Sierra Lee of The Last Sovereign and Hreinn Games sat down with LewdGamer to talk about her projects, including the upcoming Kingdom of Deception.
Sierra Lee is a busy woman. She’s created a game called Ouroboros, and she’s been working on an RPG named The Last Sovereign for quite some time. She’s also one-half of the gaming duo Hreinn Games. Hreinn Games finished their first game, Noxian Nights, not too long ago, and are preparing for the first release of their follow-up, Kingdom of Deception. Somehow, between all her various endeavors, she had time to sit with us and talk about her own unique perspective on H-games, and what she has planned for the future.
LewdGamer: What made you decide that you wanted to create H-games?
Sierra Lee: I’ve always known I wanted to be a creator, but h-games weren’t my goal from the beginning. Whenever I read novels, I come up with novel ideas, I think about movies when I’m watching movies, etc. I play a lot of games, including NSFW games, so I was spending time thinking about those as well. Since the field of adult games is relatively young, especially in the west, there was a lot of enthusiasm and teams starting new projects, so the atmosphere of fresh creativity especially captured my attention. I couldn’t find as many games of the type I wanted as I expected, though, so I decided to try to make games I loved and see if there was an audience for them. Thankfully, that seems to be the case.
LewdGamer: What games influence your own approach to game writing and design? H-games or otherwise.
Sierra Lee: I’ve always been impressed by games where the mechanics and story complement one another. The early ones to strike me this way were the Metroid series, where the feeling of isolation and exploration works so well, and the original Prince of Persia, which was very different than what I’d played before as a kid, but felt appropriate for the game. There are plenty of good recent examples too — for example, Rocksteady’s Arkham series does a good job of using every single game mechanic toward a coherent goal — but those two had an early influence on my sense for game design.
RPGs were always my favorite genre, though. That love was cemented by the Final Fantasy series, with its relentless focus on story. Planescape: Torment also had a big impact on me, because it took a premise that could have been bland and went far deeper than I expected. I have mixed feelings about Bioware, but they’re one of the biggest companies trying to create RPGs with significant choices, so I always pay attention to what they’re trying.
There are adult games that have influenced me quite a bit, but I won’t name names since the influence was largely making me think about ways I didn’t want to do things. I’ve played quite a few where it feels clear I’m not the target audience, so I’ve set out to do something different in the ways that interest me.
LewdGamer: What was it about H-games that you’ve played that made you think they weren’t for you, and what are you hoping to do differently with your own games?
Sierra Lee: Well, let me say that I’m a big believer in the idea that everyone should be able to like what they like. Many things are simply not my cup of tea, and that is fine, so I don’t want to get too far into criticizing others’ cups of tea.
Having said that, one aspect is the treatment of fetishes and taboos. A lot of games seem to find violating taboos to be really hot, which feels strangely puritanical to me. Taboos tend to be very culturally-bound and artificial, so I can’t take them too seriously. Making the violation of those arbitrary boundaries a central focus doesn’t feel naughty or exciting to me, just kind of stuffy, like we’re all elderly ladies getting hot and bothered over an exposed ankle. I would rather just show the ankle (or gangbang, or whatever the fetish is).
LewdGamer: That seems to tie into your main solo project, The Last Sovereign. Can you tell us what the game is about?
Sierra Lee: On one hand, you could think about TLS as an hRPG for people who have spent too much time thinking while playing hRPGs. How the heck does a succubus society function? If sex combat is a thing, what does that do to religion and society in general? The game gleefully turns some things on their heads for the fun of it, like the opening; it’s pretty much no longer a secret that the first five minutes of the game are setting up for a plot twist in order to establish what kind of game TLS is.
On the other hand, TLS is a saga-length story set in a world I’ve spent a lot of time building filled with characters I love. I try to present a world where a character can be named “Qum D’umpe” and get people to take it seriously in the end. A ton of thought has gone into all the aspects of world-building, and these aren’t just amusing myself: as your characters gain more control over politics and society, they have a chance to make real changes in their world.
I’m still kind of amazed that so many people are willing to take a chance with me on such an expansive game. All I can do is give my thanks and promise that the story is heading toward a conclusion that will fulfill all the promises the game has made.
LewdGamer: How much longer do you feel like TLS has in terms in development time at this point?
Sierra Lee: I’m reluctant to give an exact timeline, because that will make some parts of the finale too easy to guess. But I will say that we are past half way and almost all the important characters have been introduced. There will be no more expansions of scope adding a lot of new elements to the plot, what remains is for all the conflicts that have been introduced to play out.
LewdGamer: Changing gears, you’re not just a solo creator, but you’re also one-half of Hreinn Games. Can you tell us how you met your co-creator, Nomo?
