Character relationships in game


#1

I’ve been wondering this for a while and I’m sorry if there is a thread like this already. If there is one, could you point me to it? However, I was wondering how people feel about in-game character relationships that don’t involve the MC.

How important is it to you to know how the characters are with one another, for specifically non-familial (I think that’s a word) romances? I don’t just mean knowing because it’s plot related, but rather knowing just for knowing’s sake.

Also, I don’t know if you guys know of any games where the MC tries to get two characters together. Would you be interested if that was an option? It may not have much to do with the plot itself (or maybe it has a lot to do with the plot), but would that be something you’d like to have the option of doing?

Finally, relating to the last point, would you be okay with doing that at the cost of your own relationship with those characters? For example, you are friends with Char A and Char B, you have the option to enter a relationship with either/both of them. However, you also know that possibly one or both like each other too. Would you be willing to let Char A and B possibly get a happy ending together over you getting it with one of them? I’d like to know why if you do or don’t.

Thanks!


#2

Ahh… I see some subtle love triangle, here.

I’m not against it. In fact I guess I’ll be the one who are so weak-willed that I might be willing to let my crush go as long as you’re happy together…
Ok. I hate myself.


I’m… not sure about this. I personally don’t mind knowing certain char’s relationship just because, but the design of “for its own sake” has always been a taboo in many game design. IDK, perhaps this is an exception.

And about getting two chars together, I don’t think that’s an optional side activity. It’s a story by itself!
The Witcher expansion pack Blood and Wine springs to mind.
So, why not?


#3

I’ve always been a fan of other characters getting with another, it seems more realistic. In the real world, someone is not going to never date again just cos you don’t take them . . . it’s possible but I highly don’t encourage it anyway . . .

But it kinda reminds me of DA2, where if you don’t enter a relationship with Fenris, him and Isabella end up sleeping together.

Letting a crush go so they can be with someone else, hmm it depends on how much I like them. I could definitely see some interesting choices and achievements coming from that. All of this sounds like a lot of good character development and interactions, especially if a story is based around romance mainly.


#4

I always wanted to play a game like this, in fact I could consider doing it if I ever create one myself.

I like things like shipping and such, so its always fun to see NPCs interact with each other.


#5

Most authors I know on this website tend to make sure that it’s obvious when characters are dating one another, or, failing that, give out subtle hints about their relationship status. It seems like it’s a gimme, at least for me.

Yeah. No matter how hard the author tries to make cannon couples, there will always be a fanfic fanatic or 10 that insists these two characters should be paired up instead. Hell, you could make this a plot of some valentine-themed game, minus all the shooting-people-with-love-arrows, of course.

Sure. It adds another conflict to a game where you must choose between your own happiness and another character’s happiness. That way, no matter if you do everything else as best as best can be, you can’t go through it absolutely flawless. And should the MC decide to sacrifice their own love interest in order to make Chars A and B happy, I’d prefer if there was some sort of scene or stat change acknowledging this, as the way I see it it’s too easy to program it out as “Welp, that experiment failed, time to move on to my next shipping option.” instead of “As much as it pains me to say this, I’m happy for the both of you, and I wish you the best of luck.”


#6

In the terms of an overarching story, it isn’t that important.

On a personal note? I like it. I’m one of those who appreciate when a story gives the MC a moment of downtime, and you could choose to interact with another NPC. While not story essential, it does give more insight into an NPC. In those instances…well, sometimes the subject of past and current girlfriends/boyfriends might come up. In this case, an NPC could talk about dating another NPC would be a natural dialogue, and it isn’t plot related.

I’d be cool with a game with a matchmaker sort of element. In fact, Tin Star by @AllenGies has an instance of this if you are romancing both Maria and Yiska, and then see the two of them together. I like the thought of my MC stepping out of the way to let things run their course.

I’d be fine with it. I mentioned Tin Star above, though I don’t think any other game really does it.

For that matter, I wouldn’t mind seeing other themes investigated. Maybe the MC falls for someone who is currently married…what then? Of course, in that case the story would have to be handled well, but it would be something not really seen in a CoG.


#7

While not a “matchmaker” scenario, my WIP does feature two NPCs who I’m getting together if the MC’s not romancing them. In this case, their relationship won’t start if the MC is in a relationship with one of them, and it starts late enough into the game that there is at least one obvious opportunity to form such a relationship before that.

I did this mainly for two reasons:

  1. I wanted to have at least one canon gay pairing among my NPCs (although if a female MC goes for one of them, or one of them dies, then it will be missed);
  2. They’re cute together. :blush:

#8

It’s definitely not a priority for me; If it happened I’ll probably think “Oh, that’s cute.” and move on.

