I just released a new game called Tender: Creature Comforts! It’s a dating sim based on the real-life experiences of the writer, Gideon Lazarus (my roommate), featuring the art of Jie En Lee (@frogfungus). It’s a narrative-driven game that plays out in real time and emulates a lot of the (mostly bad) experience of being on a dating app. We’ve been working on this game on and off for over two years, and I’m excited to share it with you.
We’re also planning a Steam release this summer, which will have a few mechanical changes to make the experience work better on desktop. Wishlist it now here.
In November of 2018, while I was attending an NYU Game Center event, my friend Jenny introduced me to this artist, taking us aside say that we should try working together on a game. It was a little awkward but I saved their number. At the same time my roommates were helping me message people on dating apps — we’d cast my phone screen to the TV and try to come up with good opening messages. It was fun and took a lot of the stress out of the experience (dating apps suck).
I mentioned potentially working with Jie En to them and we all brainstormed game ideas that would work well with their art. Eventually we landed on the idea that would become Tender – a base building idle game where you’d have to use a dating app-like interface to chat with and recruit people to work on your profile to make it more attractive, therefore attracting more workers. Except the people would be little Pokemon-like creatures because we liked Jie En’s creature art. I don’t have much confidence as a writer, so one of my roommates Gabe suggested that I hire my other roommate Gideon to write it. Gideon was unemployed at the time and had been using Tinder habitually for the past few years, having chatted with hundreds of people and gone on dozens of dates. So we figured his experience would be valuable for the game, even though he’d never done much writing like this and hadn’t worked on a video game before.
As we worked on the game, it became clear that the idle-game side of Tender didn’t really make sense and wasn’t really working mechanically. So we scrapped it and pivoted to focus on the narrative. And here we are over two years later. There’s a bit more to the story but I don’t feel like writing more.
Anyway, hope you all enjoy the game!