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Visual Novel / Yearning: A Gay Story

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Yearning: A Gay Story, or YAGS for short, is a freeware Visual Novel by Bob Conway about dealing with the trials and misadventures that come with being a closeted gay man starting his first year of college, including but not limited to: making new friends while keeping in touch with old ones, not flunking exams, trying to come out to one's family and new friends, stomaching the terrible food on campus, and yearning for other men who may or may not be gay.

In YAGS, you guide the player character, a gay man you get to name, through his first semester at college and decide how he spends each day. Does he spend his spare time keeping up with his homework, maintaining a healthy social life, or just plain slacking off? Will his True Companions turn out to be his welcoming roommate Adam and his womanizing frat brother Carlos, his computer science classmates Hannah, Nikhil, and Jake who love board games and memes, or even the members of his college's Queers & Allies club who run the spectrum from stoic actor James to flirtatious lech Dan? And will he eventually find love with a special someone on campus, or end up alone? The choices (and his future) are all up to you.

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The game is free to download on itch.io, with companion fics and paid bonuses also available. The original game censors nudity, but a downloadable patch gives you the option to uncensor it.


This game contains the following tropes:

  • A Man Is Always Eager: Subverted with Jake and James; flirting with or making sexual advances on them before they're ready will only cause them to become uncomfortable and likely lock you out of their good endings.
  • Accidental Misnaming: Adam and other characters keep on getting Ashleigh and Leigh's names wrong. It doesn't help that the twins delight in constantly acting like they're the other twin even when someone does get their names correct.
  • All Gays Are Promiscuous: Averted with most of the game's gay guys, but Dan wears this trope like a badge of pride and will want to keep things non-exclusive even if he develops genuine feelings for you.
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  • All Gays Love Theater: Discussed by James, who comments that many people assume it was easy for him to come out because of his theatrical profession even though it wasn't. There's also the subversion that he's not actually gay, but bi.
  • All There in the Manual: Many characters' backstories are more fully fleshed-out in the character profiles and companion fics.
  • Almost Kiss: If you end up alone with Carlos at the movie theatre and you've gotten close enough to him, he almost kisses you before Adam returns.
  • Amazingly Embarrassing Parents: While your parents don't appear in person during the game due to them being back in Arizona, your mother still constantly calls to ask you about the most minute details of your college life, right down to the color of your university professors' hats, for hours on end, much to Adam's amusement.
  • Armoured Closet Gay: Carlos starts out as quite vocal about "pussy" being one of his main hobbies, but you can catch him checking you out during several of your possible scenes with him. He eventually comes out as gay to you and Adam, and admits that he slept around with women so much because he hoped it would somehow make him straight.
  • Asian and Nerdy: Hannah, Nikhil, and Jake are all Asian (albeit of different nationalities) computer science students and board game geeks who end up forming a successful tech company together in the epilogue. Hannah in particular has parents who expect her to get straight As and is said in the epilogue to take on a triple major in mathematics and Japanese.
  • Big Beautiful Man: Dan, who you can find just as attractive as the other, slimmer men in the game.
  • Big Eater: Jake, the only one who actually enjoys eating the campus's questionable food (unless it includes durian). When Adam sees him eat, he wonders out loud if he has a tapeworm hidden inside his stomach.
  • Bilingual Bonus: Carlos sometimes speaks untranslated Spanish phrases, several of them amusing Spanish swears.
  • The Bro Code: Gender Flipped with Janet, who agonizes over whether or not to ask out her friend Lisa's ex-boyfriend Tom for days. She ultimately talks to Lisa about it, and Lisa turns out to not mind her getting together with Tom.
  • The Bully: Robert, who throws around homophobic slurs and attacks anyone he remotely suspects of being gay and beats up Elliot so severely that Elliot has to be hospitalized for weeks and still suffers from seizures even after being released from the hospital, just because Elliot tried to suggest that he accept his brother's sexuality. Interestingly, it’s mentioned that Robert didn't use to be like this until his brother came out as gay and he didn’t know how to handle it.
