag are different things. That’s why I said genre and not tag. Loli is a tag, it is like big tits, milf, anal sex, monster girl, or virgin. It tells you if a type of content is in the game. Harem is a genre, like horror, sci-fi, NTR, porn, or comedy. It tells you fundamental information about the type of game you should expect to play. Some genres can mix, and even mix well, like action and comedy. So don’t like animated children’s movie and porn. Trying to mix those two could even land you in jail.
 
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illiono

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Routes dilute the quality of the game. They basically always do. The more time spent on the more routes, the less time gets spent on the route that most of the game's fans are interested in. Every time a dev makes a game that can be harem and NTR due to those routes, it ends up being a worse game for it for several reasons, not least of them being:
  1. If there is an NTR/Cheating route, that means that the LIs are not devoted enough to the MC to not cheat. People don't play harem games to micromanage the girls to keep them from cheating.
  2. Development, rendering, and writing effort spent on two equally-detailed routes in a game means people playing one route are only getting half of a game.
  3. The situations that set up NTR/Cheating routes tend to be really shitty situations that make the girls much less desirable as love interests to anyone interested in a harem.
This isn't just about harem/sharing, either. There's a game I wish I could play, with gorgeous girls who seemed nice when I first played it, but there are seven girls, you cannot ever be with more than one of them, and the game makes you start choosing between them before you've even MET all of them. That means that every single person playing the game is getting 1/7 of a game every update, or has already locked themselves out of a route for a girl they would have chosen if they knew about her.

Lastly, I'll reiterate: this thread is about harem games and the mistakes developers have been making recently regarding harem games specifically.

Feel free to start a thread praising the virtues of NTR games or NTR routes and talk about them there.
I wasn't trying to praise NTR games, just arguing that sharing both NTR and harem themes can be made into a game. You used a premise for this thread (that game devs don't know how to make an harem VN) and I don't agree with it (I belive your conception of harem in a game is limited and devs usually choose not to use it for a richer experience). In any case, we don't have to agree, and if debating the premise wasn't something you wanted when creating the thread I apologise, I'll only post something if someone ask me anything.
 
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LordVoldy

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As for one who has made a few harem VN games, I want to weigh in on this as well. The act of adding NTR to a harem focus game/VN is usually the dev being foolish about trying to appeal to everyone. Most likely with the aim of trying to make more money. It also rubs people the wrong way because It's wasting time, money and content creation for NTR content that plenty can't stand in the first place. Honestly, It just doesn't feel right for a Harem to have NTR. It does not help when those devs make NTR easy to trigger or unavoidable as well. Understandable that people see it a cuck fetish and don't identify with that. With the exception of Netori, where you are the one doing the stealing.
 

Tiur

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Another person who didn't actually read what I said.
"to ensure that you will get near-universal support".

This isn't kink-shaming, and it's not enforcing anything. These are suggestions, based on what I see as missteps, because several times I've seen devs make these missteps, then frantically flail about when they're called out on them, because they weren't aware that they were missteps. Sometimes that flailing, or getting defensive, just digs them into a deeper hole and can even damage their reputation.

Anyone who wants to create a game can, without any restrictions. Breaking these guidelines will, however, generally hurt the popularity and success of a harem-based game, if that is a goal the dev is going for. We've seen it happen time and time again, and you even mention the harem/NTR divide , which is only a difference in degree, not kind, from my points 1 and 2.
 
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DrGaf

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I've never understood why people feel the need to dictate other peoples art just because it doesn't suit their own tastes. If someone doesn't like a VN, a book, a movie, tv show, game, a painting....you get the picture... then just close it and go about something that suits you. Or better yet create your own.

When you take away the artistic licence from artists and people we all lose individuals dreams and visions. If we all did the same as everyone else and only like or appreciate the same things the world would become a very boring, bland and stagnant place.
 

Tiur

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I have taken away nothing, and am dictating nothing. I am stating my preferences, and talking about some of the things that tend to lead to successful harem VNs. As I said at the top, "some standards... exist for a reason", and this entire post is talking about "easy guidelines to ensure that you will get near-universal support."

If you disagree with my preferences, that's fine, but claiming that my post is 'dictating' anything, or claiming that I am taking anything away is just a blatant strawman, since the text is plainly present.

