It’s a dark and lonely night, you find yourself standing outside 6969 Dead End Drive after a broken sleep of nightmares, what lays beyond its doors a deadly mystery. Your life is about to change forever.
Monster-loving is a treasured part of many queer folks lives; the desire to find something unreal to make reality more bearable, the association with queerness and monstrousness that many folks are made to feel deep in their souls, or maybe it’s just a yearning desire for physical connection with the unknown.
Whatever the reason when a game focusing on erotic encounters with monsters, cryptids & supernatural entities crosses our threshold of course we’re going to bite down hard and drink our fill.
Step on up, and take your First Bite…
Content Warning: The following interview discusses explicitly adult material including monsterfucking & art of nudity & BDSM imagery
Kaiju: Welcome, everyone, to the second Digital Diversity interview of 2022. Tonight we have something bloody fun for your delectation, so get comfortable and show off that neck for the team of First Bite Games as we talk about the titular First Bite.
Welcome to the Digital Diversity project, First Bite team. We’ve got a full cast of characters tonight it seems. Kris Wise (they/them), who we have spoken to back in 2019 about When The Night Comes, Aenne Schumann (they/she), Souha Al-Samkari (she/her) and Dani Dee (she/they). I have a real fondness for these group interviews where everyone gets to let their hair down and have fun talking about their work.
So let’s get to know each other first, please introduce yourselves and give us a quick run-down of who you are and what you did to bring First Bite out of the shadows.
Kris: I’m Kris and I’m the narrative director, writer, Valeria creator, and community manager.
Dee: I’m Dee and I’m one of the narrative designers, a writer, Laurel’s creator, and a programmer!
Souha: I’m Souha —I’m First Bite’s producer, VO director, writer, and in-house counsel. I’m also Ilyas’s creator!
Aenne: I’m Aenne. I’m one of the narrative designers/writers. and I wrote Noe (the player character), and I’ve been doing the PR and content creator outreach.
Kaiju: Awesome, well it’s a pleasure to meet you all and have you here.
I guess we’d better start at the beginning, with the important stuff. What, in your own words, is First Bite, how did it all get started, and who picked out the names for the Cryptid Coitus Corner titles at the start of the game? Because I think whomever came up with the term “Mummy Milkers” as a horror-smut title deserves some kind of literary award.
Kris: It started as just a little ‘what if’ idea after we all talked about the possibility of making something together, and with our other projects (me with Lunaris, Dee with Split Fate, Souha with Truant Pixel, Aenne with Arcade Spirits), it didn’t exactly seem plausible at first until I suggested a kind of self-contained ‘mini’ VN which felt a little more achievable. And of course it was about vampires. And Aenne coined the Cryptid Coitus Corner, but I believe Mummy Milkers was my (awful, terrible) masterpiece.
Souha: Mummy Milkers was definitely all Kris—that line has universally elicited screams, cackles, and groans in equal measure. Thank you Kris LOL.
Kaiju: Cryptid & monster love are always a big passion over here, so I’m curious to know what were y’all’s first monster love? Was there a passion from the start for the undead, or did another cryptid make your hearts thunder?
Souha: I am actually the Fake Monsterfucker here on the team, it’s not really a title I can or have ever claimed, so I have to let the rest of the team answer this one. Vampires don’t count to me because they’re just sexy evil humans.
Unless we count jocks as monsters, in which case it started with Gaston in Beauty in the Beast. Never could understand why Belle didn’t want to marry him…
Dee: Oh gosh, okay! My first monster love was Mileena from Mortal Kombat, which… yeah, that explains a lot. Truthfully, I started playing the Mortal Kombat series a lot earlier in life than I should’ve, and I was so fascinated by the idea of this terrifyingly corrupted version of the beautiful, noble Princess Kitana. As Kitana’s deranged, homicidal, man-made “twin” who struck fear into the hearts of humans not only because of the razor sharp teeth she hid behind her purple mask, but due to her unabashed thirst for murder, Mileena was my first encounter with unapologeticaly monstrous femininity, and she definitely left her mark.
Sidenote: later evolutions in Mileena’s design adjusted her half-Tarkatan appearance to include a pair of very normal, human lips and I gotta say. You’re a total coward if you only wanted to kiss her after they gave her a human mouth!
Kris: I’ll be really predictable and relatively tame and say Dracula because from the moment I read it (at a probably way too young age) I fell in love and have pretty much been a villain fucker ever since. Honourable mentions go to the Chernabog from Fantasia, Santanico Pandemonium, and way too many anime villains to list.