  • But Thou Must!:
    • You can repeatedly fail at, or put off, visiting the Queers & Allies meeting room but eventually Janet puts her foot down and orders you to go there and you're not given the option to refuse, presumably to ensure that you meet the Q&A members (that include roughly half of the game's romanceable guys) at least once.
    • You can back out of two opportunities to tell Adam you're gay, but the third opportunity has the PC decide that he really can't keep chickening out about this and your only two options are to say that you're gay or to say more indirectly that you're not interested in women which Adam still realizes the full meaning of.
  • Carpet of Virility: Dan, the most sexually forward and active of the guys, has the hairiest chest out of them.
  • Cast Herd: The game characters are split into three distinct groups: Adam and his frat brothers, your computer science classmates, and the Q&A members. Many of your choices require you to decide which cast herd you want to spend more time with, as you can't spend a single afternoon socializing with everyone you know.
  • Character Customization: Not only do you get to name the player character, but your early choices also determine what kind of personality he has which affects the choices you get at certain points.
  • Closet Key: If you hang out with Carlos a lot, he admits after coming out as gay that you were the primary factor that caused him to be unable to deny his true sexuality any longer.
  • Coitus Uninterruptus: One of your possible visits to the Q&A room ends up being aborted when you and James walk in to Dan having sex with another man on the couch... and continuing even when he sees the two of you standing there, with James clearly being used to seeing this kind of thing from Dan. If you pursue Dan, you can instead be the man Dan is doing as other characters walk in on you.
  • Coming-Out Story: Depending on your choices, the PC can successfully come out to his roommate, friends, and family, and also overcome his initial fear of attending the campus's Queers & Allies group meetings. Carlos and Jake also come out to you and their other friends later on in the game.
  • Cordon Bleugh Chef: Whoever makes the fries for the campus's burger place seems to have an alien's sense of which combinations of foods qualify as tasty. Some of the numerous "creative" flavors the fries have been served in are: spinach and kumquat; garlic and anchovy juice; durian and sour cream; and tabasco, horseradish, and chocolate (which Nikhil refers to as "pain, torture, and eternal torment"). The same burger place has also been known to serve other things like squid burgers and spinach onion rings.
  • Deadpan Snarker: Some of the PC's dialogue options qualify as this, such as the option to respond to Carlos asking you how you are after he wakes you and Adam up with, "Sleepy. Since you woke us up."
  • Did Not Get the Girl:
    • Can happen to the player character if you pursue a guy but things ultimately don't work out with him, or to the other guys if they ask you out but you turn them down.
    • In the epilogue, Hannah and Nikhil will always break up regardless of your choices and Jake will note that Nikhil seems too hung up on Hannah to make a relationship work out with any other woman.
  • Eating the Eye Candy: If you find a guy hot, there will be several moments where the text mentions you silently admiring his looks.
  • Erotic Dream: The player character has multiple wet dreams of the homosexual variety throughout the game. If you found one or more guys hot, his dreams will star these guys.
  • Ethical Slut: Dan hits on anything with a penis, but also makes sure that you're fine with everything he does to you and other men and chides Nate for trying to have sex with him when his new boyfriend isn't fully aware yet of his preference for an open relationship, telling him sternly, "No drama. Informed consent."
  • Even the Guys Want Him: James, an extremely handsome actor, is openly lusted after by Dan and Jake develops a clear crush on him after watching his shows. Even the straight Adam admits after being pressed by Carlos that if he were into men, James would be high up on his list.
  • Evolving Title Screen: As you play through the game, the paper on the title screen gradually becomes filled by pencil sketches of the characters you meet that you can click on to see their profiles.
  • Foolish Sibling, Responsible Sibling: Ashleigh and Leigh; their introduction scene has them initially seem to be indistinguishable from one another until Leigh is revealed to be the nicer and more studious twin who's pursuing a dual major in art and chemistry and apologizes to Adam for Ashleigh storming off if Adam turns down their offer for a threesome.
