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Interview for Inside Erin

Interview with BBBen by A. Ninny

BBBen is the ďEnergizer BunnyĒ of AIF.  Amazingly, he wrote six high-quality games 
last year and is tireless in promoting AIF and in providing new ideas and new content for 
the newsletter and for the community as a whole.  I decided it was high time to find out 
just what makes him tick.  So to start out, I asked him just that.

BBB: Partly itís the pseudonym. In case you hadnít guessed, BBBen is not my real name. 
I am a young man, and I really wanted to get some writing experience, but actually sitting 
down and writing is hard. I found that AIF was for starters a really fun thing to write 
(interactive sex scenes!), but also that since I was writing under an assumed identity, it 
was extremely liberating. Hence I was able to write what I wanted to write in a much 
more casual way without being constrained by my own inhibitions. Iím very grateful for 
the interest and support Iíve received from the community by the way, as I feel like Iíve 
learned an enormous amount about writing since the end of 2003.

Another point is that obviously I like to write, and writers like to be read. The AIF 
community, while not huge, does actually read the prose I put out there, which is a hard 
thing to make happen under normal circumstances. AIF may not have the respectability 
of non-pornographic fiction and it may not have the sheer volume content the erotica has, 
but I can think of few mediums that are more exciting than interactive sexual text games, 
and as a consequence the audience tends to appreciate most of the content out there.

AN: So, what is the significance of the pseudonym?

BBB:  Well, the name in itself doesn't mean anything really. I just needed a five letter 
name for a site called CHYOO, which is a choose-your-own-adventure erotic fiction site 
that I wrote a little bit for before starting to write AIF. Still, that very meaninglessness is 
what I like. I enjoy writing more or less anonymously.

AN:  Iíve described you in the past as being an idea man: someone with lots of good 
suggestions for improving the community.  In fact, this newsletter could be said to 
be your brainchild.  Where does all this creative energy come from and what else do 
you have up your sleeve?

BBB: I could also describe myself as a bit of a meddler, who is always telling people 
what to do and not accomplishing very much myself, but letís go with your description 
because itís nicer. Really, Iím probably just lazy and fussy. I tend to spend a lot of time 
thinking about stuff without getting much done, and I like things to be perfect, provided it 
doesnít make too much work for me.

I also think that in the AIF community in particular we have had a lot of wasted potential. 
There have been plenty of little articles and reviews floating around intermittently in the 
community even without a formal forum for them, so why not put them together in a 
newsletter?

Thankfully, other people have actually followed through on some of the stuff that I just 
talked about. When I thought it would be really great to have a new AIF Portal (not that I 
was the only one saying it), Matrix Mole came up with the server space. Later the 
Masterlist and the new AIF Community Portal were developed by other productive 
people.

I have a few ideas about collective writing projects that will probably never get off the 
ground, such as the Virtual Erin idea that I was working on a while back that would be so 
large as to require lots of authors. Iíd also really like to hold a mini-comp in which all the 
entries are tied together by one common thread, like for instance that they are all held in 
the Green Hotel and include the theme of Avarice, or theyíre all about the amoral, 
millionaire playboy, Randy Gunn. However, this is probably never going to happen, as 
there just arenít enough authors in the community. Still, I can dream.

Another thing Iíve been bringing up lately is that now we have so much in the way of 
resources, we could actually use more people around. Iím not 100% sure how to get more 
people in, but I have been trying to find some way to draw in people from the much 
larger erotica community, that is, writers of non-interactive sexual fiction. I think there 
would be an appreciable number of erotica writers who would love the chance to make an 
interactive story on one of the easier writing platforms like ADRIFT.

AN: You are one of the only authors who has used the same cast of characters in 
more than two or three games (OEJís Sam Shooter cast is the primary exception).  
How do you feel that re-using the same characters affects the creation process?

BBB: Initially I really got a kick out of the idea of showing that Janey, Lin and Debbie, 
these three hot girls, would actually live a life with the main character where they were 
effectively all his girlfriends. Itís a bit of a lame fantasy I know, but I found the idea of 
making these characters less disposable than the usual AIF girls really cool.

Having repeat appearances by characters gives the opportunity for character 
development, which in some cases I really enjoyed. Two scenes come to mind as 
examples of this: Debbie shows some vulnerability in CW1 (when she lets slip that she 
loves the player); and Lin starts to really come out of her shell over time and in CW2 
with Diana, she takes the role of sexual Ďteacherí that Debbie had taken with her in the 
Sleep Over.