Sierra Lee: It was via the rarely-used “Under Construction” sub-forum on ULMF, believe it or not. We both wanted to make adult games, but had experienced difficulty finding reliable collaborators. Our initial plan was to make Noxian Nights a simple game to test out how well we worked together, but listening to patron feedback made it clear that fans wanted a longer game. So we gave the game all the content we felt it deserved, and it’s only now that we’re developing the other ideas we’ve discussed.
LewdGamer: Is that why you decided to make the game based on a fandom (League of Legends) as opposed to an original story?
Sierra Lee: It was definitely part of the consideration. Character design can be a very time-intensive process, so using a fandom let us take advantage of great designs and get to making a game instead of spending even more time in the preparation stages. We discussed doing other fan games, but based on developments in the broader NSFW community, we decided it was better to move on to our original ideas.
LewdGamer: What do you mean by “developments in the broader NSFW community?”
Sierra Lee: The most specific thing was the DMCA received by Sunsetriders7 from Warner Brothers. We were planning a game based on Teen Titans, which is owned by the same company. Our feeling was that if Warner Brothers felt like porn parodies didn’t fall under fair use, then we wouldn’t fight them on it.
LewdGamer: But, instead of working on that, you’ve instead started work on a yet-to-be-released a title called Kingdom of Deception. Can you describe what Kingdom of Deception is about for me?
Sierra Lee: In Kingdom of Deception, a war between a variety of fantasy races has ended with a human kingdom coming to dominate the known world. An ambitious young general named Sabia is betrayed by her own side, loses everything she has, and ends up in a camp of orcs, where she has to claw her way back to power. The game will have a stronger emphasis on players choosing how the protagonist develops than any of the games I’ve developed so far.
LewdGamer: What is it about the setting and themes of Kingdom of Deception that you feel makes the game erotic?
Sierra Lee: Having a lot of fantasy races and monsters available gives us the potential for a lot of erotic variety from the start, of course. What we’re especially interested in doing with this game is playing with domination and submission in a way that gives the player more control over what they see. Not that players will have complete control – the protagonist starts in a rough situation and will have to make difficult decisions. But over time, you’ll be able to shape the path you take and the scenes will take on the tone the player finds hottest.
LewdGamer: Besides monster/human sex and dom/sub-themes, what are some kinks we can hope to see explored in the game?
Sierra Lee: As with Noxian Nights, we hope to cover a wide variety of kinks. Obviously you can expect our standbys: oral, titfucking, anal, threesomes, orgies, etc. There’s already an outfit system in place that will serve as equipment but also cover a variety of fetishes. There will definitely be scenes between the female characters, both yuri and some futa or strap-ons. Certain parts of the game will get into breeding/pregnancy too. Our plans haven’t ruled out anything except underage characters, scat, and guro – those aren’t among our interests, but otherwise we like some of everything!
LewdGamer: And this game isn’t being made in RPG Maker, correct?
Sierra Lee: That’s right, we’re using Ren’Py. Though the game will have combat and RPG elements, we wanted to put more of the focus on player decisions and broader strategy. If anyone wants to know more, we recently put up a public post on our Patreon addressing how we’re trying to create a fun RPG without grinding.
LewdGamer: When do you think players can expect to see the first release?
Sierra Lee: It should be early 2017 if all goes well. We can’t commit to a specific release date, since we haven’t done a full cycle with this system yet. Right now we’re splitting our time between the more boring background work and the juicy content we know people want – both are pretty far along, but since we can’t make an accurate estimate of how long the rest will take, that’s all we can say for now.
LewdGamer: Do you have any ambitions for Hreinn Games? Where would you ideally like to see it move going forward?
Sierra Lee: While we have huge ambitions, we try to stay focused on the next delivery of good content. We hope to make KoD the best game we can, then we’ll reflect on everything we’ve learned and try to make the next one another step more ambitious. Also, we hope to eventually be able to do some shorter games: those will let us experiment with new ideas without devoting a huge amount of development time to them, then we can roll what we learned there into one of our core ongoing games.
LewdGamer: If there was one way you could magically change the Western H-game market, how would you change it?
Sierra Lee: I’m pretty sure it would be unwise to give me that power. ^-^ But since this is hypothetical, I’ll say that I wish adult games were free to be treated like normal games. Because of the stigma attached to sexual games, we get forbidden from many venues, have to use patches to be accepted on Steam, can’t develop community on places like YouTube, get worse payment processors if we can get them at all, etc. If those barriers could be lowered, then you’d see the bar rise across the board and everyone would get more of what they want.
LewdGamer: Thank you very much for joining us today.
Sierra Lee: Happy to be here!
Sierra Lee releases her own projects on her Patreon page, which can be found here. For her projects with Nomo as part of Hreinn Games, and for more details on Kingdom of Deception, please check out Hreinn Games’ Patreon page.
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