  • Fratbro: Subverted with Adam and Carlos, who are frat members but fit almost none of the stereotypes associated with fratboys: Adam is an intelligent, open-minded pre-med student who joined the frat only to make friends and starts spending increasingly more time away from the frat house due to feeling like he doesn't fit in with the other people there, and Carlos, while more of a womanizer and slacker than Adam, doesn't like getting drunk, is more Brilliant, but Lazy than outright dumb, and has no problems being friends with a computer science geek like the PC and also spends increasingly less time at the frat house after he comes out as gay.
  • Full-Name Ultimatum: Hannah does this when Jake tries to back out of coming out to his other friends, though the effect is somewhat deflated by her not knowing Jake's actual full name.
    Hannah: Jacob John Jacobson!
    Jake: Uh. That's not my name.
    Hannah: I know. But I don't know your real name.
    Jake: Nattasit.
    Hannah: Okay then. Nattasit John Jacobson!
    Jake: ...Close enough.
  • Gag Censor: If you don’t have the nudity patch activated, guys' private parts will be covered up by humorous icons such as a gift box for Adam's parts, a green meeple for Jake's, and drama masks for James's.
  • Gay Bravado: The straight Adam and Carlos tease each other at various points about being into each other or you. Adam also initially thinks that you're joking if you tell him you're gay at your first opportunity (and didn't show attraction to him), before he realizes you're serious. If Carlos becomes attracted to you, however, his reactions to Adam's joking comments about him being into you grow noticeably less enthusiastic.
  • Gayngst:
    • The PC starts out having told only his best friend Janet about his sexuality because of his fear of what might happen if he comes out to his parents or anyone else. He will also have a nervous breakdown if he tries to enter the Queers & Allies meeting room by himself, and needs someone else's support to step into the room.
    • Carlos and Jake both struggle with coming out to their friends and are deeply afraid that their family might disown them if they knew about their homosexuality. Carlos in particular has the most gayngst-filled route, with him taking a long time to get comfortable with being open about your relationship and taking Robert beating Elliot into unconsciousness very badly with him lamenting that it could have easily been him in the hospital instead of Elliot.
  • Geeky Turn-On: In James’s good ending epilogue, you have the option to respond to his marriage proposal with, "It is the most logical course of action." If you do, he responds by passionately kissing you.
  • Guide Dang It!:
    • Adam's secret ending proved so difficult to obtain that the creator modified Easy Mode to make it easier to get the secret ending in that mode — and even with that aid, it's still extremely difficult to get it if you're not aware of all the steps required to unlock it.Details 
    • James has two pre-dating scenes that are very easy to miss, and missing both of them locks you out of his route.
  • Happily Married: In the epilogue, Janet becomes happily married to another guy after breaking up with Tom, Jake to Nate (if you didn't end up with him), the Lizzes to each other, and the PC to his boyfriend of choice (if you met the good ending requirements for that boyfriend).
  • He Is Not My Boyfriend:
    • You have the option of saying this when Robert picks on you and Adam during a basketball game. It really is true, but it doesn't deter Robert from continuing to use homophobic slurs towards you and Adam.
    • Dan, when introducing James to you at your first Q&A meeting, makes a point of saying that he's not his boyfriend to which Liz G. adds, "Yet." (There really is no UST between them, though; Dan would like to have sex with James, but he's the sort who likes to have sex with every willing male, while James is not.) After that, Adam or Jake (depending on who you took to the Q&A meeting) make a similar awkward statement about you not being their boyfriend.
  • Hello, [Insert Name Here]: The player character's default name is "Chris Christansen", but you can change it to anything you want. You also get some amusing responses if you change your name to be the same as another character's.
  • Heterosexual Life-Partners: Adam and Carlos. Even after Carlos reveals himself to be not so heterosexual after all, the two of them stay inseparable friends.
  • Hurricane of Puns: Over half of Hannah, Nikhil, and Jake's conversations are filled with them trying to one-up each other on coming up with the greatest number of punny phrases from their current topic or board game title.
  • If It's You, It's Okay: If you manage to get Adam’s secret ending, he confesses to you that he likes you even though he doesn't like guys in general or think of himself as gay or bi. In the epilogue, he still doesn't think of himself as gay or bi but you can assure him that it doesn't matter as long as he's yours.
  • If You Ever Do Anything to Hurt Her...: If Carlos develops a crush on you, Adam warns you, "You hurt him, I'll kill you," just before Carlos confesses his feelings to you.
