Content Warning: The below interview contains graphic sexual & kink discussion, imagery and pixel art nudity. As such only continue if you are of adult age & consent to seeing such content.
Back when Digital Diversity was first finding its footing as a place to talk about LGBTQIA+ made games, all of 4 years ago, I knew that I wanted to talk about explicit adult content to some degree. Sex, sexuality & gender are topics considered forbidden by most games media outlets; and if you do see them it’s usually toned down to such a degree that attempting to discern what makes those games important is lacking.
Then one game entered my life, not long after I began my own transition, that wasn’t afraid to talk about being trans & being a sexual creature without the fetishisation of being trans itself, unashamed of who I was & was to become. That game? Hardcoded.
Since those early days we’ve covered plenty of 18+ games made by passionate queer folks, but it’s safe to say that the interview I did with the creator of Hardcoded started my passion in talking about these rarely featured games. So since it has been nearly 4 years since I first spoke to its creator, and just over 4 years since I began this project, this would be a perfect time to bring them back on to Digital Diversity to talk about how far Hardcoded has come, and what’s coming next.
So get comfy, this should be a lot of fun…
Kaiju: On a very special episode of Digital Diversity today we’re doing something a little different, we’re bringing back a guest that we’ve had on the project a couple of times now between the blogs & podcast, to talk about how her game has developed over the nearly 4 years since we first interviewed her. So welcome back, Kenzie, to the Digital Diversity project. It’s so wonderful to have you back to talk about Hardcoded, one of those games I just have not stopped talking about since I first played it back in 2018. For folks who don’t know you, please give us a little introduction about who you are & what you do.
Kenzie: Hey, I’m Kenzie! I’m part of a tiny studio that makes games that are cute, horny, and sometimes weird. I do art and programming and writing and other various devvy things 😄
Kaiju: It’s so wonderful to have you back, Kenzie, I think you are now officially the most featured guest on Digital Diversity, if we include the podcast. I know a lot of folks really wanted me to revisit our talk since it’s been so long and Hardcoded has come such a long way over the years.
I guess the first thing I have to ask, is how is Hardcoded coming along? Do you think it’s almost complete, or do you still have a lot of ideas left to go into it?
Kenzie: Aw, dope! What an honor! Yeah, Hardcoded is nearly done! All the ideas we’re tryna explore are in the game and their resolutions are planned. Trix and I have scheduled the last leg of the games development, including what still needs to be written/illustrated, and we’re tryna get it done as quickly as possible. There are a few unknowns, like how much time and effort it will take to redesign the cafe minigame, but for the most part, we’re pretty confident and excited to be done with it.
Kaiju: Nice! I cannot wait till the full game releases, I’ve been keenly following along on Patreon for 4 years now and seeing each update come through has been a consistent source of joy.
I guess we’d better dig a little more into what Hardcoded is, and how it’s changed over the years. Back when I first interviewed you I think Hardcoded was one of the very few adult games that really captured both the realities and the fantasies of many queer folks, especially trans folks like me.
How do you feel things have developed, from back in 2018 to now? Has what you wanted to get out of making the game changed over that time, or has the game maybe changed you?
Kenzie: The game has always reflected the situation of its authors and has changed as the authors have, but the overall goal has remained the same: To inform and invite questioning people to explore their genders. Fortunately, this goal has become less and less dire as time has gone on. One of the reasons I’m eager to work on something new is that the relevance of our message has waned so hard. I’m still very proud of Hardcoded and I don’t think that simple portrayals of wholesome trans life are gonna be irrelevant anytime soon, but the kinda bitter desire I had to make up for my own lack of trans-education isn’t as strong anymore. Especially not when compared to my desire to just have fun making weird shit.
This is why the scenes that have come out more recently are edgier. The doll-transformation, Ceri’s slime-possession, and even just the more intense unhorny main-story stuff.
I guess the mommy-domme scenes are both wholesome and late-to-the-party, but still.
Kaiju: This is some real relatable mood going on here, and I definitely get what you mean. Digital Diversity has been following a bunch of queer adult games over the years, and it’s been a real positive thing to see folks being given that chance to explore & experiment in ways that folks like you and I probably didn’t get growing up.
Since we’ve broached the subject of kinks already, something that is always going to be of interest to a lot of folks including myself, I’m keen to hear how you’ve found implementing edgier kinds of play into the game, especially ones that you might not have been personally into yourself. I know back when I first interviewed you I think the most intense scene in the game was getting taken apart by Decima (still a crowd favourite for folks with a helplessness kink), but since then so much has been put into the game, with plenty of lube.
Has writing about more of these kinds of play given you a greater understanding of kinks you didn’t really get into before, and have any of them become things you’re now passionately into? And of course, which ones have been the most fun for you to write & include in the game?