I only know one game where this has been done. In Way Walkers, if one of your stat is high enough, you’ll immediately figure out that Jun and Ay’cure have a crush on each other when you first met the latter. In the second game, you can help Jun ask Ay’cure out on a date to the winter ball.

Neither were intended to be ROs from the get-go though.

Sure, why not? It’ll be even better if I got an achievement out of the deal.

Let’s be honest, I’ll be replaying the game enough times just to see all three scenarios.


#9

Hm, I like the idea, but generally speaking, I don’t form a “friendship” type of emotional bond with characters. Either I feel like romancing them, or I feel completely apathetic towards them. It’s very, very rare that I care about a character beyond the romance or hate aspect, because usually the villains* and the ROs are the ones written the best – and if they’re not, I’m constantly sitting there wishing the best friend was a romantic option.

It is incredibly, incredibly rare that I want a platonic friendship for my MC. I play these games because I don’t really have time/money to date in real life, so it sort of fills that void in my day to day life (God, I wish I had time to date–actually, not true. I wish I had money to date).

So I wouldn’t necessarily be against having it in the game, but it certainly wouldn’t cater to me. I don’t achievement hunt, and I never have. I play for my own enjoyment, not for cheevos. That being said, I might try it out once I feel I’ve done everything else in the game.


#10

@Lys speaks words of wisdom - she must be a strong medicine woman in a past life for holding so much wisdom.

As she said, fleshing out relationships are not essential for most arcs. Exceptions do exist, for example in Versus and its sequal, knowing relationships between the others is really important to make good solid decisions as you advance the plot.

Again, like @Lys, I enjoy a side detour every once in a while because to me character development will make or break a game. When I think of the games I enjoy in both libraries here, character development makes the stories. In the Infiniti series, the ZE series and others, there are characters worth loving and some even worth hating.

@ParrotWatcher is doing something in his story WiP I too plan on attempting - the characters are not frozen in their development and that helps make them deeper and worth reading.


#11

But one of them is even cuter with my mc. :wink: :male_couple_with_heart: Still I wonder why that npc regards Sammy as being so much more mature right off the bat then he does with the mc. It’s Sammy’s tech savvy versus my mc running around in superhero outfits talking to imaginary cats isn’t it? :thinking:

Hmmm…as to your other WiP, I guess my mc had better hurry up with breaking out of super school and properly kidnapping Alex before someone else nabs the cutie off the dating market, huh? :stuck_out_tongue_winking_eye:

I think her family must run a fortune cookie company or something? :stuck_out_tongue:

Usually that’s what fanfiction is for. In the past gay guys like me kind of had to resort to it in order to get any gay “couples” in our (popular) media at all.

I’d be interested in a matchmaker type game or having matchmaker type side missions in another type of game, particulalry if the recipients of my mc’s matchmaking are two (or more) guys as well.


#12

This is very lightly touched on in the third volume of @Lucid’s Lost Heir trilogy; you can help (or hinder) various NPCs in your party to enter romantic relationships with other party members or secondary NPCs.


#13

I think it’s important your characters have their own prerogatives and relationships outside of those in involving the protagonist. Even if it’s just platonic relationships.

It could lead to some heartbreak for players, but I feel those tough moments make games so much better.


#14

I would love it, especially if I had something to do with it. I liked that in the Lost heir, I almost started the whole game because I said something wrong and soured two character’s possible romance :sleepy:


#15

If you want your NPCs to seem real, it’s important to give them agency.

That means they make decisions independent of the player character’s actions, and they interact with other NPCs, not as if they were other stage props arranged around the PC for the amusement and edification of the player, or the advancement of a plot, but in service to their own motivations, wants, and desires.

Thus, I think it’s important that NPCs not only enter romantic relationships with each other of their own volition (not just the ones the player can romance either), but form friendships, argue, play pranks on each other, make jokes at each others’ expense, and ultimately have those relationships colour how they act towards the player and other NPCs.

Of course, the problem with “real” NPCs, is that you import some of the arbitrary nature and social constriction of the real world into your game. If that’s something you’re okay with having (as I am), then that shouldn’t really be a consideration, but if your players want to do all the things, and you want to help them do all the things, then it might be something you might want to reconsider: having to constantly butt heads against artificial people who are just as strong-willed and obstinate as you are can feel less like fun to many, and more like work.


#16

Another way to go about it, to take a slightly different take than @Cataphrak, is that how NPCs act may depend on genre. A farce may require NPCs to do things specifically because they will end up creating an amusing situation for the MC. For example, in playthrough 1, an NPC may wish to purchase the jellied eels for NPC 2 because that will create the comedy.

In playthrough 2, that same NPC may have decided to go to the observatory instead, because then they will be in exactly the right place to catch the MC red-handed doing something silly.

