Swooning for the Fencers
Boyfriend Dungeon swept players away with its thirsty suitors who doubled as epic weapons. Now the smash hit indie has received an encore update of sword romancing. Elijah sat down with Tanya X. Short, head of Kitfox Games, to get all the details on the latest weapons you can roll to seduce!
Boss Level Gamer: How are things at Kitfox?
Tanya X. Short: It’s been a journey! The pandemic presented a few challenges, but we’re also closing in on one year since Boyfriend Dungeon released! We’re very excited to see what the players are gonna think – the beta feedback for Secret Weapons has been very positive. It’ll be re-energizing to see people enjoy the stuff we’ve been working on for almost a year now.
BLG: So these characters have been in the works for a while. Were the beta tests just with like internal testers, or did you have any fans give them a whirl?
TXS: Yes! We sent out – I think we ended up sending a dozen or so keys to core community fans. Like we had a hundred signups, but we couldn’t send out a hundred keys. But yeah, that’s the feedback I’m talking about. Obviously internally we can say whatever we want, but it’s when a player comes back and says, “That was amazing!” that really encourages us.
BLG: So what spicy new characters are you cooking up? Because that’s one thing that came across very clearly on social media: these are coming in as potentially the hottest characters yet for the entire game.
TXS: Yeah. So, I mean, we’re adding a second woman, which a lot of fans are psyched for! She’s powerful and very feminine, super sweet, and hot.
But then you also have different body types, which we acknowledge was a critique of our launch lineup. The body types were all relatively same-y thin people. Now we’ve got a much more of a big boy, and that’s very exciting for a lot of people. He’s much more of-
BLG: Almost like a classic style Thor.
TXS: Yeah! (Laugh) He’s like a big bear. And then, finally, there’s the whip, a new boss character, Dr. Holmes. She/They are the final boss of the new dungeon. Holmes is a different portrayal of non-binary than our other two characters, but they also they’re just a very straightforward character.
They’re not interested in ambiguities in the same way as maybe some other characters. So it gets very spicy very quickly if you wanted to or or not. I think I think she’s just fun to hang out with anyway, but yeah, with each of the three. That makes a total of 10 characters to date with their own stories.
An Expanded Arsenal
BLG: I was wondering how they all fit into like the existing narrative. I gotta imagine it’s a unique challenge adding additional characters onto something that’s already pre-established as a story.
TXS: Mm-Hmm! Well, we didn’t really make a new storyline so much as add an extra plot point in the middle of the existing Boyfriend Dungeon storyline. So if you have an old save file, you can just boot it up and then like encounter that branch of the story. Which, I mean, since it’s coming out in a couple days, probably by the time this comes out, it won’t be a spoiler anymore, but spoilers – your cousin Jesse gets married!
And so you get to see your old characters in like formal attire when they go to the wedding and, and yeah. See this new dungeon, and yeah, if you just play the game from the start, it’ll feel seamless, but for old players logging in, I think it’ll be really fun to just dive immediately into the new content.
BLG: Interesting. I remember when boyfriend dungeon first came out, it was willing to explore all kinds of different like relationship dynamics, both healthy and troubling. You entered territory that was unique and not just matter of purely just “everyone loves you!” I’m really curious to see positive portrayal of someone who is a bit more direct.
I know that, like a lot of times, that’s something that RPGs have struggled with. Like in Mass Effect, they tried to have Liara be sort of like that, but instead, it kind of came across as “Hello, you’re new! Want to date?!” Where-
TXS: Yeah. (Laughs)
BLG: -it sounds like it’s going in a very interesting direction.
TXS: Yeah. It starts off the opposite ’cause they’re initially all “I’m going to destroy you!” And when that doesn’t work out, how do you date someone like that? It’s an interesting dynamic to explore.
BLG: Mm-hmm. Are there any other quality of life improvements that you toyed around with for the update?
TXS: Yes! Obviously, there’s bug fixes, but I think that the other there’s a couple of other small things that people can look forward to like hub encounters. In the city view, you can encounter the old characters talking to each other. They have these little moments. So if you’re really, really fond of, I don’t know, the dagger or the saber, you might get to see new scenes with them and talking between one another.
So it actually brings more depth to their relationships. ‘Cause you get to see what it’s like if they were to hang out with each other, which you could never see in the original release.
Plus, there’s also three new songs! One of which we’ve released as a single, which your readers can listen to here!
BLG: Portrayal of more diverse body types is something that the industry, in general, has had a bit of a struggle with. So what would you say were like the crucial things for getting the axe right?
TXS: I really wanted, from the beginning, each character in the lineup to feel diverse, distinct, and real. I wanted them to stand out in ways that make you fond of them. So I tried to identify, like, what is likable about this person? What would you love about this person and for the axe? Well, I don’t wanna spoil everything, but I think that his demeanor and struggle that he’s going through is very relatable. At his base, he’s a very kind person, so it’s easy to love him.
