Old School Gamer Magazine chats with Kevin Glaap/Rel (Founder & Lead Developer, Rel.Pink) who details the creative process behind their new title, Femdemic.
Femdemic offers two very different story paths – Liberation and Compliance – that share similar core gameplay: Click to grow bacterial factories, which slowly transform your host’s body into a more feminine form. Once every host has her desired shape, your mission is complete. Of course, nothing on Earth is simple. Even though women are happy with their new bodies, transphobic groups threaten to tear the planet apart in their rage. Told from the perspective of the alien bacteria, Femdemic shares witty, often cutting takes on the social and political fallout.
Old School Gamer Magazine: How was Femdemic born?
Kevin Glaap: During my time as a game developer over the last ten years, I’ve often felt the need to get creative with game jams every now and then to not get burned out by long development cycles.
During the pandemic, I started making a game called BMO TV for a sex-positive Patreon audience, and after some time, I felt the need to do another game jam. I always wanted to experiment with making an idle game but wanted to create something that would also work for my Patreon audience. So Femdemic was originally born as a small side-project, but the feedback was so positive that I decided to expand the idea and turn it into a full release.
Old School Gamer Magazine: What is your role in the game?
Glaap: As the sole developer of Femdemic, my primary focus has been on game design, programming, and storytelling. I collaborated with a team of talented freelancers. Since the game is financed through Patreon, I also have a big community to manage, but their help in playtesting the game is also invaluable.
Old School Gamer Magazine: What has development been like?
Glaap: Since the game was released to Patreon subscribers early on, I was able to do a lot of iteration on the game design from the beginning, similar to Steam Early Access releases. So the community has played a vital role in the development process, leading to regular releases with new improvements and features so that the base mechanics could be perfected. Polishing always takes longer than the conceptualization and development of the base mechanics, though. In the end, there were many more months of improvement until the game was completed.
Old School Gamer Magazine: What makes it special?
Glaap: I think what makes Femdemic special is the combination of the sex-positive nature and highly immersive strategic idle gameplay. Players have been telling me that they have lost track of time countless times when playing … while I don’t want them to miss important meetings, that’s always a good sign from a game design perspective. At the same time, the sex-positive trans-affirming story is deeply intertwined with the mechanics to form a cohesive whole.
Old School Gamer Magazine: What game made you love games?
Glaap: As a kid of the 90s in Germany, city-building games were my bread and butter, from Caesar 2 to SimCity. However, the original release of Rollercoaster Tycoon made me fall in love with games like no other had before. The strategic depth and logic behind theme parks led me to spend hundreds of hours creating fun experiences for the park customers.
Old School Gamer Magazine: Femdemic is awesome – any other media inspire it?
Glaap: As the name suggests, one of the main inspirations behind the story of Femdemic was the Covid-19 pandemic and all of the news reports surrounding it. The story is a satire of many events during these years. I also assume that watching Once Upon a Time… Life as a child must have had some effect!
Old School Gamer Magazine: What games influenced this one the most?
Glaap: While Cookie Clicker is the original modern idle game that everybody quotes as the inspiration for the genre, my biggest inspiration was actually Spaceplan. It reimagined the genre with immersive audio-visual design and, most importantly, a compelling story. There are also Plague Inc. and the board game Pandemic Legacy, which inspired the more pandemic-related topics.
And also a small, niche text game on GitHub called You are Testicles.
Old School Gamer Magazine: What were the major lessons learned?
Glaap: My previous games have been long, open-ended projects, so finishing something with a reasonable scope has been a very rewarding experience. I’ve released games before, but not completely on my own.
Old School Gamer Magazine: Do you think preserving older gameplay mechanics in new games is important?
Glaap: Absolutely. We can learn a lot from older gameplay mechanics and return to the roots of what made games great in the first place. I actually wrote my master’s thesis on text adventures with the creation of a modernized text adventure, so this is a topic that is very dear to my heart. While there are many great modern games, there are also a lot of examples of them forgetting what games should be about, most notably to add aggressive monetization.
Old School Gamer Magazine: The marketplace is crowded. How do you think you stand out?
Glaap: Unfortunately, the marketplace is not crowded enough with sex-positive trans-affirming games offering deep gameplay. However, the indie games scene, in general, is a very difficult place to be in right now. Games can win awards and not sell enough for anyone to make money. So finding a community that is willing to fund the development of games is a huge advantage. I don’t have to make my games stand out in the marketplace, which I think will make them stand out after all.
Old School Gamer Magazine: How have your previous experiences in industry helped this game?
Glaap: Failures and successes always make you grow in your job, so having both made me a better developer. When I first started making indie games, I expected to be able to sell games just because they have good quality, and even though every expert was saying that you needed to design games to be marketable, we still held on to our creative visions and failed. However, today with Patreon, I have found a way to execute my ideas without compromising.
Old School Gamer Magazine: How do you want Femdemic to ultimately be remembered?
Glaap: The slogan of Rel.Pink is “Be whoever you want to be,” which is the ultimate goal for my games, to encourage people to be more open-minded and less afraid to be themselves. I feel like the interactive nature of games makes them the best medium for thought-provoking storytelling. Of course, I know that playing an idle clicker game isn’t going to be life-changing, but if it can give the player the feeling of being themselves, that’s a start.
Old School Gamer Magazine: What’s next?
Glaap: I currently have several other projects in different stages of development. BMO TV is a reality tv show game with a feminization twist, which has amassed a big audience. And there’s also an abstract narrative puzzle game about the difficulties of being nonbinary in the making. Joining my Patreon will get everybody the earliest access to see those.
Old School Gamer Magazine: Anything else you’d like to add?
Glaap: Femdemic has two separate modes designed for a more general or a more feminization-oriented audience, so whether you want to experience a heartwarming trans-affirming or a darker NSFW story, there’s something for you there!