I will continue to criticize things I see as missteps, because that's how artists grow. No artist is created perfect and infallible, and I will NEVER be a yes-man who uncritically praises a dev. Even the several devs I am friends with are aware that I won't mince words, and I won't withhold my honest opinion, and they value me for that.

"Just close it" is a useless response when I see potential in an AVN, when I see that it could be so much better and greater than it is. When an AVN has been going very well, drawing me in, showing its potential quality, and then takes a hard right turn and shoves someone else's cock down my LI's throat (either literally or figuratively), THAT'S when I get frustrated and ranty.
 
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User_753

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You're not entitled to having a game meet your assumptions throughout the script.

There's a strong disconnect in your opening post and this defence immediately above. You've swung from "these are guidelines for near-universal support" to "I'm just stating my preferences". Those two statements are not equivalent.
 

Tiur

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I'm entitled to state what I think and feel about a game's plot. I'm also entitled to state some general things that I have personally and directly seen lead to near-universal support for a harem game. Misrepresenting that as thinking I am "entitled to having a game meet my assumptions" is, yet again, a strawman.

I will again reiterate what I said at the bottom of the post and add a few more explicit statements, since so many people are unable to read between the lines:
  • This was a generalized rant because I dropped three different games in one month for fucking these things up in ways that destroyed those games' potential in my opinion.
  • I made this post because I was specifically letting those devs make the game they wanted to make, without any of my further involvement or feedback.
  • I provided my feedback and criticism to those devs, like almost all devs ask for in their threads, and then I stopped posting in their threads.
  • I posted this rant for aspiring harem game devs to learn some of the mistakes other devs have made, so they have a better chance of success, specifically without naming names.
  • My goal here is to see devs making the kinds of games I would like to play
And mostly, I'm just tired of people jumping in here, getting offended at strawman claims I never made.
 
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User_753

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The varied responses finding angles in the text that you didn't intend indicates to me that this would have come across better as a proper write-up after a few drafts, rather than how it exists currently. There's not enough separation between opinion and fact, nor any sourced evidence.

I'm sorry you went to the effort of trying to express your opinion in a constructive manner only to met by people like myself who have misunderstood your message due to the format.
 

JoeTheMc84

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I've never understood why people feel the need to dictate other peoples art just because it doesn't suit their own tastes. If someone doesn't like a VN, a book, a movie, tv show, game, a painting....you get the picture... then just close it and go about something that suits you. Or better yet create your own.

When you take away the artistic licence from artists and people we all lose individuals dreams and visions. If we all did the same as everyone else and only like or appreciate the same things the world would become a very boring, bland and stagnant place.

You're not entitled to having a game meet your assumptions throughout the script.

There's a strong disconnect in your opening post and this defence immediately above. You've swung from "these are guidelines for near-universal support" to "I'm just stating my preferences". Those two statements are not equivalent.
The whole, "Artists should make what they want," is a total copout and bs argument for many reasons.

One reason is because it goes without saying. No shit a person has the free will to do whatever they hell they want.

Number two reason it's a bullshit argument is because it comes after someone has often times said, "I want to make X (harem with no NTR)" and sold it as X for a long time and then suddenly makes Y (NTR content). these devs promise one thing and then after months and sometimes years do something else. Sometimes after directly saying they won't add NTR and stuff, then they do. Calling this out isn't telling a dev the type of game to make, it's calling out bullshit from a liar.

Another reason, number three, is because NTR fans ask for, and often demand, NTR all the time and sometimes even try to bribe devs into making NTR. I know developers who have been offered money to break their word and add NTR. Funny how trying to keep developers to their word or advise them on way to be more successful is called, "Stifling creativity," but when NTR fans beg for NTR or even try to bribe devs it's something else... funny that...

Reason number four, they aren't making it for themselves, if they were it would be on their computer and no one would ever see it, these devs want to make money. The moment you make something for other people to consume you MUST take those other people's thoughts into account. You want to cook for yourself in your own kitchen, make what you want. If you are writing a game for yourself, make it how you want. The moment you put it out for others, you are *obligated* to at least consider how it will affect others. You make food with peanuts you had better tell folks because some people can literally die if they eat peanuts. If a developer expects to make money, they had better damn well make sure the game meets the expectations of their target audience. In any other field this goes without saying, you take the wants of your customers into account. AVNs aren't just art, they are a product. Period.
 
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