Hack and Slash(Fic)
My struggle is always making sure my characters don’t all end up sounding the same. Like they’re all, they’re all too nice. I remember there was an early draft, a couple years before launch, where I looked at all the characters, and I was like, “well, I do like them all, but they all sort of sound like the same person.” And so I had to go in there and, and put a few rough edges.
BLG: I really get that. I had a similar struggle with one role-playing campaign I was running. The cast did liked having characters that they could BioWare level romance. And it was like, okay, I have to work out relationship dynamics and friction for multiple characters. (Laugh) it’s always such a unique challenge cause it’s like, I know what I would say in this circumstance, but I have to figure out what this complete other person would.
TXS: Exactly! We tried to play at that. We poke fun a little bit at that sometimes as there’s this pressure in games to just say what you think the character wants you to wants to hear. Right? Just try to figure out what would make them less likely to get mad at you! So we try to point poke that at a couple points, where if you’re a little too agreeable, the character’s like, “Are you just telling me what I want to hear?”
BLG: Yeah. (Nods)
TXS: That’s just because it’s weird that you feel this pressure to to agree literally all the time, especially when in real life, you know, disagreeing and debating is like a flirt tactic.
BLG: Oh yeah. Yeah. Like you, you need a chemical reaction, so to speak.
TXS: Yeah, precisely!
BLG: That sounds fantastic. And just like that brings around to something that has always fascinated me. Just like, you know, there is always that pull between do make the badass female character or do allow them to actually be feminine—sort of the Aerith and Tifa divide.
How would you say you found the balance between the two of them for Boyfriend Dungeon?
TXS: That’s a really good question. I think that was one of the struggles we had with Valeria, especially when she was initially the only woman because it really felt like she had to carry, you know, that weight. We still tried to make her her own person. And luckily, she was defined and drafted by Meg, another member of our team. She’s an incredible writer and helped a lot.
She got Valeria to feel like her own person rather than, you know, trying to be all women! (Laugh) I’m hoping that with the addition of Leah, the hammer, the differences between them are even clearer, and neither of them is, you know, Aerith or Tifa. Like they each have their own kind of power and tastes and motivations and interests and flaws. I hope even though there’s only two of them, people will embrace each of them as people rather than a binary.
STOP, HAMMER TIME(‘S RELENTLESS ADVANCE)
BLG: Yeah, I get you. And now… a serious question: how many times did you have to edit out an MC Hammer joke for the hammer?
TXS: (Laugh) You know, I don’t. I think we never actually put one in, I think I’d have to double check, but I think it’s possible. We left it to the the imagination of the player.
BLG: I respect the restraint!
TXS: We’ve lots of other stupid puns, but I think we left that one alone. I think she’s too young to be interested in that pun anyway, actually.
BLG: That’s true…
TXS: Because we are older than she is. I think
BLG: Oh, my word. Yeah. Now- ow, oh, that hurts to think about.
TXS: (Laugh) Yeah… I try not to think about that.
BLG: Agreed! (Laugh) And obviously, even if you’re, like, not romancing any of the characters, if you’re choosing the asexual path, you will still be able to actually engage with these characters and use them in everything.
TXS: Yes, of course. It’s worth noting that the whip, Dr. Holmes, is actually not interested in having a wielder. They are the most independent of the characters. But she will still go on dates with you or, or Hangouts or whatever you wanna call them when you’re platonic. And you’ll be able to get to max rank with them even.
BLG: That sounds fantastic. Yeah. I think personally that’s the one I’m looking forward to the most. Yeah. And otherwise, a kid Fox, what else is there any teases of what’s on the horizon? You’ve got a lot of pots all cooking at once these days.
TXS: We’re back on schedule for Dwarf Fortress videos! We had a little bit of snafu towards the beginning of the year with an artist, but we’re back on track! But yeah, all our other stuff is top secret for now. But far as publishing, Moss Fields is out on Steam Early Access!
BLG: Is there anything else in particular that, like, just for you personally, you’re really happy with what came together with the update with these new characters for Boyfriend Dungeon?
TXS: I’m so happy that we were able to fulfill all of our Boyfriend Dungeon Kickstarter obligations. Like, you know, it was 2018 that we had our Kickstarter, and we promised all these things to all these excited people, and it took a lot longer than we thought, but now I’ll be able to sleep so deeply. We’ve done everything we promised. We said we would do it, and it’s all there!
BLG: Yeah. Hell yeah. And that’s no small feat, so seriously. Congratulations.
TXS: Thank you, and thank you for having us!
For more on Kitfox Games, check out their website for all their latest games, including the freshly updated Boyfriend Dungeon!