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  • Postmortem: Lies and Seductions

    [10.13.09]
    - Petri Lankoski
  •  Lies and Seductions is a single player adventure game, in which player controls Abby. Abby has made a wager with her friend Becca to seduce Chris, a Christian rock star, who has promised to stay a virgin until marriage.

    The game takes place in a cruise ship. If Abby succeeds in seducing Chris before the cruise ends, Becca will sleep with Abby. Otherwise Becca can publicly humiliate Abby.

    The player can freely move in 3D space and guide to have conversation with another character using menu based system. The player can learn about what Chris likes and dislikes by talking with Chris's friends Emma and Ed, or eavesdropping on their conversations, and later use that information in order to seduce Chris.

    The game contains also two mini games: a Dance Dance Revolution-like dance game and Texas Hold'em poker. The performance in both mini games also influences the game's progression. From time to time, comic strip-style cutscenes are used to progress the story. The game has three different endings: an ending for the lost wager, and two slightly different endings for winning the wager.


    Chris is discussing problems with his girlfriend with his sister Emma.

    The Lies and Seductions game is a part of my doctoral research on character-driven game design. A team of masters degree students joined with me to develop this game.

    My research has revolved around social dynamics between game characters, and using those dynamics in gameplay design. I was looking for ideas for a game to test some of the ideas from my research. I found the characters and setup of the novel Dangerous Liaisons by Pierre Choderlos de Laclos fascinating, and wanted to explore how one could build a game around the main conflict of the story: a game that deals with sex, seduction, and betrayal.


    The cutscene shows what happens after Abby has lost the wager.

    I proposed my idea for the game based on Dangerous Liaisons to the students, and we started to work with the game in Autumn 2007. The development of the game was a part of a course Game Project at the department of Media Laboratory at the University of Art and Design Helsinki, Finland. I started to teach a course Game Project at 2007. The main goal of the course is to design and develop a working game, and learn about game development in practice.

    First, we decided to set the game to present times, instead of the late 18th century France of the Dangerous Liaisons. We thought that without proper background research the setting would feel like a modern day with funny façade -- and we didn't have resources to do the background research. In addition, we knew from the beginning that we could only model and animate few characters and locations. To tackle this issue, setting the events in a modern, leisure cruise ship seemed to be good choice to limit available space and give a good reason to a motley crew to spend time together.

    As mentioned, we took the main characters and conflict from the novel as a starting point for our game:

    • Abby, the PC, was based on Vicomte de Valmont, a skilled, unscrupulous womanizer.
    • Chris was based on chaste and god-fearing Madame de Tourvel. The character was transformed to a male rock star, but we kept the important features of de Tourvel, such as chastity and religiosity, in order to keep the conflict motivated.
    • Becca was based on Marquise de Merteuil, who is an amoral intriguer. Becca is present only in the cutscenes, because we didn't have resources to model, animate, and write dialogue for her, and the gameplay didn't require her to be present.

    Other characters have been inspired by the story, but were more designed to serve gameplay.

    The reception of the game has varied. Some have liked it and some found it unsatisfactory. For example, Kierron Gillen sums up the review he wrote for Rock, Paper, Shotgun: "interesting, but not entirely successful." Others have more positive, for example: "it's a really interesting concept. I didn't manage to get the super mega happy ending yet... but that's ok because I'm happy to go back and try again. It's fun to see how the story plays out."

    The full game is available at www.liesandseductions.com.

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