Kenzie: My interest in some of the kinks in the game have fluctuated, (I’m looking at you, capricious piss kink) but I haven’t written anything that I’m actually just not into. I feel like it would be draining as hell to try to make a game that’s just about what other people want, and it would turn out a worse product. Passion is always obvious and when devs try and wedge something in that they’re personally invested in, it usually just saps the sense of life in the game.
Honestly, I have such a tenuous hold on my ability to consistently write that anything that detracts from my motivation could throw this whole thing out of balance. That’s game dev with mental illness, I guess. But yeah, I’ve definitely developed some kinks since I started working on this. For the most part, though, they’ve been tangential to the game and are never gonna end up in it (I’m looking at you, fatal vore kink.) Pretty sure robo-disassembly is still my fav to write, but I also really enjoyed that whole, Olivia turns you into a Tiny Doll and then Crushes You thing. I think in general though, I’m having a bit less fun writing sex than I did before just cause I’ve done so much of it now. I’m lucky to have the help of a new writer who adds really cute, on-tone things like body writing that I never would have thought of.
As for learning about kinks through writing… I dunno, is that a thing? Writing is a cool way of expressing experience, but I feel like experience is still required to learn. Idk.
Kaiju: Experience is definitely important, at least for those kinks where real world play is within the realms of reality (glares at you, vore & giantess kinks). But writing about them definitely helps give you an idea of what you at least want to try, and how to experience it, then you go find someone to do it with if you can.
Since this is the first time I’m following up with someone who is working on a long term project, it would be amazing to know, especially for other folks who are thinking of doing something similar production wise, how the last 4 years have been for you as a developer?
You’ve got some level of consistent funding coming through Patreon, but how has the process itself treated you over that time? Just jam in that knowledge dong & fill us with your wisdom till it’s bursting out our ears…
Sorry, got that scene with Joi’s head being used as a fleshlight in my mind all of a sudden, haha
Kenzie: This feels like a weirdly huge question and I don’t know why. Game dev is such a massive part of what I spend all my time doing that I’m unable to distinguish between the issues it has generated for me and the issues I would have generated for myself regardless. It’s definitely become a more stable process, though.
Every month used to be a 30 day count from chill to ultra obsessive build day anxiety , and now it’s more level. I feel like I have experience with some shit now, but I wouldn’t say any of it has translated into wisdom. I’m thankful that the process is healthier than it was, but I’m not sure how I got here. On the bright side, I’m working on a new project in parallel with Hardcoded and it’s helping combat the burnout.
I guess the other most significant change in the process itself is that there’s more peripheral community stuff that needs managing, more bugs that need fixing, stuff like that. Our response time to DMs on patreon has become worse, which sucks but is also like, I wanna be here to draw tiddies primarily. All the stuff that I’ve been avoiding fixing or finishing or redesigning is gonna need to be done soon so we can release. That will also suck.
This all sounds kinda pessimistic but really, things are going well. In the future, I will not make a game that takes this many years to finish, though. Maybe that’s the wisdom.
Kaiju: That’s still some good wisdom.
Since you brought up new projects, and the final release of Hardcoded is on the horizon, can you tell us anything about what’s coming next? I mean you’ll be making it which is reason enough to be excited (yes I’m swooning, as is my right as a deviant fan-enby), but I’m sure folks will love to know a little bit about what’s coming up next & how they can support it.
Kenzie: Yeah! So our next game is a fantasy deckbuilding game with several horny playable characters, each of whom has the common goal of Fucking their way through the temple of a demonic lust goddess and taking their place as her new champion. It’s called the Succubabe’s Bathhouse and I could not be more excited about it. I’m still doing pixel art, but I’m shifting towards a style that kinda reflects the pinup fantasy paintings of the 80’s.
Pretty much everything other than that is gonna be radically different from Hardcoded though, with minimal visual novel style segments and a much more robust mechanical core. Everything about it feels so fresh on the dev side. Even the tone of the game is much different. I’m kinda worried that it wont hold the same interest for people as Hardcoded has, because even though many of the characters in this game are gonna be gay and/or trans as hell, it’s not about being trans. It’s mainly just about being silly and horny in a dungeon full of cute monsters. Which, I mean. Is goals. But yeah! Our plan is to post a playable demo of this game shortly before the steam/itch release of Hardcoded, then, once hardcoded is released, transition our patreon to being centered around this new game.
It feels so weird to have an Actual Plan that I can describe adklfjbngsdflkglj;hbl;
Kaiju: Haha, well I think it’s going to be rad, and I cannot wait to get my paws on it. To be honest I don’t get to see a lot of queer-made games these days that aren’t visual novels or interactive fiction, and as much as I deeply love those mediums, I want to see something else now and again. Succubabe’s Bathhouse sounds like exactly the kind of game I want to play & get hot under the collar about.