So that approach gives up verisimilitude–the integrity of the NPCs character is bent a bit across multiple playthroughs, for the purpose of creating a more organized and funny plot. I think it works better for comedy.


#17

Wow okay, first off thank you guys for replying! I’m going through everyone’s posts right now and I’m glad that this is something that people would be interested or in some cases are trying to implement themselves.

I’ve been considering doing this for my own WIP for a while where the MC has the chance to do something like this, because the setting is one where people are stuck together in a reasonably restricted region and so have mostly gotten to know each other fairly well. So yes, there are already going to be some with relationships and some that want to but either never could go for it themselves, or didn’t want to for various reasons.

I hope though it’s not against the rules to do multiple posts to try and reply to you all.

@Szaal You know I’ll be honest, I didn’t think of it as a love triangle, but it really is. Except in this case, it doesn’t centre around the MC and may put the MC out of the equation all together which, as some of the others have pointed out later, people might not like.

I also am like you in the sense that I would allow my crush to be with whoever they’ll be happy with most, even if that’s not met. However, I don’t believe that’s necessarily weak-willed. I think, in fact, it is probably one of the kindest thing you can do if you know that the person will be really be happier/lead a better life. As the saying goes “if you love something, you’ll learn to let it go” and I feel there is some truth to those words.

Would you be able to explain why “for its own sake” is a taboo thing? I’m actually not aware of that, and I’d like to know more about that. Though, I’m glad you think it’d be a good addition to have the option of matchmaking, thanks!

@ToxicDreams I think it makes it more realistic too, and that’s what I want to do with my game as well, but I also know on the flip side that people don’t necessarily like a game to be too real. So it’s a little bit of a balancing act I think. I’m familiar with DA2 but that didn’t actually come to mind until you mentioned it. That is kind of what I’m going for, but I also want to give the MC the option to be a catalyst and help that along.

My main problem is that the story (the WIP I want to implement this on) isn’t really romance based, which is where the doubt comes in as to whether or not I should even consider doing this. Romance does play a big enough role and depending on your relationships with others and even how other characters are towards each other, the story may play it differently. I had also considered having the sequel be a little different if you do end up trying to get characters together and such. I agree it is definitely helpful for development and adds a depth to story that hopefully will make people want to play it, but I don’t know if I should if it’s not mainly a romance.

@MockTurtle I would love it if you keep me updated if you do ever plan on making a game like that. I also am guilty of shipping characters together, and I love to see how NPCs are around one another rather than just being like clay in your hands. That’s part of it, the MC should have some influence on the NPCs, but I feel like this would add more to them. I want to do this for my WIP, but as I said to @ToxicDreams I don’t know if I should.

@RagEgnite I’ve definitely seen that with some stories, and now I know with everyone’s replies on here that it’s something people do want to know. I don’t want to bore the readers with information they could care less about, so I’m glad to know there is somewhat of an audience of these kinds of things.

Oh I know how fanfics are and I’m totally for them, because the author only plants the seeds of certain ideas, but the flowers that grow from it can give their own seeds too and change things up, which is where the players and fanatics come in. I may in future consider doing a specific valentine’s themed game like this then. Though I wonder if it’d be okay to do it in a WIP that isn’t romance/valentine’s themed?

I didn’t actually think of it as a conflict, but that is what it can become and I see what you mean. I think if the MC does choose to go through with letting the other two Chars be together, I would also add a specific scene where the decision is made final and it would have an impact on the MC for deciding to do this.

I would like to know though (and this question is open to anyone who wants to answer it) if you think - should the MC choose to help out the other two chars - the MC could still have the chance to romance either someone else or have it be more of a ‘loved and lost’ situation. Basically, should the MC be able to help the two characters out and have MC go with someone else? Or should the MC already be in a relationship with lets say Char A, but it’s not fully official yet, and decides to change their mind halfway through and help Char B out instead. The second instance would be further along in the game where the MC can help Char A and Char B get together, but maybe only get to a little bit more than friends with another character by the end?

I think this is already a long enough post, so I’ll be replying to the others in the next one, haha.


#18

This is where I reveal myself to be a selfish hypocrite, because if it is two characters that I have no intention of my MC romancing, then I am all for it. Adds depth and interest to NPCs. When, however, it involves at least one of my personal favorites, then I seethe with irrational jealousy (hello, BioWare). :cry:

I realize this is an entirely subjective and unhelpful case-by-case answer to your question. My apologies.


#19

Not at all. Doing it in this format is a bit long to read, but perfectly fine. People do it like this all the time.

Sure. I just suggested a valentine’s theme because that’s the sort of thing that is most context appropriate that I can think of off the top of my head. If you can work it into your game and make it work well I don’t see why it can’t stay in there.