It also exposes the strengths and weaknesses of specific characters in the story. I donít 
think Iíve managed to achieve what I wanted to achieve with Janey over the course of the 
series, but thankfully I still have the conclusion in which to wrap that up and Iím 
focusing on making that work this time around.

AN: Does it become easier or more difficult to write them with each subsequent 
game?

BBB: Definitely more difficult. To some extent it has to take away from the excitement 
of the scene to know weíve already been here and done this. People talk about the 
difficulty of writing the ďrub titsĒ tasks in yet another game, but try writing the ďrub Linís 
titsĒ tasks in yet another game and youíll really grasp the problem. I think the experience 
in handling characters over time has been very valuable however. It really makes me 
think about ways to make each encounter unique, so Iím not producing the same sex 
scenes with different names over and over again. Iím glad I did it, just donít count on me 
doing it ever again.

AN: In the Crossworlds/Normville series, the same main female NPCís all are 
featured in each of the games.  The male PC is a generic Ďfill-in-your-name.í   
Despite this, do you feel a distinct personality coming out in him?  Do you wish 
youíd given him a name?

BBB: In point of fact yes, there is a part of me that makes me want to have given him a 
name. In future projects of mine you may notice a tendency toward making similar but 
more fleshed out male PCs that do actually have names. Kenji from Pervert Action Crisis 
and Peter from Nouveau Rich, despite being different from each other will both be 
university students in their early twenties.

Over time I was inadvertently developing a character for the male PC. He feels to me a 
bit like many of the main characters in hentai games like True Love or Runaway City, if a 
few years older. Heís earnest and fundamentally a nice guy, but heís a young man that 
does enjoy sex with lots and lots of girls. Heís fairly confident but unassertive. Apart 
from that Iíll leave it to the readerís imagination about what heís like.

I do still enjoy the ability to put my own name into an AIF game and pretend that itís me 
that can get three girls like Debbie, Janey and Lin all at once, however, so I donít regret it 
too much. I guess I had to develop the character a bit, because Janey wouldnít just fall in 
love with any idiot; there must be something a bit special about him.

AN: How do you feel these games would be different if youíd made the male PC a 
stronger character?

BBB: Probably they would be a bit more like Normville High, in which the male PC is 
still unnamed, but where I think there is a clear personality evident. That was a case of 
designing a game where basically the players could effectively assume a character in a 
teen movie, rather than being themselves.

Making the main PC a developed character seems to me to be a trade off between good 
story telling and immersive fantasy. Crossworlds is all about fantasy, so I guess in the 
end it had to be an unnamed PC. Wait for CW4 if you want a clearer idea about what I 
mean when I say Crossworlds is all about fantasy.

AN: To carry over on a theme I raised in my editorial, can you tell us who the 
NPCís are or what in your life you draw on to render them?

BBB: Some of them are pure fiction, others have been drawn from fiction, and others are 
somewhat based on real people. To illustrate, Lin is based on a real girl I knew in high-
school. Debbie comes partially from a couple of different girls I knew in high school, but 
is mostly made up from scratch (unfortunately I never really knew her). Samantha in 
Normville High is drawn from teen movie conventions. Princess Diana from CW2, 
despite her joke name, was based physically on a girl that Iíve seen pictures of on the 
internet, and Beatrix from CW3 was from an anime girl Iíve seen on the internet.

For CW4, apart from the established characters, I have one based on someone from real 
life, one complete fiction, one inspired by a girl Iíve seen on the internet, and another 
from some anime hentai stuff from the internet Ė so I guess you could say that there is a 
certain pattern in how I construct characters.

Working up characters in AIF obviously comes down to the question of ďwhat turns you 
on?Ē and so itís a bit different from character development in other forms of fiction. Iíve 
generally restrained from writing about people Iíve been close to like old girlfriends, 
though I must admit that some of my characters in development have been inspired by 
more personal experiences.

AN: In Crossworlds Part 2 - The Flower Opens you designed some extremely 
intricate sex situations, Iím thinking especially of the one in which the male PC 
makes a telepathic connection with one of the female NPCís in order to participate 
in the scene. Crossworlds Part 3 Ė The Final Far Far Away Frontier didnít have 
anything so tricky.  Were you worried that the audience would be disappointed you 
didnít up the ante on complexity as the series progressed?