  • Incompatible Orientation: You can become attracted to Adam and/or Nikhil, but they're unfortunately straight. If you fulfill all the requirements for Adam's hard-to-get secret ending, however, he decides he can make an exception for you.
  • Innocent Innuendo: The PC does this in one possible scene with Carlos while they're getting food:
    You: Do you want a lot of nice hot meat?
    Carlos: Um. I do like hamburgers.
    You: (referring to fries you're holding) Bet you'd like to get your hands on this.
    Carlos: Um...yes.
  • Insecure Love Interest:
    • James, of all people, turns out to be this if you pursue him. Despite being handsome, nice, and an excellent actor, he tries to tell you that he wouldn't make a good boyfriend because he's a neurotic, socially inept Neat Freak whose demanding job leaves him with little time for a relationship.
    • If you date Jake, he becomes very self-conscious of his extreme awkwardness about physical intimacy and you have to repeatedly reassure him that you don't mind waiting until he's ready to take the next step.
  • Ladykiller in Love: Dan becomes the gay version of this trope towards you if you pursue him, and Nate also becomes this towards Jake if you don't pursue the latter. Carlos also kind of becomes this if you pursue him, although he never truly was interested in all these women.
  • Latin Lover: Carlos, who's Costan Rican, quite good-looking, and a shameless womanizer (at first).
  • Married to the Job: James's acting job takes up so much of his time that he's decided not to pursue any relationships after his last relationship didn't work out mainly because of this. Successfully romancing him requires you to be understanding and accepting of how he'll never be able to fully devote his time to you no matter how much he loves you.
  • Mistaken for Gay: If you convince Adam not to sleep with Ashleigh and Leigh, Ashleigh complains to Leigh that "you always pick the gay ones".
  • Modular Epilogue: Each ending has an epilogue that details the post-college future of you and each major character in the game, and then moves on to a lengthier epilogue scene with the guy of your choice if you fulfilled his good ending requirements.
  • Mr. Fanservice: One major perk of rooming with Adam is that you get to frequently see him in varying states of undress throughout the game, including one scene where you accidentally run into him after he comes out of the shower and cause his towel to fall off.
  • Multiple Endings: One where you don't end up with anyone, four where you live happily ever after with the guy of your dreams, four where things between you and the guy don't work out, and a secret one where Adam becomes the guy you live happily ever after with.
  • Neat Freak: James's character profile lists him as having OCD, which is why he keeps his house spotless at all times and insists on you and him having sex on a towel so he won't ruin the afterglow mood by getting up to clean the sheets.
  • Nice Guy:
    • Adam is completely accepting of your sexuality (and Carlos's), and goes out of his way to invite you to meals at his frat house.
    • James helps you feel more comfortable about your sexuality by giving you a calm speech about how you're allowed to come out at your own pace and shouldn't feel pressured or shamed by others about it. He also constantly cooks you meals and takes every opportunity he can to see you and give you flowers on his route in spite of his time-intensive job.
  • Odd Friendship: James with the other Q&A members. He's much more reserved than most of the other members but explains to you that as loud and weird as they may be, they helped him come to terms with his bisexuality and he genuinely cares about them — which means a lot coming from him, as his character profile states that he had trouble making friends while growing up.
  • 100% Completion: There are a total of 333 "collectibles" in the game, most acquired from seeing all possible scenes and their variations.
  • One Steve Limit: Averted with Liz B. and Liz G. in the Q&A club. When Dan asks them why they don't just use different nicknames like Elizabeth and Liz, they retort that he should be the one called Elizabeth because that's his middle name.
  • Opposites Attract:
    • Your chosen romance can potentially qualify as this, if your early choices cause the PC to have a radically different personality from his love interest (ex: your PC can be an outgoing, touchy-feely guy who falls for shy, touch-averse Jake). In these cases, the PC getting a good ending with his love interest is generally more difficult due to their differing personalities but still attainable.
    • If you don't pursue Jake, he ends up dating Nate who's far more sexually eager than him to the point where he suggests they have an open relationship. If you encourage Jake to give things with Nate a try in spite of his friends' doubts, the epilogue says that they become happily married, much to everyone's surprise.
