Ker, the creator and driving force behind Harem, talks to LewdGamer about his game’s history and plans for the future.
While RPG Maker games are relatively common for the adult marketplace, Harem separates itself from the others in two unique ways. It offers a more story driven narrative and a 3DCG art style. While some may be turned off by the art style and basic RPG Maker mechanics, it is hard to deny the effort that went into story and world building. We previously took a look at Harem last July , and since then there have been multiple changes and updates. Taking some time from his busy schedule, Ker sat down with us to talk about his project.
LewdGamer: Hello, we’re here today with Ker, developer of Harem. Thanks for taking time out of your schedule to speak with us.
Ker: Glad to do so, LewdGamer.
LewdGamer: What made you decide to get into the adult video game genre in the first place?
Ker: That’s a long story. I’ve been doing this on and off for many years. I have always enjoyed playing adult/hentai games and frequented sites like Hongfire and ULMF to find out about the ones in English. There was an engine that a player named Cyrandl had created called ASlave. It was designed to let people make their own slavemaker type games without programming knowledge. I’ve always enjoyed that fetish, so decided to give it a shot myself. While he stopped working on that engine years ago, I found that I really had enjoyed playing around with it and wanted to do more than what the limited engine could provide. At the time, there were a few different projects going on (Elysium, Despair Labrynth, etc.) that use RPG Maker, so I bought the program and started using it. It was a nice combination of power and simplicity, which is very important as I have no coding ability to speak of. That’s how I got into working on Harem.
LewdGamer: Was Harem the first time you started developing a game or were there others before it?
Ker: No. I had worked on two games before Harem, both using the ASlave Engine. The first was a game about Yuna from Final Fantasy 10 being captured and given to you to turn into a proper slave. Second was a game called 7 days, which really is what Harem grew out of. Your women became infertile, and you had to find and capture strange women for your own benefit. That was when the ASlave engine got discontinued, and as a result I moved to RPG Maker. That is how Harem v1 started.
LewdGamer: Since Harem uses 3DCG for its art assets. Do you feel that this sets your game apart from the others in the Western market?
Ker: It definitely gives it a very different look and feel from most of the latest generation of Western adult games for sure. While I’d love to have all hand-drawn artwork, it’s not realistic anymore. There will be nearly 5,000 images in Harem c6m4 when that comes out, and getting each of those commissioned would set me back nearly half a million dollars.
LewdGamer: Not to mention quite a drain on the artist themselves.
Ker: For sure. As to the other imaging options, have you heard of the Uncanny Valley?
LewdGamer: Yes, I have. That is where an art depiction looks too “real” so that it appears unsettling toward the viewer.
Ker: Correct. The images created by programs like Daz3d fall in the dead center of that for me and I would imagine a lot of other people as well. 3DCG is far enough on the “cartoon” side where the images would become representative again, and the mind will fill in the details the engine does not. The narrative text helps with that a lot as well.
LewdGamer: Out of curiosity, what was the first thing you created using the 3DCG software?
Ker: 7 Days. I wanted more creative control of posing than what images I found on the internet could offer. Since I have no artistic ability myself; I had to find a program to do so. That itself is another benefit of 3DCG. The model creation and posing is very flexible.
LewdGamer: Before we get into detail about Harem‘s development, could you please explain how the numbering of the versions work?
Ker: Sure. c6m3.1 for example: Chapter 6 describes how far we are in the main plot. Chapter 6 covers recovering Terra/Samantha/Noemi and learning more about what the plans of the Namuhists are. M3 refers to the minor release. c6m0 was the first chapter 6 release, c6m3 would be the fourth. More work in the same general plot-zone and sidequest additions. The .1 is just patch versions. As I hear about bugs, I’ll fix them and put out new version to fix that. Meaning .1 would be the first patched version.
LewdGamer: How would you describe Harem to someone who may be interested or never heard of it before?
Ker: An adult game focused on a compelling story and characters, with a darkly moral sense to it.
LewdGamer: Harem uses the RPG VX-ACE engine, correct?
LewdGamer: Is there combat and an over world in addition to the story?
Ker: The gameplay is important, but it’s definitely secondary to the story. By getting the player immersed into the game; they get immersed into the world. It gives them a stage in which they can make the choices and really control the main character. Harem wouldn’t work as a simple novel or movie because I want the user to have some control over the story. I personally find the visual novel style to be a bit too mechanical. The RPG is a nice combination of game and story, and the perfect way to do Harem. In my opinion, of course.
LewdGamer: When we took a look at your game about a year ago you were on version c4m4. What has changed since that time?
Ker: The big thing is plot progression. During Chapter 4 and before, you’re in the colonies. Small unimportant backwater towns that serve to lay the foundation of underlying plot. Through chapter 5 and 6, you enter Rata, the main town, and start to learn what’s really going on in the world. And of course, you will meet many new and interesting characters. Have sex with a number of them. Even enslave a few of them! In terms of content, another three to five hours of gameplay, over 100 new scenes, and 12 new characters.
LewdGamer: That’s quite an accomplishment.
Ker: Thank you.
LewdGamer: Speaking of characters, do you have a favorite?
Ker: It’s changed over time. Terra was [my favorite] for a long time, but Sarah has been growing on me a lot lately. Jessica has always been among the top, but she sunk a bit. Cecilia just for the mind-fuckery part of her character. Kathleen is great because she knows more about this land than anyone. Phoebe just for her goofy know-it-all sense. Noemi for her….