BBB: A little. There is a feeling of pressure that I have to make Crossworlds more 
impressive with each new installment, and I was very pleased with that scene and also a 
few other ideas in CW2. Writing CW2 was one of the most energetic periods of writing 
Iíve ever had, whereas CW3 really dragged and ended up taking much, much longer. I 
didnít have the same fire for CW3, and that probably shows.

AN:  Do you have anything to equal or surpass that for the fourth installment?
	
BBB: In terms of complexity, hmmÖ probably not. However, for CW4 Iíve been 
working on making everything richer and more detailed. I try to make every sex scene 
unique in as many ways as possible, and some of the scenes in CW4 will hopefully stack 
up pretty well with my previous games.

My agenda has always been to raise the sophistication and detail of each game over the 
previous one, and in some respects I think I accomplished that with CW3. I think CW2 
had some real problems with gameplay, and the technical level and amount of detail was 
not brilliant. For CW3 I worked much harder to provide a slick production that was much 
more playable and intricate. For CW4, my agenda is to try to make everything deeper and 
to avoid the problem of CW3, which was that some of the sex scenes felt less inspired to 
me.

AN: I think youíve become one of the best AIF authors when it comes to using 
ADRIFT.  What do you think are the most important things authors need to know 
about getting the most out of the system?

BBB: I canít deny that Iíve been getting better with ADRIFTís technical aspects, but 
then thatís not too hard considering the mess that my early games were in. A lot of the 
improvement I must say is due to good beta testing on my last couple of games. I suppose 
Iíve picked up a few tricks along the way as well. Anyway, thanks for the compliment.

I guess Iíd say that ADRIFT is more powerful than it seems. People think it canít do very 
much because the really easy to use elements of it are quite simplistic. There are more 
advanced functions however, such as ALR (ADRIFT Language Resource) files that are 
still relatively easy to use and make the engine capable of so much more. There are clear 
instructional tutorials out there that are not too hard to find on this stuff, so have a look if 
you want to write in ADRIFT.

Iíd advise new authors to start simple and try to keep the work manageable. Most authors 
learn a lot about technical implementation as theyíve written more games. Once youíve 
gotten a start, try to set the bar a little higher with each new project, which is what I did 
and I found that it meant I could relax and not overreach my capacities, but still feel like I 
was making better and better games. As you get to know the system youíll be able to 
employ the advanced features more easily and youíll find that the possibilities really open 
up for game design.

AN: What are your favorite three AIF games?

BBB: I like a lot of AIF games, some of them for very unpretentious reasons, others for 
their sophistication. I think if I had to name three then it would be the three games that I 
really loved and replayed a lot before I started writing.

1. Encounter 2: The Study Group by Chris Cole. I loved the characters and the intense, 
heated atmosphere of this straightforward game. I think Encounter 2 had an obvious 
influence on me considering that the first game I wrote, Sleep Over, had quite a similar 
premise. At the time I didnít think I was writing under the influence of anything else, as I 
did plan to have those three girls appear in the Crossworlds series, but looking back I 
think the influence is pretty clear.

2. Sam Shooter: Graduation Day by One Eyed Jack. A fantastic game with some great 
scenes that can be funny and sexy at the same time. Again, I think some level of influence 
shows from this game in CW1. In fact itís largely coincidental that the second installment of 
Sam Shooter and Crossworlds are both set in a sudden shift to a fantasy world, but I got 
really creeped out when I saw that SSIV was set in hell, as I had originally planned CW4 to 
have demons and so forth in it (the plan has changed, by the way).

3. Dexter Dixon and the Search for the Prussian Pussy by A. Bomire. While I canít point to 
any obvious influence from this game on my own writing, I do know that playing this game 
really impressed me with the standard to which AIF can aspire. Dexter Dixon was the first 
game I played that I really felt demonstrated that AIF games could be nearly professional in 
quality.

On the subject of inspiration, I would just like to say that in a funny way Vachonís games 
were very inspiring to me. They gave me confidence that I could master ADRIFT to an 
acceptable degree and that I could write something that would be taken seriously. I donít 
think Iíll put any of his games on my top three, however.

Our thanks to BBBen for providing insightful responses to our questions.  BBBenís 
released games include:
 
The Sleep Over
Janeyís Diary
Crossworlds Part 1 - Normville
Crossworlds Part II - The Flower Opens
Normville High (Winner of A. Bomireís 2004 Mini-Comp)
Crossworlds Part III Ė The Final Far Far Away Frontier
BBBen won an Erin awards for best Female NPC for Debbie from the Crossworlds 
series.
His AIF web site can be found at http://bbben.aifcommunity.org

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