Hey gay geeks and gaymers, we’re sitting down with Salli “Aviala” Loikkanen from Lizard Hazard Games about their upcoming video game Your Royal Gayness.
Your Royal Gayness is quirky LGBT-themed PC game where you play as a prince managing a kingdom while your parents are away. And there’s one more thing – you’re gay, so you also need to come up with excuses to avoid marrying a princess. Luckily, your three advisors are always by your side to help you make challenging choices that affect the financial state and happiness of your kingdom, among other things. This entertaining management/simulation game advances day-by-day which has three different phases:
- Audience phase: Try to solve your nation’s problems by making challenging choices!
- Management phase: Give commands to your advisors so they can help you shape your kingdom the way you want.
- Events phase: A neighboring Kingdom is holding a ball – will you go? What do you do there? Events are bits of story that let you get out of your throne room.
So Salli, how did the idea of the game come about?
I wanted to participate in an LGBT- themed game jam, and I’ve also wanted to do something fairytale themed for a while, and those two things merged into the idea for Your Royal Gayness. I didn’t have time to participate in the game jam after all, but I liked the idea so much that I started working on it with a bigger team later that year.
How were LGBT characters or gaymers thought about as the game was being developed?
The main character of the game is gay, and most of the team is LGBT, so it was natural for us to think about these issues. We discussed matters within the team, but also consulted Gaymers on Reddit communities. We got a lot of great feedback and changed the game design accordingly – for example, being outed doesn’t result in a game over, because that’s not the kind of message we want to convey.
It’s been tough trying to balance “realism” and accessibility sometimes. We don’t want to make the game too grim or trigger bad memories in people, but on the other hand, we need to handle difficult subjects like anti-gay laws and such because of the theme of the game. There have even been nasty comments saying that if the prince ever comes out of the closet, he should be stoned to death, “because that’s what they do in Arabic countries”, but these commenters fail to realize that a) the game is set in a fairytale world, b) homosexuality was seen very differently than nowadays during different historical times and c) even in modern times, Arabic countries are all different and laws and thoughts regarding to gay people vary a lot.
In any case, it’s a balancing act, and I’m sure we can’t please everyone, but we’re trying our best to listen to feedback and make a game that is thought-provoking but also funny and enjoyable to play.
What’s unique about your game that gives players a different gaming experience from other games like it?
I haven’t ever played a game that’s like ours – I don’t think anything like it exists! It has similarities to visual novels and management games, but it has a lot of randomized elements which creates replay value and diversity. Most of the minor characters are have randomized appearances and personalities. Also, when it comes to story and choices, rather than having a couple of big decisions like most games do, you’re constantly making small choices regarding your Kingdom.
There are also very few games with a gay protagonist where the primary focus is not dating.
What were some of the hardest parts in creating the game?
Like I mentioned before, the balance between showing injustices and discrimination in the game and not showing them. We want to raise awareness and point out injustices, but on the other hand violence and discrimination are subjects that might cause a lot of gay people to be unable to play the game because they’ve experienced those things themselves. We’re still trying to figure out the optimal way to balance things out.
As a new company, it’s also been hard to deal with the business side of things. Bookkeeping, taxes, and entrepreneurship are new territory for me, so there have been a few bumps along the road. It’s a learning experience.
If your video game were an art piece, how would you describe the visual aspects of the game?
We chose a flat art style with a somewhat minimalistic approach because it reminds us of children’s fairytale books. It looks good, and it’s also cheaper to produce than complicated painted illustrations. The UI is drawing inspiration from medieval and fantasy imagery: banners, flags and so on. There are also Arabic influences in the patterns and colors we’re using.
Music plays a huge role in gaming, how would you describe the music in the game?
The music has a medieval fantasy vibe to it, but there are modern patterns and instruments mixed in.
Anything you would like to say to your fans?
Please be gentle. And please support our Greenlight campaign so we can release the game on Steam – you can find the game easily by searching “Your Royal Gayness” in Steam Greenlight.
Where can fans get more information about this game?
Our Facebook page is the most active of our social media, but we also have a website, Tumblr blog and an official Twitter account that we try to update every once in a while.