Aenne: Oh gosh, I think that my first viewing of “Interview with a Vampire” in my teens was my horny awakening to cryptids. Like many, mine was pretty tame and limited to fantasy/sci-fi humaniods…. that was until Silent Hill. Once I had a sex dream about Pyramid Head, everything else was on my palate. The more tentacles and tails the better, imo. And the more I write and learn about cryptids/monsters, the more I’ve become in love with them.
Kaiju: Some delectable monsterlover vibes going on here, growing up on a diet of all that media it’s no wonder I ended up with rather… broad tastes in monsters.
I’d love to hear more about the process y’all went through making First Bite. What were each of your favourite parts of creating the games, and which the most difficult for you personally? Did you come out learning any big lessons you didn’t expect to?
Souha: For me I think my favorite part of creating the game was discovering the relationships between these three vampires. Feeding off the energy of creative partners who absolutely get you and what you’re going for with your work is truly intoxicating, and when you’re throwing out ideas or sharing things and suddenly you end up with little nuggets of shared history or funny quirks… there’s really nothing better.
Other than that my favorite thing is always the VO process—casting and sorting through auditions, collaborating with actors in session, hearing the reactions to the actors you’ve chosen and certain line reads… I’m truly obsessed with directing and I’m grateful for every chance I get to do it.
I think one of the most difficult things for me personally was just figuring out the best ways to divide the work. All of us are used to being the captain of the ship at our own studio, and I think things got a lot easier once we just settled on things like letting this person have final say on edits, programming, art direction, etc. Four brains bring a lot to the table, but it’s easier when your role is more narrowly defined. With character stuff it’s easy—anything Ilyas is usually my call. But what about a line of narration? What about the overall tone? A plot point that concerns all vampires? Those decisions became so much easier when we all realized you know what, Kris is our narrative director, so if we can’t agree on this thing letting them make the final call ensures they keep everything in line with our vision. And it did!
This is not a big lesson but I’d say this project really impressed into my mind more than ever the importance of managing scope. We could only do what we did in a short amount of time because we were so intensely committed to keeping the scope down. I still wrote far more than I intended to, so you can see how easy it is to let scope get away from you.
Kris: My favorite part was definitely just us fully being all about our bullshit, no questions asked, when it came to creating the characters and also the writing of the game in general. Specifically with the three vampires, Dee, Souha, and myself just made the characters we knew we would personally enjoy writing, like our ideal types, essentially. It also doesn’t take itself too seriously as a whole, and it was just us sincerely wanting to write something silly and horny but that still has a lot of heart once you get into the meat of it.
The process itself was definitely a new type of challenge because, like Souha said, we’re all used to being at the helm at our respective studios, so figuring out the split of responsibilities and settling into them took a little bit of adjusting. But ultimately we’re all pretty laid back and we trust each other implicitly, and getting to make a game with a bunch of friends who you really admire and respect was such an awesome experience. And, again, like Souha said, the size of the game was also new to all of us as our own titles are pretty meaty, so keeping the scope small and our budget low (because we also self-funded it) was imperative and ended up actually being a really fun challenge. I personally would really like to release a smaller self-contained VN within my own studio now I’ve had this experience.
Dee: I have to agree with Sou and Kris, here! Character creation felt so organic, so natural and friction-free. When Kris first approached me at the tail end of 2020 to see if I wanted in, they basically gave me carte blanche in terms of character concepting. We were each allowed to blueprint the basics of our respective characters, and then we brought them to the table to figure out how they all slotted together in terms of their trio dynamic, which made for an exceptionally fun time. Lots of memes, lots of teasing out the banter and unique relationships to be found between the three of them. I actually don’t think any of us shot down a single character aspect or trait suggested by one of the others. We pretty much saw each other’s concepts and were like, “Yes, perfect, brilliant, incredible, amazing, show-stopping,” almost immediately, which established this beautifully inviting tone that underscored the entire development process.
As for the most difficult part, definitely have to agree about scope. And even then I’m not sure I would call it a huge challenge, but more so an adjustment as we were all committed to keeping the game structure tight and economical, but not yet well practiced when it comes to execution. We came together with the capacity to build something really huge, I think? To expand the universe and allow for other forms of play outside of the structure we ultimately adhered to, but I’m infinitely impressed by and thankful for our collective ability to stick to our goals. Feature creep can be so, so tempting, but I think we ultimately appreciated how laser-focused you have to become when you’re trying to color within established lines.
