"Men! Suits and dancing with women for me!"
Nervous gay laughter
A downloadable game for Windows, macOS, and Linux
Some might consider you an unlikely protagonist for a dating sim. You have no mysterious childhood friends, no vanished memories, and not one dead parent to your name. But at seventeen you have finally been invited to your first season in Bath, and thus stand at the cusp of a great - and highly interactive - adventure.
What happiness lies before you! The happiness of a progress through a long suite of lofty rooms, exhibiting the remains of magnificent furniture, though now for many years deserted. The happiness of being stopped in your way along narrow, winding vaults, by a low, grated door.
Will you follow the plot of the novel and be a woman charmed by the snarky priest Henry Tilney? Or would you rather you dance with him as a cross dressing man? Has the melancholy artist Eleanor caught your eye? Perhaps you would prefer Eleanor to be Edmund and for you to have no gender at all- The choice is yours!
Dance, love, and discover the secrets of the Abbey!
This game is released under a Creative Commons Share and Share Alike license. Most of the backgrounds are available for download as a stand-alone pack.
Note: this is a light-hearted game but is set in a world where sexism etc still exist, and there's a few forms of gender non-conformity I wasn't able to create space for.
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"Men! Suits and dancing with women for me!"
Nervous gay laughter
I loved playing this game! You're awesome :)
Just a thought, it would be cool if any main character who's allowed to dance with Henry Tilney were allowed to marry him. So, anyone who wears feminine or androgynous attire in public. Can I ask what the current requirement is? I assume feminine attire in public?
I must admit that I haven't looked at the Northanger Abbey code in so long that I don't entirely trust my ability to interpret it, but I think it tests whether the main character is a cis woman. Which is pretty narrow! I've actually been thinking of adding the ability to skip all the gender restrictions, they seemed like a good idea when I made the game but have ended up impacting the enjoyment of a lot of players. So you've given me an extra push in that direction!
I don't know if you saw but I was inspired to add the option to remove some gender restrictions so thank you :)
I just blew through my first playthrough of this in a couple of hours and I just wanted to say, I had a ton of fun! The sections from the novel meshed very well with the additions; it never felt obviously, jarringly different.
I absolutely ADORE your Eleanor, especially the fact that she's plus-sized. It made me feel very good about myself seeing a fellow bigger woman as a love interest in a game, especially since her plot isn't based around that; it's just a small part of her. I plan on doing the other route and the gender-swap variations of both, but she was simply too lovely to not marry immediately. I think you struck a lovely balance between more period-accurate
systemic oppression societal roles and more modern gender, race, sexuality, and body-type diversity.
The art style is also very cute; I agree with your notes in the unstable build that they could use a bit of polish, but I implore you not to change Eleanor and Edmund too much! I was, admittedly, rather disappointed that there was so much gender-customization of the main character but no ability to change their appearance or name -- I personally wanted to be a feminine-looking woman in a masculine style of dress, but you're locked into a very thin and androgynous-looking figure regardless of the biological sex you pick at the beginning of the game. Even so, it is a breath of fresh air to see a deviation from the anime styles that so often overpopulate the visual novel genre. Your backgrounds are also very pretty! So many VNs just have photos that have been put through a bunch of Photoshop effects as the background, but the paintings really tie together the scenes and the mood of the story.
The only real constructive criticism I have is that I think the game could be more engaging with more and more-polished sprites -- variations in poses, more emotional facial expressions, sprites facing different directions, et cetera -- and music/ambient sound. It was already very enjoyable and engaging as a story, but I think that some more motion and dynamism in the audiovisual areas of the game could make it even more so!
Overall, I think you did fantastically both in making a game and adapting a previous work of art. Thank you so much for sharing; I'll be keeping up with the unstable build in hopes that you continue working on the game in the future!
Thank you so much, I'm really glad you enjoyed the game!
I'm really glad you liked Eleanor's design, as a plus sized person myself it frustrates how little body diversity there is in visual novels, even in games that are diverse in other ways.
This was my first game offering character customisation, it involves a lot of decisions balancing player immersion versus the practicality of making all the art assets etc and I probably wouldn't make the same decisions if I wrote the game again from scratch. It's always good hearing what did and didn't work for players, since I'll bear that in mind for future games.
I just started the game, and while I am enjoying it, I think I may have come across a bug in the character creation. It looks like if I'm playing in a matriarchy I have to select "heroine" to play as male, and selecting "hero" will set my gender to female.
I'd also like it if there was the option to dress as male without needing to show interest in women. Do I need to dress as female in order to romance other guys?
Oh no ,thanks for catching that about hero/heroine! I'll go try and fix that now.
You have to dress as a man or androgynous to DANCE with women, and as a woman or androgynous to dance with men, but can flirt with and get together with both male and female love interests regardless of presentation.
The game does seem to suggest that if you're dressing differently to your gender, you're essentially pretending to be someone else, which I'm not really keen on.
(Also, Isaac is cute... 🥰)
...that is a good point and I hadn't really thought about it that way. HMM.
When I made this game my aim was to create space for players to express gender the ways I've always wished I could in other games, which I largely achieved. But one of the things I've learned from players and playtesters is all the other ways people want to express gender in games, that I didn't even think of, and didn't make space for. I'm not sure there's much I can do with this game at this point, but you've given me food for thought for what I'll do with future games.