I’m open to both of those options, but my advice to you is do what you think makes the most sense for your game and your story structure.

If you do decide to have the MC ship two characters together at the MC’s expense, I just think it would be appropriate to at least have some sort of consequence happen beyond “okay that failed so I’ll go after this person instead” right away. Maybe if you do that you could have the MC have romantic options unavailable to them for a certain amount of time or until someone else convinces them to chin up and look for other fish in the sea? Anything can go really, I’d just like to actually see what you have planned for your WIP in question before I can offer a definitive 2 cents.


#20

@Lys Okay, and I think I would agree with you that if the story isn’t romance focused, that it isn’t probably as important as say a decision to either join Faction A or Faction B for a war, for example. I’m curious though, since you mention that you do like the downtime for the MC to just find out more about the NPCs that surround you, if you like having that throughout the game? Not so much where the plot isn’t advancing at all of course, but perhaps when there is some time to take a break, a calm before the storm if you will.

I will have to check out Tin Star then and see that! It’s good to know though that there are people who do like the matchmaking possibility. I’m also curious of your opinion on the question I asked in my previous post, regarding if the MC should get the chance to be with someone else or not. If you don’t mind checking out the question and answering!

Also, thank you for letting me know! I wasn’t sure if this was a common feature of some games, and I didn’t honestly think it was because for one, it is a lot more to add to the game. It’s more work for the author, and I know that not all readers enjoy having too much to go through either. I also don’t think I’m experienced enough yet to be able to do the theme that you suggested as an example or even others as similar to that as of right now. However, I would agree that it would be interesting to see and would need to be very carefully written so as to not cause issues with not only CoG but the players themselves.

@ParrotWatcher Oh okay, so in a sense that is a bit like the DA2 that @ToxicDreams was talking about, but I feel like that’s a great way to do it. It gives the characters an added depth, because you get a chance to see their life moving on outside of what you do when you interact with them. I’ll be checking out your WIP later, because it really isn’t something you see in other games.

I think both your reasons for doing so is completely valid, especially if they’re cute together :smiley:!

Though I do have a question, I’m not sure if you made this as one of the scenarios, but if it is possible for the MC to be in a relationship with them and then have a falling out. Would the two characters possibly get together then? I’m just curious more than anything, I’ll hunt around for your WIP later and seeing it for myself.

@Greyscales I think that’s perfectly fair, but I’m going to guess that you, at least, wouldn’t feel bogged down by that kind of information so long as it isn’t in excess or seem completely out of the blue, right?

Also I don’t know of that game, is it a completed game or a WIP? Though that is somewhat similar to what I’m going for, though it may be more of a conversation you have with one of the characters rather than based on a stat.

I was actually considering doing a “matchmaker” achievement if the MC successfully gets the characters together. I’m still not sure though how people view achievements? I’ve seen a handful saying they like achievements a lot, while others going they actually either dislike them or outright hate having achievements in games. I know you can’t please everyone lol, but I think that would be a good incentive for some and add a little more to the story.

I am the same way, I’ll go through the game as many times as needed to see the different outcomes and interactions that occur.

@ashestoashes018 Okay, I see your point. I think a lot of people also aren’t looking for a strictly plantonic relationship with every character either. I would also then like your option on the question I asked in my previous post. The general basis of it is: if there is the option for getting two characters together, would you like it then that MC can still be with someone else even if it’s not those two characters specifically? (Feel free to read the rest of the question for more detail though if you’d like lol.)

I also completely understand the time and money aspect of it, it is really expensive and these games are designed so that the players can do the things that they normally wouldn’t be able to do. Which is why I was curious to if this would be something people would even want, so thank you for sharing that.

I’m not entirely sure I would do it just as an achievement related thing either, I feel like it would be something that would impact the MC either positively or negatively because it is somewhat of a sacrifice and everything has it’s consequences and resolutions.

@Eiwynn I agree very much with that, she definitely has a lot of good insight on this. I’m glad too that everyone on here is sharing their thoughts so can I get a good understanding on what this community thinks about these things.

I can see why it isn’t really essential in most stories, for one I understand it’s a lot of work, I will have to check out the Versus series then to see how they do it. For me though? I like the details, and I like the little tidbits that go into making the story more believable, even if it’s only for a little while. I just wasn’t sure if it’s what people wanted since it is more to go through and some may even find it tedious. However, after reading through everyone’s responses here, it seems like there is an audience out there who do like this and that it won’t be a complete waste of time.

It definitely is more worthwhile to see, even though the MC’s involvement in the world is essentially monumental in some cases, that the world still goes on with small details like that, making it more organic and life like.

I think this post is long enough haha, onto the next.