Aenne: I feel like we all have pretty similar answers to this (which is probably why we all were able to work together and make this game a reality). I was thrilled when Kris and Souha reached out to me to be a part of this project. For me, my absolute favorite part was getting to work with these amazing writers and friends who I look up to and fulfill my own dream of working with super talented writers! Dee, Souha, and Kris’s work are all so amazing, and I’ve loved their games so much, so this was a real treat to bring my writing into this group. And that I got to write in my own thirst and horniness to the player character. 😉 It was so much fun to watch all our characters grow and expand and how they all interact with each other.
For me, I want to echo what Souha and Kris were saying about divvying up the tasks and responsivities and how those are reflected throughout the process, especially since we’re all working together for the first time on this. I wanted to make sure I was pulling my weight. But we all worked really well together and we all listened to each other on any input we had and worked it all out together. Realistically, the hardest part was finding time for 4 adults all in different time zones and have lives outside the game to all meet on a regular schedule. 😉
Kaiju: These are some great perspectives on the process, thank you all for sharing them, it’s always great to get a real vibe for how a game like this comes together, and where those challenges & thrills come from.
I’m curious how you all got your start in making games. Kris gave us a quick how the game itself got started, but where did you begin your journey that has gotten to the point of making incredibly thirsty monster-fucker visual novels that people are falling over themselves to get their hands on? This is obviously not your first go at making something, so what path did you take that lead you here?
Kris: I personally started making my first VN out of frustration with the lack of queer content in a lot of the games I was consuming. It definitely wasn’t a serious thing to start, more of a hobby with some artist friends which kind of spiralled into something a little more concrete when people actually liked what we were putting out. So the formation of our studio (Lunaris Games) was essentially a very happy accident. Our goal didn’t change, though, which is to always make sure our games represent us and our players by creating worlds and characters where queerness is built into the fabric of our universes as a whole. And also the monster fucker part.
Dee: I’ve been adjacent to the games industry since my time at university, but I stumbled upon a surge in western visual novel development around 2015 and began researching how to make visual novels around then. Found some lovely small indies doing work that impressed me, and they were kind enough to answer my questions and really welcomed me into the VN dev fold. (Shoutout to teams like L³, who most recently published a lovely yuri fantasy VN called ‘Without A Voice.’ They’ve been cranking out indie western VNs since the early 2010s and are part of a wave of VN devs who helped me learn to program in Ren’py, the engine we used for First Bite!)
My reason for jumping into visual novel development myself was pretty straightforward: like Kris, I was bothered by not only the lack of queer content in games, but specifically queer games featuring Black characters. I feel like recently we’ve been blessed with a small but scrappy surge in Black indie devs who are determined to make more of this type of content, and it feels amazing to be part of that movement because it really is about time. And then there’s the fact that I’ve been an unrepentant fan of the more transgressive shit in, ahem, safe, sane and consensual environments for a while now, so the monster-fucking part comes naturally to me.
Souha: My path to VNs was very roundabout–I was a lawyer just out of law school and just having passed the bar, and while I was doing all that my husband and I had a very very part time gig in games doing contract work for custom PS3 and PS4 themes. Eventually we transitioned to making our own games, and at that point in time I had run out of english-language otome games to play and thought “hey, why not make my own? I can make it as thirsty as I want.” This must have been about 2014 or so that I started writing it. Ironically I have a massive otome backlog now because making my own games takes up all of my time, and the market has grown considerably since then.
Aenne: My start in the games industry was because, honestly, I wanted free tickets to PAX. So a few friends and I made a news and reviews site and worked hard until we were able to achieve that goal. As I was doing media stuff and becoming friends with all sorts of developers, at one point it clicked that I could actually write on games (which was my ultimate dream) so I took on some contract work and did some game jams. It wasn’t until I spoke at a Romance in Video Games panel that I made friends with another developer who later approached me about writing a VN with him (Arcade Spirits). It made perfect sense as I’ve always loved writing romantic fanfiction (especially erotic ones) and VNs are my favorite genre of games. And I’m happy that through Arcade Spirits, it’s lead me to connect with other VN developers and learn more… and here we are!
Kaiju: A lot of very relatable origin stories there, that’s for sure. It’s great to hear about how folks got their start in this industry, and I think it gives a lot of perspective for other folks wanting to try their luck at making games.
Since we’ve got time for another couple of questions I’d love to know if y’all have any other games with positive queer representation you’d recommend others try out?