(also yes I am also sad I never managed to get the Isaac/Isabella route to work. They are a love interest in my heart)
Would it be possible to get an Android build? It's so much easier to play VNs on my phone... :-)
I really am sad, I wanted to date the footman John Smith ówò
Nay, your game really is nice and has a great atmoshpere, but is somehow hard to follow when you're not english of perfectly bilingual x)
Ah, I'm so sorry I took so long to reply to this! Sorry the language is hard to follow, it's an unfortunate side effect of using so much of the original 18th century language. And you're not the only person to be sad about John Smith. We'll see ;)
Don't worry I just took the same amount of time to reply to you right now x) Aaaah that would be so cool !! Please let me know (however you can ) if you include a romantic story with him ! ( I hope I'll get better in english before //)
I am so intrigued and excited by this concept! I love Jane Austen and I am always looking to make it gayer.
I hope the game is still in production, and I'm looking forward to seeing it finished, though excited to play the demo!
Thank you! It is still in production but on hold right at the moment while I work on some joint projects that have recently picked up steam. But I have every intention of finishing it eventually. Here's to making Jane Austen gayer :D
I've played your game twice now and remain ever impressed! ^u^
I'm in a class on Jane Austen and Adaptation, and I was wondering if I also could write a paper on your game? As an adaptation of one of her novels, it's one of the most unique, faithful, queer-positive, and diverse ones I've seen, if not THE most. Thank you so much for making it and I hope you can keep working on it as you are able. :)
Oh wow, thank you! You're welcome to write a paper on it, I'd be curious to see the result! Even if I probably won't entirely get it, I haven't done media analysis essays since highschool and wasn't great at it then. But it's cool to inspire one :D
Northanger Abbey is a bit on the backburner right now while I work on other projects but is very slowly progressing and I intend to get back to it eventually. Enthusiastic but non-pressury comments like yours are very inspiring so thank you!
I know the major influence of your game was Austen, but part of me was wondering if you drew inspiration from Woolf (or Sackville-West). Something about the dialogue seems so familiar, but I can't place my finger on it. Though admittedly, I've never really read any of Austen's work (ironic, consideing I'm an English literature major). Curiously enough, this may have convinced me to try her at least once (it's a miracle on that note).
I'm enjoying the game so far, and I don't think I'll could go on reading Austen's Northanger Abbey without wishing it to be more queer. It's been a year, but I do hope you'll still be (or are) continuing working on this; it's amazing and has so much potential.
I wish you luck and more inspration (for this and any other future endeavors)!
On a slightly different note, and perhaps this will sound weird, but part of me can imagine enjoying writing a paper on yours and Austen's versions of Northanger Abbey (it's how I express my love).
Hello! Sorry I took so long to reply, my inbox got a bit ridiculous. Anyway: thank you! I am definitely still working on the game.
I wasn't drawing on Woolf or Sackville-West consciously, I have read a few Virginia Woolf books but that was years ago and her writing style didn't entirely click for me. But she did a lot of interesting things and soaked into my subconscious, and may have influenced me without me noticing. All the best lines in my game are stolen from Austen, you should definitely check her out! She is alas not very queer, but also not as heteronormative as you might expect.
I would be utterly thrilled to have a paper written about something I'd made! (As long as it wasn't, like, "When Adaptations Go Wrong: a Case Study" ;))
I may or may not have scared my mom when I let out a tiny scream upon seeing your reply. Heh.
Thank you for sharing!
And on the contrary, I think the paper will be about the success of adaptations (and why we should make more!) Many great pieces of literature are adaptations, or to a degree, always drawing inspiration from the past and, in a sense, cultivating it in the present. The greatest beauty, at least in my opinion, is the dialogue between "inspiration" and "output;" how Austen pervades it but the strength of your voice shines through, yadda yadda.
And the game is literature, albeit in an unorthodox form. It's already incredible yet still teeming with so much potential. Writing a novel or another great epic poem is one thing, but straight forward. Games like these are an entirely different cup of tea altogether and an entirely more challenging mode of writing (and that doesn't even include making the art and programming the game!), and they take "losing yourself in literature" to a whole different level because of how interactive it is. People re-read books and the like, but they follow the same path, ultimately they lead to the same ending. There's a beauty in that in itself, of course. But people re-play these games, and look at the paths they can take, the endings they'll reach. The experience of literature is different, but nonetheless amazing.
So, you're honestly brilliant. And gods, I wish for you only the best. Thank you, again!
This is by far the most interesting way that I can think of to introduce me to a Jane Austen novel. I've never read it, but this demo's starting to make me want to; the characters are varied and interesting, and you portray that very well in your interpretation. I'd also like to say that the amount of customization (especially in regards to gender and gender expression) is outstanding! I'm so glad that this was such a big part of your process to include it even in your work-in-progress. If you are still working on this game, I wish you swift development!!
I didn't see anything in the description asking not to do let's plays of the demo, so I have started one, but please don't hesitate to let me know if it makes you uncomfortable. I am happy to take it down if that is what you'd prefer. Have a great day!
Omg this is so great! Thank you! I love it! So glad I have encouraged you to read the book, it's where I stole all the best lines from :) And it was wonderful seeing you enjoy the non binary version of the MC.
I am definitely working on the game still, I took a break to work on another game but now that's finished am planning on getting back to the Abbey. It's going to be a little while before I put out an updated demo since there's lots of little things all over the place I'm tinkering with, but it will happen!
Oh im halfway on this book and i really like it. So to see there is a game is really cool!! :D