    • The two Lizzes in the Q&A club. Liz G. is talkative, hot-headed, and blunt about her opinions, and Liz B. is her calmer and more level-headed girlfriend who often has to reel her in when she gets too overbearing with others.
  • Optional Sexual Encounter: Each romance route gives you multiple opportunities to initiate sex with the guy of your choice, but also usually an option to decline it.
  • The Quiet One: James is a man of few words outside of his acting roles. The player character may also be one, since James can comment in one scene that he's quiet like him.
  • Really Gets Around: Dan, who's the entire reason Liz B. has to repeatedly remind other Q&A members that their room is not a place to have sex whenever they please, especially when it's gotten bad enough that other students have complained about getting an earful or even eyeful of unmentionable happenings going on from the hallway.
  • Romance Sidequest: The potential romances are more like this than full-fledged routes, due to the creator's desire to avoid having the game become exclusively focused on just one guy after you choose a romance and instead remain a slice-of-life ensemble piece that the romance becomes an intertwined part of.
  • Shirtless Scene: You get plenty from your roommate Adam, and possibly from other guys too depending on your choices. Each good romantic ending also has a CG of the guy you romanced being gloriously shirtless (and in some cases, more than just shirtless) in a sexy pose.
  • "Take That!" Kiss: If you've been making mostly assertive/snarky choices, you get the option to kiss Robert during one scene where he's harassing you and Carlos with homophobic insults. It startles him so much that he flees the room without saying anything else, and everyone else in the room gives you approving smiles.
  • Three-Way Sex: You can end up having a threesome with Dan and Elliot or Nate, and/or even a foursome with Dan, Nate, and Carlos if you make the right choices.
  • Trademark Favorite Food: Carlos loves jalapenos and if you date him, you develop a ritual of picking the jalapenos off your pizza for him every time the two of you dine at The Yard.
  • Twin Threesome Fantasy: Subverted with Ashleigh and Leigh; Adam and Carlos have sex with them early in the game, or at least express interest in doing so, but ultimately decide that having sex with identical twins whose names they can't even get right is too weird.
  • The Voice: Janet, the PC's best friend from high school, never appears on screen and communicates with the PC only through IMs and phone calls. Justified by her and the PC attending colleges in different states, but it's still funny that such an important character like her never gets a sprite in even her character profile.
  • Wacky Fratboy Hijinx: Adam and Carlos's frat house throws a wild party at one point, but you only get to see the un-fun aftermath with people passed-out drunk all over the house and Adam and Carlos having to help clean up all the vomit.
  • You Need to Get Laid: The player character says this to himself if he's spent most of the game without a boyfriend or is dating Jake or James and is growing sexually frustrated by their insistence on taking things slow.
  • Your Cheating Heart:
    • This becomes a point of contention in Dan's route when his roommate and frequent sex buddy Nate starts dating Jake who isn't sure how he feels about Nate's desire for an open relationship which will include sex with Dan and possibly you too. Dan bluntly tells Nate that while he's fine with having sex with him if Jake's completely fine with it, doing it when Jake hasn't given his full consent yet to this arrangement is tantamount to cheating on him. Cheating or no cheating, things become extremely awkward between you and Jake for a while because of this, until Jake eventually decides that he's fine with Nate sleeping around as long as he doesn't hear the details of it. This issue of whether Jake should be fine with Nate sleeping with others or not occurs outside of Dan's route too, but isn't as contentious because you aren't directly involved and just give Jake advice on how to handle the situation.
    • If Carlos comes out to you and Adam in early October, there will be a later scene where you and Adam learn that he had sex with Ashleigh because Robert forced him to do it to prove that he wasn't gay and he was too scared of being outed to refuse. If you're not dating Carlos, this is only a mildly upsetting situation, but if you are dating him, he's filled with guilt and self-loathing for cheating on you like that and Adam chews him out for it and makes him vow that it won't happen again.
  • Your Favorite: After you tell Dan your favorite pizza toppings, he will remember and order them for you every time you dine at The Yard again.
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