And you know I’ll have you back on Digital Diversity when it comes out, because I’m a bit of a needy pup when it comes to your content.
Back to Hardcoded; as you approach the end of production, I’m curious if you have any real regrets about either how the game came together, or content you haven’t managed to include but wanted to at some point.
I mean, it’s a hecking huge game, years in the making, so were there things you wish you could have put in but couldn’t for any reason, or something that was way too much trouble to get in there that you would have gone back and not bothered with?
Kenzie: Hell yeah, I’m looking forward to it! I have no regrets at all. There are for sure things I would do differently if I were taking on the same task now, but I’m mega proud of this little motherfucker.
I’d have liked to designed in a compelling reason for exploration and to have added more locations. I really like just wandering around the world, but I know that’s something I’d have needed to design around. Also, doing more planning about each specific storyline would have been cool. More NB rep. More trans dudes. More hard scifi flavor. More anti-corporate action. A way to play music without it restarting from scene to scene. Stuff like that. I’d also probably have skipped the cafe minigame, even though it features some cute characters.
But for the most part, I’m extremely happy with how it’s turning out. Quirks and all.
Kaiju: Being happy with it sounds like a hella great place to end up, that’s for sure. And you sure as heck developed a real positive community along the way.
Have you seen a lot of changes in adult games media over the years since I first interviewed you, representation you might not have expected, or do you think there’s things that really still need improving?
Kenzie: I don’t really do much to keep up with the porn game scene, other than occassionally reading Mr Hands’ excellent newsletter, Naughtylist. I don’t even play a lot of porn games, really. Sometimes I notice things like Nazi Furry on steam, with its almost entirely positive pile of reviews, and get discouraged. So, yeah, I’d say there’s things that need improving. But for the most part, I’m pleasantly disconnected.
Kaiju: Oh godz, yeah, the sheer number of toxic adult games that have ended up on the platforms has been real hard to deal with. Especially seeing the kind of fan-base they have.
Okay, let’s do something a bit more positive then with our remaining time. Of all your incredible cast of characters, who do you feel has developed the most over the years. Be it as a character you didn’t have a lot of ideas from at the beginning and then fleshed out substantially, or emotionally developed as you’ve written more content for them? I’m not going to ask you if you have a favoruite… but if you do this is the time to say 🙂
Kenzie: Jemma hasn’t changed thaaaaaat much since we added her, but I hadn’t initially planned on giving her a ‘quit Gelcorp and become an anti-capitalist’ arc, and so far it’s my favourite glow-up. I’m probably biased cause I’ve just been having so much fun working on her scenes recently, both the milf-flavored hornies and the tension in the casual hangouts, but still. There’s just something special about the idea of helping an uptight, stressed out babe let off some steam. Remind her that there are things that are more important in life than a job. Robotic girlcock, for example. I love it. I don’t have the emotional connection to her that I do with the core characters, but I still love her. She’s the milf I hope someday to be. I feel like there are a lot of fetishes with thematic parallels to ‘reigniting a touch-starved milfs sluttyness.’
I hadn’t really thought of it before, but I guess there are a lot of kinks that are about converting or corrupting someone towards lust. Bimbofication. Brat-breaking. Virginity-taking. I should get back to writing Beryl’s version of that where it’s all rp and she’s open with HC about not actually being a virgin. That was also one of my favs, just cause rp is rarely depicted as actual rp in porn games, and i think it adds a bit of cuteness & intimacy & stuff. Ok, now I’m resisting the urge to include literally every character in my list of favs lmaaoooooo
Kaiju: Well I admire your aspirations to be a hot MILF, and I’m sure with your drive and interests you’ll be the best one out there!
We’re running out of time for this episode, and I think we’ve covered everything I was wanting to cover. So I wanted to thank you for coming on Digital Diversity again, Kenzie. I appreciate your work; what you do is both hot as heck and something that is deeply needed in this world where so many folks are looking for outlets for their gender & sexuality. It has been a wild few years since I first got to talk to you about Hardcoded, and the game has only gotten better & better with every update. I cannot wait till the final release and getting to catch up with you once I can get my paws on Succubabe’s Bathhouse.
As we finish up do you have any special horny thoughts about making queer lewd experiences, or shout outs you’d like to make?
Kenzie: Hell, yes I have thoughts about making queer lewd experiences, and I will address The Audience with them directly: Hello, Cool Reader. Go make a dang porn game. I know you can do it and that it will be sick. Share your fantasies in whatever medium you think is most neat. All skillsets are perfect skillsets for capturing the vibe. I believe in you.
Also, Shoutout to Ceri!!! My new writer who’s been doing WORK for slime queen and Misha! Byeeee!!!