There’s such a bounty of LGBTQIA+ content out there, covering all colours of our big gay rainbow, so is there anything you think is great representation, or does things in a neat way that you think is work other folks have a look at?
Souha: Since I’m not queer I’ll let my colleagues take this one—but I will say I am deeply proud of the work all of them are doing at their respective studios and projects making queer characters and telling the kinds of stories we desperately need more of.
Aenne: Honestly, when I’m looking for good LGBTQ2IA+ content, I always hit up Itch.io. There are some many great games there and they have a LGBTQ tag, so it makes it really easy to find exactly what you’re looking for. As for Triple A games, SIMS 4. You can create whoever you want, and the relationships you want. I feel like they’ve done a good job at just letting people be people, which is great!
Kris: There are so many incredible queer indie games around and it’s honestly difficult to pick favorites. Some stand-outs for me over the last year or so have been Raptor Boyfriend, A Summer’s End, If Found, Andromeda Six, and also Alkahest by our very own Dee which blew me away. Like Aenne said, it’s so worth just browsing the LGBTQ tags on itch because it’s really a treasure trove.
Dee: Oh man, Kris! Thank you! Even after working together, it still blows my mind when you say things like that. But yes, let’s see! Definitely agree about Raptor Boyfriend and If Found, the latter of which made me cry for like a solid hour straight. Powerful, powerful work. I also tend to favor the sorts of games you can find on Itch.io because that platform tends to be quite good to us indies, and it’s where I’ve discovered a lot of creators I admire. Shoutout to Heaven Will Be Mine, Butterfly Soup, Hustle Cat, there’s this girl, and gosh way too many others to name. I will say there’s an indie collection of erotic interactive fiction called Strange Lusts / Strange Loves that offers interactive fiction games that explore different forms of sexual intimacy, and a few of the games are blissfully queer. You can find two micro-games on Itch.io for the whole collection, but I believe they’ll be posting everything else on the website for online speculative fiction magazine, Strange Horizons.
Kaiju: Darn fine recommendations going on here, a few I’ve definitely had brought up before as well as a few I’d never played. I do love how often games like The Sims come up when I ask this, as well as all the great Itch.io recommendations.
I think this is a great place to finish up our little chat. Thank you so much Kris, Dee, Souha & Aenne for coming on Digital Diversity to talk about First Bite and about yourselves. It’s the devs that make these incredible experiences we all get to play and it’s always a pleasure getting to focus a little on you folks, not just the awesome games.
Before we finish up let’s have a quick final question round for you all. Three questions, rapid fire:
- In your own words, why should folks check out First Bite?
- What’s a game you’d really love to make, in 10 words or less?
- And is there anyone you’d like to make a shout-out too while I’m still holding the microphone?
Dee: Thank you so much for having us! I’d say check out First Bite because it’s unabashedly horny and hot with a little something for everyone. A game I’d love to make: a queer POC combat game with a soap opera narrative. Annnnnd shoutout to the gays?? Can I do that? Just shout out all of them?
Kris: Thank you Kaiju! I think if you like vampires and the inherent eroticism of possibly being eaten alive by them then FB is the game for you. A game I want to make (and am!) is a queer rougelike x VN hybrid with a cast of super hot super diverse idiots (and Dracula) trying to save the world. Shoutout to my Lunaris dev team and anyone who supports indie games because we need you. And also the gays, yes.
Aenne: Thank you so much Kaiju! It was so great to chat with you! Play First Bite to satiate your thirst, winky face! I’d love to make a fun queer RNG romance game with magical school girls (like Magic Night Rayearth). Shoutout to all queer devs and content creators just doing your thing! And I third a shoutout to the gays! ❤️
Souha: Thank you so so much for having us Kaiju, it’s been lovely! You should check out First Bite if you love vampires, sexy-scary thirsty content, and don’t mind dying a lot in the process.
A game I’d really love to make would be an Arabian fantasy adventure + romance–hopefully once my current WIP is released. Be the change you want to see, etc.
Shoutout to Michelle Clough, the person who showed me a career in romance and games writing is possible (and whose book “Passion and Play: A guide to designing sexual content in games” will be published soon, featuring chapters by me and Kris!), and my friend Sharii Gladden, whose debut novel Fated to Flame will also be published soon–look for more amazing stuff from her in the future in games very, very soon. And finally to all the beautiful people whose burning thirst has allowed me to make a career out of this, thank you from the bottom of my heart.
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