You know, if I answer that fully, I’ll end up listing every character. Just about all of them are interesting in some way or another.
LewdGamer: What’s a typical day like in the development process?
Ker: Ideally I start about 7-8 A.M. In the morning I’m not particularly creative, so I focus on the coding and imaging which is more mechanical work than anything else. After I eat my lunch my mind is running as well as it’s going to be, and I try to get a few hours of writing done until I need a change of scenery. From there I take my laptop out to a coffee shop and get in another hour or two of writing there.
Sometimes after dinner, I’ll be motivated to keep on writing/coding, but a lot of it becomes social media work and talking with my volunteers. Harem may be my 9-5, but for most it’s just their hobby after work. That’s not talking about crunch-time, which involves me doing what needs to be done until it gets done. Oh, and I try to update Patreon/blog/forums at least twice a week.
LewdGamer: Do you feel because you take the time out of your schedule to talk with your fans, your game is that much more popular?
Ker: Absolutely. Places like LewdGamer are rare, and there aren’t other good places for people to find out about games like this. So, it’s very important to get out to as many sites as possible and talk about what you’re doing. If you look at Japan, you have things like dlsite to be the steam for adult games. While there’s been a few attempts at such a thing, nothing has really worked well in the West. Particularly not for “indie” developers. So, self-promotion is a huge part of it
LewdGamer: Even more so when you offer your game as free, and intend it to be free once it’s fully complete as well.
Ker: Absolutely. The few groups trying to market adult games aren’t designed to work with crowd-funded free games at all.
LewdGamer: Harem has a lot of content already in it. Approximately how much more is planned for in the future? Will we be seeing c24?
Ker: No, the story will end either chapter 9 or 10. BUT! I leave it up to my patrons to choose whether I work along the main plot, or work on new characters and side-quests. Whenever I poll them, the answer is overwhelmingly new characters and side-quests. Usually 80% or more want another minor before the next chapter. There won’t be a c24, but there might be a c6m17. It just depends on what my patrons want.
One example of such a poll would be “Which slave would you like to get a reward scene in c6m4?” Jessica got rewarded in c6m2 for her help in the Temple Mons, and Sarah will be getting a reward scene in c6m4. These are chances for your women to choose their own experiences in bed with you, according to their own desires/fetishes!
LewdGamer: How much creative control do patrons typically have?
Ker: Hard to quantify. They get to choose which character gets an additional scene each month and what the focus of the next months chapter will be. The main plot is my story to tell. Most of the minor releases and side-quests are just exploring the world. The main plot is set in, and a lot of the creative control is part of the game itself. I don’t want to ask my patrons “What should ‘Ralph’ [The protagonist] do in this situation?” I want to ask the player that in-game, and let them choose how to react.
LewdGamer: There are typically two choices for each scenario in the game, which ultimately set the player forth on a particular path. Are there any plans for a neutral route?
Ker: It’s more of a concept than a plan really. The existing content would remain as it is, but I’m playing with the idea of letting the player reject both routes as the story ends.
It’s a common request, but a massive undertaking to do. As we go through chapter 6 the two paths are almost completely divergent. There’s some symmetry between them, but about 70-80% of the content each month has to be created twice. Once for each path. Adding a third storyline into that is not a small thing to do. So, it’s an idea I’m playing with. Not a plan, and certainly not a promise!
LewdGamer: Are there any new upcoming harem additions to look forward to in the next chapter? Care to give our readers a hint at upcoming content?
Ker: I’m going to answer that twice, once for the rest of chapter 6 and then for chapter 7. As we finish up chapter 6, it’s going to be time to finally figure out what’s going on with Cecilia and how she’s resisted the main characters power for so long. There are plans for adding Rachel into the harem, Rhea and Alena off route, Fiona on all routes, and her maid Mary. Maybe Leona as well.
Chapter 7 will involve openly fighting the enemy and Rata itself, and about the only character you’ve met that won’t end up in your harem by the end of it would be Teresa and Danielle. Maybe Marianna.
LewdGamer: As a developer do you have any advice for those trying to get into the adult video game business, or up and coming developers?
Ker: For the non-traditional projects like Harem:
Get out there and talk to people. Talk even when it seems like nobody is listening, and listen to those who do take the time to talk to you. Learn how to deal with creative criticism, as it’s crucial for making a good game. Rely on your testers and proofreaders. There’s no way you’re going to catch all the issues yourself.
Don’t ask direct help until you’ve proven that you can do a bit of everything yourself. Ideas are everywhere, show people that you’re willing to do the work by making it into a game. Even if the first release is very rough and missing some elements, getting an idea from the concept stage into something playable is a huge amount of work.
If you are trying to do a commercial game… fucked if I know. I know about Patreon and crowdfunding.
LewdGamer: Like you said in your game, if you start to get carried away, find a good hooker.
Ker: [Laughs] Yep. This is fiction and fantasy. An outlet for those desires and urges that you should never actually act on!
LewdGamer: Once again, thanks for taking the time to talk to us.
Ker: You are welcome. And thank you for taking the time to talk to me. Visibility is a huge challenge for games like Harem!
If you would like to support Ker and the development of Harem, you can have a look at his Patreon . There is also a link there to download the current version of the public release for free. If that’s not your thing there is also a blog detailing the development of the game as well.
Consider donating to our Patreon if you want to see more content such as this in the future.